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Title: Welcome
Category: comments
Description: It BLOGGING time!

 You should have finished the book by now.  I'd like to know what overall questions or comments that you have.  We'll use those as our jumping off point for this BLOG discussion.

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Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 08:33:16 AM on 06/04/2008

I agree with Michelle on the BOCES point. There are many students who love to work with their hands and should be able to enter BOCES before 11th grade. I feel that if math, science, and English could be taught along with these "hands on professions" the sudents would see how everything is connected and relevant. 11th grade is too late to start many of our students. They should be allowed to enter BOCES at an earlier age.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 09:38:42 AM on 05/28/2008

One thing that stands out throughout this is book is that teaxchers do make an impact on students. Our preparation decision making and the connections we make on a daily basis are important. We need to be flexible and respectful to our students. These foster positive instruction & success.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 09:28:31 AM on 05/28/2008

I agree in large part with many of the things persented in this book. I'm reminded of the changes we've experienced over the years, some good some not so good. Many of the same problems have been addressed but there isn't a single solution for these problems... nor is there one single fix for a problem. We need to beable to access a situation in the classroom whether it be instructional or behavioral and make adjustments to improve these things. In some cases change doesn't necessarily mean improvement. And maybe improvement doesn't mean we need to change.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 09:16:17 AM on 05/28/2008

The stress we feel over teaching for the test or getting through all the curriculum is transferred to the students unless we approach it differently. Some students responce to rewards and appreciation. Some have failed so much that we can'treach them this way. Somehow, we have to find studnet strengths and use these as an avenue for learning. eg. For those who like sports, have them work on creating a new game which has to be created to scale and made into a board game or model. Students would have to look up history of similar games and how they fit into world events. A paper would have to be writen about what the students learned and explaning the game so that anyone could understand how to play it. Students would have to investigate materials needed for the game and what kind of environmental and social impact that would have. There could be a contest throughout the building with small groups within teams woring on this project. Any knowledge we want the students to learn could be approached in a theme style like this.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 09:01:54 AM on 05/28/2008

I believe that staff learning communitees are important. We need to share our talents with each other and be willing to learn from each other. Department meetings are importan, but how about interdepartment meetings where we are in small groups of differrent curriculum assignments. eg. one person from each core and encore area Therre could be a a set of questions to start dis cussions and a required curriculum plan as an outcome. We should get credit in some way for these meetings and at least some of these curriculum ideas should be implimented.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 08:53:15 AM on 05/28/2008

I believe in small "wins" as well. However, I believe that these small "wins" should be coordinated troughout the building. Just think for instance if the ordinary hero theme was taught in all the core and encore classes throughtout the day. By the end of the day, the students would see the connections and realize that no event is isolated. Each event happens within a culture, time, and people group.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 08:46:17 AM on 05/28/2008

I agree with the statement that our students often feel disconnected and don't have the pride in our building that would be beneficial to learning. Administration traveling in the building, talking to staff and students is a great way to help. I look forward to seeing Barb Borrelli daily. I also think that we should have more opportunities outside of classes to "mingle" with students and other staff. Perhaps helping during lunch would be a good thing. This would also free up hall monitors for issues that might arise in other areas of the building.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 08:36:17 AM on 05/28/2008

I agree with Caryn about the need for encore to feel a part of the community. I believe that it can only happen when we view ourselves as a community. Yes, we all need to incorporate reading and writing into our curriculum, but we also must continue to teach our "special" classes for the reason they exist. That is creating art and music, physical activity, and home & career skills. These must be valued by the rest of our community as equally important. The arts, phys ed, and home economics not only support the values of the core classes, but also are an important part of life and education.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 03:18:29 PM on 05/27/2008

I truly feel that we need to make improvements to our educational system. There are to few students whose needs are met in a traditional classroom. The NCLB Act does just that.. leaves children behind. Those who need to challenged are not and those who are challenged still need help to meet the state standards. Our old BOCES programs of preparing them for a profession was, in my estimation, a valuable thing. Businesses need employees that have had on hands experience in food service, plumbing & electrical fields. We need to train students to become self suffient wage earners.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 11:07:55 AM on 05/27/2008

Also, want to add to my last comments... That I agree that collaboration leads to greatly improved instruction...

