Get Ready [But Don’t Start, Yet]

Image: Mark Roy

Stop right there! Don’t convene your APPR committee to start working on your APPR 2015 plan. Not yet. There are still too many unknowns and getting started prematurely might add to the drama that is again at a crescendo. Whether we like it or not, we have to wait to see the regulations at the June Board of Regents meeting before we can get started. The window for revision is so small that it is very tempting to get started, now. There are still many unknowns, however.

Go ahead and set your meeting date(s) if you want, but don’t go too far, too soon. In the meantime, it is a good idea to keep abreast of the discussions so that you won’t be surprised by much when the regulations are approved by emergency action in June. Continue reading

Creating Mentally Healthy Kids

Did you know that May is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month? I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t. I’ve been a school psychologist for almost 10 years: I see the impact of mental wellness on school outcomes daily. I know the positive (and negative) impact that mental hygiene has on school functioning. I know how much children need coping skills and resiliency in order to function with a high quality of life, and yet I didn’t know that May is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month. Why is this important issue placed so deeply on the “back burner” in my mind? Continue reading

Using Teacher Leaders to Promote Consistency in a Climate of Change

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”
– Rosalynn Carter


The idea of a “Teacher Leader” is one that is gaining quite a bit of traction in the educational field particularly as of late. In a time of constant change and uncertainty, schools need leaders from within buildings to emerge as competent, reliable, compassionate and empowered individuals to help lead the way. Those who can survey the climate and culture of an organization, use data to create action plans to target needs, model effective instructional practices, coach and collaborate with colleagues and deliver professional development to satisfy demands for personal and professional growth are essential in the field of education. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Argument (but not that kind…)

I have been thinking a lot about argument this week. No, not that kind. I am getting along fine with parents, spouse, children neighbors, co-workers…at least, as far as I know. I am thinking about how we teach students to create and write arguments based on evidence from text. Using evidence to write an argument is all over the placed once you start looking for it: the C3 Framework, the NYS Social Studies Framework, the NYS Toolkit Inquiry Design Model and, course the Common Core Learning Standards for Literacy. I am also trying to include the idea of argument writing in the class I teach at SUNY Cortland (AED 310 Writing in Social Studies). The thing is – I was never explicitly taught how to do this. Ever. So my personal understanding of writing argument is inadequate, if not downright meager. So as I prepare for upcoming workshops and social studies curriculum work in the summer, I have started gathering resources that will help me think about not just what a good written argument, but how we teach our students a complex and demanding process. Continue reading

Are you addicted?

Image: Frankileon

I hope that got your attention…I’m addicted to Ice Tea and Chocolate. I wake up in the morning and look forward to the “large unsweetened iced tea with lemon” from Dunkin Donuts. In the afternoon the chocolate kiss candy calls my name and I pop 1,2, maybe 3 candies without even thinking. Why do I do these things and experience a “low” without them? It’s because of the feeling I get after I drink the tea or taste the chocolate…instant happiness, contentment, could I say, euphoria (not quite)? Continue reading

Advanced/Enhanced Common Core Curriculum

Not an Easy Discussion

A discussion that must occur in school districts with the advent of the Common Core Learning Standards is how to adhere to Part 100.4d of the State Education Law.

Public school students in grade eight shall have the opportunity to take high school courses in mathematics and in at least one of the following areas: English, social studies, languages other than English, art, music, career and technical education subjects or science courses. Continue reading

PBL BLOG: From Learning Targets to Rubric

How can we develop our first AUTHENTIC PBL project that is RIGOROUS and COMMON CORE focused?” is our driving question for the 4-day PBL-101 training we do at OCM BOCES. We as PBL trainers and coaches stress the importance to design a project that has learners developing authentic individual and team products and/or performances that can serve as the assessments for content standards. Developing a rigorous project requires teachers to first unpack their standards to clarify the “know” and “do” of their content standards. This backwards design of the project will then help the teacher to think deeply about their content standards to best match an authentic product and/or performance that would target the “know” and “do” of their standards. Continue reading

Analyzing a Running Record Using Key Questions

A deep analysis of a student’s running record is an effective and critical habit literacy teachers engage in on a daily basis in order to understand each of their student’s literacy development and target next teaching moves.  Teachers value the essence of capturing evidence while a student orally reads an instructional-leveled book so that they can understand their student’s reading process and identify reading strategies the student is neglecting.  They value the reading process and how it contributes to increasing literacy understanding.  Reflect for a minute on the key questions you use when viewing and analyzing a student’s running record.

The following are good questions to ask when involved in a deep analysis of a running record: Continue reading

Many High Schoolers Giving Up on STEM. How Do We Stop It?

NGSS-LogoHigh school students aren’t sticking with STEM. Even though the number of jobs in science and engineering is expected to surge in the years to come, close to 60 percent of the nation’s students who begin high school interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, change their minds by graduation, according to a report from STEMconnector.

Overall student interest has been gradually climbing for about a decade, with about 1 in 4 of all high schoolers excited about pursuing a STEM major or career. But keeping many of those students attracted to such subjects is proving a challenge. Science and engineering careers are expected to grow more than 20 percent by 2018, twice the rate of the overall U.S. labor force! Continue reading

When I think about Grandma…

When I think about my Grandma Bottiglieri, who came from Italy to the United States as a teenager, I will always remember her speaking to us in what we called “broken English” (which might be frowned upon today, given the fact that language learning should be perceived as an asset rather than a deficiency). Usually, my sister and I could understand what she was saying when she spoke to us, but often, we would have to ‘translate’ for our friends when they came to visit due to her heavy Italian accent, but she certainly had no problem getting her point across. When she passed away at the age of 88, she was still very much Continue reading