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Showing posts from 2014

Creating a Culture of Gratitude

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For the past month or so, my school has engaged as a community and giving thanks and building a culture of gratitude. It all began ultimately with us preparing for Veterans Day, and it was so successful that we continued by building chain-link some kindness, writing additional thank you cards to people in our lives what impacted us, deep gratitude by creating five fingered turkeys of gratitude and hung them publicly in our common area, and today we continued building a culture gratitude amongst the staff.
Inspired again by the awesome #BFC530 chat, facilitated this morning buddy amazing @jvincentsen, I got to work this morning and created a high-five with directions that required the recipient of the high-five to read the gratitude that was provided to them and then spread the gratitude by giving a high-five to another staff member. When I got to work this morning I wrote to notes to staff members, and cross my fingers. I had no idea if it would work. Knowing how I felt after the #BFC…

Are you truly taking risks, or just thinking about it? via @sguditus

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During this morning's #BFC530 chat, we talked about overcoming our fears and continuing to grow as an educator. What really resonated for me was this idea of encouraging ourselves, our students, and our staff to take risks in order to overcome our fears and continue to grow. I love that term: risk-taking.

Maybe it's because growing up, I never really saw myself as a big risk taker. When I think of risk-taking, I think of risky physical acts, like jumping from tops of buildings attached to bungee cords like in The Amazing Race.  Although you won't ever catch me jumping out of an airplane, as an adult I like to think that I am a healthy risk-taker. Maybe it's this dichotomy of what I envision as a risk-taker (sky diving) versus what healthy risk-taking really is (trying something new).
Members of my PLN challenged me this morning during the #BFC530 chat, to truly think and reflect upon my own risk-taking.  It made me wonder: am I truly takingrisks, or do I just like to r…

Classroom observations: It's all about the conversation

Yesterday I did a brief walk-through of a teacher's classroom. It was a short slice of a class, only about 5 to 10 minutes. The students were engaged, good questions posed, and the teacher did a great job of stressing the essential questions of the class. As I left the classroom I thought to myself, "That was a good class," and continued on with the rest of my day.  I closed out my day a few hours later, and when I came in to school this morning, the teacher popped into my office and said "I just wanted to connect with you about your observation yesterday."  I was so glad that the teacher wanted to connect with me, debrief, and reflect about the lesson that I observed – this is a lead learner's dream!  I was surprised, however – because I had only popped in quickly to the teacher's classroom, but the teacher was looking for some feedback and wanted to discuss some thoughts. I underestimated how important it is to have the conversation - even a quick one…

Getting back to blogging via @sguditus

One of the PLNs of which I am a part, BFC530, has been exploring the ins and outs of blogging in the education world. Although I've been blogging for a while now (about six years or so), The BFC530 morning Twitter chat and voxer group has really been pushing my thinking and inspired me to start blogging more regularly.  Thanks to some PLN members' ideas, I've started using technology to be able to fit it into my day.
I have found that my morning and evening commute has been transformed from NPR and rocking out to some music to listening to colleagues from around the world discuss professional education topics and push my thinking, making me a better educator.  I have replaced the radio with educators' thoughts, ideas, questions, and blogs that are being read to me over my car speakers (that last part is for you, Massachusetts State Police - don't worry, I'm not texting and driving or reading and driving).
So why do I blog? Someone in the PLN suggested that one bl…

Lessons from the Classroom...again (via @sguditus)

On Friday, I had an awesome opportunity to reconnect with a group of students as teacher.  A wonderful teacher was absent on Friday, and asked me to roll out GAFE to her E block class of students.  (Once I found computer lab space...) I jumped on that opportunity immediately!  What a great opportunity.
I try to be as present as possible in classrooms, working to be a present, active member of the amazing learning community at Manchester-Essex Middle School.  When I walked into Mrs. W's classroom, I got a hearty "Hello, Mr. G.!"  This was a great welcome in and of itself.  I announced to students, "OK guys, I'm going to teach your class today," students said, "wait - you are going to teach us?!"  It was an interesting dichotomy - I like to think of myself as lead learner and as an educator at heart - I list "educator" on my taxes, I tell people I am an educator when I meet them, but students were confused: the principal was going to be th…

