Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of School

Summer is over and the first day of school is upon us! Is there any other day of the school year that causes more anxiety than the first day of school? Both teachers and students don't know what to expect from each other. Teachers worry about the type of students they're getting and how they will be preceived by their students. Even after twenty years of teaching, I still get anxious about the first day of school, but I've learned that with proper planning and the right attitude, the first day can be a great day for everyone. Here a few important tips and considerations that I believe will make the first day one of the best days.

1. Smile! “First impressions are lasting impressions”.
Students want to see a friendly face. Smile and you will present a positive attitude.

2. Dress up! Look professional and you will feel professional. Students will see you as a professional and treat you with professional respect. Remember, “First impressions are lasting impressions”.

3. Meet and greet your students at the classroom door! Say hello and welcome them into the room.Shake their hand and call them by name if possible. This sets the tone for the rest of the day and the rest of the year. It lets them know that their attendance is valued and that they are part of your new learning team.

4. Prepare a seating chart and assign student seats alphabetically to help learn their names. Later, you can hold a class meeting to determine final seating assignments.

5. Take attendance. Be sure to learn the correct pronunciation of each students' name. Make a positive comment to each students as you go through your class list. Ex: “Aren’t you on the ball team or in the band?” , “Good to see you”etc:

6. Introduce yourself. Be sure your students see you as a human being, rather than just an authority figure.Tell something about yourself. Tell them about your education, your family, and especially your hobbies and interests.

7. Explain your expectations for the class. Included homework, projects, behavior, and consequences. Remember, when it comes to class rules, “Less is More”.

8. Give students a course outline to take home. List all special activities that will take place during the school year such as field tips and guest speakers. Include required projects and special assignments that must completed.

9. Plan an activity that will be fun and motivating. A list of enjoyable activities can be found online. Just google “Activities for the First Day of School”.

Make the first day of school a memorable day! Make it a day to learn about your students and for them to learn about you.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The 7 Bad Habits of Ineffective Teachers

1. Focusing on being liked.
I think everyone wants to be liked, but if you keep thinking about how you want your students to like you, this is absolutely going to affect your teaching. And not in a good way. You’ve gotta’ focus on being a good teacher whom your students can respect. Ironically, students normally end up liking teachers they respect more than ones who are trying to be the cool teacher.

2. Yelling at the students.
** I think all of us have yelled at some point, but if this is your habit, it’s not a good one. Yelling rarely produces any good results and almost always results in a loss of respect. So instead of berating students and flying off the
handle, try taking a deep breath, getting really quiet, then calmly but firmly saying what needs to be said.

3. Letting little things go.
When I first started teaching I let a lot of little things slide because I didn’t want to whack kids on the head for seemingly insignificant things. The problem, though, is that if you fail to address little problems, they fail to stay
little. They quickly grow, and soon your class is out of control and you are definitely not effective. What I learned is that I needed to address each issue, even if it was simply saying something like, “Ian, please sit up in your seat.”

4. Being inconsistent.
It’s tough to be consistent. Believe me, I know. But being inconsistent in our classroom management leads to a multitude of problems. So we’ve just gotta’ do it. We’ve gotta’ learn to be consistent.

5. Failing to properly prepare.
We all have days that we realize last minute that we forgot to make copies of that worksheet we really need, but if you find yourself habitually starting class not sure what you’re doing today, you’re in trouble. Yes, you might make it through the class, but you’re just not going to be as effective as you could be if you’d prepared adequately. So determine to do your best to prepare as much as possible. And if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, do what you can now and determine to really put in the work over the next summer so you’re not in this position again.

6. Being defensive.

Whether it’s a student, a parent, or an administrator who’s critiquing us, when we get defensive we rarely deal with the issue correctly. We need to seek first to understand and be open to the possibility that there might be a
better way. We’ll grow as teachers and also gain a lot of respect. A little humility sure goes a long way.

7. Thinking that you’ve figured it out.
Whenever we start to think that we’ve got in down, that we don’t need to keep learning and growing, we start stagnating. And we’re less effective than we could be if we kept looking for new ideas and better ways to teach.
Have you fallen into any of these bad habits? Are there any other habits you think contribute to ineffectiveness? Share your thoughts with a comment below.

This blog taken from Tech 4 The Heart

Monday, February 15, 2016

Change is Coming

Change is Coming

Just when it looked like little hope existed for overhauling state's use of test scores in evaluating teachers, a new wave of sanity has begun to take hold and influence the need for change. 

