Monday, December 27, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
My son has been playing piano since he was six. Now nine, I have been noticing his fingers more and more and how much more fluid his movements are between chords. I love watching the ease he now exhibits. What I realized today when I snapped this picture was I have been watching real learning in action. I can actually "see" the learning take shape and can witness his "getting it." It's pretty cool. Actually, it's really cool.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
While doing rounds to classrooms today second block, I found Ms. Foster working with a section of grade 6 in Life Skills. Each student made a paper cut out, life size, and pasted images from magazines on the cut out that they thought said something personal - like a picture of a peace symbol, a car, people running, a swimming pool, a baseball player, shopping bags. Each student was asked by another student to explain why they picked the images they did for their cut out. One by one, each student explained to the class the reasons they picked the images.
The purpose, as explained to the kids by Ms. Foster, is simple - the more you know something about someone, the less likely you are to bully them. This is tremendous stuff to teach kids early and is another example of our commitment to a culture of caring at MPH. I was so pleased with what I stumbled upon this morning - Ms. Foster intentionally teaching kids about community and kindness.
Have a super weekend -
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
So what's next? What does MPH do next to keep this conversation going and to take a leadership role? I heard from parents, teachers and students this week during conferences and at the supermarket who want to investigate and engage in this dialogue now more than ever.
I have an idea on how we can facilitate this community need: put together another event, sponsored by MPH, showcasing our commitment to 21st Century learning, to innovative teaching, and to helping students grow up to be capable performers. In the new year, MPH should design a weekend around this idea, where we can showcase what we do, have speakers discuss the importance 21st Century learning and define what 21st Century learning actually "is." Can if happen? I think so. We have already started the discussions here...and this a why MPH is such a great place to work - and to send your kids to school. What other Pk - 12 school in CNY is willing to embrace the life of the mind with such conviction and curiosity? I love it.
Monday, November 15, 2010
The film contends that high-stakes testing contributes to cheating, stress-related illness, depression, and burnout and has largely replaced meaningful teaching and learning.
“The message in this film really must be heard by parents and educators, by all of us who love and work with children,” said Baxter Ball, head of school at MPH.
“The current obsession with tests, the pressure to out-perform everyone else in everything from academics to sports and music, the competition to get into the so-called ‘best’ colleges… this is all placing unprecedented stress on students today,” Ball said.
The audience is invited to remain, following the film, to participate in a discussion with local childhood experts and educators on issues raised in the film. The discussion panel will include Jeffery Mangram, assistant professor in Syracuse University’s School of Education; Dewey Meyers, Ph.D., child psychologist; Paul Gasparini, principal of Jamesville-DeWitt High School; Fatima El-Hindi, founder of the NAS Learning Center, a private weekend school that offers instruction in Arabic and Islamic history; and Baxter Ball, head of school at MPH.
“Race to Nowhere,” being screened in select locations across the country, raises issues fundamental to the current debate over education in America. Said Ball: “Its messages about the impact on students of competition, testing, excessive homework, and the pressure to achieve deserve our immediate attention.”
Monday, November 8, 2010
So it's not so incredible to think of students as problem solvers when it comes to tech. Perhaps a school's tech department should think the same the next time the wireless goes down...
Monday, November 1, 2010
Read more: Childhood is another country | The Compass Point http://www.pdscompasspoint.com/?p=3624#ixzz14418NYYW
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
However, the most important question he posed was the following: "what is an institution's responsibility?"
We at MPH in the Middle School take bullying very seriously. We have a working, clear definition of bullying. We have a program, called Olweus, that is tested around the world. We have a document, the Commitment to Community, that is discussed and signed by all members in the community. We will have numerous speakers in, from the DeWitt Police Department and Vera House, to Community Centers and Dojos. We do an online climate survey on bullying, with all students. We have books assigned to faculty for summer reading. We created a class, Life Skills, to address issues. We go to workshops and seminars for more research and data. We have advisors versed in the issues and trained to work with kids on relational aggression. We communicate all of this to faculty, students and parents - in person, in groups, in the mail and with email. And then we communicate it again. And again. We do an unbelievable job.
As the author states "leadership cannot split hairs and decline to get involved. It's their job, like it or not. How they respond matters, and the key is to be pro-active, not wait until something awful happens. The good news, as I will explain, is that the law is on their side." I agree. This is what we do, and we do it better than any school I know.
