Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Student Led Conferences/Goal Sharing April 7, 2014

 

Two of my former colleagues from the International School of Dakar (currently residing in Saudi Arabia and Dakar/Texas) put together this wonderful website as part of presentation they gave at the  AISA conference of 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

https://sites.google.com/a/isd.sn/student-led-conferences/

ISD had started with student-led conferences as a pilot the year before and had then added the goal sharing portion to the school year last year. The student-led conferences had been quite successful and well received by families.

The Goal Sharing portion of the conference caused a fair amount of nerves by some teachers, especially those in the primary grades. No one was resistant, but there was a great deal going on at the time and the teachers wanted their students to be well-prepared.

 

 

 

Beginning of the Year Books recommended by The Book Whisperer August 21, 2012

Filed under: book reviews,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:25 am

If you haven’t had a chance to read Donalyn Miller’s column at Education Week, it is well worth a look! She’s gathered up several recommendations for ‘Books that Build Community’, something educators the world over are working on this first month of school.

 

What to Keep? What to Pitch? June 10, 2012

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 1:16 pm
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A sample of what’s currently in my recycle box:

  • memoir rubric
  • using prior knowledge to understand unfamiliar text
  • 5 year Strategic Management Plan from 2010-2015
  • certificate of attendance from Ohio Resource Center
  • Ohio Academic content standards with notes
  • thank you note from Ronald McDonald House for former fourth grade economic project
  • Reading Level Correlation Chart

 A sample of what’s currently in my keep pile:

  • Elementary Gifted Service Matrix and Advanced Learner Specialist file
  • PD notes from Promoting a School’s Literacy Community
  • 32 Text Structure notes from Katie Wood Ray
  • Where You Are From George Ella Lyons poem
  • Suggested Expectations for conventions K-12 document
  • pacing guides
  • curriculum maps
  • a copy of the first day of school letter I sent home for all 15 years
  • a xerox copy of an amazing piece of student art work

Do I need any of it?

  • Will I remember what I want to use from what I’ve recycled or kept?
  •  Does it really matter to my remembering if I have “it” or not?

When I was a teacher I used to keep things in case I needed or wanted to replicate or modify something I had done in the past.

When I was a curriculum coordinator I kept things to show work in progress and keep us moving forward.

With a change in administrations twice in nine months, I kept things because no one else would have ever known things existed.

In many ways I am a blank slate, starting over. I bring with me my prior knowledge and background of experiences.

No one from my new school is going to ask me to see something from my old district because they won’t know it existed, nor would it be relevant.

Why am I re-sorting for the twentieth time, rather than just pitching it all?

It took me three years to part with all my fourth grade files, and I should learn from that. Never once did I go back and use anything in those files.

Part of my brain still thinks, “When I write a book about this….”, I will want hard copies of things to help with my writing.

I want to just dump it all as I look forward, but I still just can’t make myself do it…

 

Welcomed almost daily February 29, 2012

Filed under: international school,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:58 pm

I wish I could say that I think that we have always welcomed new employeees with the warmth and enthusiasm that I’ve received from ISD. I could, but I would not be being very truthful.

It’s not even March, we are moving in August and I already have a great ‘buddy’ at school who shares information about work and everyday living, an e-mail address at the new school which also allows me to receive staff information for this year and access their online materials, and there is a New Hire web-bulletin board with all kinds of information about classrooms, school, daily life, etc. They have a welcoming committee.

As I talked about with a friend this week,  we determined it’s certainly in the school’s best interest to be welcoming and helpful and my new school has certainly made us newbies feel like very welcome additions to their faculty. By providing information, it allows me time to process, digest, ask questions and continue to get excited. All before I am even being paid by them. What school wouldn’t want that?

Even though our school has always had an orientation in August (a one day affair usually focused on getting paperwork filled out), things like getting new employees ID badges, e-mail accounts, staff directories or keys to their classroom, much less curricular materials could be an agonizingly slow process. My first year there weren’t desks and chairs OR math textbooks until well into the third week of school. I know this is not particular to one school district. I’ve had friends in other districts tell me they cried on the way home everyday their first year because no one would really interact with them. That’s just crazy!

