Look North

Once again, New York can learn from Ontario. As has been previously described, Ontario has taken a dramatically different approach toward educational reform than New York. The approach to reform has been dramatically different, as have been the results. Ontario is an international success story and is recognized to be the best school system in the English-speaking world (Fullan, 2013). Fullan also reported that public satisfaction with education in the province of Ontario is at an all-time high. New York, on the other hand, is in the midst of a political drama that it hasn’t seen in quite some time (if ever). This doesn’t benefit the children of New York, so anything that we can do to improve the situation is vital. Perhaps we can learn from Ontario and this example. Continue reading

Language Acquisition vs. Learning Disability

What’s the DIFFERENCE? How do you KNOW? What should teachers do when English Language Learners are struggling? What if they DO have a learning disability? Students can have difficulty learning a language, just as adults do and they go through similar stages. Learning disabilities and language acquisition difficulties can be hard to distinguish, but it is important not to confuse a student having difficulty learning a new language, adjusting to a new culture and environment with a student with a disability. Continue reading

Taking a Moment

It’s hard to be excited when your alarm buzzes at 5:30 in the morning, signaling time to rise and shine and lace up my sneakers for my daily run (well almost daily). Lying in bed for another few minutes I convince myself that running is good for me, that I enjoy it and other distorted stories I tell myself to motivate me enough to get out the door. Initially presenting as a lost cast member from the Walking Dead set, my body eventually acquiesces and I slowly transform into a runner, albeit a slow one with lackluster endurance and stamina. Eventually shedding the zombie skin I break into my running stride and I’m off, and so are my thoughts… Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Go Slow to Go Fast

I have twin granddaughters, Rose and Mae, who are soon to be 11 months old and have recently transitioned from crawling to walking. The process has been fascinating to watch (from afar on Face Time, since they live in Wyoming). They have almost totally abandoned crawling, and they seem highly motivated to walk, no matter the consequences. At 11 months, walking looks more like controlled falling than actual walking. My son (the twins’ dad) has compared them to the frilled lizards that you see on the Nat Geo channel running like crazy across the northern Australian savanna. More often than not they fall or run into something (mostly pillows, but sometimes each other), but they rarely hurt Continue reading

Ways to Keep Kids Active and Healthy this Summer

Just as we are concerned about kids losing some of the skills they learn in the classroom over the summer, we need to think about maintaining their health too. There’s a lot of research that shows health and learning are related. Studies have found that not only can children lose academic knowledge, but their health may decline over the summer months as well. Lower levels of physical activity as well as decreased access to healthy meals both play a part in children’s health.

Many of us have memories of spending all day outside with our peers running Continue reading

What Grades do Students Deserve?

During a recent conference on Grading and Assessment my thinking shifted about how we determine and report grades for our students. My grading practices in my secondary science classroom reflected how I was graded in school – how else would I grade? It was the only model I knew and saw practiced around me. Percentage grades and weighting different elements of grading (exams, quizzes, labs, homework) helped me determine which students had earned A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s. On the flip side, I believe that all students could learn what I and my colleagues determined were the essentials for our course. I would give students the opportunity to achieve mastery of those standards but I always struggled with how to reflect that effort and growth in their grades. Continue reading

Diving Into Deeper Learning at PBLNY

PBLNY 2015 provides participants with deeper learning around PBL principles and practices whether you are new to PBL or practice PBL. This year’s event is different from last year with new nationally known speakers, new breakout sessions, and new opportunities to learn and collaborate with others.

I am particularly excited to hear Sarah Brown Wessling, a featured keynote speaker, discuss how to “let go” and “get more” out of students in her keynote address titled The Let-Go that Gets More: Creating Classroom Culture for Deeper Learning. She will also host a breakout session titled, Creativity through Constraint: Projects that Enliven and Challenge. For anyone who has gone through our PBL 101 training, we use Sarah’s Grant Writing video, which demonstrates her ability to create projects that are Common Core aligned and authentic.

Another exciting opportunity at PBLNY is the movie screening of the movie Most Likely to Succeed. This movie not only answers why education must reform but how we can reform education designing PBL experiences. Continue reading