Monday, August 31, 2015

Guest Blogger from EDU638: Colette Carrabba

“The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others.” John C. Maxwell.

“Some people who hold leadership positions believe leadership is just that-a position or title. Others believe leadership is all about the leader’s accomplishments. What few leaders truly understand is that real, authentic leadership is not about you, but the people you are responsible for leading.  So then, leadership is not really about your success at all, but the success of those under your supervision.  If we want to work toward excellence, we have to provide others with excellent leadership” (Buyer, 2012).            

Paul Buyer (2012) used John Maxwell’s quote as a starting point for chapter 6 in his book and he explained this quote very succinctly.  I chose this Maxwell quote because I agree that an effective leader shows his/her leadership qualities through the successes of the individuals he/she works with.

An effective leader is not simply born, nor is he/she simply made.  I believe that leadership is a combination of innate characteristics as well as learning.  As a school leader, it is important to continually strive for improvement.  As teachers, we do not just present the same lessons every year without change.  In order to achieve student success, we need to know the students’ individual abilities and learning styles and apply that knowledge to lessons taught.  This is learning.  The more we as leaders and teachers learn, the more knowledge we will pass onto those with whom we work.

The principal, as the instructional leader of a school, must work with his/her team to improve school performance.  The teams within a school must work collaboratively on all issues for there to be improvements on all levels, not just the student performance, but also the teacher performance.  There needs to be a high degree of trust among administrators and teachers.  A school should have a curriculum and assessments coordinated across grades and subjects.  There should be an acknowledged method of improving teacher learning.  There needs to be strong connections and shared responsibility among administration and teachers.  Perhaps most importantly, the climate in the school should be centered on student learning (Anrig, 2015). The concept of collaboration is not new, but there are still teachers who will not share their knowledge, resources, or ideas with others.  There is still some underlying competition, but for what, I do not know.  Some teachers fail to see that all of us should work together to achieve the common goal of improved student learning.  How can we expect our students to grow and improve if teachers do not grow and improve?  Teacher learning is an on-going process; a process that should occur daily.  

As I participate in the courses required for my EdS, I am continually sharing what I learn with my colleagues.  Some may tire of hearing me talk, or tire of seeing emails from me, but my hope is that I will make an impact on my colleagues.  I can go to school for my entire life, but there is no success in just obtaining a degree.  I must actively share what I learn with my colleagues and my students.

 John Maxwell explains his Law of Addition in this video.  The quote that I chose is part of this law in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership video shows a visual representation of all 21 laws.  I love these types of videos so I thought I would include it for your enjoyment as well. John C. Maxwell stated:  “The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others.”  

References:  Buyer, P. (2012). Leadership. In Working toward excellence: 8 values for achieving uncommon success in work and life.  (p. 60). New York: Morgan James Publishing.

Anrig, G. (2015) How we know collaboration works. Educational Leadership 72(5), 31-35.

Ellis Island: Isle of Hope or Isle of Tears?

This is going to be an exciting writing challenge.  You will be asked to write a good paragraph on Thursday during your writing time.  You will write the paragraph on the blog in the comments.  If you write your paragraph before Thursday, it will be deleted!

Here is the prompt for the week.  The prompt is for an opinion paragraph.  Ellis Island is known both as the Isle of Hope and the Isle of Tears.  Which name would you choose for Ellis Island?  Why would you choose that title?

Tuesday and Wednesday should be taken to prepare for the writing.  Remember that we want 'To Seek, To Know and Thereby Grow'.  

To Seek: Tuesday:  Take time to explore this link  Go through all 10 Stops on the Tour. Make sure to stop and look at the photos as well as listen to the audio.
See if you can find the answers to these questions.
  • How long was the trip from home to Ellis Island? 
  • How old was the first Ellis Island immigrant?  
  • Why did they wear numbered tags?  
  • How many questions were asked of every immigrant? 
  • How many languages were spoken at Ellis Island?
  • Each question answered is a signature!
To Know:  Wednesday:  Take time to create a graphic organizer or a rough draft of your paragraph using the information you found on Tuesday.
Remember that an opinion paragraph...
  • introduces the topic, 
  • clearly states your opinion, 
  • has an organizational structure that includes 
    • reasons and 
    • linking words or phrases
  • and has a concluding statement.
To Grow:  Thursday:  Write a solid opinion paragraph answering the prompt.
Ellis Island is known both as the Isle of Hope and the Isle of Tears.  Which name would you choose for Ellis Island?  Why would you choose that title?

