Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reflections on #ASCD11 and my Invisible Hand

First off…let me say that I had an amazing time at the conference and came away energized and excited about what I see as my part in the educational cog, however the theme of the day had to be “Twitter/Google/Blog”. Who knew that this one theme could have such a starring role, or that my preliminary foray one year ago into the ‘tweeting/Googling/Blogging’ world would have such an impact on how my conference went….

Last winter, I found out that the grant funding my position was being redistributed – that would be away from me….. At a time when budget cuts and teacher lay-offs were happening all around me, I realized that I finally had the opportunity to pursue any open window that was available, even unconventional ones. At 47 and living in a rural southeast corner of Georgia, with no local models or mentors (at my age and position, I was the mentor!) I committed to re-imaging my ideas of education; for me and those around me.

It was a perfect storm. Unwilling to continue to tie myself to a traditional model and seek traditional positions, I became determined to proactively prepare myself for the next 20 years. I was still pounding the September issue of EL and marinating in Bill Ferriter’s article on Taking the Digital Plunge (September 2009), when the new issue of EL arrived along with Bill’s new article, Why Teachers Should Try Twitter (February, 2010)… Now at this point, I have never met Bill Ferriter, I read his articles (religiously) every issue. I admire his ability to analyze his teaching and his willingness to make changes. For me, he espoused the type of teacher leader I wanted to be and promote to those around me.

So, wanting to consider myself a progressive and technologically forward person like Bill, I did it, just like he told me to. In his article, he states… “Next, I started following the Twitter messages shared by many of the creative educators I found on the Twitter4Teachers wiki (, seeking the same kinds of people I like to exchange ideas with in real life” (pg. 73-74). I needed creative educators… I craved creative educators!

But two huge things here… Twitter and wiki’s. The fist I felt reasonably comfortable with, the second would send me to Lucy Gray and the Global Education Collaborative, followed by Edutopia. At the same time, Bill Gates released his first annual letter from the Gates Foundation and announced his new web page, The Gates Notes. I learned about Academic Earth and Doug Lemov, and TED. …I got so lost in the possibilities; I completely missed adding the one person to my network that started my network!

Through all of this I am coming into contact with the most amazing, creative, and thoughtful educators. I wanted more… I learned how to set up a RSS feed. I learned Google, iGoogle, Google this, and Google that. Guess you know which reader I picked, huh? So Google Reader is my forum and I figured out how to get it on my phone. I added NPR news, Edutopia, NEA, and Microsoft Press Pass. I have learned how to navigate YouTube and Skype! I have a gmail AND a Hotmail account to work “The Cloud”.

As my twitter/ blogger/information gathering world became more sophisticated, I added more people to my follow list, I added more blogs and refined others so that I wasn’t duplicating information. Nothing like getting a Tweet from NPR, a feed in your Reader file, and an email all telling you the same thing… enough already…..! Through it all – I have found that I am not alone in my quest for excellence - @web20classroom reminds me to “Be Awesome Today” every day on my way to work; @ktenkley feeds me the newest and coolest easy to incorporate ideas to share with my coworkers using web based applications; @plugusin and @NMHS_Principal offer thoughtful and insightful commentary on the state of my world; you get the picture. I currently follow 106 people/organizations on Twitter and receive RSS feeds from 18 different blogs (only a few that are duplicated). I don’t post much, only 282 tweets so far in a year of membership – mostly re-tweets and have only 57 followers. And while I have a blog, this will be the first post that I have made in 3 months and I have 0 followers for that one! I am a member of Edutopia, Global Education Collaborative, ASCDEdge, and Classroom 2.0.

My life is not the most efficient – in my quest for a new job, I got 4 or 5: high school co-teacher; college adjunct – brick and mortar; college adjunct – online; and consultant – started my own company. I am also a student – working on my online endorsement for my certificate and all of this comes on top of my most important jobs of wife and mother. I am going to have to week my jobs like I did my feeds… :-)

Of the dedicated educators that I work with on a daily basis, I am one of only 3 that have and actively use a smartphone for anything outside of email. Most of my PLN is the face to face/ email variety. 99% of them have never heard of a QR code, have visited an Apple Store, or App Marketplace. If I can’t share something by email and include the link, the chances of me being able to share with my fellow educators are minimal.

