Wednesday, November 23, 2016

3 Lessons Learned from the Band

Recently, my family and I attended a college football game on a nice fall day.  Our tickets happened to be located by the band which is a section I had never sat in before.  As the game progressed, my attention kept returning to the band.  As I reflect on the band and their performance during the game, I realize I learned a few lessons from them.

1. Have fun!
The band has fun.  If you have not paid attention to the band when you attend a college game, I encourage you to do so.  They have traditions which demonstrated their ability to enjoy the game (even when the score is not in their favor).  The band members appeared to have permanent smiles and grins on their faces throughout the game. Even when the game was getting out of reach and the fans began to leave, the band stayed and played until the very end.  They chose to make the most out of the situation and have fun. How often do I think of the possibilities without enjoying the moment and have fun?

2. Know your strengths
The band is comprised of many sections and many instruments.  At certain times during the game, the entire band played together synchronously.  At other times, certain sections played while others refrained.  The choice to play together or certain sections was dependent on what was occurring on the field of play.  The band's ability to utilize strengths to meet the needs of the action on the field as well as the needs of the fans demonstrated their understanding of their strengths and how to use these strengths effectively.  How often do I think not utilize the strengths of those around me, instead try to do it all by myself?

3. Collaboration is key
Whether they were performing in the stands or on the field, they demonstrated high levels of collaboration.  They knew where to be, where they were headed, and had a common vision for their performance.  It is a good thing they had this common vision because if they did not their marching formations would have resulted in total chaos on the field.  Each step, each rotation, each note was precisely choreographed and rehearsed to allow maximum performance.  How often do I follow the common vision to ensure we are all on the same page?

I was never a member of the band, due in large part to my inability to read music, hold a beat and demonstrate any rhythm (for those who have seen me dance, you understand this very well). However, after paying attention to the band throughout the game, I have a much better appreciation and admiration for the band and what they contribute to the experience of attending a college football game.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The complexities of curricula

When educators think of the curriculum, they often think of the documents the school district provides that they are to teach.  But curriculum goes much more beyond that view of curriculum. The curriculum is an extremely complex topic taking on many forms.  In many ways, the curriculum is similar to an onion in that there are multiple layers that can be peeled back to reveal another layer and another layer and yet another layer.  Here are a few layers of the complex topic of curricula.


Recommended Curriculum
It is the curriculum recommended by the scholars, professional organizations, etc. it is also the curriculum requirements of state and local governments. Examples of this curriculum include the Common Core State Standards, the Missouri Learning Standards, The Kansas College and Career Standards, and other state standards.

Recommended curricula are typically formulated at a rather high level of generality; they are most often presented as policy recommendations, lists of goals, suggested graduation requirements, and general recommendations about the content and sequence of a field of study, such as mathematics” (Glatthorn, Boschee, Whitehead, & Glattorn., 2015, p. 7).



Written Curriculum

The written curriculum is what often is thought of and referred to as the curriculum. “The written curriculum is intended primarily to ensure that the educational goals of the system are being accomplished; it is a curriculum of control” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 9). Examples of the written curriculum include curriculum guides, scope and sequence charts, and lesson plans.



Chief functions of the written curriculum:
  1. Mediating – the ideals, the realities, what should be taught vs. what can be taught, expectations
  2. Standardizing – director or superintendent wants the buildings to teach the same curricula
  3. Controlling - a level of control over what is to be taught in the classrooms

Supported Curriculum

“The supported curriculum is the curriculum as reflected in and shaped by the resources allocated to support and deliver it” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 12).

Four kinds of resources:

  1. Time for a subject (e.g. social studies in grade 5)
  2. Time given by the teacher (e.g. time for unit on explorers)
  3. Personnel allocations (e.g. how many teachers needed if class sizes increase)
  4. Textbooks and other learning materials (e.g. when is it time to purchase new)



Taught Curriculum

The taught curriculum is the delivered curriculum, a curriculum that an observer sees in action as the teacher teaches” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 15).

“Statistical evidence provides a strong warrant that how we organize and operate a school has a major effect on the instructional exchanges in the classroom (Bryk, 2010).  Bergman and Bergman (2010) agree, noting that good teaching is like good writing – the principles of good writing can help teachers improve their style” (Glatthorn et al, 2015, p. 15).



