Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rigor or 5 Cs + 1?

When you think of the word "rigor" and how it applies to our schools, what comes to mind? Good? Bad? Certainly not neutral. In a recent meeting here at school, the word "rigor" surfaced, and I could feel my skin crawl. It has no place in schools. I came across this blog post "Stop Saying 'Rigor'" that shed another person's light on the word.

For the record, here is a definition from Merriam-Webster:

1 a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity
(2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty

2 a tremor caused by a chill

3 condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold

4 strict precision : exactness

Check out my next post to learn about the 5 Cs + 1.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Okay For Now

Gary D. Schmidt's newest young adult book, Okay For Now, is the sequel to his highly successful Wednesday Wars. It follows Doug Swieteck and Joe Pepitone from Long Island to upstate New York. This could be a Newbery contender. I highly recommend it.

While you're at it, check out the review on the 2011 National Book Award Finalists website.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Importance of Being Positive

The other day I began connecting the dots on how important it is to be a positive leader; what it means to the people around you when you are positive; and how exhilarating it is to work in a positive environment. Let me take you through the sequence of how I arrived at this epiphany.

Click here to read my recent article,
"A Triumph," that was published in the fall issue of "The Public School Montessorian."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Progressive Alfie Kohn

I saw Alfie Kohn speak yesterday. Young-spirited, gesticulating provocateur and passionate about his beliefs, he convinced me that he is an advocate for the child. Expounding upon effort over achievement, he made many references to "the research says."

I loved his article, "Progressive Education," in the Spring 2008 edition of Independent School magazine. It's well worth reading.

For now, here is a brief clip:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bird Flies 3,500 Miles Nonstop!

While listening to Scott Simon on Weekend Edition, I was astonished to hear about the Whimbral, a bird that will fly from Virginia to Alaska nonstop. Listen to this four-minute clip, "A Bird Flies Into a Hurricane. Does It Fly Out?," to hear how this is done—the tracking and flight. You might want to share this with your class.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fed by Feed

Author M. T. Anderson's book, Feed, is of the Brave New World genre—scary but highly prophetic. Feed is a book that every educator and parent must read. Here is a link to the movie trailer, but be careful; you should really read the book first!

Meet the author and hear him talk about writing in this video clip.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zinsser - 5 Principles of Good Writing

I am a big fan of William Zinsser. His book, On Writing Well, is the quintessential (He would cringe if he knew that I used that big Latin word) book on writing. His address to Columbia Graduate School of Journalism students can be found in "Writing English as a Second Language," published in The American Scholar. I love his closing comments to them:

"As you start your journey here at Columbia this week, you may tell yourself that you’re doing 'communications,' or 'new media,' or 'digital media,' or some other fashionable new form. But ultimately you’re in the storytelling business. We all are. It’s the oldest of narrative forms, going back to the caveman and the crib, endlessly riveting. What happened? Then what happened? Please remember, in moments of despair, whatever journalistic assignment you’ve been given, all you have to do is tell a story, using the simple tools of the English language and never losing your own humanity.

Repeat after me:

Short is better than long.

Simple is good.

Long Latin nouns are the enemy.

Anglo-Saxon active verbs are your best friend.

One thought per sentence.

Good luck to you all."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Now that we are into a new school year. . .

. . . here is a short but powerful article, "Teaching Secrets: After the Honeymoon," that all teachers should read. What I love is its therapeutic advice. Here are the main bullet points:
  • Take time for yourself
  • Be proactive about your health
  • Keep family time sacred
  • Exalt the positive
  • Build a support network for yourself
  • Take time to laugh
  • Choose Happiness
Parents should also read (for yourselves) what author Cossandra George writes about each point above.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do You Doodle?

Check out Sunni Brown's (author of Gamestorming) TED Talk on how doodling is one of the greatest allies to intellectual thought.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More on Palindromes

Back on October 28, 2009, I posted "Is That Really a Palindrome?"

Recently on NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition, with a mouthful of palindromes, puzzle master Will Shortz amused listeners with his weekly puzzle. If you enjoy playing with palindromes, you will be delighted by this 7-minute piece.

Then, if you really want to see a long—I mean long—palindrome, check out "Master Palindromist: Way Beyond 'Madam, I'm Adam.'" This article will lead you to a ridiculously long palindrome that is over 400 words.