I take every opportunity to share and model my learning for and with students. I have shown them LiveBinders, StudyBlue, Google Slam, Microsoft OneNote, etc. I pull up TED and have introduced students to Khan Academy, Academic Earth, and iTunesU. – Please do not dismiss me, my peers, or our impact because you cannot find the visibility of our work - We are an Invisible Hand in this world of numbers determined by ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, and ‘Views’ and we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts,... the visible ones out there who give us the inspiration and resources on a daily basis to share with others.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Look in the Mirror

Okay… I have lived in the ivory tower of district office administration for 4 years and am finally back in the classroom after a lay-off of 7 years. Yes… the first day of school was freaky frightening facing my first 11th grade homeroom! However, for 4 years I was in the position to have to tell my peers what to do, how to do it, and in such a manner that they were convinced that it would work… no matter what their intelligence said to the contrary! And now it is time for me to see if what I was preaching was really doable… So here are the results from my first semester back….

My belief system is that the key to an effective classroom is organization and planning.

Is it possible to do all the things that we (Ivory Tower Gurus) know to be effective in the amount of time that we (Ivory Tower Guru’s) have allotted in our instructional periods?

I answer a resounding YES! With the caveat of that magical “IF” we (Reality Based Instructional Staff) have the appropriate time to plan and organize our lesson.

As the details and expectations increase so to must the planning time to achieve the desired end. Therefore – a note to administration…. If you expect effective teachers to meet and exceed your desired level of effective instruction, you (Administrative Honcho’s) must be prepared to:

Limit the amount of preparations (courses taught at the secondary level) by any teacher

  • Bell to bell instruction requires a tremendous amount of planning and organizational structure. To ask a teacher to plan bell to bell for more than one unrelated subject is asking for all but one of the classes to be shorted.
And I mean ‘tight’ relationships… Biology and AP Biology is okay… 2 different classes in the same instructional family are not. Even if you have another teacher writing the plans and collaboratively sharing… it doesn’t work, I wish it did… So, you must choose – and if you assign more than 1 preparation, make allowances knowing that you are putting the teachers in a position to not be as effective as they could be.

  • As much as we administrators would like to believe otherwise … teachers do have lives outside of the school.. (SHOCK…GASP!).
We have made adjustments in our thinking to accommodate the different lives of our students outside of the classroom; we need to understand that our teacher’s lives outside of the school have changed as well.

As a teacher I have always been willing to come in early, and I will stay after the bell if my children don’t have ballet lessons, art lessons, doctor’s appointments, or a football game/practice/sleep over … but I do not take my work home. So if it can’t be done in the time allotted to me at school, guess what… it doesn’t get done.

I try and prioritize my daily activities so that my critical assignments are completed 1st, however, because I am still building up my repertoire in my new subject areas… that means that some things that I would like to do like plan a cool lab, etc. get put on the backburner because I had 3 unexpected meetings that cut into my planning time and now I am back to... ewww book work quickly adapted into a collaborative activity.

Allow teachers time to build up proficiency in one area and/or with a specific co-teacher before changing up their course loads

  • Okay, this semester I have 3 different co-teachers that I am working with and 2 different subject preparations.
    • I teach 2 Economics classes with 2 different teachers and 1 World History class. 
    • The students on my instructional caseload range from independent with minor accommodations to IQ’s of 42 but adaptive skills that put them in the MID range landing them in the general education setting.
    • 1 Econ teacher teaches the textbook and 1 Econ teacher is learning how to teach the frameworks (our suggested state course map developed through teacher collaboration). So neither teacher is teaching the same thing at the same time. My co-teacher in World History has only 1 section of WH and 2 World Geography classes. She has taught the text book before but is now moving into using the frameworks.
    • I may get to work with 1 of the Econ teachers again next semester… that will be the only consistency in my schedule.
  • The administrative expectations for me (and yeah… they and the teachers I work with know my background in instruction….) are to: 
    • Teach the GPS standards to proficiency in an effective standards based classroom environment using Best Practices.
      • This would be demonstrated by 80% of my students passing the required, standardized, on grade level, End of Course Exam with a score of 80%.
    • Develop an effective co-teaching environment that allows for collaboration and effective differentiated instruction that meets the needs of all the students in the room by:
      • Making appropriate accommodations, not modifications (they are receiving Carnegie unit credit), 
      • Progress monitoring the students on my instructional caseload on a bi-monthly basis as indicated on their IEP, chart my data, and send it home every 4.5 weeks.
      • Communicating and interceding on behalf of all the students on my caseload, regardless of whether or not they are on my instructional load.
And I can do this… BUT… I need a foundation of effective instruction to build from.


