# PD for the Holiday Break: 7 Lessons and Blogs

December 21, 2011

During my first year of teaching, I assigned students homework over the holidays. The week before we left for break, I handed out a packet on thermodynamics. It was due three weeks later. Some of my students left the room singing, "You're a mean one, Mr. B."

Many of you have some time off next week, so I thought I should reclaim my Grinch status. Therefore, I have reading assignments for you.### Homework Directions

Each day, read the assigned blog. As you read, keep in mind the following question: *
What New Year Resolutions can I make to engage my students in learning?* (Note: Reading with a question in mind is a very effective reading comprehension strategy)

**Due Date:** Reflect on the guiding question and post your answer in the comment section by January 2.

#### Monday

Every good assignment should start with a hook. If this title doesn't get you interested nothing will.

- Start with "So, One of my students is a pilot." from Shawn Cornally's Think Thank Thunk blog. Now, read his rant against grading homework, Riled Up: Stop Grading Homework, Please) and then explore his other excellent posts on standards based grading.
- For extra credit (which violates everything you just read about SBG), start reading Jason Buell's Always Formative blog.

#### Tuesday

- David R. Wetzel's Teaching Science and Math is a great source for teaching strategies and, just as importantly, the pedagogical background for why the strategies are important. For example, Advantages of Active Learning in Science and Math Classrooms describes four principles of active learning and provides strategies for turning those principles into action.
- The post, Warning: Flipping Your Classroom May Lead to Increased Student Understanding provides a nice overview of how to "flip" your classroom, what happens to homework in a flipped classroom, and how it impacts student learning.
- It's "hump day," so I will add a video to your reading.
- Physics teacher, Frank Noschese may be best known for his post about using Angry Birds to teach physics and his $2 interactive whiteboard but his blog, Action Reaction, is consistently thought provoking. He often shares examples of student work as he describes his dynamic philosophy of teaching and learning. He writes on a variety of important topics and provides concrete examples from his classroom. For a great example of his writing, check out SBG: Keeping Track of it All. His criticisms of the Kahn Academy is a must-read warning against taking a simple approach too far.
- Inquire Within is a group blog that explores inquiry in the classroom. More than two dozen bloggers share their thoughts and classroom experiences inquiring with their students. The post, A Fish-Friend Inquiry describes an authentic inquiry generated by a young child's interest in finding a suitable friend for a fish. In Make Time for . . . Curiosity, Tyler Rice asks, How do you honor student curiosity in your classroom?
- Dan Meyer's blog is a must read for math teachers. His Pseudocontext Satardays point out how ridiculous most math problems are, while What Can You Do With This? posts provide inspiration for helping students think deeply about mathematics. For example, You don't have to be the answer key takes on the traditional math textbook problem and shows how to get students thinking mathematically.
- Since it is Saturday, we will shift gears a bit. Let's take a look at the Geek Dad blog as they explore how to raise the next generation of geeks (no worries, one of Geek Dad's crew is Geek Mom). Geek Dad's Roy Wood describes how to build an animated talking Christmas tree. Daniel Donahoo shows off the Nerdy Baby App. Andy Robertson explains how the Nintendo DS game, Wario Ware D.I.Y., gave his eight-year-old daughter a platform to start programming her own video games.
- Differentiation at it's finest! Read your favorite blog and post its link in the comment section!

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I remember in fifth grade, we had a project that was given after the Thanksgiving break and due right before Christmas. It was a huge project that dealt with calculating miles and financing the trip. The parents were upset about the projet because of how time consuming it was and the difficulty of it. For the talent show that year, my brother and I sang a song about our time in elementary school and that project made the song. I know not to give a huge project during that time period since the proejct (and it's annoyance) is still talked about today.

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