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 11:04:06 AM on 05/27/2008

In chap. 2 they talk 2 isolation being the enemy of improvement. I find it helpful to have the opportunity to observe and discuss teaching strategies & techniques other teachers. But not being on a team I feel out of the loop in a number of ways. Although I share my room w/ multiple staff members, from different disciplines, Iwe only have a minute or 2 to talk- As each of us has to head off to another room to teach. There are few times & room available to meet in during the school day. For those reasons I feel isolated in my corner of the building.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 10:42:29 AM on 05/27/2008

I'll look at the on-line courses again. Hopefully it's not too late to sign up for one. Until now I've never blogged. So this blogging experience for this course has given me some confidence to try an online course. Thanx!

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 09:16:05 AM on 05/21/2008

Should linking compensation to evaluation? On page 140 it says, that after a pilot project in Denver, the teachers union members approved a compensation system that includes incentives based on student growth and teacher evaluations. Is this what our school board is asking from us? Will we have any say in the development of this idea? Should more principals be implementing a reward, recognition, and celebration of accomplishments that are achieved by the faculty in their buildings? What does motivate you to improve? Is it different for each of us, or are there some common threads?

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 09:13:40 AM on 05/21/2008

I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments on this blog. I have learned that we all want similar goals and it makes you think of ways of improving our current teaching. I would love to have a similar class next year.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 09:06:19 AM on 05/21/2008

In one of my comments the word should have been "tweaked" not "tweeked"-sorry. I would like to see professional learning communities here at EDMS. I know that many of us have wonderful talents and ideas that could create an opportunity for personal and professional growth through such an experience. I also know that if these communities were started, staff members would want to know how they would be compensated, by pay, credit, PDP hours, or not at all? Right now the only way we get a pay increase is by taking workshops, trainings, college courses, our contract, etc. Unless this policy changes and gives way to another type of fair compensation plan, I'm not sure if everyone would buy into professional learning communities, some would probably look at them as being another duty or job that the district is requiring. It would be nice to pilot such an idea. Bob Nelson's studies found recognition and celebration to be the number one factor in promoting high performance among teachers. But, I know that $$$ still talks.

Comment Posted by: at 03:10:27 PM on 05/20/2008

I like the idea of sharing in our schools. It is one reason why I joined this group. I feel strongly about coomunicating with seasoned teachers. I want to improve my lessons and classroom manangement. I am grateful that I work in a building where most people so freely share ideas and are willing to help one another. I am new to the building and have only had positive experiences so far.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 09:02:11 AM on 05/20/2008

I've taken the AccelerateU course on rubrics and have some other training in writing them as well. I admit, it takes me awhile to get a good, well balanced rubric together. I usually end up improving upon them for the future. I try to cover a multitude of various skills and knowledge I want to evaluate and include on the rubrics. I also want the students to clearly know the expectations and how they can be more successful ahead of time, and it is their choice just how successful they want to be. Rubrics has helped me focus more and has helped my students more as well. Even sharing rubrics would be helpful.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 08:45:27 AM on 05/20/2008

I agree with you about there needing to be a balance and that losing even one day can throw things out of wack. My curriculum adjusts can be made a little more easier than yours. I know that I feel our students get test fatigue, and I hear it from many of them, that they are just bone tired of taking tests. I don't know what we can do, but somethings need to changed or tweeked. I wonder how much our students really retain?

