Morning Meeting Refresher

From the Responsive Classroom blog.  Some may think it’s hokey, but we know, it works, even for older students and yes, for adults too.  Enjoy!

Vic

Morning Meeting and Older Students

If you teach older students—those between 10 and 14—you may have wondered if Morning Meeting is appropriate for them. Can you spare the time from the intensifying academic focus in the upper grades? Do they really need the structure and support Morning Meeting provides? The answer is a definite Yes.

Morning Meeting is not only appropriate for older students, it’s especially important as an anchor, a predictable routine that they need more than ever as they undergo rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual changes. Morning Meeting helps them trust each other and value learning at a time when their peer culture may say it’s cool not to care and uncool to be smart and engaged.

Here are a few tips to help you hold Morning Meetings that will engage and support your older students.

  • Respectfully but firmly address “it’s little kid stuff” grumblings about Morning Meeting. For example: “We’re going to be a learning community all year long, so we need to develop a positive climate that will help us do great work together. Morning Meeting is a powerful way to do that, and so it will be a part of every day in our classroom.”
  • Be mindful of physical changes. Older students may no longer be comfortable sitting on the floor. Teach, model, and practice how to safely and swiftly move chairs to and from the meeting area.
  • Consider increasing social sensitivities. Older children become increasingly self-conscious and concerned about measuring up in the eyes of their peers. Choose relaxed greetings, sharings, and activities that avoid putting them on the spot while still giving them the peer interaction they crave.
  • Continually observe your class. Morning Meeting best supports students when you adjust each component to suit their developmental needs, capabilities, and mood. To do that, you need to know where they are each day, so close observation is especially important with these swiftly changing children.

Try It Now!

Here are a few Morning Meeting ideas that work well with older students.

Greeting
  • Famous Quotations: Write inspiring famous quotations on index cards. (Choose ones that relate to your class’s studies; for example, quotes by Albert Einstein to inspire their science learning.) Give each student a card. Students mix and mingle to greet each other and briefly share what their quotation means to them.
  • Book Character: For a week, students wear name tags of their favorite book character. Greetings that week are done using characters’ names. At the end of the week, have students remove their name tags and see if they can remember one another’s character names.
  • Multi-Ball Toss:  Student A greets Student B across the circle and tosses a ball to them. Student B returns the greeting and then greets Student C, tossing the ball to them, and so on. After a while add a second ball, and then a third, challenging the class to send the balls around in the original greeting pattern three times without dropping them or skipping anyone.
Sharing

Foster engagement by mixing up the formats (around-the-circle, partner or small-group chats, dialogue sharing). Some good topics for older students:

  • Favorite music and movies
  • Weekend events
  • Possible career interests
  • Special talent or skill
  • Progress on science or social studies projects
Group Activity

Keep these relaxed and noncompetitive; some examples from The Morning Meeting Book,3rd edition. If students could use a fun break:

  • Zoom: The student who begins the activity says “Zoom!” and quickly turns his head quickly to face a classmate on either her right or left. That student passes the Zoom to the next person, and so on around the circle. You can challenge the group to go faster and use a stopwatch to time them.
  • Zip Zap Pop: A volunteer starts by placing either hand on top of his head so his fingers are pointing to the student on his left or right and saying, “Zip!” The student who receives the Zip either passes it on to the next student in the circle or place a hand under her chin, pointing her fingers back toward the student who passed her the Zip, and says, “Zap!” or she points at someone across the circle and says, “Pop!” Continue until everyone has been zipped, zapped, or popped.

When the class mood is more focused and mature:

  • Mental Math Pushups: Write a series of math expressions on a whiteboard. Students work with a partner to find the answer to each expression in their head—no pencil or paper. On your signal, all students give their answer at the same time. To help students focus, cover all expressions but the first one. Then uncover one expression at a time as the rounds continue.
  • Scientific Pros and Cons: Students find (or you assign) a partner. Give a pencil and sheet of paper to each pair. Name a scientific venture they’ve been studying (bioengineering crops, introducing wolves to control deer, using alternative energy sources). Give everyone a minute to think; then give partners one minute to list pros of the venture, followed by one minute to list cons. Circle up again and invite partners to share one pro and one con with the class.

