Make a Mark By Establishing Classroom Procedures

I’m not here to just to mark papers. I’m not here to leave a mark in a negative way. I’m in this classroom to forever make a mark on the lives of the students within my care and trust. But to get to the learning, I need to create a positive classroom environment. I have […]

My classroom after the students left 6th period

Extensity: The Essential Chrome Extension Everyone Needs

Extensity is one extension to rule them all. Extensity  will turn on and off other chrome extensions and keep your browser running lightning fast. So, this week in Indiana it was no surprise when I shared it as #1 of my essential tips for Chromebooks. One way to slow down your lightning fast Chrome browser is installing […]


Ice Bucket Challenge Bellringer

I’ll come back and add the video and more information, but the Ice Bucket Challenge gives us a great opportunity to teach digital citizenship and all kinds of great information. I’ll talk more about this later, but here is my bellringer for today in this teachable moment. My Ice Bucket Challenge Bellringer You have permission […]

ice bucket challenge
My classroom after the students left 6th period
Why I love Harry Wong’s Book: The First Days of School

This is a picture of my classroom after my 10th graders hustled out of the room sixth period Friday. It is not photoshopped and I didn’t do a thing to clean the room. I’m officially a Harry Wong fan because his book The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition has made me an even better teacher.

How I’m Leveling Up My Learning This Year: Classroom Management

Remember last Monday how I challenged us each to level up our learning? Well, my personal goal this year has been to improve the workflow and take the most frustrating things about my job and work to get those improved. It is happening as we speak.

Admitting that you want to improve classroom management is NOT admitting you’re a bad teacher. But you can go from great to greater or good to great — there is a difference. Lots of teachers do this.  A teacher without a learning goal has only the facade of being a lead learner.

The Power of a PLC

When some of the best teachers in our school said they are Harry Wong fans and suggested we study it, I wasn’t convinced. (Learn more about this PLC on a blog post I wrote for Class Dojo.) ]

As we met last May, these teachers told me and the other teachers that the students should handle everything in my room and that I could keep up with my grading every day. They told me I could quiet my classroom without saying a word. Wong challenges you to have a wordless way for students to have help.  Really? Not in my classroom. But OK, I trusted them and I need to improve in those areas, so here we go.

Our PLC studied The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition and met twice over the summer to talk procedures. My colleagues gave me advice and supported me on the frustrations of just how things were in the computer lab. They never criticized but offered support as I worked on the procedures. It is so exciting. I will take time to share some of those at some point but I just wanted to let you know: I’m doing fine, I’m leveling up learning, and making progress towards my goals for this school year.

Starting Well

I followed his Classroom Management section to the T as we started school and I can tell you that while I was unconvinced before — now I am.

How Are You Leveling Up Your Learning?

So, now, how are you doing? Are you putting in place the procedures so your classroom can flow like water? It doesn’t mean I have a quiet classroom. It doesn’t mean that I have some sort of teacher-centric classroom — quite the opposite. Learning moves center stage when the hassle gets off. Most classrooms are like a stage where a toddler has run out on front and started playing with play dough — the messes of daily hassles are show stealers.

Take the time to reread this book and to emphasize procedures. More procedures and less rules. But it takes discipline to start. All I know is I have a lovely classroom to show that we are proud of where we learn. It speaks for itself.

A big shout out to my fellow teachers Andrea Stargel, Jill Pollock, and Kirk Woodall — YOU WERE RIGHT! Thanks for encouraging all of us to be more! This is why I love our school and think I teach with some of the best teachers on the planet! You amaze me! Thanks to all of you who — by choice — came to the PLC this summer and to all of you who couldn’t come but read the book anyway and are joining our PLC this fall — YOU ROCK. 

5 practical lessons for elementary classroom inclusion

In the essay Helicopter Parent in the collection Dads of Disability I recount the events surrounding my then third-grade son Alexander’s experience dressing up as Igor Sikorsky, the father of the modern helicopter, and giving a presentation to his class. Alexander has a number of developmental, sensory, physical, and behavioral challenges. At the end of […]

dads of disability

Ready, Set, Teach: Thoughts on Beginning the School Year Well

And thus it begins, I am in the office listening to Josh Groban croon as I try to grapple with the music of life. In less than two hours I’ll be in the first faculty meeting of the year with my colleagues. Thursday we’ll have new faces along with quite a few returning ones. I’ve […]

Start your school year well.

Perhaps the weakest area of the typical one-to-one computing plan is the complete absence of leadership development for the administrative team—that is, learning how to manage the transition from a learning ecology where paper is the dominant technology for storing and retrieving information, to a world that is all digital, all the time.

Leaders must be given the training to:

  • Craft a clear vision of connecting all students to the world’s learning resources.
  • Model the actions and behaviors they wish to see in their schools.
  • Support the design of an ongoing and embedded staff development program that focuses on pedagogy as much as technology.
  • Move in to the role of systems analyst to ensure that digital literacy is aligned with standards.
  • Ensure that technology is seen not as another initiative, but as integral to curriculum.

Leaders also must learn how to support risk- taking teachers and creating cohorts of teachers across disciplines and grades who are working on innovative concepts—such as students designing libraries of tutorials to help other students learn, as Eric Marcos has done with Mathtrain.TV.

via Alan November Why Schools Must Move Beyond 1 to 1 Computing

Alan November (November Learning, 2013)

What To Do When Someone Hates You

“There is one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing. Say nothing. Be nothing.” says Aristotle. Criticism comes with breaking new ground. Criticism comes with putting yourself out there. But how do you respond when that criticism turns to hatred? Hatred is a hard thing to handle, particularly when you feel it is unjust. But I’m writing […]

what to do when someone hates you

As the owner of a company that now consults school districts in their technology plans, I have zero patience for administrators that fail to see the importance of professional development when new tech is welcomed. My feelings have been hardened by first hand experience working in education and seeing how hopeless new tech initiatives were when the assumption that “if you provide it, they will learn.”

Just laying claim to the fact that technology was purchased and dropped into classrooms doesn’t make up for the negated fact that it will be next to useless without the correct training. Not only training, either; districts need to make concentrated efforts in championing not only the functional aspects of technical aptitude, but also the integrative possibilities with how instruction can be transformed through a digital paradigm…

If teachers have a common understanding of where the technology is taking their instruction, the student body will only then be capable of being led by the next generation of instructors.

From Derrick Wlodarz “7 Big Mistakes K-12 Education Needs to Avoid in 1:1 Computing Plans” via betanews

Derrick Wlodarz (BetaNews: 7 big mistakes K-12 education needs to avoid in 1:1 computing plans, 2013)