A good writer prepares to write.  Use Tuesday and Wednesday wisely!  We look forward to reading your responses on Thursday.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adaptations: An Assignment for Mrs. Belinda's Enrichment Students

Read the following information to refresh your mind about adaptations.  The prompt you are responding to is in BLUE below.  You will have a chance to respond to this prompt on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday in Enrichment.  Do not respond to the prompt until your day or your comment will be deleted.
Tuesday:  Lillian, Brennan, Dominick, Sean, Emily, Dean

Wednesday: La'Tariyahna, Brooks, Kendyl, Zoe, Brady, Benjamin

Thursday: Wesley, Brayden, Anna, Alex J., Aiden B., Ben H.

Friday: Sara, Aiden W., Cameron, Alex V., Cian

All animals live in habitats. Habitats provide food, water, and shelter which animals need to survive, but there is more to survival than just the habitat. Animals also depend on their physical features and their behaviors to help them be successful in their natural habitats.

Physical, bodily features that help animals survive are called physical adaptations. Physical adaptations do not develop during an individual animal's life, but over many generations. The shape of a bird's beak, the color of a mammal’s fur, the thickness or thinness of the fur, the shape of the nose or ears are all examples of physical adaptations which help different animals survive.

Animals also have behavioral adaptations that have to do with their actions.  Like physical adaptations, behavioral adaptations help an animal survive and flourish in its habitat.
Animals adapt for many different reasons:
  • to find food
  • to adjust their bodies to the temperature of their environment
  • to defend themselves
  • to find a mate
  • to escape from predators and other dangers
  • to adjust for the loss of their habitat
If animals do not develop physical or behavioral adaptations that help them survive in their habitats, they die or become extinct.  An animal’s habitat sometimes changes due to climate fluctuations or the influence of humans. When animals cannot adapt to the changes in their environments, they can become extinct.

Evaluate what life would be like for a specific animal if it did not have physical adaptations to help it be successful in its environment.  For example, determine what life would be like for a duck if it did not have webbed feet or for an eagle if it did not have sharp talons or for an owl if it did not have soft wing feathers to help it fly silently.

Choose an animal and write a paragraph describing what life would be life for that animal without the necessary physical adaptations to help it be successful.

Make sure to
  • introduce the topic, 
  • tell about your animal, 
  • tell about the physical adaptation 
  • and then provide at least 3 details of what it would be like if the animal did not have that physical adaptation.
  • Don't forget a conclusion!

EDU638 Graduate Students as Guest Bloggers

I am blessed to teach a graduate course at Freed-Hardeman University.  The course title is Instructional Design and Improvement.  The students in the course are striving to become instructional leaders, school counselors or obtain a higher degree such as an Educational Specialist. Each graduate student has been challenged to create a blog post that inspires the world of education.
Their assignment comes from the quote by George Couros “What if every teacher tweeted one thing a day that they did in their classroom to a school hashtag, and they took five minutes out of their day to read each other’s tweets?  What impact would that have on learning and school culture’ and this post by Clive Thompson Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter. 

When we share our ideas with others, whether they are good or bad, it changes the way that we think. An instructional leader is charged to challenge the thinking of staff, to be a motivator, to be a learner, to listen and then to lead.  An instructional leader is no longer in the office behind the desk with paperwork to complete but an integral piece of the learning environment. 

We have learned in our class that principals are responsible for developing school climates and cultures that support the very best instructional practices.  An instructional leader should forge a partnership with teachers with the primary goals of improving teaching and learning. 

This assignment provides these students a platform to share ideas and in turn impact learning and school culture.

The assignment:  To be a leader in schools, you need to be a learner first. Where are your examples?  What story will you tell as you motivate instructional leaders by communicating through a blog post?  Use your precept (quote) as your beginning point and ignite a passion for leading as a learner.