Tested Curriculum
“The tested curriculum is that set of learnings that is assessed in teacher-made classroom tests; in district-developed, curriculum-referenced tests; and in standardized tests” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 15). The tested curriculum could include standardized assessments, district-created benchmark assessments, teacher-create assessments, and both formal and informal formative assessments.


Hidden Curriculum
The hidden curriculum is the unintended curriculum - what students learn from the school's culture and climate. It includes such elements as the use of time, allocation of space, funding for programs and activities, and disciplinary policies and practices. For example, if an elementary school allocates 450 minutes each week to reading and 45 minutes to art, the unintended message to students is that "art doesn't matter" (Glatthorn, Carr, & Harris, 2001).


    Null Curriculum
    The null or missing curriculum is what is excluded, intentionally or unintentionally, from a course.  This information can be content, analytical methods (political economy approaches) and to methods (avoidance of democratic methods and practices…). This is closely related to the amount of dissent the society is willing to accept in the prescribed curriculum. (Schugurensky, 2002).

    Knowing curriculum is complex and encompasses many different elements, educators are wise to consider these forms of curricula as they plan, teach, and assess their students.

    References
    Bergman, D. J., & Bergman, C. C. (2010). Elements of stylish teaching: Lessons from Strunk and White. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(4), 28-31.

    Bryk, A. S. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(7), 23-30.

    Glatthorn, A. A., Boschee, F., Whitehead, B. M., & Boschee, B. F. (2015). Curriculum leadership: Strategies for development and implementation (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Glatthorn, A.A., Carr, J.F., & Harris, D.E.. (2001). Planning And Organizing For Curriculum Renewal. Retrieved from  http://www.ascd.org/publications/curriculum-handbook/398/chapters/Thinking-About-Curriculum.aspx

    Schugurensky, D. (2002). The eight curricula of multicultural citizenship education. Multicultural Education, 10(1), 2-6.

    The complexities of curricula

    When educators think of the curriculum, they often think of the documents the school district provides that they are to teach.  But curriculum goes much more beyond that view of curriculum. The curriculum is an extremely complex topic taking on many forms.  In many ways, the curriculum is similar to an onion in that there are multiple layers that can be peeled back to reveal another layer and another layer and yet another layer.  Here are a few layers of the complex topic of curricula.


    Recommended Curriculum
    It is the curriculum recommended by the scholars, professional organizations, etc. it is also the curriculum requirements of state and local governments. Examples of this curriculum include the Common Core State Standards, the Missouri Learning Standards, The Kansas College and Career Standards, and other state standards.


    Recommended curricula are typically formulated at a rather high level of generality; they are most often presented as policy recommendations, lists of goals, suggested graduation requirements, and general recommendations about the content and sequence of a field of study, such as mathematics” (Glatthorn, Boschee, Whitehead, & Glattorn., 2015, p. 7).





    Written Curriculum

    The written curriculum is what often is thought of and referred to as the curriculum. “The written curriculum is intended primarily to ensure that the educational goals of the system are being accomplished; it is a curriculum of control” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 9). Examples of the written curriculum include curriculum guides, scope and sequence charts, and lesson plans.

    Chief functions of the written curriculum:
    1. Mediating – the ideals, the realities, what should be taught vs. what can be taught, expectations
    2. Standardizing – director or superintendent wants the buildings to teach the same curricula
    3. Controlling - a level of control over what is to be taught in the classrooms



    Supported Curriculum:

    “The supported curriculum is the curriculum as reflected in and shaped by the resources allocated to support and deliver it” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 12).

    Four kinds of resources:

    1. Time for a subject (e.g. social studies in grade 5)
    2. Time given by the teacher (e.g. time for unit on explorers)
    3. Personnel allocations (e.g. how many teachers needed if class sizes increase)
    4. Textbooks and other learning materials (e.g. when is it time to purchase new)



    Taught Curriculum:

    The taught curriculum is the delivered curriculum, a curriculum that an observer sees in action as the teacher teaches” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 15).

