Monday, June 30, 2014

Inspiring Words for Educators from Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice - Motivation Monday #26 {June 30, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great one!

Dr. Tommy Bice is the state superintendent in Alabama. Seem strange that a state superintendent is the star of a Motivation Monday post? For most educators across the country, it's probably a surprise that a state superintendent of education could get a room full of administrators on their feet to take selfies and dance to Pharrell Williams' song, Happy

Who else has a state superintendent that says, "Get off your bahonkus and get on the desks!" (In reference to Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society)

We're lucky in Alabama, because every time Dr. Bice speaks, he challenges educators to think outside the box and do what's best for students. 

He recently spoke at the annual CLAS (Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools) summer convention, and I captured a short clip from his message. 

If you are an educator in Alabama, Dr. Bice wants us to do what's best for kids, WHATEVER that means! 

And not only does he say, DO IT, he says, "Call us so that we can make sure that we get everything out of your way while doing it!" 

Now that's encouragement!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Spirit of Blogging ~ A Call to Leaders

It’s lonely at the top” is a phrase heard often about leadership.  It’s a phrase that I found to be true early in my school administrative career. When I began my career in education as a teacher and coach, I was part of a large community. There were lots of teachers at the school where I worked, and the coaches of the teams my athletes competed against became life-long friends. I was able to work with others who were doing what I did on a daily basis, and learning from them helped me to become a better teacher and coach.  

Ten years ago, as I transitioned to being a school administrator, the number of people around me who understood my job and responsibilities became smaller. I still wanted to learn, but I didn’t feel like I had the pool of resources that I had when I was a teacher.

Today, through the power of twitter and blogging and other social media, I don’t feel the isolation I once felt. Today, I can reach out to one of my many friends in my PLN and ask for feedback, advice, or encouragement. I can connect with leaders across the country (and world) who are doing what I do, who have been where I’m going, or who can help me to see what I cannot yet see.

Through my blog, I have been able to reflect on what I do and share what I’m doing and learning with others. It’s been very satisfying to get feedback that ranges from how to improve to “atta girl.” 

Recently, I contacted Craig Vroom about starting a group of blogging educators who commit to posting monthly, visiting each other’s blogs, leaving comments, and sharing via social media. We want to get better at what we do, we want to be a part of a community, and we find value in collaboration. We want to connect with, learn from, and share with YOU!

We hope that you will join us on this journey!

Edited 2022: During the summer of 2021, we said goodbye to the Compelled Bloggers Community, as we all moved into different directions in our personal and professional lives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Join Me for a Motivational Linky Party!

Every Monday during 2014, you'll find a Motivational Monday blog post on my blog. I needed the structure and I wanted to share motivation with the blogosphere and all of my PLN! Some of my favorites from the year are Why Be Normal, Getting Off the Road to Failure is a Choice, and Just Do Right by Maya Angelou.

I learn from my PLN, too, and I've chosen to surround myself with positive people who challenge, uplift, and inspire me. Here are some terrific blog posts from a few of them, like 
Be Great Everyday by Jarred Fuhrman, Make It Count by Craig Vroom, Be Distinct: Find the Hero Within by Lolly Daskal, and 10 Shifts for Educators to Make in the Upcoming School Year by Justin Tarte.

With all this give and take, I decided to host my first Linky Party. I'm not a Linky expert, but I've joined many from my personal blog and I love having lots of blogs all in one place. Keep reading... I'll explain.

What is a Linky Party?
A Linky Party is when the author of a blog (the host) invites the blog readers to link up their blog posts on the same topic. This is often done when a blogger posts an idea for a topic like My Best Getting-to-know-you Activities, or How My School Uses Social Media, Classroom Management Tips, or in this case, Motivational Monday!

In other words, you will write a Motivational Monday blog post on your blog on August 4th, then you will share that link on my blog post via a link-up tool. There will be instructions on my blog post that day. I promise it will be easy! 

Why should I join a Linky Party?
As a blogger, when you link up your post to the original you are widening your audience and increasing the chances of your content being read.
As a reader, linky parties are a great way to find additional information on the same topic.

How do I join a Linky Party?
1. Publish your Motivational Monday blog post on August 4th.

2. You must let your readers know that you've joined the Linky Party. 
There are two ways to do that: a) Find the Linky Button for the linky party in the right-hand margin of my blog page. Below the image you will see code in the widget box. Copy the code and insert it (HTML) into your blog post on the topic. The button will let your readers know that you are participating in a linky party and direct them to the other entries. b) If you're not sure how to embed the button, you can note at the beginning or end of your blog post that you are joining the Linky Party and use the address of my specific blog post that's hosting the Linky Party.
3. Next, go to my blog post inviting you to link up with the Linky Party.

4. Click on the Linky button (InLinkz)

5. Fill out the required information

6. You must include the direct link to your post, not your general URL. 
Wrong = because this links to my blog in general.
Right because this links to a specific blog post. (Click the title of your post, then copy the address in the address bar.)

I don’t have a blog, how do I participate in the Linky Party?
Participants who don’t have blogs are welcome to join in the discussions by leaving comments on the blog posts of the bloggers who are participating.

I have a blog or website about education but I didn’t post anything on the Linky Party topic, can I still link up?
Posts that are not linked up properly will be deleted so readers don’t become confused or frustrated looking for the content.

So when is this Linky Party going to take place?

It may sound crazy, but it's going to be on August 4th. I know it's over a month away, but hey, I'm a planner. (And, if you read this post earlier today, I don't know my holidays!) 

What do we write about? 
Thinking you might want to try this? Go ahead and write your blog post. Have it ready to post that day or week. It doesn't have to be perfect, just motivational! Tell a story, share your favorite motivational quotes, describe a hardship, share how you helped a student, colleague or family member... the list goes on. ONE TIP: INCLUDE A PICTURE IN YOUR BLOG POST. You will have to choose the image that will show up in your Linky square (provided I can set it up correctly), so you want to make sure you have something there.

ALRIGHT, HERE'S ANOTHER TIP: Go ahead and write your blog post, then SCHEDULE it to post on August 4th. Then, when you get a chance that week you can Link up! Booyah!

Transparency alert: I'm a little nervous about hosting this Linky Party for two reasons. I've never set one up - only joined them - so I'm working behind the scenes to learn how to do it and I'm hoping that I figure it out by August 4th! (This is called "building it as we fly.") The second reason I'm nervous is that I'm afraid I'll host the party and no guests will show up. Please don't leave me hanging! Just sayin'!

Now get to writing! :-)

P.S. Feel free to email me if you have questions about how to embed an image, copy and paste the text in the widget box, or anything else blog related. My email: jenniferhogan (at) charter (dot) net

Monday, June 23, 2014

Making the Most of the Time We Have - Motivation Monday #25 {June 23, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great one!

My parents have a beautiful pool in their backyard, and they use a specific company to service their pool. Last month my father called the business and asked for the owner's son to come and service their pool, just as he had done for the past few years. He was told that the young man (who was in his early 20's) had been killed in in a hunting accident back in January.

It's a sobering reminder that none of us know how much time we have left on Earth, but we have the ability to use the time we do have to bring joy to others and ourselves.

Here's a great video that represents how much time we have... in jellybeans. 

I challenge you to make the most of your time this week. Do something for others. Do something for yourself. Start something new. LIVE FULLY.

Have a super week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness Inspire! - Motivation Monday #24 {June 16, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great one!

Imagine you are a middle school administrator. You show up to school and two students have placed sticky notes on all of the lockers. How do you respond? 

See what Mary Martinez Smith and Damian Marlow did for their 8th-grade classmates. All 800 of them!

Inspired? Here's the challenge for the week: Perform a random act of kindness! Feel free to share the results in the comments or tweet it using #TCERAOK (TheCompelledEducatorRandomActofKindness). 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How Would Your School or District Answer These 5 Questions about Relationships?

Each week during #ALedchat (Alabama Education Chat on Twitter), you can find a tweet posted about relationships and the importance of them in a school. Positive relationships between all stakeholders is what makes a school successful. 

Here are five questions for reflection, which may prompt you to initiate changes at your school or district or perhaps celebrate what you are doing in your school or district. I would love to hear from you in the comments.

1. Could a student go through 12 years of school and not receive a positive phone call to the home?

2. Could a student miss 3 or 4 days in your school or district without anyone, other than the attendance clerk (or automated caller), contacting the home to find out how the school might help?

3. Could a parent be treated rudely by the secretary when entering the school's office?

4. What kind of plan does your school have to make sure a child new to the district or school gets off to a good start?

5. What kind of plan does your school or district have to make sure a new teacher gets off to a good start?

Did these questions cause you to reflect on your school's practices? 
What other questions could be added?

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Incredible Example of Grit, Perseverance, and Growth Mindset - Motivation Monday #23 {June 9, 2014}

Every Monday I post quotes and/or videos to inspire and motivate you through your week. Get ready for a great one!

With the odds stacked against L'Damian Washington, he shows us what it means to persevere and never give up. Losing his father at age 5 and his mother when he was a sophomore in high school, he and his 3 brothers chose to stay together and raise themselves and each other. L'Damian went on to Mizzou to play football and graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

He does not only want to succeed for himself, he wants to succeed for others.
                              -Andy Hill, Missouri Associate Head Coach

You can follow L'Damian on Twitter for more inspiration and to follow his journey.

Have a super week,

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rethinking Grading & Classroom Assessment Conference - Day 2 Recap - June 2014

If you missed the recap from Day 1 of the conference, you can read all about it HERE. Day 2 was just as fast-paced and full as Day 1, and to recap I thought I'd share some of my favorite graphics from Rick Wormeli's presentation plus some thoughts he shared with us. 

On Day 2, the topics ranged from assessing project/problem-based learning to redos & retakes as well as formative assessment and descriptive feedback. I hope you enjoy!

My first take-away had to do with us (educators) asking ourselves if we are dispensing information, sticking with direct instruction, and explaining... rather than guiding students to deeper learning through inquiry and modeling. 

Frank Noschese is a science teacher who says that kids learn science by doing. As a former science teacher myself, I completely agree. I also think that it applies to most other subjects as well.  

But the creation of learning experiences is not just having students to do activities. The activity needs to be aligned to the standards so that the activities produce evidence of learning. 

Are the grades we are giving reflecting the format (the doing... the project, the assessment, the paper, the poster, the lab, the etc.) or are the grades reflecting what is being learned?

Another take-away from the day was about the types of questions we ask students and the evidence we are asking for on assessments. For example... instead of asking a student to spell 20 words on a spelling test every Friday (which doesn't indicate if he/she is a good speller), give the student a list of words from his Lexile level and ask him to distinguish between words that are spelled correctly and incorrectly. Then ask him to use spelling rules to FIX the ones that are misspelled.

Compare the questions below...

Which questions require critical thinking by the students? Which type of question is most often being asked, and which type of question is motivating? Which type of question is being asked in "lower level" classes? Don't kids in "lower level" classes usually need the most motivation?

Rick Wormeli shared a story of an angry parent who didn't like it that her child had "learned quickly" and earned a "A" on the first try while other students who didn't "get it" on the first try were allowed to keep trying and eventually earn a "A", too. Want to read Rick's response to her letter? Click HERE.

This is an actual rubric that Rick has used with his students. Notice that the rubric includes ONLY the description for the standard of excellence. If students perform below the standard for specific items, he circles those items on the list. He's found that when students don't have anything lower to shoot for, they will wrap their heads around what IS there. In this case, it's excellence.

What do you think about the ideas above that he shared?


Another take-away for me has to do with the importance of feedback. As a former coach, I understand that for someone to improve, specific feedback must be given. Just telling someone to "try harder" or "that's not right" will not lead to improvement or mastery. Also, practice doesn't make perfect. A person has to know what it is they need to improve on as well as what to do to get better. 

Our students, the millennials, are used to getting specific feedback. As educators, we must respond to this new generation. As Rick Wormeli says, "We are morally obligated to teach the way they learn."

And why don't we ask students to interact with the assessment and provide feedback for themselves? They can do an item analysis like the one above. When they finish, they can write a letter to the teacher...

The research data supports the importance of giving feedback!

All in all, the conference was amazing. I'm so thankful for the invitation from Andrew, and Rick Wormeli used his special blend of humor, storytelling, animation, and passion to capture and inspire the participants. Remember that you can follow the hashtag #RGCA on Twitter for more insights! 

Thank you for a great two days, Rick!

Best wishes on your Standards-Based Grading journey!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rethinking Grading & Classroom Assessment Conference - June 2014

If you're not familiar with Andrew Maxey, he's someone you need to get to know. Recently, he was named 2014 Outstanding Administrator of the Year-Junior High/Middle School Division by the Alabama PTA. He's the principal at Rock Quarry Middle School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and he's leading the charge - and CHANGE - at the school. 

The staff at Rock Quarry has committed to fully implementing standards-based grading by 2015-16, which has been publicly stated in their Grading Manifesto.  Yesterday and today, the school is hosting the "Rethinking Grading & Classroom Assessment Conference," which features guest presenter Rick Wormeli.

I've written before about how we've begun exploring Redos, Retakes, and Do-overs at Hoover High School, and our district is headed towards standards-based grading. When Andrew invited me to attend the conference, I don't think it took but just a millisecond for me to send a response. Of course I wanted to go and chat with RQMS teachers and hear Rick Wormeli again.

In today's blog post I will share highlights from Day 1. You can see all of the handouts from the conference on the Rock Quarry Middle School website (the link is on the right-hand side of the page.) There are also LOTS of tweets from the conference, which you can see at #RGCA.

On Grading

"The 100-point scale is old school and falling out of favor at geometric rates."

Grades are not for bartering or rewards. They are simply communication.

On the Factory Model of School 

The factory model of school is outdated. There is no time limit to learning.

On Assessment

Students can better hit a target that stands still. Give them the test on the first day of the unit. Make the learning targets clear. If a student asks, "Is this on the test?" then we haven't done our job.

Formative assessment has descriptive feedback. It's not just pop quizzes. The formative assessment is not what is a game changer. It's the feedback!

Students should know the learning goals and where they are in relation to those goals. 
What is mastery? Determine the evidence first. 

On Homework

Homework is like coming home and doing your taxes. Research validates the stress! (Bennett/Kalish)

Alfie Kohn: "It's weird that kids spend all day at school, then they have more when they get home. What's weirder is that we don't think it's weird."

Two Homework Extremes that Focus our Thinking

If a student does none of the homework assignments, yet earns an "A" (top grade) on every formal assessment we give, does he earn anything less than an "A" on his report card?

If a student does all of the homework well yet bombs every formal assessment, isn't that also a red flag that something is amiss, and we need to take corrective action?

On Failure

Failure should be normal. Jump in with your kids - an F means that they're not there yet! (And remember, "Nobody knows ahead of time how long it takes anyone to learn anything." -Dr. Tae)

There is SO much to be gleaned from Rick Wormeli's presentations. I encourage you to watch his videos, read his books, and follow the Twitter stream for #RGCA!