Favorite Posts for September

I can’t believe it is already October, 2011.  This year is off to a fast start.

So, what I have I learned from the world of educators this month …



1.  “You Matter” posted by Doug — Off the record.

This post features a Tedx Video presentation by Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) where she discusses the idea that we are all “created for significance.”  Her three steps, I believe, can change a culture of a classroom.  Her examples are heartfelt and life-changing.  (On my computer, the video would stop, but the audio continued.  The audio is powerful even without seeing all the video.)

2. “Building Professional Trust” by JJohnson

Reflection is a focus of our district this year.  This post reminded me of my 1st favorite post simply because we have to trust in the systemic value of trusting each other to be authentic and excellent teachers.  Our position matters – what we do counts not only in student learning, but in establishing a foundation for the next teacher’s success.

3.  “Twenty Everyday Ways to Model Technology Use for Students” by Heather Wolpert-Gawron

When I shared this blog post with colleagues, many of them responded with “practical,” “useful,” “neat,” “thanks, I can use this.”  The ideas are similar to “high tech learning in a low tech environment.”  It’s not about the technology as much as it is about the thinking.  Definitely worth reading and sharing.

4.  “10 Ways to Restore Emotional Energy” by Kevin Martineau

As  my new teachers were reaching the mid-quarter point this year, I felt many of them drained from the constant work – thinking, planning, modeling, grading, inspiring … with their students and colleagues.  So, I was inspired to share Kevin’s post because it talks about ways to survive the “survival phase” of teaching.

5. “Twenty Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment” by Rebecca Alder

This is another wonderful Edutopia find.  Again, my new teachers have been trying to solve the “classroom behaviors” issues in each of the classes.  Sometimes the behavior problems are management concerns and sometimes they are instructional concerns.  These 20 tips help examine both sides of the concern while embedding positive social skills.

6.  “Using QR Codes to Create Educational Poster” by Alice Keeler

Ok, so I am totally cheating with this one.  I discovered it this morning and was amazed at the ideas shared.  Using technology is my vice, and her ideas will be shared later this week with my colleagues.  Through a ink in the post, she shares her GoogleDocs slides with ideas for all subjects.

There were some amazing responses to 9-11 that I was able to share – including some awesome photos and headlines.  With so many to choose from, I decided to focus on the ones I used this month – with my new teachers, my colleagues, and my SpringBoard community.  Thank you to all educators who freely share their ideas, strategies, techniques, and resources.

Which ones do you find useful?

Artifacts of Practice

Last week, I was blessed to have 3 days of professional development.  During this time we analyzed our own practice as mentors. Why?

At first, I wasn’t sure.  Our academy focused on Equity … namely, equity for English language learners – students who are learning English as a 2nd language as well as those who are learning standard English as a 1st language.

So .. Artifacts of Practice … what am I doing with my mentees to ensure that I am an effective mentor, that I am providing Equity in my  mentoring as well as helping them provide equity in their instruction? (Please take a moment to click the attachments and see the evidence of my reflection.)  Artifact of Practice

BOX 1 … Artifact of Practice Box 1 What data have I collected, and what insights have I discovered? … In this box, I chose 2 Collaborative Assessment Logs and 1 Selected Scripting Tools to analyze.  With 1 of my new teacher, we have truly begun focusing on the needs of her students in high-stakes testing.  Through these tools, we have been able to guide our time together.

BOX 2 … Artifact of Practice Box 2  For this section, we met with coaching partners to discuss what we were doing, what was working, what our own next steps were, and what support we needed.  In response to my new teacher, my coaching partners provided suggestions that are helping me be more determined in my work.

BOX 3 … Artifact of Practice Box 3 One of my favorite sections focused on the strategies and needs of our ELL students.  For this part, we reflected on what strategies we could evidence in our mentee’s classroom.  We then attempted to define a focus for the direction we would take next.

BOX 4 … Artifact of Practice Box 4  Finally, we all were given footprints to “mark our paths” — where we had been (green) and where we wanted to go (beige). In this case, I let my creative juices work in an effort to create actual “foot prints.”

Although I believe in and practice reflection often, this activity gave me new ways of looking at what I do, how effective I am, and where I want to go.

How do you reflect?

