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!

April Showers



I ran across this blog post that has some interesting ideas for ways to utilize social media tools to enhance learning, collaboration and outreach in and out of the classroom. A related blog post on The Power of Twitter happened to come across my stream around the same time that speaks to the utilization of social media for professional development. Both pieces are good reads that may inspire you to try something new. If you think that Twitter is just a big waste of time, take the time to read the  following blog post from Carolyn Durley (@c_durley), a member of my PLN. Her thoughts may convince you otherwise.

Recently, we have been discussing the issue of gender equity in our upper level courses, particularly in the areas of Math and Science where girls have been traditionally under-represented. The Institute of Education Sciences has a “what works clearinghouse” with a bunch of great resources about education related topics including a practice guide titled Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

To round out this edition of the Friday 4 (or more than 4!), here are two nice articles about how we ask questions in the classroom and Ways to Cultivate ‘Whole-Class Engagement’.

Final Friday 4 for February



February may be the shortest month of the year as far as calendar days are concerned, but this year, with respect to the weather in New England, February has been one of the longest on record. As one frigidly cold blustery day blends into yet another sub-zero polar vortex of a night, I anxiously await spring and the first baseball practice outside when I do not have to wear my thermal socks. What better way to spend yet another day cooped up indoors than to consume one last Friday 4 missive. With no further ado, here you go…

  • Several colleagues mentioned in a recent survey on the Kravis Center that they would like some help effectively incorporating technology into their classrooms. Google forms is a powerful tool that can be used in a whole host of ways. There happens to be a Classroom 2.0 live show on Google forms on Saturday, March 1 at noon EST. You can join in here live or listen to the presentation at a later time.
  • Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recently wrote a piece on his Free Technology for Teachers blog about How to Add Voice Comments to Your Google Documents that can take your feedback on student writing to the next level.
  • 7 Things Smart Learners Do Differently is a nice little piece that might be nice to share with your students and serves as a good reminder as we develop lesson plans.
  • Peter Gow (@pgow) recently wrote a piece on his blog titled “Why Twitter Beats February” that describes how he uses his Twitter PLN to make the days of February bearable. Seemed appropriate as I watch the weather forecast predicting yet another snow “event” in the coming days.
  • Examining Your Multiple-Choice Questions is a piece I ran across on the Faculty Focus website that begins an exploration of how to craft better multiple choice questions.
  • My final nugget is completely unrelated to teaching and learning, but given that the Loomis Chaffee mascot is a pelican, I could not resist! Get an up-close, face-to-face view of a rescued pelican learning to fly.

Snow Day Readings

Snow days are a mixed blessing for most teachers. While most enjoy the extra hour(s) of sleep and the brief respite from the craziness of the typical school day, the havoc a snow day can create in a well thought out and planned series of lessons is sometimes not worth it. In the spirit of the the glass being half full, I prefer to see snow days as a chance to catch up on my professional reading and treat it like a free day of self-directed professional development. Sounds a little better now doesn’t it?

If you do not already have a list of items on your “To Read” list, allow me to suggest a few to start you off that have crossed my radar of late and ended up in my Diigo Library. Enjoy the snow if you are experiencing a snow day or bookmark this post for the next time you find yourself with an unanticipated free PD day.

  • Four Student Misconceptions about Learning” is a short piece that appeared on the Faculty Focus website that is a nice little piece in its own, but the real gem is the link at the end of the article to a free download of an awesome book Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum.
  • Prefer a little video on a snowy day? Here is a thought provoking short documentary on future learning. “Students are the future, but what’s the future for students? To arm them with the relevant, timeless skills for our rapidly changing world, we need to revolutionize what it means to learn.”
  • 25 Factors Great Boarding Schools Have in Common is a blog post from Pat Bassett, former president of NAIS, and Pete Upham, the current director of TABS. An interesting read particularly after watching the video on future learning.
  • A colleague passed along a great recently published article on the link between later school starting times and adolescent mood and sleep patterns. You can find a brief article about the study including a link to the original paper here.
  • As a final item, I would encourage any and all to join #TABSchat tonight (2/5) on twitter at 8 PM EST. Tim Quinn (@TimothyQuinn6), the author of the book On Grades and Grading will be joining the conversation. A great opportunity to ask the author any questions you may have after reading the book!

