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Showing posts from October, 2014

Speaking in a Monstrous Little Voice

One of the best things about the new schedule at my school is the two-hour literacy block.  Initially, it felt like a long stretch of time.  I was still getting to know the students and trying to find the right books and writing assignments.  Thus far, I have been fortunate.  We have read some short stories, completed a novel and started reading a new book that they are enjoying.  As a passionate reader, I am always thrilled when students connect with books.

In terms of the writing, I have enjoyed being able to connect with assignments to the reading is deep and meaningful ways.  We have had extra time to develop peer editing and revision skills.  Students have produced some quality work. We are putting the finishing touches on a publishable iBook version of our work.  We have had one author's circle and plan to have another on Friday.

It is exciting to see them develop as writers, enjoying the process and the fruits of their labors.  I am impressed with their results.

On Monday,…

Connected Teaching & Learning

It is no secret that my passion for teaching stems from my passion for learning.  I love to learn and am willing to learn about nearly anything.  Plumbing, arbor culture, tennis, word origins, Phillis Wheatley and German phrases are just a few of the things I have studied in the past year.  I get a little charge when I figure out something new and will pester experts in any of these fields for new facts and knowledge.

It is a little embarrassing, really.

But it is in these connections with others that I gain the most valuable stuff.  As a result of my incessant questing, my arborist has retired and my teenage son will roll his eyes when I ask dumb questions about tennis.

All kidding aside, most of my favorite "experts" are willing to engage in a lively conversation about their field - which is my favorite way to learn.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a conference run by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (read my blog about it here).  It w…

Why Is Being Connected Important?

Today was a very busy day.  It actually started last night.  I needed help with an issue, so I texted our Technology Integration Specialist, Karen.  She always knows!  And, like me, she stays up late.  Karen didn't know the answer, but she had an idea for how I might find one.


This morning, I was scheduled to visit another school.  Four of my former students go there.  I drove with a colleague and we were able to talk about some school issues in the car.  At the school, we met with some of their new teachers and learned about their approaches to success.  It was fascinating.
Once back at school, I met with the Dean of Students to discuss a student or two (and drink a little coffee).  She helped me find the words I needed to discuss a tricky matter with a parent. 
I taught class.  More accurately, the students worked on a project after we had a brief class meeting.  I was inspired to undertake this particular project after hearing Adam Bellow speak last week. (I now follow him on T…

What Will You Do Differently This Week?

Over the last few days, I have been inspired!  I had the privilege of attending the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Biennial Conference on Friday.  The keynote speaker, NAIS President John Chubb,  was fantastic.  I attended two excellent sessions, one in particular on gamification with Jon Cassie. The closing speaker, Adam Bellow, was phenomenal.  Click here if you want to check out the full program.

I was positively tingling with ideas and inspiration.  But then it was Saturday and I had to buy groceries.  On Sunday, I had a party to attend.  Even though today was a day off, I spent most of it waiting in a doctor's office.

My point is, it would be easy to just show up tomorrow at school and do the same old stuff.  Sure, my classes are engaging and we are in the throes of some really fun projects.   But all of my inspiration would go to waste if I didn't commit myself to implementing my new ideas IMMEDIATELY!  It's October already!  There really is no time…

Authentic Connections

The phrase "authentic connections" sounds like such a big thing.  Something epic and earth-shattering, even.  When I was younger, I would define "authentic connections" as those meetings where decisions were made, conclusions were come to and resolution was reached.

No such luck.  It didn't take long for me to realize that this is a pretty silly standard.  In fact, broadening my definition of authentic connections enabled me to realize that they can happen all day long and almost anywhere.  Like the chats you have with the people who sold you donuts, the brief exchanges you have with colleagues in the hall, the email exchange you had with your boss, the Twitter chat you participated in, the laughs you share with your students or even the difficult conversations you might have with a parent, student or colleague.

While there is no exact recipe for authentic connections, I believe that you need to have at least two of the following things present in order to have…

Being Connected

Happy Connected Educators Month!

Being "connected" used to mean grade group meetings, graduate classes and professional development days.  Sometimes, these experiences were beneficial and rewarding.  Other times, not so much.

Today, being connected looks and feels very different.

Interactions and activities are more tailored to the needs and interests of the of the individual teacher.Connections span the globe, not just the school or the district.They can occur anytime - not just after school hours or on professional development days.Teachers have greater ownership in the process.  Learning about self-selected topics increases motivation and engagement in new ideas and skills. For me, being a connected educator is empowering.  I know that if I have questions, there are people who have answers.  They might not be in my building, but I can find them on Twitter or other on-line communities.

I know that I can get answers whenever I want them - at 4 am, in the middle of the night…