Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Professional Development ---> Think Tank

     I am writing to you from upstate New York where I am ensconced in a beautiful retreat setting with 25 other educators.  Our think tank is looking at professional development services offered by the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS); these services include diversity, technology, conferences, and workshops presented to teachers, administrators, staff, heads, and trustees.
     Keeping in mind the Association’s accreditation criteria and process, the group is analyzing professional development, keeping in mind the following: delivery system, leadership, content, and accountability across all constituencies served.
     A Flow of books is helping us Drive towards a possible Switch.

     More to come.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Switch to Change

     Following up on their first bestseller, Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath have written a book that must be read by all, particularly if you are trying to understand the dynamics of change.  You can click over to the website to learn more about the book.
     The authors' use of the metaphor of an elephant and rider throughout the book, helps the reader quickly understand that the rational side of us is the rider and the emotional side of us is the elephant.  Often when the rider knows that a new path must be chosen, it isn't always easy to move the elephant in that direction.
     One of the mentioned ideas that caught my eye was where the brothers cite a grading system used by Jefferson County High School. Students can receive an A, B, C, or NY.  NY standing for "Not Yet."  Pretty clever.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Loving Lampposts" - A Movie About Autism

     Take a minute to view the trailer to the recently released movie Loving Lampposts.  Here is an excerpt from an introduction posted below the trailer on IMDb: 

     "As autism has exploded into the public consciousness over the last 20 years, two opposing questions have been asked about the condition: is it a devastating sickness to be cured? Or is it a variation of the human brain -- just a different way to be human? After his son's diagnosis, filmmaker Todd Drezner visits the front lines of the autism wars. . . And we meet a too often ignored group: autistic adults. It's these adults who show just how tricky it is to judge an autistic person's life. . ."

     The trailer alone will cause you to want to see the movie.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Forever Young

     At this year's graduation, the Class of 2010 presented a slideshow to those assembled parents, teachers, and friends.  One of the background songs was "Young Forever" by the rap artist Jay-Z.  I loved listening to the tune as I watched the slides, but while I watched the video and listened to the lyrics, I realized how meaningfully the music presented the pictures.  See what you think.  
     As an aside, the lyrics reminded me of the classic young adult book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbott.  If you have not read the book, it is a great summer read.

Friday, June 18, 2010

You Gotta Watch This & Then Try It

     A colleague sent me an email declaring that I HAD to see this video and try the website.  She said that the power of it is amazing.  Watch the video, then try WolframAlpha.

   It is amazing.  I can only imagine what this means for students and teachers.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Empathy Helps

     "Empathy Can Ease the Pressure" a one-act play I wrote appears in the Summer 2010 issue of Independent School magazine.  It looks into the relationship among parents, students, and teachers.  Take five minutes to read the entire play by clicking here . . . 
     Think about sharing it with parents, teachers, and administrators.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Understanding Epilepsy

Epilepsy, a seizure disorder, can be devastating to individuals and families. Here are three exceptional resources on this neurological condition.

Mommy, I Feel Funny! A Child's Experience With Epilepsy a book by Danielle M. Rocheford and Chris Herrick takes the reader into the world of Nel.

"Based on a true story, Mommy, I Feel Funny! introduces the reader to Nel, a little girl who is diagnosed with epilepsy. The story takes you through the days following Nel's first seizure. Suddenly, Nel and her family are faced with thoughts, fears and emotions that come with the discovery, understanding and acceptance of epilepsy."

On October 25, 2009 the weekly television news magazine, "60 Minutes," aired "Fight For a Cure," a story about Lauren Axelrod, the daughter of President Obama's Senior Advisor, David Axelrod. The oldest daughter of David and Susan was diagnosed with epilepsy 28 years ago as an infant. Susan is the President of CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bathroom Talk Redux

       How often have you heard the expression “You had to be there to appreciate it?”  Such was the case when I was with a group of fifth grade students on a field trip.
     The chaperones—myself included—were staying in a house and sharing the bathrooms; there were a girls’, a boys’, and an off-the-common-room-unisex bathrooms. 
     In the middle of the day, rain forced us all to be in the house.  At one point, I opened the door to the bathroom off of the common room.  To my surprise, the student sitting and facing me instantly locked eyes with me.  Without hesitation he, rather than being embarrassed, crinkled his eyebrows in indignation and with an even tone said, “Duude.”  I immediately lowered my eyes, humbly saying, “Oops.  Sorry.”  I quickly exited backwards and closed the door.  The faculty member sitting and typing on her computer at the nearby table said, "Oh, sorry.  Fred doesn’t like to lock doors, and I was supposed to be standing watch for him."

Editor’s note: To get a better sense of what it was like being there and the beauty of Fred's clever communication, click on this Bud Light clip to see the different meanings of dude intonations for different situations.  Very funny.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Real Rube Goldberg

David Macaulay's book The Way Things Work gave many young readers and inventor enthusiasts the inspiration to look beyond the outside cover.  It was Ruben Lucius Goldberg who inspired many gadgeteers to come up with unbelievable contraptions.  Check out this one.