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Monday, October 29, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 10/29/2012

  • In this YouTube video ( a recorded Google Hangout) Theresa Allen and Janet Barnstable talk to two teachers in Siberia about how they use Google Sites in education. If you're not doing it, you should listen to this, it is a great tutorial but will also wake you up. IF they doing this in Siberia, what is your excuse? Those of you caught in the storm might want to use this opportunity for some teacher PD.

    tags: education tumblr teaching google flatclass

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

First Hand: Being Here for My Kids

"I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love, like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive"
Woke up singing Good to Be Alive this morning.

It is my son's senior year. It has been tough turning down speaking for the rest of this year, but I want to live this year with no regrets.

My friends in New Jersey saw me watch my son sack the quarterback on the big screen after the local news carried it. This past Friday, as Kip and I ate dinner on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco with FALL CUE the next day, I had the phone on the table getting score updates from the big game. There's no place in the world I'd rather be than in the stands, at home, and at school watching this last year of my son's high school and enjoying the time with him. My daughter's a junior and I want to spend time with her while my youngest has his last year in elementary school.

Life is full of opportunities and wow, God has blessed me with so many. It is good to have choices to make. But it is important to remember that we ALL HAVE CHOICES.

I have NEVER regretted my 5 years as a stay at home Mom. Not one moment and having that experience, I'm not going to regret this either.

If you see time slipping away and those kids getting older, know that you too have choices. While sometimes you HAVE to go and HAVE to work - sometimes you can choose to not feed your own ego and pocketbook and instead, do what is most important and be there for your kids.

These three children of mine are a gift from God and I'm so grateful to be picked to be their Mom. I fall SO short in SO many ways but I am here, flaws and all to love and enjoy them.

So, if you don't see me about on the speaker's circuit so much this school year, I have been booking some for June and July and will likely just do 3-4 speeches next school year as well. If you want me, I'm here, just plan ahead and I will too. But there will be less of me "out there" so that all of me can be "over here" with my kids.

Now, I've got to run get dressed so I can see their One Act play performance of Hansel and Gretel - my daughter is "the mother" and my son is one of the 2 humorous "hobgoblins" belonging to the witch. I've heard they are great -- but today, I get to see it with my own eyes. Some things are just too precious to get second hand.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/25/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Take a hard look at your list today #productivity

I have too much I "have to do."

Really, you have to do all of that? Those 50-100 things on your list, someone is MAKING you do all those things? At the end of your day, if you haven't done all that, a big buzzard of big lists is going to swoop down and whisk you to the nest where people who don't finish their list go at the end of the day?

I'm asking and reasking myself about all these things I "have" to do. Overburdened, overwhelmed, and overworked, I'm not the only teacher, parent, or professional in this plight.

Begin with 3 wins
I've begun making an active list of 3 things each day that I want to be my major accomplishments of the day. I write those three things before the day even starts:

Things like:
- "I will be successfully caught up on all grading, and provide feedback to students so they can improve."
- "I will be an excellent National Honor Society advisor today by making sure I've sent out acceptance letters and communicated all details about the poinsettia fundraiser.'
- "My family will know I love them today as I cook an excellent meal, get the house organized, and show each person that I love them."
- "I plan and have an incredibly fun trip traveling to San Francisco today."
- "I will be engaging and exciting speaker for the people at CUE today and will work to be a blessing to each of them as they go back to their schools on Monday."
- "I will seek to inspire and encourage teachers who are having a hard time today in ways that will help and inspire them to help and inspire each student in their classroom."

Things like that...

But when I have these 3 things written out -- my takeaways from the day, it gives me a lens through which to view my list so that I can focus and accomplish the most important things. At the end of my day, I should have something to show for the day besides a bunch of check marks. I should have accomplishments.

Questions about that all important list
We might "have" to do everything on our list but have we thought about WHY we HAVE to do those things?
Do they fit in with the big picture of what we want to accomplish in our lives?
Do we have weekly and monthly and yearly goals and are we constantly moving towards them?
Do our goals also include inhabiting healthy bodies that are rested and well exercised?
Do we impose limits on certain areas of our life that will consume all of the goodness out of every other area of our lives?

These are hard questions but I am looking clearly into your eyes and telling you (and myself) the hard cold facts of life:


You have choices. Hamsters don't HAVE to run on hamster wheels and you don't have to be slave to some list. My biggest issue with the "getting things done" model is that it is intended to capture EVERYTHING that needs to be done. Everything we think needs to be done, doesn't have to be done.

Everything can't be done. The inability to say no is a form of greed - one that wants everyone to be happy and love you. Check and see if you're breathing. Ok, if you made it to this sentence, you're breathing. To everyone out there breathing SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE THE FACT YOU'RE BREATHING. Get over it. You're not going to please everyone and you can't do everything.

There needs to be a system for some things to fall off our list because they just aren't important. Spend your life doing something important and that is not trying to please everyone because that is impossible. Good ideas don't always make a good use of YOUR time.


At the top of Bloom's Taxonomy is Evaluating and creating. I find it interesting that as teachers we are trying to help our students analyze, evaluate, and create and yet we often rarely step back to analyze and evaluate our own systems of work. Should we be analyzing WHAT we are doing and evaluating how we are doing what we are doing so that we are able to create things unique and original in this world.