He goes on to write, "First consider how non-public schools function. Most have a code of conduct, one that their students must accept. So if a student from Andover, St. Joseph's or Pencey Prep does something on a weekend that is an egregious violation of the behavior code and is caught, that student would suffer the consequences. No way the school head could drop that "not my responsibility" line and get away with it.
And parents and students at these schools are made aware of the rules, which are spelled out in detail. As Patrick Bassett, the head of the National Association of Independent Schools, notes, "Parents and students are often required to sign a document indicating that they have read and agree to the expectations as specified in the Student Handbook."
"Bassett says public schools can copy this approach. "Any school, public or private, can make character a core element of its standards and program. Any school that doesn't do that fails to educate the whole child. The 3 Rs of the academic curriculum ('reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic) must be accompanied by the 3 Rs of the character curriculum, (respect, responsibility, relationships)."
The key point here from Bassett as well as the author is that schools embrace values. And having values is "generally a 24/7 proposition." This is what we believe in the Middle School. This is what needs to be done at all schools, not just MPH.
To read more from Merrow, go to his blog - http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/
Saturday, October 9, 2010
"There was supposed to be a football game between Lawrence Academy and St. George’s on Friday, but some adults wisely put safety ahead of athletics.
St. George’s, a Newport, R.I., school that went winless last year, was slated to match up against Lawrence Academy, a football powerhouse in Groton that won all its games last year, and most by 40 points or more. Lawrence Academy’s roster features 300-plus-pound behemoths and future Division I stars, while St. George’s is not known for football prowess. It was a mistake to schedule this mismatch in the first place. And despite the St. George’s team’s promising 2-0 start this year, the headmaster and athletic director there had ample reason to pull out.
Predictably, a few outraged armchair quarterbacks are now complaining that the adults at St. George’s are teaching their kids to be quitters. But given the physical differences between the teams, neither side would have gained anything from what would likely have been a lopsided victory for Lawrence, and there would have been a heightened risk of injury for the smaller St. George’s players.
At a time when high schools and colleges are growing more aware of the injury risks in football — but when athletic fervor is at an all-time high — St. George’s acted courageously by walking away."
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
- Broad and creative learning
- Professional responsibilities
- Slow learning
- Owning a dream: building a shared inspirational vision of what good education system school and teaching look like. Appointing education professionals to leadership positions.
Sounds good to me.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Peter has a new book of poems out titled Ziggurat. As stated in the Armenian Weekly, "as a young man in the late 1960′s, Peter Balakian was a mail runner in downtown Manhattan, working in and around the building site of the World Trade Center as the towers slowly took shape and began to fill with people and businesses. And, like so many others, he watched in mute horror on September 11 as they fell. In his long poem “A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy”—which forms the centerpiece of his new book, Ziggurat—he weaves the story of their rise and fall into a complex personal and cultural account of life and loss in New York in the final decades of the 20th century."
At dinner we spoke of his books, his children, the Armenians, and writers. Peter used to teach and coach football at a prep school in NJ too, which lead me to ask him to come to MPH to read. He said he would, but I remembered it would be wise to get on his calendar now - he is a busy guy, and a true poet too boot. We'll see!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Last night I read and posted the clip on '21 Things That Became Obsolete in the Last Decade1. Desks
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.2. Language Labs
Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.3. Computers
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: 'Our concept of what a computer is'. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we're going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can't wait.4. Homework
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don't need kids to 'go to school' more; we need them to 'learn' more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn't far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.6. Differentiated Instruction as the Sign of a Distinguished Teacher
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn't yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won't make you 'distinguished'; it'll just be a natural part of your work.7. Fear of Wikipedia
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it's time you get over yourself.8. Paperbacks
Books were nice. In ten years' time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the 'feel' of paper. Well, in ten years' time you'll hardly tell the difference as 'paper' itself becomes digitized.9. Attendance Offices
Bio scans. 'Nuff said.10. Lockers. A coat-check, maybe.11. IT Departments
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade's worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT -- software, security, and connectivity -- a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.12. Centralized Institutions
School buildings are going to become 'homebases' of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.14. Education School Classes that Fail to Integrate Social Technology
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of school wide prof dev programs. This is already happening.16. Current Curricular Norms
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.18. Typical Cafeteria Food
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade -- in the best of schools -- they will be.20. High School Algebra I
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we'll have finally woken up to the fact that there's no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).21. Paper
In ten years' time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? - NYTimes.com
Monday, September 27, 2010
Obama, Quizzed on Private Schooling, Is Blunt
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
President Obama offered a bleak assessment of the schools in the
nation’s capital, saying his daughters could not get the same
education in a D.C. public school that they are getting at Sidwell Friends, the elite
private school they attend.