Comment Posted by: Ginger at 07:24:30 PM on 05/19/2008

I, too, would like to see us building upon a sense of community, but how can we do that without affecting instructional time. One of the major drawbacks of NCLB is that every second needs to count. I spend a great deal of my time before January on ELA, and the time after is trying to teach everything that I used to have a full year to teach. Losing even one day is a challenge. Somewhere there needs to be a balance.

Comment Posted by: .Ginger at 07:20:06 PM on 05/19/2008

Whew! I have to catch up. First, about rubrics...AccelerateU has a good course on rubrics. I frequently facilitate this course. The summer catalog is out now, and I highly recommend it to you. Second, having some consistency in the writing rubric is a good idea, but I focus on different things depending on the assignment. Perhaps it would be best to have a skeleton to work with and go from there.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 04:41:45 PM on 05/19/2008

---- Original Message ----
How do you measure success? What motivates you? What do you think motivates the teachers here at EDMS? On pages 139-141 he talks about leveragin teacher pay. I'd like some feedback on the information and suggestions provided on these pages. What do you think?

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 04:29:57 PM on 05/19/2008

I'm reminded in his book of "small wins", one unit, one lesson, short term results that will add up over time to improvements. What are we, as a group of teachers willing to share with one another? As he says many times that "we must identify and cultivate the talent that already resides within our schools", he is talking about US! Many of us have so much to offer. We are creative, talented, flexible and adaptive, yet many of us stifle these things within us, keep them to ourselves, feel funny when we do share or at times even put down for trying something different. One spark at a time can start a firing going and it could begin with us!

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 04:28:23 PM on 05/19/2008

What about starting professional learning communities that really do share their ups & downs, their successes and their failures, their lesson plans, assessments, teaching style(s) to address the various learning styles of their students. I know we have a Team Approach in this building and I find that encouraging, but how could we be more successful?

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 04:26:49 PM on 05/19/2008

It's after school and I'm sitting here thinking, what could we do within the walls of EDMS to make our students and our staff move successful. We are all in this educational improvement plan or we all should be. Just look at our small group that signed up for this class. What improvements could we start with as a group to improve student success? In what direction and at what level could we make some changes? What would we like to see changed? What would be our goals for EDMS students and staff?

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 03:51:08 PM on 05/19/2008

Caryn has a good idea @ sharing within our own school. They are programs on our computers at I would love to know how to use- we have never, as a district been trained on- yet new teachers come in from another district or state where they were trained. One of those teachers has showed me some of the other things that can be done in one of the programs that makes more efficient use of our time. Wouldn't it be great if we could up with a time, day and place in the bldg. for these teachers to demonstrate to interested staff the capablities of the various programs, rather than running off to another bldg. after school for a class?

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 03:44:28 PM on 05/19/2008

Caryn has a good idea @ sharing within our own school. They are programs on our computers at I would love to know how to use- we have never, as a district been trained on- yet new teachers come in from another district or state where they were trained. One of those teachers has showed me some of the other things that can be done in one of the programs that makes more efficient use of our time. Wouldn't it be great if we could up with a time, day and place in the bldg. for these teachers to demonstrate to interested staff the capablities of the various programs, rather than running off to another bldg. after school for a class?

Comment Posted by: michelle princiotto at 03:33:52 PM on 05/19/2008

I have to agree with Sally- I'd like to see teachers have the opportunity to share rubrics. And perhaps they do.. I'm not on a team. No team time to discuss w/ teachers in the bldg. When rubrics were first introduced to us I found it difficult to always have a one for students to follow. Yet, I never found it hard to have a critique of the project at the end. So I was forced to think where I wanted the project to take the student as well as what they should learn & the decisions they'd have to make during the process. In Art you can assess the process or the product. Giving the student a rubric gives them a better chance to succeed. They have a checklist and it helps them gain confidence in their choices. It helps them every step of the way.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 02:46:26 PM on 05/19/2008

Rubrics are great and I love using them. I hope that in the future I can have more rubrics. I like Sally's idea of using the same writing rubric for all classes.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 02:42:28 PM on 05/19/2008