I’m not writing this as a critical piece, but more as a reflection on how perhaps we should be more intentional about the welcoming of new staff (not that we will probably have any for several years with the way the state education budget is). Teaching is a hard job and it’s especially hard your first year in a new district, new grade level, new building, etc. There are things like mentors and such built into most districts and now Resident Educator program is a requirement for all entering teachers as part of the licensing program. That is a good step in the right direction, but I’m talking about more than just the newbie’s mentor who has their own classroom as well. Why don’t we hand over the curriculum as soon as we hire the new teachers so they can spend the summer familiarizing themselves with it? Why haven’t we had a welcoming committee?

What are some things your school does to welcome new staff members?
What are some things you wish your school did to welcome or support new staff members?

 

 

So I’m a Little Sad December 23, 2011

 

I am in my fourth year of my current position and it officially will not exist next year. This makes me a little sad (okay-more than a little). I usually have a very positive outlook on most things, but I’m having difficulty with this one. I hate to say I knew it was inevitable, but I did. I might say more on that some other time.

So what am I doing next year? I’m trying to figure that out every day. Here’s what I do know:

  • I do have a position within the district I’ve worked in for nineteen years (good news), even if it means bumping one of the new teachers I’ve mentored the past several years out of their position (super yucky news).
  • I do have a licensure as a principal ages 3-14 now (good news)
  • I have been accepted by an international educationn search organization for educators as an administrative candidate (good news)
  • I had a Skype interview with a school in Asia this week (good news) (oh, by the way-I started my career in an International School in Luxembourg and am considering returning to international school education-more on this later)
  • Filling out job applications is a full-time job (bad news)
  • Getting ‘ding’ letters is no more fun at my age than it was when I was waiting on college acceptances (yucky :( )
  • I’d really like to be spending my time reading books and cleaning my house, but am a little hyperfocused on what I’m going to be doing next year (bad news)
  • There are very few blogs out there about educators in international education, at least that I can find. I have met several great international educators through twitter, NCTE, and more and they have been very helpful.
  • I could refocus on writing the professional book I’ve been outlining for the past several years (good news)
  • I am partially finished with coursework for my superintendent licensure (good news)
  • I have enough reading material from NCTE to keep me busy for the first half of 2012 (good news)

Holiday Break goal-get a good idea of first steps, second, etc.

 

I Wonder… A lot… Do you? October 8, 2011

Filed under: school,Teachers — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:51 am
Tags: ,

I wonder about things alot. Not like Wonderopolis wondering (which I think is a fabulous site), but other big life issues and educational issues.

I’ve always considered myself settled in my career and hometown. I grew up here. My husband grew up here. Both our families are still here. I’ve been working in my childhood school district for nineteen years. I love it here.

In Ohio (and I think it’s same to say in America), once you are a teacher who has taught more than four or five years, it is typically very difficult to get a job in another district because you are “too expensive”. It’s not unusual for districts to have an “unofficial” cap on hiring anyone with more than three years of experience unless it is harder to fill area (not so much of an abundance of let’s say librarians, or high school science teachers or music teachers). So even if I didn’t love it, live here, etc., going to a different district was really never an option (as a teacher).

Until…

I had a realization this summer.

Just because I love it here, doesn’t mean that I can’t love it somewhere else.

What if…

I opened the cover of the book of somewhere else???

What if…

 

Versatile Blogger continued plus my grad school rambling October 1, 2011

Filed under: bloggers,blogs,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 am
Tags: , ,

Since I haven’t been a faithful blogger of recent, I’m going to take the time to tap my go-to blogs (in addition to Franki and Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading):

Sarah @ The Reading Zone

Karen & Bill @ Literate Lives

Stacey and Ruth @ Two Writing Teacher

Abby @ Abby the Librarian

Travis @ 100 Scope Notes

Jen @ Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Katie @ Creative Literacy 

I could keep going, but I have to get back to the task at hand today, which is to make a huge dent, if not finish my gazillion hours of documentation for the hours and projects that I have done TO COMPLETE MY PRINCIPAL LICENSURE!

