Pre-Mother’s Day Friday 4


The thermometer is expected to crack 30 this afternoon and I am ecstatic! (That would be 30 degrees Celsius and not Fahrenheit for those of you who have not yet converted to the metric system.) Warm weather is a mixed blessing as most teachers will attest….nice to be able to shed the winter clothing for spring duds; but if it gets too hot, students and teachers alike can struggle to remain focused in toasty classrooms. I can think of no better way to beat the May heat than a new edition of the Friday 4, so here you go…

Pre-Super Bowl Sunday “Snacks”


4fingersWant to add a little “mind food” into your pre-Super Bowl snack lineup? Try a few of the delectable items on this week’s Friday 4 menu before hunkering down for your marathon session of watching TV commercials and an occasional pass of a partially deflated pigskin by local hero, Tom Brady.

Enjoy your weekend!

We made it!

4fingers Phew! As I sit down at 9:20 PM to craft this week’s Friday 4, I can finally put my feet up and breathe a heavy sigh of relief…I made it through the “gauntlet” that is known as the post Thanksgiving/pre winter break stretch of the academic calendar. The students have all scattered to the corners of the state and globe for vacation and the faculty holiday party is in the books. A perfect time to share some of this week’s finds with colleagues!

This time of year is replete with “Top 10” lists and “Best of 2014” posts and articles that afford me a chance to “find” some reads that I might have missed during the year. I actually look forward to these recap articles since during these next few weeks I actually have some time to get lost in reading without feeling that I am avoiding more pressing work. This week’s Friday 4 includes two such lists.

  • The Faculty Focus website recently published their 14 most popular articles from 2014 which can be found here and here. Regular readers of the Friday 4 will certainly recognize a few pieces that I have linked to in the past year.
  • The Ten Best Classroom Q & A Posts Of 2014 is from Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) on the Education Week website.

  • How ‘Deprogramming’ Kids From How to ‘Do School’ Could Improve Learning appeared recently on the KQED Mind/Shift website and has the added bonus of being in both print form and available as an audio file for those of you who would prefer to listen to the article being read.
  • The last item for this week is a plug for an upcoming CAIS (CT Association of Independent Schools) Commission on Professional Development event on January 29 “What Works is Worth Sharing: Teachers Helping Teachers – Plugged, Unplugged…Whatever!” The event is one our most popular and boasts a great lineup of sessions that can be seen here. Why not make a commitment to your own professional learning for 2015 and join me on January 29?

Enjoy the break!


Professional Development Salad Bar

4fingers Not surprisingly given my role at Loomis Chaffee, I see and read a large number of articles, blog posts and books on the subject of professional development. I have a somewhat random mix of items this week that all have the theme of professional development running through them. I encourage you to read the pieces and then take the more important next step, namely, to take charge of your own professional development and commit to doing something that will foster your own grow as an educator.

  • A few weeks back in the Friday 4 I included a piece on Grant Wiggins’ (@grantwiggins) blog that described a colleague’s shadowing of 2 high school students. Grant posted a follow-up to that first post which is quite interesting and will certainly get you thinking about ways to improve and grow as an educator.
  • Connected Professional Development Is Now An Imperative is a recently published piece on the te@chthought website that makes the case for: “If Collaboration and Communication are two important 21st Century Skills, then educators should be the model for the way it works.”

  • The following New Yorker piece came to me from several colleagues that explores “How the ‘performance revolution’ came to athletics—and beyond.” One of the “beyonds” is education in general and teacher training in particular.
  • Practice what you preach is a thought provoking piece that contains several good reminders for how to constructively and productively receive feedback. Giving feedback is something that we are all quite familiar with as teachers, but we need to also be ready to receive feedback.

Enjoy. As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback…good and bad!

Tool Time!

4fingersLooking to add some new tools to your teaching toolbox? This week’s Friday 4 will highlight a few relatively new technology related tools that are fairly easy to learn and use that have the potential to significantly change the teaching and learning that is going on in and out of your classroom. I encourage you to take the plunge and try using one or more of these tools in your classroom in the next couple of weeks.

  • Socrative is a web-based student response system that is similar to “clickers” in functionality that can be used on a computer, a tablet or a smart-phone. “Through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization, teachers can gauge the whole class’ current level of understanding.”  A Complete Guide for Teachers on How to Use Socrative is a great place to start if you have never seen or used Socrative.
  • If you are a user of Google forms in class, there was some big news recently having to do with the release of new add-ons for Google forms that add some really neat functionality to forms. If you are a user of Google forms, check out this post from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website that describes a few of the add-ons that educators will find useful.
  • Ever wish you could easily create an interactive multimedia collage for a topic you are teaching, or better yet, have your students demonstrate their understanding by creating a dynamic presentation? Well, now you can! Check out this post from the Free Technology for Teachers website that is run by Richard Byrne @rmbyrne.
  • My personal favorite new tool that I have added to my teaching toolbox has to be Edpuzzle (@EDpuzzle). With Edpuzzle, you can take any video (your own or one from YouTube or several other sites) and make it your lesson by trimming it, annotating it or embedding questions that the student have to answer right into the video. As a flipped classroom teacher, it has been awesome to be able to add questions that allow the students to check for their own understanding right into the videos at the exact moment that I want. Here is a wonderful blog post by a fellow teacher that explain how to get started. Even if you do not use a flipped classroom, this tool could turn some of the videos you like to show into richer lessons.


October is Connected Educator Month…Get Connected!

 This October marks the third annual Connected Educator Month. “Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, CEM offers highly distributed, diverse, and engaging activities to educators at all levels.” Information about the program and a full calendar of events can be found on the CEM homepage. There is literally something for every teacher who is looking to continue his/her own professional learning and become a more connected educator. Some examples of events in the coming week alone include:

  • Sunday 10/5 at 8 PM EST Workshop: Beginners Guide to Becoming a Connected Educator.
  • Monday 10/6 at 4 PM EST Using Educational Technology in the Classroom.
  • Tuesday 10/7 at 8 PM EST Weekly Task Talk with Illustrative Mathematics
  • Wednesday 10/8 at 8 PM EST New Teacher Chat on Twitter #ntchat
  • Thursday 10/9 at 6 PM EST Twitterchat #whatisschool an interactive chat about education around the world
  • Friday 10/10 at 8 AM EST New Frontiers in Assessment Discussion

I encourage you to, at the very least, take a look at the calendar of events and commit to participating in at least one event during the month of October. Now on to the Friday 4 Finds of the week…


Routine brings comfort.


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)

End of Year Potpourri

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!

Pre- Mother’s Day Friday 4

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.”


Planning for Summer PD – the FREE way.

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!