Monday, September 07, 2009
I look forward to sharing this with my students and having them copy and paste a bit of their own writing into Wordle.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Here is an excerpt of the assignment:
How to Get the Most Out of Your 7 Habits Experience
Like a warm-up before a workout, this 7 Habits Warm-Up will only take you about 10–15 minutes to complete and will make a huge difference in the value you get out of the program.
To complete your Warm-Up, please do these things:
1. Read “The Promise.”
2. Answer the preparation questions.
Please bring these Warm-Up pages with you to the program.
Read “The Promise”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Program is one of the most respected and popular learning experiences available. These habits will have a significant and positive impact on your life. Below is a summary of the 7 Habits and the kind of results you can expect. Take a few moments and note which of these promises interests you most. Draw a circle around the ones you really want to focus on.
Habit 1: Be Proactive ~ The Habit of Choice
- You'll find out how to take charge of your own future.
- You'll increase your influence at work and in your life
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind ~ The Habit of Vision
- You'll do things and achieve the goals you've always wanted to.
- You'll have a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life.
Habit 3: Put First Things First ~ The Habit of Integrity and Execution
- You'll be less crisis-driven and more in control of your life and your time.
- You'll enjoy more life balance and peace of mind.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win ~ The Habit of Mutual Benefit
- You'll build dramatically stronger and more productive relationships
- You'll discover ways to solve problems and build relationships at the same time.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood ~ The Habit of Mutual Understanding
- You'll grow in understanding of the most important people in your life.
- You'll improve your ability to communicate effectively.
Habit 6: Synergize ~ The Habit of Creative Cooperation
- You'll be able to deal more productively with conflict
- You'll be able to find strikingly creative solutions to problems and opportunities
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw ~ The Habit of Renewal
- You'll find yourself growing and improving, feeling better, and living a more purposeful life.
- You'll have greater work and life balance.
With those promises in mind, think about the following questions and write your answers below. Please bring this page with you to the program.
1. Where would I really like to become more effective in my life (e.g., relationships, projects, goals I’m working on)?
2. What long-term contribution would I really like to make in my current role at work?
3. What is the most significant thing I could do in my work that, if done consistently, would have the most positive impact?
4. What is the most significant thing I could do in my personal life that, if done consistently, would have the most positive impact?
I have read Dr. Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People years ago but do believe it's time to dust that classic off and give it a reread. I will answer the questions above over the course of the next couple of days here at my blog. In the meantime, here is Stephen Covey speaking to Habit 1: Be Proactive .
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Summer Reading List
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
- Redefining Literacy 2.0 by David Warlick
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
- Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers
- Units of Study for Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins
- Nothing like a good ole reread of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
Saturday, May 09, 2009
However, the real excitement is what happened next. The students were finishing this Internet based treasure hunt much earlier than I had planned, and I found myself in need of a challenging task for these early finishers.
So, I stopped the class momentarily and said something like this: "Class, as you finish the treasure hunt you can then go out to Google where you will use the Advanced Search features. I would like you to filter your search results so you only get PowerPoint Presentations about the Causes of the American Revolution. I would like you to find as many errors as you can on the Power Point Presentations that are online and then raise your hand so you can share what you have found. Are there any questions?"
You would have thought there was money involved because the students, while working with their partners, were intensely focused on finding mistakes. It was like a switch had been flipped and every student was engaged in analyzing and evaluating websites, clearly a much higher level Bloom's Taxonomy task. Their conversations were rich and these fifth grade students were reading the content with gusto. Perhaps this is one example that fits Angela Maiers' following quote:
"Rich reading instruction and experience does not come from buying a program, or following a script. The lessons that matter most come from a teachers heart. Teachers can eradicate reading poverty by bringing meaning back into the process and creating experiences that will stay with students for the rest of their lives. The riches of their future lie in our hands. What kind of reader will leave your classroom?"My only question is, "How can I engage every student of mine like this on a daily basis?"
Saturday, April 11, 2009
That British liberties are not the grants of princes or Parliaments
many of our rights are inherent and essential
agreed on as maxims and established as preliminaries even before Parliament existed
we have a right to them
derived from our maker
our fore fathers have earned and fought liberty for us
at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasures, and their blood
liberty is not built on the doctrine that a few nobles have a right to inherit the Earth,
it stands on this principle
that the meanest and lowest of the people are
by the unalterable, indivisible laws of God and nature
as well as entitled to the benefits of the air to breath, light to see, food to eat, and clothes to wear, as the nobles or the king
that is liberty
and Liberty Will Reign
Where is thy salute?
