Reimagining Curriculum

Turning Sparknotes and Shmoop into Allies in the Educational Process

Students are going to great lengths to avoid reading literature. Rather than read classic texts, they will spend hours reading
Read More
Turning Sparknotes and Shmoop into Allies in the Educational Process

A High School English Teacher’s Search for Why We Read

Ever since I started teaching, I have struggled with the idea of how to get students to actually read the
Read More
A High School English Teacher’s Search for Why We Read

Why Reading High Interest Young Adult Fiction is Not Enough

One might argue that if provoking original ideas is the function of literature in the English classroom, then we should
Read More
Why Reading High Interest Young Adult Fiction is Not Enough

Giving Students a V.O.I.C.E.

I vividly remember the day my fifth-grade teacher issued a challenge: improve an invention. It could be anything, real or
Read More
Giving Students a V.O.I.C.E.

What Does It Mean to Reimagine Curriculum?

Curriculum is a creative act — a journey we design to inspire and excite our students.

This category features how educators are leading transformations of an individual course, subject area, or schooling with their students. The goal is to offer curricular space for students to imagine, create, and innovate; pay attention to detail, practice, hone skills; and work through challenges that require both perseverance and thinking flexibly. All three of these categories are significant and interrelated.

Ideally, personalized learning curricula:

  • Identify goals of learning based on state/ministry/national frameworks that is written in student-friendly language
  • Develop questions or challenges that encourage students to think, problem-solve, and imagine
  • Design performance or product opportunities that mirror what people in the field and communities do
  • Use existing and seek out new assessment/instructional resources to support the development of every learner.

Turning Sparknotes and Shmoop into Allies in the Educational Process

Students are going to great lengths to avoid reading literature. Rather than read classic texts, they will spend hours reading using Sparknotes, Shmoop, Gradesaver, and other internet sites that offer students a shortcut to understanding. For a long time, I considered the sites traitors to academia: academics writing short, easily digestible summaries and analyses and posting them on the internet. A quick internet search provides students with the information they needed without going through the...

A High School English Teacher’s Search for Why We Read

Ever since I started teaching, I have struggled with the idea of how to get students to actually read the books I wanted them to read. It is no secret that sites like Sparknotes and Shmoop give students what they need to know from the reading. They trick us into telling them the details they didn’t get from the internet, and write papers that tell us what they think we want to hear: the same...

Why Reading High Interest Young Adult Fiction is Not Enough

One might argue that if provoking original ideas is the function of literature in the English classroom, then we should move away from classics in favor of high-interest contemporary novels written for teens. That can happen with good Young Adult Fiction, but when easy connections are present, it can be harder to get our students to go deeper. For example, it’s easy for a high school student to read The Hunger Games and make connections...

Giving Students a V.O.I.C.E.

I vividly remember the day my fifth-grade teacher issued a challenge: improve an invention. It could be anything, real or imaginary. One friend added soda to the water fountains; another, a TV screen to his Walkman (this was the '80s after all). After an annual check-up in the doctor’s office, I settled on the idea of creating flavored tongue depressors. With a few flavor extracts, I made wooden sticks coated in cherry, vanilla, and root...

Questions when Mapping a Personalized Path

Reprinted with permission from Mo Physics Mo Problems. Personalizing learning is something I’m very passionate about in my classroom. As I was driving using the new version of Apple Maps, it led me to some essential questions when framing paths to outcome mastery to give learners more autonomy. There needs to be different ways to demonstrate the same skills. If the constraints put on learners isn’t a part of the skills or content being mastered,...

Through the Lens: Innovation Lab’s Project-Based Learning

Originally published on the GHS Beak and reprinted with permission. Most Greenwich High School students have heard of Innovation Lab, but don’t actually know what it’s really all about. Innovation Lab is a program within the high school that teaches "alternative learning" or "project-based learning." When I first heard of this concept, my brain conjured up images of uninvolved kids who didn’t want to do any work; drawing with crayons and watching Pixar movies. When...

Implementing Personalized Learning Over A Three-Year Period

In my first blog post, I referenced the start of Hawley Elementary’s journey toward personalized learning. Unbeknownst to them, the teachers within the school had begun engaging in the process. Once I revealed to them that they were, in fact, engaging in personalized learning, they wanted to deepen their existing practice. Stepping Outside the Box I bought teachers the book, The Joyful Classroom: Practical Ways to Engage and Challenge Students K-6 from Responsive Classroom. We...

How One Principal Introduced Personalized Learning in Newtown, CT

I became principal of Hawley Elementary School in Newtown, CT, during the summer of 2014. This was my second principalship. As any new principal, I spent the first year surveying the lay of the land. I took time to get to know the staff and to let them get to know me. I learned the curriculum, assessments being used, teaching practices, and styles. Hawley’s culture was professional, positive, supportive and collaborative. Our mantra academically, socially,...

TEDx Youth: Empowering a Community to Create Change, with Vision and Voice

Three years ago I faced a crossroads in my career. Previously, I had cultivated professional experience as a Spanish instructor within high-needs New York City Public Schools that relied on Title I funding. As a second language learner and aspiring polyglot, I’d learned to recognize and wholly appreciate how healthy communication builds community through sharing of the self, which is an integral precursor to connecting fragmented individuals and societies. Brooklyn students...

Video Interview with Silvia Tolisano

Silvia Tolisano is a colleague and friend who continues to inspire me and so many others on the meaningful way to leverage technology in service to inquiry, idea generation, and creation. Her blog is filled with fabulous ways and examples of how to capture engagement, analysis, and exploration and make it visible to a global world. We were immersed in conversation around HEUTAGOGY  -- the study of self-determined learning. This was a new word for...