Curriculum Committee

Our newly designed N-12 Curriculum Committee meets this Tuesday for our monthly meeting.  We will be discussing UbD, December In-Service, curriculum documentation, and strategies for setting up a paper to make students more successful.   Feel free to ask anyone on the committee for more information about our progress on these topics.

Reading of the Week:

This article discusses the importance of student choice in learning.

This is a nice meta-analysis of the research on homework.  It is a bit long but there some nice graphics that will allow you to get the point of the article without reading the entire piece.

Brain Reading of the Week:

A study of the brain and adolescent risk taking.

Inspiration of the Week:


Feedback and Growth Task Force

In the 2007 PAIS Accreditation Report, the Visiting Team recommended:

“Develop a more systematic, formal evaluation system for all divisions and departments.”

The Vision 2020 committee on Engaging Curriculum recommended:

“Create a ‘ONE FCS’ uniform practice of faculty assessment and professional development.”

With these goals in mind, we have created the Feedback and Growth Task Force to help us develop a system that is focused on professional growth.  I am excited that the group will begin to meet this week and am grateful to our friends that have agreed to take on this additional duty.  Although we all contributed some ideas at the ONE FCS meeting, I encourage you to continue to give your thoughts and suggestions to anyone on the task force.  It is important that every voice is a part of the process.

Charlotte Danielson is considered the “leader” in this area.  If you are interested in reading more about her work you may want to look over this new document from Danielson and The Gates Foundation.

Reading of the Week:

In this post a teacher shadows students for two days and makes some big discoveries.

Things to consider when assigning homework.

Brain reading of the Week:

What is happening in your brain when you make that first judgment?

Inspiration of the Week:




OESIS Conference

Having just returned from the OESIS Conference in Boston I have two big take aways spinning in my mind.  The first is that although schools may seem different in how they are integrated technology (and specifically online learning), we are all trying to navigate a world that is new and sometimes scary.  I attended one session where the Kiski School presented how they have implemented online learning.  They have tried several models over the last five years and are in the end back to where they started.  It was nice to hear how they have learned some lessons and are still trying to figure out how this best fits into their school culture and model.  The second take away is that sometimes the best part of going to a conference is having uninterrupted time to think about a topic deeply.  The conference, like most, had some good sessions and some not so good sessions.  However, the ability to think about nothing but one topic for two full days was truly a gift.  I am excited to share more of my thoughts in person and hope to do so at an upcoming meeting.

PD Opportunities:

Although Al cannot attend, he recommends: Creating a Safe Space for LGBTQ

Local and Fantastic!  Learning and the Brain is coming to Villanova.

EduCon registration is open.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities please fill out the PD form on the faculty intranet home page under Forms.

Reading of the Week:

Although this article is about public speaking – I believe it all applies to teaching as well!

Brain Reading of the Week:

Brain compatible study strategies.

Image of the Week:



Snow Days and other Stay-Cations

Below you will find an article I just read about PA adopting new regulations around snow days.  This new legislation will allow school systems use technology to continue teaching on snow days and thus count the missed days toward the magic “180.”  I am not sure how I feel about this concept, but I do know that even as an adult I love my snow days. I love that they are unplanned and typically include staying home and truly resting and enjoying my family.  It is the reason “Stay-Cations” have become popular as well – they are really like planned snow days.  How do you feel about this new legislation and the possibility of having no more snow days?

Reading for the Week: Could snow days be a thing of the past?

Brain Rules Reading for the Week: Thanks to Dottie for this new idea/addition to the blog!  This article from Tom Vander Ark discusses how a Brain Rules School could look…

Inspiration of the Week: Thanks to Becky Guenther for passing this along.


New Year’s Resolutions

My son recently announced he has a “New Year’s Resolution” to play more sports during recess. Following this announcement, my husband reminded him that it wasn’t a new year. My son then explained that it was new school year making this a perfectly appropriate time to make a resolution. I had to chuckle listening to this exchange since I too count my life in school years – not calendar years. I have always loved the fall for this reason. The “new year” presents an opportunity to start again, make resolutions, and re-iterate myself through my work. What are your “New Year’s Resolutions?”