For presenting yourselves on this battlefield I give you thanks
This is our army to join it you give homage
I give homage to Scotland
and if this is your army why does it go?
We didn't come here to fight for them
The English are too many
Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace
William Wallace is 7 feet tall
yes I have heard, kills men by the hundreds
and if he were here he'd consume the English
with fire bolts from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse.
I am William Wallace and I see a whole army of my countrymen
here in defiance of tyranny.
You've come to fight as free men
and free men you are.
What will you do without freedom?
Will you fight?
Fight, against that? No, we will run and we will live
Ay! Fight and you may die. Run and you'll live,
at least awhile and dying in your beds many years from now
would you be willing to trade all the days from this day till then for once chance, just one chance to come back here and to tell our enemies that may take our lives
but they'll never take our freedom.
Anybody know what this place is?
This is Gettysburg, this is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg
50,000 men died right here on this field
fighting the same fight that we're still fighting amongst ourselves today
this green field right here was painted red
bubbling with the blood of young boys
smoke, hot lead pouring right through their bodies
listen to their souls men,
I killed my brother with malice in my heart
hatred destroyed my family
you listen and take a lesson from the dead
if we don't come together right now on this hallow ground
we too will be destroyed
just like they were
I don't care if you like each other or not
but you will respect each other
and maybe, I don't know, maybe we'll learn to play this game like men.
I was warned not come here, I was warned, they warned me.
Don't stand behind that coffin.
But why should I heed such a warning? When a heartbeat is silent and a child lies dead. Don't stand behind this coffin. That boy was as pure and as innocent as the driven snow. But I must stand here because I have not given you what you should have. Until we can walk abroad and recreate ourselves, until we can stroll along the streets like boulevards, congregate in parks free from fear, our families mingling, our children laughing, our hearts joined, until that day we have no city. You can label me a failure until that day.
The first and perhaps only great mayor was Greek. He was Pericles of Athens and he lived some 2500 years ago and he said all things good of this Earth flow into the city because of the city's greatness. Well, we were great once. Can we not be great again? Now I put that question to James Bone and there's only silence. Yet, could not something pass from this sweet youth to me? Could he not empower me to find in myself the strength to have the knowledge to summon up the courage to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task of making a city live able, just live able?
There was a palace that was a city, it was a palace, it was a palace and it can be a palace again. A palace in which there is no king or queen or dukes or earls or princess but subjects all, subjects beholden to each other to make a better place to live. Is that too much to ask? Are we asking too much from you? Is it beyond our reach? Because of it is then we are nothing more than sheep being herded to the final slaughter house. I will not go down that way. I choose to fight back. I choose to rise not fall. I choose to live not die and I know, I know that what's within me is also within you.
That's why I ask you now to join me, join me, rise up with me, rise up on the wings of this slain angel. We'll rebuild on the soul of this little warrior. We will pick up his stand there and raise it up, carry it forward until this city, your city, our city, his city, is a palace again, is a palace again. I am with you little James, I am you.
Everyone in the world has gone to bed one night or another with fear or pain or loss or disappointment and yet each of us has awakened or risen. Somehow made our pollution seen other human beings and said, "morning how are ya?"
"Fine thanks and you?" It's amazing. Where ever that abides in the human being there is the nobleness of the human spirit despite it all. Black and white, Asian, Spanish, Native American, pretty, plain, thin, fat, vowed, or celibate, We Rise.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Just 'Cause I walk as if I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Don't take it so hard
'Cause I laugh as if I have got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your eyes,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life I rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
A black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak miraculously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave.
and so naturally
there I go
Hey, what are you doing here? Don't you have practice?
Not anymore I quit.
Since when are you the quitting kind?
I don't know I just don't see the point anymore.
So you didn't make the dress list? There are greater tragedies in the world.
I wanted to run out of that tunnel, for my dad, to prove to everyone that I...
That I was somebody.
Ah, You are so full of crap. You're five feet nothing. 100 and nothing and you got hardly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years and you're also gonna walk out here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this lifetime you don't have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself. And after what you've gone through if you ain't done that by now it ain't gonna never happen. Now go on back.
Sorry I never got you to see your first game.
I've seen too many games in this stadium
I thought you said you never seen a game?
I never seen a game from the stands.
You were a player?
I rode the bench for two years. Thought I wasn't being played because of my color. I got filled up with a lot of attitude. So I quit. Still not a week goes by I don't regret it and I gurantee a week won't go by in your life you won't regret walking out letting them get the best of you. You hear me clear enough?
What did I miss? What are some of your favorite movie scenes?
I imagine that we would all place ourselves somewhere in the spectrum when considering the change that takes place in our own lives, both professionally and personally. However, I would like to take but a moment to point out some very exciting changes that are occurring at our school.
The first monumental change is that we have begun to craft and design a Shared Vision for our school. "What does our school stand for? What do we believe in? What do we value?" These are questions that we are beginning to answer but it certainly takes time to develop. Interestingly enough, when we all first met the Principal framed these questions within a 21st Century context and the challenges we face.
In the wake of that first conversation we did not carve out any answers, rather we were left with questions, questions that were bigger than ourselves. Despite this however, we came together and began talking about the future, talking about how we can become the best school in America, literally.
A couple weeks have gone by since that first meeting and there are still no answers, but very constructive conversations are everywhere in our building and the morale is sky high. From my observations I believe that the staff has overwhelmingly embraced this idea of change and we are willing to expose our strengths and weaknesses in an effort to construct not only a Shared Vision but the true sense of what it means to be a Learning Community.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
We have made incredible gains over the last couple of weeks in our writing and the students work is jumping off the page. Their word choice is strategic and well planned, they're finding their voice, and becoming much more confident with the conventions of writing. Perhaps it's because spring has sprung or is it something more?
So let me dig in and reflect for but a moment.
I believe the difference is the computer lab. After our planning time and the first drafts were written on paper in class I then had the students type those rough drafts using Microsoft Word at the computer lab. Their first drafts were then sent to me through the Digital Drop Box within Blackboard where I had a chance to embed comments within their work and resend it back to the student within the Digital Drop Box.
I very quickly realized that there were immediate advantages with conferencing this way and there were immediate disadvantages as well. Ultimately, I want my writing class to be a fluid time where conversations about word choice and voice are common among all but much of that writing talk disappeared and I found the Digital Drop Box became a bottle neck during class time.
So the immediate solution was to have the students print out their work so I can sit with them and write comments and suggestions all over their papers. Then they could go back to the computers and take their time with my comments and play around with their work until they found how they liked it. It really worked for me. It was fast, very business like, and gave me a chance to see immediate progress in the writer not just the writing.
Through this process however, I was able to identify an immediate gap within my class; they really don't know how to use Microsoft Word very well. So, not only did I have mini-lessons on how to incorporate dialogue or how to use similes in their writing, but many of my mid-point lessons were about the basic skills of using Microsoft Word.
Our writing class has been at the computer lab over the last week or two and the students have discovered that Microsoft Word is a tool that can take some of the sting out of revising; they are no longer dreading having to rewrite each draft over and over by hand. Rather there has been a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of these young writers and they are free to express themselves and don't mind the hard work or the Re-Visioning of their stories.
It has been as much a learning experience for me as it has been for the students, and as Brian Crosby would say, "it's messy." The look and feel of my writing class has changed. If at any time you walk into my classroom/computer lab you will see kids conferencing with one another, other students helping out with basic tech skills, other students might be fixing a printer issue, or other students discussing some other crafty cool gadget that they discovered Microsoft Word could do. These kids are talking about changing their opening paragraphs or starting with the last paragraph and moving text around and playing with words in a way that I have never really experienced before.
It is an amazingly productive time and I am so proud of how hard these kids are working.
I will post a link to their blogs so those interested can read their final copies.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The article is a quick read but I will pull out this snip:
The focus of student learning in this classroom is different. The focus is no longer on learning by memorization or recalling information but on learning how to learn. Now, students use the information they have learned and demonstrate their mastery of the content in the projects they work on. Students learn how to ask the right questions, how to conduct the appropriate investigation, how to find answers, and how to use information. The emphasis in this classroom is on creating life long learners. With this goal in mind, students move beyond the student role to learn through real world experiences.
I am fired up! My principal gets it ~ clearly he understands the bigger picture of the challenges that we are faced with and this gift that he has placed on my desk means more than he may yet know. For over two years I have been steeped in the theoretical versions of what a 21st Century Classroom looks like and for the first time I feel as though I am ready to walk the walk.
I believe the role of the teacher changes dramatically in this kind of classroom environment. I must say that it is an easy class to manage when you are giving lectures, teaching memorization or simply having student recall information. However, the management of a 21st Century Classroom can be an absolutely exhausting experience if there is not a great deal of back work done to setup procedures and routines. The snip below really spoke to me towards that end:
The teacher must know how to:
- establish a safe, supportive, and positive learning environment for all students. This requires planning on the part of the teacher to avoid safety risks, to create room arrangements that support learning, and to provide accessibility to students with special needs. The teacher is skilled in managing multiple learning experiences to create a positive and productive learning environment for all the students in the classroom. Classroom procedures and policies are an important part of creating a positive learning environment. The teacher evaluates and implements effective classroom management techniques in a consistent manner. She uses routines and procedures that maximize instructional time. Students know what is expected of them, and the teacher knows how to effectively handle disruptions so there is no adverse impact on students' instructional time.
Doesn't that sound like an amazingly diverse and exciting classroom to be a part of? I have been pushing myself to create a classroom like this on a daily basis. My expectations have shifted and the way I view myself as a teacher has shifted as well and it's helped me embrace the expectations mentioned above. It's not easy! I will say that again...it's not easy to conduct business like this in a classroom but it's exhilarating when it works well. I am still a work in progress and I have miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.
At the end of the article my principal wrote down this question: "John, another valuable comparison...Have you taken the time to celebrate the 21st Century skills, experiences, & opportunities you have given your students?"
Not yet, but I can't wait to get back in the trenches tomorrow to start celebrating.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
According to this website, "Strategy instruction is one of the most effective ways of improving academic performance for children with learning difficulties. This site will show you how to do it, will provide examples or strategies, and provide a forum to discuss your experiences and questions."
Take a look at the strategies they suggest for Word Identification
Here's a couple for Reading Comprehension
Even more for Textbook Reading
There are really quite a few more strategies than those I have linked to here. For a complete list of what this website has to offer click HERE. Once you get to the main page click on where it says "Reading" in the left hand margin and that will take you the list of reading strategies in its entirety.
Do you have a New York Public Library card? If you don't I am encouraging to stop what you are doing and go to this website to register for your free card. I am telling you that the NYPL website is literally jammed packed with an amazing collection that you are given online that is absolutely free once your card is mailed to your home.
For non residents of New York there is $100 fee...sorry.
Here are a couple of examples of some spectacular resources you can use:
The Reading Teacher, a magazine that has proven to be a wonderful literacy resource for elementary teachers, is absolutely free with your New York Public Library card. You will be given full access to all articles back to 1989. This for me was reason enough to take a couple minutes and fill out the registration for my library card.
How about Tumble Books? Have you seen this website yet? Oh, it's a good one. Tumble Books is an online collection of animated ebooks for kids, and with your NYPL card you will granted full and complete access.
The list of fantabulous resources goes on and on and on. Check out the databases that you can access from the comforts of your own home, or the audio collection, or videos you will be to tap into and it's all for free.
Go to www.nypl.org and see for yourself.
Work Hard Play Hard!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
So, in 1492 when good ole Chris headed west he took with him a worthy crew, his trusty astrolab, ample supplies and those intangibles that I am imagining were more precious than gold itself: courage, passion, faith, and a sense of direction.
What does Courage Mean to You?
As a digital immigrant, traveling through the uncharted waters of the digital landscape does indeed require a certain amount of bravery. When we as teachers step out of our comfort zones we place ourselves at risk, we are exposing our weaknesses and underbellies. We are forced into a position of humility and for a teacher this will ultimately require a shift in thinking.
Do you still teach with a sense of urgency? Do you continue to believe that ALL children can learn? Do you believe that you are making a difference in the lives of children? Do you still enjoy the "job?"
We as teachers have to get comfortable with letting go of control if we are truly going to engage and motivate all students to reach full potential. This is clearly easier said than done and goes against the grain of everything we have ever known about teaching and teachers.
Sense of Direction
What are the essential questions that underpin all the lessons we design? What is the reason for teaching a particular lesson? Please don't say because it's in your curriculum...we need to find the purpose and the direction in all that we do and then lead our students to do the same. I invite the students to ask, "Why do we have to learn this Mr. Howell?" and then help them answer that on their own.
In closing, I wonder how it became common knowledge that the world was indeed a sphere? It certainly took time and mass diligence on the part of many, but ultimately it was through Columbus' continuous efforts that led others to follow suit. I believe that as more and more schools, teachers, and students continue to navigate the uncharted territories and find their own way through the digital landscape that others will do the same. The journey will no doubt be filled with plenty of challenges but we have a worthy crew, we have the needed navigational tools, and we have ample supplies. We now need to call upon those intangibles that will help guide us to the safety of the welcome shore.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
- Here is Will Richardson's collective work about Clay Shirky that dates back as far as 2003.
- Here's a collection of videos of Clay Shirky using the Pixsy Search Engine ~ I especially enjoyed the Colbert interview on Comedy Central.
- Here are the search results using Technorati Video Search
- Searching for "Clay Shirky" within Boing Boing resulted with 1,730 hits.
I am going to stop there ... this is a fine example of information overload.
Oh yeah, the book - after spending a great deal of time sifting through the links above I wonder what else there is to say? If I can't say anything worth linking to maybe I shouldn't say it at all. Nah. Let's put just one more pebble on the pile ~ a line I lifted from Merlin Mann's quote found on page 94.
I read with pen in hand and write all over the pages and my copy of this book is a mess. I circle phrases that are interesting to me, circle great words and words I don't know, write questions in the margins, make connections to other texts and to myself. I am basically having a conversation with the author as I read, of course it's a one way conversation but it keeps me focused and is easier to recall powerful points that I refer to in the future.
Here are but a few of the sections I wrote over:
"We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race."
"Owning a television does not give you the capability to make TV shows, but owning a computer means that you can create as well as receive many kinds of content, from the written word through sound and images. Amateur production, the result of all this new capability, means that the category of "consumer" is now a temporary behavior rather than a permanent identity."This really reminded me of something I heard Marco Torres say: "The laptop is my stage where I can perform for the whole world."
A few more:
"A wikipedia article is not a product but a process."
"It's when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen, and for young people today, our new social tools have passed normal and are heading to ubiquitous, and invisible is coming."Reminds me of Chris Lehman when he talks about technology needs to be ubiquitous like oxygen, you don't think about until there is none.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
U.S. Marine most folks that know me can't believe I was a Marine but I served for half a decade honorably. Oorah!
Can't Read a Note ~ a music note that is. I grew up listening to my dad play the guitar and piano and I would sit down after him and figure out what he was playing which trained my "ear to hear" the music. I did take lessons for awhile but it never worked out so ultimately I can't read a single music note. I can play the guitar, drums, piano, accordion, harmonica, bass, and the spoons.
Waterski ~ I lived on Waneta Lake for much of my childhood and during that time I spent the summer months behind the boat and on top of the water. So much so, that after graduating high school I decided that I would go to waterski school so to become a "professional." I quickly realized that I was a small fish in a big pond and headed back home to New York. I did manage to ski the perimeter of Keuka Lake, a 72 miles non-stop journey, to raise money for the United Way .
First Car ~ My first car was a very used 1975 Chrysler Cordoba that had the colorful word "Whiplash" painted on the back. I bought this beast for $150.00 which lasted me through my senior year in high school. Unfortunately, the heating unit broke which made those early morning winter drives to school in Upstate New York a challenge. So, I would give my friends blankets as I picked them up and I would sit on one of those heating pads farmers use when they sit on their tractors.
Roller Coasters ~ can't ride 'em. Nope, won't do it and you can't make me. Long story made short: When I was 5 the largest roller coaster in the world was the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion in Virginia and my dad convinced me to ride this monster. Of course, just before the lap gate dropped closed and locked my dad jumped out and left me in the roller coaster car. Even though my mom was still with me I was pretty well traumatized for life. What was Dad thinkin'?
Bill Cosby Himself ~ Probably the funniest stand up that I have ever seen. I was 12 when I first watched this and I haven't been the same since. Here are few samples to get a flavor of this show.
Needles ~ At this point, I just joke with the nurses and let them know that before you give me that shot I should be laying down on a table because for some unknown reason I can't seem to stay awake for them.
Tag, your it!
Deb Renner Smith
John Howell no I am not tagging myself.
Brian C. Smith
If you are interested here are the obligatory rules:
Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged