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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in authentic learning experiences

Posted by on in Project-Based Learning
Originally presented as my project for MJE certification, this article about starting a newspaper ran in Adviser Update, The Dow Jones News Funds' newspaper in the Fall 2009.
Originally presented as my project for MJE certification, this article about starting a newspaper ran in Adviser Update, The Dow Jones News Funds' newspaper in the Fall 2009.

Daunting. Overwhelming. Hectic. Crazy. These are perhaps the first words that come to mind when asked to advise or teach newspaper, the seemingly dying branch of scholastic journalism, to budding high school reporters.  It’s time consuming and sometimes demotivating but completely worthwhile despite the growing discussion of convergence and the expiration of many major professional newspapers.

Despite this grim reality, there is something completely gratifying about teaching students how to write well, design eye catching pages, work as a team and then the pride involved with sharing a newspaper (regardless of the ink latent fingertips) for an authentic audience.

When I arrived at World Journalism Preparatory School, it was evident that this school was not like other schools I had taught at before.  It had only been open for one year prior to my arrival and already it had a reputation for greatness that was unsurpassed by other places.  The teachers enjoyed working there and the administration was remarkably supportive. It was the best case scenario for starting a newspaper: open press, no prior review and complete student responsibility and ownership.  I was told right away that I was there to help them grow as journalists, not to do it for them.  (Honestly it was a relief because the last school I had taught in was literally the complete opposite… principal had to see every issue before it went out and the kids couldn’t say anything that was even slightly off putting about the school.  It was stifling to say the least.) Where to begin, though? I spun my wheels for a little bit taking what I know about writing for and running a paper and trying to translate it into a class that would produce a paper.

The First Try – our biggest failures are often the impetus for our greatest successes

Things didn’t start off as well as I had hoped they would.  Getting the students to write was a challenge despite the fact that they attended a school that centers itself around writing.  Breaking them out of the mold they were accustomed to writing in was the next challenge and then teaching them InDesign was surely going to lead me to early retirement.  My first year was a bit of a learning experience for everyone.  We were able to get out three issues, none longer than eight pages and although there was improvement, there was still much work to be done.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. ”

– Earl Nightingale 


 This January I will be a part of a team that will build an elementary school in Rio Grande, a small community in Constanza in the Dominican Republic. The team of volunteers will consist of superintendents, principals, educators, PTA members and others who all share a passion for serving children and families. This memory mission trip is sponsored by LifeTouch and supported by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  I am proud to be one of the superintendents representing the AASA on this mission!

As part of the process of participating in the mission, there are some volunteer questions which I was asked and answered and I want to share via the blog as an amplification as to the purpose of this upcoming leadership and life experience for me.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

refocus

The return to school in January for many marks the halfway point of the year, so reflection and refocusing are in order to finish the year well. When thinking about the things I want to be true of me and my classroom for the rest of the year, these five things come to mind:

Less is More

Teachers love to overdo, but many times the overzealous teacher takes the joy of learning from a student by excessive information. As the year gets closer to the end I am tempted to give just one more article, another pre-reading activity, or one extra exercise to reinforce a concept. This often becomes information overload. I have to continually remind myself that I am not the last stop in learning for my students, so I don’t have to answer every question or expose them to every theory or idea. I will do my best to cover my content within the time I have and not worry about what I don't have time to cover. 

Relationships matter

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

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Visiting students watch video footage taken during their group work time in preparation for completing their day long story.

25 students integrated from two schools. One from Tampa, Florida and one from Flushing, Queens. What started like a middle school dance ended in an authentic learning experience.

A few weeks ago I got a DM on Twitter from a colleague at Hillsborough High School to let me know he'd be in NY soon with some of his journalism students. "We should get the kids together for a project," Joe said. Admittedly, at first I didn't think much of it.

One week before their arrival, Joe and I talked on the phone and the ideas started developing. Possibility suddenly flooded my consciousness and it was on. Permission was asked and granted and despite my high expectations, what actually happened far exceeded my hopes.

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Posted by on in What If?

This is just one in a series of ongoing posts on the educational innovations in Israel. You can see additional coverage here.

When Michael Biton took the role as Mayor of Yeruham, a small desert city, made up of about 10,000 mostly Israeli immigrants he had some challenges to realize one of his visions for the city. Known for it’s historical and archeological sites, the city was to become a sought-after tourism hot-spot. One that, among other things, offers sumptuous ethnic meals and gives visitors insight into the heritage, culture, and traditions of regular Israelis.

But first, he had to overcome a couple problems:

  1. The small town couldn’t afford any restaurants. The market was too small.
  2. There was a high unemployment rate for women

Fortunately, Biton had a recipe for success that included a combination of exploration, motivation, and innovation with a dash of chutzpah.

He recognized that there were some homes in city that had become hubs for community meals. From these homes the aroma of home-cooked, traditional recipes made mouths water. Fulfilling Jewish values of hospitality, caring, and solidarity, these families welcomed their neighbors into their homes.

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