(I won’t start in on how Muskingum University changed all the requirements for principal licensure over the summer and the new licensure candidates have to complete only 2/3 of what we who have been in the program for only six additional months have to complete or how all those extra courses they made me take cost my family an additional $4500. I’ll just stop with WTH!! and go back to focusing on something positive. I’ve now admired my problem, acknowledged there is nothing I can do about it and am moving on.)

The finish line is within sight! I never, ever thought I was going to get a principal licensure, but that past three+ years have moved me down a path I didn’t anticipate for myself back when I was a very happy fourth grade teacher. (see my first post as Scaredy Teacher/Squirrel)

 

HB 136 could create a finacial crisis for Granville schools! September 29, 2011

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:18 pm

HB 136 could create a financial crisis for Granville Schools; will you please help me tell our legislators?

Posted by Jeff Brown, Superintendent

September 26, 2011

 

Families and Friends of Granville schools, I want to draw your attention to some important pending legislation that could have a very negative impact on our school district!  House Bill 136 would require public schools to send your public tax dollars, along with those provided by the state, to private and parochial schools when students leave our schools.  This could result in a significant financial crisis for our school district.

 

Currently, the Granville Schools must pay $5,782 for each student who leaves our district on open enrollment, which includes other public schools, digital or online schools, and charter schools.  Of the $5,782 price tag, only $2,162 comes from the state of Ohio, and the balance comes from local tax revenue.  Yet, this legislation proposes expanding this voucher program to include all private and parochial schools.

 

I understand and support that choice is necessary for parents and students in areas that have consistently low performing schools.  I am opposed however, to giving tax dollars to private institutions that will financially penalize successful, high performing school districts such as Granville.

 

Here are some of the projected negative effects of this proposed legislation:

 

  • The private and parochial schools that would get money under the voucher program created in the bill do not have to comply with all the same regulations as traditional public school districts.
  • Private schools are not required to take all students, as traditional public schools do.  Therefore, high-performing voucher students from well-rated schools could end up crowding out students from lower-ranked schools.
  • There is little-to-no evidence that current voucher programs have increased academic achievement.
  • The bill could interfere with the connection between the viability of a community and the strength of its schools.

 

HB 136, sponsored by State Representative Matt Huffman (R), created the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship (voucher) Program (PACT), a new statewide program allowing K-12 students to use a voucher to attend private schools.  Click here for a copy of the latest version of the bill.

 

The bill:

  • Expands vouchers to students in all school districts, regardless of the academic report card rating of the school building or school district.  The only qualifier for eligibility is household income.   Students whose family income is less than $95,000 would qualify.
  • Allows a phase-in period for students currently enrolled in private schools to be eligible for the voucher.
  • If the private school tuition is less than the voucher amount, it allows parents to bank the excess dollars for college tuition and textbooks at any private school or college in Ohio.
  • Deducts funding for the voucher from the resident school district’s funding.

 

During recent house testimony, Marc Schare, president of the Worthington Board of Education said funding the vouchers would upend the premised under which (local) residents approved the taxes, and he likened the program to taking local library levy money to buy residents gift certificates to Barnes & Noble.

 

I believe this is not a “choice” bill; it is an attack on public education.

 

The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO), the Ohio PTA, Ohio School Psychologists Association, and the Alliance for a High Quality Education are united in their opposition to this bill, stating…

 

“We are strongly opposed to this legislation and believe the voucher would be turning the state’s obligation to provide a thorough and efficient ‘system’ of public education into a private benefit, resulting in an unprecedented level of voucher expansion that could impact every school district in the state!”

 

I hope you will consider the effects of this proposed legislation on our schools and consider writing to our state lawmakers to express your concern regarding HB 136:

 

Representative Jay Hottinger

Phone: 614-466-1482

 

Senator Tim Schaffer

Phone: 614-466-5838

 

If you have questions regarding this legislation, please feel free to contact me via email or phone 740-587-8111.  I appreciate your consideration of this important issue.