You are a finite resource. There's only one of you and YOU have to choose. It is your job to select the plow to which you will put your hand. There are things we do not choose: cancer, illness in the family, the fact that our child has an LD -- these are things that happen. But we can always choose our attitude and we can always choose our response.


So, if, like me, you are facing this day not really sure if you're up to the task. Make choices.

For my Christian friends, there is an amazing song that I dedicate to you that says, "I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb."

So, take this day and make choices. This is your day. Unless you are living in a prison today, no one can tell you how you must think about this day and every single detail of what you do. Everyone, even those living in a prison today, can choose their own attitude.


You are special.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 10/23/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/23/2012

  • David Warlick shares his views about learning literacy and how this looks. Do you engage your students in discussions and opportunities to understand learning and celebrate learning?

    tags: education learning literacy literacy news

  • Take your students to the ARCTIC -- starting on October 24. Hat tip to Richard Byrne - head over to his blog to see what Discovery and Polar Bears have in store for you THIS WEEK. "Discovery Education and Polar Bears International have teamed up to offer some fantastic virtual field trips starting later this wee

    tags: education news teaching science stem tumblr

  • Bullying is not so easy to understand, but many are looking deeper into the whys of bullying. Those who bully should be identified to HELP them. I find it ironic that those who bullied me the worst had the most coping with real life after high school. "The study, presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics' national conference in New Orleans on Monday, found that kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) -- which is characterized by frequent tantrums and revenge seeking -- were six times more likely to be identified as bullies than children with no mental health disorders, while children with depression were three times more likely. Children with anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were also around three times more likely to be bullies, according to parental reports." "There is a larger story behind why children bully," said study author Dr. Frances Turcotte-Benedict, a Brown University masters of public health student and a fellow at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence. "And part of that story may include the diagnosis of a mental health disorder."

    tags: bullying education news research psychology tumblr

  • Numerous studies have found evidence for the idea of self-control as a limited resource — that is, a characteristic that can be depleted – but emerging research suggests that this model may not tell the whole story. Four essential mechanisms are believed to influence self-control: metabolic, cognitive, motivational and affective.

    tags: education news selfcontrol psychology tumblr

  • So many have been talking about lack of sleep. Well, now maybe the coaches will get involved. With an increased likeliness of sports-related injuries with less than 8 hours of sleep a night, getting a good night sleep is good for kids in so many ways. While you're at it -- charge the cell phone in the kitchen. It is sad to say that often many parents won't take action based on academics, even though the proof is there that less sleep harms academic performance, now that there are other impacts of lack of sleep, maybe there is enough involved to get the attention of parents and everyone involved in the lives of children. Sleep is important. You'll want to share this with your staff. "New research suggests sleeping less than eight hours a night is associated with a more than 30 percent injury risk among teen athletes. Investigators asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics (at school and through other programs), whether they used a private coach, whether they participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average each night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation."

    tags: education news athletics sports

  • This meta mooc says it will "involve students at the center of the experiment in the future of their education." The point is that MOOCs haven't really changed much. If you think MOOCs have potential but aren't sure what, this may just be the experience for you -- I find the thought intriguing. "The excitement comes from the open structure that means we are hoping to be joined by anyone anywhere in the world, not for a conventional MOOC (Massive Online Open Learning) where talking heads tell you what they think but in a Meta-MOOC: a class where we think about how we think, learn about how we learn, collaborate on new collaborative management practices, and together actually create a platform for colearning with a "massive" group of interested others worldwide. This experiment is for anyone frustrated about MOOC's being billed as "revolutionary" learning when, too often, MOOCs simply are a video of the most conventional old-school form of teaching: the lectur

    tags: education news mooc tumblr edreform research elearning

  • This fantastic post by Michael Hyatt discusses the 3 components of really enjoying your job. I think the combination is quite brilliant.

    tags: education news

  • Take time to share your global collaborative project online at the Global Education Conference.

    tags: education news flatclass

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 10/22/2012

  • This website has a cute free poster with positive thoughts. This was printed and put in our teacher's breakroom last week and everyone loves it. People are tearing off a thought and putting it in their pocket. I'm printing some for my classroom but am planning to have students design one for use somewhere in their life where people need encouragement. It will require a bit of graphic design, but I have room in my 9th grade course for that. Great idea.

    tags: teaching inspiration encouragement choose2matter

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

A Recess for Teacher

Dimpled cheeks and frizzy hair
arms in slings and fashion flair.
You enter here different but green
not knowing what this short life means.

A spider's wisp of unknown length
ripped away by angels' blink.
A ripple, a spark, a falling leaf,
transient, short, sadly brief.

But as you near my magnetic grasp
enticed to seek and excited to gasp
we dance with apples and Newtonian stares
traipsing like nymphs to Siren's lairs.

Learn with me fair children of men
come sit on my Socratic rock again
inquire to know and settle not
life's too short for learning to stop.

Rock I shall till life's last bell
then carve my stone and wish me well:

"She who taught best

has finally earned recess."

