The Weekly Roar

Notes from Nick Novak: Friday October 16, 2015


To Jennifer Borgerding for being recognized by the Maryland Foreign Language Association (MFLA) as a finalist for the Maryland Language Teacher of the Year for 2016. What an outstanding and well-deserved accomplishment!

To Gina Palermo and Brian Sackett for leading us through this new PSAT. It was a marathon day for sure, but we survived thanks to all their efforts leading up to and on the day of testing. Thanks as well to the entire staff for rolling with the punches and being flexible with proctoring assignments, the bell schedule, etc. The day off today is a welcome reward for all of Wednesday's "craziness."

To the 9th Grade Team and the Student Services staff for providing great activities for our freshmen and seniors. Thanks as well to Dale Castro for heading up the Castrolympics or whatever his competitions with the seniors were called. Fun times!

To Ron Capurso for doing a great job subbing for admin yesterday while we were short-handed. We appreciated his presence in the halls, the cafeteria coverage, and everything else he did to support the administration.


Here are some helpful reminders for the upcoming week:

1) Department meetings are scheduled for Monday October 19th. Remember that this is the "long" meeting of the month. You have extended time to address department issues and complete an activity on student engagement. See your ITL for more info.

2) Canvas/Synergy training will take place every period of the day on Tuesday October 20th in the media center lab. If the location changes, we'll let you know. Every teacher MUST attend to receive info on how settings must be configured for the changes to grading procedures. See Lynnette Moore if you have any questions.

3) Are you interested in becoming an administrator, a central office leader, or just developing your leadership skills? We are looking to establish an "Aspiring Leaders" group at Howard that will meet throughout the year and help provide insight into the interview process, give staff an opportunity to learn more about potential leadership positions in the system, and build their resume so they are prepared to assume these positions. If you're interested, email me and we'll set a date for our first meeting.

4) There's been some buzz about the desire to expand social committee beyond the weekly happy hours and re-institute some practices from the past. If you're interested in helping to head up these efforts (or just be a part of it), let me know. Thanks.

5) I'll be holding Planning Period Meetings all day on Friday 10/23 in the student services seminar room. Come by and hear some updates from me and share any questions or concerns that are on your mind.

Staff Birthdays

Happy Birthday to the following staff members celebrating this week:

10/18 Dave Klotz, Shannon Ryan, & Tyler Wade

10/21 Larisa Ermakova

Instructional Tidbit

Lesson Structure and Pacing

In our last tidbit in the series on "Engaging Students in Learning," we explore the final element of this component--structure and pacing. Use this info as a "self-check" and be sure to follow the links to read the whole articles.


There's a chapter in a publication from ASCD called The New Teacher's Companion where the author delineates the eight stages of a lesson. Here's how she engages students by building on their knowledge:

Phase 1: Introduction- set a purpose and make the learning relevant.

Phase 2: Foundation- check on prior knowledge and link to objectives/standards.

Phase 3: Brain Activation- fill students' heads w/ideas and clarify misconceptions.

Phase 4: Body of New Information- present material so students actively engage w/it.

Phase 5: Clarification- check for understanding w/practice problems and questions.

Phase 6: Practice and Review- allow time for students to practice w/supervision.

Phase 7: Independent Practice- differentiate according to student ability.

Phase 8: Closure-summarize the learning and have students show what they learned.


In this 2012 piece from edutopia, Rebecca Alber offers some great tips on making lessons flow:

  1. Create a sense of urgency.
  2. Make goals clear.
  3. Have smooth transitions.
  4. Make sure materials are ready.
  5. Present instructions visually.
  6. Check for understanding.
  7. Choose most effective type of teaching.

An Amusing Take on "Rigor" in the Classroom

Rigor in the Classroom


In partnership with families and the community, it is the mission of Howard High School to cultivate an environment of collaboration, empowerment, and engagement that exhibits world-class support for staff and inspires students to thrive in a dynamic world.