    • The instruction in the existing classroom is textbook driven…
    • Is content teacher directed and the kids still sit in rows…
    • The Smart Board/Promethean Board is used as a projector screen…
    • The students assigned to my instructional caseload are inappropriately placed…
    • Don’t have access to or a space for my cart…
I am going to fail in some way to meet your expectations and/or my student’s needs.

So I have spent the semester:

    • Working with my co-teachers to develop a relationship that may or may not ever be used again.
    • Introduced some instructional ideas that are based around best practices of a standards based classroom (to mixed reviews)
    • Differentiated where I could and modified the curriculum where I couldn’t
    • Don’t even ask me about Progress monitoring or why my test scores suck …. Just write me up.
Set a clear and consistent mission… belief statement… priority… for your instructional staff. Be clear on what you want me to accomplish, and then put me in a position to be successful in meeting those expectations.

Since being out of the tower and back in reality… there is not much that has changed in my initial belief on effective instruction… the key to an effective classroom is organization and planning. If, as an administrator, I am not getting effective instruction from my staff, I need to look in the mirror to the amount of organization and planning that I am putting in to placing them in positions to be effective.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Education in Crisis...Oh The Possibilities....

Before we start this I need to put in a disclaimer… I have the utmost respect for the many superintendents, principals, and local boards of education that are being forced into making horrible choices. I believe that good superintendents, principals, and local boards of education will continue to make good (if difficult) decisions and those that weren’t so good – well there is no place to hide anymore, high test scores brought about by community demographics aren’t going to help you now and heaven help the children in districts that were already struggling.

The K-12 education crisis in rural Coastal Georgia is similar to the K-12 education crisis striking other districts everywhere. When the market started crashing in late 2007, many looked at education with the idea that a degree and certification in education represented consistency and a ‘safe zone’ of protection with a guaranteed salary, benefits, and a secure retirement; certainly a field that you would feel safe investing $60 - $70,000 in an advanced degree. Now, as the economy appears to be turning around, K-12 education is hit exponentially hard. And just when the numbers are starting to creep up, the unemployment rate is getting ready to take another hard hit as teachers across the nation begin losing their paychecks and join the rolls of unemployed. Oh, and you can count me as one of those unfortunate souls.

Money woes are forcing deep cuts in systems regardless of size, stature, or effectiveness. Good systems, bad systems, regular systems that just keep their nose down and do their job – all systems are feeling the impact of idealism – what we should be doing and aspire to do… and reality – what we can afford and can fund. What we ‘used’ to offer and published as why we were so good…the advanced classes, orchestra and fine arts, technology, IB, and Advanced Placement… and reality – what are the bare necessities that we must continue to offer just to call ourselves a local education agency or school when faced with a $3 - $30 million dollar fund evaporation. As we struggled to meet the needs of every child and educated our communities on why that was important and necessary (some of us better than others) – we now have to figure out how we are going to explain why we can’t do that anymore. Because if advanced math was necessary for my child in 2009-2010, why is it not necessary for my child in 2010-2011 and you’re cutting all the fine arts too? And what about that ‘highly qualified’ thingy – you mean that my child’s strings teacher will no longer be teaching strings because she is now going to teach social studies? But she’s a strings teacher, not a social studies teacher – oh, social studies isn’t counted towards AYP…. Hmmm…and you’re going to give her a remedial math class too? Hmmm…I thought they were in remedial math because they were having trouble…a strings teacher, oh a teacher can teach one or two classes out of field and it doesn’t count towards your highly qualified status, oh… okay.

Then there is the problem of who to cut… the strings teacher, the 28 year veteran who is just trying to make it to retirement and hasn’t changed her teaching strategies since the early 1980’s, or the new teacher with the most incredible hands on approaches and latest technology integration who doesn’t have tenure and isn’t ‘from here’? What about the 30+ veteran who has dedicated his or her whole life as a professional and continues to lead the school in both mentoring of new teachers and leading the charge in updating her teaching skills but is on a year to year because technically she has retired versus the 10 year veteran who calls in sick on average of once or twice a week and has been known to turn the lights off and put in a movie when her head hurts from being out late and you should be glad she just came to school at all? Politically, are we going to take the path of least resistance or the ideal path because both sets of questions are housed in the same small school and there is no way to do this easy…and you know, my job on the line too and it is an election year!

