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!

An October Cornucopia

4fingersIt has been a busy week filled with videotaping colleagues in the classroom, attending a CAIS conference on Experiential Learning in the Science Classroom and participating in several Connected Educator Month events online. I ran across a bunch of interesting items during the week that do not really fit into a single theme so I am not going to try and pretend that they do. Here are a few…


Friday 4 – Catch-Up Day Edition

  • Do you ever have students watch YouTube or other web-hosted videos for class and want them to take notes on the videos? VideoNotes is a neat tool that allows you to split your screen and watch the video and take notes that can be automatically saved in your Google Drive at the same time. The notes even can be synched with the video so that you can click on your notes and jump to the exact location in the video when you took the note. Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) brought the tool to my attention in a post on his Free Technology for Teachers blog.
  • How Creativity Works” is a nice piece from NPR in which Johan Lehrer joins NPR’s Robert Siegel to talk about the creative process — where great ideas come from, how to foster them, and what to do when you inevitably get stuck.
  • Here is a post from one of the blogs I follow on the use of clickers in the classroom. “Should students vote individually, should you have a whole class discussion? (#clicker series)” The blog is written by Stephanie Chasteen (@sciencegeekgirl) whose Twitter handle alone got me to follow her on Twitter!
  • There is a thought-provoking series of posts on the website that explores the “purpose” of education. Regardless of your role in education, there is plenty to ponder and discuss in this series of posts. The first post in the series can be found here. The second piece can be found here.


Friday 4 -The Craft of Teaching

For those of you who missed last week’s Friday 4, fret not. The craziness of Parents Weekend and what seemed like an endless stream of meetings and visitors prevented me from crafting an end-of-week missive last Friday, so you did not really miss anything! The frenetic pace that coincides with the impending end of the term has set in to be certain, but I was determined to publish the Friday 4 this week since it appears from most accounts that people do enjoy the posts. I appreciate the feedback I have received about the Friday 4 and continue to encourage you to send along any thoughts, ideas or comments.

I was encouraged by a valued and trusted colleague to be more deliberate about a theme for each week’s Friday 4. In the past, I have tried to connect the items in each Friday 4 but have not always found four related items in any given week so the thread connecting the items has been tenuous at best at times. So, in response to the suggestion, this week’s Friday 4 will focus on the craft of teaching.

Enjoy and as always, please send along any ideas or suggestions you may have.

First Friday Four of 2012


Friday Four – January 6, 2012


It is only 6 days in to 2012, but I am pretty proud of myself. I have not written 2011 on any document requiring a date thus far! Small victory to be certain, but hey, by this time I usually have committed the faux pas at least a half a dozen times. I have an eclectic mix of items for you this week. Some of the items I ran across as I was perusing the seemingly endless list of “Best of 2011” blog posts. I try and at least do a cursory review of these blogs since there is always one or two nuggets that I will have missed during the year. So here are four of my finds this week for your enjoyment.

  1. From the Innovative Educator, a listing of 100 video sites every educator should bookmark. This list includes professional development video sites as well as discipline specific content sites. I guarantee you will find at least one site you can use.
  2. Many of you already know that I am an Alfie Kohn fan so you will not be surprised by this next piece. This piece appeared in the English Journal in the fall of 2010 and looks at how to create nonreaders.
  3. This next piece is a blog post from a somewhat outspoken educator who I do not always agree with….hence why I read his pieces regularly! He challenges teachers to stop asking questions they already know the answers to.
  4. For my humanities colleagues, here is a thought provoking piece describing a 21st century English class. How do we stack up?

As always, I welcome you comments or feedback.



Final Friday Four of 2011


Friday Four – December 30, 2011

I like this time of year for a reason that may surprise some of you…I love all of the “year in review” shows and lists of top “whatever” from 2011. I enjoy/appreciate taking time to think back on how the previous year has unfolded and remembering some of the milestones from the past 365 days. I always find something that I had totally forgotten about or missed.

As I ruminated about the past year, I realized that this will be the 16th posting of my Friday Four, each Friday since the beginning of the school year. I have enjoyed sharing some of the interesting items I have run across and hope that you have found at least a few of them intriguing as well. If you have suggestions or thoughts about the Friday Four, I welcome your comments here, e-mails or tweets. Without further ado…

  1.  The NPR Argo network includes a website from KQED in San Francisco called Mindshift: How we will learn that frequently has thought provoking pieces. One that caught my eye this past week was “Three trends that define the future of teaching and learning.” There are 2 other pieces that are part of the series that I recommend looking at as well.
  2. Here is something for my colleagues in the humanities who do a lot of reading and writing in their classes. “The future of reading and writing is collaborative” comes from the Spotlight website. “Spotlight covers the intersections of technology and education, going behind the research to show how digital media is used in and out of classrooms to expand learning.”
  3. Here is an interview with Cathy Davidson, the author of the book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. I plan on ordering a copy of the book for myself and the Kravis Center and will buy a copy for the first two LC faculty members who tweet me their New Year’s resolution for the classroom. (More on the New Year’s Resolution project in future blog post.)
  4. One of my favorite bloggers is Richard Byrne whose blog “Free Technology for Teachers” had a recent post that includes a link to a great resource “The Super Book of Web Tools for Teachers.”