Showing posts from December, 2015

Why Every Teacher Should Write Like a Spider

Image Source: Pixabay This is what it feels like. The idea is there. It might develop because of a conversation. That conversation reminds you of a lesson you taught, a workshop you participated in, or an article you read. The idea is the fibrous web that connects all of those things together. At this point, though, the web is only in your head. You're not sure where each of the strands will be, but you know they will be there. At this stage you have a constant nagging need to nurture it until it is fully formed. So, as the day goes on you take quick notes. Maybe they're on a notepad or on your phone. Each note is a strand of the idea web. You methodically record each note, starting to design the structure of the web. Once you have a basic outline that connects all of the pieces, you start to write. Those notes are now subheadings, and the details on each of those big ideas become paragraphs under the subheadings. Once it is done, you sit back and look at the web. You

Guest Post: Empathy as Understanding

By Dan Ryder Empathy isn’t a just touchy-feely, get-to-know-your-neighbors, appreciate-the-rich-tapestry-of-our-community, we-are-the-better-for-truly-understanding-the-perspective-of-another exercise in character building.  When employed in classroom, empathy proves a nimble and dynamic tool for critical thinking, authentic understanding and demonstrating proficiency.   I’ve long taught the value of diversity, tolerance and understanding of others’ points of view.  For some time I served as co-advisor for our campus Civil Rights Team, developed interactive theater experiences around social justice issues, and raised consciousness in my classroom through music and film.  But it wasn’t until I adopted design thinking -- empathy-fueled, human-centered problem solving --  as my preferred pedagogical lens that I became aware of how useful intentional empathy could be in the content areas. What follows is something of a prototypical day in my English classroom at Mt. Blue Cam

Instant Feedback in the Classroom

Author's Note: This article originally appeared in St. John's Prep Today . I had the privilege of working with co-authors Director of Communications Elizabeth Forbes and Digital Learning Specialist Julie Cremin to put it together. Follow St. John's Prep on Twitter @stjohnsprep . In Alexandra Horelik’s history class, the iPads are open and students are intently reading about the first European colonists in New England and responding to questions. Look a little closer and you’ll see that as they read, Alexandra and her students are getting instant feedback about their progress. Alexandra Horelik's laptop displays her students' answers instantly, making it easy to adjust lessons on the go. From grade 6 through 12, students like Alexandra’s are engaged, teachers are able to assess students’ understanding in real time, and the classroom experience becomes more personalized. All of this is happening at the Prep thanks to formative assessment, a teaching and l

What I learned from my students last week

I guess they are more like reminder lessons than brand new lessons, but through my students' eyes it became clear that these values are more important than ever. As educators and learners, we are always moving, connecting, sharing, and experiencing the world around us thanks to this Renaissance of innovation, thanks to this digital age. It is important to stay grounded, even when we are feeling like we are in a whirlwind of progress. Here are the clear focused reminders from my students of the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Leadership Institute , which occurred in Walt Disney World last week. We are all in this together. As the week started, the students entered the orientation room together. They chatted amongst themselves and even partnered quickly when asked to tackle their first leadership task. I was impressed that, even though they were thrown into unfamiliar circumstances and were being directed by unfamiliar educators, they shared resources and ideas and encouragemen