Pre-Thanksgiving Friday 4

Every educator’s pre-Thanksgiving day ritual should include some head-scratching, thought-provoking reading about the craft of teaching to counterbalance any exam correcting that may also be on the docket. It is my hope that this week’s Friday 4 can serve that purpose for you.

I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and that you find some time to peruse a few of this week’s items. Enjoy!

Friday 4 – Three good reminders and one tech tip

 Friday Four – January 18

I ran across two pieces this past week from an inspring educator I follow on Twitter, Chris Lehmann(@lehmannchris), that I would encourage you to read. Chris is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally.

The first piece is a good reminder for those of us who work in “high pressure” schools (what school is not high pressure?) who never seem to have enough time to complete the day’s tasks.

As a teacher of mostly seniors, the message in this piece from Chris Lehman about “letting go” resonated with me. I have thought a great deal about my role as a teacher over the years and this pece was a nice reminder of an easily forgotten aspect of the job.

I recently spent some time talking with our foreign and modern language teachers about class participation and how to assess it in the classroom. I suggested that it was important to provide the students with examples of what “good” class participation looked like, to develop rubrics for assessing it and providing the students with regular feedback about how they were doing with respect to the expectations. This week I ran across a blog post from Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins) in which he talked about the use and design of rubrics and models that was quite similar. Fortuitous timing I guess!

The final item for this week’s missive is for all the YouTube fans out there. Ten YouTube URL tricks that will make you a “power user” of YouTube.

As always, please share your comments or send along any feedback you may have. Enjoy!

Friday 4 – October 12

A Fall Cornucopia

This week’s Friday 4 is an eclectic collection of items from a busy week here at Loomis Chaffee. While there is no single theme that connects the items, I am hopeful that at least one of the threads will be of interest to you.

  • Given the fact that it is midterm time here, I have had many discussions with colleagues about grades and how we assess and evaluate students and their work. Ever since I heard Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli) speak at an ASCD meeting a few years ago and read his book “Fair Isn’t Always Equal”, I have thought quite differently about my grading philosophy and policies. Fortunately, you can read several pieces from Rick and see several videos from him at the the Stenhouse publishing site dedicated to Free Assessment and Grading Resources from Rick Wormeli. (You will have to register for a free account in order to access some of the info.)
  • I referenced Daniel Willingham’s (@DTWillingham) blog and latest book  in a recent post and was pleased to see the Fall edition of the American Educator magazine feature an excerpt from his book. You can download the piece here in which Willingham explains how to analyze and dissect educational research.
  • Followers of the Friday 4 will know that I am a regular reader of Tom Whitby’s (@tomwhitby) blog “My Island View.” Tom recently wrote about his thoughts on the current state of professional development in education and the need to change the model and make PD “evolving and continuous.”
  • Jut over a month ago in the Sept 14 Friday 4, I encouraged people to join me in the Power Searching with Google MOOC.  Well, I can report today that I was able to successfully finish the course and received my certificate of completion via e-mail yesterday. While there was a great deal in the course that I was already familiar with, I did learn a whole bunch of neat tricks and tips for searching with Google that will make me a more efficient and powerful searcher. The course is officially over now, but you will be able to access the videos and course materials beginning Monday, Oct 15 at this link. The ability to locate quality, reliable information on the internet is a critical skill these days that we need to know how to do both for ourselves and so that we can help our students navigate the increasingly information dense world we live in.

Enjoy and as always, please do not hesitate to leave comments or suggestions for future Friday 4 editions.

Mid-May Friday Four


 Friday Four – May 11

For most teachers, spring is mixed bag on several fronts. The end of the school year is in sight, which means that summer is right around the corner; yet there are still classes to teach and lessons to prepare, not to mention the papers to correct. If you are an AP teacher, your students have already taken or are about to take the AP exam which comes with its own flavor of stress and anxiety. Did we get through the entire curriculum? Are the students prepared to score well after all the time and effort spent to this point? If you teach seniors and are like me, you vacillate between wanting to see them graduate today and sad to see them leave after watching them grow and mature right before your very eyes over the past year or more. In my experience, Spring is a funky time no matter how you slice it. So…here is a funky assembly of interesting items I ran across this week for you. Enjoy!