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds
Photo Credit: Big Stock

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/22/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Advice to presenters and teachers: All You Have is Enough

I'm sitting here looking at the grey skies over Chicago. Planes coming and going, gray rain dropping down. The guy at gate E12 is putting his happiest Disney voice asking people to board for Detroit Michigan like they are about to ride Space Mountain.

A tired man at Starbucks bumped into me and said "excuse me" just as I said it to him and then glared at me and said "I said excuse me" to an incredulous look from me as to why he was so snippy. Maybe he gave everything he had today and didn't have anything left to determine that I meant him no harm and was only trying to be respectful.

After arriving last night close to 1 am and sleeping a few fitful hours, I started speaking at 8:15 am this morning with a small break for lunch and then finished up around 3:30. Lots of people had started leaving the conference muttering concerns about Chicago traffic with a very slim last session.

Ending a conference feels just like ending school. I get this feeling. I want closure. Somehow I want to know that I've done enough. I want to know that today made a difference. I want to know that it was worth this unique, special day -- the only October 18, 2012 that I will ever live. I don't really know what I want to confirm that. I don't know why the kind compliments about the keynote this morning or other words of encouragement just weren't enough. But they never are.

It is the same way on the last day of school. When I walk the empty halls, picking up a stray old piece of paper or half a pencil, turning it between my thumb and forefinger as I wonder what it was that just happened to me. Another conference, another school year. Time passes so fast. Lively things full of action and interactions. A thousand microexpressions on hundreds of faces too many to interpret and read.

Same old feeling

I realized as I checked in through security that I always feel this way after a conference and I always feel this way at the end of the school year. It is the same feeling, this gray, empty wondering if it was all enough. If I was enough. If I really made a difference. Did I help others.? A thousand gargoyles of doubt gnaw at the gray matter in my mind making me wonder.

Yet, in a moment, those gray statues of doubt vanish as I realize that it has to be enough. I worked for hours on these presentations. These presentations are the results of thousands of hours in the classroom DOING this. These presentations and these school years have to be enough...


ALL I HAVE IS ENOUGH. ALL YOU HAVE IS ENOUGH. IT HAS TO BE because there is nothing else left to give when you have given everything. Learn from your mistakes and get better every time but draw a clear line between rethinking your approach and approaching self doubt because you don't feel like you got enough verbal validation for what you did.

I remember one of my very first presentations at GAETC to a small room of perhaps 20 people. I gave everything I had and was done and said "Is that all there is." Now that I've been around, I can speak from experience that whether it is 5 or 5,000 the feeling is the same. More people doesn't give you more validation - it may give you more people who like you, but people are people. If you can change one life, that is great.

No leprechaun is going to jump out of the bushes and hit you in the head with his shillelagh and endow you with the knowledge that this is your lucky day and you just inspired everyone to become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You're talking to people and people aren't so easy to read like that.

Today, in the gray Chicago day, I want to send a message to all my fellow teachers and presenters around the world that:

If you give all you have that YOU have given enough. YOU MATTER very much. Don't let self doubt keep you from doing it again.

Have a great day. Teachers and presenters of all kinds - I'm proud of you for doing this hard work of teaching others.

ALL YOU HAVE is enough. You are enough. Rest your head and have a good day knowing you gave all you had.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/18/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You don't need another gadget to be a great teacher.

As I'm heading to SDE's PowerUP with Technology conference in Chicago, I'm pondering the two kinds of teachers. There are two kinds of teachers: paper and pavement. Paper teachers know all the things to do on paper, but when it comes to hitting the pavement with action, they come up short. They can't quite get how to deal with an unruly class or respond to a child who doesn't want to be there. The kind of teachers I like are pavement people.
If a teacher is only booksmart, it is tough to teach. These paper tigers
know all the words but can't quite find the words when facing a rebellious
teen or a misbehaving seventh grader.

Paper Tigers

Paper people can write perfect words. They can speak them too. Well versed, well phrased, and sometimes well-oiled, it all sounds great.

X marks the spot... or does it?

We can also allow paper to convince us that we are sorely amiss and cannot be a good teacher without "x." Advertising has as an objective to arouse an eager want. The easiest way to do that is to think that you are lacking something. There is something gravely amiss in you, your school, and your classroom that you can only have if you get "x." You are fatally flawed without "x" and cannot make it. Then, we're going to prove to you why "x" will solve your problem. You must have "x" and raise money and sacrifice everything to get it.

You can be fooled into thinking that if someone will just sign
that "x" on the bottom of a purchase order so you can have "x"
that you will be an ex-poor teachers. Good teachers can become greater
with an excellent use of technology, poor teachers will languish no matter
what "x" you give them. Be careful to remember that YOU are the greatest
asset your classroom has and that can't be found in something
that can be shipped from coast to coast.

On paper, they convince you that you must have something -- not necessarily that you must DO something but have something.

Then, the day comes, you buy "x" and you get it into your classroom. They send you the paper to understand how to use x, but that is just it -- it is paper, written by someone who has never used "x" and doesn't understand pedagogy of using anything in the classroom. It is all on paper. So, "x" gathers dust in the corner of your room, until you see it. As you are scanning the internet, you realize you have another problem that only "y" will solve.

