I was recently out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with a friend, and I was asked if I was enjoying my dish (Mexican chicken mole, which was excellent, by the way). I quickly replied something to the effect of, “Yes! I would order it again.” In my mind, whether or not someone would order the same food again is the true litmus test in determining if the food is truly worthwhile. Now, while eating I was thinking about all that has been taking place in my school district, where I am an assistant principal. Then, somehow I managed to make a connection between “Would you order the same food again?” to “Would you want to be a teacher in your district?” The latter question is the litmus test for whether or not an administrator is happy in the district for which he works. (See the connection?)
This year I began work as an assistant principal across two primary schools. Along with starting to establish rapport with staff members, one of my first priorities was getting my two offices set up. I saw it as my duty to furnish my workspaces prior to the students’ first day of school, even though my time on the job officially began only about 1.5 weeks before this day. If all teachers were able to get their classrooms up and running, there was no reason why I could not do the same with my rooms.
When decorating my offices I decided to go with student friendly themes, a Pixar theme for one (inspired by Creativity, Inc.) and a superhero theme for another. What I now have serves as a starting point, and I plan to add to the décor throughout the year. Here are five reasons why a building administrator should have a student friendly office:
Recently I received several questions from a reader. My last post answered the first half of these questions, while this post answers the second half.
In case you are wondering why I have not blogged in awhile (and I know you are), I have been in a state of transition as I accepted a job as an Elementary Assistant Principal with the Williamsport Area School District. Right now I am working between two primary K-3 schools. I have reached the point where I am settled down enough to start blogging and reflecting upon my current job. But first, I thought I would answer some questions from a reader of my blog. (I promise that I did not make up these questions!) In order to keep my posts shorter in length, I will answer the first half of the questions now, with the second half of the questions and answers coming later this week.
Right now, one of my classes is finishing up their current Language Arts project, Making Waves. This project, which was inspired by Colton Shone, a journalism student at Arizona State, requires students to create a radio broadcast through the use of Apple GarageBand. Everything is wrapped in the essential question, “What is an effective radio broadcast?”
Students complete the project in groups of two. The majority of their work is done in a Google document, and I created a template to provide them with a starting point. (To save a Google file as a template, access your files > right-click on your file of choice > Submit to template gallery. After, copy the template’s link and share it with your students.)
A PDF version of the template is here, and below is a shortened version of these directions:
A few weeks ago I went to EdcampNYC. After the event I spent some time talking to Monica Burns (@ClassTechTips), who blogs regularly for Edutopia, which has always been one of favorite websites for all things progressive in education. After conversing with Monica I was inspired to try to get some of my work published as well.
After about ten days and a handful of emails back and forth, my first post on Edutopia was published. The post – “Author Commentary That’s Simply App Smashing” – describes a reading comprehension activity that is enhanced through the use of a few iPad apps. I am most proud of the fact that one of my fourth grade students, Meghan, took the time to contribute a student reflection of the activity, which she wrote on a day’s notice.
Here is a link to the blog post on Edutopia.
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This past Sunday I bovettended EdcampNYC at Avenues: The World School in Manhattan. If you are unfamiliar with Edcamp, a prior post details what Edcamp is all about, while another post describes how we have adapted this model to work with our building-based professional development at the elementary school level.
EdcampNYC was divided into three one-hour time slots.
As mentioned in a previous post, one element of effective professional development is taking into consideration who is on the receiving end of it (in regards to their experiences, beliefs, attitudes, current practices, etc.). On a recent webcast I listened to Daniel Pink claim how the project-based learning label is constantly overused and misused by educators, and this is a statement with which I can easily agree. As a result, when presenting project-based learning professional development it could be advantageous to not just discuss best practice, but to take educators from where they might be (projects) to where we think they should land (project-based learning).
We will compare and contrast the two columns on the chart, one step at a time, while also discussing how the transition could be made from projects to project-based learning in a way that is transparent and simplified.
For the fourth and final installment of the BYOD series, we will take a look at a recommended one-year timeline for BYOD implementation from an administrative/district standpoint. But first, here is a quick rundown of what has already been discussed!
To provide some perspective, as mentioned prior, “This year, my district has begun the process of implementing BYOD in what is being called a pre-pilot, and my students and I were delighted when we got the call to be the first classroom in the entire district to have the honor.” The timeline below reflects the lessons that we have learned from the pre-pilot, and the district goal for next year is to involve teachers from grades 5 and up on a volunteer basis.
As mentioned previously, “In my classroom we are all about explicit strategies… Reading and writing strategies are taught early on in the school year, and then we continuously spiral them throughout the year as students dive deeper and deeper into how to leverage them effectively. This approach to teaching and learning provides everyone with a common language, which helps in stimulating collaboration amongst students and a positive classroom culture. (This method is even more beneficial when the same strategies are utilized across multiple classrooms and grade levels.)”
While an earlier post details our strategy for open-ended responses to texts, here is a look at Pigs Rock And Roll, which is what my students use when they have to read texts and then answer multiple-choice questions.