Monthly Archives: January 2013

Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month | Edutopia

Great resources!

Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month | Edutopia.

Teaching Without Tests

This is teaching as it should be!  Allowing students to have a choice in demonstrating their knowledge is definitely differentiating and acceptance that one size does not fit all – in teaching, learning, or assessment!  Thanks for sharing Nicholas!

Teaching Without Tests.

Colin Powell: Kids need structure

A great talk!  Helps us learn that students are more than a grade on a piece of paper.  Just look at what a straight “C” student can do with the right structure!

Another great talk from TED!

Music and its importance to learning

I was once asked what my greatest personal accomplishment was.  My answer was a no-brainer.  My greatest personal accomplishment was
overcoming a birth defect to go on to make a living for many years as a
professional vocalist, then teacher.

I was born with a hemangioma under my tongue which prevented me from speaking normally until after surgery at the age of five. The doctors said surgery would be too dangerous to attempt before then.  It turned out that the age of five was almost too dangerous.  As doctors were about to do a tracheotomy due to swelling, I began to breathe normally.  I suspect God had a long list of things for me to carry out with my voice!  🙂  Healing wasn’t easy and I had just come through years of being teased by other children.

The taunting left me embarrassed to speak so my parents encouraged me to sing to use my voice.  That I did! After surgery, my singing and a short stint in speech class found me off and running! (Or I should say “talking and singing”!)

Though my shyness remained, my junior high school music teacher helped me realize I had talent and encouraged me to use it. Because of his encouragement, I held many leading roles in high school and college theatre productions and went on to earn a living as a professional vocalist for many years before becoming a teacher.

MB900184975I have long shared with colleagues the importance of using music in the classroom – no matter student age.  I was thrilled to meet with my neurologist to review an MRI of my brain after falling and badly hitting my head weeks earlier.  He shared the pictures stating,  “All is well – you have a highly developed brain – especially your cerebellum.”

I knew the reason immediately.  “I have been a musician all my life!” I shared trying to contain my enthusiasm.

“We see this development in people having experiences in music from an early age on,” he shared.

Music has great significance to learning – especially to children who may lack self-esteem or sit through class day in and day out trying to fit a “one size fits all” educational expectation.  Learning is hard to without being provided creative experiences which create neurological connections that enhance learning.

One of the most important books on this subject is This is your brain on music written by Daniel J. Levitin.  For more information you may want to explore –

Cover of "This Is Your Brain on Music: Th...

Enjoy and be sure to listen to music!

TED teams up with PBS to talk education

TED teams up with PBS to talk education.

This will be an amazing collaboration!  Stay posted for more information on this April 16th PBS event.  Featuring education luminaries  Geoffrey CanadaBill Gates, and Sir Ken Robinson – look forward to one of the most progressive, productive education talks in recent history!

How Brewing Coffee Can Up Cognitive Dexterity

Wonder why you do what you do?  Checked your cognitive dexterity lately?   For some interesting insight on revving it up – check out how seeing things differently and changing routine can add some spice to your life!

How Brewing Coffee Can Up Cognitive Dexterity.

Remembering Dr. King, Dad, and life lessons from both.


He sat at the edge of the sofa, glazed eyes fixed on the TV screen, tears streaming down his face. My brother and I watched silently with our father as the body of Martin Luther King was pulled by two mules on a mule cart. Thousands of people marched in tandem. My father wept, not ashamed to cry in front of us. “Why did they kill him?” we asked.

“Come close,” Dad said. “Never judge anyone by the color of their skin. There are good and bad people in every group,” he said. “Look to the person, and not the group they belong to. Consider everyone as an individual – an equal – remember that.”

08-06-2009 11;44;31AM

This would be one of the many life lessons I learned from my Italian father. Like King, Dad sought fairness for all in a time when it was not a popular thing to do. Similar to Dr. King’s life cut short at the hand of an assassin, Dad’s life was cut short in a car accident. I would only realize the meaningful extent of both of their legacy’s through their deaths.

Today, I can see my father on the sofa and the images of King’s funeral procession as if it was yesterday. I take comfort knowing the lessons I learned from both that year are handed down to each new group of students that enter my classroom.

The significance of today – the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the historical second inauguration of President Obama will be meaningful to some though not all. We have come a long way but the road is long and we still have a way to go.

For the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech illustrated…

“I can’t be president.”

1993 kindergarten classI admit that over the years I have become increasingly enamored of politics and the guiding and misguiding effect it has on us all.  It is no secret then that I woke early today to turn on the news so I wouldn’t miss anything.  Watching a reminiscent clip of past inaugurations – my first kindergarten classroom and one particular student came to mind.  The year was 1993 and I was thrilled to accept a cardboard replica of President Clinton for my classroom.  Of course, I had to take a picture of my students with the president’s replica and share some of the presidential stories I heard.  My favorite story to share with my students that day was the fact that several of President Clinton’s kindergarten friends were serving on his White House staff.

“Look around at your friends,” I enthusiastically said.  “One of you could be president one day and call on some of your kindergarten friends to work with you!”

“I can’t be president,” said Kendrick.

“Why would you say that?”  I naively asked.

He shrugged his shoulders, looked up at me and said, “Black people can’t be president.”

My heart sank and with it the idealistic joy I had for teaching was shadowed by the stark social reality of the time.  I hugged him and said, “You can be anything you want to be if you work hard for it.”

I have thought of Kendrick often over the years, but never as much as I did on the day watching President Obama’s first inauguration with a new generation of students.  I am thinking of Kendrick today – wondering if he remembers that day in 1993 and remaining hopeful that he finds as much joy in this week’s inaugural events as I do.

How to keep talented teachers from leaving

A must read for anyone interested in preserving the integrity and vitality of the teaching profession.

How to keep talented teachers from leaving.