Archive | February 2014

Relevant PD Made REALLY Simple

Great day of PD at Staley High School

I teach at Staley High School in the North Kansas City SchoolsΒ and, recently, we celebrated a day of professional development edcamp-style and from all accounts it was a great success.

Teachers chose the session topics.

Teachers taught the sessions.

Teachers chose which sessions they would attend.

Students enjoyed videotaping the sessions for the teachers.

What’s that you ask?

Experts in our midst!

Matt Nevels and Theresa Crystal answer questions about Black Board and Power School.


Yes, that is what I am saying.

Teachers were asked to share their expertise. They were asked to share their needs. The expertise and needs were naturally braided together to create a morning of celebrated learning.

There were several sessions ranging from How to Plan with Design in Mind to Defining Blackboard Skills and Using DocCameras and QuickTime Videos to Support Instruction among other topics.

Each session was taught by a colleague with demonstrated expertise. Each session ran for three cycles with almost 100 teachers attending the three sessions they chose. One of the best parts–no signing up weeks in advance only to find the day irrelevant.


Staley student filming PD sessions

On the contrary, the PD was timely and fun. It was a day of celebrated learning!

If you are interested in more information about the value of TRUSTING your teachers and using edcamp-style for your school or district’s professional development, email and tell him Twitter sent you. πŸ™‚


Sometimes PD gets Personal

Based on a passage from The Great Gatsby, I wrote the following sentence while attending a “Writing Beside Them” session during my high school’s PD day recently. It is a tribute to my Grandma Warren of Scott County, Mississippi.

There was a stoop to her stance as if she had spent a lifetime of springs and summers leaning into a garden hoe as it repeatedly broke open the hot, hard Mississippi earth.

The passage:




What would you put in your Classroom Bug Bag?

If you have ever watched the hit 70s television show M*A*S*H,Β then you probably understand what it means to BUG OUT!

When a FEMA representative spoke at a recent meeting I attended, he stressed the importance of having a Bug Bag for each family member as well as one in the trunk of each car. The list of contents for the Bug Bags is typical: basic first aid supplies, water, snacks, flashlight, a whistle, the bare necessities you might need in the event of an emergency.

Recently, an elementary school in my district was put on lockdown after gunshots were heard in the area Β Fortunately, no student or staff member was ever in danger.

This event made me think about just how prepared I am as a teacher in the event a similar situation occurred near my school requiring a lockdown. So, I am considering building a Classroom Bug Bag for my room.

In the bag should be many of the items the FEMA rep suggested, but I think it should include few other items as well in the event of an extended lockdown. My current plan is to include a sandwich-size bag for each student that will contain tissue, hand wipes, hard candy, as well as pencil and paper.

The Classroom Bug Bag will also contain decks of cards, crossword puzzles and math puzzles to help keep us occupied if necessary.

I realize there is no way to plan for every emergency scenario, but this is a start at being prepared for something one hopes will never happen.

What would you want in your Classroom Bug Bag?