Thursday, May 21, 2009

End of School Year Appreciation Ideas

On Twitter the other day a teacher was asking for ideas for what students could do after they finished their standardized test. I sent back a few idea such as create a topic in review using Glogster, update powerpoints with better images or looks or perhaps a complete redo such as prezi, artwork, or  writing and illustrating a children’s book. Those books could be read to younger students. All these activities are ways the students' work can positively influence the learning of other students. If you would like to follow me on Twitter, I am jlhind.

However, I neglected to share one of the activities that perhaps meant the most to me as a teacher – letters to a teacher who had a positive impact. At the end of my first year of teaching a student handed me a word processed poem he had written about his teachers. I still have it. About 10 years ago, I received three letters in my faculty mailbox courtesy of intra-district mail. Each one was written by a former student telling me how I had made a positive impact in his or her life – the letters were an assignment the high school students had during teacher appreciation week. I still have those letters. I have also had my students do the same. When I was in graduate school, I had a professor whose encouragement was especially helpful and I wrote her a letter. She later told me that she kept letters in a special place to read after a hard day. I could completely relate. So as the school year comes to the end, if you are looking for a writing assignment, consider having students write a letter telling a teacher, staff member, volunteer, or parent how that person made a positive impact on them. Then arrange for the letters to be delivered so the smiles and memories can begin.

If you want a positive student focused activity, consider one of the following three. I’ve done them all with great results with students. 

1)    Make a bookmark with about 30 lines on it and a heading telling the class name such as “Mrs. Apple’s Class values the strengths of ______________. Those strengths are the following as written by fellow classmates.” Each student fills in his or her name on the top and leaves it on the desk. Then classmates go one by one to each person’s desk and write something positive on the line. The activity took about 20 minutes and then I laminated the bookmarks for the students. I still have mine and in fact “immortalized it” on page 43 of The Handbook for Qualities of Effective Teachers

when I wanted to share a sample with readers.

2)    Make certificates for each student that features something special about the student that occurred during the school year. In fact, we did it as a culminating team activity in which the team of four teachers I was on came up with the superlatives. Then call the students up in front of the class one by one to receive their certificate. My students really liked this.

3)    Write a letter to each student. I was fortunate to loop with half of my students each year as half my team was 7th graders and half were 8th graders. So after having many of them for 2 years, I wrote them exit letters. The first year I had 50+ handwritten note cards and a major case of writer's cramp. I realized that first year that the opening and ending of my message were similar for all students. So after that I used the mail merge function of Word to insert tailored sentences, memories, and names. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

13th Annual William and Mary National Leadership Academy

The 13th Annual William and Mary National Leadership Academy will be held June 21-23, 2009 in Williamsburg, VA. This high quality professional development offering is limited to 250 participants to ensure interaction among participants and the speakers. A number of the speakers have websites and videos on the web.

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
Dr. Michael DiPaola – Data to Improve Teaching and Learning

Dr. Jan Rozzelle and Carol Scearce – Leading Teams to Improve Literacy K-12
Boundary spanner: Rozzelle takes W&M research to public schools (video)

Dr. Mary Little - Implementing Response to Instruction/Intervention (RtI) in Our Schools

Angel SeidersRelational Leaders using a United Focus to Get Staff Buy-in

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski - Opening Session
Academic Leadership: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students
Dr. Hrabowski is interviewed by Dr. Julian Bond (video).

Alan November - Morning Session The Digital Learning Farm
3 Skills Students Need to Succeed (video)


Dr. Steven Edwards - Afternoon Session
Leading in a 21st Century Paradigm
Video Clip of School Leadership: Leaders for Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Dr. Donna Ford - Morning Session
Creating Rigorous Culturally Responsive Classrooms
Closing the Achievement Gap (video)


Dr. Carl Glickman - Closing Session
From Jefferson to Obama and Beyond: Essential School Leadership for the Next Generation of Engaged and Thoughtful Citizens
Articles, research reports, and books

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free Book, Free Article Access, and Other Ways to Get Information to Come to You

I am a self described research mole. I like digging into the research literature to address questions. Back in the eighties, I used the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and card catalogs. The advent of microfiche made looking up articles faster than those reels that had to be fast forwarded through and then rewound. So by the time the nineties came around with the Internet searches and into the twenty-first century with PDF files, I was thrilled and at times amazed at how quickly I could pull sources, including refereed journals. I still do old fashion digging with paper journals, looking up studies referenced in articles. I do appreciate subscriber services that alert me to new articles, opportunities, and soon-to-be published studies. Some of my favorites are:

  • EPAA (online publishing peer-reviewed studies and book reviews), 
  • Public Education Network (weekly email of education policy and studies),
  • Science Daily (refereed journal article highlights), and
  • ASCD Smartbrief(summaries and links to education articles found in newspapers reporting studies or initiatives),
  • and various journals that send me their table of contents with links to the article abstracts so I can determine if I want to look up the article.
Other information sources include twitter and using  the feed options on blogs I like to read such as Learning to Collaborate.

Below are three “nuggets” that came through my email in the last week or so that I wanted to share with you. Whether the free book from ASCD (ends 5/6/09), free article access on how sleep affects adolescent learning , or math research article summary is gold is up to you to decide. Click the item of interest to you.

 Articles and writings on this blog are an extension of:

  • what SURN Superintendents identify as important focuses for their school systems
  • research interests of SURN staff, and/or
  • what sounds applicable, unique, or just plain piques our interest as ways education-related research or education-applicable research is going.

Use the comments in this blog to tell us what is of professional interest to you. By knowing what you are wandering about or working on we can keep you in mind as we read broadly.


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