Pelican Ponderings

Thoughts and ideas from another educator

Pelican Ponderings

Routine brings comfort.

September 12, 2014 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

leaves

As much as I like the energy that comes with the craziness of the opening of school, I must admit that I am glad the the opening of school is over and that we are now getting into the “routine” of the school year. There is comfort in routine and predictability…at least as much as can be expected when working with adolescents! This week’s Friday 4 is a mix of items that all deal in one way or another with the work that happens each and every day in our classrooms and the impact teachers can and do have on students.

  • The death of the classroom as we know it is a story that appeared on CNBC recently. The piece includes some short video clips and covers a wide range of ways in which the “traditional classroom” is changing.
  • 10 Recommendations for Improving Group Work is a piece that appeared on the Faculty Focus Website this week. “Students, like the rest of us, aren’t born knowing how to work well in a group. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be taught and learned. Teacher design and management of group work on projects can do much to ensure that the lessons students learn about working with others are the ones that will serve them well the next time they work in groups.”
  • The gifts of a teacher is a nice essay passed along to me from Eric LaForest (@Eric_LaForest) that explores the immeasurable and intangible gifts that excellent teachers pass along to their students.
  • Four Ways to Spot a Great Teacher is an essay that appeared on the Wall Street Journal website. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments section or send them to me on twitter. (@smacclintic)

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They’re back! I guess summer is really over.

September 5, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

4fingers

Labor day is a distant memory. The blur of the opening faculty meetings can best described as being, well…”blurry.” The student leaders and pre-season athletes are arriving in waves, crashing on the shores of the Island that is known as Loomis Chaffee. I can count on one hand the number of days before the first day of classes. For all intents and purposes, that means that the 2014-2015 school year if actually under way.

This week’s Friday 4 is somewhat of a smorgasbord of items that have come my way via several different sources.

  • Our opening day of faculty meetings featured a presentation from our Head of School, Sheila Culbert (@SCulbertLC), who shared a list of books, articles and videos that had inspired her talk. She has shared that list which can be found here if you are interested.
  • Our second day of faculty meetings featured a wonderful presentation from Dr. Abigail Baird (@AbigailBaird), Associate Professor of Psychology at Vassar, about the teenage brain. At one point in the day, I was reminded about an article that appeared in National Geographic about the teenage brain that Dr. Baird was quoted in.
  • A colleague passed along a link to an article published in The Atlantic Magazine “How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson” that is a collection of crowd-sourced resources that classroom teachers might find useful.
  • The following blog post from Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) came across my twitter feed today and captured my attention given the recent discussions we have been having at my school about access to upper level courses in our curriculum. Uri Treisman’s Magnificent Speech On Equity, Race, And The Opportunity To Learn
  • BONUS: A good reminder to all classroom teachers that despite our best efforts, sometimes we can not plan for Those Magical and Mysterious Learning Moments.

Enjoy and have a wonderful beginning to your school year!

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Ready, set, go! Time for another fantastic year.

August 31, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

4fingersAs we make our final preparations to welcome a new crop of students into our classrooms, I would like to begin the year by sharing a few of the items that I curated over the summer. 

  • Making It Stick. A new book rethinks the hard distinction many teachers make between ‘memorizing’ and ‘thinking’ is an article that was actually published in April on the Chronicle of Higher Education website. I ran across the article after having already found and read the book Make it Stick that is the subject of the article. If you are intrigued by the article, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the book.
  • Four Key Questions about Grading is a piece that appeared on the Faculty Focus website that offers a summary of a longer article that appeared in the summer edition of the Cell Biology Education – Life Sciences Education journal. Given the centrality of grading in education, the article is certainly relevant for most all teachers and their work with students.
  • Giving Student Feedback: 20 Tips To Do It Right is a piece that was actually posted in the summer of 2013 that came across my Twitter stream this August. Good reminders about the purpose and value of giving feedback as we begin the school year.
  • The Five Habits of Creative Teachers is an article that appeared on Education Week website in August that caught my eye. I was particularly intrigued by the link at the end of the article to join in on a free canvas course on the topic starting in October. I signed up and hope that a few of you might join me.

Enjoy the beginning of your school year!

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End of Year Potpourri

May 30, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The end of the school year routine always includes a laundry list of items that never seems to get shorter no matter how many  items I cross off the list. On my list this week was the crafting of a Friday 4 since I have skipped the last couple of Fridays and felt that I “owed” it to my colleagues who have shared items with me over the past few weeks. So, here is a VERY random collection of items to ponder if you are looking for ways to procrastinate when you should be correcting that last set of papers or writing teacher comments.