The president did not use the issue of security for his two daughters
as an excuse for his decision to put them in private schools. Rather,
he said, Sidwell Friends offers a better education.
“I’ll be blunt with you. The answer is no right now,” Mr. Obama said
during a half-hour interview about education on NBC’s “Today Show.” He
added that there were some “great” schools in the city, but that the
system over all was struggling.
“Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for
Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it,” Mr.
Obama said. “But the broader problem is for a mom or a dad who are
working hard but don’t have a bunch of connections.”
During the interview, the president also endorsed a longer school
year, saying that would “make sense” but would cost money. He said he
wants to work with teacher unions to reform schools and to honor the
profession. But he said teacher unions must be willing to acknowledge
the shortcomings of their members.
“You can’t defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are
dropping out,” Mr. Obama said, noting that some schools have high
failure rates. “In those schools, you have got to have radical change.
And radical change is something that is in the interests of the
students. And ultimately in the interests of the teachers.”
Mr. Obama said the coming documentary about schools, “Waiting for
Superman,” offers a “heartbreaking” image of students in a charter
school lottery, whose futures depend “on the bounce of a ball.”
In answer to a question about responsibility, Mr. Obama said part of
the blame lies with parents.
“If the kid’s coming home from school and the parents aren’t checking
to see if the kids are doing homework or watching TV, that’s going to
be a problem,” he said, adding that “at some point you have to say,
your job right now is to learn.”
The president defended his administration’s “Race to the Top” program,
in which states compete for a share of $4 billion in extra education
money by embracing school reform. He called it the “most powerful tool
for reform in decades.”
But he said that other school funding that is distributed to all
states according to a formula was also important so poor schools and
school districts continue to receive federal funds.
Friday, September 24, 2010
"Many great institutions of knowledge have an enforced dress code. Manlius Pebble Hill, being a college preparatory school is one of the aforementioned institutions. But not many stores carry cute clothes so it makes it really hard to shop."
This response shows exactly why middle schoolers are so wonderful!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The students will sign this document in the coming weeks as will their advisors. I will sign each document too. The signature symbolizes a student's commitment to the Middle School and MPH and will be a guide throughout the year when they may fall short or lose sight of their purpose.
The commitment can be seen at the bottom of this page. We are proud of our work in the MS and know the hard part is still ahead. Discussions started today during tutorial and I am sure there are many more to come.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
In today’s issue of Current Biology, however, a new study takes these results a step farther. Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester set out to see if games improved decision-making. And they weren't thinking of smart games like Sim City or Civilization. The researchers wanted to see if there was a relationship between improved decision-making and the loudest, brashest, most action-packed—some would say dumbest--games around.
The team’s initial findings were intriguing. Simply by comparing groups of people who regularly who play action games (like Call of Duty or Grant Theft Auto) against groups of people who do not, they saw that the former made decisions more quickly--but with the same degree of accuracy.
But the researchers needed to go farther than that--they wanted to show that playing shoot-‘em-ups actually caused these gains in decision-making prowess, and not simply those who already made better decisions also played action games. Daphne Bavelier, one of the study authors, explains that her group then took young adults who were not fast-paced gamers. These were divided into two groups: a control group playing leisurely games like The Sims 2 or Tetris; and a group playing action games like Counterstrike or Halo. The action gamers were better able to answer questions in a visual test involving a field of moving dots and an audio test involving distinguishing a target sound from a field of noise.
“If the effect is really due to action game play,” Bavelier says, “we expect those individuals trained on action games to show more improvement between pre-training and post-training than the control trained group. This is exactly what we found.” The study design “ensures causality,” she says.
It’s an intriguing study, but it still raises a few questions. Action games may train us to make “better decisions” when it comes to spatial and auditory cues--but decision-making in general is a much broader category than that. For the time being though, this study is another one for the back pocket when anyone complains you play too many shooters--just tell them you’re getting smarter.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The tradition stretches back to when Pebble Hill was a separate school, and has been going on for decades. The school later merged with Manlius School in 1970.