I agree that changes is need, but sometimes change can be very difficult. The unknown can be scary and change is often resisted by staff and students.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 11:55:57 AM on 05/19/2008

Sometimes I feel that we are not the only ones Sally who at times feel disconnected. I think that many of our students do too. They go to school and function like robots and seldom feel connected to anything here. They don't seem to care about much of anything either and this to me is sad. I'd like to really see a caring community within the walls of this school that reaches out to anyone regardless of differences that keep dividing us. I'd like to see more assembles in which students feel a sense of unity. I'd like to see students really care about this school. Where do you think we could start?

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 11:44:45 AM on 05/19/2008

I like using rubrics and handing them out to students and parents. The expectations are listed and students have a better idea of what they need to accomplish. If they choose to earn a 3 and a 3 effort is all they want to put in, then a 3 is what they will get. Writing rubric can be difficult and I think this is where most people feel uneasy. There are times that I have a student that falls inbetween a rubric score, like a 3+ and I will give them a 3+, I will add a + on. It tells me that they were between a 3 and a 4. Not everyone likes rubrics nor can they convert them into a numeric grade, so they don't like to use them. I've used them in P.E., Health, and Driver Ed. and students seem to like them more. It helps them to focus on what they want to accomplish.

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 09:33:10 AM on 05/19/2008

I agree that some teachers have to get over the sometimes subtle aversion to using rubrics. I wish that ED teachers could share the rubrics they use with all of us. If we all scored papers in similar ways, it would make it much easier for all of us. Brenda has been very helpful in sharing her knowledge.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 11:58:08 AM on 05/16/2008

I agree somewhat with Schmoker's view of various trainings that staff receives, but I also know that I have experienced some really great trainings/courses/workshops that I learned and walked away having gain new insight from attending. I also know that at times I have been bored to death and walked away with a headache, with little to no new knowledge. I guess that I don't think that all of the time spent going to these various learning opportunities is a waste of time. I do believe that we all would gain so much more learning and sharing from one another. We ourselves are great resources of wealth, that many times is untapped. We really need more opportunities to share our vast knowledge and experiences with one another and stop hiding in our own areas/rooms. We need some adventure. Let's take opportunities to take each other on some educational trips within our own school walls.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 11:50:05 AM on 05/16/2008

I agree with both Sally and Michelle when it comes to principals being involved and actively seen within our classrooms and hallways. I know they are busy and have an agenda that the school district wants them to accomplish, but I have to agree with Schmoker says about overhauling district meetings. It would be nice if we would have small group meetings with our leaders within our building and with some of our peers in which we could voice common goals/concerns/strategies. I know that we have some designated Teams that represent the body of teachers within our building, but it would be nice if at times, that Superintendent's Days being spent on issues within our own building and hearing ideas/feedback on how we all can help create a better atmosphere for learning.

Comment Posted by: sally brown at 09:11:42 AM on 05/16/2008

Last year, when I was on a team and met every day with our team, I felt like I was much more connected with everyone including teachers, guidance, students, and parents. It really allowed me to get to know the students. I feel very isolated this year and disconnected from the activities and the teams. When they go to ABL or on trips, we can not attend, because we are teaching the rest of the teams. I would be happy to be on a team again.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 08:57:34 AM on 05/15/2008

I love to read and write and I feel that students are lacking in the skills, but time always seems to be an issue. I'm trying to add some technology into the P.E. program through Teacher Toolbox Pro and School Island in which I'm working at creating assignments that will incorporate such skills. I want to be included more in the school curriculum. Sometimes, the encore subjects seem to be left out of feeling that they are important, that they have something to offer. We are all important and each give something to our students in order for a student to become an enriched, whole person that has the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. Some of the models explored in this book make sense and the idea of a working community with common goals, with us all moving in the same direction is vital if we are going to make the necessary changes that need to occur if our students are going to succeed. Having strong leaders that support their staff, appreciate their efforts and thanks them for their dedication goes a long way in creating a climate of caring.

