Teacher Appreciation Week Finale

Friday Four – May 10

I hope that you had a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Week and never forget that despite how it may feel at times, you do make a difference. I can think of no more important profession than the education of young people. THANK YOU!

  • An exciting collaboration was launched this week between two favorites in the education world – TED Talks and PBS. They produced a one-hour special “TED Talks Education” that was aired on PBS on Tuesday. You can read a NYT article on the project here and watch the actual show here.
  • The TeachThought website is a great resource that I recommend to all teachers who are looking for inspiration on just about any topic related to education. “TeachThought is a fluid platform that explores the best in learning innovation. We connect K-20 educators not only with resources and ideas, but modelsframeworks and curricula. Many blogs cover progressive education and trending topics, but TeachThought also seeks to support the implementation of innovative learning.” A few of the current blog posts trending on the site are: “The Definition of Digital Citizenship” and “How 21st Century Thinking Is Just Different.”
  • A must read for this week has to be the article written by Annie Murphy Paul (@anniemurphypaul) that appeared on the  KQED education blog titled “How Does Multitasking Change the Way Kids Learn?” The piece was so interesting that I  sent it along to all of my students to read. Annie posted a followup to the article that can be found on her blog here that is titled “Reaction To My Multitasking Article: The Teenagers Speak.”
  • A final piece for the week is a provocative blog post written by Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins) “Dereliction of duty by HS teachers.” The piece itself and the extensive comments posted by readers have made me challenge some of my complacency in the courses I am teaching…a good thing to continue to ruminate about over the summer.


April Showers Bring … New Possibilities

 Friday 4 – April 12

First, I must apologize for not posting a Friday 4 last week. The week was a busy one with Admission revisit days, several interviews of teaching candidates and the first week of the JV baseball season. By the time I even contemplated crafting a Friday 4, it was Saturday morning and I was still facing a 2 hour bus ride to our first game of the season. I have been archiving a bunch of interesting articles, blog posts and such to include in Friday 4 posts, so here are a few of the ones that I have saved in my Diigo folder. (If you do not know what Diigo is, you should definitely check it out here.)

As a side note, you have probably noticed that most of the pieces I include in the Friday 4 include the twitter handle, ex. @smacclintic, for the author. The fact is that many of the pieces I run across or conversations I have about the various topics occur over twitter. I have found twitter to be the single best professional development resource out there. In the stroke of a few keys, you can connect with like-minded educators from around the globe, engage in meaningful conversations and share resources and ideas with some of the best educators around. Not sure how to get started? Try this link as a starting point.

  • A colleague recently passed along this link to a recent Ted talk by Dan Ariely titled “What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work” that is worth 20 minutes of your time. While the talk is about what motivates us at work, the insights are directly transferrable to teaching and learning.
  • Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) asked his blog readers the following question “What makes sports practice satisfying and how is sports practice different from math practice?” after hearing Sal Khan answer the same question in an interview. For anybody who teaches and/or coaches, the answer to this question can lead to some interesting discussions and comparisons. How would you answer the question?
  • In the spirit of sharing, I would encourage you to read “Share and Share Alike!” by Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby).
  • At the risk of beating my twitter drum one too many times, I would encourage you to check out another post from Tom Whitby titled “If Twitter Is Not PD, What Is It?

Hopefully, these items from my Diigo library will give you a few things to think about and will encourage a few conversations with colleagues. Enjoy!

Planting seeds

Friday 4 – March 1

With spring and baseball season right around the corner, (or so I hope!) I thought I would plant a few intellectual seeds with this week’s missive. With a little watering, care and time, perhaps the ideas in this week’s pieces will germinate into new and exciting possibilities for you.

I hope that these seeds germinate and sprout for you and that you are willing to share the harvest.

Snow Day Friday 4

Even when you are pretty sure a snow day is coming, nothing beats the feeling of getting up a little later in the morning, slowly eating your breakfast and lingering over the newspaper knowing that you do not have to be somewhere in the immediate future. In my house, snow days are a mix of shoveling snow, hauling fire wood, taking the dogs out to play in the snow and laying around catching up on reading or my Words with Friends games (I only have 13 active games going at the moment).

