Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Struggle and Success Are a Package Deal

Are we cultivating GRIT in our learners today? We, as educators, talk a lot about how we are not seeing retention of information. Is it because teachers are working harder than the kids?  I think so.

I recently had the privilege of participating in a book study with Laila Sanguras, author of Grit in the Classroom.  Below are the notes that I took from our discussion.  Some of my take aways were:

  • Failure should be used as a data point not a judgement.
  • Hold kids accountable for their prior learning.
  • IQ is static but grit can grow.
  • Help kids fail forward.
  • Our goal should be EXCELLENCE for ALL!
Learners should be working harder than the educators.  After all, school is a kid's job!  Every experience should provide challenge with levels of support provided for those who need it. The harder they work the more they will remember and retain for later use and application.

"We should make hard work a habit so that our students repeatedly experience positive effects as a result."  - Laila Sanguras

I like that quote a lot.  Hard work should become a habit; it should be the norm.  Kids should walk in the building everyday expecting to work hard and have some struggles.  

Parents, please encourage hard work and talk them through the struggle. Remember that it is okay for your child to struggle! I talk to learners all the time about work that is easy.  If it is easy then you are just showing us what you already know.  How about showing us what you can do with something you don't already know? Now that is what we educators find impressive!

Coming soon... Passion: The Struggle is Real

Monday, September 11, 2017

Floors and Ceilings

Ian Byrd has done it again! He has written an article that explains scaffolding/tiering/differentiating in a way that is logical and understandable. He talks about lowering the floor of a lesson or concept so that everyone can get started and raising the ceiling so that some have room to grow.  He uses the game of Chess to describe how this theory works.  My favorite line is, "You'll never know who will take advantage of that high ceiling." This is a great read!

To Differentiate: Lower Floors and Raise Ceilings

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Are You Ready for Some Unjournaling?

Looking for ways to spice up your journal writing time?
Looking for alternatives to "Weekend Update"?
Kids don't know what to write about?

Have I got a resource for you!

Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring!  by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston

In thinking about the article we read in August "How was your Summer?",  we might want to consider and think about asking learners to write about their weekend as well. Sometimes writing about things that are personal can be hard for  our kiddos.  This book offers creative, silly, quirky tasks and ideas to get our learners excited about writing.  Wouldn't it be exciting to hear them say," I can't wait to see what our writing prompt is today!"

Please let me know if you would like to borrow this book.  It is really fun!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Big Questions

When should we be asking questions?  Always!

When should we be asking BIG questions?
  • when creating a unit of study
  • during a brainstorming session
  • as a "hook" to engage learners
  • for seminar questions
  • for Think/Pair/Share discussion
  • for journaling and reflection
  • to model so that students learn how to question
  • for Independent  Study Projects
  • for Research
  • for online discussion boards
...and on and on and on...

Ask me about The Teacher's Book of BIG Questions! by Caroline C. Edison and Bob Iseminger. 

 We can work together to infuse BIG questions into everything you do!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gifted Isn't Good

Ponder this... If your child plays on a school or community basketball team, would all the players wear the same size shoes? ...the same size uniform?

"That's a silly question!" you might say.

However, that is how many view our Gifted and Talented Interventions and Services in Coppell ISD. There is this idea that our children must qualify for the "progam" or they are missing out on some sort of opportunity; that the shoes and the uniform "must fit my child."

The truth is that ALL children are different, even those who need Gifted and Talented services. In one group of gifted learners, we might find some that need math acceleration and some that need opportunities for creativity.  Some GT learners may need to exert their leadership abilities and some may need to work on social and emotional growth.

The truth is that being gifted is not always a good thing.  In the article Gifted Isn't Good by Janet Kragen ,  she states , "So gifted students aren’t good/better/best. They’re needy/needier/neediest. And for those who do need it, gifted education is a necessity—a necessity designed to meet the unique educational needs of an outlier group."

*Janet Kragen is a teacher and on the executive board of the Washington Association of Educators of Talented and Gifted.

*For more great articles, check out

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Does Handwriting Matter?

In this article from The New York Times, Maria Konnikova shares research about handwriting and it's role in brain development.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris. 
“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

This quote  struck a cord with me. In this age of technology we often set aside handwriting because we now have the option of keyboarding or creating digital portfolios. While we must incorporate technology in order to ensure future readiness in our learners, let's not forget about plain old paper and pencil journaling and maybe even some handwriting practice.  After all,  research is showing that handwriting is actually very important for brain development when generating ideas and retaining information.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

They Need You Too!

I’ve been writing about what “smart” actually means in classrooms. And an unintended definition of a “smart kid” is one who never needs help. - Ian Byrd
We often focus on the needs of our struggling learners and this is completely understandable. However, our learners who appear to be self sufficient still need "face time" with their teacher. They need time to celebrate. They need time to share their thinking.  And most importantly, they need to know it is okay to ask for help. We need to help them understand that we don't expect them to "know it all." In fact, if they are always making the perfect score or creating the perfect product, they are just continually showing us what they already know. We want to see the struggle so that we know they are truly learning. A year of education should equal a year of growth! In this article from Ian Byrd, he calls it The Curse of the Kidney Table. Enjoy the read and check out his website