July 9, 2013

Chapter 1 - The Turned Off Child Notes

Filed under: General — admin @ 3:00 pm

You’ve put together some wonderful active lessons for your students over the summer.  You are enthusiastic about the content you’d like your students to learn.  Your batteries are recharged, it’s a new day, a new page, …

But many of our students return from summer vacation with the mindset that they left with…”passive, hopeless, and depressed.” The Gordons bring to mind a quote from Einstein “You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset tht got you into it.” We, as grown-ups, know how to tap into our resiliency and create a new beginning for ourselves but many of our students don’t have the ability.

How many of our students have that sense of “being no good” at reading, writing and/or math?  Taking it a step further…how many of our students don’t want to learn?  How much of the behavior that we see are really attempts to avoid learning?  This according to the Gordons is learned helplessness.

What I want to know is what strategies will help us as teachers and members of our learning community  with our mission “to grow and learn”?

July 1, 2013

Think About It

Filed under: The Turned Off Child — admin @ 12:14 pm

As we start reading and talking about Chapter 1 - “The Turned Off Child”, please reflect and comment on the following:

What kinds of feelings would you hope each of your students would have at the end of your class?  What thoughts would you like them to walk away with?  How would you hope your students would feel when they walked into your class the next day?

June 28, 2013

Chapter 1 - The Turned Off Child

Filed under: The Turned Off Child — admin @ 3:35 pm

This is the place to leave some comments.  What surprised you about the authors’ assumptions?  What new understandings did you develop?  How do you think this affects your teaching?  What more would you like to know?  These are just some of the questions that you can answer.  Or ask questions? Or…?

June 16, 2013

What’s in Your Reading Bag for the Summer?

Filed under: Books To Be Read, General — admin @ 6:32 am

It was a fluke that I forgot that I had asked for my professional books to be delivered as E-books rather than regular books. As a result I will not be bored this summer…  I know I am not alone in enjoying some well-deserved reading time.  Please share your reading for this summer.  Here is my reading list at least so far:

  •  Off the Clock
  • Essential Questions
  • How to Get Ideas
  • What Teachers Make
  • When Teaching Gets Tough
  • Understanding How Young Children Learn
  • The Brain and Emotional Intelligence
  • Never Underestimate Your Teachers
  • The Core Six
  • Overcoming Textbook Fatigue
  • Self-Driven Learning
  • Turn Around Tools for the Teenage Brain
  • Neurodiversity in the Classroom
  • Assignments Matter
  • Role Reversal
  • How to Create and Use Rubrics

June 15, 2013

NFI Curriculum Project

Filed under: NFI Curriculum Project — admin @ 9:01 am

This summer my goal is to develop an NFI Curriculum as a tool for teachers to use in developing lesson plans aligned with the Common Core.  Summer 2013 we will focus our efforts on middle school courses as well as high school courses that are graduation requirements.  The curriculum itself is located at

November 11, 2012

New Directions: Learner-Specified Education

Filed under: Education Innovations, General — admin @ 10:14 am

Innovation in education is for all children. Working with resistant, oppositional, non-compliant learners tests the mettle of teachers and administrators alike.

What is the answer?

Perhaps part of the answer is the implementation of Mass-Customized Learning as proposed by Beatrice McGarvey and Charles Schwan in their book Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment.

The last two months have found us broadening our definition of education where the learner is making choices as to how they would like to learn. We have created four (so far) paths: traditional, online, school-to-career, and goal-specific.

A traditional learning solution is selected when learning with a teacher is optimal.Goal-specific learning takes place with a learning coach and focuses on an area of need such as GED preparation.

An online learning solution is selected when the learner opts to take responsibility for their learning. Learners are supported by a learning coach at the school as well as the instructor of the online course.

Learners choosing School-to-Career work with a Life Coach in their community (part of the day) to acquire those skills and identify those opportunities that will help the learner transition into independent living upon graduation. With this option, learners select their preferred academic learning solution from the ones (so far) developed.

It’s really exciting for learners and teachers alike. In the coming year we will be working together as a community to create an innovative education system that will be able to meet the needs of our target population: socially and emotionally challenged learners.

November 26, 2010


Filed under: General — admin @ 11:09 am

“Reflection sharpens our self-awareness and helps us become more attentive.”  This observation was part of an Advent/Lenten devotion written by Becky Horst of Goshen College.

One of the social/emotional competencies is the learning to be self-aware.

One of the skills that we teach all of the time is attentiveness or do we assume that our students just should be paying attention?  Working with traumatized adolescents has taught me that attentiveness is more than just paying attention.  Attentiveness is a state that comes with being able to self-regulate, to be able to understand and be able to moderate your emotions, to be able to interpret the world around you as safe, when it is; and risky, when there is danger.  For our students, they have to feel safe enough so that the hyper-vigilance can be put on hold for awhile.  You have to feel safe enough to be able to focus on the thing at hand.  Since many of our adolescents come from environments that have contributed to them developing a hypersensitivity to danger, in other words, they are in “flight or fight” mode all the time, a key component of treatment becomes providing an environment that will help them do some of the work described above.

As a teacher of students that have engaged in one or more negative behaviors that have put them at risk, it’s no wonder then, that we come to understand that our students have missed out on some key concepts, developing a hole in the fabric of their content knowledge. When students are not paying attention to learning, do we make an effort to determine what they are paying attention to?  When we recognize that our students have a “hole” in learning, what do we do?  What can we do?

We often put a bandaid on the situation by providing some learning activity to help put the student back on track and fill the “hole.”  But how do we address the more overarching problem of helping a student that has experienced trauma at some point in their life?

What activities do you think promote the development of attentiveness?

January 9, 2010

The Dilemma of Students Who Do Not/Will Not Read

Filed under: General — admin @ 8:02 am

You Can’t Compensate for Not Reading
I posted this comment for this article that talks about the significance of reading.

In working with court-involved young women ages 11 through 17, we find that all students that are identified as truant have significant reading and/or writing deficits. It’s a vicious cycle that they are trapped in–they go to school, don’t “get” what they are being taught, fall behind, can’t or won’t ask for help (that will be inadequate to solve the larger problem–their reading and/or writing deficit), so they stop going to school, they get in trouble (for not going to school and other things), they are ordered to go to school, and the whole cycle starts over again until they are “kicked out of school”. Since we are a residential school, we have purposed to develop a culture of reading and writing outside of the school day, whether it’s dialogue journals with counselors, reading for “pleasure” (30 minutes a night, every night), as well as staff and students sharing books and making recommendations about “good reads.” We find sometimes, students surprise themselves by awakening a reading and writing habit that they didn’t know they had.

March 7, 2009

Under-Resourced Learners by Ruby K. Payne

Filed under: Books To Be Read — admin @ 5:37 pm

All learning is relational.  Learning only happens when student and teacher are locked in that mutuality of relationship and caring.  Dr. Payne has incorporated many of the questions public school educators and administrators have about building relationship not only with those resistant learners, but with their parents who are often also under-resourced.  Her latest book provides strategies not only for teachers but administrators also.  Creating a learning community where all the constituents are working toward making sure each child is understood and where applicable realistic interventions are compassionately utilized to help families succeed at education for all of the children in the community.  I think this is a must-read especially if you have a resistant or reluctant learner in your classroom.

August 5, 2008

Ideas for Assessing a Successful Implementation of PLPs

Filed under: General — admin @ 5:31 am
  • Ease of use
  • Improved communication among stakeholders: children, parents, advisors, teachers
  • Authentic goal setting and self-reflection
  • Observed progress by stakeholders especially the students
  • Capturing of appropriate data
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