Other News

  • Bus Duty for March 9-March 20 Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams  Upcoming Bus Duty: March 23- April 10:  Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson
  • Our next staff meeting is March 26th.  Right before spring break!
  • East Side Jump Rope for Heart is March 25th. Grades 2-5 2:15p.m.
  • East Side Spelling Bee is March 26th Grades 2-5 2:00p.m.
  • Fire Inspection on March 27th:  Some of the violations the fire inspector will be looking for would be blocked emerg. windows, extension cords being used instead of power strips or extension cords plugged into power strips, coffee pots, hot plates or toasters in classrooms, items piled on top of cupboards too close to ceiling, missing electrical cover & switch plates, covered classroom door windows, missing fire retardant tags on furniture, door wedges,  paper on the walls close to entry & exit doors.  Please survey your room and fix any violations you can or contact Marty if you have any problems.
  • We will do another Boogie Friday on March 27th for your planning purposes.
  • Below are the dates for state exams.  I will get a revised schedule out for at least ELA and Math soon.  Thanks all!
  • Speaking of NYS Testing.  April is the BIG month.  Here are dates for NYS tests:
    • ELA April 14, 15, 16
    • Math April 22, 3, 24
    • 4th Grade Science Performance May 21 Written: June 1
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • We can teach creativity and we can foster creativity in our instruction. It’s a myth (or, actually, five myths) that we can’t.
  • This chart offers some alternatives to traditional homework. The suggestions are grouped by the different purposes of homework which makes it very easy to use.
  • Here are some ideas to get you started with graphic notetaking. Conferences use this – but it can happen in the classroom, too.
  • This collection of resources and Project-Based Learning provides practical advice and suggestions for assessment in a PBL classroom.
  • Are you unhappy with your (or your school’s)grading and report card system? This teacher is, and you can read about it in this thoughtful post.

Teachers Throwing Out Grades

Have you heard about Teachers Throwing Out Grades?  It is a grass roots movement by wonderful folks, Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein.  These are definitely two folks you want to follow.  They are forward thinkers and ask the question, “Why do we give grades to our students and what does it mean to get an 89?”  It is really changing a mindset of assessment, not standardize testing, but how we give grades on a report card. Really, for me to do it justice, you have to visit Mark’s page.   There is a VERY active facebook page that you can access here.  When we start to discuss and redesign report cards, which we will in the near future (don’t ask when, I don’t have the answer) check out some of the thoughts within this group.  A twitter chat also happens on Mondays at 7:00p.m. using the hashtag #TTOG.  You can always lurk!!  Here is Mark at TEDx explaining his formula for Assessment 3.0.  Food for thought!  Enjoy the week!

Vic

Other News

  • Bus Duty for March 9-March 20 Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams  Upcoming Bus Duty: March 23- April 10:  Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson
  • Please check out the email I sent regarding dismissal.  Thanks!
  • All activities for the March 13th half day are on MLP.  Please sign up prior to midnight March 13th!
  • Our next staff meeting is March 26th.  Right before spring break!
  • Fire Inspection on March 27th:  Some of the violations the fire inspector will be looking for would be blocked emerg. windows, extension cords being used instead of power strips or extension cords plugged into power strips, coffee pots, hot plates or toasters in classrooms, items piled on top of cupboards too close to ceiling, missing electrical cover & switch plates, covered classroom door windows, missing fire retardant tags on furniture, door wedges,  paper on the walls close to entry & exit doors.  Please survey your room and fix any violations you can or contact Marty if you have any problems.
  • We will do another Boogie Friday on March 27th for your planning purposes.
  • Below are the dates for state exams.  I will get a revised schedule out for at least ELA and Math soon.  Thanks all!
  • My friend Lisa Meade and I posted a blog we wrote together called “A Seat at the Table”    Please check it out!
  • My good friend Tony Sinanis wrote “41 Things I Know About Education”  A GREAT read!
  • I will be starting up walk through evaluations again to get folks in the 3-5 grade levels completed prior to April NYS testing, and then hit lower levels and then DONE, and get ready for domain 4 and end of year meetings.
  • Speaking of NYS Testing.  April is the BIG month.  Here are dates for NYS tests:
    • ELA April 14, 15, 16
    • Math April 22, 3, 24
    • 4th Grade Science Performance May 21 Written: June 1
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(From March 4, 2015 ASCD SmartBrief)

Study reveals benefits of active learning

Students working together in computing class
(Goodluz)

Active learning may be the key to positive student outcomes, according to a recent study. Researchers examined active learning in flipped and nonflipped biology classes and found that the students in both classes posted equivalent achievement at the end of the semester. T.H.E. Journal (3/3)

Can learning through play benefit all students?
Educators in early grades — and more recently middle grades — are incorporating play in learning, writes Hilary Conklin, an associate professor at DePaul University and fellow with the OpEd Project. She notes that recent research supports learning through play for all students, even high-schoolers. Time.com (3/3)

Insect study offers lessons in math, other core subjects
Some students in a Florida school district learned math, science and other core subjects by studying various insects. The project required students to work in groups during research and design presentations to share with peers and family. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (3/2)

Enrollment in teacher-training programs declines in some states
Several states are reporting drops in enrollment in teacher-training programs, including California, where enrollment has fallen by more than half over five years. Officials say the cause is unclear, but some point to issues such as the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and limited budgets. National Public Radio/nprEd blog (3/3)

What are the components of a successful one-to-one program?
The implementation of a one-to-one program doesn’t mean all students need to have the same device, writes Bob Nelson, superintendent of schools for Chawanakee Unified School District in California. In this blog post, he highlights factors for a successful one-on-one program. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/3)

States’ opt-out policies for tests are in state of evolution, report finds
Policies and consequences for opting out of standardized tests are inconsistent across states, according to a recent study by the Education Commission of the States. “This is such a new issue, you could easily see how all of these policies are constantly evolving,” ECS researcher and study co-author Julie Rowland said. Education Week (tiered subscription model)/State EdWatch blog (3/3)

NCLB rewrite could allow local tests to replace state assessments
National Journal (3/2)

Research IDs barriers to physical activity in youths
Feeling self-conscious is the leading factor preventing children and teens from exercising, followed by a lack of enjoyment, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting. However, researchers found that having friends who were physically active was associated with increased levels of physical activity.HealthDay News (3/3)

The APPR Insanity Continued – From All Directions

So, I was going to share with you my reading by Tony Wagner and his book The Global Achievement Gap, but I came upon Jeff Craig’s second post on the OCM BOCES website about APPR. (I’ll save the other one for next week!) Please take the time to read this, as I cannot say it any better!  Have a great week!

