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!

Summer reading twitter chat post mortem

So, I tried something new with our students and faculty this past weekend having to do with our all-school summer reading book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I posted some thoughts about the plan in an earlier post.

In a nutshell, I invited the faculty and students to join me for a twitter chat about the book the past Sunday evening. I posted instruction on how to follow a twitter chat for those non-twitter users and even created a Jing video to show them how to join the chat. I even went so far as to create a webdoc as a sort of promotional piece for the chat.

So, how did it go? While I was hoping for more people to join in, I was not all that surprised at the limited turn out. There were a bunch of students who joined in, a few parents of current students and a couple of colleagues as well. Given that school is still a few weeks away, I do not blame people for not wanting to join a discussion about the summer reading just yet. On the plus side, there were students from CT, GA, ME, CA and a few other states along with a student in Korea participating…pretty cool actually.

I know that very few of my colleagues are avid Twitter users which did not help. One of my goals this year is to encourage, promote and model how wonderful Twitter and PLNs can be for professional development.

Will I try it again? Definitely! I am fortunate enough to get to deliver a convocation talk to the entire community in the first few weeks of school about the book. I plan on hosting another twitter chat about the book following my talk. Hopefully, by then everybody will have read the book and will be more inclined to engage in academic pursuits on a Sunday evening. Stay tuned….I will post something after the talk and let you know how it went.

If anybody has experience with this type of twitter chat and their school community, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Summer reading idea

I just finished exchanging a series of e-mails with my Head of School about several tech-related topics and she came up with an idea that I think is great. We have an all-school reading over the summer that all of our students and faculty read around the upcoming school year’s theme. This year our theme is “Doing the right thing” and the all-school reading is the Rebecca Skloot book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. There is a Convocation in early  September about the book and the theme for the year. Lucky me, I get to give the talk this year! Rather than wait until school starts to discuss the book, we thought it might be interesting to engage our students and faculty in a Twitter chat about the book before school starts. While many of the students and certainly many of the faculty are not active Twitter users, this might be a way to nudge them off the sidelines and into the fray.

Have you tried this in your school? Thoughts? Suggestions? Please share your thoughts and ideas! Thanks.