Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writing With Technology

As the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have arrived and teachers have begun rewriting pacing guides, unit plans, and lessons, I've been thinking about ways to increase the amount of writing students do in our classrooms. We've recently had an influx of technology in my district resulting in devices in students hands in most classrooms by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. That being said, I began my search for ideas through my usual PLN channels. The very first link I was drawn towards was from +Shelly Sanchez Terrell  titled "15+ Resources to Inspire Writing with Digital Prompts" (cross posted at 

The link has a multitude of great ideas with associated resources. I paired it down a bit more and added some additional resources below. I'm going to be sharing with my staff through our technology integration plan and suggest you all do the same!

  • Notes for success
    • Vary the types of writing - different mediums, types, stories, etc
    • Allow students to be creative - don't restrict the topic (at least not all the time!)
      • Can writing be fun? Duh!
    • Timing - a whole class on expository writing = tough for most students to focus and "power through"
  • Resources
    • Blogger - obviously! We have student Google accounts so this would be seamless. The best attribute to blogging is at the end of the year, students have a chronological snapshot of their writings (hopefully with tags)
    • Make Beliefs Comix has over 350 free printables for teachers - sorted by topic, event, and holidays. Students can create their own comic with this tool in multiple languages.
    • Student choice of prompts - why not let students have some input and buy in?
    • Memes - who doesn't like memes (put your hand down, Johnny)? See this presentation for more info, with LOTS of ideas. If anything, click the link and laugh out loud on some of Shelley's examples.
    • Twitter - losing a bit of steam as of late, giving way to Instagram. However, still very valuable lesson on how to succinctly compose thoughts, 140 characters at a time.
    • Scholastic Story Starters- this is an interactive website where students write their names and fill out questions.
    • Plinky- a question appears and below the question students write their opinion. Great brainstorming starter. How about setting this as a routine, maybe prompting the beginning of class?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Phone call with parent at the end of the day - tough call?

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Today I decided to take a risk, and end my day with a parent phone call. Now, I'm not really a pessimist but I strive to follow up on all parent messages in the am hours. I think that's when I'm at my best and when I have the clearest mindset of the day. Today was different, and I needed to talk with a parent as I was unable to call this morning. So I dialed the phone; boy was I surprised when the parent picked up and we had one heckuva a positive dialogue. This parent even took the time and energy to tell me how well our school had not only prepared her oldest student years prior, but to tell us how she appreciates everything we have done for her current student. She shared the great news about the prestigious institution her student was just accepted to and I could almost see her smile through the phone. I must admit, I could not be happier to end my day with a phone call like that. I'm packing it in, as I couldn't end the day on a better note.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


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Words to live by: Be a Leader, Not a Boss. I work hard, with a shovel in hand, in the trenches with my teachers almost daily. I find it easy to walk the walk. This impresses upon them as an administrator, I'm not above that work. I am also not above showing, giving direction and advice, giving and earning respect, and using kindness in my thoughts and actions. I personally love the antiquated photocopy to the left - it represents a nostalgic approach to leading. I am fairly certain these traits have withstood the hands of time. This is my personal pledge.

So I ask you, are you a leader or a boss? Inquiring minds want to know...

Getting caught up...

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So I have been completely caught up with my Curriculum & Instruction position to do any blogging over the course of this school year. I've had a lot to say, but just have not put in the work to document my thoughts in my blog! On the flip side, it has been quite a nice break as I've been able to focus more on my site and provide individual facetime with my teachers, which I firmly believe is appreciated. It has allowed me the time to share my thoughts, more focused thoughts, with my PLN via Twitter and Google+. That is an important realization for me as I comfortably understand it is extremely tough to balance my online professional learning environment with my mortar and bricks one. I think of +Eric Sheninger and how the world he does it (still wondering, let me know if you have the secret!), all the while writing a book! Maybe I'm just too caught up and need to accept the idea of what I do best - striking a comfortable balance? I like that. I know what I excel at. I know what I need more guided practice at. I am okay with that. This will always give me comfort in knowing what I do well is appreciated, and will always push me to improve elsewhere. Simple thoughts for a Tuesday, I know.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rigor Defined

At the San Diego Summer Institute for AVID, a large group of educators defined "rigor" and created a gallery walk.  What you see below is the result.  I am fairly certain most people have different definitions but the similarities are not shocking!