Vic

The APPR Insanity Continues – From All Directions

Last month, this column described the political discourse about teacher evaluation and the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) as insanity, citing the definition of insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. During the last month, the battle between Governor Cuomo and the teacher’s association, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), has escalated with both sides taking shots at each other. As previously observed, the insanity shows no signs of abating.

The Governor is arguing that inflated teacher evaluation results means change to the APPR system is necessary. He has been suggesting that a shift from the 20% + 20% + 60% is necessary, proposing a combination of 50% student achievement based on test scores and 50% of other measures that will magically solve things. After NYSUT went on the offensive with a media campaign against the Governor, Cuomo fired back by zeroing in on the generous conversion scale that many districts adopted to convert from the rubric scores to the 60%. Specifically, the Governor’s office has identified the NYSUT-developed conversion scale as problematic and hascalled for a review of all of the APPR plans of school districts located in Long Island (Newsday conducted an analysis that led to the attention). NYSUT responded with the observation that all of those APPR plans were approved by the State Education Department. Now the media is reporting the polling numbers of the two sides in the battle, including whose “side” the public is on. And so, the battle goes on…

The problem with this fight is that it drains the system of energy – energy that should be spent on the teaching and learning process. This very visible fight, often fought through the media, is a significant distraction from the work that needs to occur in schools. What’s worse, however, is that the battle is over the wrong things.

The problem is that the battle lines are all over a misplaced emphasis on human capital over social capital. Rooted in what Michael Fullan categorized as “wrong drivers of change,” systems that emphasize individual human capital over social capital and that emphasize the use of accountability data in a punitive way are simply doomed to failure.Here’s how Fullan compares the drivers (and you can easily recognize our present path):

  1. Accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building;
  2. Individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individual vs group solutions;
  3. Technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction;
  4. Fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies.

The basic assumption in the present APPR paradigm, with its emphasis on human capital, is that increases in student achievement will come either with better individual teachers or by changing the individual behavior of teachers. Carrots are being employed through offers of merit pay or other reward compensation. Sticks are used, too, via labels such as “ineffective” or “developing” and through threats of expedited dismissal with repeated “ineffective” ratings. Deming taught us long ago that such systems simply do not work. More recently, Daniel Pink clarified what motivates people. All of this is being ignored in the present [impolite] conversation. This doesn’t mean that systems of feedback, accountability, and evaluation aren’t important. They are. If we want continuously improving professional practice, however, the emphasis should be on different things.

Instead, what we need to do is to include the power of social capital in the effort to improve systems of teacher evaluation. We should be held accountable for the instructional decisions we make and on the extent to which we work collaboratively on the right work. We should expect all teachers to professionally work with each other, in a relentless goal of student learning. We should expect all teachers to work collaboratively, all the time, in pursuit of these four questions (the guiding questions in a Professional Learning Community):

  • What is it we expect our students to learn?
  • How will we know when they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when some students do not learn?
  • How will we respond when some students already know it?

Strangely, none of this is heard in the battle over teacher evaluation and APPR. Thus, the insanity continues. The situation is exacerbated by the toll the battle takes on teachers, administrators, parents, and ultimately, students. Instead of collaboratively focusing on student learning, our attention is being diverted in the wrong direction, thus decreasing the amount of time and energy that can be spent on teaching and learning. It might be naïve, but isn’t that exactly the opposite of what teacher evaluation and APPR is supposed to do?

Craig,-Jeff_WEBJeff Craig
Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Support Services
JCraig@ocmboces.org

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Feb 23-March 6 Team 2:  Paula Bates, Marcie Tyler, Sarah Pawananon  Upcoming Bus Duty: March 9- March 19:  Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams
  • Check out our first East Side Video Update by clicking here!  Awesome!
  • Our next Staff Meeting is this Thursday, March 5, 2015 from 7:30a.m.-8:30a.m.
  • I will be starting up walk through evaluations again to get folks in the 3-5 grade levels completed prior to April NYS testing, and then hit lower levels and then DONE, and get ready for domain 4 and end of year meetings.
  • Speaking of NYS Testing.  April is the BIG month.  Here are dates for NYS tests:
    • ELA April 14, 15, 16
    • Math April 22, 3, 24
    • 4th Grade Science Performance May 21 Written: June 1
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(Provided by OCM BOCES IS Weekly Dispatch )

You can learn about risk and protective factors in young people that explain the different paths students take when facing similar situations. Some students make bad decisions, others persevere.

