In a recent post I shared a guest post by a visitor writing about  the excellent use of the block schedule format by teachers at St. Gregory.   In that same vein I want to share my observations of a terrific 75 minute period I enjoyed last week in the classroom of Corinne Bancroft as she taught 6th grade English.

Sadly, this is all too rare an event, my spending an entire period in a single classroom, but I give credit to Ms. Bancroft for her persistence and warm enthusiasm in encouraging me to visit her classroom.

The 75 minute period was divided into three parts:

  • students worked in groups on a project for 35 minutes;
  • Ms. Bancroft facilitated a group book discussion for about 20 minutes;
  • and students worked individually on their laptops on an essay they were writing for the class while Ms. Bancroft individually conferenced with them for 20 minutes.

Class began with the direction to work in groups on their major end-of-year project, the Gathering Blue project based on the book of the same name.  Ms. Bancroft developed this herself, derived from her classroom discussion of reading this YA novel (for more information you can follow the link or see at bottom, where I have pasted it into the post.) (more…)

A few months ago I read a great post by my valued Connected Principals colleague, David Truss, entitled No Office Day.  Periodically, Dave, who heads an international school in China, deliberately spend an entire school day not in his office but in classrooms.

Today I finally took that day, and have now every intention of doing so at least monthly for the rest of my career (please try to hold me to this intent, and know too of my intent to lost 20 more pounds: these are challenging resolutions to abide by).

Here is my report, in a post that also seeks to enhance my blogging style with more pictures than usual: I know I have to make my posts more visually appealing.

My first classroom visit was to Sr. Rabinowitz’s Spanish classroom; I was greeted as I came in with a Buenas Dias, Como Esta?

I answered, of course, Muy Bien, y Tu? This 7th grade classroom was in the course of transitioning to a new exercise, a dialog they were to conduct and trasncribe into their notes; one of the great things was the entire set of directions for the exercise  were given, of course, en espanol– nearly the whole class is conducted this way.


It was lovely to host more than a hundred visitors today to our campus, and I spent the afternoon with the group visiting our middle school.  One way to take a peek into what is happening at our school is just to listen in to what some of our students and teachers are saying at Open House.

Students, answering the question What do you like most about the Middle School?

  • The sports program:  Everyone gets to play.
  • The relationships between the teachers and students, and you get to be friends with your teachers.
  • The welcoming environment: so great to wake up every morning and be excited to go to school.
  • The 1:1 Wings laptop program: computers help you expand your knowledge and you can learn more things and more deeply and you can go and research what you are really interested in– you can even learn with your teachers as you investigate a subject together.
  • The block schedule: you can focus on only 4 subjects each day, instead of all 8: it allows you to be more organized and concentrate better on what you are learning.
  • Here all the teachers know you by your name, and they help you with their homework.
  • This is the best school you can find: you couldn’t pay me to go anywhere else.

Teachers, during presentations:

  • We are happy to be offering math students the use of ALEXS , by which we can see better their strengths and areas of growth, and I can shape the math curriculum to suit the actual needs of our students.  (more…)