Posted in Current Posts

Ready, Set, Reset!

How  a little tech can help you get your class off to a great start!

I have the best job in the world—principal/teacher. I get to spend my days teaching students and teachers.  In my last post, Shake it Up!, I wrote about how an easy strategy Shake Things Up (Linda Kardamis) helped me shake up my 6th grade history class.

Today, I want to tell you about another little change that has made a world of difference in my class. Google Classroom.

Before the Bell Work

The first five minutes of a class are the most important. An effective teacher will have bell work ready to go the second the kids hit the door. My problem is I am usually running from my last meeting straight to another teacher’s classroom with no time to distribute or write  bell work on the whiteboard.

Google Classroom to the Rescue

After a lot prayer and thought, a great idea popped into my head. Post my bell work on Google Classroom. As usual, I jumped in with both feet and got the ball rolling. That night I created a Google classroom, loaded my kids’ Gmail emails, and posted their bell work.

Being the Gen Zs that they are, before my class made it to 6th hour, most of them had already checked their email and had started on or knew of their bell work. They in turn told the others and we were up and running. No more rowdy kids, no more what are we going to do today, and no more crabby teacher. Win win for everyone!

Good for subs!

Another awesome idea is to load your classwork on Google Classroom when you need to take a sick day. Every teacher hates to be sick. Most would rather tough it out than write the kind of plans it takes to keep a sub going. Again, Google Classroom to the rescue! I loaded my students’ classwork on Google Classroom, answered questions, and monitored student progress from the comfort of my couch. Game changer!

Google Classroom

Easy. Convenient. Free. If a Boomer like me can launch it, you can to. If you can’t figure it out, just Google it, or ask a Gen Z to help. : /


Leave me a comment about strategies you’ve used to reset your class. I’d love to chat with you!

By Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2017




Posted in Current Posts, Uncategorized

True or False? Reading Nonfiction Texts

I love to read. Newspapers, books, billboards, bumper stickers. Even cereal boxes for crying out loud. I can’t help it. And I can’t read one book at a time like “normal people.” I have my sleeping book, my entertainment book, my leadership book, and my PD book all going at the same time. I probably need counseling, but I’m quite happy with my obsession.

One book has my attention right now,

Reading Nonfiction, by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. If you are serious about reading literacy, you’ve probably been influenced by their work. Continue reading “True or False? Reading Nonfiction Texts”

Posted in Current Posts

Math to Math Connections

As a former classroom teacher, I have studied, taught, lived, and breathed reading connections: text to text, text to self, text to world, and at GCS we have added text to media. Reading material connects with other reading material, people and events. When we help students make  connections, they comprehend and remember more about their reading.

For the last two weeks I”d been busy teaching Math Camp. My kids were struggling with area. We modeled area with manipulatives, we drew models on graph paper, we defined area in our own words, found the area of the ceiling, floor, and walls by counting the SQUARES that made up these pieces,  and we found the area of our white board  (I was  cutting hundreds of little squares at 7:30 am).  But we couldn’t transition this info to real world problems. Continue reading “Math to Math Connections”

Posted in Current Posts

13 Reasons Why … Teachers are Effective

It’s that time of year again. It’s when principals reflect on the last school year and start planning for the next.

I’m working on my pep talk for my new teacher orientation. Some of my new teachers are fresh from college. I remember being fresh from college, relieved that the grind of studying and researching were over, and I could finally rest and start teaching.

Ha. A highly effective teacher’s work is never done.

13 Reasons Teachers are Effective

Continue reading “13 Reasons Why … Teachers are Effective”

Posted in Current Posts

Every Student, Every Question.

I’m sitting on my patio working on my homework for a grad class I’m taking (Yes, it is finally warm in Michigan). I just read a section on quantitative data gathering during formal teacher observations. The observation focus under discussion is teacher questioning; Do teachers focus on questioning certain sections of the classroom while neglecting others? For example a teacher may ask questions of students in rows 2 and 4 while ignoring students in rows 1 and 3.

As a 21st century advocate my first question is why are the students sitting in rows? My second question is why is this teacher asking questions to only one student at a time?

You know the drill. We’ve all done it. We ask a question, wait two seconds and then call on the first student who shoots their hand up in the air. The whole class knows it too. So they hide. Head down. Eyes down. Hand down. 99% of the class becomes invisible while one student answers the question. They are off the hook, saved by the class answer-er. Zero learning takes place.

Let’s stage a revolution.

Every student, every question.

It’s one of my teaching mantras. I’ve used it for years. If a question is good for one, it’s good for everyone. All you need is a few tools and learning structures.

The Process:

Ask the entire class the questions.

Answer options:

  1. Whiteboards: Every student in class answers on their own whiteboard and shows their answer to the teacher.
  2. Turn and Talk: Every student writes their answer on their whiteboard and then turns and tells a partner their answer.
  3. Turn and Write: Every student answers the question in their head (give think time) and then tells their partner. The partner A records their partner B’s answer on their own white board and vice versa
  4. Group Answer: Break class into groups of 4. Ask a question. Every student records an answer on their whiteboard. Every student in each group shares their answer with their group. The group then writes a group answer including info from every group member.

There is no where to hide.

IDK is not an answer in my classroom. Neither is a shoulder shrug. Everyone knows it so no one even tries it any more.

I am often amazed at my students’ answers. Many times they include info I didn’t think of. Some students draw diagrams. Some students answer with pictures. I’ve even had a few students answer questions by drawing cartoons. Amazing.

So no more one kid, one question.

Every student, every question, every time.

by Mary Kay Kane

copyright 2017. all rights reserved.