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20 Minutes of Fun!

So I have been reading an awesome book about educational leadership: Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love (Hack Learning Series) (Volume 5), by  Joe Sanfelippo and, Tony Sinani.

Hack 3: Build Relationships offers a great suggestion for school leadership: Take a classroom.  The authors suggest the principal sends an email to her teachers saying “Hey everyone! I’m walking the building today and have some free time. Who needs a break?”

Continue reading “20 Minutes of Fun!”

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7 Powerful Problem-solving Tips.

Untitled-1I had a family in my office the other day.

They were asking me questions about how to help their son with problem solving. (I love these kinds of conversations. talking about learning, and methods and metacognition. They strike a fire in my soul.) They asked for my best problem solving tips. I figured others could benefit from these as well, so  read on! Continue reading “7 Powerful Problem-solving Tips.”

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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”

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How to Interview Like a Rock Star

One of my favorite students contacted me the other day (Don’t judge me. All teachers have favorites). She asked me for a little advice on how to interview effectively. I couldn’t wait to answer her email. I have been waiting for someone to ask me this question for a LONG TIME.

What are they teaching kids in college these days?

Seriously. Is anyone telling our soon-to-be-grads what to do and not do at an interview? How to dress? How to communicate? HOW TO SHAKE HANDS? Continue reading “How to Interview Like a Rock Star”

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Projects vs. PBL

We all remember doing projects in school.

Sugar cube igloos… celery sticks in colored water … posters … papier mache stuff (why was this a good idea?). The late nights, the frantic last minute trips to the store for poster-board and tooth picks. The tears. The fits. The frustration. And that’s just the parents.

You know what I’m talking about.

As a parent, the word project struck great fear in my heart. The innocent little word project really means PARENT PROJECT. And science fair meant SUPER PARENT PROJECT.

Projects are an after thought, an add on after the kids have done the worksheets, quizzes and tests. Projects look good in the hallways and they impress school boards, but are they a valuable use of class time?

I admit, I’ve assigned a few projects in my day.

Then I discovered PBL, aka Project Based Learning. Let’s define PBL

PBL is:

  • the main course not the dessert ( John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller  at the Buck Institute for Education 2010)
  • driven by essential questions such as how does the length of an airplane’s wings affect its flight; can taller people run faster than shorter people; or how can we help people who are trapped in slavery?
  • designed to teach core content
  • a learning method that requires collaboration, research, critical thinking and many other higher level thinking skills such as synthesizing, inferencing, analyzing, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting.
  • the creation of something ( an artifact, method, product, process) as a result of a learning experience
  • giving students voice and choice in the learning process
  • reflecting  and making changes
  • publicly implementing, publishing or presenting what was learned or created

PBL is messy, risky and noisy. It requires perseverance, grit and determination. PBL takes time, energy and resources, but the pay-offs are huge.

It makes me wish I could go back to school all over again.

Do you have any project memories from school? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!

by Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2016