Promoting Success in Public Education

Go Public is an amazing initiative that has been taking place in San Antonio, Texas, since 2013.  In a collective letter from the superintedents of the distrcits of Bexar County, they explain the purpose of the program.  “The purpose of Go Public is not to root our and ocrrect the faults of public education…Insetead, all of Bexar County’s 16 independent school districts have come together with this singular goal: To inspire everyone – whether you have kids or not, whether you went to public school or not – to take a collective step back and celebrate the wonderful, heartwarming, life-altering things happening EVERY DAY in public schools.”

Initatives like this are fantastic.  They promote strong educational ecosystems that include all valuable stakeholders in the process: administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community.

If your wondering, Why Go Public?  Follow the link to learn more information and watch more success story videos that put the achievements of public education in Bexar County, TX.  You can also like their Facebook page to learn more information and track their success.

Kudos to all involved, today and in the past, on this amazing way to share success’s in education!

5 Lessons Learned From Dr. Seuss

dr seuss

Today, March 2, is National Reading Day.  It is a great time to read  and get children interested in reading while we reflect on one of the great writers of our time.  Dr. Seuss has influenced children all over the world.  From my grandparents, to my parents, to me, and now I pass him and his books on to my children.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Preschool Kids Learn to Grow Food

Amazing concept that stands out in today’s digital world.  Providing kids an opportunity to connect with their peers, adults, and nature only becomes more challenging as they become more and more connected with technology.

This ARTICLE  presents their three approaches to learning: “learning from nature, learning from technique, and learning from practice.”  Their school get students out of the classroom but also gives them a chance to use their hands, interact with animals, learn how to grow their own food, and most importantly – have fun!

Other companies have jumped in on similar ideas around breaks from technology… Chick-Fil-A recently started a promotion called the Family Challenge.  They encourage families to put ALL technology into a box and while they eat their meal at the restaurant.  If you successfully make it through the whole meal without using your devices, they proved you with free “icedream” cones!

chick fil a


What is our BEST Taxonomy?

Peter DeWitt, Ed. D published a great article “What’s Our Best Taxonomy? Bloom’s or SOLO?”.  He does a great job at explaining both Taxonomies while providing you insights as to how each can be and is used.

This article address a topic that I was first taught in college at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania: Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The 6 stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy are:


  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

The idea of Bloom’s is to make sure that you are hitting all the levels of cognitive thought and if you are then you truly testing for mastery vs. memorization.  However, once I started to teach, I learned how difficult it is to assess students at a high level and then also judge where they fell in their understanding based on the taxonomy.  I found myself looking to other methods to assess my students level of understanding of the content.

According to Mr. DeWitt, “The criticism with Bloom’s is that it seems to focus on regurgitating information, and that anything goes. A student can provide a surface-level answer to a difficult question, or a deep answer to a surface-level question.”

Let us now turn our attention to the SOLO Taxonomy that was created and developed by John Biggs and Kevin Collis in the 1980’s.  Biggs describes their taxonomy as, “SOLO, which stands for the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome, is a means of classifying learning outcomes in terms of their complexity, enabling us to assess students’ work in terms of its quality not of how many bits of this and of that they got right.”

The 5 Stages of the SOLO Taxonomy are:


  1. Prestructual
  2. Unistructual
  3. Multistructual
  4. Relational
  5. Extended Abstract

So the purpose of the SOLO Taxonomy is to reach even past assessing and judging the value of materials that are learned to developing theories and applying their knowledge to explore new ideas.

The most powerful piece of the article, for someone who was brought up on Bloom’s Taxonomy, was this quote from Mr. DeWitt “Through reading blogs and research, one of the positives sides to SOLO is that it makes it easier for teachers to identify the levels, and therefore help guide students through the learning process.”

I always found myself just looking at the verbs of Bloom’s and incorporating them into my assessments to reach all the levels of the Taxonomy but found it so hard to make judgments on how my students were progressing.  With the SOLO Taxonomy you could consider reducing it to a much simpler scale of I statements…

  • I do not understand what just happened – Clueless
  • I sort of understand what you are saying – Somewhat understands
  • I am on the same page but not connecting the pieces – Moderately understands
  • I am on the same page and explain it to my neighbor – Fully understands
  • I understand and feel that this concept applies to another idea I had in mind – An extension to what I have learned.