Public schools outperform private schools when you control for the demographics, says this research.

Learn about the new format of the SAT at this session provided by The College Board.

Here’s another take on the Eight Essentials of Project-Based Learning

differentiation in a science classroom. You can see several examples of scaffolding and challenge.This post explains how formative assessment is a key to successful differentiation.

Mike Mattos wonders if we sometimes ask the wrong questions when we design our RTI systems. In this post, Mike raises some questions for us.

We talk about rigor all the time. Tony Wagner (who will participate in PBLNY this summer) suggests that we’ve got it all wrong. Students don’t or can’t get rigor in the school’s we’ve got, he says.

Wrong Drivers

Some of you are aware that I am a huge fan of Michael Fullan’s work.  His belief is that if we build up the teaching core and provide professional capital for our teachers, we will have better teaching and in turn better “results”.  He also believes that we have taken a turn and are utilizing more wrong drivers than right drivers, especially in the US and UK.  I wrote about this in my blog here.

Jeff Craig oversees the Instructional Support Department at OCM BOCES.  In light of the State of the State address by Governor Cuomo this past week, Jeff wrote a great blog about APPR that I would like to share with you as for your perusal.  Enjoyl

Vic

APPR Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result, according to Einstein. Or Franklin. Or Twain. All three of these noteworthy thinkers have been reported to say this – and most often this axiom has been attributed to Einstein. He was, after all, both smart and witty. As it turns out, however, no one has been able to find this in his writing. Nonetheless, this oft-used truism applies to the system of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) in New York State. In fact, we are trying to do the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result.

The Widget Effect was published in 2009 and it described the state of teacher evaluation. It identified that, using evaluation systems used in the United States at that time, all teachers were satisfactory (less than 1% were rated unsatisfactory). The report also concluded that truly excellent teaching went unrecognized, that professional development was not connected to evaluations, and that poor performance was not addressed. Despite the overwhelmingly positive rating that teachers were receiving, 57% of teachers and 81% of administrators reported that there were poor teachers in their school. These findings pointed, we were told, toward the need for a new system of teacher evaluation.

The conclusions of the Widget Effect report were used to argue for a new APPR system in New York State. When you add the incentive of Race To The Top money for the state in a time period of fiscal contraction, you get the political context for a deal. The framework of the deal is the 20% + 20% + 60% APPR calculus. The first 20% is supposed to come from the state and be based on some measure of student achievement. Whether or not you agree that 20% coming from state assessments is a good idea, the state, as it turned out, could only determine the 20% for a small fraction of teachers. For the rest of the teachers, school districts were delegated with the authority to a mechanism from a few larger jurisdictions in the county known as “Student Learning Objectives” (SLO). Besides being poorly named (educators thought that an SLO was a learning objective for the students), the regulations about SLOs were written in such a way as to allow for many different interpretations.

The second 20%, according to the NY APPR plan, was to be a locally agreed-upon measure of student achievement that had to be different than the first 20%. There were even less regulations provided for this part of the evaluation, so the variation between districts was considerable.

The variation in local interpretation and implementation of the locally-determined 20% turned out to be nothing compared to the variation in the final 60%. The 60% portion was supposed to come from multiple measures which included evidence collected from a minimum number of classroom observations. Like the second 20%, this had to be negotiated with the local professional association. NYSUT, New York’s teachers’ union, introduced an extremely generous conversion scale that many districts adopted. Other districts literally gave teachers a significant portion of the 60 points just for submitting any artifacts with no assessment of the quality of the artifact whatsoever.

What was the result of this APPR cacophony? The result was that systems were locally constructed in order to be very generous to teachers. Yes, there was a great deal of drama among the teacher ranks about widespread and unjust teacher dismissal that would result from implementation of the new APPR system. The drama was unnecessary, as it turns out, because most of the decks were stacked in favor of high evaluation scores for teachers. How high? Well, the most recent information from the State Education Department indicates that just 1% of teachers were rated as ineffective. Swap the label “unsatisfactory” for “ineffective” and you end up with precisely the same number that the Widget Effect cited as a rationale for a different system of teacher evaluation.

Now, due in part to a feud between NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and the teachers’ association, another change to the APPR system seems possible. The Governor has seized the inflated teacher evaluation results as an opportunity to force changes to the system through the budget process. While the new (and old, for that matter) APPR system doesn’t work, there is no indication that the kind of changes the Governor desires will improve it. Based on an exchange of letters between the Governor’s leadership andSED, it sure looks like the present version of the APPR system is in the crosshairs. We’re hearing about new math, such as 40% + 60% or 25% + 75% or 50% + 50%… but this, too, is just more of the same and constitutes insanity as applied in this post.

Systems like the APPR system in NY mistakenly place an emphasis on human capital rather than social capital and thus are doomed to failure. Rooted in what Michael Fullan categorized as “wrong drivers of change,” systems that emphasize individual human capital over social capital and that emphasize the use of accountability data in a punitive way are simply doomed to failure. To replace old systems with similar systems, repeatedly, gets us to the insanity that some other than Einstein, Franklin, or Twain described. So far, our leaders haven’t learned from the past and haven’t read much Michael Fullan. To our north there lies a large system of education that is making progress based on an application of the “right drivers of change.” Ontario, which happens to have one very large city in it, with a few other good-size cities, and a lot of geographically diverse communities, is making the kinds of educational improvements that we can’t. Perhaps we should stop the insanity and apply a little common sense, research-based thinking in place of political vitriol. If we don’t, we’ll continue to get what we’ve always gotten.