  • Who Gets to Graduate?” is a thought provoking piece that appeared in the NYT Magazine recently that addresses the issues of equity and access to education.
  • 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools is a blog post that I ran across that challenges some of the long-standing entities that exist in secondary schools. How does your school match up using this lens?
  • The Art of Asking Questions is a piece that recently appeared on the Faculty Focus website that includes several good suggestions for classroom teachers. While the school year is nearly over, it is always a good time to reflect on the practices we employ and how we might be able to add some new tolls to our arsenal.
  • Not a news flash to most I imagine but… Poll: Prestigious Colleges Won’t Make You Happier In Life Or Work
  • Need some more convincing that “clickers” are a powerful tool to use in the classroom? Do students learn by talking to each other? is a recent post from Stephanie Chasteen (@sciencegeekgirl) that reviews some of the recent research on the use of clickers and peer instruction in the classroom.
  • Looking for some more FREE summer PD? Why not join the newly formed #TABSchat summer book club for an online discussion of several education related books this summer. Here is a link to the flyer introducing the first book of the summer.

I guess I should stop at 6 items in this edition of the Friday 4…enjoy!

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Pre- Mother’s Day Friday 4

May 9, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

4fingersMoms: Our First Real Teachers

It would be difficult for most of us to deny that the first “teacher” we all had was our own mom. Who was there when we learned how to tie our shoes? Who taught us to believe in ourselves? Who taught us to always say please and thank you? Mom of course…and maybe Dad if you were lucky. So while Teacher Appreciation Week is technically over today, if you are lucky enough to still have your own mom around, I encourage you to extend the sentiment and be sure to pay a special tribute to your first “teacher” this Sunday – Mother’s Day. Personally, I think it is a perfect juxtaposition of the two celebrations.

This week’s Friday 4 includes two pieces to get you thinking a tad and a couple of resources for those of you looking for some online options for ongoing professional development in the summer.

  • Bringing the Locker Room Into the Classroom is a piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education that was passed along by a colleague who happens to be both a teacher and a coach. I have always thought of coaching and teaching as one and the same and liked the collaborative project that is described in the article.
  • Response: ‘The Grading System We Need to Have’ is a blog piece from Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) that appeared on the Education Week Teacher site. Larry is a well-known teacher, author and presence online who is definitely one you should follow on Twitter.

  • Are you an AP teacher looking for resources, ideas or fellow AP teachers to collaborate with beyond your own school? The AP Teacher Community is a great place to start. The summer is a great time to connect with colleagues from around the country and share ideas.

  • The Teaching Channel is another rich online resource and network of educators. The site describes itself as: “Teaching Channel is a video showcase—on the Internet and TV—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s schools. We have a rapidly growing community of registered members who trade ideas and share inspiration from each other.”

Enjoy.

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Planning for Summer PD – the FREE way.

May 3, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

4fingersMay is a time when most educators are focusing on the final push in the current school year, trying desperately to get through the last pieces of the curriculum or just trying to keep the students focused and on task as the warm weather outside calls siren-like with the sounds of spring. Early spring is also the time to begin planning for your own summer professional development (PD). Learning and growing does not stop at graduation for our students nor should it for us. Personal and professional growth and learning does not take the summer off. With this thought in mind, I offer up the following items this week to get your summer PD juices flowing.

  • Anybody who has been a regular reader of the Friday 4 knows that I am a big fan of Edcamps and the unconference model of professional development. I recently attended the EdCamp Hartford on April 26 and have already registered to attend the Edcamp CT that will be happening on August 15 at the Ethel Walker School. If you are going to be around CT in mid August, I strongly encourage  you to register for the event and join a passionate group of fellow educators who are looking to share and learn from one another. One of the best parts about Edcamps is that they are FREE.
  • There was a recent post on the edSurge website titled How Teachers Are Learning: Professional Development Remix that explores the current landscape in PD and includes several strategies and links to helpful tools for teachers looking to take charge of their own PD.
  • If you are looking for a way to get some summer PD while sitting at the pool or the beach, consider downloading and listening to one of the many podcasts from the edreach network. “EdReach provides a platform for passionate, outspoken innovators- aiming to strengthen their voices by highlighting innovation in the field of education, through reporting critical educational news, providing commentary, and offering criticism of the educational issues of the day.” There are a bunch of different edreach channels from the Flipped Learning Network to the Reading Room to the Google Educast. You can listen to single episodes or subscribe to individual channels…all for FREE.
  • The ASCD has a growing archive of FREE webinars that you can access from some of the familiar names in education like Judy Willis, Rob Marzano and Grant Wiggins. Topics include: The Essential Neuroscience of Learning, How to Support Struggling Students and Creating Authentic Assessments.

So, how are you going to continue your growth as an educator this summer? Take charge!

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Sharing…the way it ought to be.

April 18, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

ShareThe power of the PLN – Sharing Resources

One of the best features of a vibrant PLN is the wealth of resources that its members can provide when you least expect it. I am fortunate to have a great bunch of colleagues at Loomis Chaffee who frequently pass along interesting articles and videos that they come across that they think I might be interested in. In my role at the school, I feel obligated to “share the wealth” and pass along the items that come my way to others who might also find them interesting or intriguing. So, this week’s Friday 4 is actually a few of the resources that recently came my way from my LC PLN. I hope you find one or more of the items as interesting as I did. Thanks PLN!

