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Showing posts from 2011

Learning (with our students) (Steve Guditus)

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Our last day before the holiday break was a half-day.  These days-before-breaks have notoriously had a bad reputation, especially half-days, but when I walked the classrooms on Friday, December 23, I saw wonderful things happening.  Students were learning; students were celebrating learning; students were reflecting upon learning.  Too often schools are full-speed-ahead on the curriculum train that we forget the value of (and consequently do not share the value with students of) stopping to reflect and celebrate our learning, our performance and our goals.

In one seventh grade teacher's classroom I entered, students were reflecting upon their September-through-December learning, and setting goals for the new year.  Instead of nodding and watching from afar, I took some colored pencils myself, and sat down elbow-to-elbow with students to complete the task with them.  Though such a small task (and one barely completed as I was soon walkie-talkied away to an emergency),…

The Urgency of Instructional Leadership (Steve Guditus)

As part of leadership (especially in a school), many things can morph into being the most urgent.  I can find myself in my office, away from students, working on one most-urgent project, and then jump to another most-urgent project.  Before I know it, the day is over, and I've only had face time with students at lunch and dismissal...and multiple most-urgent projects are still to-be-finished.  It can be easy to be sucked into the black hole of building manager and it takes a constant revisiting of urgencies, reflection and priorities to strive toward being a true instructional leader in a school.

To this end, working towards being a true instructional leader in my school will require me to:
Reprioritize what is truly urgent in my day: learning and teaching.Each day, schedule myself for one hour of closed-door, productive, focused work on truly urgent assignments.Participate in learning throughout the school day.Use my PLN to continue to be a lifelong learner: it is as much as the h…

Math Resources

Thanks to Kathleen McClaskey from EdTech Associates for exposure to some awesome Web 2.0 Math Resources:

4mality - tutoring system for third through sixth grade studentsThatQuiz - free formative math assessmentsNational Library of Virtual Manipulatives from Utah StateThinking Blocks - help with word problemsMath Playground - math games and problemsA Maths Dictionary - a visual dictionary; help with math and literacyConceptua Math - help with fractionsBright Storm - Homework help in math, ELA, scienceMath Snacks - math practice Kathleen's Mass CUE Presentation - more resources here

Respecting

This Ed. Leadership article, "Respect - Where do we start?" from the ASCD has inspired me to stop and take note about how we respect staff and students - every day.  This article led me to consider:

How does what we say and do - and not say and do - speak to our respect for educators and students?

Often when a teacher is starting to feel sick, they frequently will say to me, "I cannot take a day off, I need to be here for my students and to do X, Y and Z..." to which I respond, "You must take care of yourself if you want to take care of others!"  Before an educator can respect and take care of students, they must first take care of and respect themselves.  When staff members are overwhelmed and stressed out, students can perceive this - middle schoolers are smart cookies!

This article has encouraged me to stop and take inventory of how I support teachers to be their best.  What can I do better and/or more of to remind teachers of the positive impact they h…

Participating in a Twitter Chat

Perhaps you're new to Twitter; perhaps you're new to trying a Twitter Chat....either way, you probably hear the calls for participation in Twitter chats for education.  They are great ways to connect with colleagues of similar interests, gather resources, share ideas and gain perspective.  Twitter Chats are great, because you can lurk and just read/listen, or you can actively participate.  Twitter Chats allow you to multitask as well - another great feature!  (I've frequently cooked dinner while participating in a Twitter chat.)

With that being said....if you need some help walking through how to participate, take a look at this quick screencast, created by yours truly: http://www.screencast.com/t/9Hy2kYnFsKB

If you need to locate a schedule of Educational Twitter Chats, take a look at Cybraryman1's schedule here: http://www.cybraryman.com/chats.html

Enjoy, have fun, and learn something new!

Memorial Day Resources

On Monday, our nation recognizes Memorial Day.  Whether it be stopping to deliberately teach a lesson about Memorial Day and recognizing our nation's heroes or a simpler moment of silence and a quick poem in recognition of all those who died fighting to defend our nation, students deserve to understand what Memorial Day is and why they have a day off on Monday, May 30, 2011.