"Y" -- really? WHY?

This is life and we need things to be able to teach. I'd really want a 1:1 ipad program in my school, but the fact is that until the teachers are ready to IMPLEMENT a 1:1 ipad and we have the infrastructure, it is a waste of money.

The fact is that 100% of the people won't be satisfied until 100% of the kids are in the top 1% of students. Our sheer method of measurement breeds discontent and dissatisfaction. Yes, we should always work to be more, but when I run, I don't measure myself against the speed of teenagers, but against myself to see if I'm improving consistently.

There is a big difference between pavement and paper.
What you do with what you have is more important than what you have.

Pavement Pounders

Pavement is what happens daily. It is what you do. The fact is that you could buy the shiniest, happiest "x" but in reality, the best thing you might could do is to spend time with each of your students daily. Or, to listen to them. Or, to customize the classroom. Or to put in a passion-based project where your students can explore and share their passions. Or, to look in the eyes of your students daily and call them by name.

It is about what you DO in the classroom more than what you HAVE. It always has been.

Teaching on the Pavement in Inner City Mumbai

I was in Mumbai, India with my students several years a go for a Flat Classroom mini-conference at ASB Unplugged and we were at a school for street children. They came here to learn english. The room was a recreation room that doubled as a school for a few hours a day and there were two large dry erase boards that the teachers took to two different parts of the room as the children sat on mats.

Teacher Suzie Nesticos and one of my students at the Akansha school in Mumbai.
Our next Flat Classroom conference is in Yokohama, Japan in March.

The lucky kids had small notepads, barely the size of their palms, and pencils literally chewed down to the nub. When they ran out of paper, they started over at the beginning of the notebook again trying to get every spare speck of that piece of paper so they could remember. They were being taught how to have jobs requiring good customer service skills, how to write letters, and how to speak English. Those students on that dirty floor in Mumbai with traffic just outside the window spewing pollution in through the open windows knew more English than many educated here in the US. And they had less. But they had one BIG important thing.

They had two highly motivated, hard working teachers. These teachers were pavement people because they had no books and had little, but they had their hearts and their determination to help these children whose only hope out of the slums was to learn what they were teaching. It was enough.

You are enough.

Beware of inferring that I'm saying we need bare-bones, dirty rec rooms to learn in. But if you don't have an engaged, hard working teacher at the helm, you might as well have that.

I just want you as the teacher to know that "x" or "y" or "z" or whatever the advertiser or magazine says you HAVE to have to be a great teacher is a lie. You have all you need to be a great teacher, right there inside of you.

It is about your DO and your WHO.

It is what you DO every day. It is WHO you are. It is your CHARACTER in doing the right thing when no one is looking. The best teachers teach like crazy whether admin is in the building or not. If you're there just for show and don't plan lessons the other days of the year (when not being reviewed), then get out of the profession of teaching.

This profession is for PROFESSIONALS. We teach all day every day and work very hard. We work to reach every student and have a calling higher than a contract on a piece of paper. We have a lot in common with those dedicated women in the rec room in Mumbai because we are here with all we have, to use everything we have to reach all students we have been assigned to teach.

You can't buy a fix for education with a Purchase Order

I'm just tired of the advertising mumbo-jumbo trying to "sell" solutions to "fixing" education. I've been teaching 11 years at a school with half the funding of most local schools and twice the results. It is because I and most of the other teachers here don't need someone to look over our shoulder to do our jobs. We work hard and excel anyway. We are pavement people.

Be the improvement

You probably are too, you just need encouragement to do the right thing even when no one is looking. You have people whining and complaining everywhere you turn, don't be one of them.

  • Be the kind of teacher that this world needs. 
  • Be excellent. 
  • Pound the pavement every day as you habitually work hard to be the best teacher these students have ever had.

As for me, I believe that as long as I have the living God as my daily guide, and I show up with all I have to reach every student, that my classroom will be blessed beyond my wildest dreams no matter what we don't have. They have me. That is enough.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

PhotoCredits Bigstock.com - photos not for reuse without relicensing from Bigstock - http://www.bigstockphoto.com
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/14/2012

  • Mark Phillips from Edutopia calls for a "political bootcamp" for kids to understand how the process works. It can be done with a teacher who understands the difference between sharing their own views and requiring an agreement with those views to get a good grade or avoid denigration. Those in authority in schools must be careful to respect all students and their viewpoints. We need discernment an wisdom in such tumultuous times, however, our ability to disagree in a civil way is paramount to our future.

    tags: education news politics

  • This next political issue is over a bus driver arguing with a CHILD over a yard sign and telling the child that the child "should have been aborted" Just be aware of the times of the season and the appropriateness of how adults should interact with children. (If I see any relating to such things with Obama, I'll be sure to share, it just seems the two in my feed are related to Romney.)

    tags: education news politics

  • Whatever your political views, students have a right to theirs. Do not make fun of a student or their family's political choice. While the media isn't biased, teachers aren't either, however, you may be biased but your students have a right to their opinions as well. Please be sensitive during political season, especially if you are an activist, to know that you show students what good, effective political discourse can look like -- even if our politicians and media do not.

