I am sitting in an afternoon session with our PRMT fellows down at UPENN and all of a sudden realized that it is Friday…where did the week go? I missed my Friday deadline last week and am determined not to miss another one! The past week has been a particularly busy one for all sorts of reasons and I have been leap-frogging from one meeting to another and feeling a bit disjointed. In this spirit, I present a Friday 4 with no real common thread or theme…sort of like my week. 😉 I hope that you find at least one of the pieces interesting and worth discussing with a colleague.
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.
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.
Despite 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.comwebsite.
As most of you know, October was Connected Educator month (CEM) and was filled with a plethora of opportunities for educators to connect with fellow colleagues and engage in valuable professional development. I did my best to sample a bunch of the CEM activities and found them all to be worthwhile and have added many fellow educators to my PLN. Along the way, I have collected and curated several very good resources and articles that have been good reminders or have pushed me to think about my own practices. Here are a few of the resources that I came across this month; hopefully, you will find at least a few that pique your interest.
Knowledge in Action Research: Results to Date: Results to date suggest that project-based learning in Advanced Placement (AP) classes may help deepen student learning as well as improve performance on AP Tests.
I think it is finally officially warm enough for me to stop bringing three layers of clothes to baseball practice each afternoon. The trees are blossoming and the view across the meadows is now dominated by shades of green as opposed to the dreary grey and brown that March and April can present. For me, spring is a time of infinite possibility (The Red Sox might actually be good this year for example) and a time for inspiration. With that thought in mind, I have a few items this week that may inspire you or make you ponder “What if?”
“Five Things I’ve Learned” is an interesting website that came across my Twitter stream that showcases personal reflections about education from leaders in the education world.
Intrigued by the flipped classroom? Here is a post from arguably one of the most well known advocates of the flipped class, Jonathan Bergmann (@jonbergmann), that lays out the key questions you should ask before flipping your classroom.
Do you ever have students watch YouTube or other web-hosted videos for class and want them to take notes on the videos? VideoNotes is a neat tool that allows you to split your screen and watch the video and take notes that can be automatically saved in your Google Drive at the same time. The notes even can be synched with the video so that you can click on your notes and jump to the exact location in the video when you took the note. Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) brought the tool to my attention in a post on his Free Technology for Teachers blog.
“How Creativity Works” is a nice piece from NPR in which Johan Lehrer joins NPR’s Robert Siegel to talk about the creative process — where great ideas come from, how to foster them, and what to do when you inevitably get stuck.
There is a thought-provoking series of posts on the Good.is website that explores the “purpose” of education. Regardless of your role in education, there is plenty to ponder and discuss in this series of posts. The first post in the series can be found here. The second piece can be found here.
For those of you who missed last week’s Friday 4, fret not. The craziness of Parents Weekend and what seemed like an endless stream of meetings and visitors prevented me from crafting an end-of-week missive last Friday, so you did not really miss anything! The frenetic pace that coincides with the impending end of the term has set in to be certain, but I was determined to publish the Friday 4 this week since it appears from most accounts that people do enjoy the posts. I appreciate the feedback I have received about the Friday 4 and continue to encourage you to send along any thoughts, ideas or comments.
I was encouraged by a valued and trusted colleague to be more deliberate about a theme for each week’s Friday 4. In the past, I have tried to connect the items in each Friday 4 but have not always found four related items in any given week so the thread connecting the items has been tenuous at best at times. So, in response to the suggestion, this week’s Friday 4 will focus on the craft of teaching.
Georege Couros (@gcouros) is Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. He is the creator of a blog I follow called “Connected Principals.” A recent piece by George “Everyone’s a Teacher, Everyone’s a Learner” got me thinking about how I model lifelong learning for my students.
Sharon Geyer (@sharongeyer68), a fellow science teacher from Pomfret School visited LC last week for the Flipped Classroom Open House day and sat in on a few classes. Sharon also writes a blog and recently posted a nice piece called “Keeping it Real” that describes a recent project she had her students do in chemistry class. In her post, Sharon describes how she incorporated some new ideas about the 21st century skill of communication.
Enjoy and as always, please send along any ideas or suggestions you may have.
In the past week I have been fortunate enough to have three different peers from other schools visit me and my classroom reminding me of the power and value of making connections and fostering collaboration. Last Thursday, Sharon Geyer (@sharongeyer68), from the Pomfret School visited during the Flipped Classroom Open House day to sit in on the microbiology course I teach with a colleague using the flipped model. Today, Mark de Kanter from Westminster School and John Adams (@jwadams25) from the Dublin School visited to see the flipped classroom in action and talk about ways that we are incorporating technology into the curriculum.
The conversations about teaching and the sharing that occurred during each of their visits were, without a doubt, the high points for the days. While I certainly enjoy and value the collaboration and discussions I have on a daily basis with my colleagues at Loomis Chaffee, it is always eye-opening to exchange ideas with colleagues from other schools and different educational settings. I have always benefitted and learned something new when I reach out to fellow teachers and engage in thoughtful conversations about pedagogy and the craft of teaching. Teaching can be an isolating profession if you allow yourself to remain in your “comfort zone” and do not actively seek out new ideas.
As much of a pain in the neck as it can be to take time off and visit a colleague in a different school, I firmly believe that it can be one of the most valuable professional development exercises. Watching a peer in action, asking them about how they structure and run their classrooms and sharing ideas leads to a level of self-reflection that is critical if we are to improve as educators. We frequently ask our students to try new things, take risks and reflect on their own learning. If we are expecting these things from our students, we ought to model the behavior ourselves.
So, if it has been a while since you either invited a colleague into your classroom or visited a colleague in his/her classroom, I encourage you to venture out of your “comfort zone” and engage in some low risk professional development. I promise you that it will be worth your time.
Now that summer has officially begun for me (grades and comments completed and turned in!) I will attempt to get back to regularly posting my weekly Friday Four. Summer is a great time for many to catch up on reading, to learn something new or to work on lesson plans for next year. However you spend the summer, I hope that it includes at least some professional development. To that end, I will continue to share interesting and thought provoking items that I run across that might inspire you or lead to changes in your teaching.
The first few items are actually links to a few summer conferences that might be of interest to you.
If you are in CT during August, you should consider attending the Edcamp CT conference at the Ethel Walker School. If you have never attended an Edcamp “unconference,” here is all you need to know – The cost is free and the agenda for the conference is decided on by the attendees. Here is a video that explains the concept in a little more detail.
While it is sold out for live attendees, it not too late to register to attend the Flipped Learning Conference virtually. You can stream the event live or watch the videos for up to 6 months if you register as a virtual attendee. The conference is being held in Chicago next week, June 19 and 20. You can also follow the conference on Twitter at the following hashtag #flipcon12. For those who are unfamiliar with flipped learning, here is a recent article from the Education Week website about it.
I recently ran across a post from Chris Betcher on his blog that described a wonderful PD day that was held at his school. The day was run by Mark Church, the author of the book Making Thinking Visible. Chris writes “Mark’s message was that we can do much more to really expose the thinking of our students, to help them develop greater understanding of what they learn and to make the learning more authentic and meaningful.” I have added Mark’s book to my summer reading list after reading Chris’s thoughts on the day.
My final thought provoking item of the week is a recent post from another one of my favorite bloggers and Tweeps, Tom Whitby. In this post, Tom takes on “Hypocrisy in the Profession of Education.” Are you a life long learner?
As always, I welcome your comments and sugegstions.