 

 

Reflection on Friedman, Robinson, & Pink April 28, 2011

Filed under: 21st Century,school,TED — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:34 pm

It seems like I spend a great deal of time reflecting on, writing about and discussing the many changes that education is going through.

Watching Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” lecture was very interesting on the heels of having read Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. There seems to be a real convergence of thinking materializing on behalf of American society. Both Pink and Friedman seem to state that if we (as Americans) are not careful, we will be caught while we are asleep and will not be able to recover economically as a country. Similar to Pink, Friedman, paints a very clear picture of how forces, that are as opposite and as powerful as Pink’s Abundance, Asia, and Automation, need to emerge if we are not succumb to trailing behind China, India, and other countries as an international powerhouse.

Friedman illustrates clearly how Netscape’s internet browser, the development of personal computers and their ability to revolutionize workflow have already changed the world more in the last ten years, than in the previous one hundred years. Browsers, dot.com, fiber-optics, digital formats have all had a major contribution to the change. His encyclopedia example of uploading (creating your own information-Wikipedia) versus downloading (taking someone else’s information-either through a computer disc or purchasing a set of books) illustrates that a new form of creativity needs to emerge so we can connect and collaborate. His ‘new’ iron rule of business, “Whatever can be done, will be done” has resulted from value created horizontally based on who you connect and collaborate with versus the vertical hierarchy that we’ve had historically. Individual creativity, and what inspires, enables, and empowers us is going to be more important than in the past.

I would agree with what Thomas Friedman states in his lecture and book. Even within my own small world, I have seen the need to think more and more globally and how to apply that thinking to the world I live in. The advantages of creativity, invention, and innovation have been more and more revealed as I have moved from my classroom teaching position to the district level curricular position. Being able to think outside the normal box of traditional roles of education is going to be what helps schools survive the massive changes we are just beginning to experience through with House Bill 5 and Kasich’s biennium budget, not to mention the need to rethink education to help our graduates be competitive with other graduates from around the world. Changes in education that I’ve heard described in the past month are putting us on a whole new playing field. While others have discussed the need for 21st Century Skills, Friedman explains is really why what is being said is relevant and timely for all of us.

The essence of Sir Ken Robinson’s message is also similar to Pink. Robinson asserts that creativity must be given a higher interest in education, especially as the education of today’s kindergarteners will need to not only take us into future we can’t imagine, but help us survive that future. Children have tremendous capacity for creativity, but the current education model we use, that of the school as a version of an industrialized factory, is snuffing not only the creativity, but the capacity of creativity. We need to rethink the traditional hierarchy of subjects that not just America has, but other countries as well, with arts on the bottom of the educational heap. Instead of the traditional stereotype of academic achievement, modeled on the higher education model, we need to rethink intelligence to be more inclusive. Robinson states that if we don’t “radically rethink our view of intelligence”, we will lose all hope for the future. Creative capacity needs to be appreciated for the hope that it is.

I have watched different version of Sir Robinson’s lecture over the past couple years, and every time I see it, I am struck by how true I believe his words to be. Creativity and the arts have not been appreciated in the past like they will need to be in the present and future. The traditions of education and American society of the past several hundred years are not going to be able to help keep America as the economic and cultural superpower we are used to being. Just the sheer volume of English speaking citizens in non-USA countries, should be enough to convince us that we need to up our game if we want to remain competitive. In Pink’s words, Asia, Abundance, and Automation, have put us into a different version of reality than any of our parents would have been able to imagine for us. We do not have the ability to anticipate how different schools will be in ten years, much less fifty years, and if we don’t start growing the creativity capacity of our children, we won’t be able to keep up or survive the changes.

