Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Lessons from Ron Clark Academy

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.  It was the absolute best professional development in which I have ever participated.  It changed the way I thought, planned, and conducted myself in my classroom.  The staff's creativity and enthusiasm was contagious.  I clearly remember the excitement I felt as I dared to imagine the possibilities at my own school.
I am headed back to RCA in just a few short weeks - this time for The End of Molasses Classes book release party.

I started calling friends as soon as I saw the notice!  When I called C, I started with," I am not sure exactly what the book is about...".  She responded, "If Ron Clark wrote it, it has to be good."  (She was with me last time.)  So, we (me and 4-5 friends) are taking a road trip.  Why go back?  I remember my last visit and the 10 lessons from RCA:
1.  Be passionate ~ About your subject, yes, but also, about your kids.
2.  Let your imagination go wild ~ Honestly, I would not have thought to invite a graffiti artist to my school in the middle of the night nor would I have dreamed to install a disco ball in my math class.  Both sparked excitement and enthusiasm in the students of RCA.
3.  People want to support people who are making a difference ~ I was amazed at the people who support the school's efforts.  It is clear to see the staff's vision and impact.  Businesses, parents, universities and celebrities have joined their efforts to change the world one child at a time.
4.  Be persistent ~ Teach and re-teach. Ask and ask again.  Make a goal and work toward it everyday.  Keep doing what is right and know that a breakthrough is coming.  Do not grow weary in doing good.
5.  Every child matters ~ Every student has a destiny that only he or she can fulfill.  It is our job to help them reach their fullest potential.
6.  Every child can learn ~ It must be the inherent belief of educators.  It is my responsibility to ensure an environment conducive to high achievement.
7.  Have fun ~ School should be fun; life should be fun.  Sometimes, adults forget to have fun.  Plan for fun.  I played school as a child.  Why? It was fun for me.  Recapture and use the memories of the childhood play to infuse life into the classroom.

A slide to get from the 2nd floor to the first?  Oh, yeah!  Slide certified:)
8.  Bring your whole self to the classroom ~ Embrace your own uniqueness and use your gifts and talents to reach and teach kids others can't.
9.  It's about the kids ~ Without students, we wouldn't need teachers.
10.  Essentials are essential ~ Setting expectations is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our students (Inspiring Teachers).  The Essential 55 is a collection of expectations that address respect, manners, and an appreciation of others.  As a result of our previous visit, we developed our own Essentials for Excellence, expectations that are essential for a lifetime of success.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Personalized Pop Art Project

     Some months ago, I had the opportunity to Skype with Monica Hardy and learn more about her "Me Videos" project. The 3 minute videos give her math students an opportunity to introduce themselves, share what is important to them, and give insight to their personalities.  I loved the idea! 
     This morning, I was thinking about the George Rodrigue exhibit and how I could actually combine both art and the opportunity to get to know my students within the first few days of school.   What if I challenged students to take a picture that had some significance to them and turn it into pop-art?  
     I grabbed my camera and ran outside to try a few.  The result - a fun and easy project that will provide some insight into each new friend and will yield student created products that will be perfect for displaying in the classroom.                                                                                      
Original Image

Image transformed using Pop Art Lite app

Original Image: Water Lily

Image transformed using an online Pop Art Generator

Original Image: Stump that looks like a bear
Image transformed using Big Huge Labs online

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blue Dog: Educator Preview

My favorite Louisiana artist, George Rodrigue and wife, Wendy, will kick off the Blue Dogs and Cajuns on the River exhibit with a private workshop and exhibition for teachers.  Educators will meet the artist and his wife, get a sneak pick at the infamous Blue Dog, and have access to resources for the K-12 classroom.

When: Thursday, July 21 @ 10AM
Where:  LSU Museum of Art at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge, LA
Cost: Free, but pre-registration is required.  Reserve a spot today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Makeover

Ahhh, summer!  A chance to reconnect with what you love.  Stay up late, sleep in, read a zillion new books, and blog.   I realized that I have over-extended myself through the years with the many blogs I have started and then neglected.  This blog, for example, has been in existence for 3 years and I have a whopping total of 15 posts!  It is not that I have been so busy that I haven't posted.  No, I just haven't posted here.  So today, inspired by SM, I revamped the look of my blog and I have promised myself that I will limit the number of blogs I nurture to two - one dedicated to ALL things related to school and one lifestyle blog.  No more compartmentalizing my education-related blogs, if it has to do with teaching and learning, you will find it here.
   To celebrate, I created a new header with ActivInspire, uploaded a snazzy background with Blogger's helpful Template Designer, and even changed the web address to something more inclusive and less stuffy and formal. Thanks for visiting School Stuff :)