Archive for January, 2013

Snow Day. Show Day.

Snow... The real kind, not that guy that sang "Informer"

Snow Day. Show Day.

January 28, 2013  |  Teaching  |  4 Comments

I’m in Connecticut working with some fantastic teachers. As a Brooklyn guy, I don’t drive. (As in, I detest driving.) But when you come to Connecticut, you have to drive. So imagine me; driving around in this SUV the rental people gave me. (Picture me rollin’?) In my mind, I always imagined that I would be super cool in a car. I’d be leaned waay back going real slow, like in one of those shiny P.Diddy videos from 1997. That is not my reality. I probably drive like I’m older than Moses. So not cool.

I've been naming strategy charts after the kid in the class least likely to try the strategy. Result: That kid tries the strategy. Mr. Minor: 1, Kid: 0

I’ve been naming strategy charts after the kid in the class least likely to try the strategy. Result: That kid tries the strategy. Mr. Minor: 1, Kid: 0

Now the plot thickens. Today it snowed. A lot. So much that they had to send the kids home early. I considered spending the night in the school library (a fantasy that I’ve harbored since I was in primary school) to avoid having to drive in the snow, but alas they sent me home too, so I had to drive the four miles back to my hotel. It took me 20 minutes.

Real slow like P.Diddy, but not cool — cold. Literally.

Now I’m snowed in at the Hilton. So I’m doing what any good educator would do — throwing wild crazy parties organizing my teaching charts. Lots of people have been asking me about charts recently, so since SnowMageddon is happening outside, I figured that I would warm up the world with some didactic goodies. Here goes…

Writing Process: What it can look like if kids choose to publish on paper and what it can look like if students choose to publish on a device.

Writing Process: What it can look like if kids choose to publish on paper and what it can look like if students choose to publish on a device.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fostering independence among students. Though they are not all there yet, that kids can write, read, and think on their own is critically important. There are so many things that one can do in a classroom to grow this kind of autonomy, but I think that just about anything that we name must start with visible reminders — especially for those of us that work with middle school students.

But it’s not just about wallpapering the room with charts, there’s a few rules you gotta follow:

(1) Don’t ever make your own charts. I believe in child labor. Get a kid to do it for you. Buy a fancy pack of markers. Make your chart on a notecard, then hand the notecards and the fancy markers to some kid. Kids like fancy markers. They like praise even more. When you teach your lesson with that chart, be all like, “Raphael made this chart!”

(2) Reference your charts often, stand by them, gesture toward them. Never answer a question that is answered on a chart somewhere in your room, simply walk over to the answer and gesticulate at it. If you don’t use your own charts, kids will not either.

(3) Cycle charts out after the unit of study is over. Photograph them, and throw them away. Charts from last year are worse than gym shorts from last year. Have you been in the boys locker room lately?

(4) You should have a high percentage of skill-based charts. Yes charts like “How to get a bathroom pass” are important, but keep those charts limited to no more than 20% of your total charts… Seriously. What you have on your walls is a reflection of your values. Do you value where to put the pencil shavings over organizing evidence in writing? I did not think so.

(5) The charts should be organized in some way… Reading charts on the west side and history charts to the east? Your call.

I usually keep a chart of weekly expectations somewhere in the room so kids can be constantly reminded of their progress. You can help them to make decisions about how they spend their time across the week if expectations are clear from the beginning.

I usually keep a chart of weekly expectations somewhere in the room so kids can be constantly reminded of their progress. You can help them to make decisions about how they spend their time across the week if expectations are clear from the beginning.

Here is another one that looks at partnerships… I usually choose partnerships, and I give the partnerships specific goals. This can help. At times I even ask partnerships/teams to negotiate contracts.

Howdy, Partners.

Howdy, Partners.

Here’s a quick example of a partner “contract”.

Partner contract. We should have made Nate Robinson sign one of these. *Sigh* Knicks...

Partner contract. We should have made Nate Robinson sign one of these. *Sigh* Knicks…

Here is a chart that might support a lesson.