Comment Posted by: Caryn Roush at 08:44:44 AM on 05/15/2008

I enjoyed the book and felt it gave all of us some very challenging insights for change. I think that we as a school are trying to pursue some of the goals he mentions in his book. As educators we know that change needs to happen if we are to better prepare our students for the future. It's just hard getting everyone to agree, buy in to the changes that need to be made.

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 08:15:31 AM on 05/14/2008

I also like it when administrators pop in for a quick visit. It's happened a few times this year, but I would like to see it happen more often.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 02:47:17 PM on 05/13/2008

Reading is important. Different approaches to reading from different perspectives would be a good way to keep reading interesting. I really think that students need to write more and have students read each other's work. Story or report contests would be a movtivating idea with "publication" in a school literary booklet as part of the motivation. Stories could also be illustrated.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 02:37:10 PM on 05/13/2008

Organization was another theme addressed in the book. I believe that organization is necessary to every learning endevor. I think that teams along with encore teachers should detertmine specific school supplies and how to organize them. Perhaps an extended homeroom period near the beginning of the year where encore people helped in homerooms as well to teach an organization strategy using the school supplies would help. If parents were charged a flat fee for supplies at the end of the school year toward the following school year, items could be purchased during summer sales and be uniform for every student.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 02:21:22 PM on 05/13/2008

Appreciation seems to be a theme in the book along with various ways of showing appreciation - from teacher to student, administrator to staff, and staff to staff. If a person feels appreciated, then respect and learning/teaching will follow. I really am being challenged to look for ways to show appreciation to my students and fellow staff members.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 07:32:32 PM on 05/12/2008

I have had principals in and out of my classes all year. I think that it a great thing. I have had students comment on how nice it is to see that the principal cares enough to come up and see what we are doing. It is also nice to have staff in the hall way. It can get crazy during the passing of class, but constant supervision lets them know that we are watching and we do care about their behavior out side of the class room.

Comment Posted by: michelle princiotto at 10:44:12 AM on 05/12/2008

We need to keep teachers and administration @ the same buildings to build these relationships. We need to show the parent community that we have a vested interset in their kids- of students- and them. We need to build relationships not only with students but with parents & those @ home. We need to build a system of trust. And thats time.

Comment Posted by: michelle princiotto at 10:35:38 AM on 05/12/2008

To add to Sally's comment @ principals. I think it's important for administrators/ principals to be visable in the hallways during the passing of classes. I also have found it helpful when they have popped in classrooms during classes. It helps to build relationships with staff & students. We also need to have ALL teachers in the hallways between the passing of classes. In the yrs. that I've been teaching the best discipline yrs. have been those that staff & admin. were visible in the hallways.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 07:54:41 AM on 05/12/2008

I agree with Ginger. I would love to learn more about reading and facilitating literacy. I have some knowledge in this subject area but could defintely use new and different ideas.

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 07:47:50 AM on 05/12/2008

That is true Ginger. We wouldn't have to worry about extra teachers, space, etc.

Comment Posted by: Ginger at 07:01:19 PM on 05/11/2008

---- Original Message ----
With so much of our class discussion and so much of the building's professional discussion centering on literacy, maybe it isn't additional reading teachers that we need. What we really need is for everyone to get some background/training in teaching reading and incorporate it weekly into every single class. If every educator in the building actively and persistently promotes the expectation that EVERY student will read, it cannot help but have a positive impact.

Comment Posted by: sally brown at 11:23:18 AM on 05/08/2008

On pg. 29 they talk about building principals working cooperatively with teachers. I feel that it is now happening at Davis with our current principal and assistant principals. Leaders make a world of difference.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 01:08:53 PM on 05/06/2008

I also like the idea about teaching a skill in one class, and following the same scheme in another class. It makes the students remember and learn the skill without putting forth extra effort. It also frees up addition time for teaching of new and different material.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 01:04:54 PM on 05/06/2008

I agree with you about the reading class, but with lack of space and funding where would these extra class go. Who would teach them?