Maker-Spacing Your School via @sguditus

WOW - I just participated in a super-charged #satchat about maker spaces.  Folks came to the table with varying readiness levels about what a maker space is, can be, should be, could be.  After 90 minutes of engaging in conversation, expanding my own background knowledge and hearing about different models of maker spaces, I've created a conglomerate definition of maker space characteristics.  Maker spaces:


Are both physical space and a philosophy;Are embedded into classrooms, clubs, in school and out of school;Provide authentic problems;Can contain materials of any size, shape and dimension;Encourage Innovation;Build constructivist learning and thinking;Are interest-based;Are collaborative;Are fun!Help students discover passions;Focus on creation;Encourage risk-taking, being wrong and failing;Develop problem-solvers;Promote collaboration.
There was a lot of talk about having a Maker Team to guide vision and philosophy in one's school (thanks to Lisa Meade of Corinth MS for the …

Social Media Alert #ptchat

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In the ever-changing world of social media, your child may be engaging in online interactions with friends and strangers alike.  As quickly as you can learn about what apps your child may be using, new ones may appear.  Therefore, it is important you regularly examine your child’s electronic device and speak to him/her about making safe and responsible decisions and words – both online and offline.   It is crucial to engage with students about responsible and wise behavior, communication and interactions - not just restricting access to the Internet or to specific websites and apps.  Certainly, there needs to be supervision;  supporting adolescents is all about providing a safety net - but engaging in online communication is now part of becoming an adult.  Let's help students traverse this world, instead of allowing them to dive into it alone.Remember, kids may have access to these apps on his/her phone, droid, tablet, handheld device, computer – or that of the friend or anywhere …

5 Ways To Avoid Burnout (Steve Guditus @sguditus)

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I recently had a conversation with a phenomenal teacher, former colleague and friend, @mausigal, about staying above the fray, avoiding burnout staying pumped up in our last month of school, taking a deep breath, and getting rejuvenated over the summer.  It got me thinking...as educators, we can feel like there are too many initiatives, insufficient resources, not enough time, and too much to get done!  How do we stay focused on the most important thing: student learning?

5 Ways Avoid Burnout:


Get pumped up.  According to a Boston Globe article by Deborah Kotz, recent research states that when you are feeling stressed, don't get subdued, go get pumped up.  And who better to get you pumped up than Richard Simmons?!  Seriously: shift your paradigm to view a challenge as an opportunity and turn on some "Runnin' Down A Dream" by Tom Petty.Exercise.  Take care of yourself - mind and body.  Give yourself a mental break and go exercise.  The research linking exercise and me…

21st Century Classrooms: No Excuses (Steve Guditus @sguditus)

During #satchathack weekly chat this morning, which occurred in lieu of #satchat (which was on vacation), my PLN had a lively conversation about 21st century education, how to get there, and the risk of edtech being a facade of achieving a 21st century classroom.

Today's discussion continued to confirm for me that we are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.  What?!  How is this possible?  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on "Your Child's Job," where I referenced a recent Boston Globe article that examined current employment trends, and made some predictions for the future job market in Massachusetts.  To understand more how we are preparing our children for jobs that don't yet exist, go to: Your Child's Job.

Another point that was made by participants surrounded this 19th-20th-21st century dichotomy.  Some argued that we are living in a 19th century school curriculum and agrarian structure; others lamented living 20th century phys…

What I Learned at #edcampBOS 2014 (@sguditus Steve Guditus)

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What I Learned At #edcampBOS 2014 by: @sguditus
Have an open mind and an open heart.  Several times throughout my day, I entered a session, and it wasn't what I expected, and I stayed.  And it was awesome.  I learned something new.  I expanded my PLN.  I met fantastic educators.  I formed new ideas.  Other times, I moved on, and hit up a few sessions, until I found the one that resonated with me - that I hadn't expected it, but there it was: the session that connected with me.Trust your instinct.  Have you ever felt: It is just me, or do other people feel the same way
about this?...
More often than not, educators forget to follow our instinct and our gut.  I wonder: Am I in this alone?  Am I the only one who feels this way?  Education is a blend of both science and art, and #edcampBOS reminded me to trust my instinct, trust my gut, and to remember that the network of people out there who are forging forward, progressively to push education to be what we need and what it to be …

