(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.


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):
·         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 ;)


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