The Academic Achievement Team

The Academic Achievement Team is a group of people that have a series of meetings at schools in danger of not making AYP. This movie is an attempt to help individual schools organize these meetings effectively and make sure they’re looking at the right things and having the right type of conversations. Chris Corallo, our director of staff development, was the guiding force behind the whole thing. Academic Achievement Team from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. I have mixed feelings about this video. I think this is the right way to do this kind of meeting, I just worry we’re working hard at doing the wrong things well. I’d really prefer these meetings addressing real learning rather than SOL test scores. The video itself is ok. I’m slowly learning some stuff about Motion but I’ve got a lot to learn on a lot of levels before I make a video I actually like. I would really be happier with a second cameraman. The amount of pre-planning that needs to be done to get this kind of thing right is pretty insane. We had to shoot the interview portion later to provide context for the meeting and then add voice over as well.


Dear Parents . . .

Dear Parents, Many of you were concerned about the attempt by President Obama to indoctrinate your children. Have no fear. We did not allow students to view this broadcast. We, as educators, are well aware that one time exposures to video can instantly and irrevocably change students. Additionally, politics have never played any part in education and we’ll do our best to make sure they never will. Please also be alert to other possible attempts to indoctrinate your children. Warning signs for indoctrination include the following: your children are isolated from your influence for long periods of time fear, threats and punishment are used as motivators your children are forced to memorize very specific information individuality is suppressed Now in other news, we’ll be extending the school year1 to become more competitive in the global economy. I’m sure you’ll all be for this move unless you’d like to become slaves to the Chinese. Remember 21st Century Skills were laid out by business leaders who have told us exactly what your children should know so they’ll be good workers. Clearly our business leaders know exactly what they’re doing and know exactly what education needs to do. Finally, make sure you’re bringing the school day home! We’ve sent home flashcards and extra homework. Remember, if your child doesn’t pass the state test […]

Celebrity Punnett Squares

Well, not quite. As you can see, the product ended up being more like New Math than a Punnet square but I liked the original title and have no idea what I’d call this post. Anyway, this idea would give students a totally different view of a character if you did it and it would show their understanding of the character (historical or literary) if they did it. Throw in some subtraction, squares or division and things could get a lot more complex. It certainly beats most character analysis/biographical sketches I’ve seen. You can see the progression of my thoughts below. So the original inspiration was this XKCD comic that had been bouncing around in my head for a few days and I woke up one morning with an idea. You could have a lot of fun crossbreeding famous people to get literary or historical characters (or the other way round). And, yes, I do often wake up thinking about crossbreeding famous people for educational purposes. As I looked up Punnet square information (it has been a while) I realized a few things. One, it isn’t spelled punnit square. Two, I’d forgotten that they were either really simple or fairly complex, at least for the limited use I wanted them for. So I scratched that idea but I still wanted […]

I’m a 21st Century Tool!

Suitable for framing, blog badges and t-shirts1. Wear it proudly and let people know you’re preparing kids for the workforce of tomorrow2! 3 Grab the code!!!! 1 Don’t you dare put this on a coffee mug. That totally violates the terms of use. 2 Life. So. Full. Of. Irony. 3 If you do not realize this is a joke or you appreciate this image in ANY way, I cannot help you.

Why I cry at night

Those of you who are looking for upbeat lesson ideas should immediately go look at this If Hollywood taught science class link. Lots of fun things to think about with that one. Lots of applications in any subject and it requires students to think about what is really true in order to make fun of the Hollywood stuff. It’s like reverse psychology. Now stop. If you want to read why I cry at night continue below. _________________________________________________________________ Three fairly different “Internet objects”1 have come together to crystallize some ideas for me2. This Ted Talk on Motivation by Pink This book review mentioning the false gods of NCLB This Netflix Culture Presentation So all this stuff has come together over the last little while and it all gets at why teachers and students, especially in k12, are having such a dismal time3. Motivation Education is designed around grades for motivation when dealing with students4 and now we have standardized testing scores for teacher/admin motivation. The bigger players at the divisions are driven by aggregate scores, numbers of AP tests taken and other garbage indicators. Pink’s whole talk is focused on how research shows over and over again that extrinsic motivators (rewards/punishments) for “21st century tasks” (really, anything that requires sophisticated thought) has been proven to either not work or to actually […]

Speaking from experience . . .

