Walking Along the Boardwalk

Walking along the boardwalk,

the sun shining brightly,

a cool breeze comforts us.

 

Luke’s stroller rolls along the planks

as Kaylee pushes it confidently.

Jeanine grasps my hand.

 

Big waves crash in the distance.

A bulldozer smooths the sand, replacing what was lost.

Seagulls scavenge for food, fighting for the best morsel.

 

Amateur runners pass us, panting

an old woman in socks shuffles by

a body-builder does inverted push-ups

groups of Orthodox walk alongside us.

 

It begins to warm up considerably

a hand-powered bicycle glides along

Children zip by on scooters as their grandmother follows on foot.

 

Sunbathers sit on beach chairs getting some early rays

the click of the shutter as Kaylee takes pictures

the boardwalk becomes newer, the old wood giving way to unweathered planks.

 

Benches line the south side of the boardwalk

with plaques honoring departed souls

a tennis player here, a beloved child there

some benches are decorated

to memorialize, for birthdays, for Easter.

 

Luke sleeps soundly as we stroll along

Kaylee and Jeanine chat amiably,

living in the moment.

 

I love this wonderful moment.

Instructional Coaches Make a Huge Impact

Instructional coaches are the unsung heroes of the education profession. They nimbly navigate the line between administrator and teacher as they strive to make an impact across multiple grade levels and school sites. Instructional coaches have a unique vantage point – they see things happening at the ground level and are able to offer a perspective that few educators have.

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One of the biggest issues confronting schools today is how to provide continuous, high-quality professional development to teachers and staff. District budgets are not what they used to be and education leaders must come up with creative and cost-effective ways to continue to provide this level of training in their schools. One innovative way of doing this is to create the role of an instructional coach in their district by hiring a teacher leader from within. Many districts call these specialists TOSAs (Teachers On Special Assignment). Other districts call them coordinators, but they serve the same purpose: providing perpetual PD in a non-evaluative, non-judgemental environment. These “thought partners” work collaboratively with teachers by asking them what they need and showing them how it can be deployed.

My Instructional Coaches Quote

Instructional Coaches/TOSAs do many awesome things. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Provide job-embedded professional development.
  2. Model and demonstrate highly-effective best practices.
  3. Offer non-evaluative, objective feedback on a regular basis.
  4. Create an environment where student needs drive professional development.
  5. Offer guidance and feedback at the exact time teachers need it most – in the classroom.
  6. Inspire teachers to try new learning strategies and tools.
  7. Facilitate the transition from teacher-centered to learner-driven classrooms.
  8. Are site-based teacher leaders who support both students and their teachers.
  9. Collaborate with teachers in order to engage students in innovative ways.
  10. Help to close the digital use divide by ensuring that all students understand how to use technology to create content.

 

Click the image below to view my Instructional Coaches Smore digital flyer which includes links to a collection of resources I’ve curated. 

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Flocabulary: Engage Your Students Like Never Before

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In my role as an instructional coach and technology integrationist, I spend a lot of time in many of the classrooms in my school district.

As I walked down the hallways of the beautiful Broadway Campus of Lawrence Public Schools last week, I heard hip-hop music emanating from the classrooms. And when I peeked into these classrooms to investigate further, I witnessed the following:

6th graders joining in a sing-along about Point of View in literature.

5th graders rapping about Order of Operations in mathematics.

4th graders enthusiastically rapping about food chains in science.

3rd graders bopping to the beat of multiplication facts 0-12.

7th graders dancing to a Current Events video, “The Week in Rap”.

What if I told you there’s an amazing website with a plethora of hip-hop vocabulary videos that facilitates this engagement? What if I added that the videos are aligned to state standards and include supplementary activities like interactive lyric pages, quizzes and graphic organizers?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Flocabulary, a website/platform that is taking the K-12 education world by storm one classroom/hip-hop video at a time. This exciting web-based application blends the coolness of rap with the rigor of vocabulary development. Students are highly engaged and motivated as they view and participate/interact with this awesome program.

Video Topics include:

SAT Vocabulary Review

Test-Taking Vocabulary Words for grades 3-8

Essay writing strategies

Research tips and tricks

Digital Citizenship

Social and Emotional Learning

Financial Literacy

Coding

The material is presented in a way that kids today can relate to. The videos are funny and the songs are catchy. Your students may not even realize they are learning as they watch these amazing videos. Try it out today by clicking the link below for a free 75-day trial.

Free 75-day trial

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My #OneWord for 2016

My #OneWord for 2016 is:

ELEVATE

As an instructional technology coach, I spend a lot of time in the elementary and middle school classrooms of my district. I am very fortunate in that I am able to interact with a large number of students and teachers on a daily basis. One of my goals is to make sure I make a positive impact on each and every individual I interact with. A bright smile, a few words of praise and/or a high-five go a long way in making this come to fruition.

In 2016, make it your goal to ELEVATE the students, their parents, and the faculty in your school. Make it your mission to encourage the people in your life to feel GOOD about themselves. Brag about them in person, on social media, wherever and whenever you can. Make a positive phone call home praising a student or tell your principal about an awesome project your colleague is doing in her classroom. Lift individuals up with words and actions. ELEVATE them on a daily basis!

Make 2016 the year you ELEVATE all those around you… and then take it one step further. Through your actions, inspire them to ELEVATE the people in their lives. Model and demonstrate how it’s done. Be the exemplar for it and watch it GROW.

ExemplaryEducators

What is your #OneWord for 2016? Write a blog post about it and share it on Twitter using the hashtags #oneword and #oneword2016

Passion-Driven Learning For Educators: Using The Genius Hour Model For PD

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As the standardization of education continues to infiltrate the nation’s classrooms, and high-stakes testing is directly linked to teacher evaluation, the unfortunate “teaching to the test” trend dominates in many schools. Entire school districts have reorganized programs in which only the subjects being tested have priority. Elementary teachers can be heard saying that they have no time to do the “fun stuff” anymore, let alone the Social Studies and science curricula. The push to perform has stifled the individual, creating a climate for the automatization of an entire generation of learners, and unfortunately their teachers. Thankfully, there’s a movement that promotes student choice and innovation in learning that has been sweeping the nation. This passion- driven movement, which is known as Genius Hour, or 20% Time, allows students to become innovative creators of content rather than just consumers of it. In fact, the Genius Hour model has been so successful in schools at all levels that this framework can be used for more effective and meaningful professional development for educators.

Click this link to continue reading.