Comment Posted by: sally Brown at 07:44:03 AM on 05/06/2008

In chapter 7, the author talks about the lack of reading and writing in the schools. Why can't every child be offered the opportunity of a reading class? It doesn't matter what their reading level is. I have taught in other schools where this happens and in these classes they have brought in authors to discuss their books and have done other interesting things to encourage reading.

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 07:38:33 AM on 05/06/2008

It was fun learning how to Blog in class last night. Thanks Ginger for helping us with the class. I have enjoyed working with everyone.

Comment Posted by: sally brown at 03:49:50 PM on 05/05/2008

In Chapter 9, he talks about leadership, as with curriculum, less is more. To focus on what is vital and to eliminate all of the extraneous distractions. I think that if teachers had more time to come together and talk about what they teach in their curriculum, there would be less repetition. Sometimes I think that the Health, PE, and FCS teachers need a day to show each other what they teach so that I am not doing the same thing and wasting time teaching something that they have already been taught. For example, "Decision Making" is taught in both health and FCS class. It's not a bad idea to review this, but I would spend a lot less time on something if I knew that it had already been taught.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 03:48:28 PM on 05/05/2008

Communication between staff and between staff and administration was addressed in "Results Now". I do believe that Ernie Davis could benefit from more shared communication perhaps with the "sanctuary model" now used at Glove House. We don't know how other teachers are approaching learninig aims unless we talk to them.

Comment Posted by: Ginger at 03:46:27 PM on 05/05/2008

The 7 Essential Concepts of a Middle School, which was developed by the NYS Middle School Association in the 1990s, says that the Middle School is a bridge between the elementary school and high school. What they means is that we need to continue to stretch old skills and teach new ones while adding more specific disciplinary-based education. If you consider that skills-based approach, perhaps more of Schmoker's examples fit the Middle Level.

Comment Posted by: Michelle Princiotto at 03:42:58 PM on 05/05/2008

I've enjoyed the book & meeting as a class with other collegues. It's given me the chance to discuss various ideas that we've tried in the classroom as a "result" of having read & discussed the chapters of the book.

Comment Posted by: dale witkowski at 03:40:03 PM on 05/05/2008

I agree that the book had applicaple ideas some of which we already do and some not. The biggest hurdle in applying some of his ideas is that he wrote from an elementary perspective and we are in a middle school.

Comment Posted by: Sally Brown at 03:37:20 PM on 05/05/2008

I really like that most of us follow the same format for writing a paragraph. It is the one that Brenda taught during a summer workshop. We have really worked hard at being uniform when writing things. I agree that some classrooms spend time wasted on useless activities, but for the most part, I think that ED is working hard to raise our scores.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 12:56:06 PM on 05/05/2008

I liked the course and found that I learned a lot. I enjoy speaking with other teachers. I hope that in the future more teachers will sign up for courses.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 01:40:08 PM on 05/01/2008

THE OVERALL BOOK! I have mixed feelings about the book. I agreed with some of it and disagreed with other parts. I do find that a lot of what EDMS is doing, he suggested in the book. I hope that in the future we can do more of his ideas.

Comment Posted by: Nicole Burt at 01:34:30 PM on 05/01/2008

I thought Chapter 7 had some great info. I liked the fact that what I read about I was already doing. I have my students read with "pen and highlighter in hand" all the time. I find that literacy is a big problem. I think that most of my students have a hard time on tests because they have a hard time reading and following directions. They moght know the science material but get lost in the reading of the question or directions.

Comment Posted by: Ginger at 10:54:03 AM on 05/01/2008

Schmoker alleges that professional learning communites (such as the one that we are in as we study this book) are more effective than traditional staff development models. What do you think?