How do we meet the needs of the talented and gifted, needs of the 21st Century Learner, and needs of the struggling learner from low socio economic background who moves on average of every 6 months in an aging system that would cost more to fix than to tear down and start all over when the state has:

• eliminated the requirement for professional learning to meet continuous certification;
• raised class sizes so that systems can reduce staff;
• raised the per pupil limits and eliminated funding for school counselors;
• relaxed the instructional calendar to give systems flexibility in selecting the number of days versus hours of instruction students receive;
• allowed systems to furlough teachers up to an unlimited number of days from the calendar as long as they don’t raise administrator salaries?

Reality is that a superintendent can set a 170 day instructional calendar meeting the minimum instructional hour requirement with a teacher contract of 180 days (an automatic 10 day pay cut), and STILL have enough days to furlough teachers an additional 10 days if he/she needed to. However, by doing so, that same superintendent can save the jobs and health insurance and ongoing retirement benefits of the 20 or so teachers he/she would have had to eliminate without some creative budget control. So who wins, the school system that doesn’t have to eliminate any new or tenured teachers, or the families like mine that could be looking at a minimum $3,700 loss in monthly wages?

I am all for educating the ‘whole child.’ I believe strongly in preparing my children with 21st Century Skills (see previous blog). I am committed to increasing the fine arts and hands on science, math, and technology training… But it is EXPENSIVE! And unfortunately, all my eggs are in one basket – the school system can’t afford to teach my children these things and now, because I am an educator, neither can I. I have looked at what this crisis is going to cost me, approximately $43,500 this year in net annual income, fine arts, gifted and remedial programs for my children provided by ‘others’, and an amazing teacher leader for our local school.

But what about what I am going to potentially gain? Because of the crisis – I have started a new career path that will allow me to be more active in my children’s education and could potentially surpass my ‘guaranteed’ income (if we don’t get kicked out of our house first), and the ability and time to impact education on a more personal level for all the children in our local community. I have been forced to evaluate my belief system of what is really important in education (translate, my children’s education) and nothing changed – I still feel the same way – however, I acknowledge that how we are going to go about getting those things – fine arts, gifted and talented programs, extreme remedial programs for struggling learners, etc. Well that is going to have to change. We are no longer going to be able to depend on the school system to help us achieve those ends in the way that they have in the past – it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen on school time, and on school property, but we are going to have to open our minds to outside assistance in reaching these goals. I am currently working with an incredibly talented certified teacher who is willing to write grants through the local art association and volunteer her time to teach art in our schools at no cost to the school system – but will they let her? Will we be willing to let our talented community members into our schools to provide non traditional instruction to our children in areas we can’t afford to provide – or will we get caught up in legalities, will it be too much trouble – for the school AND for the community member? Oh the possibilities… oh the logistics… who will win and who will lose?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

When Do I Stop Being a Teacher? Weisure and the Digital Age

Many of us are aware of the positive and negative impact that the rapid expansion of social technologies such as Facebook, MySpace, SMS and IM has had on our personal connectedness and in our student’s lives. As professionals, many of us have expressed excitement about the collaborative possibilities that come with working ‘in the cloud’ and concern over the seeming lack of guidance over conduct. What are the rules? Who is going to decide what is the accountability standard?

I am a 46 year old just made it into Gen X’er who lives in a small town located on the coast of Georgia. I am a registered user on Facebook, Skype, and have joined several professional learning circles that connect me via Twitter and RSS feeds. Most of my connectedness revolves around my professional life, but just like many of the teachers now entering into the profession, I started my Facebook profile as a personal entity.

Because I am not a new teacher, many of my ‘friends’ are fellow teachers. Initially, we used Facebook as a mass messaging tool to set up beach Fridays and to share vacation pictures. Eventually, as school got rolling again, we moved to discussing the latest snag in implementing a district initiative and other school related issues. As professionals, we have had abstract discussions about whether or not we should have students as friends and appropriate profile settings. My daughters’ teachers were ‘friends’ before they became their teachers and I confess I am guilty of using the personal messaging feature to discuss my children’s progress and address areas of concern. For me, my relationships on Facebook have blurred the line between parent, professional, and friend. In an article for NPR, Joshua Brockman identified Dalton Conley, a New York University professor who has even coined a name for it, weisure, the blurring between work and leisure.

