8 ‘Look Fors’

Thank you George Couros and Sylvia Duckworth for this awesome visual reminder!

George Couros' 8 Classroom Look Fors

Check out George Couros’ blog for more words of ed leadership wisdom and Sylvia Duckworth’s Flickr page for great visuals!



Motivation… 1-2-3, P-B-L!

From: Race Walk Pictures at https://www.flickr.com/ photos/97321708@N07/ under CC license https://creativecommons.org/  licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

From: Race Walk Pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ 97321708@N07/ under CC license https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

We set the bar high and our students are expected to reach or exceed what might be very challenging heights of academic standards. What if they are just not motivated to try to reach those learning goals?

How do we keep our students motivated as they strive to meet increasingly challenging academic standards?

Actually, “Every student is motivated – just not necessarily in the way teachers hope” (Quate and McDermott, Sept. 2014). Two key factors are (1) helping students feel that teachers are committed to their potential AND (2) “making sure students feel intellectually challenged” (Ibid). When students know you support them and believe in them they are more motivated to do the work. Add to that (3) as many of the factors that go hand-in-hand with Project-Based Learning:

  1. Give students more voice and choice (still making it teacher-guided, though);
  2. Localize the project (for added relevance and personal connection);
  3. Keep it real (again, in relation to the student, personally);
  4. Launch the project with an entry event;
  5. Emphasize commitment to the team;
  6. Involve outside collaborators;
  7. Have students present their work to a public audience.

(From: John Larmer. “Boosting the Power of Projects.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 42-46. Print.)

Now (1-2-3, P-B-L), we can sustain an environment of motivated learning! For immediately useful links related to PBL see my previous posts, “Stressed out about projects? Here’s a handy checklist!” and “More PBL Resources!

By incorporating Project-Based Learning into our instructional plans we can engage students to a degree that they may not normally have been, in the past. PBL is recognized ” as a way to boost students’ motivation to learn” (Larmer, Sept. 2014). Ideally, our students will happily choose to strive to meet and/or exceed those high standards and we can continue to support their optimum learning!


  • Larmer, John. “Boosting the Power of Projects.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 42-46. Print.
  • Quate, Stevi and John McDermott. “The Just-Right Challenge.” Educational Leadership Sep. 2014: 61-65


More PBL Resources!

From: Andrew Miller’s post: “Resources for Getting Started With Project-Based Learning”

As y’all know I’m a big fan of Project-Based Learning. I’m also a big fan of Edutopia! Here’s a repost of one of their recent “News” emails…

Edutopia Newsletter

and… http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-getting-started-resources

I highly recommend Edutopia’s Newsletter! Enjoy!!!

3 Keys to Guiding School Culture… positively! :)

School Culture Wordle

  • Unquenchable desire to make things better;
  • Unwavering commitment to do what one must, to change;
  • Unstoppable will to try and try and try again to build a school culture that creates and sustains excellence!
(Deal, Terrence E., and Kent D. Peterson. The Principal’s Role in Shaping School Culture. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Programs for the Improvement of Practice, 1991. Print.)

Easy! Right? There’s no doubt that it takes hard work. Those three bullet-ed points boil down to staying the course with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible. Just as important (perhaps, more so!) is knowing where to focus your energy.

From Flickr user John Spooner-  https://www.flickr.com/ photos/johnspooner/2199685678/sizes/o/

From Flickr user John Spooner- https://www.flickr.com/ photos/johnspooner/2199685678/sizes/o/; License- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Begin by asking these questions:

  • Do we know who we are as a school? What is our identity? What do we stand for?
  • Do we share common  values? What are our beliefs about students, education and learning?
  • Do we face our issues head-on? Can we build unity through resolved conflicts?
  • Do we ‘walk the talk‘? Does each of us model what we expect to see in others?
  • Do we have stories that exemplify who we are, who we want to be and how to become that?
  • Do our ceremonies, symbols and traditions illustrate and reflect our identity?

Develop a clear vision of our (your) mission. Make sure we (you) have the right people ‘on the bus’, respecting those who are better suited somewhere else. Look at ourselves (yourself) honestly and resolve disputes/conflict positively. “Be the change” we (you) want to see. Become a story-teller… of stories that sustain our (your) vision. Continually reflect on who we (you) are (as a school) and whether what we (you) say and do is aligned to who we (you) are and where we (you) are headed.

From Flickr user symphony of love- https://www.flickr.com/photos /pictoquotes/14601457842/sizes/l; License- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

From Flickr user symphony of love- https://www.flickr.com/photos /pictoquotes/14601457842/sizes/l; License-

Let’s do it!

Where learning lies…

Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

This was a long article! It was worth every minute. Take some time. Quiet time. Give yourself enough time to read this AND reflect. Then, think about how to foster those learning moments that happen naturally.


Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals

Article picture

Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals.

Interesting article with possible learning implications. I wish the study had involved more than just 6 year-olds and I look forward to the longitudinal study! I’m utterly convinced that building those executive function skills is crucial for future happiness and life success.