Asked by one student how he could become President someday, Obama issued a warning about Facebook. “I want everybody here to be careful about what you post on Facebook, because in the YouTube age whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life. That’s number one,” he said, according to Bloomberg. – source Good advice but I really wonder what will be considered “bad” in 30 years1. Neither party has been too clean in terms of youthful (on non-youthful) “indiscretions” lately2. Leaders in the private sector and many religions don’t seem any different. I wonder if the easy and frequent documentation, not to mention publication, of all sorts of mistakes will change what people expect out of politicians and people in general. People make mistakes. It’s going to happen to lots of them. Will the sheer proliferation make those mistakes matter less? Will it take more and more shocking things to make any sort of impression? That’d be an interesting byproduct. As a result of the consistent chronicling of “bad” behavior in our society the definition of bad behavior has been revised. I think it has already happened. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. Maybe we’re looking at people realistically or maybe we’re lowering the bar. 1 Granted, many people don’t care about […]


We found this monster today. He’s a Hickory Horned Devil1. We researched him- learned about his habitat, that he’ll eventually become the regal moth, and the fact that he’s just about ready to burrow into the soil for pupation. We’ve found a lot of animals and insects this summer. Everything from tortoises to caterpillars- all by chance. They each led to more knowledge for my sons but more importantly they’ve increased their interest and curiosity about nature and science. That’s what I want out of schools. I want them to create more opportunities for teachable moments, more chances for kids to follow their passions and interests, more pathways and more flexibility. I want schools orchestrating chances for serendipity. What I see instead are multiple choice tests and many, many more multiple choice tests to prepare you for the final big multiple choice test. What little chance, individuality and spontaneity left is getting stripped out and we pretend to wonder why teachers quit and students are bored. Serendipity is the enemy of standardization. Serendipity happens when your class is out in the woods and finds a giant, terrifying caterpillar even though you’re supposed to be looking for leaves2. You supplement serendipity by letting kids use class time to research this monstrous worm despite the fact that it isn’t on any state […]

It’s the little things

I saw these two posters ready to be hung in an elementary library. I was amazed. I showed this picture to two teachers and said “Can you believe this?” They had no idea what I was talking about. I was sad. OK, let’s get passed the whole crappy idea and the fact that they’re wasting wall space that could be put to any kind of better use. Look at these posters. The food looks horrific. It’s low level cafeteria food. One of them has the food on the floor. I wouldn’t feed that crap to my dog, let alone my brain. Why is there mustard with the Mexican food? What the hell is that neon green stuff with the nachos covered with a few dessicated olives? Seriously. Someone may have spent money on these posters or at the very least took the time to laminate them and then put them on a wall. That might have worked in the 1920s but kids today have seen decent images. They’ve been marketed to. They know that even McDonald’s food looks good in posters. I know it seems I’m making a big deal about nothing. Maybe, but I see this as a good example that we aren’t paying attention to details and are still living in a world where those kind of crappy […]

Comic WordPress Theme (and kind of a theme hacking lesson)

So here’s the proof of concept page for those who just want the idea and know how to change things already. It’s a great way to let students quickly and easily build an interactive online comic book story or display their art work. I really like the potential. I’m documenting some process here in hopes of giving people who care how I end up where I end up an idea of the path I traveled. I saw a tweet and ended up at the site below. I liked the way it looked so I noted the reference to the theme at the bottom right. That URL led me to the designer’s homepage but I was either too impatient or too lazy to find the theme there. I backed out and did a search via google for ipseity theme and end up where I want (which is here). However it looked like this when I installed it- which is fine and good but not what I wanted. I liked the clean, white version that had started me on this journey. I’ve now have two options. Option One One, I download the css from the other page and replace it. To do that I go back to the original site. I click view page source (in firefox) I search for cssand find […]


Signs of the 2Pac-alypse

These are real song lyrics. And I always thought “Feelin On Your Booty” was as low as lyrics could go. If 2Pac were dead, and not hiding out on an island in the Caribbean, he’d be rolling in his grave. Shorty just text me, say she wanna sex me LOL smiley face, LOL smiley face Shorty sent a twit pic saying come and get this, LOL smiley face, LOL smiley face From LOL Smiley Face (more lyrical genius here) Yeah load it on my macbook air Its a new form of macking don’t be old fashioned update your passion and See I cant wait till I get a little taste of you And I just upgraded to 10-80-i hi def just for you From Digital Girl, the newest travesty.