OCM-Responsive Classroom® Blog

In the Responsive Classroom, teachers pay close attention during the first six weeks of school to proactively set children up for success.  They use the Responsive Classroom practices such as interactive modeling to teach and practice academic and social-emotional skills along with routines and procedures.  They use their language effectively to reinforce, remind and redirect as students learn expectations and parameters of their behavior within the context of the classroom community.  By the start of November, the positive classroom community is buzzing with productive and engaging academics that are effectively managed by the teacher who keeps their eye on developmentally appropriate practices.

“Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach” is a Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Continuity and Change, or the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

It has become my tradition to use the summer to recycle some past blogs that remain relevant in light of our challenging work in Social Studies. This blog first appeared in January of 2013, when I was writing for the Teaching American History Program.

My mother has always had handy any number of aphorisms that she would lay on us kids as we were growing up. Whatever the context, her repertoire of pithy pronouncements could be counted on to sum up the situation in a few words:

  • If you act as good as you look, you’ll be OK.” Translation: “You look very nice, sweetheart. Now behave yourself! If you don’t, I’ll hear about it and it won’t be pretty.”
  • There’s no time like the present.” Translation: “Stop watching the Mickey Mouse Club/Lassie/the Ed Sullivan Show on television and get your homework done, NOW! School is your responsibility and I expect you to take it seriously and do your best.”
  • Things will work out the way they’re meant to.” Translation: “There’s no use crying about things that we can’t control or change. Whatever happens, whether we like the way things have turned out or not, we’ll deal with it and we’ll be fine.”
  • And, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Translation: “Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s better. When I was young, we didn’t have all of these electronic gadgets and we survived just fine. Why do we need a computer? I just don’t understand how it works. It seems awfully complicated and time-consuming way to just write a letter.”

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How Sweet It Is(n’t): Part II

A few years ago, I blogged about something near and dear to the hearts of many: sugar. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) had just released in early 2014 results of the first nationally representative study that examined diets high in sugar. The lead author from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the results “sobering” and here’s why:

Previous studies have linked diets high in sugar with increased risks for non-fatal heart problems, and with obesity, which also can lead to heart trouble. But in the new study, obesity didn’t explain the link between sugary diets and death. That link was found even in normal-weight people who ate a lot of added sugar.

This was not good news for those of us who like to indulge our sweet tooth. And, unfortunately, the bad news does not end there….. Continue reading

“Paper Plate” Coaching

Much like hosting a meal, coaching requires some planning, organization, and most importantly, flexibility! Although a prepared coach always enters a session with certain outcomes in mind, one never knows which direction the experience might go. Being able to stay focused and think quickly is vital; and if there are paper plates around, even better! Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Returning to the Classroom After the Long Holiday Recess

The last few weeks of December can be challenging for students and teachers as they prepare for the holidays and put closure to 2015.  Most of us will be taking a well-deserved rest from the classroom with the hope to return rejuvenated and ready to conquer what’s instore for us in 2016.

In the beginning of the school year, many Responsive Classroom teachers prepare children for success by planning for the first six weeks of school.  Teachers use interactive modeling and responsive teacher language to Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Overcoming Barriers

Not surprisingly, the BIG emphasis this year in social studies is on inquiry using primary sources with students which involves teaching them skills and practices to analyze and evaluate those sources and use them as evidence in creating claims and arguments. The Social Studies Framework is based on the Inquiry Arc of the C3 Framework which is all about this process. The Frameworks themselves promote a balance of content and skill and the Toolkit Inquires are built on investigating sets of primary sources related to a compelling question. It’s the rainbow, folks! Continue reading

The Learning Connection: How Nutrition and Physical Activity Help Students Become Better Learners

“The content was the best I have ever received in 18 years in physical education. I have been to our state conferences in PE where I haven’t gotten as much quality information as I got today. Great, great job.”

“I loved the two guest speakers, both gentlemen had great delivery and pertinent information. It was especially excellent for me to hear Dr. Pangrazi….since he wrote my college textbook for physical education.”

“I loved the mix of research/best practices and the real life experiences shared by the panel.”

“I appreciated getting the knowledge and proof of the correlation of nutrition and physical activity with academic achievement.”

“It was good to hear the science behind nutrition. It makes it easier to sell this to other teachers.”

“It is increasingly rare that I am able to attend professional development that has specific relevance to physical education—great to know there are so many highly engaged professionals in PE willing to go to greater lengths to improve their students’ lives.”

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APPR Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result, according to Einstein. Or Franklin. Or Twain. All three of these noteworthy thinkers have been reported to say this – and most often this axiom has been attributed to Einstein. He was, after all, both smart and witty. As it turns out, however, no one has been able to find this in his writing. Nonetheless, this oft-used truism applies to the system of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) in New York State. In fact, we are trying to do the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result. Continue reading

How Do I Know if My Students’ Snacks are “SMART?”

Smart Snacks in School, the latest phase of an exhaustive school-food nutritional overhaul set forth by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is now official. As of July 1st, ALL foods sold during the school day (midnight to 30 minutes after the end of the “official school day” [to be determined by the LEA]) must meet the same federal nutrition standards that have been implemented over the past couple of years for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). This encompasses vending machines, school stores, a la carte items, and school club fundraisers. To learn all the particulars, go to Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School. Continue reading

The Power of Protocols: Looking at Student Work – Collectively

BinderBring my student’s work to team or grade level meetings? Talk about who is better at teaching this topic than I am? Reflect on my work as a teacher? This is scary stuff for many educators! We are in a profession in which a culture of isolation has been the norm – coming out of that shell and into a collaborative culture can be daunting, overwhelming and downright scary, especially in a time of reform. But looking at student work – collectively – reveals the life of a school community in a time when we, as educators, need to move toward reflective dialogue about our teaching and student learning. And using protocols gives structure to professional conversations about instruction – allowing safe space for difficult conversations with our colleagues about ensuring that ALL students learn. Continue reading