This week’s Friday 4 is a collection of items that are good for snow day reading, more reflective and thought-provoking than technical and practical. Throw another log on the fire and enjoy!

  • Schools Are Full of People” is a recent post from Chris Lehmann (@chrislehmann) that is a good reminder to anybody who works with kids.
  • I’ll Never Be the Same Again” is a post from a new blogger in my Google reader, Bo Adams (@boadams1). I ran across Bo when I was reading the Grant Lichtman journey to visit 60+ schools across the country looking for innovative teaching.
  • How Collaboration Has Changed Me” is a piece written by a fellow flipped classroom teacher, Delia Bush (@DeliaBush).
  • The last item is actually several potential items. Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recently wrote a post where he suggested 5 good blogs for English teachers, 5 good blogs for history teachers and 5 good blogs for math teachers to follow. Even if you do not teach English, history or Math, I encourage you to check out Richard’s blog Free Technology  for Teachers.

Enjoy the rest of the snow if you are in New England!

Friday 4 – Summer Homework


 Friday Four 5/25/2012

We are rapidly approaching the end of the current school year which means that summer vacation is right around the corner. For me, summer is when I have time to work on new ideas for my classes. I do not have papers to correct, meetings to attend or any of the other distractions that make focusing on bigger projects virtually impossible during the school year. I am confident that many of you also use at least part of the summer break to ponder, explore and develop new ideas for your own classrooms. With that spirit in mind, this week’s Friday 4 includes several items that I hope will inspire you to expand your repertoire as a teacher. Once the craziness of the spring subsides and you are in summer “big picture” mode, revisit one of the links from this post and develop a new lesson or update a current one to include a new idea or twist.

Enjoy the remaining days/weeks of your school year and don’t forget to do your homework over the summer. Your students are counting on you!


Friday Four – March 2, 2012


 Some more Cognitive Psychology and a few other related tidbits

I seem to be running into quite a few interesting links related to the cognitive psychology or neurobiology of learning in past few weeks. The topic is a fascinating one (at least I think so!) and is really just beginning to make its way into the education world as the neuroscientists and educators begin to collaborate and communicate more. If you are looking to expand your knowledge base about the topic, I would strongly encourage attending any of the Learning and the Brain workshops. I have been to a few of them and found them incredibly informative and helpful as I rethink my lessons, homework assignments and really all that I do in the classroom. You can even follow @Learning andtheB on twitter. So here are a few of my finds from this past week that you will hopefully find interesting. If you have any suggestions for future Friday Four editions, please do not hesitate to send them along.

  • Daniel Willingham is the author of several books on the topic of cognitive psychology including “Why Don’t Student’s Like School?” Here is a link to a piece he wrote that appeared on the American Educator website titled “How Knowledge Helps.” In the piece Willingham explores how previous knowledge impacts learning.
  • Jay McTighe tweeted out a link to a great Ted talk by Dr. Judy Willis that looks at the neurobiology behind boredom and frustration in the classroom. Willis is a neuroscientist who went into teaching so that she could apply what she had learned about the brain and learning in the lab.
  • Effective and useful feedback is one of the most important factors that can lead to learning. How many of us have taken the time to solicit feedback from our students on a regular basis? This piece that appeared on the Edweek website looks at the topic of using student feedback for improvement.
  • Seth Godin has published his manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams”  What do you think we ought to do about education? is a question Godin gets often. His response is “What is school for?”  His manifesto is an attempt to start a conversation about the goals we have for our schools and how to reach them.



Friday Four 12/23

Friday Four – Dec 23, 2011

Here are four of my favorite finds from the past week.

  1. Who doesn’t like a good TED Talk? Here is a list of 10 TED talks that are great for students from the Edudemic website and their Best of 2011.
  2. I recently found and have started to follow a blog called “sciencegeekgirl” that is right up my alley. A recent post “A summary of the research on how to study” includes a link to download a publication from the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) on Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning. Both the download and the blog are good reads.
  3. Here is a recent post on the EdWeek website that caught my eye because it was about the connection between neuroscience and learning, a favorite topic of mine lately.
  4. We all know that technology is having an impact on the classroom and our students. A new theory on learning that is gaining momentum is “Connectivism.” Here is a nice blog post by a fellow educator that will introduce you to the concept and point you to additional resources.