What really resonated with me about these lectures is the idea, that in reflection, the world has changed drastically in the twenty years since I’ve been teaching more so than in the previous century. I can look back at the beginning of my teaching career and remember clearly that there were no computers in classrooms. There were a few DOS models around that secretaries used for managerial work, but most people did not know how to work them. I can remember clearly the first time I saw an internet browser and a dial-up modem and how it was nothing to sit waiting for an hour for something to download. I can remember clearly when an AOL CD-Rom or disc came in the mail weekly as well as inserted in every magazine that would could purchase. I can remember going home at lunch to use my internet at home because there was no internet at school. What Robinson and Friedman’s lectures bring to mind for me is that those recollections for me will be as memorable later in life as my parents talking about the first television they ever saw. The technology is now such a part of everyday life, that is something that everyone, including my own students and children take for granted.

The lectures also brought into light for me the notion that as drastic as those changes were for me in the past twenty years, we are bound to see that much progress or change in the next four years, or three. As the speed of progress and the rate of information created increases, it is not enough to reflect on changes between then and now. What is important is for us to realize that we can’t even imagine what technology and therefore life, education, economics, will look like by the time my eleven year old learns to drive in five years. If I am honest with myself, high school as we’ve known it for the past several hundred years, will never look the same ever again. Credit flex, online schools, and educational options in Ohio, has opened up not just the doors to high school, but removed the walls and ceiling completely. In order to hold onto our educational excellence or advantage that we perceive we have, my school district, and every district in America, will need to reinvent themselves as quickly as possible. It won’t be hard for our students; it will be hard for our faculties.

While the importance of creativity, collaboration, problem solving, and other “soft” skills were ones I’ve always valued for students, I think these lectures illustrate for me that it is not enough to “try” to incorporate them more, but essential that we look for every opportunity to integrate those skills into our classrooms. Instead of trying to “nice” some of our the teachers into changing, I think we might need to shove them off the dock and then teach them to swim all over again. The denial by some educators that sometimes see, that education is changing, is so strongly rooted in large portions of American teaching  faculties, that even if it were an anchor on a sinking ship, they would still cling to it. Friedman’s “rule” of “Whatever can be done, will be done,” is one that resonates clearly with me. Since I believe that I would rather have it done by me, rather than too me, my own creativity and collaboration needs to continue to be strengthened as part of a leadership team that is going to need to rethink the way we present education to our students and community.

  • If you haven’t seen Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on Ted, I actually recommend the animated version you can see on YouTube. I wish I could talk and illustrate at the same time! It would make everything I say so much more entertaining and memorable!
  • Along those lines, here is a link to the recently viewed Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat MIT lecture.
  • My favorite TED video I shared with our superintendent is Derek Siver’s talk How to Start a Movement. I’m sure there are times when you’ve been the lone nut, the first follower, or just one of the crowd!
 

What’s Keeping Me From Blogging September 19, 2010

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:06 pm

Levy Meetings replaced Curriculum Night meetings

Work replaces work. Enough Said. I can’t imagine every working anywhere but in a school.

Levy Sub-committee Meetings

Graduate Classes-Community Relations and Building Consensus-Good timing with the above meetings.

Field Hockey practices and games. The “hardly any away games” thing hasn’t really held true this year.

Flag Football practices and games. Testosterone and losing football games is a new phenomenon to me as a mom, but brings back bad flashbacks of childhood with two younger brothers.

Sleeping: without dreaming; or Sleeping with middle of the night waking

Things I’m looking forward to:

Starting a new book club book for my grown-up book club. Notice I say grown-up rather than “adult”. Taking no chances there. We meet in September and select a year’s worth of books. On tap:  Marcello in the Real World as our Young Adult pick and coming up quickly, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Getting together with my Central Ohio KidLit Blogging friends. We are going to see Michael Grant (Gone, Hunger, Lies, and now Magnificent Twelve–LOVE HIM!). As I just started running his books through my head and trying to picture where they are in my house or office, I just remembered he is married to the fabulous K. A. Applegate. It’s probably too much to hope that she’ll be touring with him, but I’m going to bring Home of the Brave, Buffalo Storm, and Roscoe Riley books with me (Just In Case!).

 

 
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