Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Wikis Work

Children love technology. A wiki can help your students build a sense of community. Groups of students can work collaboratively using the free wiki that you launch today. Why not use this free tool to empower your students? Oh, and did I mention, it is free?

Click here to view my wiki.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Puzzles for the Puzzlemaker

Want to create word searches, crossword puzzles, math squares, cryptograms, number blocks, hidden messages, cris-cross puzzles, and hidden messages? Check out the site:

As much fun as it was for me to create the puzzles for my classes, the learning curve grew when students were responsible for assigning vocabulary lists generated from the word walls developed over the course of the week. I would have a team or row responsible for creating the lists, the puzzles and distributing them to the classes. At first I started simply with word searches.

Do not be surprised if you have to first model crossword puzzles. Also do not be surprised how quickly students became very good at generating rigorous questions, and developing pop quizzes with ease to stump their peers.

Question Power

Here are 7 powerful ways to support students to think deeply about the work. All of the suggestions are question starters adapted from the text Asking Better Questions by Norah Morgan and Juliana Saxton.
1. I wonder how much...(use the words from the student)
2. I wonder if we could say the same... (use the idea stated by the student)
3. Remember our aim is... Can we look at this answer again, keeping in mind that...
4. Can you be more specific about...?
5. What makes you think that?
6. What about the other side?
7. How might other people see this?

Ok, let's say a teacher asks one of the above questions and gets a one word answer, or silence or a shrug. Well, here is where the teacher can use the prior knowledge of the student based on what the student sees or hears in the world.

How would you do this? Check out the following scenario from the Morgan & Saxton (2006) book:
Teacher: Where have you seen a flag flying?
Student: Outside the school.
Teacher How many of you notice the flag when you come into school in the morning?
Students: A show of hands.
Teacher: I wonder why a national symbol flies over our school?
Student: To show that this is an American school.
Teacher: Of what sorts of things does our flag remind us?

I pulled the following question prompts from the above scenario and will now add them to the above list:

8. Where have you seen...? Where have you heard...?
9. How many of you notice...?
10. I wonder why...? I wonder how...?
11. Of what types of things does (the symbol) remind us?

I now have 11 ways of starting questions that I can now use in class that I can chart or put on or on a blog that will serve as a reminder and a model for students to frame their questions.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

School Leadership Team Meeting - Aug. 10, 2007

Teachers, parents, staff from the school, students, and members of community-based organizations are welcome to attend School Leadership Team Meetings. At each meeting we will set the Calendar of Events for the upcoming month.

Calendar of Events - August to September, 2007

Aug. 30, 2007 - Staff Returns
Aug. 31, 2007 - Staff Barbecue
Sept. 3, 2007 - DAY OFF - Labor Day
Sept. 4, 2007 - Students Return
Sept. 8, 2007 - Welcome Back Breakfast for McKee Community
Sept. 13 - 14, 2007 - TWO DAYS OFF - Rosh Hashanah
Sept. 20, 2007 3:30 - 5:30 pm - School Leadership Team
Sept. 29 - 30, 2007- High School Fair (Location TBA)
Sept. 30, 2007 - Tunnel to Tower 5K (3.1 Miles) Run/Walk

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NYLearns is an excellent, FREE source of standards based, teacher created, peer reviewed lessons for all grade levels.

What do I mean by FREE?
You do NOT need to type in a user name or a password to use the site.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Are you sure of your certification?

As a result of No Child Left Behind, beginning on February 1, 2004,
a great deal has changed regarding certification requirements.

If you do not have permanent certification, these changes affect you.

Additional changes went into effect as of March, 2007.
For example, 65 Court Street no longer handles certification applications. If you go there, they will redirect you to apply online.

Do not wait until the last minute. Do not assume you can get an extension. Check your status online.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Click here for help creating rubrics

Why Rubrics Rule

1. A rubric helps instructors define excellence and shows students what level they must achieve.
2. A good rubric helps teachers to be accurate, detailed, unbiased and consistent.
3. A good rubric tells students how to evaluate their own work.
4. A good rubric tells goals and results to parents and others.

Brilliant Bulletin Boards

What makes a brilliant bulletin board:

1. A type written title of the project in a large font
2. A type written brief description of the project in a large font
3. The name of the teacher, and the class
4. A rubric that explains how work was graded
5. Projects with a range of grades and comments by the teacher

Coming soon: pictures of the wonderful work covered in our classrooms.

How do you quickly learn the names of your students?

1. Assign them seats, and have students make individualized name plates for their desks
2. Put students in groups, and have them make a group resume
3. Just use the attendance sheet

The Power of Pop Culture

1. Suppose you are teaching English, and you want students to understand the term conflict.
2. You could have the students indicate the traits of two controversial singers, movie stars, or celebrities.
3. Elicit the type of trouble those two singers, movie stars, or celebrities are in.
4. Have the students state the type of conflict this represents, and link it to the academic language of internal conflict, or external conflict.
5. Now that you have your students engaged, move on to the lesson.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thank You Councilman Michael McMahon

I am pleased to announce that Councilman Michael McMahon has graciously worked on behalf of Ralph McKee High School such that $500,000 will be used to install a security camera system, $400,000 will be used to renovate the library and $1,000 will be designated for the PTA.

Apture Multimedia