If you are experiencing a snow day as I am, ENJOY!

First Friday 4 for 2014

4fingersA quick set of interesting finds from the past week to get you through the first weekend of 2014.

  • The Neuroscience Of Learning: 41 Terms Every Teacher Should Know is a piece from my friend Dr. Judy Willis (@judywillis) that appeared on the teachthought.com website and recently appeared in my twitter stream.

  • Taylor Mali (@TaylorMali) visited us a few years ago and ever since then, I love it when a link to one of his videos hits my radar screen. I never pass up the opportunity to watch him perform one of his pieces on teaching. As I was flipping back and forth between writing this post and my twitter feed, the video “Miracle Workers” was mentioned by somebody I follow. Enjoy!

  • I usually find Grant Wiggins’ (@grantwiggins) blog posts thought provoking and his latest post is no exception. He starts the year off with some practical advice for classroom teachers and takes on the final exam vs project “debate.”
  • I like it when I am reminded about a blog that I have not read in quite some time; it is like discovering it for the first time all over again. Here is one that fell off my radar screen but is now back on it! The Loomis Chaffee International student blog.

Happy New Year!


The whirlwind of Connected Educator Month

4fingersA Time to Reflect

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.



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!

Belated Friday 4 – Google Goodies and more

 Friday Four – Jan 27

The end of the week snuck up on me, as it sometimes does, and prevented me from posting my weekly Friday 4 on Friday. I guess I will have to ask for an extension and hope for some leniency! I am pretty sure that the your life went on just fine in the absence of the Friday 4, but I did not want to completely let you down, so here is my somewhat belated Friday 4 for the week that will in all likelihood end before I finish typing this post.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am a big fan and user of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) in the classroom and with my students. I ran across 2 great resources this past week having to do with Google Drive that I wanted to pass along.

  • The first is a post from Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne), who writes the FreeTech4Teachers blog, titled “Five Essential Google Drive Skills For Teachers.” If you are a new user of Google Drive, this is the post for you. If you are already a user of Drive, you may still be able to pick up a tip or two from this post.
  • The second Drive-related item is a short video explaining how you can use a neat Chrome plugin called WeVideo with your Google Drive to create, edit and share videos all for FREE.

The last two items for the week are more reflective in nature.

  • Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) wrote a post recently “Building a professional learning network on Twitter” that explains how educators can harness the power of Twitter for their own ongoing professional development. If you are new to Twitter and have not yet “found” Tom, I would strongly recommend that you add him to your “follow” list.
  • Marc Seigel (@DaretoChem) is another person I follow on Twitter who is a fellow flipped-classroom teacher. He recently wrote a blog post that resonated with me that I hope you will find interesting.

Enjoy and have a wonderful final week of January!

Friday 4 – TABS tidbits

TABS Tidbits – November 29- December 1

I am currently on the way back from the TABS ( The Association of Boarding Schools) conference in Washington DC and thought it would be a good idea to share some of the wonderful things I came across during the conference for this week’s Friday 4. As with most conferences that I have attended over the years, the most valuable part is the networking and sharing of ideas that occurs in-between sessions and “after hours.” The chance to connect with new colleague or rekindle relationships with former students who are now colleagues is one of the best reasons to attend a conference. Regardless of how much of a pain in the neck it is to coordinate leaving school for a few days, the benefits always make it worth my time.

One of the highlights for me has certainly been the chance to reconnect with a former student of mine Hollis Brooks (@HollisBrooks) who is now the Dean of Students at the Hillside School (@Hillsideschool1). Hollis works with a former LC graduate Dan Marchetti (@MarchettiDan) who is currently the Assistant Headmaster at the Hillside School. The three of us spent many hours the past few days reminiscing about the past and talking about the work we currently do with young people and how important that work is. I cannot fully explain how inspiring and encouraging it is to talk with former students who share my passion for education. My conversations alone with them have made the 8 hour bus ride from Hartford to DC worth the time away from my work at LC.