The Versatile Blogger Award

Cathy from Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community has honored me with “The Versatile Blogger Award.”  I am flattered and humbled by this acknowledgement, since I began blogging not for honors but for my own reflection and professional sharing.  So, to receive this award, I would first like to thank Cathy for choosing my blog.  Please take some time visit her blog – as the co-host of #pb10for10 each August, her contributions to the profession of education are inspiring.

After accepting this honor there are some things we are requested to do:
1. Thank the person (people) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
2. Share 7 things about you.
3. Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.

7 Things about me …

1.  Wife of 17 years and mother or 4.  I know this is 2, but they are so related since I couldn’t do my job without either of them (or any of them depending on your perspective).

2.  This begins my 15th year of teaching … private school, home school, and public school, primarily in high school, and in the past year as a full-release mentor, supporting brand new teachers.

3.  I love reading – all kinds of books, depending on my mood.

4.  I enjoys crafts.  My sister is a consultant with Stampin’ Up, so we create lots of cards and cute gifts for my new teachers as well as my children’s teachers.

5.  In previous years, I have been a musical performer — singing praise/worship for a service of 1500 people, recording on a praise/worship album, and leading worship for women’s retreats.  Although I don’t perform now (focusing instead on my family), I do enjoy excellent music in a variety of styles.

6. I am addicted to information.  (You’ll have to read one of my previous blogs where I share some favorite posts.)

7.  Diversity makes me curious!  When I see differences among people, I want to know more.  I love asking questions and learning new information.

15 Blogs that have I have discovered … (at least I hope so 🙂 … I think after you visit them, you will truly understand why I believe they deserve the award more than I do. 🙂

1.  Megan at … Middle School 101

2. Ian at … A Teacher’s Thoughts:  Reflections on Teaching, Education, and Technology

3. Mary at … Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

4. Tom at … Tom Schimmer | Learning – Leadership – Life

5. David at … The Language Garden

6. Conni at … Mrs. Mama Hen | Army Life, Homeschooling, Cooking, and Everything Else in Between

7.  Holly at … Three-Sided Wheel | Wheeling Through Life … Rolling With The Punches

8. Lee Ann at … Portable Teacher

9. Edna at … WhatEdSaid

10. Jeff at … Molehills Out of Mountains

11. CA and KK at … When Tech Met Ed

12. Eric at … A Principal’s Reflections

13. Lyn at … The Principal’s Posts

14. Lauralee at … Switching Classrooms | every room is a classroom

15. Vicki at … Cool Cat Teacher Blog

There are so many wonderful blogs.  These blogs are just a few of the blogs I read regularly for a variety of information … thus Versatile Blogger Award winners.

Favorite August Posts

I have come to a frightening conclusion … I am addicted to information. “Hi, my name is Sylvia, and I am an information hoarder.” (LOL)

I laugh because my colleagues all act aghast when I have a blog / article / website / page to share.  Tada!  Where do I get all my wonderful ideas????  My PLN!!! So, last year at the end of the year, I received the “Email Award” (that’s as close as they had to “being on the Internet / Twitter / Blog Award 🙂 ) … This year, the new joke is “they are feeding my addiction.”  And it truly is for fun.  I have a wonderful “family” in my mentor cadres … and thankfully, I have a fantastic PLN that makes me look good locally. 🙂

So … what jewels did I uncover this month?  Here are my top 5 posts.  And, believe me, there are so many good things happening in our world of education, leadership, and collaboration. But, did you catch these 5?

1.  Listen @ Authentic Teaching by Willy C. Cardoso

I really enjoyed this blog about a teacher journey into teaching.  His experience reminded me of the power we have as educators in our students’ lives.  His English teachers may have done special things or not, but their mere passion for learning provided a model for this student to follow in their footsteps.  (My interpretation, that is.)

2.  Social Superhero Top Trumps:  Twitter (Spider-man) vs. Facebook (The Hulk) vs. Google+ (Silver Surfer) @ All Twitter by Shea Bennett

Infographics have definitely grabbed my attention as of lately.  I am fascinated by this new digital media.  I really like this post because I think it shows a high degree of thought and fun!  I believe that a new literacy that our students need to be able to decipher is the Infographi, and I believe it may be one that a lot of schools are missing because it is being shared primarily on Twitter.  Maybe one of my next pet projects is literacy curriculum writing with these texts.