There is no question that states using test scores to evaluate teachers and principals are severely weakening the morale among teachers, parents and administrators. Worse is the use of "growth scores" which can count for as much as 50% of a teachers evaluation and measure student improvement by comparing scores against other classes in the state.

Last April, more than 200,000 New York State students in grades 3 - 8 opted out of state mandated English and Math tests. This was the biggest test boycott in the nation and only one of many boycotts in other states. It is time to admit that improper use of standardized test scores is a mistake and not admitting it is even a bigger mistake. New York State Regent Roger Tilles has called for changes in state law that place the emphasis on local measures of achievement for evaluating students and teachers. Even newly appointed Education Commissioner (NYS) MaryEllen Elia seems to recognize that something has to change.

The arguments made against the use of local measures of evaluation are as follows:1. Local measures can be manipulated2. Local measures are not uniform from one district.Both these arguments are absurd! First of all, the fear of manipulation of test scores is insulting to professional educators everywhere and unrealistic and the call for uniformity is educationally unsound. Are all students the same in every school district? Do all schools have the same resources? The last thing we should want is uniformity in testing. What we need to do is differentiate what we test and how we test students. A fundamental law of education is that all students learn at their own pace and not all students learn the same way. Testing students to evaluate teachers is wrong for students and unfair to teachers.Lets' hope this small awakening is the start of real change.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Flipped Classroom + Differentiation = Fiperentiation

by George Ober

Teaching in the 21st Century requires a multi-dimensional approach to instruction. Fliperentiation is an In-Class Flipped instructional approach to teaching that blends technology and differentiation in a flipped classroom context. In such a flipped and blended environment, technology is infused in the classroom to accelerates learning. Students utilize existing technology to develop their own learning at their own pace. Teachers employ varied resources for using instructional technology to meet individual student learning styles in a fliperentiated classroom.

Flipped Learning:

Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space. The result is a group space transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they engage creatively in the subject matter.


Differentiated instruction is a teaching method that allows teachers to structure learning environments that address a variety of learning styles, interests, and abilities found within a classroom. Differentiated instruction is based on the belief that students learn best when they make connections between the curriculum and their diverse interests and experiences. Rather than simply "teaching to the middle" by providing a single avenue of learning for all students in a class, teachers using differentiated instruction match tasks, activities, and assessments with their students' interests, abilities, and learning preferences.

Differentiated instruction does not happen by accident. It requires planning, commitment, and acknowledgment of the fact that diverse abilities, experiences, and interests have a tremendous impact on student learning. 


The concept of “Fliperentiation” was coined by Joe Hirsch, an educator at the Akiba Academy in Dallas TX. He explains that the most stubborn part of differentiation is trying to synchronize the learning of an entire class so each student learns at their own pace. “Fliperentiation” is a pedagogical approach to teaching in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space. “Fliperentiation” combines the concept of the Flipped Classroom with a blended, differentiated learning environment.

The “Fliperentiated Classroom” operates with two (2) main objectives as its’ focus: 

  • Blend learning with technology to provide differentiation of instruction in order  to meet the individualized learning needs of each student.
  • Provide opportunities to further engage students by allowing them to work collaboratively on assignments and projects. 

A basic synopsis of the the Flipped Classroom Model has students learn and study content online with meaningful interactive learning activities, using video or screen-casts. They then apply that knowledge in the classroom through problem-solving and project based assignments. In a Flipped Classroom, visuals are all done outside the classroom.

In the Fliperentiation model, students have a “flipped interactive video component” and/or a specific app embedded in the lesson structure to create more opportunities for differentiated instruction and increase student engagement while fostering collaboration and higher-order thinking during classroom activities. These videos are not “lecture-based” but are supplementary, integrated components used for the further understanding, refinement and application of information. Visuals therefore, are an important part of the “Fliperentiated Classroom” process.  In a “Fliperentiated Classroom”, visuals or video/images are embedded into classroom lessons as a major component of differentiated learning. These videos are not “lecture-based”, but supplementary, integrated components used for multiple instructional purposes. They are embedded into classroom lessons as an important component of differentiated learning. 

Benefits of Instructional Videos:

  • Differentiate instruction
  • Increases student engagement
  • Fosters student collaboration
  • Promotes higher-order thinking
  • Demonstrate processes
  • Display exemplary student work
  • Provides reference for home study

An additional benefit of “Fliperentiation” is having more engaged parents. As more students utilize technology as a regular part of their day, both in school and at home, the opportunity for their parents to become part of what they are learning in school is greatly enhanced. Parents want a stronger connection to what their child is doing in class and how they are performing and they want it in an expedient manner. “Fliperentiation” makes this possible by communicating with parents via websites, grading/assessment apps or communication apps. Connecting parents to the individualized classroom environment will result in a stronger connection to their child’s learning and greater support for fliperentiated instruction.