Below is a sampling of resources worthy of use in classrooms:
History of Memorial Day from The History ChannelVideo History of Memorial Day from The History ChannelTeacher Resource Guide from Department of Veterans AffairsHistory of Veterans Day from Department of Veterans AffairsMemorial Day Internet Treasure HuntMemorial Day Lessons from the NEH via Thinkfinity

#edcampBOS

#EdCampBoston is today!  Unbelievable discussions going on...

Some questions that have been raised from our #EdCampBOS sessions today:
How can schools blur the home/school line?How can schools better be places of collaboration for students?How can schools address "fear factor"hurdles to successfully incorporate technology?What technological models are appropriate for teachers to make with students?How can we encourage intellectual risk-taking using technology?How do we teach students responsible technology use?Can technology encourage appropriate, differentiated professional development from the ground up?How can space be used to facilitate learning and conversation in schools?How can PD be differentiated for teachers?How can schools rely on in-house, peer-to-peer PD models?What if grades reflected conceptual mastery?How do we encourage and ensure followup of new information learned?How do we get to yes?

Basketball as Learning

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Last night, our PTO hosted the second annual staff basketball game between the faculties of the two middle schools in our district: Stony Brook vs. Blanchard.  Being a runner and not an athlete with much coordination at all, basketball is definitely out of my comfort zone.  As soon as I stepped foot on the court, I realized I was in for a steep learning curve!  Being thrust into the role of a struggling learner (struggling to play basketball), I was humbly reminded of the challenges so many of our students face every single day to learn the skills and content the 21st century requires.  I found myself taking away a few important lessons about teaching and learning from basketball: Meet your students where they're at: When I couldn't make a throw from the 3-point line, Amanda suggested "Why don't you start a little closer, Steve?"Provide a model for students: Watching Katie and Justin make nearly every basket gave me a expert model for learning.Remind students of t…

Snow: An Enemy of Learning

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As I was shoveling snow onto the eight-foot-high pile in front of my house during my fourth snow day, I considered the fact that we had lost an entire day of school and educational momentum, and wondered: should that also mean we lose an entire day of learning?  The in-again-out-again lack of routine for everyone - students, teachers and parents alike - is certainly detrimental to maximum student learning, but what can we do?  Mother Nature has another plan!  But what if snow was no longer a reason for learning to stop?  Physical schools are important, yes - but when we cannot get in there (be it snow, rain, travel, vacation, or something else), what if  getting into the physical school building was eliminated as a hurdle to learning?  What would that look like?  What if...
Students were expected to think deeply every day (even on snow days!)Technology eliminated the snow day hurdleStudents were engaged in authentic, project-based learningTeachers provided learning opportunities onli…

Lost Potential

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As an educator, I have dealt with sad moments in my career, with the death of students with whom I spent time.  As Cicero said, "Nosce te ipsum," and boy, do I know myself: the death of a child is likely the saddest thing that I've ever had to experience, and hope to never again.  What truly gets me: the loss of potential of a child.
I needed to put my current blog post on hold, to stop and think about the loss of Christina Taylor Greene.  I never knew this nine year old, but her death has hit me like a ton of bricks.  This young lady was a victim of the Tucson, Arizona shooting at Representative Gabrielle Giffords's community meeting.  Her potential was simply incredible: the only girl on a baseball team, an aspiring politician, a dancer, a gymnast, a swimmer, a musician, a volunteer.  All of this potential: lost, in a single moment, and it simply devastates me to the core.
No one can reverse the insanity that occurred yesterday in Tucson, AZ.  No one can bring back …

Cloud of Students

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I was excited to learn of Tagxedo, a word cloud creator.  I submitted my blog's address, knowing that I was making myself vulnerable as to what would be most prominent...I was thrilled to see the biggest word in my blog's cloud: students.  Woo hoo!