    “Statistical evidence provides a strong warrant that how we organize and operate a school has a major effect on the instructional exchanges in the classroom (Bryk, 2010).  Bergman and Bergman (2010) agree, noting that good teaching is like good writing – the principles of good writing can help teachers improve their style” (Glatthorn et al, 2015, p. 15).




    Tested Curriculum:

    “The tested curriculum is that set of learnings that is assessed in teacher-made classroom tests; in district-developed, curriculum-referenced tests; and in standardized tests” (Glatthorn et al., 2015, p. 15). The tested curriculum could include standardized assessments, district-created benchmark assessments, teacher-create assessments, and both formal and informal formative assessments.


    Hidden Curriculum:

    The hidden curriculum is the unintended curriculum - what students learn from the school's culture and climate. It includes such elements as the use of time, allocation of space, funding for programs and activities, and disciplinary policies and practices. For example, if an elementary school allocates 450 minutes each week to reading and 45 minutes to art, the unintended message to students is that "art doesn't matter" (Glatthorn, Carr, & Harris, 2001).

    Null Curriculum:

    The null or missing curriculum is what is excluded, intentionally or unintentionally, from a course.  This information can be content, analytical methods (political economy approaches) and to methods (avoidance of democratic methods and practices…). This is closely related to the amount of dissent the society is willing to accept in the prescribed curriculum. (Schugurensky, 2002).

    Knowing curriculum is complex and encompasses many different elements, educators are wise to consider these forms of curricula as they plan, teach, and assess their students.


    References

    Bergman, D. J., & Bergman, C. C. (2010). Elements of stylish teaching: Lessons from Strunk and White. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(4), 28-31.

    Bryk, A. S. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(7), 23-30.

    Glatthorn, A. A., Boschee, F., Whitehead, B. M., & Boschee, B. F. (2015). Curriculum leadership: Strategies for development and implementation (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Glatthorn, A.A., Carr, J.F., & Harris, D.E.. (2001). Planning And Organizing For Curriculum Renewal. Retrieved from  http://www.ascd.org/publications/curriculum-handbook/398/chapters/Thinking-About-Curriculum.aspx

    Schugurensky, D. (2002). The eight curricula of multicultural citizenship education. Multicultural Education, 10(1), 2-6.

    Thursday, September 29, 2016

    4 Challenges for the New Year

    As teachers are working tirelessly to set up their classrooms and prepare for a new group of students, a feeling of excitement and anticipation exists. This feeling, felt both by students and staff alike, creates a buzz on the first few days of school. When teachers begin to think about the classroom, the students, the curriculum, and the learning, I challenge them to think about ways they can continually grow and learn while providing students the opportunity to share their voice and their learning.

    Challenge #1

    On the first day of school, don’t go over any rules.

    The vast majority of students are excited to come to school at the beginning of the year. They want to learn about you and their new classroom. Spend the first-day asking students about their passions and interests and telling them about yours. Ask students what they want to learn this year and what gets them excited and motivated to learn. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Provide a window into your life so students can begin to relate to you and build those trusting relationships.
    I don’t want to downplay the importance of classroom rules and procedures; they are an extremely important aspect of the learning process. However, I simply challenge you not to cover these rules and expectations on the first day. Your goal should be to have your students leave your class on the first day more excited to return on the second day!

    Challenge #2

    Let students publicly share their learning.

    Students are capable of amazing things. We are fortunate enough to see their learning, their thinking, their creativity, and their collaboration each and every day. But how do their parents, the community, and other students and teachers witness this learning? Often, student learning is not displayed in ways that leave the four walls of the classroom. With today’s technology tools, there are so many avenues for us to share their learning and flatten the walls of our classrooms and schools. Not only will sharing student learning allow others to see what is occurring in schools, but it will also provide an opportunity for authentic discussions and lessons on digital citizenship and appropriate ways to use social media.
    Students can blog about their learning either individually or as a class. They can create podcasts to share testimonials and stories about their learning. Students can film, edit, and produce videos highlighting their learning or they can be social media leaders and share their learning through platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Voxer, and Periscope. Or, better yet, ask your students how they want to share their learning. Their answers might surprise you and allow you the opportunity to tap into their creative side.

    Challenge #3

    Call each family and share a positive comment by the end of the first week.

