Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Practicing What We Teach

On Opening Day, I mentioned that one of the aspects of thriving was being ALIVE- tapping into the things we are passionate about and looking to spark a similar passion in our students. A few examples of this involve student and teacher authors within our own district... 

One of our High School English teachers, Eric Devine, was recently featured in an interview on WNYT in which he discussed the release of his second young adult novel entitled Tap Out.  When I watched this interview, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great model it was for Eric's English students. 

In fact, one of the first times I visited BH-BL High School, Chris Gangemi introduced herself to me in the lobby and beamed with pride over the collection of books that some of our 9th and 10th graders had written and published. An entire collection of these books was on display in the high school lobby showcase.  I remember thinking to myself how great it must make those kids feel to know that they created something so tangible and unique to themselves. I have no doubt that other students are inspired to write themselves as they pass by that showcase and see that collection.

Over the summer I received a copy of a book entitled: Sincerely written by current BH-BL eleventh grader Erin Billings. Sincerely tells the story of a teen, Lucy, who is bullied and made fun of because of a disability.  Using Lucy's diary entries, the author shows how the teen struggles through the harassment and ultimately stands up to her bully. (Erin's book is available on Amazon and it would be really cool if it fit into a class or anti-bullying initiative within the district.)

These examples- while they each happen to be related to writing- remind us of a larger point: Anytime we can bring relevance and authenticity to the things we ask students to do, we will spark interest and passion among them. We instantly answer the question "Why do we have to learn this?" We help them to understand how it all fits together.  I would love to learn more about (and share) the ways that our faculty and staff weave their own passions and interests into the work they ask of their students. Feel free to comment below! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school and welcome to Spartan Thinking! I will use this blog to share ideas, questions, resources and information periodically throughout the year. I will always send out a link to the district to let you know when a new post has been made, although you can subscribe to the blog and be notified automatically of new posts in a number of ways.  I will also be asking some of you to guest blog here as well. If there is something that is on your mind and you think it may positively benefit our school community, feel free to drop me a line...

Opening Day- I wanted to follow-up on the opening day assembly with some resources and a few quick words of thanks...

First of all, thanks to Christy Multer for her tireless work behind the scenes. I know that it was driving Christy crazy that I didn't have my remarks in to her last week! Her attention to detail is incredible. Many people may not realize the kind of time and energy Christy puts into this Opening Day- and every initiative she gets involved with.  Her passion and love for this district is contagious. Thanks Christy!

Thanks to Kate Gurley and the entire Opening Day Committee as well... Tim, Ellen, and Nick Sinnenberg made organizing the music a family affair! Thanks to the kids and faculty who helped out with the song.  Thanks also to John Capano, Ann-Marie Mueller, and Chris Lombardi for organizing the technology and audio to go off without a hitch. Thanks to Chris Abdoo for making the trip to recognize our long-tenured staff. Finally thanks to Rick all of the introductions and for way that he has provided a solid and encouraging consistency throughout this whole transition period.

Here are a few resources from this morning:

Poll Everywhere-  www.polleverywhere.com- the polling site. You can embed the polls into powerpoint, websites, or Prezis. Accounts are free for polls of up to 40 respondents at a time.

Prezi- The Zooming Presentation Editor- www.prezi.com-this site just keeps getting better all the time... its cloud based, so it archives all of your presentations online. It takes a little investment of time to watch the trainign videos and stuff, but i could see teachers developing some really cool interactive lessons with this. And they are all available online to your students outside of class. They have an educator plan that you apply for and you will get a lot of extras. 

Spark Institute- http://www.search-institute.org/sparks - This was an interesting site I came across the other day and mentioned today. It talks specifically about helping kids (and adults) find their spark... their passion... the interest, joy, or activity that really inspires and excites you. Might be worth a look.

Here are the two videos i mentioned that should really inspire us to STRIVE:

Finally.. i thought you might enjoy seeing a Word Cloud of where we all vacationed this summer. This was generated in www.wordle.net using the answers you gave to question #1.  (The larger the word, the more it was used in the answers given.)

I hope you have a great start to the 2012-12 School Year!