Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkins, STEM, and Higher Order Thinking

So what could you do with pumpkins? No matter what grade level...

...They are everywhere this time of the year...

Could you connect pumpkins with a higher order thinking science activity?

Watch this video clip that shows from seed to plant to pumpkin ...the process of growing pumpkins...
What ideas does this give you?

There is a book (actually several) which involve stories based upon the life cycle of pumpkins...

Here is one...

Could you create some higher order thinking activities that might engage the kids to speculate on how you could create a better yield of pumpkins, larger pumpkins or ...?

How about taking a look at this teacher's blog about using pumpkins as a central thought to many classroom activities...

Pumpkins can be so engaging!  

So what are you waiting on...let's have fun igniting young minds with pumpkins and their life cycle....


The kids will...while they learn!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkins, Candy, Costumes, My Top 5 Halloween Songs and My Top 10 Halloween Movies

I'm not into gross and yuck...but simple chills and laughter...
There is nothing like carving a pumpkin...trying to make a cool face...of course mine looked more like this...

than this...

or this...

Gotta love the treats...
Nothing like small versions of my favorite candy bars...Butterfingers, Milkyway, and Three Musketeers (After all they really aren't full of calories if they are small...right?)

Costumes...yea...monsters, superheroes, video game characters, fish tanks, garbage cans, 70's Rock name it they are out there...

And now the lists...

I must warn lists are just cool songs and movies that I always like to hear or see at this time of year...maybe not really scary...okay not scary but just some cool stuff that I like...

My Top 5 Halloween Songs

5. The Legend of Wooley Swamp 
(The Charlie Daniel's Band)

4. Don't Pay the Ferryman
(Chris DeBurgh)

3. Thriller 
(Michael Jackson)

2. Jump in the Line 
(Harry Belafonte)

1. Grim Grinning Ghosts 

My Top 10 Halloween Movies 

(Not too scary...okay...not scary at all, but I like them...)

10. The Mummy (1999)

9. Trick or Treat (Donald Duck)

8. Witch Hazel's Vanity (Bugs Bunny)

7. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

6. Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein

5. Beetlejuice

4. Disney's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

3. Ghostbusters

2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

1. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

Have a wonderful and safe night of fun!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recollections of a Former High School Administrator: Supervision in the Cafeteria and Bathrooms

It was a cool, brisk fall day (pretty sure it wasn’t spring). Someone had given me one of those awesome sour apple blow pops that were covered in caramel. I was watching the cafeteria while standing in close proximity to the boy’s bathroom. This was so I could keep an ear and a nose open…just in case extracurricular activities began in the restroom or nicotine desires hit. That day a student came up to me and asked, “How many years did you go to college?” I inquired, “Where is this going?” He quipped, “Just wondered how much money you spent so that you could watch us eat and keep us from smoking in the bathroom.  Insightful…young’in.

 I took my job seriously …after all I had been hired to be bad cop. There had been some issues with discipline in previous years so good cop and bad cop were extended their missions: send a message that things are different.

This was a high school that had four lunch periods and just about 600 kids ate during each session. 
That’s a lot of kids. They ate in the cafeteria, in the commons area outside, and in a courtyard that was even further from the main part of the cafeteria. There were so many places to be.  As a result, we had teachers on duty with the administrators. (Some actually didn't mind having the duty because they got a chance to interact with the kids.)

This was a calm school, relatively, but it still had its share of issues from time to time. You know, kids wanting to try to leave campus, wandering into the woods to smoke,  arguing, throwing food, leaving trays or garbage, flaring tempers because someone looked at someone else in a bad way, and______________(fill in the blank…you probably will be right). Too often adults take lunch time for granted. It’s easy to. You have had a busy day, after all you would like some time to take a deep breath and just go…whew…but lunch…if you have duty is not the time.

Bathrooms are the biggest irritation. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s not a good thing to lock the bathroom doors and say…”Tough”.  But…the bathroom creates issues, therefore some lucky adult is going to get bathroom duty (How many corporate big shots or elected officials have to do that…huh?!)

I have had numerous experiences with the bathrooms…for example, the soap dispensers that somehow offended someone and that person exacted revenge by punching a hole in the terrible soap container. There was the mysterious “let’s see how many paper towels it takes to cover every inch of the floor” phantom (Really…I’m not making this up!) and of course my all-time favorite the “I just had to write something profound on the wall” ghost.

No matter the school, no matter the age, no matter whether it is public or private…supervision is required. Kids can get bored and for some reason the bathroom is the appropriate place for losing their minds. I mean, after-all if you were in a good frame of mind would you want to hang-out in the bathroom?

So here is the point…

1.       Supervision is Important.

2.       Restrooms and the cafeteria or courtyards can attract issues.

3.       Have staff stop in restrooms when they are simply walking across campus.

4.       During lunch don’t get predictable and stay in one place or have enough staff participate in supervision that it allows you to be in more than one place at a time.

5.        Ask yourself, if I wanted to get away from the adults where would I go…then go there…

6.       We have so much to do, but we have to make time to be dad and mom before, during, and after school.

7.       Supervision is important

Just some thoughts about your daily routines as a school administrator….

So…have you checked the restrooms or behind the cafeteria, lately?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vocabulary: The Secret Ingredient for Student Success

According to E.D. Hirsch, Jr., “Words don’t speak their own meaning.” (Interview on Turnitin; The Wealth in Words; October 6, 2014, Student Success Week 2014)

Robert Marzano notes, “Direct teaching of vocabulary might be one of the most underused instructional activities in K-12 education.” (A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works, 2001, p. 293)

Mr. Smith used to create lists of 25 words that we had to memorize their spelling and definitions. The words were not connected to the context of the subject matter…they were just words that he thought would do us good to know. Not sure where he got them from, but I am sure that he thought he was doing something that was good for us. Unfortunately, we memorized the words for the test and then quickly did a brain dump…oh, come on you know what I am talking about…you leave the classroom…tilt your head at a 45 degree angle and tap slightly on your head not too far from your ear to cause those words to spill out of your brain…There you go…that is a brain dump!
The kids need help understanding the academic words of their classes. It does not come simply because the teacher talks about the words or because the kids may have memorized a few words (or mess of words) for a test.

(Robert Marzano)

Let’s take a look at Marzano’s Six Steps for Teaching Vocabulary:

1.     The teacher provides a description, explanation, or example of the new term.  
2.     The teacher asks students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
3.     The teacher asks students to construct a picture, picto- graph, or symbolic representation of the term. 
4.     The teacher engages students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
5.     The teacher periodically asks students to discuss the terms with one another.
6.     The teacher involves students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.

Go to this link for some excellent examples and descriptions of this process…

Here are a couple more links for the same process…

For more ideas on Teaching Vocabulary take a look at my Pinterest Boards…

Also, take a look at resources on vocabulary instruction from Marzano Labs

Take a close look at what you are doing with the academic vocabulary in your classes….

Are you spending time working with the words?

Remember even your high level kids need help with understanding the words of the content.

So what are you waiting for?

…take a close look at Marzano’s 6 Steps and start making plans to engage kids with content academic vocabulary!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 6th...Last Day to Register to Vote in Georgia

Don't forget....!!!!

If you are going to vote in the November election in the State of Georgia...

You have to register no later than today...

October 6th!

If you are not from Georgia...what about in your state...?
Are you registered to vote?!

Elections are too important to ignore!
Take time and Register!

Check out an earlier post about this as well as my podcast episode about the candidates for state superintendent.

Have an awesome day!