Craig,-Jeff_WEBJeff Craig
JCraig@ocmboces.org

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Jan 20-Jan 30 Team 9:  Jessica Serviss, Brandi LaRue, Teresa Kiechle, Denise Croasdaile  Upcoming Bus Duty: Feb 2- Feb 13:  Team 1:  Kathy Palmer, Brooke Santamont, Kyle Baker, Jenny Nachamkin
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(Provided by OCM BOCES IS Weekly Dispatch )

  • In his speech and in his budget proposal, the Governor offered no increases in aid to schools unless he achieves agreements for a more rigorous teacher evaluation system, tenure changes, and of the limit on the number of charter schools.
  • There’s been a great deal of attention paid to student engagement – this article reports on teacher engagement and its impact on learning. New York has the third highest percentage of actively disengaged teachers.
  • Perhaps some of the most effective ways to support students in poverty is through the little things we can do, according to this New York Times article.
  • Sometimes we need to be able to laugh at ourselves. Try this education jargon generator – you’ll impress your colleagues (and get a good laugh out of it).
  • This post describes the process of developing guiding questions in a step-by-step manner. It includes an important step to ensure that your question is standards-based.
  • The questions can be more important than the answer – and it’s better if the questions come from the students than from the teacher. Explore this post to get you thinking more about questions than answers.
  • You can improve the PowerPoint slides you use in the classroom (and improve the retention) by following this advice.
  • Small schools have additional challenges when transforming to a Professional Learning Community due to some of the scheduling and teaming issues. This column includes some suggestions.
  • This article describes the stages that teams in a Professional Learning Community might encounter during the transition toward becoming a truly effective team.
  • You and your students can compare all sorts of data about different aspects of our country at the Measures of America site. The site can provide facts to support and explain social issues.

A Touch of Humor

WONDER

(This was a blog post I published on January 4th on my personal blog, Rethinking Education. I thought I would share it with you as it received lots of hits.  Enjoy!  Vicki)

Our #PTCamp PLN came up with a one word challenge, a resolution for 2015.  I chose WONDER.  Why wonder? It’s a word that sparks imagination.  It’s a word that can enhance creativity.  It is a word that has us thinking.

WONDER

I had the privilege to attend the 2014 NYSCATE conference in Rochester, NY in November, and they had the fabulous Jason Latimer as a keynote speaker. He had over 2,000 participants ‘wonder’ about wonder, imagination, creativity using magic and science, but also reminding us, how to spark wonder in our students by asking questions. Asking questions is a lot more significant than receiving answers, isn’t it?

We just came back from two week hiatus trip to Colombia and traveled the region of Antioquia, the coffee region where it is very mountainous and very rural. We ended at our gracious host, Ana’s house above the town of La Ceja. My husband and I always love to be in the communities, learning the way of life and I am fortunate to have experienced many trips like this where we stay with folks or with my family and experience the way of living in a different country.

We were working around the house of our host when neighbor children came by. They love Ana and they were curious with these visitors who speak English. They were typical boys, curious to what was happening. They were 4 boys, from 7, 8, 9 and 10 years old. They were wondering, what is my husband doing reinforcing the shed roof? What is growing in the makeshift seed starter kits? How can we play “helicopter” with the 1950 metal lawn chairs? This is wonder, creativity, imagination, something that is a natural curiosity in our kids, not just in the US, but worldwide.

Unfortunately, some kids in our world don’t have that opportunity of wonder. They are stuck in poverty, trying to survive, trying to help their families, and at worst, trying to stay alive, working in child sweatshops because their hands are small and can weave carpets (like in Egypt carpet sweatshop factories), or worse, in worn torn countries like Syria, Iraq or fighting Ebola in West Africa. Then, some kids, like my nephew, are privileged to have high school courses called “Wonder” where they are taught in the Socratic method of questioning and discussion where his assignment over the holidays was to come up with a wonder. (That was a lively discussion!)

So, in the US, how do we develop “wonder” in our kids?  I challenge you to develop this in your students!  Place it in your lesson plans and ask wonder questions.  Spark wonder in your students and develop imagination and creativity.  It is our duty as educators to instill this in our students!

