9.17.16 Weekend Update

Fall Term PD

This fall we will offer three different on-campus Professional Development options. All faculty are asked to take part in at least one on-campus PD opportunity during the school year - if you do the Faculty Seminar that counts. PLEASE LET LAWRENCE KNOW BY THIS WEDNESDAY (9/21) IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ANY OF THESE FALL OPPORTUNITIES.

Book Groups

Three book groups will meet this fall. Click on the title to see the Amazon reviews.


With a partner, once early in the term and once late in the term, try to see as many classes as possible in one period, including all disciplines. (You can sign up with a partner, or let Lawrence know and he will help you find one.) Write a brief reflection after your visits (a paragraph or so for each of the two days), sent to Michael and Lawrence. At the end of the term we provide $20/person to go to town and discuss your observations.

Peer Observation

Exchange class visits (at least two for each person,) preferably with someone from a different discipline, and write a short summary of your observations and subsequent conversations at the end of the term, sent to Michael and Lawrence. At the end of the term we provide $20/person to go to town and discuss your observations.

Film classes

Film at least two classes, to be watched by you and shared with one other person. There are tripods, iPads and various cameras for loan in the CIT for this. Write a brief summary at the ed of the term, sent to Michael and Lawrence.

Use the CIT classrooms

Bring at least three classes over and experiment in the space or with the technology. Melissa and Lawrence will help and support your efforts.

KEVIN BROOKS Faculty Focus

I begin every class with a short activity. I have borrowed various activity ideas over the years from wiser, more experienced colleagues. Nothing that follows is an original idea of mine; rather, these activities come from the collective wisdom and best practices of many other teachers. As a Humanities teacher, I will often begin class with a brief writing activity – some call it “journaling”; some call it “a pre-write”; Anny Jones likes to call it “Babble.” Regardless of the name, the idea is to let students spend five or six minutes writing about something. Occasionally, I will give my students a topic or a question to address, but mostly I will let them write about whatever moves them or interests them at that moment – it does not have to be about Humanities. As a change of pace, I will sometimes begin class with a poem, read aloud by me or by one of the students. Usually, I do not spend class time analyzing or discussing the poem – it is simply a way to begin the class period.

I realize that these ideas are more suited to a Humanities course than to other disciplines. However, there are many other opening activities that I use that would work well in any course. I might begin class with a two or three-minute mindfulness exercise or a breathing exercise. Sometimes, I will bring in a singing bowl and use it as an opening activity to focus and relax the class. Depending upon the stress and anxiety level of my students, I might begin class with a song or with a funny video clip – check out Kids’ Snippets sometime.

For me, the point is not necessarily the specific activity but rather the opportunity for my students to remove any distractions and to focus on Humanities class. Our students have to change gears several times during the academic day, and it is easy for them to keep thinking about the quiz from last period or to fret about the quiz later in the day. A brief opening activity can interrupt any lingering focus on outside distractions, thus helping students to center their thoughts on the present, which makes for a more productive class. Give it a try next week and see how it works for your classes.

Calendar Reminders

Monday, Sept. 19 - Last chance for students to change their fall athletic commitment.

Tuesday, Sept. 20 - Seated Meal

Wednesday, Sept. 21 - Last day for students to change their fall term classes. No student initiated changes will be made after this.

Wednesday, Oct. 12 - Regular schedule, NOT what is printed in the Academic Calendar.

Wednesday, Oct. 19 - No classes, NOT what is printed in the Academic Calendar.

- 3rd Form - LinC Day

- 4th and 5th Forms - PSAT

- 6th Form - College workshop

Monday to Friday, Nov.7-11 - Last day for students to change winter and/or spring courses. No student initiated changes will be made after this.

And Finally

Differentiated Instruction: Resource Roundup

Click on the above link to find a large collection of tools and advice from Edutopia and the web. You will find resources to help you adjust instruction in response to diverse learner needs and interests, grouped by topic:

  • Understanding Differentiated Instruction
  • Planning and Implementation Ideas
  • Knowing and Assessing Students
  • Teaching Diverse Learners
  • Differentiating With Technology
  • Differentiation in Project-Based Learning
  • Examples and Downloads From Schools That Work