If you are reading this in July, you most likely are ready to tackle new or different instructional/ management ideas for your upcoming school year. Now is the time for planning some different events and activities that will take place for your staff, your students and your parents. Whether you begin school in middle August or after Labor Day, putting together new activities/programs or modifying some previous ones can help bring a new spirit to your school year.
Listed below are some blog or article titles that I have located for you to review and from which to gather ideas. They are not in any particular order and more may be added as summer is about to end and/or while schools are in session.
1. “Six ways to take the groan out of Back To School Night” – In Stella Erbes’s book, What Teachers Should Know but Textbooks Don’t Show is a section designed to give teachers some special guidelines for that upcoming “Back To School Night.” It is a great little segment which has six suggestions to help generate parent enthusiasm in their child’s classroom activities. You may read the blog regarding the book at: http://edge.ascd.org/_6-ways-to-take-the-groan-out-of-Back-to-School-Night/blog/6536612/127586.html
2. “A Problem With Success” Jim Dillion in SmartBlog on Education – In this blog, the author reviews PBIS, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports with the notion that while PBIS can be a good first step for meaningful improvement, it should perhaps be the first of many steps to continue to improve and develop the learning environment. You may access this blog at: http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/07/02/a-problem-with-success/
3. “Give Students Honest Feedback” – Walt Gardner in Education Week, July, 10. In this blog, Gardner makes the point that varnishing over student ability and giving inflated grades does a diservice to the students. Do you have a staff member who does this? Read on at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2013/07/give_students_honest_feedback.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2
4. “Q & A: The Empire Middle School (California) Counselor Offers ‘Tween’ Insights – Those of us who have been and /or are currently middle school administrators are familiar with the issues related to being a “tween.” This brief blog has a few thoughts about helping these students with the middle years transition to teenage years. You may access the blog at:http://www.modbee.com/2013/07/07/2797443/school-counselor-offers-tween.html
5. “Blogging for Reluctant Writers: Have students share their ideas using sound and video” – Richard Byrne in The Digital Shift. Byrne offers suggestions for the use of technology to help bring the creative ideas from students reluctant to participate in the traditional classroom manner. You may access this blog at: http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/07/opinion/cool-tools/blogging-for-reluctant-writers-get-students-to-post-their-ideas-and-stories-using-sound-and-video-cool-tools/
6. “What Others Want” – The Principal Difference, NASSP blog site. This is a quick reference piece for building administrators, both principals and assistant principals. The blog has some scenarios and thoughts about relationships with staff members and administrators. You may access this blog at: http://nasspblogs.org/principaldifference1/2013/03/what-other-teachers-want/
7. “Flipped Learning: Take It or Leave It” – Leadership 360 – Jill Berkowiz and Ann Myers, April 13, 2013. If you have considered this approach to instruction, the authors offer sources and a checklist to use if your staff is willing to “take the plunge” with this model. You may access th blog at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/leadership_360/2013/04/flipped_learning_take_it_or_leave_it.html
8. “Active Student Engagement Goes Beyond Class Behavior Study Finds” – Sarah Sparks in Inside School Research , July 10, 2013. A topic that may be used for your faculty focus in the 2013-14 school year may be found in this blog. Three areas of research affecting student learning go beyond student behavior to look at extra factors impacting learning in middle school students. You may access this blog at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2013/07/pittsburgh–a_student_who_show.html
9. “Dealing With Difficult Parents” -Todd Whitaker in NASSP Portal blogs. This is a short blog that is helpful to building administrators as well as teachers. Classroom teachers, particularly new ones, need skills to help them deal with and defuse angry parents either during a telephone call or a conversation during a face-to-face meeting. It might be helpful to share these strategies with new teachers and use role play with an experienced teacher to act as the “parent.” You may access this information at: http://www.nassp.org/Portals/0/Content/46790.pdf
10. “Fostering Positive Behavior in Middle School Classrooms” – Melissa Shindell, NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year, 2009- NASSP Knowledge Center/Leadership Archives. Ms Shindell lists nine strategies to use in structuring and managment to increase positive interaction, communication and student empowerment in middle level classrooms. You may access this document at: http://www.nassp.org/content.aspx?topic=59586
11. “Starting With the End in Mind” – David Orphal in Center for Teaching Quality , July, 2013. This technique, also known as “Backward Planning” is not a brand new concept, but is being used by Orphal to help his students think about developing their own ideas and procedures for topics in the classroom. You may access this blog at:
12. “Response: Using ‘Brain-Based Learning’ in the Classroom” – Larry Ferlazzo in Education Week July 10. Brain- based theories applied to learning /education are not new, but perhaps you have some staff members who which to investigate this concept further. Ferlazzo provides additional resources at the site of this document. You may access it at: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2012/10/response_using_brain-based_learning_in_the_classroom.html
13, “Create Your PLN : 6 Easy Steps” – Will Richardson in Education Week, July 15. A PLN is useful as a teaching resource, but also as a learning resource. This blog provides advice and resources to help teachers develop a PLN. You may access it at: http://www.educationalleadership-digital.com/educationalleadership/201306/?pg=23&pm=2&u1=friend#pg23
14. “Middle Practices That Promote Personalization” – NASSP Knowledge Center: This is a short collection of practices and opportunities to assist middle school student with adjustments to their unique environment. You may access this this information at: http://www.nassp.org/Content.aspx?topic=56691