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Jan 5 – Jan 16 Team 8 : Kelly Ayen, Tanya Charron, Gina Caldwell.  Upcoming bus Duty:  Jan 20-Jan 30 Team 9:  Jessica Serviss, Brandi LaRue, Teresa Kiechle, Denise Croasdaile
  • Briana Marsh will be our new East Side counselor.  She will be starting January 20th.  Please welcome her to our East Side community.
  • A new opportunity is in the works this summer, and it’s FREE!  A bunch of us are planning EdcampCNY.  It will be held July 18, 2015 at Liverpool CSD.  The official website is here: EdcampCNY (Yes, that is me in the pic with the handsome Peter DeWitt giving opening remarks at EdcampUNY!)  Register at Tickleap!  Increase your PLN and meet new educators that are willing to share their knowledge!
  • A great article by Timothy Shanahan on How and How Not To Prepare Students for the New Tests.  A must read from the International Reading Association magazine!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(Provided by OCM BOCES IS Weekly Dispatch )

  • Read about the authors of the Common Core math standards and how they went about developing the standards. It can help us understand the standards themselves, as well as the process.
  • SED has prepared guides for the 2015 3-8 ELA and math assessments. The guides include sample questions and a summary blueprint of the tests.
  • These anti-bullying and cyberbullying resources can be shared with parents.
  • Round Robin reading persists in many classrooms. You can continue to fight the battle against it with these suggestions and alternatives.
  • This Hangout addresses the importance of authenticity in your projects.
  • Like anything else, implementation of Project-Based Learning depends on good leadership and support, as described here.
  • If you are taking a good, hard look at the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs, think about the Essential Elements: Schools-to-Watch program. You can learn from the list of middle-level schools that have been recognized in New York (great schools to visit). If you are thinking about applying, the 2015-2016 materials have just been posted.
  • Consider a New Year’s Resolution to focus on rigor rather than difficulty (based on Kevin Daniel’s list):
Rigor
Difficulty
·         Requires thinking, problem-solving, and transfer of learning.·         Students are genuinely engaged in their learning.·         Requires application of knowledge to new situations.

·         Involves students doing better assignments that require thinking and processing.

·         Includes student voice and choice.

·         Creates ownership

·         Gets better results.

·         Usually involves more quantity rather than depth.·         Often means more novels, more worksheets, more homework, more review, etc. ·         Looks like traditional classrooms.

·         Is often confused with rigor.

·         Typically involves teacher-centered activities.

·         Values compliance and convergence.

·         Most products look the same.

·         Gets the results we’re already getting.

  • This entertaining TEDTalk explores the gaps in peoples understanding about global patterns and trends. It is both informative and entertaining.
  • A leadership position sometimes includes having tough conversations. These lessons from one principal can help you get through them and increase the likelihood that they are productive.
  • Governor Cuomo vetoed the legislation that would have enacted the Common Core APPR safety net provision for the state’s 20%. Cuomo said: “…the 2013-14 teacher evaluation results recently released by the State Education Department are not an accurate assessment–only 0.7% of teachers were rated “Ineffective” under the APPR, and so the legislation is unnecessary.”
  • Rubrics help to provide feedback to students, but they also scaffold their work along the way. These tools help teachers generate rubrics more easily.
  • The beginning and ending of each class meeting is often the most important time. Don’t waste them with administrivia or getting an early start on the homework. Consider using the precious time in these ways.
  • This collection of explanations about Project-Based Learning includes three different videos.
  • A teacher reflects on her first PBL unit in this post.
  • How do you know if you are making a difference? This list suggests signs that you are having an impact on your students (and their lives).
  • Teaching our students how to find images that they can use in their work that doesn’t violate copyright law is important to do. This column describes some of the background and makes suggestions for doing things the “right” way.
  • Although more students than ever are taking AP courses, acceptance of AP scores for college credit is not increasing. In fact, their utility seems to be idiosyncratic and state legislatures are getting into the mix.
  • Not only does this infographic express how important the 4Cs are to employers, it also demonstrates a gap between what they are looking for and what their potential employees think is needed. 
  • The 12 Years a Slave DVD and accompanying resources are still free to schools.

A Touch of Humor

Michelle DiPoala..I just saw this on twitter and thought you might ;)

What Great Teachers Do Differently – 17 Things That Matter Most

Todd Whitaker is a colleague that is very generous and helps all educators throughout the nation.  To me, he is one of those “rock star” educators that you may feel afriad to go up to and have a conversation.  The best thing is, he is so approachable and wants to give back to the field. I seem to be in his presence at least once a year or more, and along with his wife, Beth, they want to help all educators be the best in their field.  Beth called me out and another colleague this summer, in front of the entire NAESP national conference during her presentation.  She looked at me and then at Erin and made us stand up and talk to the crowd about being a connected lead learner.  That was interesting to say the least! My heart dropped – on the spot talking to thousands of principals.  Yikes!

I have shared with you many times What Great Teacher Do Differently by Todd Whitaker and Beth has contributed to this book as well.  They recently edited the book and came out with a second edition, adding three extra reasons; Meaning What You Say, Focusing on Students First, and Putting Yourself in Students’ Postion.  Here they are again below:

Teachers are the filters for the day-to-day reality of school.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our behavior sets the tone.  If students overhear us whining or complaining about something, it may be the talk of the school for days even if it was something minor.  By the same token, if we always approach things in a positive manner, then this is what the students reflect.  The most effective educators understand this and choose their filters carefully.

How Is Your Day Going?

        As educators, we hear this question many times a day.  Our response not only influences how others view us, but also affects the frame of mind of the person who asked.  What’s more, we have choices about how to respond.