A quick chart that can support your teaching by guiding kids strategy implementation... I always leave room to post my demonstration at the bottom.

A quick chart that can support your teaching by guiding kids strategy implementation… I always leave room to post my demonstration at the bottom.

Maybe a chart to remind kids of what they already know…

Kids bring lots of old learning with them. We can raise expectations simply be understanding this.

Kids bring lots of old learning with them. We can raise expectations simply be understanding this.

Style Metamorphosis

January 27, 2013  |  Culture, Family  |  No Comments
Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 9.49.34 PM

Sneaker Bliss.Brooklyn has rubbed off on me. One of my favorite finds.

 

Post pregnancy, one can feel pretty frumpy.  However, post-post pregnancy, you get your body back (albeit a few extra curves), and you suddenly realize that your entire closet is full of maternity clothes covered in cat hair and a bunch of stuff you bought three years ago when you were sporting a Tomboy with flowers look.

Needless to say, I have nothing to wear.

And for those who’ve known me for a minute, I used to have style. The make-my-own stuff, vintage jewelry deluxe, peppered with Akron good will style.  I used to meddle in KSU’s School of Fashion, meeting famous folks like Anna Sui and producing student fashion shows. I even subscribed to WWD.

I had an affair with those “glory” days when Cornelius bought me a sewing machine for Christmas three years ago.  A few homemade dresses and skirts later,  I was pregnant.  For those of you who have been with child, you know how the story goes.  For those of you who have not, let me just tell you- fashion:pregnancy,  round hole:square peg.

For a while after you have your baby, you are completely distracted with cutedom and lost in baby care abyss-which is simultaneously wonderful and all consuming.  Around month 7, the sense of self starts to peak out above the water, and you find yourself dabbling in your own interests once again.

So, because my husband is so super thoughtful and had been listening to me babble about my lack of clothes, he gifted me a wonderful present for Christmas-4 hours with a personal shopper!  (He also heard that Tyson Chandler did this for his wife and thought it was an incredibly bright idea). First of all, four hours of shopping is a gift within itself.  Four hours of shopping with someone to do all the dirty work for you-now that’s pure delight.

Fours hours of shopping later, to some extent, I have regained my sense of style.  And while I don’t like to dwell on the materialisms of the world, and could certainly go on quite happily without the extra frills of a dope wardrobe, sometimes, you just have to say to yourself, Why not?

Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 9.50.38 PM Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 9.53.01 PMScreen shot 2013-01-27 at 9.51.42 PM

 

1) Say Yes to Jewelry. Superbly pretty, attained in NYC.

2) Pink Pants? I think so.

3) Tims! : The ultimate accessory.

-Kass

 

 

 

Modifying Reading & Writing Workshops in ICT Settings

All learners can meet high expectations in reading and writing.

Modifying Reading & Writing Workshops in ICT Settings

January 22, 2013  |  Teaching  |  4 Comments
Thoughtful classroom instruction can start here...

Thoughtful classroom instruction can start here…

My teaching partner, Janet, and I had a fantastic time presenting at the college today. We facilitated a day on modifying the reading and writing workshops to meet the needs of all learners — especially those with disabilities. The discussion was wonderful, we had the opportunity to share some of our latest work, and we learned a lot together.

I am always moved by the educators who commit themselves so wholeheartedly to special education. It was wonderful to talk and hear stories of hard work, struggle, and eventual success. It was even more wonderful to leave the day energized and recommitted to making sure that ALL kids get the best that we can offer.

You can find a transcript of today’s online chat here: www.todaysmeet.com/JanetNCorn There is also still time to add to it!

Additionally, here are some other resources that we created today. For regular readers of the blog, my next few posts will discuss things that we can do to make our teaching more inclusive. We hope that you will find these useful as you continue this work in your own classroom:

Janet’s Presentation

Cornelius’ Handout

Cornelius’ Quick Lesson Differentiation Guide

“Pajamas” Excerpt

“Giving Tree” Excerpt

“Tree Frog” Excerpt

Cornelius’ Presentation

A quick sheet to keep track of conferences

-Cornelius