Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Secretary Duncan Meets with AASL http://ping.fm/eHpV1

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two unhappy cats are safely corralled for their trip to the vet. Two unhappy dogs wonder why they have to stay at home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Had a wonderful open library night. Twenty people attended!
Social networks Bill of Rights. http://ping.fm/IlT3e
Just what the Gulf needs! http://ping.fm/bzeJ9
I added two pathfinders @ http://ping.fm/Ov3y4 . Elem science and social studies. tlchat
Open library night at Brookhaven from 4 to 7. Spread the word!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Literature resources for students and teachers. http://ping.fm/nEN7N
Inspirational video by AmanJohnK http://ping.fm/1ACuI

Monday, June 21, 2010

From the Past: Preparations for the Beginning of School

Note:  The following was written August 17, 2008.   It chronicles my preparation for the beginning of that year's school term.  I like to compare my readiness from year to year.  This year -  of course, it is only June 21 - I feel I have more of a head start on the technical and organization matters.  I actually got some processing done at the end of the school year!  I plan to spend this summer reading and reflecting.  And decorating for the upcoming year's reading theme!

It’s come to that point:  School officially begins in nine days.  Am I ready? In some ways, yes, I am ready; in some ways, no way am I prepared.

I have probably never been more organized when it comes to setting a schedule and charting a course for the school year.  I have an outline and plans for the writers’ clubs already made, my evening hours are scheduled, and I have some lessons planned and collaborations set.  My teaching has never been more organized.

My Accelerated Reader display, always a work in progress, is mostly ready.  I need to find books and make bibliographies for the theme, but AR, on the surface, is ready for kids to dive in and earn points.  Oh, yeah, I do have to set up kids in individual classes, promote last year’s students, etc, but that will be done before the kids darken the door.

I have collaborative planning charts made and ready to be distributed.  The staff development schedule is already on the Brookhaven Technology Talk site and all I have to do to get ready for Faculty Senate is do the budget and copy materials.  My Blackberry is full of tasks that need to be completed, but the plan is there.

What has not been done is a lot of library processing.  Usually I catalog books, weed and do maintenance activities during the summer.  I did not do that this year, instead focusing on more curricular activities.  I have stacks of books that are not cataloged, maybe about 40 magazines on my desk ready to be entered into the system, and literally more than 200 books to be withdrawn and physically discarded. 

I have reference books stacked on the floor waiting to be shelved in their new home.  I have late returns and summer school books waiting to be shelved.  I am sure there are a hundred other little tasks that I need to complete that I haven’t even thought about which will give me minor anxiety attacks when I realize they have yet to be completed.  I’m not sure if I can get all this done by August 25, but I certainly will try.

Somehow I feel more sedate than I usually do when starting a new school year.  Maybe that comes with age, or “experience.”  Maybe I am really better prepared, because I have concentrated on the curricular as opposed to the technical.  Time will tell if this self-satisfaction will last!

August 6, 2008 Reflection on Take One Class

Note:  I wrote this post two years ago but never shared it.  I guess I was too busy with the NB process to remember this mundane detail.  I am posting it now in hopes that it may be helpful to someone considering National Board certification.

Three weeks ago I took part in a TakeOne!© session conducted by the West Virginia Center for Professional Development.  The purpose of this four-day class was to help participants sample the National Board Teaching Certification process without making the commitment to take on the full process. 

I would highly recommend this course to anyone considering National Board Certification.  The facilitators have all gone through the process and successfully achieved certification.  They are extremely committed to helping other teachers achieve this goal.  One of my facilitators has agreed to be my mentor as I embark on my journey toward certification.  I can’t imagine doing this alone, as many of our colleagues have.

One of the most valuable activities we began in the workshop was the process of “personalizing the standards.”  Each certification area has a number of standards that must be addressed throughout the certification process.  By personalizing these standards to one’s particular practice, one can gauge how well he lives up to that benchmark.  More importantly, at least in terms of the certification process, he can identify practices and evidence of these practices to use in developing his portfolio entries. 