Nevertheless, there are definitely warning signs on the horizon. Today, more and more Generation Next, sometimes called Millennial, or Generation Y learners are entering our classrooms as teachers. Born between 1980 and 2000, they are characterized by their use of technology and their ability to adapt and integrate it into their personal and professional lives. While Boomers and X’ers continue to struggle with how to effectively, safely, and with etiquette incorporate emerging technologies into our personal/ instructional/professional lives, perhaps the bigger and more immediate dilemma rising is - How do we proactively put policy in place to protect our teachers and provide guidance on how to separate their existing personal technologies from their professional identities? Can we answer the question – “When do I stop being a teacher?” Or “How did I find myself in Weisure World and do I need to find the exit?”

Although well documented in the business world, the culture clash between generational technology users in education has never more evident. In 2009, a young Georgia teacher was asked to resign from her position at a public high school because of a curse word and pictures which depicted her holding alcoholic beverages while on vacation in Europe. This did not take place at school; the pictures and use of the curse word were posted on her Facebook page and reported to her administrator. While the teacher has maintained that the page was a private entity and that neither students nor parents had access to it, the administrator stated that he found her “online conduct to be unacceptable” and warranted her immediate suspension and possible termination (Civil Case No. 09CV-3083X). He advised her that she could prevent further disciplinary action by tending her immediate resignation (WSB Article).

The rapid deployment of new wireless technologies such as smart phones, IPhones, wireless enabled eReaders, and the new, and much anticipated, IPad, have made needing to connect to the armor protected school networks almost obsolete. According to data from the CTIA – The Wireless Association, there were over 257 million data-capable devices in consumer’s hands by the end of 2009. In addition, over 1.5 trillion SMS messages were sent, most by Gen Next users who average 1472 per month. State, district, local, and individual teacher web pages are now the norm. Whether done well or not, it is expected by industry professionals and parents that each school has a dedicated website that enables them to post information for parents and interested perusers.

More and more, local and state agencies are encouraging the use of existing technologies and social networking sites such as Google, Moodle, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter. From the main page on my state Department of Education website, I can become a Facebook fan of our state school superintendent and follow the happenings on Twitter. My local school district also has a Twitter account for dispersing information to the community and parents. However, there are conflicting guideposts for technology use which may or may not be determined by socio economic or rural/ urban status settings.

Some districts have truly embraced technology as a formative and creative tool used to encourage collaboration and higher order thinking. On the other hand, more often than not, the majority of Gen X and Baby Boomer teachers and administrators have never had opportunities to explore technology as anything other than a new way to do the old work. They may or may not be aware of the extent that technology is being used in their school, district, or by Gen Next teachers and millennial learners and therefore have no way to proactively deal with issues until there is a perceived problem.

One working example involves a rural, low socio economic district in SE Georgia where I have observed teachers and students accessing information blocked by the school’s network on cell phones in order to answer questions brought up during a discussion. Yet, this same district still has to hold basic computer application courses for teachers who have not figured out how to take attendance using the school’s student information system. It is not uncommon for other area teachers to use personal air cards and wireless hubs at school to access streaming video and YouTube so that students can create projects in Prezi and Google WAVE using imbedded video. I have used my phone to post to a social networking site while conducting a teacher observation because of the joy I felt in watching two teachers who are truly artisans at their craft.

Much to my mother’s horror, I have thrown the established policy manual out the door and have decided to swim in the deep-end of uncharted waters. So too are the thousands of Gen Next teachers who are entering into our profession with a backpack full of connection habits and no idea how to meld their new professional identifies with their ‘backstage selves.'

My personal philosophy of teaching revolves around putting students in situations where they can be successful; giving them full access to the tools that they will need to meet my expectations and goals I have set for them. As I have moved into administration, my students have become less middle-school aged and more just plain old middle aged, however, my philosophy has not changed – I still need to put those who depend on me in positions where they have the tools they need so that they can be successful. This means ensuring that we all have a working understanding of not only the expected dress code, but the possible professional and personal consequences and ramifications of how we incorporate technology into our lives and our classrooms.

Mike Simpson has written an excellent piece for NEA Today entiltled Social Networking Nightmares. The article encompases both horror stories as well as some practical advice and is well worth checking out. But for those of you not wishing to burst the bubble, appear to be tattling, or looking to avoid the 'permission' question but are afraid 'forgiveness' might not be on the table... Here are four questions designed to start a discussion about weisure and networking technologies:

1. How do the emerging new technologies and 21st Century Learning Skills fit with our current mission statement?

2. Do our current school policies and course offerings incorporate these new technologies and skills to meet the needs of our teachers and learners or do we need to make some changes?