  • Here is a short little video produced by Commoncraft that “explores the tools, policies and people that seek to make Wikipedia articles factual and high quality.” Thanks to Richard Byrne @rmbyrne who runs the website for this item.
  • If you are planning your summer schedule and are looking for some FREE professional development, join me this August 10 at edcamp Connecticut at The Ethel Walker School. Edcamps are known as “unconferences” where the agenda is set and driven by the people who show up. Watch the video below to get a sense for what an edcamp really is.


  • As most of you probably know, I am a big fan of Twitter and have found it to be the single most beneficial professional development tool, hands down. Here is a piece from that makes the case for why we as educators should engage with Twitter this coming summer. You could even use Twitter to share the ideas you pick up at the edcamp in August!
  • My final item this week is actually three separate links that address the effective use of technology in the classroom. Technology for technology’s sake is a bad idea. I think these three pieces do a nice job of looking at the topic from different perspectives.
Enjoy the remaining weeks!

Friday Four – 2/10/2012

Let’s Go Mobile!

This week’s Friday Four is going to focus on the use of mobile devices as teaching tools. Most of our students these days are carrying in their pocket or backpack a computer that is far faster and more powerful than most of us (their teachers) ever got a chance to even use in high school, namely namely their smart phones. Are we taking advantage of this incredible access to technology and access to the world beyond the rooms of our classrooms or are we fighting it tooth and nail? While I have read a great deal on the subject and had my students use their mobile devices some in class, I am certainly not on the cutting edge. In my current job, however, I am in a position to try and make a difference. With that said, I would invite any and all of you to participate in the first Mobiles 4 Learning Conference that we will be co-hosting on Monday, April 23 at The Loomis Chaffee School with Richard Scullin the founder of The goal of the conference is to bring together innovative and creative teachers and leaders who are interested in how we can use mobile devices as powerful teaching tools. There is more information about the conference on the website (link above) and forms to register, or better yet, to submit a presentation proposal. Here are some resources I have recently stumbled upon related to the concept of using mobile devices in the classroom.

  • Post from Richard Byrne, the writer of Free Technology for Teachers blog about his recent experience with cell phones in the classroom. Bunch of links off of this post that are worth exploring on the topic.
  • Tom Barrett is an ed tech blogger who has a section of his blog called “interesting ways” where people can share (crowd sourcing) their ideas about any number of topics. He has several links to interesting ways to use mobile devices in the classroom.
  • One of my favorite places to go when I need a starting point/launching pad for educational resources has to be Jerry Blumengarten’s website He has an entire section devoted to the use of cell phones in the classroom that can be found here.
  • Scott Newcomb writes a blog called “The Mobile Native” that focuses on Learning & Teaching with Mobile Learning Devices. Another great place to poke around if you are interested in trying to incorporate mobile technology in your curriculum.




Friday Four 1/20


 Friday Four, Jan 20, 2012

For those of you who may have missed last week’s Friday Four, I apologize. I was in the middle of a 12 day bout with a fever and was off the grid for a few days. I contemplated posting a mid-week Friday Four, but decided that I would would wait until Friday to get back on the horse. So, here are a few items I have run across that you might find interesting/intriguing. Enjoy!

  1. This week, Apple announced its release of iBooks 2 and a textbooks section of the store where you can purchase entire digital textbooks for $14.99. They already have a few of the major publishers on board and are looking to add others. I downloaded the biology book and have started playing with it; it is pretty cool. Who knows whether this will take off or not and be a game changer, but I would love to see the ability to have all of my textbooks on my iPad for a FRACTION of the cost of traditional textbooks. Here is an article about the release from the Washington Post. A quick search will pull up plenty of commentary on the announcement.
  2. Continuing the Apple/iPad theme, here is a blog post from one of the techie types I follow with his recommendation for the very first app you should download if you are a new iPad owner/user.
  3. Here is a great series of programs that appeared on American Radio Works that addressed the issue of lectures and how incredibly inefficient and pedagogically bad they are. While the addresses deal with the college level, the issues are certainly germane to the high school level. Worth a listen.
  4. Here is a link to part 1 of a series of blog posts by Grant Wiggins on the concept of “transfer” and how we can do a better job of helping students be able to transfer knowledge and skills better. This has been a part of many of the conversations we have been having recently about homework so I though it might be of interest to a few of you.
Bonus: Jan 30 is World Flipped Class Open House day. A colleague and I will be opening up our classroom for visitors and welcome anybody who would like to come by and see what we are doing.