I personalized Standards 1 and 2 during the week of the course, but once I decided to pursue certification, I abandoned this practice in favor of developing my Documented Accomplishment portfolio entry.   Having completing description and analysis for many of my accomplishments, I decided I needed to personalize Standards 7, 8 and 10 to see if my documented accomplishments truly reflected these standards.

And there I was stuck.

Standard 7 concerns Reflective Practice, which is key to all certification areas.  Reflection on practice is considered a key to professional growth.  It includes all the ways one thinks about what he does and how he can make it better, what worked and what didn’t and what he’ll do again or scrap the next time around. 

I agree that Reflective Practice is vital to any professional growth, but I had a very hard time verbalizing my reflective practice.  When trying to verbalize my thoughts a huge, reproducing multi-plane concept map immerged in my mind.  I cannot isolate one concept without disturbing the map’s interdependent nature.

Such it is with my experience with the whole National Board process; one act is dependent on preceding events and sets the stage for new action.  It’s a growth thing, a change thing. 

Maybe that’s the point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Copyright Clarity: What Every English Teacher Needs to Know

Copyright Clarity: What Every English Teacher Needs to Know
Trying to set up my networks using ping.fm . Any advice?

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Daughter as a Teacher

I am exceptionally proud of my daughter. Yesterday I finally visited her classroom and was very impressed with what I saw.

I saw a teacher that sets high standards for her students.  I watched her go over graded lab reports with her students.  She explained why students had points taken off for imprecise labeling.  She told her students how the graph name should tell the reader exactly what the reader was viewing.  For example, "Solar Oven Temperatures Measured in Degrees Celsius by Minutes Elapsed" is more precise than "Solar Oven Results."  After addressing whole class concerns she asked if there were any students who wanted a private conference regarding their grades.

I saw a teacher that had excellent classroom management techniques in place.  The agenda for the day was displayed on the interactive white board. At the beginning of each class the agenda was discussed with students. What I was particularly impressed with was the use of positive language when addressing expectations.  "Thank you for filling out your name and class information on the Scantron sheet." "Thank you for returning your textbook."  So much more effective than "Johnny, why haven't you filled in your information on your Scantron sheet?"

Last week when her father and sister visited her classroom, administrators made it a point to tell them how well they thought she had done in her first year of teaching.  A secretary told me the same thing when I signed in.  On her chalkboard was a message written by one of her students, telling her how much she appreciated the fun labs my daughter had provided.  The student emphasized how important the labs were to her future as a marine biologist.  If I were my daughter, I would keep that note forever.

I know that she has put in lots of extra time at school to make sure her classes run smoothly.  It's not unusual for her to put in 12+ hour days in her classroom.  On the first morning of my visit she left for school very early, as a few children were coming in for extra help before a test.  That evening she was not home until after 6:00, and after dinner she debated going back to school.  I am glad she decided to stay home.  All good teachers need rest.

I know she will get some of that much needed rest on a few short days, when she and her husband will return to his hometown for the summer.  In the quietude of the West Virginia mountains, she will have time to reflect on all that has transpired during her first year of teaching.

And she will actively plan for the next school year.


DuFour, Richard, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker and Thomas Many. "Building the Collaborative Culture of a Professional Learning Community."  Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work.  Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press, 2006.  pp.89-116.

Collaboration in a professional learning community is defined by the authors as a systematic process in which educators work interdependently to analyze and to impact their professional practice in order to achieve better results for their students and their school as a whole.   Members of a collaborative team must work in concert with each other and must rely on each other to achieve a desired goal.  Team members hold each other accountable for the group's success.

Collaboration as a means of impacting student achievement is effective if the collaborative groups are focused on issues that directly affect student learning.  The authors recommend that collaborative efforts on education be focused around the four concerns central to the professional learning community:

  1. Content for children to master
  2. Assessment of content mastery
  3. Interventions
  4. Enrichment: