OCM-Responsive Classroom® Blog-Planning for a Successful Year…Give Yourself a Gift

booThe opening of the State Fair here in Syracuse lets staff developers, like myself, know our summer work is almost completed.  For teachers, on the other hand, it’s a time to get into their classrooms to begin to apply all their summer learning and plan for a new year of growth and learning.

On the final day of the Responsive Classroom® 1 training teachers read an article titled, “Getting Off to a Good Start” which is adapted from one of the best books developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children (developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching) called The First Six Weeks of School (Denton/Kriete 2000).  Continue reading

What are You Looking For?

SocialClassroomLooking for a way to focus teaching on the specific concepts and skills needed for independent practice, assess students’ achievement of the outcome of a lesson, inform students about what they are expected to do and know by the end of the lesson, ensure that lessons are on grade level and gain the attention of students? Then you are looking for explicitly taught learning objectives!

Explicit Instruction is a systematic, step by step approach to teaching that has been shown to promote achievement for students with disabilities. While the Common Core provides the “What”, Explicit Instruction provides the “How” for helping students with disabilities access the general curriculum and meet the educational standards that apply to all students. Continue reading

What Does This Mean?


Just in time for the start of a new school year, the New York State Education Department has released the scores on the 3-8 ELA and math assessments. All kinds of efforts are being made to interpret these results and accept them as the new baseline for student achievement in a Common Core-aligned system. It is proving difficult to understand these dramatically lower scores.  Yosmitebear struggled to find meaning in the Double Rainbow he recorded in his widely-viewed YouTube video, “What does this mean? Help Me! Too much! I don’t know what it means!” Educators, parents, and students are now struggling to understand the meaning of these new, and drastically lower, 3-8 ELA and math scores. Continue reading

Historical Thinking = Critical Thinking about Historical Stuff

FCTWelcome to the end of August!!  I am just coming back from a cross-country trip to visit far-flung offspring, so I am still very much in summer mode.  I remember when I was little how the summer seemed to stretch on forever and was filled with days of endless outdoor activity: climbing trees, digging in the dirt, catching crayfish in the “crick”, playing kick the can and eating drippy popsicles outside so we wouldn’t get the kitchen floor all sticky.  (Can you tell I was a bit of a tomboy?)  Before we know it, we will be deep into the beginning routines of school.  Try to savor these last few days of summer! Continue reading

Jimmy vs. Michelle: And the Winner Is…

I hate to be the one to break the news to you….but, summer is almost over.

Almost time to go back to school. Even though I am a 12-month employee, I have taken full advantage of the longer days and spent many an evening working up a sweat on the Erie Canal Trail or at our beautiful state parks. Summertime in Central New York is heaven for those of us who like to stay physically active! Like mine, hopefully you and your kids’ summer has been filled with lots of physical activity… swimming in the pool or at the beach, riding bikes, playing ball or tennis, taking extra-long walks , running in some of the 5K races going on all around CNY, or participating in a grueling potato sack race.

Continue reading

Project-Based Learning and Educational Reform

Common Core GraphicAs educators reflect this summer on all of the reform initiatives put on their “plate” last year (the Common Core, APPR, SLOs and LATs, common formative assessments, new state assessments) those of us implementing Project-Based Learning should be sharing how PBL can BE the “plate” or the framework for implementing these initiatives more effectively.  Project-Based Learning has emerged as a student-centered, technology-based, inquiry-led, and 21st century skill-based methodology to prepare students for college, career and citizenship readiness.  Here is some information you can share with your colleagues: Continue reading

Rocky Mountain View

mountainsI had the opportunity to attend five day training at McRel Institute in Denver, Colorado last month.  First, the wonderful conversations with educators from all over are reaffirming— we are all celebrating and challenged by so very similar issues.  I worked with teams from Kanas, Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, and Guam.  The content was Classroom Instruction that Works.    We made so many connections regarding what we know as educators we must do to support our learners to successfully encounter a rigorous and relevant curriculum. Continue reading