3.  The Messiness of ‘With’ @ Rush the Iceberg by Stephen Davis

Stephen gives credit for this blog idea to @mrmacnology.  I really liked the simplicity of this post.  I recently read a tweet (forgive me for not remembering the author) that said “Simplicity is underrated.”  The power of this post is that it juxtaposes “the messy with” with “the clean from.”

4.  When Jerks Comment @ doug — off the record by Doug Peterson

Thanks to @ShellTerrell’s #30Goals, I have a new fascination with teaching Digital Citizenship instead of shutting it out.  Just as I believe that everyone should have the Freedom of Speech (even if I don’t like what they say), I don’t want to censor adults because I don’t want to be censored.  So, how do we walk the tightrope of using a world wide web – with all the jerks, creeps, and nay-sayers – with our precious students – we teach them.  Doug gives some practical wisdom in helping our students make wise decisions regarding when to speak and when to be silent.  Lessons that are hard to learn, even as adults. 🙂

5.  Not better, but Different @ Ideas and Thoughts: Learning Stuff since 1964 by Dean Shareski

This post tweet caught my attention earlier this evening as I was coordinating a training schedule.  As I often do, my tweet deck feeds me interesting tweets, if I see something interesting, I will quickly click on the link to peruse later.  (Colleagues also find my internet browser page quite humorous because I usually have 20-30 tabs of “interesting” sites.)  What an epiphany in photos this provides when people feel that computers have caused so much harm to our literacy rates!  A must see/read for everyone.

I know these are not my most popular posts, but I do love sharing great ideas.  I guess that is why I love working face-to-face with wonderful colleagues and collaboration on a global scale with terrific educators.  I am so thankful for the people that have introduced me to knowledge and wisdom from around the world.  Please keep sharing — you can all now feed my addiction to knowledge.  Maybe it’s contagious. 🙂



August 10 for 10 Picture Books

Picture Books in High School! Yes, you read correctly.  I love picture books, and I hope to share how effective they can be with teenagers and adults.

Background:  I met a new friend at #RSCON3, Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs).  Through blog reflections and tweets we have communicated about a number of things … then last night, I stumbled upon a tweet about a hashtag I did not recognize and an event that sounded quite interesting – “On Wed.RT @JennBrokofsky: @scottstp It is the 2nd annual #pb10for10 event. Educators share their 10 favorite picture books with each other.”

I direct messaged her, and she replied with a link to a blog – which opened several others. I go so excited because I love picture books, and I even use them in my adult trainings and high school classes.  So .. I am going to participate and have a blast(!) sharing my 10 favorite picture books today.  (To avoid copyright issues, I have linked each book title to the Amazon page where even more information can be found as well as, with some, previews of the book.)

Here’s to sharing! 🙂

1.  The Dot by Peter Reynolds …Vashti is a little girl in a classroom, and at the end of art class her “paper is empty.” Her teacher, instead of reprimanding her, encourages her to put a dot on the page … then sign it.  The next day, her “dot” is hanging on the wall in a gold frame.  As a result of this teacher’s actions, Vashti becomes an artist of dots.  At the end, another child is amazed at her “dot gallery,” and says “I can only draw a squiggly line.”  Vashti, following her teacher’s model, asks her to show her, then asks her to “sign in.”  I love this book because it shows the value of effective teaching.  One teacher’s actions impacted a child so much that the child followed the model … and taught another child.

2.  Ish by Peter Reynolds … Ramon is a boy who loves to draw, but his brother Leon makes fun of his art.  As he crumbles one drawing, he catches someone taking it out of the trash.  He chases the culprit, angry that this person is seeing his flaws … yet when he catches the theif, Ramon finds his drawing being hung.  He wants to know why, and the person says, “it looks vase-ish.”  As the “-ish” philosophy takes over Ramon’s thinking, he finds that he draw anything in -ish form/fashion.  I love this book because it makes “everyone’s mistakes” actually art.  It helps teach that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and -ish helps every artist find their own beauty.

3. An Undone Fairy Tale by Ian Lendler … This humorous book begins with the traditional fairy tale form (“Once upon a time …”) yet as the story unfolds, the illustrator can’t seem to keep up with the storyteller, so the traditional tale goes awry as the narrator and illustrator interact with the reader.  (“You may have noticed the king’s unusual crown.  Let me explain.  You see that fellow painting the wall?  That’s Ned.  Wave hi, Ned! He’s making all the pictures for this story.  But you’re reading so quickly that he hasn’t finished the painting or the costumes for this page yet. …”)  The font alternates then between storyline and interaction with the reader.  I love this book for struggling and younger readers simply because it verbally applauds their speed in reading as well as turns the traditional in a humorous tale of visual and verbal laughs.

4. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont … Very cute and playful book.  This one is great just to introduce the value of playing with words.  You can read this book “to the tune of ‘It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,’ [as] one creative kid floods his world with color.”  Self-expression at its best … with rhymes and quick wit that students love to interact with … “Still, I just can’t rest till I paint me … / CHEST! Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.  Guess there ain’t no harm if I paint my … / ”  … You get the picture.

5. Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, & Mary Nethery … I actually stumbled upon this book at a book store closing.  As I picked it up, I realized how valuable it would be to students who have a parent serving in the military overseas.  If they could see the good (in place of the news), it might make the separation more meaningful.  This book tells the story of how Major Brian Dennis was adopted by Nubs – a lost dog in the desert of Iraq.  Even more meaningful was the sacrifices Nubs made and the immigration that occured as a result of those sacrifices.

6.  I See the Rhythm of Gospel by Toyomi Igus (text) and Michele Wood (paintings) … I originally bought this book for my son.  We started homeschooling last year because he “hated learning.”  As a struggling reader, he was frustrated in school, and I needed to save what we had left.  I knew he loved music and working with Granddad, so we have spent the last year doing both.  This book was used to connect reading to what he loved.  Included was a Bonus CD, and the different fonts – colors, sizes, types – all made reading interesting.  This book activates multiple senses in an effort to bring back and show the power of music.

7.  Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth … I actually purchased this text as a result of a presentation in my DRI (Differentiated Reading Instruction) course for teachers.  The teacher, presenting on Reader’s Workshop as a mega-strategy, showed how she used this picture book to create interest in reading Three Cups of Tea … she then discussed the culture for women in the Middle East.  This book is great for introducing culture in 10th grade world literature – it promotes the idea that all people – men and women, eastern and western – deserve an education … a gift that can never be taken away from you.

8.  The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford … While teaching To Kill a Mockingbird with my 9th graders, I stumbled upon this gem of a book.  It actually reminded me of a book telling I once heard, People Could Fly, that I used to teach slave literature in conjunction with the history teacher’s lessons on the Civil War.  The book tracks – through pictures and words – the history of a patient people and what resources that they created to find blessings in life.  Although there is a religious overtone to the text, the historical message is still true.  “[Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy] I was with Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune, who built colleges and lit the way for young minds.  I was the lamp.”

9.  When I was a Boy … I Dreamed by Justin Matott (Illustrated by Mark Ludy) … This story is from the perspective of an older, ordinary man with extraordinary stories to tell.  Reading this text reminds me of those times when my grandfather would tell stories of his life – to him I am sure they were just incidents, points in his life that he may have just remembered, but to hear his voice tell them you would have thought he was larger than life itself.  The illustrations in this book are just as breath-taking as the story.  “I dreamed I roamed the lonesome plains, way out in the Old West.  / In my cowboy jeans and fancy hat, and my official sheriff vest. / I showed up there right at high noon and stopped a robber cold …” It’s a fascinating story to inspire students to make their own stories larger than life and to dream of what kind of stories they would like to tell when they are old.

10.  Terrible Things:  An Allegory of the Holocaust by Eve Bunting (Illustrated by Stephen Gammell) … As part of the 8th grade curriculum, this book became part of my training kit for SpringBoard.  Terrible Things introduces the unit on the Holocaust and it used to introduce the strategy of literature circles.  I love this text because it uses imagination to the make the real, real.  Animals encounter a black unknown that takes them away, one type at a time.  As the final animal is swept away, he realizes too late what he needed to do.  The power action from this text resembles the quote I found on the Boston Holocaust Memorial … They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
“Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up. —Martin Niemoeller

Thank you, Denise(@mrsdkerbs), for introducing me to this fabulous event.  I can’t wait to see what others have posted and start my own wish list.

Do you see any books you might could use in your classroom?

5 Favorite Blog “Posts” This Month – July

Oh my! I’m behind … #RSCON3 consumed me this past week – in a very positive way!