        You can smile at a fellow teacher and say, “Things are great!  How about with you?”  Or you can respond, “That Jimmy Wallace is getting on my nerves!” – and all of a sudden Jimmy Wallace is getting on that teacher’s nerves too (whether the teacher knows him or not).

        You may be thinking that you could not do this because you would never lie.  Hmm:  So when the second graders ask if you like the mural they drew, what do you tell them?  How do you answer the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?”  Again, it is always up to us to determine what gets through our filters and what does not.

What Great Teachers Do Differently

17 Things That Matter Most

  1.  Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of the school.
  2.   Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses.
  3. Great teachers manage their classrooms thoughtfully.  When they say something, they mean it.
  4.   When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again.
  5.   Great teachers have high expectations for students but even higher expectations for themselves.
  6. Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom:  They are. Good teachers consistently strive to improve, and they focus on something they can control – their own performance.
  7. Great teachers focus on students first, with a broad vision that keeps everything in perspective.
  8. Great teacher create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools.  They treat every person with respect.  In particular, they understand the power of praise.
  9. Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.
  10. Great teachers work hard to keep their relationships in good repair – to avoid personal hurt and to repair any possible damage.
  11.  Great teachers have the ability to ignore trivial disturbances and the ability to respond to inappropriate behavior without escalating the situation.
  12. Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do.  If things don’t work out the way they had envisioned, they reflect on what they could have done differently and adjust their plans accordingly.
  13. Before making any decision or attempting to bring about any change, great teachers ask themselves one central question:  What will the best people think?
  14. Great teachers continually ask themselves who is most comfortable and who is least comfortable with each decision they make.  They treat everyone as if they were good.
  15. Great teachers have empathy for students and clarity about how others see them.
  16.  Great teachers keep standardized testing in perspective; they center on the real issue of student learning.
  17.  Great teachers care about their students.  They understand that behaviors and beliefs are tied to emotion, and they understand the power of emotion to jump-start change.

Put this at the forefront of everything you do, every day!  Have a great week!

Vicki

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Dec 8- Dec 19:  Team 7:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Bev Phelps, Pam Ault Upcoming bus duty: Jan 5 – Jan 16 Team 8 : Kelly Ayen, Tanya Charron, Gina Caldwell.
  • For teachers who received my email about the second walk through evaluation, please make sure you schedule a time with Mrs. Sheen on my calendar before the break.  Thank you for your help!
  • Budgets are due to Mrs. Sheen by January 6, 2015.
  • The Sheriffs Department will be here December 15th and 16th to get our students their picture id’s for the Operation Safe Child id’s for your planning purposes.
  • Mrs. French will be at East Side on Wednesday, December 17.  Please see her email.  (Just a note, I will be out this day as I need to run down to Syracuse to check my eyes.  Hold the fort down!)
  • Happy Holidays to all!  Scott and I are traveling and out of the country the majority of the weeks.  We both wish you and yours a safe and relaxing two weeks.  Enjoy it.  We won’t see this for a while!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • If you are looking for a clear, concise explanation of high school requirements and how they are changing, this deck will help.
  • Has school changed? Not so much. This video juxtaposes schools of the past and present and compares the world, past and present.
  • One of the math shifts is fluency – but it is commonly misunderstand to mean a return to rote memorization of math facts. This article explains mathematical fluency very well. It’s a great article to have teachers of math read and discuss.
  • The American School Board Journal has sharedThe 12 Rules of Christmas” with advice for school at this time of year.
  • You might hear the question: “How do I fit in PBL with everything else I have to do?” The answer is that PBL is the way you do it all in an engaging, meaningful way. Read this for a more thorough explanation.
  • A quick review of the literature reminds us that it’s not STEM that makes a difference, it’s the teaching and learning that makes a difference no matter the subjects. Teaching science, technology, engineering, and math can be done well or not.
  • If you are taking a good, hard look at the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs, think about the Essential Elements: Schools-to-Watch program. You can learn from the list of middle-level schools that have been recognized in New York (great schools to visit). If you are thinking about applying, the 2015-2016 materials have just been posted.
  • It’s a long list, but it identifies the traits of effective leaders. In this case, it’s a timeless list.
  • Commissioner John King is leaving SED to take a job with USDOE.
  • These ideas for creating more teacher time came from teachers.
  • This quick guide describes a variety of Web 2.0 tools that are common in schools.
  • Not many of our high school graduates complete their college degree in 2-years or 4-years, which has all sorts of financial and social implications.
  • A teacher urges us to end the game of school and replace it with Standards-Based Grading.
  • If you are considering a New Year’s resolution to eliminate extra credit, thispost will get you thinking.
  • Icon Play
    Watch how a math teacher partners with an inclusion teacher to create a step-by-step method for solving equations and supporting every student in a classroom.
    Icon Play
    Using the arts as a scaffold helps all students develop key skills in an accessible environment. Notice how Lindsay Young introduces activities that gradually release responsibility to her students.
    Icon Play
    See how one school pairs student needs with teacher expertise to improve learning.