Black Friday Four 11/25


Friday Four – November 25, 2011

In honor of Black Friday, the single largest shopping day of the year, I present you with my “specials” for the week. You do not even have to sleep out on the sidewalk to get them. Enjoy!

  1. Here is a recent post on one of my favorite blogs “Free Technology for Teachers” that shows you how to tag documents with QR codes. A neat way to allow kids to get documents onto their smart phones or tablets so that they will always have the resources they need for your class.
  2. Another post from the Free Technology blog titled “Ten Search Tools and Tactics Teachers and Students Need to Know.” Beyond the simple Google search!
  3. Have you heard about the concept of the “flipped classroom” but are still not sure what it is? Here is a nice link to a sample lesson using a flipped model. I am a big fan and user of the flipped model and would love to connect with others who use a flipped model in their classrooms.
  4. Post on the Innovative Educator blog (another one of my favorites!) titled “Is Your School Preparing Learners for Success?” that is worth thinking about as we continue to explore and discuss the relevance of a private school education.






Friday Four 11/4

Friday Four – November 4, 2011

Back on the grid at last!

Phew! This has been a crazy week for most anyone who lives in CT. A rogue Nor’ easter blew through the region on Saturday afternoon and knocked out power to nearly 1 million people in CT alone. As of this writing, We have been without power at my house for the past 6 days and still do not know how long it will be until we get it back. As a result of my town’s lack of electricity, I have been “off the grid” for most of the past week and am feeling a bit stretched to come up with 4 nuggets from the past week since I have not been able to engage with my electronic personal learning network. Despite the curveball Mother Nature has sent my way, I present to you this week’s interesting articles or blog post that I ran across (in the last two days!). Enjoy.

  1. New York Times article from 10/26 entitled “How Ready Are We for Bioterrorism?” that explores the state of readiness we are in a decade following the 9/11 attacks on the US. As a teacher of microbiology, I could not resist including this piece since I have spent time in class this fall talking about the topic. Scary reading!
  2. Blog post by Tom Whitby: PD Paradigm Shift. I enjoy reading Tom’s posts and I follow him on Twitter (@tomwhitby); he is a mover and shaker in the online educational world and is never afraid to speak his mind. I was drawn to this post as it relates to the mission and purpose of the Kravis Center. “Give teachers the technology training that they need, and the support they need to use it.” Professional Development is most effective when done at the grassroots level.
  3. Another NYT piece that should get you to scratch your head and think. Cellphones: Why Not Use Them to Teach? I must admit that inclusion of this piece was somewhat strategic. I am working with a few colleagues (Joe Cleary @jhcleary and Richard Scullin @richardscullin) on a workshop that we are going to host at Loomis Chaffee in April on the use of mobile technology as a teaching tool. What better way to drum up interest than to include an article on cellphone use in the classroom? Stay tuned for details about the conference by following me on Twitter. @smacclintic
  4. Ran across this video recently that you may not have seen. Education Evolution. How are we doing on these fronts?

Friday Four 10/21

Friday Four 10/21

Here are four interesting/thought-provoking articles or blog posts I ran across this week that you might find interesting. Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment.

  1. Top Three Issues Facing Educational Technology. A blog post by Frank Pileiro, a technology coordinator and veteran educator. He posits that mobile technology, 21st century teaching and learning, and anytime/anywhere learning are the greatest challenges for educators.
  2. Article about Carol Dweck: Brain Exercise Boosts Motivation that addresses the question of how to encourage students to persevere in areas where they don’t feel confident. Dweck is well known for her 2006 book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”
  3. The Fallacy of Digital Natives. A blog post that de-bunk’s the often heard argument that kids are somehow different when it comes to technology use.
  4. Teachers as Advocates. Blog post that challenges teachers to do a better job of advocating for what they are doing in the classroom.