I am currently an administrator in the Chappaqua Central School District in Chappaqua, New York, and the coauthor of Hacking Project Based Learning. I am an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator. As a nationally recognized leader in project based learning, I have worked with thousands of educators across the country to implement PBL, and in 2016 I coauthored Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom. While my day job is my first professional priority, I find time to conduct workshops and speak on project based learning, inquiry-based learning, student-centered learning, instructional leadership, my professional experiences, and more. When I am not working, I enjoy eating steak and pizza and provoking my four beautiful nephews and niece.
This is my personal blog. It is primarily focused on my passions: project based learning, inquiry-based learning, student-centered learning, and instructional leadership.
I typically post about once a week. To make sure you don’t miss my newest posts, you can subscribe via email.
My Top Posts
If you are new to my site, you might want to start with my most popular posts. Here are my top ten more current pieces, from newest to oldest:
- Four Reasons to Tackle Flexible Learning Spaces
- How Do We Assess (And Possibly, Grade) Project Based Learning? #HackingPBL
- It’s the Learning, Not the Lessons!
- The 6 Drivers of Inquiry-Based Learning
- 5 Questions for Leaders to Ask Themselves
- 5 Ways to Promote Student Agency
- 5 Ways I Screwed up (and Fixed) Project Based Learning in My Classroom
- 5 Ways to Avoid Project Based Learning Fluff #HackingPBL
- Reimagining Learning Spaces with Design Thinking #HackingPBL
- 2 Huge Reasons to Emphasize Consistent Reading Comprehension Strategies
Previously, I was an Elementary School Principal in Old Tappan, New Jersey. Here are ten specific instructional leadership opportunities I had as a principal:
- I worked with kindergarten and first grade teachers to implement Phonics First, a multi-sensory program for systemic phonics instruction.
- I worked with second, third, and fourth grade teachers to implement Writing Pathways, the assessment component of Writing Workshop.
- I worked with second, third, and fourth grade teachers to establish and implement guiding principles (minimum expectations) for conferring during Reading and Writing Workshop.
- I worked with all of our classroom teachers to implement flexible learning spaces. We purchased copies of The Space: A Guide for Educators to assist us with our professional learning.
- I worked with teachers to implement Genius Hour in our classrooms. We purchased copies of Genius Hour to assist us with our professional learning.
- I facilitated three days of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) professional learning for our science cohort: one teacher from every grade level and our STEAM teacher.
- I worked with our school librarian to redesign the library. I worked with our STEAM teacher to rethink and rebrand our STEAM room with an increased emphasis on inquiry-based learning and design thinking.
- We purchased several professional books and set up a professional library in our faculty room to help to promote a culture of learning.
- I worked with a team to reconstruct the school's master schedule to allow for extended professional learning communities (PLCs) and grade level common planning time five days a week.
- The majority of the teachers and I leveraged social media (and our new district hashtag) to promote what was taking place at our school.
Before Old Tappan, I was the Supervisor of Instructional Practice K-12 in the Salisbury Township School District (1:1 MacBook/iPad) in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Here are ten specific instructional leadership opportunities I had as the Supervisor of Instructional Practice:
- I worked with a team to implement Writing Workshop across the elementary level. Professional development took place throughout 2015-2016, and full-scale implementation began at the start of the 2016-2017 school year with all teachers having about 40 minutes in their schedules dedicated to Writing Workshop.
- I worked with a team to implement the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System across the elementary level. The data this tool provided resulted in an increased emphasis on Guided Reading. Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, all teachers had about 40 minutes in their schedules dedicated to Guided Reading.
- At the elementary level, I facilitated close reading book studies – Reading with Meaning (primary) and Notice & Note (intermediate) – and I supported teachers with the implementation of these practices in their classrooms.
- At the elementary level, I worked with a team to investigate research-based literacy interventions as part of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS-RtII process. This research resulted in the implementation of Fundations and Read Naturally.
- At the middle level, I worked with teachers and administrators to review assessment and grading practices with a potential transition to standards-based grading. This review involved regularly scheduled meetings with all grade-level teachers, a professional learning community (PLC), a Fair Isn't Always Equal book study, and three opportunities to learn from Tom Guskey and Lee Ann Jung.
- At the middle level, I worked with a team to plan for a School Within a School, with an emphasis on personalized learning, project based learning, and inquiry-based learning.
- At the middle level, I facilitated multiple sessions of close reading professional development. One of the primary goals was the intentional use of consistent reading strategies K-8.
- Across all levels, I worked with Library Media Specialists to implement a guaranteed and viable K-12 digital citizenship curriculum.
- To support our district-wide shift to an increased emphasis on inquiry-based science, I thoroughly researched and compiled resources related to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
- I facilitated professional development that included such topics as: project based learning, student choice, student publishing, leveraging social media to communicate with stakeholders, Total Participation Techniques, and Google for Education.
Before Salisbury, for one year, I was an Elementary Assistant Principal in the Williamsport Area School District. In this role I worked with two teachers to establish a school-wide makerspace program, served on the district's Report Card Committee while supporting the transition to standards-based grading, and facilitated professional development involving such topics as inquiry-based mathematics and Total Participation Techniques.
Before Williamsport, I taught for six years in the East Penn School District as a fourth grade teacher. Here is some of what was accomplished during this time:
- My teaching regularly involved meaningful technology integration, including MacBooks, iPads, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and LEGO Mindstorms.
- In a district of ten schools, my students were the first to (1) be provided iPads, and (2) implement BYOD. In both areas, I used our experiences as the basis for professional development for other teachers.
- I served on the district's Math Curriculum Committee, Science Curriculum Committee, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Committee, and Assessment Revision Committee.
- Over the span of two years, I led the planning and creation process for the Common Core Mathematics professional development across the elementary level.
- I consistently led professional development related to technology integration, inquiry-based learning, project based learning, and higher-order thinking.
- I introduced The Daily 5 (a book/structure for balanced literacy) to educators in the district and supported its implementation across the elementary level.
- I collaborated with my building principal and Instructional Support Teacher (IST) to adapt the Edcamp model for our building-based professional development.
- In the district, I was at the forefront of being “connected” and leveraging social media (especially Twitter) for educational purposes. I took the initiative in working with others to get them connected.
- I served as the Fourth Grade Team Leader for all of the district's fourth grade teachers from 2013-2014. I was my school's Head Teacher from 2010-2011.
- In the summer of 2011 I became an Apple Distinguished Educator, and in the spring of 2012 I became a Google Certified Innovator. More information pertaining to my awards and recognition can be found here.