    tags: education politics news

  • My first year teaching was pretty AWFUL. There were glimmers there of the hope and excitement that would be there, but I didn't get it until my third year in. If I hadn't had my Mom and sister giving me advice, I probably would have quit the first day -- they saved me. This is why having mentors with seasoned, real advice (that teachers aren't getting in education school) you just aren't prepared. It is more challenging than ever to keep discipline and teach - with less support from parents and sometimes admin and many students not well disciplined at home, teachers need to be GOOD and keeping order. This article hits it on the head and is a great one. It is vital that we begin to look at the behavioral and practical aspects of teaching. "Tackling the teacher retention crisis and ensuring highly effective teaching are of the utmost importance if we want to improve student performance in our schools. High teacher turnover rates sap education of its talent and scar schools and students. What message is a revolving door of new teachers sending to our students about the value of staying in school, or even about their own value? Quality of teaching has been proven to have a substantial effect on the lives of students. For every year an inexperienced teacher is left alone to struggle at the front of the classroom, we are at risk of their students falling behind. The good news is we have a solution. To address this crisis in education, we need to sharpen our focus on the fate of our newest educators. We need to ensure they don't just survive in the classroom, but truly thrive. We need to make sure they are reaching all students and helping them achieve. Great teachers are made, not born.

    tags: education news edreform tumblr

  • A must read testimony of a principal from Long Island. If you're called to speak on this topic -- it would be hard to be better spoken that this. Talk about hearings we NEED in DC, try hearings on our antiquated testing system.If adaptive, computerized tests could accurately predict strengths and weaknesses in a much shorter time, then why don't we do it? One answer: scantron. We have old outdated machines and companies with many politicians hands in their pockets. It is time to expose and discuss the testing systems we use in the US. We need accountability, yes. We need measures, yes. But when you get what you measure... what you measure becomes very very important. We need to wake up and deal with this issue. My favorite quote from the transcript... "The obsession with test based evaluations of students, schools and teachers is tearing the schools we love apart. Something is very wrong when nine year olds sit for tests that are longer than the SAT and the Graduate Record Examination combined. Something is wrong when policymakers contemplate tests for kindergarteners to predict whether they are on the path to college readiness.

    tags: education news edreform tumblr

  • Twitter bought posterous, which continues to have problems. Richard Byrne makes a good point that it is likely you may lose posterous. An unfortunate thing to happen and why many of us go to paid service. I was getting ready to move to wordpress until I saw I had 1800 followers through Blogger who has recently made tweaks to make it more like Tumblr. Interesting conondrum.

    tags: education news posterous web2 tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 10/13/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Where I want to be

It is 9:02 pm on Friday night, October 12, 2012 and it is Homecoming at Westwood. I'm on a plane to New Jersey getting ready to give a speech at the school of a person I admire very much, Eric Sheninger, a speech I agreed to give long before the football schedule was announced.

Last week I was told this night was also senior night and that parents would escort their senior football players onto the field as they are announced to the cheering stands. I would be in the air between Albany and Atlanta during that time on the first leg of my flight.

There is more than just a promise and contract here, on Monday, October 15, taxes are due. This speech and a tiny bit Kip and I saved up are what we need for taxes. Every speck of money I've earned in the past year has gone to whittle down a whopping debt due to an unexpected job situation several years a go. I need this speech to write that check on Monday.

So, by the time I got to Atlanta, I knew that my husband and my father -- my son's "Poppa" would escort him onto the field. I'd already told the announcer and everyone that I wouldn't be there so hopefully it wouldn't be awkward.

As I sat down to eat my taco salad by the baby grand piano, the pianist looked at me and began playing "Memory" from CATS. If I could have rolled my eyes at myself, I would have as I sniffled just a bit between bites.

Then I got it, the text message with a photo from my sister -- they had given my son a flower to give his Mom -- a flower that my Dad held proudly (somewhat awkwardly perhaps) and my husband beamed proudly at his arm. They were all beaming - my son looked even taller than his towering 6'6" frame already is. They had their moment, so then I had mine. I wept. Tearing up, I didn't want to blubber in front of anyone, so I sort of used my napkin and sniffed and wiped my eyes as if I had eaten some hot sauce or something. No one noticed me. It just wasn't where I wanted to be.

But then, I just had to reflect all the times I was there. I was a stay at home mom when he was 1 until he was 8 and then took a job at the school to be near him. I've been at his school to see him grow up and learn. I taught him to type and computer science. I even took him to China to the Flat Classroom Conference a few years a go and we walked on the Great Wall together. I'm here every day and bought a fridge at school to stock water so he can grab a cold one during the day. I stock pencils and paper so he has that too. I've been here for just about everything in his life. So, why did this one night hurt so bad? Why was I so wounded?

I guess I just want to be there for EVERYTHING. Now that he's a senior, every moment is precious. Each sand that drops through the hourglass is grain that floats into oblivion through my grasping fingers. I want him to shrink and let me throw him onto my hip again as we play outside with our dog Crash (long since gone on to that doghouse in the sky.) I want to go back and do science experiments and bake cookies on cold winter days. I want to study with him again for his first test and read Narnia aloud as we go on family trips to try to help the kids find books they love -so they'd read.