There is a rubric that sets the parameters for the assignment.  The rubric high points are listed below.
  • Ideas and Content: The student has many original ideas and expresses them clearly. The great majority of ideas are related to the subject matter. (50 points)
  • Writing Quality: Posts are well written, and are characterized by elements of a strong writing style. The content demonstrates that the student is well read, synthesizes learned content and constructs new meaning. (50 points)
  • Community: As mention in red above...
  • Use of Enhancements: The student greatly enhanced their post using video, audio, images or other add-ons. (50 points)
Our first guest blogger debuts this Tuesday.  I know you will enjoy their examples.  See you at the edge!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ellis Island: Looking at Graphs

From 1820 to 2010, which three continents had the highest number of immigrants come to the United States?

Use this link to answer the question.

or you can use this picture to answer the question.  The link provides a clearer view of the graph.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ellis Island: Tell us what you think!

Create a post by responding to this prompt:  What do you think it would be like to be a 3rd grader who came to Ellis Island as an immigrant?

Make sure you read and watch what is provided below:

Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a federal immigration station, a purpose it served for more than 60 years (it closed in1954). Millions of newly arrived immigrants passed through the station during that time–in fact, it has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.
An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
Check out this video.  3rd graders from Willow Elementary created the video about Ellis Island.

Read this and look at the pictures to learn more about Ellis Island.

Don't forget to write your opinion!  What do you think it would be like to be a 3rd grader who came to Ellis Island as an immigrant?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hokki Stools: Donors Choose!

We received our Donors Choose shipment of Hokki Stools today!  The kids are beyond excited.  They all wanted to give money to our next project and then find a way to get more stools for the classroom.  I am blessed to teach such sweet and kind students.  They listened as we talked about the incredible people who donated so that we could have these stools.  They asked questions about why these people gave money and how they could help others.  Donors Choose is an excellent way to teach students about Habit 5: 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood' from our 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  These students care about other people's feelings.  They want to make a difference not only in their classroom but in the world.  What a joy to be a teacher!  What a joy to teach these students!  Thank you to all those who gave freely and generously to our Donor Choose project!  See you at the edge! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Hero in Me! Leadership Binders...

3rd grade just finished its first full week of school.  It was a great week of learning about the classroom library, how to walk independently in the halls, classroom jobs, how to key in our lunch numbers and so much more.

One of the most exciting learning experiences has been our Leadership Binders!  East Chester is learning about the 7 Habits of Happy Kids from Covey during the first 2 weeks of schools.  We are rotating from teacher to teacher to learn about the 3rd grade common language, the 7 habits of happy kids and how we can use these habits to make our 3rd grade team a better team.

We have our names on the outside of our Folder and are decorating our cover to match our personalities.  There are some creative covers!
 Our next page in our Leadership Binder talks about the habits and how we are 3rd grade leaders!
Then we reach the meat of the binder - our data.  The data within the binder ranges from behavior to homework to math pre/post tests or ELA testing.  We include STAR testing scores in our binders as well.  These binders are what we will use to talk with our parents during Parent Teacher Conferences on October 8th and 9th!
'I am in Charge of Myself' reflects the habits that we show each day as a 3rd grader.  Our blank index card has a $5 value.  We keep these in our Nicky Folder and are responsible for keeping up with the card.  Each signature we receive, we have to earn.  Signatures are earned for Exceptional Effort or Star Leader behaviors.  Signatures do not come easily, they have to be earned.  Then there are hole punches.  If our index cards are punched then we have not done our job of being in charge of ourselves.  At the end of the week, we record our credits (signatures) and our debits (hole punches).  This 3rd Grade Community Money is collected for 9 weeks and then used at our Market Days which happen at the end of each 9 weeks.
Each morning, when we come into school, we get our Leadership Binders so we can Clock In and record our Homework.  We know it is important to be at school on time so we write our arrival time in our binders each morning!  Then we check our homework and record how many STARS we receive for working hard at home.  We can do anything we want for homework!  We know it is important to balance our lives between work and play!
These are just some of the pages we use for documenting our work and play at school!  We are Super Kids who are learning to take charge of our learning!  See you at the edge!