#BostonStrong: Boston Marathon Bombing, One Year Later

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One year ago, I wrote the following blog post to share resources with educators and parents/guardians - to help work with students and to help adults themselves work through this tragedy that hit Boston, Massachusetts and the world.  In the spirit of seeing the good after a tragedy, we teach our students to focus on the leadership and human kindness that emerges from dark, tragic times.  The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was one such time, but Boston is resilient, and so are its people.  In addition to the resources below, some heroes of the Boston Marathon bombing are profiled one year later, which is a positive follow-up to either start or conclude a reflection on the Boston Marathon bombing anniversary:

http://www.aol.com/article/2014/04/14/4-heroes-of-the-boston-marathon-bombing/20868687/
http://www.necn.com/04/14/14/BMC-honors-victims-heroes-of-Boston-Mara/landing.html?blockID=865065&feedID=11106
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/13/boston-strong-ducks-marathon/75…

Stress, Play and 21st Century Skills

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While discussing stress with his students, our building's Health Teacher invited me up to discuss students' concerns - at their request.  Students felt strongly enough that they wanted to speak about stress, homework and academic pressure with the principal.  Seventh graders!  I popped up to his classroom, and what I heard was alarming, upsetting, and a bit sad.  Students reported things such as "there is so much pressure, that sometimes I have to decide between playing with friends or doing my homework" and "I'm thinking about dropping out of playing on my sports team, because I don't have time to be on a team and time to finish my schoolwork."

I polled the students, and on average, students have over two hours of homework a night, often not including studying for tests and quizzes.  What does this tell me?  We need to do some work with students around study skills, backwards planning and executive functioning skills.  In her article from the fall…

Your Child's Job (Steve Guditus @sguditus)

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Melissa Schorr of the Boston Globe wrote an article in the Globe's March 9, 2014 issue on Learning and Earning 2014 entitled "Where The State Labor Market Is Headed This Decade."  Schorr reports Massachusetts-specific statistics about the future of the job market, helpful for current job seekers, college grads, or parents and guardians who are interested in persuading their children to plant roots in The Commonwealth later in life.  If you have ever asked me my thoughts on 21st century skills or heard me speak publicly to parents/guardians, student or staff, you know that I believe we are in a time where our
public education system is preparing our students for jobs that don't yet exist.  In her infographic-style article, Schorr states:

The work we do is ever-evolving - some jobs emerge, others fade to black (think film projectionists).  The Labor Department's list of occupations, which has gown to some 840 items since its 1977 debut, is again underg…

Lessons from The Olympics (@sguditus Steve Guditus)

The Olympics is such a great event for so many reasons...but as an educator, I can't help but view the events unfolding in front of me through the lens of "how is this an authentic way to teach students?"  Though this list is in no way comprehensive, The 2014 Sochi Olympics has provided several great ways to teach our students.  A few lessons to learn from the Sochi Olympics:

Be courageous.  Hopeful to medal after winning the US Championships a month prior, Jeremy Abbott crashed to ice in his short men's ice skating program, within just 10 seconds of starting.  What he did next said more about his character than the performance itself: he stood up, and continued skating.  And he went on to skate one heck of a performance.  Jeremy Abbott might not have medaled, but he demonstrated picking oneself up after falling.  To read more: http://es.pn/1fiqMvL Be determined.  Charlie White and Meryl Davis, the American Ice Dancing Team that won gold, have been working together fo…

Resources to Support All Learners (@sguditus Steve Guditus) #satchat

The amazing #SatChat strikes again.  On Saturday morning, January 25, 2014, I participated in the weekly #SatChat with colleagues from around the country and world.  Not only does participating in #SatChat challenge me personally and professionally, it allows me to stay current and gather best practices to share with students, parents/guardians and staff.  The topic on 1/25/14 was "Supporting All Learners," and as participants were asked to share resources used to support all learners, I couldn't keep up with the great list supplied, collectively, by educators around the world.  What follows is the start of a list of apps, programs, websites and programs used by educators to support learning.  Please comment below to add additional ideas to this list!  If you have questions about how-to or implementing effectively in the classroom with students, I would suggest you tweet a message to the idea's author: their Twitter handle is next to the resource.

Livebinders: help c…