  •  The first piece is an article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine titled The Confidence Gap. The piece explores the evidence that “shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.”  The article has important implications for teachers of young men and women and will make you rethink how we can best serve all of our students. Thanks to Al Freihofer and Monica Kirschman (@monkirsch) for passing this one along.
  • If you are interested in exploring the use of the “flipped classroom” model, “Inside Higher Ed has published a free compilation of articles — in print-on-demand format — about efforts to reshape the use of classroom time that can be found here. Thanks to Sheila Culbert (@SCulbertLC) for this resource.
  • The following TED talk Christopher Emdin: Teach teachers how to create magic is a short but inspiring talk that is well worth 6:45 minutes of your time. The comments on the video are also thought provoking…not everybody is in agreement to be certain. Thanks to Julie Hinchman for sharing this video.
  • The final piece (and associated website) come thanks to Rachel Allen. Educational Psychology: 20 Things Educators Need To Know About How Students Learn

Thanks again to those who passed along these resources. Keep them coming!

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April Showers

April 11, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

 

4fingers

I ran across this blog post that has some interesting ideas for ways to utilize social media tools to enhance learning, collaboration and outreach in and out of the classroom. A related blog post on The Power of Twitter happened to come across my stream around the same time that speaks to the utilization of social media for professional development. Both pieces are good reads that may inspire you to try something new. If you think that Twitter is just a big waste of time, take the time to read the  following blog post from Carolyn Durley (@c_durley), a member of my PLN. Her thoughts may convince you otherwise.

Recently, we have been discussing the issue of gender equity in our upper level courses, particularly in the areas of Math and Science where girls have been traditionally under-represented. The Institute of Education Sciences has a “what works clearinghouse” with a bunch of great resources about education related topics including a practice guide titled Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

To round out this edition of the Friday 4 (or more than 4!), here are two nice articles about how we ask questions in the classroom and Ways to Cultivate ‘Whole-Class Engagement’.

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Spring has sprung….well, not quite.

March 30, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

 

4fingersDespite the weather of late, the spring term has officially begun and the race to June is in full swing. While it is not time to revamp an entire curriculum, it is a good time to try a few new things in the classroom and shake things up a bit. Here are a few items that may inspire you to try something new in your classroom this spring.

  • Pedagogy Postcards is a series of short blog posts by Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) that I ran across on Twitter that cover a range of teaching topics. Tom describes the posts as “A series of short posts about specific elements of teaching practice that I think are effective and make life interesting.”
  • As most of you know, I teach in a “flipped classroom” and have found that the practice has changed the learning dynamic in my classroom. We are beginning to see some research come out on the benefits and drawbacks of the flipped classroom now that it has become more widespread in use. Here is a news story from thejournal.com that includes a link so some of the recent research. For more info on the flipped classroom, here is a great piece 4 Pillars & 11 Indicators Of Flipped Learning from the teachthought.com website.
  • Looking for creative ways to use Google forms? Here is a great list of tons of uses for Google forms that may spark your interest.
  • Tips for Writing Good Multiple-Choice Questions is a nice piece from the facultyfocus.com website that contains practical advice for designing MC questions.

Enjoy!

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Final Friday 4 for February

February 28, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

 

4fingers

February may be the shortest month of the year as far as calendar days are concerned, but this year, with respect to the weather in New England, February has been one of the longest on record. As one frigidly cold blustery day blends into yet another sub-zero polar vortex of a night, I anxiously await spring and the first baseball practice outside when I do not have to wear my thermal socks. What better way to spend yet another day cooped up indoors than to consume one last Friday 4 missive. With no further ado, here you go…

  • Several colleagues mentioned in a recent survey on the Kravis Center that they would like some help effectively incorporating technology into their classrooms. Google forms is a powerful tool that can be used in a whole host of ways. There happens to be a Classroom 2.0 live show on Google forms on Saturday, March 1 at noon EST. You can join in here live or listen to the presentation at a later time.
  • Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recently wrote a piece on his Free Technology for Teachers blog about How to Add Voice Comments to Your Google Documents that can take your feedback on student writing to the next level.
  • 7 Things Smart Learners Do Differently is a nice little piece that might be nice to share with your students and serves as a good reminder as we develop lesson plans.
  • Peter Gow (@pgow) recently wrote a piece on his blog titled “Why Twitter Beats February” that describes how he uses his Twitter PLN to make the days of February bearable. Seemed appropriate as I watch the weather forecast predicting yet another snow “event” in the coming days.
  • Examining Your Multiple-Choice Questions is a piece I ran across on the Faculty Focus website that begins an exploration of how to craft better multiple choice questions.
  • My final nugget is completely unrelated to teaching and learning, but given that the Loomis Chaffee mascot is a pelican, I could not resist! Get an up-close, face-to-face view of a rescued pelican learning to fly.

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