Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Reading - The Book Whisperer

This summer, the administrators in my school system have been tasked with reading the Book Whisperer (see blog and info at So that I am sure to complete this assignment, I have made a commitment to ban myself from any and all other summer reading until I finish this book. I'm shooting for a July 10 completion date as the new Discovery of Witches book comes out then... I'm about a third of the way through the book and am pleasantly surprised! Though it provides instruction on teaching reading,It reads like a story. In addition, the author shares her failures and successes along the way. The way she walks the reader through the process makes one want to jump right in to implementing this program in their own school. My Edmodo status shows the teachers in my building that I'm reading The Book Whisperer. I've already had feedback from one of my teachers, who actually works with some of our most at-risk students. She is interested in implementing the process within her own classroom. Her interest got the wheels in my mind turning. If she has an interest, BRING IT!!! Im going to make sure she has everything she needs to be successful in her endeavor. I will post more on this thread as I move through this process.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Introducing Problem Based Learning

It's all fine and good to want our students to participate in lessons which involve critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration; but we as admiistrators can't expect this to happen without properly educating teachers in the execution of these methods.

In researching teacher preperation programs in higher education institutions, I've learned that they do a lot of things well. However, modeling 21st Century skills are not one of them. Though I am certain this is going to change, I'm not particularly certain when this change is going to take place.

The last week of school is a WONDERFUL time to try new things. Teachers don't have the stress of standardized assessments and are willing to try anything that will keep their students occupied during these final days.

This year, we participated in Olympic-themed activities during the final days of school. It was a great event. It included a health fair, athletic events, and a "Cerebral Olympics"which included team-based problem solving activities that excited and engaged students and teachers. These activities were simple: egg-drop, card tower, and marshmallow challenge (

Teachers were apprehensive about the project when the Olympic committee decided to incorporate these activities. They were worried about unruly students, making a mess, finding the materials, and having to present the lesson.

If you want your teachers to do something that may take them out of their comfort zone, it is helpful to provide teachers with introductory lessons that result in a positive experience for all involved. I did this by doing the following:
  • The entire grade level did the same activitiy. This way teachers were able to share their experiences with one another.
  • Teachers received the plans and materials in advance. In addition, they did not have to do any prep work. Materials were packaged in brown paper bags. Teachers simply had to divide the class into teams and give each team a bag.
  • Lesson plans were only one page long. Things longer than a page don't always get read from beginning to end.
The activities were so successful that teachers are now eager to incorporate more of these activties into their teaching and learning in the fall. It will be up to me as an administrator to keep this momentum going by slowly releasing the responsibility of developing and implementing these lessons to the teachers I work with; just as the teachers need to gradually release the same process to their students. After all, the best way to learn is to do.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Flipping Out Isn't Always a Bad Thing...Really!!!

Ahhh June...

A time for flipping out in public education. Flipping out over assessments, flipping out over end of year evals, and flipping out over what seem to be the dumbest things! We are flipping out over things we will all be laughing about in a couple of weeks.

Interestingly enough, there are some trends in education that are going to be worth flipping out over: the "Flipped Classroom" and "Flipped Blooms Taxonomy". Just how these two concepts will actually fit into K-12 education are still to be determined.

The school system I work in is really starting to push the concept of blended learning. One way that blended learning is encouraged is through the use of Edmodo ( If you haven't seen Edmodo, it would remind you of Facebook, though the atmosphere is controlled by the teacher. Students and teachers are able to post and respond to questions, collaborate with one another, respond to polls, and submit assignments. It's a good, safe introduction to blended learning and allows teachers the opportunity to introduce Flipped Classroom concepts and methods.

As far as "Flipping Blooms" goes, the most important thing to remember is to start with providing students with a hands-on opportunity to apply concepts, and then allow them to build upon their experiences from there. The hands-on experience is the so-called "hook" to engage them. Once you have them interested, they are more likely to listen to the nuts and bolts of the concept, and better understand it as a whole.

So, you see...flipping out really isn't all that bad a thing after all. It's actually part of an exciting time in the world of education!