APPR “Help” that Actually Helps

At their June meeting, the Board of Regents approved another change to the §3012-d APPR regulations. This time, they expanded conditions for a waiver to the independent evaluator requirement.

Since the fall, a waiver has been available to smaller, more rural districts who could meet certain size of number of building requirements. The waiver had no impact on the required number of minimum observations, it just waived the requirement that an independent observer (someone from a different BEDS code) had to do an observation in addition to the observations that the Lead Evaluator conducted. Continue reading

Summer 2016: Time to Get Our Kids Moving!

Last month I wrote about the importance of regular physical activity for adults and kids of all ages to highlight National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) released the 2015 national, state, and large urban school district Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results. Just in time for summer, these results further corroborate the need to be more intentional in getting, and keeping, our youth active. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies: The Time Is Now

Teaching social studies is often about bringing the past to life for our students. But, for a moment, let’s think about current events and how we might use what is going on right now to help students learn about the past. One of the issues when teaching social studies to young people is how to help them see the relevance of the content. What does history of (mostly) dead people have to do with our students? How can the present inform us and our students about the past? How can we help them see the connectedness of now and then? After all, “today’s news is tomorrow’s history” (Passanisi 2016). And what we see as history was current events to the inhabitants of the past. Continue reading

How The Teaching Channel can Improve Instruction

A few years ago, a colleague introduced me to The Teaching Channel after I voiced the need for a video about persistence in math class to use with a group of upper elementary teachers, a group frustrated with their students’ lack of skills in persistent problem solving. I was amazed to discover this remarkable resource! Since that time, I’ve often used videos from this site while planning training to provide educators with a visual for a training objective. In coaching sessions, I’ve used this site as a resource to help teachers find excellent videos to use to inform their practice and hone their teaching craft.

Let me tell you what I like best about this resource: these videos show teachers and students sharing their learning in authentic situations. There are over 1100 videos with an excellent filtering system so you can easily look for videos by subject, grade and topic. During training and coaching, I’ve found the list of standards at the top of the video to be invaluable as Continue reading

Reflection in Community

John Dewey believed that reflection is a pivotal aspect of the learning process. It is the thing that makes the learning stick so that it might deepen our understanding around a topic as well as support further learning and discovery. This blog is about reflection, namely reflection in community. When teachers learn together, we find it helpful to have protocols to support and refine our reflection. The National School Reform Faculty offers frameworks that facilitate our analysis. Recently, I used a revised format of this protocol with a group of educators who just finished their second year exploring and implementing Project-based Learning with special education students. The group agreed that the framework enabled them to not only think about what was happening in their classrooms, but also to see how others might view the learning experiences. Continue reading

CTE PBL Makeover Challenge

When working with Career & Technical Education (CTE) instructors in PBL I often hear the comment, “We already do projects.” This comment is true in that CTE instructors engage their students in authentic projects with students using tools and processes of the trade to produce a product. Students also apply the knowledge and skills they learn through hands-on learning experiences. Yet, these types of learning experiences are not quite PBL experiences because some key elements are absent: challenging problem or question, sustained inquiry, student voice & choice, and public product. So, I challenged CTE instructors to do what they already do but elevate their projects to include Buck Institute for Education’s (BIE) Gold Standard PBL essential project design elements. By doing so, they were able to design an authentic learning experience for their students as they prepare for their chosen career.

Let’s look at how two CTE instructors transformed projects into PBL experiences. Continue reading

Mid-State RBERN Road Trip! TESOL International Here We Come!

This month I interviewed our own Mid-State RBERN staff, Tanya Rosado-Barringer, Sally Doran, Sara Peters, Collette Richmond and Mandi Sanchez, about their experiences at the April 2016 TESOL International Association Convention in Baltimore, Md. This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of TESOL International Association, therefore, the theme of the convention this year was “Reflecting Forward 1966-2016”. ( This professional learning community for educators was created to celebrate excellence in English language teaching, by providing professional development, research, standards, and advocacy. To date, TESOL has more than 13,000 members representing 160 countries.


Q1. What makes this TESOL International Convention so special compared to other conferences? Continue reading