Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Wonderful First Day

We had a great first day at MEH today. It was invigorating to see all of the students and students in classrooms creating a lively learning environment. Thank you to all of the teachers, parents, students, and members of our community who always make the first day of school so special!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Book Discussion with my Nephew

Last night I had a conversation with my nephew who is already back in school. We talked about the opening days and how things were going. We also had a conversation about the books that he was reading. He explained that reading wasn't really fun for him and that he didn't particularly enjoy the classroom library. To further his frustration, every time he went to the public library, every copy of the Wimpy Kid was either checked out or lost. He was convinced that they were never going to have that book. I asked him one easy question: "If you were reading books about football or things that you liked, you would read more of them?" And from the mouth of a 3rd grader, "Well of course!" Something for us to think about is student interest and empowerment when it comes to learning and materials. My nephew is only 8, but I think he speaks for kids everywhere - please, give me a choice and I will show greater interest. My charge to anyone who works with children, think about appropriate times and places where they can have a choice. Empowerment is a wonderful tool. I know it works on me!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Invigorating Meeting

Today I met with our Literacy Team to plan our upcoming professional development and walked away even more excited about our venture into Reader's Workshop. Based on the work of Laura Robb, MEHMS teachers will go through ongoing professional development to prepare teachers to take on the task of implementation. Over the summer, teachers have read Teaching Reading in Middle School and Bringing Words to Life. Two wonderful books about strategic reading curriculum and robust vocabulary instruction. I am looking forward to Ms. Piscopo taking over as the Word Wizard. It is going to be a great year at MEH!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Middle School Leadership Institute

This past month, a team of MEH instructional leaders had the opportunity to attend the National Middle School Association Leadership Institute in Williamsburg. Our team was able to collaborate, deliberate, and most importantly learn from other middle level educators. Mr. Dippold and I had the please of being teamed with Mr. Juan Rodriguez as our Super Team Leader. We were able to learn more about leadership and how to transform schools to meet the needs of all students. It was an exceptional experience.

The institute is designed to meet the needs of middle level leaders through responsive planning and class sessions. Furthermore, the institute is completely designed through the lens of This We Believe. Anyone who has read this blog, knows that this is perhaps one of my favorite books. I challenge anyone to read this publication and argue that anything in it is not good for young adolescents. In fact, NMSA has taken out the word school on their newest edition because they believe that their recommendations are appropriate for anyone who works or spends time around young adolescents. If you have not read this book, I encourage you to do so. It will change and enrich your perspective and thinking about young adolescents and their specific needs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Changing pedagogical practices - a reflection

When we read a professional journal or a curriculum book, how does it change our thinking and what we do in the classroom? Do we try to think about what we are already doing and make it fit to that, or do we think about how to change current practices? My guess is that unfortunately, we fall into the comfort of the first. Why? Change is hard. The period of disequilibrium that is created when learning something new is so uncomfortable that as adults, we find it difficult to approach. Isn't it just easier to do what we have always done - that is our comfort zone after all. I say no. Every day we are stretching the minds of our young adolescents and asking them to change their thinking and ways of doing things; therefore, we as adults should model this as well. I do think that educators can fall prey to calling techniques different things or making them appear to be the latest and greatest. I believe that we go back to these words: developmentally appropriate. If we teach and build our repertoire from those two words, we will make our decisions with instructional integrity rendering a product that is in the best interest of students. All this to say, the next time you read your favorite educational piece, think about its root, its purpose, and how it applies to the development of the age of student with whom you are working. Keeping this in mind will make that element of change a bit easier. Our students continually change - so must we. How boring life would be without it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back to blogging..............................

I must admit that the craziness of the busy school year and the dissertation writing took me away from keeping up with this blog. Now that the dissertation is done it is time to get back into this great habit. Throughout this year, we have learned about differentiated instruction; more of building the differentiation toolbox. The staff has learned a variety of reading strategies for multiple content areas as well as learned some very cool engagement strategies from our Math specialist. But what makes this unique? Nothing.
Mixed ability classrooms are a huge component of Middle School programs and teachers face this every day. Just like the sizes of middle school students vary, so do their learning styles and speeds. One could argue that those who teach young adolescents have one of the hardest jobs in education. I would agree. Being a Middle School educator means that you understand and accept the social, emotional, and academic roller coaster and are able to keep the car on the tracks. It is not an easy job, but it is a rewarding job. Young adolescents are some of the most impressionable people and as adults we can have a profound impact on their lives both in and out of the classroom.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I made it.......

For anyone who has stuck with reading this blog while I have had it, you know that this is a combination of both work and school. I have discussed many of the things I learned in my research and studies that were applicable to the middle school setting. The good news is that I successfully defended my dissertation and am now officially Dr. McCarty. The hard part now is figuring out what I am going to do with all of the time I used to spend writing. I guess I keep writing! But first, I will complete some projects around the house.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Weather

I realized today just how long it had been since I blogged. It is hard to believe how quickly time flies when you are busy. This is our last week before spring break! Take some time to relax and enjoy the weather, and of course, the cherry blossoms. This is a busy time of year for students as we begin to work on transition and getting ready for next year. Make sure you get plenty of rest to keep up with everything that is going on at school.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another wonderful show!

Congratulations to all cast and crew of Music Man Jr that performed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The show was full of wonderful singing and lots of laughs. A special thank you to Mrs. Piscopo who takes on the task of making this special for all of the students involved. Another thank you to all of the parents who helped with rehearsals, costumes, and general support. The effort put into to making a production like this successful is simply amazing.