After my last post of this fashion, I realized that sometimes blogs have great posts, including some of my favorite posts from previous months.  So this month, I am going to feature posts that were the most enlightening for me.

1.  “6 Reasons Why ‘Conflicted’ is Good for Your Life and Organization” by Aaron Biebert (@Biebert) … When I read this post, I realized that although I do not particularly like conflict, there is something good that can result from that internal dilemma.  If I am conflicted, there is evidence that I am still learning, or at least desiring to learn.

2.  “10 Ways to Become an Inspirational Teacher” by Terry Freedman … I know it looks as though “lists” attract my attention … but in this case, the “inspirational teacher” grabbed me – they reminded me of Shelly Terrell’s #30Goals – which were SO motivating last year.  As a mentor, I really want to help my new teachers inspire.  So I am definitely going to share these 10 ways with my 2nd year (and other veteran) teachers at the beginning of the year.

3.  “Mentors: The One You’re Assigned and The Ones You Find” by David Ginsburg … This post supports all that our district has taught new teachers this summer.  In my district, we have 75ish full-release mentor that work with 1st and 2nd year teachers.  I am blessed to be one of them!  Even though we have been assigned to these new teachers, one lesson that we absorbing and spreading this year is the idea that we all need more than 1 mentor.  In our case, though, this extends to Professional Learning Communities (PLC).  In some schools, these are very prescribed … no matter their intentions, some of the best PLCs are formed through natural friendships, they evolve to fulfill needs in our professional lives.

4.  Several posts that I enjoyed and learned from were reflections on #RSCON3 – so in combination … “Keynote: how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school #RSCON3” by Kelly Tenkely (provided is the link to the keynote – a must hear … Kelly tells her story in such a beautiful fashion), “Mapping Our Connections: My RSCON3 Session” by Denise Krebs (as her moderator, I have truly enjoyed getting to know Denise … her story includes me, but I chose it more because of her story of courage and the results of her willingness to share), “An Important Milestone – #RSCON3” by Michael Graffin (although I did not get to watch his session live, I did enjoy his post and have enjoyed listening to the archive … what inspired me by this post was the similarity in our stories – both of us just recently started our online connections, and at RSCON3 he was a presenter while I was a moderator), “Defying Gravity – My RSCON3 Transformation” by Sara Hunter (Sara was a newbie to RSCON3, and the conference inspired her … I loved her 5 words to describe the experience … Feel – Imagine – Do – Share – Continue … Can you imagine if all of us carried that mantra? :-), and “Now Go Make it Happen” by Paula White (this post is so refreshing with her story of The Spyglass … and her desire to revolutionize education … through RSCON3 we did see what was possible, and now each of us has a calling on us to “go make  it happen.”)

5.  The final post that spoke to me this month was also a reflection of RSCON3, but it also reminded me of a training I did the week before … “Diversity or Tokenism — What images are you using?” by Mike Yule (?).  This post reminded me to be cognizant of all the privileges I have had in my lifetime.  Often, those of us that grow up with privilege – not necessarily the wealthy kind of privilege – have blinders on and often do not “see,” or are unaware of, the difficulties of those that do not have privilege.  In my naivete, I, too, did not notice the similarities in the images.

There is so much to learn, and these blog posts just seem to scrape the surface.  It’s so fun learning from others – no matter what part of the globe they are from! 🙂  Thanks everyone for sharing!

New Teacher Orientation_HCPS Style

Today began a four-day “induction to teaching” training in our district – Hillsborough County Public Schools.  This is (I believe) my 7th year working with our new hires as they embark on their journey as new teachers.  Today, I co-trained with a gentleman I deeply respect because of his knowledge, his rapport with people, and his skill as a trainer.  In our limited time together, he has impressed on me the importance of many things … including being an official member of professional organizations.  As a science, biology teacher, he has a vast amount of knowledge in his content, but more importantly, he has a wealth of knowledge in his profession.

In addition, today we discussed the value of mission statements and vision statements.  Mission statements discuss the focus for now (what are we doing this year, what is our purpose for being here today); vision statements focus on the future (where do you want to be? what do you want to be known for?).  As a school district, HCPS proudly promotes both statements … Mission:  To provide an education that enables each student to excel as a successful and responsible citizen. … Vision:  To become the nation’s leader in developing successful students.  Pretty bold, huh?!