    Teachers know that relationships matter. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” What better way to build relationships with students and their families than by starting to make deposits in their emotional bank accounts. By calling home the first week of school with a specific positive comment, you can make deposits into everyone’s bank account early on and begin to develop relationships that last throughout the school year.
    All parents enjoy hearing positive comments about their children. All students enjoy knowing that their teacher noticed something that was extraordinary and exemplary. Make those phone calls home—I guarantee you will not regret sharing the good news with each and every family.

    Challenge #4

    Let students create their own spaces.

    What comes to mind when thinking about companies like Google, Facebook, Disney, Garmin, Amazon, Netflix, or Starbucks? All of these companies are known for their innovation and creative spirit. Schools should be preparing students to enter the workforce and become a part of innovative and creative environments. So how can schools prepare students for these kinds of environments?
    Look at the physical design of classrooms. Do students sit in desks in nice neat rows or groups? Do local fast food restaurants have more comfortable and innovative seating arrangements than our classrooms? How can we transform our learning spaces to inspire creativity and innovation? Being comfortable in changing the learning environment is the first step in creating effective spaces for students to thrive. Some of the most creative and innovative learning environments incorporate student choice, student voice, and student design.
    For example, learning spaces could have tables at different heights. Some might require students to stand, some might require students to kneel, and some might require students to sit. Perhaps some tables have exercise balls to help students maintain their focus. The key to making these spaces work is that students have a choice as to where they learn.
    Remember, learning spaces do not have to have the walls covered in premade posters bought at the local teacher supply store. Instead, they could have walls covered with student work and student-created anchor charts. Student voice, design, and choice should be prevalent in these learning spaces, and they should be warm and inviting.
    Perhaps these four challenges will cause you to think, reflect, and potentially change your practices to allow for continuous growth and improvement while creating rich opportunities for student voice and choice to be incorporated in the learning process.

    This blog was first published on the ASCD Inservice Website.

    Sunday, August 14, 2016

    Ways to Launch a Successful Year With Students

    As summer winds down and the start to school begins in a few weeks for many students and schools, starting the year on a successful note is essential for a year full of learning, memories, and experiences. There are three ways educators can prepare for a successful year.

    First Day
    On the first day of school, don't talk about rules. Students typically come to school the first day on their best behavior eager to see what their new teacher and room have to offer.  Instead of spending hours and hours talking about ways to be safe, respectful and responsible as well as how to sharpen a pencil or where to put your folders (which are very important - just maybe not on the first day of school), inspire your students. Bring your best and most engaging lesson to the classroom on the first day. Have your students leave the school on the first day excited, eager and looking forward to day number 2! Let them leave school on the first day wanting to come back on the second day with more zeal than they had on the first day.

    Choice
    If the answer is seven, what could be a possible statement? 4 + 3 = 7? 12 - 5 = 7?  There are seven days in the week?  The possibilities are endless.  How often do educators offer choice to their students?  Educators should design their lessons and intentionally plan with specific learning objectives in mind; however, they should be flexible and offer students choices as to how they will demonstrate their learning.  Maybe it is by writing a poem, creating a short video or building a model - students will flourish and exceed our expectations when they are given choices. Give the students the choice and let their individual personalities, passions and talents shine!

    Relationships
    Nothing is more powerful than the relationships built between a teacher and her students and their families. Educators can spend the first week sharing with their students their own passions, interests, and learning. Take the time to learn about the students - what are their interests, concerns, hobbies, and passions. Continue the relationships beyond the first week through the Friday Five. Each Friday, make a phone call home to five families and share something truly special about their child. Through the Friday Five, educators can continue to develop and nurture relationships throughout the school year.

    When you first meet someone, your opinion is generally formed about that person in the first ten seconds.  Think about that.  It takes only ten seconds to form an opinion of someone. How do educators make an impression in only ten seconds?  The answer is making sure that those ten seconds count – in words, in body language, in a handshake, in a smile.  In short, we have to think about how we present ourselves to people.  Starting the year off strong will allow educators the opportunity to have a year full of success and memorable learning experiences.


    This post was first featured in Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo on Education Week Teacher.