By transforming traditional classroom activities into a more digitized setting, you free up classroom time for individualized student instruction, allow students to learn at their own pace, and allow for individual and collaborative learning to take place in conjunction with ongoing formative assessment. This enables the teacher to provide instant feedback to individual or groups of students based on their specific needs. 

Embedding visuals with interactive web-based or iOS/android applications allows students to make stronger connections with the content they are learning. More importantly, this approach is student centered with the teacher being a facilitator of the process. This allows for the student to further develop their own learning style while being able to apply prior knowledge to future learning.

Today’s students are expected to gather information then interpret, discuss, analyze, and evaluate that information both independently and collaboratively. “Fliperentiation” allows for traditional instructional models to be transformed through the use of technology while creating a differentiated blended learning model that encourages student engagement and develops the communication and collaborative skills required in the 21st century. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Time to Teach Gov. Cuomo the Truth about Teaching

By Joe Pergola

In the State of New York, 20 percent of teacher rating is based on their students state test scores. Andrew Cuomo,  Governor of New York wants 50 percent of teacher ratings to be based on student test scores. He believes that test scores are the best indicator of teacher effectiveness. What he fails to understand is the link between poverty and poor test scores and the link between English fluency and good test scores.

New York public school teachers currently serve 2.6 million children. In spite of the fact that about twenty-one (21%) percent of all students in New York live in or near poverty and almost a quarter of a million students in New York State are classified as English learners, New York State's public schools rank ninth (9th) in the nation according to the Education Research Center and New York is rated B-while the national average is C.

No one wants to improve test scores more than the teachers who work in New York's public schools. We can achieve that goal by eliminating poverty and violence, improving English literacy, fully funding our schools, supporting teachers efforts and providing quality professional development. We will never improve education in New York by blaming teachers for test score results directly related to circumstances out of their control. That's scapegoating,  unfortunately an all too often common gimmick of politicians.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Music and the Arts in Our Lives
By Michael A. Butera

What would schooling look like if music were not a part of the curriculum? Would it make for a better tomorrow for students? Would there be more mathematicians and scientists? Would the ecology of the community be enhanced?

Schooling without music is like water faucets without water in a pipeline: a hollow place with promise but unable to deliver a refreshing and life-sustaining substance. Student would not be served better tomorrows full of promise and hope. Does anyone really believe that our world will produce more scientists and technologists if music were no longer part of their lives? What kind of community fosters a better place for future generations without the sustaining value of music and the other arts?

Let us each commit to being promoters of the music discipline preK through graduate school. We need to embrace a wider vision for music education; one that nourishes children from the earliest years, through their schooling and beyond.We must recognize that each child is important and that we have a responsibility to bring the the freshness of the music experience into each child's life. Few students will ultimately make teaching music or performing their final career choice, but larger numbers will forever have music as a part of their daily lives. 

Together we must push the fresh water stream of music into the pipes; otherwise, the pipes will rust away. Together, we can help music education orchestrate success and nourish the future!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Paradigm for Accountability

                                                   Edited from Diane Ravitch  Blog

Now that we have endured more than a dozen long years of No Child Left Behind and five fruitless, punitive years of Race to the Top, it is clear that they both failed. They relied on carrots and sticks and ignored intrinsic motivation. They crushed children’s curiosity instead of cultivating it.* They demoralized schools. They disrupted schools and communities without improving children’s education.
We did not leave no child behind. The same children who were left behind in 2001-02 are still left behind. Similarly, Race to the Top is a flop. The Common Core tests are failing most students, and we are nowhere near whatever the “Top” is. The Race turns out to be NCLB with a mask. NCLB on steroids. NCLB 2.0.
Whatever you call it, RTTT has hurt children, demoralized teachers, closed community schools, fragmented communities, increased privatization, and doubled down on testing.
I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.
The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:
How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?
How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?
How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus? 
How many public performances did the school offer?
How many children participated in dramatics?
How many children produced documentaries or videos?
How many children engaged in science experiments? 
How many children learned robotics?
How many children wrote stories, whether fiction or nonfiction?
How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?
How many children wrote poetry? 
How many children performed service in their community to help others?
Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of ?