As a member of this profession, I am proud to be a part of an organization that pushes the envelope in innovative thinking.  In fact, one of our new teachers shared today that in her last position, the school polled local businesses in an effort to prepare students for the work force (before and after college) … you know what the top 3 results were regarding the what businesses wanted to see?  The ability (1) to dress appropriately, (2) to be punctual, and (3) to take some initiative.  Google’s application – to simply apply for a job – asks for 4 things (so I’ve been told 🙂 … (1) Did you graduate from a Tier 1 University?  (2) What have you done – project, presentation, etc. – that requires you to communicate with people across at least 4 time zones?  (3)  How do you establish a virtual table that allowed all voices to be heard?  (4) What did you do to show respect for and accommodate different religious and cultural needs?

Notice that neither of those scenarios – nor the mission and vision statements above – focus on the ability of a teacher to “show mastery of his/her content” or to “graduate test-taking masters.”  Our focus is on preparing students to be successful in their future, to fulfill their dreams, to find their own successes.  As teachers, it is no longer about us … it’s about them.  If they are not learning, are we teaching?  As I tell my new teachers every year, we have the privilege of teaching students about life through the avenue that we are most passionate about – be it math, English, reading, social studies, science, or (my favorite) – the electives!  To often we miss that, though, we get so focused on “(snow)plowing through our curriculum” (truly a funny metaphor in Florida), that we leave many students behind.

So … what is your mission statement and vision statement for this year?  According to my co-trainer, check out any Fortune500 company — they have established theirs …

First Day of a New School Year

A wonderful part of teaching is the opportunity we have to finish a year, take time to plan, and begin anew the next year.  Teaching is like the ultimate performance assessment – everything we don’t get just right this time, we can do it again better next year! 🙂 idea_lightbulb

One of the areas I always struggle with is the first day of school.  Administrators always want us to go over our rules.  While I respect that concept and agree that it is important, I wonder if that makes the “first day of school” not as important as it used to be.  (Can’t you hear the conversation?  Teen: “Mom, I don’t need to go to school today.” Mom:  “Why not?”  Teen: “All they do is talk at us about rules.  I know what to do. [or] I can just read the syllabus later.”)

So … while I was in a training the other day … SpringBoard & FCAT: Writing for Learning for High School … I had an epiphany. Why do I need to review my rules ad nauseum?  Why can’t I start school by having students write about something that’s important to them? or better yet, …

In Tom Romano’s work Creating Authentic Voice, he talks about our voice in writing.  He then tucks in this profound statement … “Sometimes outward personality works in reverse: the brash, verbal person has trouble eking out a line of writing, or the timid, reticent person uses the safety of writing to romp on the page.” (p. 6)

In Harry Wong’s work First Days of School, he shares 7 questions that all students want answered.  I believe the one we often skim over the quickest is “Who is this teacher as a person?”


Co-construct a personal/reflective essay about an experience the teacher is willing to share.  (In my training, the trainer gave 3 options … “Snakes,” “Dad and a new car,” or “Grandma B.”  In our training, we selected the second option.) Although I haven’t hashed out all the steps, I do see this as an opportunity for (1) students to get to know their teacher, (2) students to witness the reflective process, and (3) students to begin (or review) the writing process.  So, just an overview …

1.  Teacher – provide 3 learning experiences you would be willing to share and reflect.

2.  Students – vote as a class

3.  Students – brainstorm questions to ask based on 3 areas: incident, response, reflection

4.  Teacher – record all questions, categorizing them on a graphic organizer (pre-write)

5.  Teacher – at a computer or on a document camera, tell your story (students can ask questions or add to as they feel necessary … a great example from my training was in the trainer’s description of the “ugly car” … participants asked, “Why was it so ugly?”  Her answer of “yellow Gremlin” wasn’t enough, so the participants asked for more … the trainer then added more details.)

6.  Continue through the process … the next day if needed. 🙂

I am sure there are more areas to consider.  Plans would need to be more thorough, but I’m liking the idea so far. 🙂  Thoughts?