So, what tidbits have I gleaned these past few days? Here are a few of the highlights from the conference.

  • Friday’s keynote speaker was Erik Wahl (@erikwahl) the “Picasso of Productivity” who is a nationally recognized artist, author and entrepreneur who inspires innovation and professional creativity through his original on-stage painting performances. Erik’s talk was in a word – AWESOME. You can check out a video about his talk here. His message is a good one for anybody who works with young people.
  • I attended several sessions on iPad programs at various schools and was quite impressed with what the South Kent School has done. You can check out what they are doing with respect to iPads and digital textbooks here.
  • I had a conversation with a fellow presenter Hans Mundahl (@hmundahl) from The New Hampton School about how we could continue the many great discussions that were occurring at the conference throughout the school year. We decided to try and hold a twitter chat on Wednesday evenings for anybody in the TABS “world” who wanted to continue to share ideas and thoughts about topics related to boarding school life. We are going to hold our first chat this coming Wednesday (12/5) at 8 PM ET. We will use the hashtag #TABSchat and would like to encourage anybody who is interested to participate. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, you can submit it here. For those of you who are not Twitter users, you can still follow the conversation by going to tweetchat.com and entering the #TABSchat hashtag into the search field. A perfect opportunity for some free PD!
  • This last item did not actually come from TABS but it did cross my Twitter stream while I was there and resonated with me given the number of times I heard “21st Century skills” mentioned in sessions. This is a piece from Tim Quinn (@TimothyQuinn6) on group work and collaboration that appeared in the Kappan Magazine.
I hope you enjoy this week’s Friday 4 and that you will join me and others on Wednesday @ 8 PM for the #TABSchat.


Friday Four – September 14, 2012

Connect, Learn and Grow

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the NYTimes Schools for Tomorrow Conference yesterday and listened to a whole host of inspiring speakers. The theme for the conference was “Building a Better Teacher.” I thought it would be appropriate to include some items from the conference in this week’s missive.

  •  This first item is actually the conference itself. All of the panels were streamed live and can be watched now on the conference website. The sessions that I found particularly interesting were:
    • How do we measure teacher performance?
    • How can we better support teachers to deliver better instruction?
    • Keynote from Aneesh Chopra (@aneeshchopra), the former Chief Technology Officer for the United States.
  • Looking for a way to ramp up your Google searching skills? Why not take advantage of a MOOC (a massive  open online course). Daniel Russel, the uber tech leader from Google who spoke at the NYT conference, offered a course on Power Searching with Google this summer which had over 150,000 people register and take the course. He is running the course again starting on September 24. You can register for the course here. I have registered for the course myself so perhaps we can form a study group!
  • At one point in the conference, the audience was polled about what they thought was the most pressing issue with regard to supporting teachers to deliver better instruction. The overwhelming “favorite” was ongoing professional development and the importance of being a connected educator. As I listened to the panel, thought about the response and tweeted out some ideas to the Twitter hashtag for the conference (#NYTedtech); I was reminded of how significant Twitter is in my ongoing PD and ability to connect with fellow educators. For those of you who have read my Friday Fours in the past, you know that I am a big fan of Twitter as a way to connect with fellow educators and share ideas. If you are not a Twitter user, I would encourage you to at least go to tweetchat.com and follow a hashtag for 10 minutes and see if you learn something new. There are hashtags for any and all interests. Here is a link to a page listing the education related hashtags that are commonly used. (Thanks to Jerry Blumengarten a.k.a. “cybraryman” for the list) You just may be surprised with how easy it is to get free PD whenever you want.
  • My last find this week is actually a piece published this week in the NYT by LC alum Steven Strogatz (@stevenstrogatz). He is a Mathematics professor at Cornell and is “wicked smart” to use a phrase my students are fond of. He has the ability to make math accessible to those of us who are not mathematicians, no easy task if you ask me! Not quite related to the theme of the first three finds of the week but a great find nonetheless.

As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions.