• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design

I often find myself demonstrating this-or-that edtech tool to rooms of educators using content I taught in the classroom. Thanks to the The Great War YouTube channel spurring my interest, I often use World War I content. As I demo a tool or strategy,  I will ask the audience a World War I-related question. This is often met with blank stares. When I casually mention the Schlieffen Plan, I might as well be speaking Latin. 

What a teachable moment. A room of educators. All with advanced degrees. All so good at their jobs that they took the initiative to attend a conference to improve their practice. And these successful adults forgot everything they learned in high school about World War I.

This raises an important question in an age where technology liberates students from learning exclusively from school-provided materials: How does curriculum fit with personalization, technology, and empowerment?

I recently had this conversation some teachers at a conference. Like this blog post, we had more questions than answers.  We talked about how schools teach students both content and skills. A great argument about the value of skills in education is The Skills to Pay the Bills by Chris Aviles. In it, Aviles argues that focusing on skills is more important than memorizing facts. 

Last modified on

Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design

The other day, when I was talking to one of my educator friends, I voiced something to the effect of, “If I were still in the classroom, I’d find a way to fit Pokémon Go into my teaching!” In my opinion, this app is the perfect example of when it’s appropriate to begin planning instruction with the technology in mind and not what we want students to understand or be able to do (because the app is so cool, we just have to use it).

Nonetheless, when utilizing the app (or any other technology), we should probably rethink our actions if in no way, shape, or form are we then able to connect/integrate the technology with what students are supposed to learn…or, if technology use results in the same understandings being reached, but in a much less efficient or more roundabout way. In other words, we shouldn’t try to cram a square peg into a round hole.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why (or, why not) Pokémon Go has a place in our classrooms.


Last modified on

Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design

To Kill a Mockingbird 1

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is a foundational text in the American canon that attempts to deal with the complex issues of race and discrimination in the United States. Set in the Great Depression, this novel takes us to Maycomb, a fictional Alabama town where community members are wary of difference and where legal justice remains out of reach for men like Tom Robinson, a black man who is convicted of raping a white woman despite ample evidence of his innocence. While Lee’s novel succeeds in revealing many of the mechanisms by which discriminatory beliefs and attitudes are formed and perpetuated, the novel is also limited and limiting.

On Representations of Class

When we talk about Mockingbird, our discussions tend to skip over class and focus exclusively on race. This is something that some students — say, those living in low-income, rural areas — might pick up on. As one former student with whom I worked during a student teaching assignments wrote in an editorial:

...everybody talks about the Cunninghams because they are poor and can't afford for their kids to eat sometimes. People might not like that and might think that is rude that had to be in the book when it could have just been left out. Also maybe some people who read this book might not have a lot of money and the book makes it sound like it is the [poor people's] fault for being poor and they don't try to do anything about it.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design

teachers collaborating

This post is the final of three installments that describe the three project-based learning (PBL) professional development sessions I facilitated for our Innovate Salisbury team, a team of 15 teachers engaging with building leaders, district leaders, and other experts/thought leaders to help shape the vision for teaching and learning in our classrooms…To read more about Innovate Salisbury, take a look at this Edutopia article I collaborated on with my Superintendent, Randy Ziegenfuss (@ziegeran), and Assistant Superintendent, Lynn Fuini-Hetten (@lfuinihetten).

The first PBL session was more of a general overview of PBL. The second session contained a module in which teachers, playing the role of students, designed student-created rubrics for a PBL unit on opinions and arguments.

The Third Session

The third session followed a workshop model in which teachers spent the majority of the time working on this template, which was adapted from the Buck Institute for Education. (Just in case, here’s a PDF version.) While the work was taking place, teachers were able to rely on each other and/or administrators for support. 

Last modified on

Posted by on in Curriculum & Unit Design


image credit: M. Knoll (WTSD)

I'm a bit biased when it comes to art.  I'm in love with it.  While I am not drawn to a certain style or an artist in particular, I am a fan of getting as many people to see art for what it is - an avenue of expression utilizing a gift someone has.  

My breakthrough moment was when I was 12 years olf and began to volunteer at the Les Malamut Art Gallery - a small gallery in the basement of the Union Public Library. I was exposed to local people creating art in a myriad of ways  - -showing local talent.  I have been hooked since. I was so amazed by some of the photography - I bought my first piece for $100.00 from an artist in 1993. It hangs in my office today. 

I did not take art classes or pursue an artistic career, but if anyone ever wants to go to a gallery and show me an up and coming artist, I'm there.

Last modified on