Month: August 2014

Do you know your DOK?

Today was opening day in my school district.  Like many other opening days, we had an inspiring welcome from our superintendent, followed by connected remarks from union leadership, and the usual introductions of new staff and transfers.  Beyond that, today was very different for us.  Our administrators led a 90 minute professional development session for mixed groups of teachers on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge.  I am really proud all of our building and central office administrators led the workshops, thus demonstrating strong instructional leadership.keep-calm-and-welcome-back-41

Several of us worked on developing a clear lesson plan with multiple resources including a slide show and several hands-on, engaging activities.  We shared the lesson via GoogleDocs so presenters had notes and participants had a guide and electronic resources.

Two administrators co-facilited each group.  My group consisted of about 25 elementary and secondary educators.  Multiple content areas and specialists were represented.  I genuinely enjoyed talking with these teachers about increasing complexity of content and task. It was interesting to hear the conversations within the mixed groups emerge as teachers worked with teachers from other content areas, grade levels, and buildings.  The teachers were genuinely engaged as they sorted tasks by level, reflected on current tasks they use through the DOK framework, made connections between DOK and the SAMR framework, and created a DOK ladder.  (We spend significant time last year learning about  SAMR.  Learn more at my

My Assistant Superintendent and I created a feedback form where district employees could share their opinions related to the morning.  The questions included:What did you like about the morning?  What would you change about the morning?  How did the morning INSPIRE you to THINK, LEARN and/or GROW personally or professionally? (This is our mission.)  What suggestions can you offer as we plan for Opening Day 2015?  Soliciting this feedback helps us reflect on our work.  The data will also be used to inform our planning for next year.

What does your District do for opening day.  I would love to get some ideas for next year!


What did you learn this summer?

download (1)How committed are you to your learning and the learning of others?  As educators, we may experience a slightly slower pace at times.  How did you use this time to learn something new, explore something you already learned, or share your learning with others?

Summer is a great time to recharge for the new school year.  September will be here before we know it! While recharging, join some colleagues and learn something new!  It’s not too late!  Here are 5 ideas to get you started!  Can you share any others?

1.  Grab some colleagues and read a new book… Choose something which transcends age levels and content to increase interest.  I recently read Core Six by Harvey Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, and Matthew J. Perini.  I really enjoyed discussing the content with teachers.  We brainstormed how they could “amp up” existing lessons and activities to promote these six core skills.  Learn more about the book!

2. Attend Discovery’s Summer School  There are a lot of great resources!

3. Develop a PLN!  It is amazing how many learners we can connect to virtually.  This is something I am currently doing as well.  I am currently following 118 people, and about 100 people are following me.  I am setting a goal for myself to tweet at least 10 times per month and find several new people to follow each week.

4. Participate in a Twitter Chat! View the official schedule developed by @thomascmurray @cevans5095 at  I have to admit, I have only tried this twice.  Many of my colleagues are using the Twitter Chats for quick conversations and ideas.

5. Check out the live and archived Apple Seminars!

What are some other ways you are learning this summer?

At the end of every day…

downloadAdd the end of every day, whether it was exceptional, mediocre, or completely exhausting, I think about what I learned.  Sometimes, I learn something new by reading a blog post, a newspaper article, en email from PDE, etc.  The more I read, the more I learn. Most of the time, I learn from others and what they are sharing!  I learn more about myself as a leader, a co-worker, a teacher, a wife, or a mother.  Through day-to-day interactions, I learn more about the people in both my personal and professional lives.  Understanding my colleagues, friends, and family members helps me develop stronger relationships and connections.  These connections enable me to be more productive and more successful.

I have been thinking about blogging for two years, maybe even longer.  I recently read the book – The Core Six: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core by Harvey F. Silver, R. Thomas Dewing, & Matthew J. Perini.   The book highlights six strategies teachers can use to help students reach the PA Core Standards.  One of the strategies is Write to Learn.  If we want our teachers and our students to write more for authentic audiences, as leaders, we need to model the way.  This was an important factor in me finally making this blog a reality.

With this blog, I intend to share my learning, and I hope I will engage my readers so I can also learn from them.  At the end of every day, we have challenges and successes to share.  These experiences help us grow.  I hope you will share your experiences with me so we can together.