3. Do we see ourselves using Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites to engage and communicate with parents and the community at large? How will these technologies affect teachers? Students?

4. What training and professional learning do we need to ensure due diligence on the part of our district towards teachers incorporating technology into the classroom?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I am a Co-Teacher... Now What? What is Effective Co-Teaching?

Spring has sprung and many school districts will be looking at changing up their continuum of special education services and adding more Co Teaching to the plate.  Whether or not you are currently in a Co-Teaching Model or anticipate becoming a member of a Co-Teaching team, knee jerk reactions sometimes follow..."Why me?"... "Who are you?"... "Not him/her!"… Now is the time to start preparing for an effective next year.

In all honesty, the method we use to determine the actual effectiveness of your Co-Teaching team, is not whether or not the co teachers are there for the whole time… the co teachers speak to each other at the end of the year… or how many kids get sent to ISS, put on a BIP, or sent back to residential placement. Effective co teaching classrooms are determined by student performance. If we are effective teachers (showing up for class with a great plan)… effective teachers working together (speak to and plan with each other)… and offer effective instruction (not just one method for 170 school instruction days with 10 days for assessment)… our efforts should result in objective data that indicates higher levels of student achievement.

Federal law identifies that ALL students are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The State of Georgia has identified the basic public education curriculum to be our identified Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). Our school system has identified co teaching as the preferred model for ‘inclusion’ of students with disabilities in the general education setting. The end result is that, for the most part, every child enrolled in the Long County School system will have access to the GPS curriculum in the general education setting.

Having a designated co teacher immediately identifies a specific class as having ‘a wide variety of abilities’ and interests. However, I would challenge any teacher any where to find a class they teach that doesn’t have ‘a wide variety of abilities’ and interests (even among high achiever and gifted students). Therefore, in order to meet the needs of all of our students and provide access to the GPS, we must become proficient at scaffolding, differentiated the instruction, and holding all of our students accountable to the language and intent of the standards.

Hopefully your leadership team will take the time before school ends to set up success for next year - but if not, there are some things that you can do before that first bell rings... However, I recommend three aditional abstracct goals that will help you explore and create a professional focus for your team:

  1. You each need to set a personal goal—Based around your personal growth as a professional - this is personal. 
  2. You both must agree to a team goal for planning (at least 1 - 2 hours per week) —this is Non negotiable. 
  3. You both must agree to an instructional strategy goal— One is negotiable around an idea and will guide how you grow in this model.

Once you have your goals, you can begin to identify the effective best practices and instructional strategies you want to explore. I recommend that you committ to trying at least 1 new instructional model (there are about 6 identified) around every 2 weeks until you have worked the kinks out and have a good idea of what works good where....
Here comes the NERD REVIEW:

There have been multiple texts and surveys available (just Google or Bing it, or try this Amazon link) that get into the practical aspects of how to share a teaching space but, after attending multiple directional meetings, discussing and identifying with various district and school level initiatives, I have pulled the following resources for specific highlight to use in professional development in Co Teaching.

The focus of these selections is effective teaching practices using differentiated instruction as the foundation. Not only will these selections assist you in meeting  your needs in Co-Taught classes, but also for your other “mixed ability” classes as well.

The first resource that I have chosen is Carol Ann Tomilinson’s How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, 2nd Edition. She offers a great metaphor for foundation of a differentiated classroom and probably where we are headed—Director of the Orchestra—The director of the orchestra helps the musicians make music (different instruments with individual, small group, and whole group time), but does not make the music him/herself.

The second resource is Cindy A. Strickland’s Professional Development for Differentiating Instruction. A lot of the tools and activities that we will work on will come from this resource. While I love this resource for the tools, etc. that allow me to create (hopefully) engaging activities for is not one that I would recommend for a just a good read—unless you want to develop your own professional development series on differentiated instruction!

The last resource that we will target is Marzano & Pickering’s Building Academic Vocabulary Teacher’s Manual. Again, I would put this in your professional library, and if you have any other resources that you would like for me to look at—Never Work Harder Than Your Students, etc. let me know and I will pick them up.

Good luck and remember - you can always find me here - or on Twitter under debra_robinson if you have any questions.

Dr. ThinkPot