Finish Line within Sight

As any independent school teacher will attest, the middle of May is one of the busiest times of the year. AP exams are winding down, prom season is winding up and the seniors are counting the days until graduation. Special schedules are the “norm” and any sense of routine has gone out the window. In an attempt to inject some normalcy and predictability into this crazy stretch, I offer up this week’s Friday 4…even posted on Friday this week!

The first two pieces I ran across this week come from the same website…an interesting URL to be certain. Some good advice for all teachers as they work with students to improve their communication skills.

  • 10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them
  • The 4 questions to ask before you write anything: ROAM
  • The NPR website includes an “ongoing series of conversations with thinkers and activists on education issues.”  They recently posted a conversation with Ken Bain, author of the book What the Best College Teachers Do. I have read the book and highly recommend adding it to your pile of summer reading. The conversation on the NPR site will give you a sense of what his book is about.
  • A colleague passed along the following link to a bunch of great resources for designing rubrics to assess both traditional and  “non-traditional” student work. Valuable information for anybody who is incorporating multimedia activities or projects into their classes
  • BONUS find…could not help but include this recent post from website for those of you Chrome users. I installed a couple of the extensions myself and love them already.

Enjoy the craziness that is the month of May!

Fighting through the winter doldrums

Friday 4 – February 15

If you are like me, the winter term months are some of the most challenging as a classroom teacher. The excitement of a new academic year is a distant memory, the hours of daylight are disturbingly low in number and the interruptions (snow days and breaks) to any kind of “flow” in the classroom are too frequent and many to count. During the winter doldrums, I like to read articles/blogs/pieces that are more reflective and inspirational in nature in the hope that they will get me through the cold, dark, lifeless winter and excited for the upcoming warmth and optimism that spring tends to bring. With that sentiment in mind, I offer up a few items that I ran across this past week that got my juices flowing in anticipation of the start of spring and the baseball season.

As always, I hope you enjoy this week’s tidbits. Hang in there, spring is coming!

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!