    Sunday, June 26, 2016

    3 lessons I learned from golf

    Recently, I had the chance to play a round of golf with my dad when he came to visit our family. Being that my parents live in New Hampshire, I don't often get the chance to play golf with him so I was excited for us to hit the links together.  As I reflect back on our time together on the course, three lessons came to mind.

    1. Enjoy the good shots
    Unlike one of my brothers who is a very good golfer, almost a scratch golfer, I do not possess the same golf skills. I am not a terrible golfer nor am I a really good golfer.  I often hit more bad shots than I do good shots.  But why do I like golf so much?  It is because of the good shots.  The good shots are what I remember and are what keep me coming back for my next round of golf.  So how does this look in our schools?  What good shots (feedback, learning opportunities and experiences...) do we give our students that make them wanting to return the next day?

    2. Celebrate the successes
    At one point, I had 2 chances for birdies and just lipped out the putt. On one of the par three holes, my drive was about 8 yards from the hole. I had a great drive on one of the par fives which led to a great approach shot and getting on the green in three shots.  After each one, my dad would say, "Wow!  Great shot!" and give me a high-five. All of these great shots made me feel good and boosted my confidence for the next shot. We didn't wait until the end of the round to talk about the good shots we had.  We celebrated these shots as they occurred.  So how does this look in schools?  Do we provide opportunities for our learners to celebrate along the journey or do we wait until the end of the unit, quarter, semester or year?

    3.  Find your strength

    I do not hit the longest drives.  My iron play is average.  I know my strengths and my limitations.  I cannot expect to clear the water hazard when it is 275+ yards away.  My game is not suited for that (perhaps that is why I like to play scrambles with other golfers). However, I do know what I am good at and what I can accomplish.  My strength lies in my ability to hit somewhat accurate pitch shots as I approach the green.  I need to work within my limitations and continue to push myself to drive the ball a bit longer and hit the ball a bit straighter until I get close enough to the green.  So how does this look in our schools?  It all starts with the relationships we have with our learners.  What are they passionate about? What are their strengths and limitations so we can nudge them forward? Without strong relationships, this gentle nudge does not occur so easily.  I have never regretted getting to know someone on a personal level.

    Being this was the first time out and only the second time playing golf in the last two years, I was quite pleased with my score of 43.  More importantly, I will cherish the time spent with my dad playing golf, laughing and enjoying one another's company.


    Friday, June 3, 2016

    Teachers, Share Your Story

    Teachers have amazing stories to tell. These stories occur on a daily basis because of the many interactions teachers have with their students, their students’ families, their colleagues, and the community. Often times, these stories do not make the television or newspaper headlines, and that is a shame. These stories are the emotional bonds that link teachers and students, teachers and teachers, and teachers and the community. These stories are what make teaching so rewarding.
    Think of the student who made tremendous growth in her reading abilities this year. How is her story going to be told? Think of the student who applied his understanding of bar graphs and his knowledge of football to demonstrate a running back’s yards per season over time. How is his story going to be told? Think of the student who is a peer tutor to another student and spends part of recess helping this younger student learn to add and subtract. How is this story going to be told? Think of the student who came up with the idea to have a school store selling items with the school mascot on them. How is this story going to be told? Think of the teacher who organized a flashlight drive for the homeless in her town to have light in the nighttime. How is this story going to be told?
    The reality is that if these stories are not told, no one will know. But these are the stories we want to share. These are the stories we need to share. These are the stories that help schools create an image and a brand. If these stories are not told by the school, they will not be told. Schools need to be marketing and branding experts to share their purpose and mission, their traditions, and the things their students are learning.
    When the focus is on the positive stories and traditions of a school, everyone—students, staff, and families—can be proud of the school and all the school community has to offer. Sharing these positive stories is a way to promote the good happening in schools.
    These stories can be told in a variety of ways. Through the use of technology and social media, stories can be easily shared by students, families, and staff members. They can be posted on a school’s website, blog, or Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, and they can also be shared through word of mouth. As the year begins to wind down, I encourage everyone to share their stories. Share the stories that make you want to come back to school each day, more excited than the day before. The method of delivery is not as important as making sure the story is shared. Shout it from the rooftops for all to hear.

    This blog post was first published on ASCD inservice.