Time is passing and EVERY moment is precious... but it always has been ... just now that there are less of those moments, each moment magnifies in its glory and potential memory.

But I can't go back... time only moves in forward motion and I can't back it up. It doesn't work that way. So, I'm here at 9:15 pm on the bumpy plane watching stewards come through the cabin while trying to hold onto the seats and serve drinks without pouring them in the laps of thirsty passengers. I'm just not where I want to be right now.

But you know what... this happens. Life happens. In history and even now there are Moms and Dads separated from their kids by oceans... not just missing senior night but missing their child's WHOLE senior year. There are Moms and Dads in cold cemeteries whose blank eyes won't open again to see their child walk the stage or get married. There are Moms and Dads tonight with children in cold cemeteries too or even worse, warm children whose eyes have closed for the last time.

So, although I'm not the place I want to be, this is life and life happens. I have healthy children and although I don't know the score of the Homecoming game or if my son is playing well and has sacked the quarterback again, I do have a son and he has a Mom. I have a husband and two more children who will be here after this year. And it isn't like I'm sending him off forever. He's going off to college, but that is as it should be. We're driving each other crazy anyway. He's ready and we are too.

These are the thoughts of a parent of a child about to graduate from high school. Full of self doubt, what ifs, and tears. I might just burst into tears at any time, like the other day as I looked at his favorite kind of Fruit Rollups (he doesn't eat them any more) although I do a pretty good job hiding those tears if it happens. I prefer to keep it to myself. It seems like a pretty sad thing to have such pity parties and I don't like them.

I have a wonderful son and am blessed to have been given him to raise. He's not perfect but I'm far from it. We've had to forgive each other a lot but we've also laughed a lot and had a great time too.

This is my son in whom I am well pleased. Tonight, I am where I should be... keeping a promise to a friend and using this opportunity to pay a bill that needs to be paid. Life isn't all about doing what you want to do. Besides, I've turned down that speech in January and another in February and a trip to Japan in March. I'm going to be here the rest of the year and have no regrets. If this is the only regret I have from this year full of memories, then I'll be doing well because I don't think any parent is ever there enough for these moments.

So, now, I'm going to smell the Biscoff cookies the person next to me is eating (that I'm not going to eat) and review my 21st Century Influencer presentation just one more time and then settle back knowing that I may not be where I want to be, but I'm in the right place for where I should be at this moment in time. I pray that missing this one thing that my son will recall all the times I have been there and know that his Mom may be flying over Virginia right now but that I love him with all my heart and would be there if I could. I'm going to give the speech of my life, worthy for missing such a moment as this --because if the good Lord has taken me and put me here, I know Him well enough to know that He has me here for a very good reason. I'm going to give all I have.

Goodnight friends and thanks for reading the thoughts of a Mom missing her child... missing tonight and already missing him for what I know is coming. Because I may always want to be with him, but it is for the best that I let him go.

To all you parents out there who know exactly what this feels like... here's to you. We've spent lots of nights with sick kids, waiting up for kids who missed curfew, and wrapping presents for Christmas. We've planned birthday parties and sat in doctor's offices and stirred brownie batter. We've changed diapers and held hands and sung songs. I guess I could break into a rendition of "Days in the Sun" but that is enough.

I'm proud of you, son. Mama would be there if she could tonight. I love you with all my heart. I dedicate my speech tomorrow in your honor. May it be one of the best I've ever given. Goodnight.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/11/2012

  • This Justin Beiber fan site has been penalized more than $100,000 for collecting emails of minors under 13 without parental permission. COPPA compliance is more important than ever. I find it ironic that kids under 13 aren't even supposed to be able to have emails in the first place on many websites. "The details of the registration process varied depending on the site, so you'll want to read the complaint for the specifics. But the 25-words-or-less summary is that Artist Arena allegedly collected kids' names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, gender and other info without properly notifying parents and getting their consent. According to the complaint, the company violated COPPA by knowingly registering over 25,000 kids under 13 and collected and maintained personal information from almost 75,000 other kids under 13 who started the sign-up process, but didn't finish it."

    tags: education news coppa digital_law

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The teacher is not always right (at least not about this Nobel Prize winner)

The teacher is not always right. Take this report card for a troubled science student in 1949.

"It has been a disastrous half. His work has been far from satisfactory. His prepared stuff has been badly learnt, and several of his test pieces have been torn over; one of such pieces of prepard work scored 2 marks out of a possible 50. His other work has been equally bad, and several times he has been in trouble, because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way. I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous, if he can't learn simple Biological facts he would have no chance to find the work of a a Specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him."

This is taken from the report card of John Gurdon, by a teacher at Eton College in 1949.

Boston.com - AP News - Nobel Prize winner gets poor marks in science.

Gurdon has just won the Nobel prize for science. I find it ironic how quickly this paper surfaced. I would wonder if Gurdon kept it as fuel for his passion, kind of like I recall those in my class who told me that I'd never be anything because I had no common sense.

I am going to show this to my students today. The fact is that passion cannot be held back and that teachers aren't always right.