A Touch of Humor

Authentic Learning

I was sharing with a teacher the other day as we reflected on a lesson of the advantage that as a lead learner and leader how I have the opportunity to visit all classrooms at East Side and see the progression of learning.  The discussion ensued about how it is fantastic to see students grow as learners, simply starting to turn to their shoulder buddy in a PreK classroom and talk about a question posed, to watch a 5th grade classroom simply go into a cooperative group, easily, to discuss characteristics of a novel such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardwrobe.  This isn’t just something that comes with osmosis, but is careful, systematic teaching and modeling that you all do throughout the years to get our students to this level of cooperative learninng, dialogue and discussion as you use protocols for inquiry.

It hasn’t always been this way.  Remember times of the end of the unit test, the memorization.  There are times when we do need to do this, but do we need to do it all of the time?  Gone are the days of the teacher led lecture, when the teacher is the ONLY voice and memorization of facts was the only method.  How boring is that?  Larissa Pahomov, the author of Authentic Learning in the Digital Age states that “When we ask students to memorize content that they are never going to apply to a task, they quickly forget it.  Why base education on a rudimentary skill?”  Think about it.  What would it be like to have students be able to  have authentic learning with inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection?  Where the teacher takes the role of the facilator and guide on the side rather than “sage on the stage.”  This is a total shift in mindset of how school run.  (Larissa Pahomov and the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA created this type of High School.  It’s a movement that is taking off in various areas.)

In the elementary grades, we need to set the foundational skills for our students, but this doesn’t mean we ignore fostering inquiry, project based learning, wonder, and imagination.  We cannot ignore what is happening in their world, like the blending of technology into the curriculum or project based learning activities.  But you say, “Vicki, we can’t do it because we are so tied to the common core curriculum, the modules, the SuperKids curriculum.  We are worried about our test scores.  We don’t have the time.  We are stressed.”  Yes, yes, and yes.  But, if we know what is right for kids, then we will figure out how to teach this in a way that will be not a “cookie cutter” approach.  Know the essential questions for learning, identify what students need to learn, build a flexible framework for assessment, and model inquiry on a daily basis.  Also, check out Larissa’s first chapter here.  It is geared to secondary, but we can glimpse into what our students SHOULD experience as high school students and where we need to get them to so they can be productive students and citizens!  Have a great week.

Vic

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Dec 8- Dec 19:  Team 8:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Gina Caldwell Upcoming bus duty: Jan 5 – Jan 16 Team 9:  Jessica Serviss, Teresa Kiechle, Brandi LaRue, Denise Croasedaile
  • We will be sending out the 2015-2016 Budget Memo this week.  Please be congizant of spending next year.  Thank you!
  • Thank you Paula again for opening your house for our staff party!
  • There is a staff meeting this Thursday at 7:30a.m.
  • For teachers who received my email about the second walk through evaluation, please make sure you schedule a time with Mrs. Sheen on my calendar before the break.  Thank you for your help!
  • The Sheriffs Department will be here December 15th and 16th to get our students their picture id’s for the Operation Safe Child id’s for your planning purposes.
  • I have been published in my professional organization’s SAANYS Vanguard journal here about being a Lead Learner.  It is a reflection of our building and the East Side staff!  You ALL make me that much better!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • Although more accurately called active participation techniquesrather than student engagement strategies, this list includes good suggestions, nonetheless.
  • Although it is unclear whether New York will adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, these sample assessment tasks can suggest a direction for science, nonetheless. There’s a lot to them.
  • The Upstate Cancer Center has a head and neck cancer awareness campaign going on now, through education and art. This explanation includes resources for learning about it.
  • The title of this post, “Investigating Authentic Questions,” doesn’t do it justice. There are many suggestions and resources here related to the goal of inquiry.
  • Here are some perspectives about Project-Based Learning, from students and from parents.
  • Not only is Project-Based Learning effective at the elementary level, it can also close achievement gaps. This paper describes a second-grade social studies PBL approach.
  • This list provides ten great reasons for Project-Based Learning (in plain, compelling language).
  • Grant Wiggins has some concerns about NY’s 8th grade math test… big concerns about the questions and their alignment with the Common Core, as well as with their construction. You can read about it here.
  • Don’t forget that students can’t learn from books that they can’t read, says Richard Allington. This points out the need for scaffolding and other supports.
  • Mike Mattos told us that most schools don’t have a Tier 2 or Tier 3 problem; they have a what-we-do-all-day-long problem. Asking (and investigating) these questions can help us develop a better system of RTI and for “all-day-long.”
  • The essential characteristics of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), explained in this infographic, will help you to build common understanding about just what it means to be a PLC.
  • The four questions of a PLC have been translated into student-centered language.
  • This Ignite! Session points out some common decisions in math classes that we never think about… but should. Annie Fetter points out the hazards of being “All what, no why.” By the way, many of these things apply to all classrooms, not just math! Cliques are stronger at some schools that at others. Size matters, according to this research. Tracking matters, too.
  • Watch the story of one schools’ implementation of technology in the classroom as part of a bigger shift toward a collaborative future (and away from traditional silos).

 A Touch of Humor

Check out this Zazzle product!