The APPR Insanity Continues – From All Directions

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Last month, this column described the political discourse about teacher evaluation and the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) as insanity, citing the definition of insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. During the last month, the battle between Governor Cuomo and the teacher’s association, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), has escalated with both sides taking shots at each other. As previously observed, the insanity shows no signs of abating.

The Governor is arguing that inflated teacher evaluation results means change to the APPR system is necessary. Continue reading

Before You Say “THAT” to Your Student … WAIT!


Image: Kenneth Lu

Have you ever been guilty of acting as a living version of a PEZ dispenser – automatically doling out candies that are virtually tasteless and unsatisfying? Confused? How about this – have you ever mindlessly walked by a student and quickly uttered “Good job!” or “Great answer!” without blinking an eye? If so, it sounds like you are delivering praise that has as much significance as those PEZ candies – essentially none! Continue reading

Tweeting, Posting and Uploading?!? Staying Connected and Educationally Relevant in a Rapidly Changing World


In exploring ideas for this month’s blog post, I couldn’t help but circle back to the topic of technology. It seems to have become essential to assisting (or invading some may say) with all facets of our daily lives.

Take yesterday for example…My IPhone alerted me that it was 5:30 a.m., time to wake up, get dressed and begin my morning workout, courtesy of the Beachbody Video in my “Blue-Ray” player. Upon completing the dreaded morning workout, I logged my activity on a fitness group I belong to on Facebook and checked my Fitbit to ensure my hard work was appropriately logged. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Habits of Mind

Head ArtWe are deep in the cold and snow of Central New York winter, and digging deeper into the Social Studies Framework.

At our last Social Studies Leadership Network meeting, groups of participants worked their way through the K-12 vertical articulation of the Social Studies Practices from the Framework to understand how these thinking skills build and develop through the grades. It was an interesting and enlightening process for many of us. Although some of the Practices do refer to content, most of them indicate what we want students to do with any kind social studies knowledge. As we continue to move Continue reading

Hibernation is Not an Option


Image: Rob Swystun

We are all now in the deep throes of cold and snow…winter is upon us with no signs of letting up in the near future. A time when many of us want to hibernate. Keeping kids, and ourselves, active despite the weather can be challenging. Active recess in schools is important regardless of the weather, and there are many ways to make sure that recess stays active all year long.

Children benefit from vigorous activity and fresh air, and should be given the opportunity for outdoor recess as much as possible.   Schools have different policies regarding outdoor recess based on the weather, so it’s important to know what the policies are. Continue reading

Scaffolding for Student Success

It’s been awhile since my last blog! In that time, I have been researching, reading, thinking, learning, talking, presenting and coaching on topics such as building a guaranteed and viable curriculum, standards-based planning, formative assessment and scaffolding. As I began preparing my thoughts for what my next blog might be about, one word popped into my head. And that word is: EQUITY. For me, the concept of equity is the common thread running through the heart of all of these topics. Continue reading

Project-based Learning for All

PBL-Graphic_3Lately, questions keep popping up regarding Project-based Learning and the possibilities it offers for students with mild to severe cognitive delays. If the goal is to promote self-directed inquiry that leads to independence, shouldn’t we desire that for all learners? One such question that I hear repeatedly is, “What might PBL instruction look like for kids with varying disabilities?” Take the eight essentials of PBL. What if we went beyond the basic definition and attached our own adaptations and modifications to this framework? An education service center named Region 13 out of Texas provides a livebinder that did just that. I think planning and coaching conversations around this resource would offer incredible insight for teachers before, during, and after PBL experiences. For example, when most educators approach the Significant Content (one of the 8 Essentials of Project –based Learning)for a project, they naturally pull from their content and literacy standards; however when we think about supporting students with disabilities, some guiding questions that may arise would sound like this: Continue reading