It is also true, that sometimes we learn the most from our worst teachers... or those we get along with the worst... that -- "if it is to be, it is up to me."

Ponder this one today. Remember your noble calling, teacher, but also that you are not omnipotent.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Enough for everyone's need but not everyone's greed

"There's enough for everyone's need, not everyone's greed."
James Lee Adams, Sr., my grandfather
Sometimes little fish need a chance.

Greed is wanting more than you need.
Websters says "
Intense and selfish desire for something, esp. wealth, power, or food." 
It is an insatiable desire to accumulate. I don't look down upon those who accumulate wealth and are successful. Greed is not synonymous with wealth, however. We see it in school.

We should all be able to strive and succeed and benefit. The wealthy aren't necessarily greedy. There are those who are poor that can be greedy too.

Someone poor could want to have what others have without working for it. Someone poor could be greedy to have the things that another earned. We can all be greedy for food or power.

How does this relate to school?

Greed in the classroom.


I've seen some kids who are successful who cannot stand the idea of another child being recognized for anything. In fact, as I work to give honest praise, I might praise a child who doesn't usually get it and the child who gets a lot of praise will come to my desk later to point out something the other child did wrong. It is almost like the child who gets a lot of praise thinks there is a finite amount of praise. Greed for all the attention can cause fault finding and a desire to monopolize praise. Don't let it happen. This is often a problem for the academically successful. Don't let them be academically arrogant but inclusive of others, even those not as naturally gifted as themselves.


Greed often happens with children who are ignored at home but misbehave in the classroom because it gives them the attention they crave. By monopolizing attention in the classroom, the student feels important. Being noticed in a bad way is better than being ignored to some students.

Recognize this for what it is and intentionally give positive attention and notice when this is happening. If all of your time is being monopolized by one child, the child may have a need - yes, that is possible - but it is also possible that the child has a greed. A huge, insatiable desire for attention - whatever it takes. And it is often easier to get attention for bad behavior than good behavior.


Some students want to always be heard. The unwise teacher can think that because one or two students speak out and really get it, that everyone understands. This is a lie. Good teachers are good at bringing all students into the conversation. I set boundaries and have often used the poker chip example that I shared in 10 Ways to Talk Less, Listen More, Teach Well.


Of course it can happen with food. There are hungry kids but there are also kids that want more than their fair share and will do whatever it takes to get the food of others.

Greed for all the attention and credit can kill a sense of team.

Greed on the sports field.

Greed can happen on the sports field too. It destroys teamwork when one athlete, gifted though he/ she be, tries to gain more glory without giving respect and honor to the teammates and coach.

Greed can happen when those teammates are jealous of the superstar, even if that superstar is humble.

Greedy teachers?

Greed can happen when I want a moment of peace but a child has a problem and really needs me. There is, however, a need to have a break sometimes. There are teachers who will NEVER give time before school, after school, or during break. "I need my time," they'll say. Well, my job is to teach and help students and when they miss school, I do often have to tutor before and after school. That is the life of a teacher.

Some teachers want all of the attention and it upsets these teachers when others get praise. We all crave attention and to know we matter but there is no excuse. Rejoice when others have good things happen.

Some want to believe they have all the problems in the world. No one has a life as bad as they do. As soon as one person has a problem, they're unloading their Uzi-machine-gun clip of problems ready to fire to prove they have the worst life. No explanation for this, but I've seen it. I've probably done it a few times when I was having a pity party but it is a form of greed.

Never saying no can be a form of greed. We want to do everything for everybody. WE all have one thing in common... 24 hours. That is all. No more, no less. Sometimes we must say no so we can be honest and balanced.

Greedy parents?

There is a greed when wealthy parents of children, try to exert their monetary influence on the school to also get their children undeserved accolades, positions, or preference.

This requires firm administrators with ethics to stand against this. Sometimes these parents may not know they are doing it, but are just more vocal than most.

Finding the balance.

Teachers are constantly balancing between greed and need. We need to be wise and discerning as often, we are the ones who must find fairness amidst the complexity of human behavior.

Administrators need this fairness and balance as well.

There's enough for everyone's need but not everyone's greed. 

Greed is destructive if left unchecked. The greedy child may not realize it is happening or what he/she is doing. You can help these situations in positive, encouraging ways by pointing out the value of everyone.

I like to teach about brainstorming and group dynamics and point out that often students who are quiet have great things to add. Great leaders bring out everyone and don't monopolize the conversation or the project.

Greed takes many forms and it isn't just money. It can be attention, resources, praise. Scarcity can also cause greed - if people think that not much praise will be doled out -- they may fight for what little they think there will be.

Why not create a situation where praise is lavish, but honest? A place where fairness resides. I know this sounds like heaven on earth, and that it may not be possible, however, as teachers and administrators, we must clearly be aware of the greed/need balance as we help meet the needs of everyone while combatting greed that breaks down teamwork and harms morale.

Now, I need to get to school -- and that really is a need.

PS. This applies more than ever in the #edreform and #ebook movements as well as the desire to inundate students with advertising messages wherever they are.

