Too Much of a Good Thing

Brad Currie is an excellent tour guide and generous friend. You should follow him on Twitter if you don't already.

Brad Currie is an excellent tour guide and generous friend. You should follow him on Twitter if you don’t already.

Who knew that it could be so overwhelming to have people love and the appreciate the work I do so much?

Admittedly, when I first got to ISTE on Tuesday morning, I felt virtually invisible and overwhelmed for different reasons. Navigating the enormous convention center after driving for a few hours and trying to get my bearings about me was challenging, but I’m a New Yorker; I’m resourceful.

So I called the best tour guide ever, Brad Currie, who met me at registration and showed me the ropes. He was generous with his time and started introducing me around. He knew everyone or it felt that way. We couldn’t go 10 feet without him getting stopped. I smiled each time. We kind of joked about it. (more…)

I’ll See You At #ISTE2015 Soon

IMG_9461.PNGIt’s the night before I drive to ISTE and I’m starting to get a little nervous. I’ve followed the conference from home for years but have never attended.

Now I’m on my way.

Aside from learning lots of new cool stuff to bring into my classroom and school, I will be sharing some of my own information about digital storytelling and blogging.

Come join me at the Gates Foundation’s booth for digital storytelling during the Poster Sessions on Tuesday, June 30th at 1:15-3:15. Can’t wait to meet you all.

Hoping to meet a lot of you in person and catching up with old friends.

On Wednesday, July 1st you can see me with the Corwin Connected Educators’ panel where I’ll be working with Mark Barnes to talk about our books in the series.

Check out our teaser video here

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Let Students Tell Us What They Know

recite-22833--1397170487-163jhkt.pngThe new equivalent to a pile of papers is an overstuffed inbox or disorganized Google Drive. Dozens of untitled student google docs awaiting the gospel of a teacher’s thoughts.

Perhaps more than the thoughts, a letter or a number that signifies achievement is what students have been trained to eagerly await. Their parents are waiting too.

But those letters and numbers are so subjective. What determines the true meaning or value of a C or a B or an A in terms of student learning?

What truly objective learning benchmarks are established with these symbols, especially if we, the teachers, not the learner are the ones assigning them somewhat arbitrarily?

So we  shift to standards based grading to make assessment a little less random.

A system that uses the standards as the benchmark, teaching kids what the standards are, how to do them, offering them opportunities to practice them in different ways and then, against the standards, offer them feedback of their growth in their learning. (more…)

Goodbye 2014-2015 School Year

IMG_9399.JPGDon’t let the door hit you in the (beep).

What a year this has been!

There have been deaths in the family and tons of snow days for my son but not for me. Conferences and books and taking risks.

Yet with all of the of great and challenging stuff personally, this year feels like a wash.

Many of my colleagues are leaving my school which saddens me beyond belief. For the last 8 years many have become my closest friends and although I’m sure our friendships will endure the distance, it just won’t be the same in the building without them. (more…)

And Onto the Next Project

IMG_9394.PNGLet me start for apologizing for the brevity of this post. Things are crazy hectic.

School ends in three days, the last of the Regent exams have been taken and now we prepare for graduation.

Being the senior English teacher means that I’m helping with graduation speeches and participating in rehearsals before the big day.

In addition to closing out the school year and preparing for the whirlwind of summer learning, I’m on deadline to finish three books. (more…)

On taking final exams and other standardized tests

20140618-081217-29537483.jpgThe hallways are eerily quiet and so are the classrooms.

Papers adorn the windows or walls outside the classrooms, reminding passers-by that testing is in session and decorum should be maintained.

A police state is in effect.

Cell phones are not permitted. Cheated is certainly not okay and evidence of meaningful learning may be exempt too. (more…)

Be Present While Building Relationships

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 7.23.19 PM.pngBeing a teacher is hectic.

No one who does it for a living is going to argue.

This may even be the understatement of the century.

Then add on the usual life activities that occur over the course of a day outside of school and a person is sure to feel stretched.

Despite that feeling of being overwhelmed, it is essential for teachers to remain present amid the chaos to make the most of the developing relationships. (more…)