So after reading the article and my thoughts on what I have experienced during my teaching career, which side to you stand on?  Bloom’s or SOLO?

Images are from the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.  



Parent-Teacher Conference Makeover

After spending a decade in the classroom it is no secret that this night, Parent-Teacher Conference night, is a favorite amoungest all teachers…NOT!  It is a night full of anxiety because you never know how a parent will react to what you have to say about their child, whether bad or good, beleive it or not.  (I actually had a parent get upset with me because I mentioned how well her son was doing in class, that he was a leader, and that he had big things coming!)

Anyways, thanks to Sarah Sparks and her blog on Parent-Teacher Conferences Get a Makeover, I was able to read about Ruth Hill Elementary School in Newnan, Georgia and how they take full advantage of these situations.  We all know that getting parents and the community involved can be a daunting task, but what if it was as easy as just educating our parents on how to teach their children at home, as well as provide supplies to complete assignments?

One study shows that that over 75% of parents will be present at their schools open house and those numbers are almost dupilcated for a scheduled parent-teacher conference.  These are crucial times in the learning process because we are given a gift.  The gift is a face to face meeting with the parent(s) of our students where we have another opportunity to teach and make a difference in our students lives.

How you might be wondering?  The teachers at Ruth Hill Elementary have their parents set a 60 day goal for their child and then model these activities for their parents so they know how to help their kids at home!  After this 60 day period, they meet to discuss the process, make new goals, provide resources, set a date, and meet again.  This process continues throughout the school year.

This model is called APTT (Academic Parent Teacher Team) and it was pioleted in Creighton School Distrcit in Arizona and is now used all across the country.  Creighton School District has very high low income family rates, around 80%, and this model has shown to be very effective.  It is used in cities around the U.S., Chicago and Houston to name a couple, as well as state wide use in Georgia and Wisconson.

This is one area that I missed as a teacher, the opportunity to teach my parents how to be teachers at home.  Everyone wants more parent and community involvment, but this is different.  This is different because parents are not just “involved”, they are actually empowed.  These are parents who have activtely become a part of the education process.



State of Educational Blogging – 2015

Read the FULL article here!

Using Blogs in your classroom to connect with students and engage them in their learning process?  As an educator we are constantly looking for ways to reach out students on a level that pushes the boundary of understanding to comprehension.

Educators across the world are turning to Blogs to provide students with an opportunity to communicate with peers in a format they are comfortable with that promotes collaboration and ownership.  Teaching students to own what they say and to think before they speak is incredibly powerful.  For those that work in schools and your kids have Facebook accounts, you know exactly what I mean!

This article will provide you insights on how blogs are used, best practices, and platforms that commonly used.  It is a great resource for those of you who are already using this avenue to engage participation in the learning process but more importantly for you who are interested but have not jumped in.


Educate Yourself on ESSA

The Every Student Succeeds Act has finally arrived provided educators some pleasure as we do not worry about the door hitting the No Child Left Behind Act on the way out.

ESSA will be in full effect for the 2017-2018 school year with an estimated 15 million dollars in grant money available.  That amount will raise slightly each year before breaking 16 million in 2020.  The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a great summary of the act, funding, goals, and purpose.

Click here to navigate to Education Week as they share with their subscribers inside scoop to how states, and districts will share more power under the ESSA Act and how your school can prepare to meet the new goals that have been set to receive maximum funding!

Additional resource!  Added on March 4, 2016.

TEDed – Every Kid Needs a Champion

MUST WATCH – Amazing video from TEDedCHAT with Rita Pierson.  Rita spent has been a teacher for 40 years and discusses the importance of relationships with our students.  She discusses in the video how colleague said to her, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.  They pay me to teach a lesson, the kids should learn it… case closed” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

rita pierson

She challenges educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level and see where you can take them!