- Written on my iPad using Blog Press by Vicki Davis, author, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds

Photo Credit: Big Stock, you may not reuse photos unless you license them directly on their website or you are breaking copyright law.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 10/09/2012

  • We recorded a show in Atlanta with Governor Nathan Deal about helping high school students choose their career track. We also discussed what flattening the classroom means and how one can integrate the world into your classroom to create rich learning experiences. Thank you to my friend Anne, the show's host, for inviting me on.

    tags: education news flatclass edreform careered career tumblr

  • Some students believe they are entitled to grades just for showing up, according to new research, especially if they are paying for their education (like college or private school). On this Radio show at the BAM Radio Network hosted by RAE Pica, she talked with researchers, an anonymous teacher, and I had a small reflection from my own experience about entitlement. It was a fun show to record and is pretty short.

    tags: education news edreform entitlement tumblr

  • Beth Moore has been one of my longstanding mentors through her many Bible studies she has written, but this blog post will appeal to any of you... especially those who work too hard and too long (like me) - these words caught my attention: "Work martyrs are fake martyrs. They don’t count. They’re too self-important. It dawned on me about 2 years ago that no one was making me work nonstop but me so why, then, did I want to find somebody to blame for driving this skeleton like a shovel into quicksand? Anyway, I want to dance with my grandchildren at their weddings."  I want to dance with my grandchildren at their weddings too and my workload isn't doing that dream any favors. Rethinking many things in my life.

    tags: education news workaholic work tumblr

  • Facebook isn't private. Don't talk in bad ways about your children or students. You can't delete it. You can't erase it. If you're upset, pick up the phone, but even then, you could be recorded. Face to face, we'll you could be recorded too. I think you should be wary of venting but doing it in writing on a social network has to rank up there as the #1 dumb thing you can do. I see it on Tumblr all the time and it makes me cringe. Wake up. There is no private teacher's lounge online. Be wise and treat your students with respect. Sadly, the students can speak ill of their teachers all they want and no one deals with it, but we are adults and they are children. We are professionals and we should behave like it. Read this story and take heed. "Printouts of the Facebook comments were posted on fencing near the school. One said: "No wonder everyone is thick … inbreeding must damage brain development." Another referred to seeing pupils queuing in a discount store. The online exchange, allegedly between teachers at the school, prompted anger among parents."

    tags: education news facebook

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Come to Edscape in New Jersey this Saturday October 13

Guest post from -- Eric Sheninger http://ericsheninger.com  Eric is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012)PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), Google Certified Teacher, Adobe Education LeaderASCD 2011 Conference Scholar, co-author of "Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals" and "What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science", writer on education for the Huffington Post, co-creator of the Edscape Conference, sits on the FEA Board of Directors, and was named to the NSBA "20 to Watch" list in 2010 for technology leadership.  

The annual Edscape Conference will once again be held at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ on Saturday October 13, 2012.  Hundreds of educators from over seven different states and Canada will once again descend upon my school to learn together and network in an effort to move their respective school cultures down an innovative path.  Edscape evolved out of the need to provide educators with relevant, meaningful professional development focusing on digital learning and innovation that was in dire need for many.  This was the case for teachers in my District as well as those throughout the Tri-State area. 

Here is a description of the conference:

As the educational landscape changes schools must transform accordingly in order to prepare all learners with the skills, tools, and knowledge to be successful in the 21st Century. This requires a shift in instructional techniques that focus on critical thinking, inquiry, problem-solving, authentic contexts, and technology. 

Edscape is a conference intended to bring together passionate educators who firmly believe that innovation is essential to increasing student engagement and achievement. Innovation begins with a desire to change. Edscape will provide attendees with the inspiration, strategies, and the confidence to actively pursue a transformation in teaching and learning practices.  

The theme of this year’s conference is “Innovation Now”. We will explore how learning environments can be established to promote critical thought, inquiry, problem solving, and creativity. Attendees will leave with a greater sense of how to authentically engage all learners through meaningful and relevant instruction.  

The Edscape Conference will feature presentations and workshops by innovative educators who believe that change is essential to meet the diverse needs of all learners in the 21st Century. They will share best practices, success stories, applicable strategies, and pedagogical techniques that address the following:
  • Meaningful, cost-effective professional growth opportunities to improve teaching and learning.
  • Effective technology integration as a means to promote student creativity, apply knowledge, and increase engagement in the classroom.
  • Design of authentic learning experiences to enhance critical thought, inquiry, problem-solving, and relevancy in the classroom.
  • Essential leadership practices to articulate a vision for school improvement and begin the implementation process.
Other conference highlights include the following:
  • 60 concurrent sessions
  • Keynote by Vicki Davis, an internationally-renowned teacher
  • Presentations by educators who routinely speak and present at national conferences
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Fantastic networking opportunities
  • An innovation lab to see firsthand some of the latest educational technology in action
  • Giveaways

Sponsors include: TEQ, New Milford High School, NJEA, Edutopia

Note from Vicki: I'll be presenting an updated version of 21st century influencer and am working on something incorporating the Captivating Teacher Manifesto. Hope to see you there. Many incredible tweeters will also be there including #satchat founders and others.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 10/07/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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