4 Favorite Blogs of the Month _ June

I have written so little this month, simply because of all the work I have done finishing the paperwork with my new teachers, preparing for trainings, and attending trainings.  In the meantime, though, I have had a lot of time to read a blog here and there. Because of this professional learning network, I have had an opportunity to share some more excellent blogs with my cadre of mentors and teachers.  So here are some more great blogs to read …

1.  Various Authors … Teacher Challenge Blog … I love the variety of ideas that are found here.  The posts inspire, challenge, and empower teachers with tools and networking connections.  Currently, the authors are focusing on the power of connecting with other educators.crossword 14

2.  Tom Schimmer … Learning – Leadership – Life … Tom’s website provides some good perspective on classroom management as well as other areas of life.  His advice is practical, and perspective is worded in a manner that is memorable.

3.  Amber Cleveland’s Blog … Amber is currently writing a “Keep it Simple” series.  Amber’s biography describes her as the “Co-Founder and CMO of Sterling Hope … more than ten years of experience and a tenacious entrepreneurial spirit.”  I read her blog for ideas and wisdom in leadership, which truly applies to all teachers and in education.

4.  Mark and Angel Hack Life … This blog provides tips for practical living.  Most of them contain numbered lists – which seem to be their signature blog.  The ideas, though, translate to all arenas … including the classroom.  For example … “50 Ways to Get More Done Today” — great need for teachers;  “12 Devious Tricks People Use to Manipulate You” — could they be students? parents? other teachers?;  “20 Ways to Make Today Unforgettable” — a wish for everyday in the classroom. 🙂

Not a lot this month … but I can’t forget the 7 blogs I mentioned last month … their blogs are still excellent pieces that I read and forward to my colleagues online as well as those face-to-face.

Thanks to all these great leaders who are not afraid to take a risk and share their ideas, hearts, and passions.

7 Favorite Blogs This Month

InspirationPointAs I was considering what to write about, I began reading some blogs of my favorite educators.  As a new blogger, I have found wisdom and a value in writing from reading other posts.  In honor of their inspiration this year, I thought I would promote their writing.

1.  Justin Tarte’s Life of an Educator

I have been following Justin since my beginning.  I met him (virtually) as RSCon11 and discovered his blog through some comments made in sessions.  I like Justin’s aspirations and leadership.  I enjoy Justin’s blogs because of their variety in nature and his progressive ideas for education and educational leadership.

2.  Shelly Terrell’s Teacher Reboot Camp

Shelly inspired me with her #30Goals challenge.  After sharing her goals with my fellow mentors, a colleague of mine recently said, “This Shelly Terrell is awesome.” Many people in our district have been inspired by her ideas and her writings.

3.  Lee Ann Spillane’s The Portable Teacher

I have recently rediscovered this blog.  What drew me back to her blog was the practical, wonderful ideas that I could use for my English teachers.  “You Can Only Teach 5 Scenes: Which Would You Choose?” and “Are You Building a Classroom Library?” provide great ideas for new and veteran teachers as they make decisions about instruction and their classroom.

4.  Tom Whitby’s My Island View

This week, Tom wrote an controversial blog that I found interesting and awesome …”The Homework Option Plan.”  I, too, had always labored over my homework policy because of the difficulties I have as a parent and as a teacher.  I understand the value of homework as an educator, and I recognize the drudgery of homework as a parent.  His ideas throughout my time as a blogger have helped inspire a lot of my new teachers.

5.  Shannon Smith’s Shannon in Ottawa

Through Shannon’s blogs, I have learned more about social media in education.  As an educational leader, Shannon shares “how to’s” in her blog, including “Twitter for Teachers,” as well as ideas of reflection, i.e. “Pause. Then Play.”  As an administrator, I enjoy her perspective on education pedagogy and leadership.

6.  David Ginsburg’s Coach G’s Teaching Tips

Coach G is actually the catalyst to my PLN.  I discovered his blog through a Smartbrief from National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).  His teaching tips have helped shape decisions of teachers that are in the classroom.  They spark collegial discussion and guide classroom environments.

7.  Eric Sheninger’s A Principal’s Reflections

If I had to move to another part of the country, I would want to move to this principal’s school.  His innovation in education, I believe, could lead America to a new, better level of educational leadership.  His blog shares what he is doing at his school and provides fresh ideas that could be used by other principals across our nation.  His boldness is inspiring and innovating.

Although there are so many more possibilities, these are the blogs/people that have inspired me the most.  I know there are others, and I cannot wait to highlight their blogs in future posts.  What blogs/people do you follow? I’d love to add to my list.