This year about 560 students shook the hands of 130 faculty and staff. The seniors go through the line first, and then the rest of the school shakes hands with the staff and all the seniors. School officials said the event has never been rained out, and is designed to welcome everyone to a fresh new year."
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
The Way We Live Now - When Does Holding Teachers Accountable Go Too Far? - NYTimes.com
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2010) — Nearly 1 million children in the United States are potentially misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder simply because they are the youngest -- and most immature -- in their kindergarten class, according to new research by a Michigan State University economist.
These children are significantly more likely than their older classmates to be prescribed behavior-modifying stimulants such as Ritalin, said Todd Elder, whose study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Health Economics.
Elder said the "smoking gun" of the study is that ADHD diagnoses depend on a child's age relative to classmates and the teacher's perceptions of whether the child has symptoms."
This is another great example of how important it is to NOT push ahead your child in school. I have never met anyone who regretted keeping their child from entering kindergarten if their birthday would put them as one of the youngest in the class.
Read the whole article here:
Saturday, August 28, 2010
* Know us personally, our interests and strengths
* Let us know who they are as individuals
* Smile at us
* Encourage us to participate in school activities
* Spend time beyond class time to help us be successful in their class
* Give us descriptive feedback on assignments
* Tell us why
* Share how what we learn is connected to real life
* Apologize when they make mistakes
* Give meaningful work
* Are energetic, enthusiastic and enjoy their job
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Advice (random and very incomplete) for new teachers:
1. Sign on to Twitter. Follow the smartest people you can find in your areas of interest. Build a great PLN – personal learning network – of the wisest and most helpful people you can find. Follow people with whom you agree and those who challenge your assumptions. Follow people like you; follow people not like you. One place to start looking: Twitter for Teachers wiki.
2. Expand your PLN with colleagues in your school, in other schools and elsewhere from whom you know you can learn.
3. Assume that your older colleagues want to be helpful and see you succeed. This includes administrators. Invite them to your classroom. Ask their opinion. Ask to see them teach – or whatever it is they do. See if you can find a project of theirs in which you can participate.
4. Understand that you are going to fail. Don’t be afraid of failing. The ratio of success to failure is about equal so fail fast and frequently and try again.
5. Read and understand the mission of your school. Talk about it with colleagues. Find out what it means to people and how they strive to live by it.
6. Keep working on your own educational philosophy. How do children learn? What does that mean for how you conduct yourself in the classroom and your routines, policies and practices? Which educational theorists make the most sense? Learning is serious stuff so take it seriously and have fun doing it.
7. The hardest part about working with children can be keeping your face straight. Laugh with your students and at yourself. Learning is disorderly and messy and is taking place whether it’s what you planned or not.
8. Think about the forces of change and disruptive innovation. What do they mean now and what might they mean for the world your students will inherit as they move out into the world? What do they need most to be educated citizens and thrive in that world? How can the tools of technology help you collaborate with other learners to do creative good work?
9. Remember that every child is a learner, deserves a great education and to be respected and cherished and that very few of them are like you. Saving face is the number one priority for most children in school – so work to preserve the sense of self worth and dignity however trying the circumstances.
10. Seek out colleagues and learn with them and from them. Appreciate the wisdom of veteran teachers. Avoid at all costs those who are cynical about children, have stopping learning and are nodes of negativity about the school. This may means avoiding the faculty room. Seek out colleagues who share your commitment to learning. Hang out with them and do something fun.
11. If you and the school are not a good match, work to contribute and stay mission consistent and positive but be prepared to change schools. One size does not fit all goes for shoes, lesson planning and finding the school that is a place where you can be a positive contributor to the lives of children.
12. Take advantage of professional development opportunities
13. Take advantage of the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom – clubs, teams, school trips.
14. Learn from failure, learn from practice, learn from collaboration with colleagues, learn from theory. Most of all – stay a learner. (And staying a learner is the number one reason for being active on Twitter.) And here is Cybrary Man’s website of resources for new teachers. He is Jerry Blumengarten and twitters @cybraryman1
15. Eat well, don’t live and breathe school, wash your hands and get lots of sleep