Reminder for the Week: If you are interested in joining the Evaluation Task Force please email me by Wednesday of next week.

Reading for the Week:

11 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

LD Reading of the Week:

Some things are worth repeating...

Inspiration of the Week:






Weeks 17-19

Sometimes the little things can make a big difference.

Here is one little thing that can make a big difference for student success. Did you know that how you arrange your tests/assesments/worksheets can impact student success? Come to a session on “How to set a paper” in the next few weeks for tips and structures that help students. This short workshop will explain things like how much white space do you need, what size font to use, and much much more. Look for an email invitation coming soon.

Last call for volunteers to assist with our spring in-service and fall new faculty/staff orientation.

Reading of the Week
This article discusses the importance of creativity in problem solving. A degree called creative studies? That’s right!

LD Reading of the Week
Here is a short tip sheet on helping students with executive functioning disorder.

App of the Week
Explore the power of cells and genetics with this app. Warning: this app costs $1.99

Inspiration of the Week


Week 16

Friends- It seems like an eternity since winter break. We have had a busy two weeks since our return. It is great to see everyone back in full swing. Thanks to everyone for your feedback on the weekly update. I am excited to keep the momentum going.

I am still looking for volunteers for two groups: Spring In-Service Day and Orientation. I am especially in need of MS respresentation.

I know many of us are reading the Cosmopolitan Canopy but I am anxious to start looking for our next group read. Please let me know if you have any ideas or requests.

Reading of the Week
Read about how a parent feels regarding homework.

Tool for the Week
This is a great graphic covering good pedagogy with tech integration.


Weeks 13, 14, 15

Welcome Back! Over the last few weeks I have been considering whether or not to continue using this blog as a way to communicate each week. I worry that each of you has so much in your inbox already – at the same time I constantly see things that I think would be beneficial to share. I welcome feedback so please let me know if you would prefer a different system for my communications.

Help? I need your help with a few task force groups that I will be assembling. Please email me if you are interesting in helping out.

Spring In-Service Planning Group – I would love 3-4 people (from varying divions) to assist in the planning of our day. The focus of the day will be technology and specifically getting ready for the 1:1 environment next year.

New Faculty/Staff Orientation Planning Group – I need a few employees to help plan our orientation for new employees in August.

Reading of the Week
Performance Assessment

Discussion Points
Read this article about Finnish schools and teaching math.

App of the Week
Check out this amazing list of apps by age level and content.

Great ways to use iPads in the classroom for feedback

Motivation of the Week


Week 12

This is a time of mourning for many but also a time of celebration as we look back on the life of Nelson Mandela. His life and work are an inspiration and I am sure we will be honoring him in many ways this coming week.

Everyone involved in writing report cards – congratulations on finishing and thank you for your hard work in this area.
Ginger and Alexa who ran great parent coffees last week.
Alexa… well let’s just say she kept her secret quite hidden and now we can all openly celebrate her upcoming arrival in June.
Everyone involved in the Humanities Distinguished Speaker, Al Filreis, for an incredible evening culminating a semester long study of poetry.
Brian R., Michele Z., Carl B., and CJ for the wonderful Middle School Concert Friday night.

LD Reading of the Week
How to differentiate to meet the needs of everyone in your class.

Discussion Points
Read about how one teacher “innovates” in her classroom.

App of the Week
Read how one teacher uses Dropbox to stay organized.

Motivation for the Week


Week 11

Since we won’t have a weekly update next week I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a restful and wonderful break. May your travels be stress free and your gatherings be glorious.

Julie G., CJ, and the MS students for a wonderful production this weekend!
Anne K. and the MS newspaper staff for their amazing issue.
LS Garden committee and Peter G. for inspiring all of us with their new space.
Mark F. and Robyn R. for their work on the Quaker Self Study.
Everyone doing the “extras” this time of year for others (Manna Pies, Turkeys, food deliveries).
Al for his second TED Talk.

LD Reading for the Week
A great reminder of what it is like for a student that is struggling.

Discussion for the Week
Try out this “game like” practice site.

Check out California’s open resource site.

App of the Week
I have always been a fan of Explain Everything but it appears to have even more features everyday! Here is a blog post about how a teacher uses the app to give feedback to students.