Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Teaching Tip #159

Teacherscribes Teaching Tip #159
Again, I love infographics.
This is such a visually stimulating way to learn.  I think we should have students producing an infographic for every paper they write.

Here are a couple of my favorites that my students have generated -

I include them as links, for it is easier to view them that way as opposed to downloading them as .jpgs for screen captures.

The Importance of Skill

Becoming a Craftsman

Be so Good They Can't Ignore You

Here are a couple professional examples that I just love.

Here is one I generated for my UND inquiry project a couple months ago


Monday, May 02, 2016

Teaching Tip #158

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #158
One of my favorite people in education policy is Alfie Kohn.  In his great article, It’s Not What We Teach: It’s What They Learn, he applies the old philosophical chestnut of “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” to education: If you teach a lesson and the students don’t learn anything, well, did you actually teach?
What do you think?
I’ve definitely been on the opposite side of that question.  In fact, all of 2004 and ’05 felt that way to me.
But I’ve come around to answer , no you haven’t actually been teaching anything to that question.
This is why I think it’s vital to give a lot of thought to our learning targets and evidence of learning.  Since we’ve been doing our lessons that way, I can go into each and ever lesson with a clear picture of the target and with the evidence my students will produce that shows me exactly what they have learned.  Or better yet for Alfie, they will show me how well I’ve actually taught them.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

NFL Draft days 1 and 2

The Bengals were in dire need of a talented wide receiver opposite of the stellar AJ Green and Tyler Eifert.  They had their eyes set on four wide receivers with first round grades: Corey Coleman, Josh Docson, Will Fuller, and Laquan Treadwell.

Thanks to three of our previous coaches, Hue Jackson nabbing Coleman, Jay Gruen nabbing Fuller, and Zimmer taking Treadwell (in addition to Houston grabbing Docson), the Bengals hopes at nabbing a firs round corner were gone.

So they did the next best thing: they added to their secondary, which helps when you play Big Ben twice a year.

They nabbed William Jackson III out of Houston, who was going to be drafted one pick later by the hated Steelers.

This is most definitely not a need pick.  The Bengals have four corners in set roles for next year: starters Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones.  Slot corner Josh Shaw and fourth corner Darqueze Dennard.  So Jackson will play a ton of special teams right away.  But Kirkpatrick will be a free agent after this year and Shaw may be best at free safety and Dennard has an injury history.  So Jackson could well start next year.

In round 2, though, the Bengals were able to find the very last receiver they had rated as a second round pick, Tyler Boyd out of Pittsburgh.  He is versatile like our former receiver Mo Sanu.  Boyd is a tad slow like Sanu too.  But he is smooth in and out of his routes and he was very productive at Pitt despite very pedestrian quarterback play, which bodes well for him.

Cincy doesn't need him to start this year as they have Brandon LaFell to fill in this year.  Hopefully, Boyd can start next year as our second wide receiver.

In the third round, Cincy reached a bit for a linebacker for Utah State, Nick Vigil.  He might have been available in the fourth round (I would have liked to have seen Cincy name Andrew Billings at DT), but they certainly can use help on special teams and at linebackers with Karlos Dunlap being a very good addition to the roster, but he is nearing the end of his career.  Time to infuse the linebacker corp with some depth.  And our middle backer, Rey Mauluaga, will be gone after next year.  In 2017 our linebackers could well be Vontaze Burfict, Vigil, and Paul Dawson (last year's third round pick).

Now today brings rounds 4-7.

The fourth round has been very good to Cincy over the years.  These names come to mind: Rudi Johnson (2001), Robert Geathers and Stacy Andrews (2004), Domota Peko (2006), Geno Atkins (2010), Clint Boling (2011), and Russell Bodine (2014).  Even last year's choice, corner/safety Shaw, played more snaps than most of our rookies.

Here are some names I hope the Bengals tab here on the third and final day of the draft.

Andrew Billings - DT

Miles Killebrew - S

Vidal Alexander - G

Jayron Kearse - S

Sheldon Day -DT

Matt Ioannidis - DT

DJ Reader - DT

Pharoh Cooper - WR

Kenny Lawler - WR

De'Runnya Wilson - WR

Jeremy Cash - S

Of course, since this draft is so deep in the defensive line and offensive tackle positions, a lot of players who would normally be drafted in the 5-7 round range in past drafts will be available as college free agents.

The Bengals have hit a few home runs here, namely linebackers Burfict and Vincent Rey as well as  Ryan Hewitt, our starting fullback/H-back/tight end.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Teaching Tip #157

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #157
Think of the term “classroom,” what comes to mind?  Chalk boards? White boards? Lectures? Notes? Desks in rows?
That’s what you get if you Google the images for “classroom.”
But we all know we do so much more than those images imply.
What if he didn’t go to “classrooms”?  What if we taught in “learning studios”?
What would that look like?
Another Google search for that is much different - computers, tables, the classroom centered more on itself than facing forward to a chalk board.  The images scream interaction and a sense that mistakes are intended.
How can we model that in our own classrooms?  I mean learning studios?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Teaching Tip #156

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #156
In Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he tells this story -
He was on a subway car packed with passengers.  He saw a father with his face in his hands, obviously exhausted.  The father had two kids with him who were out of control.  They were running around and carrying on, annoying everyone in the car.
Covey too became annoyed and wondered why this father didn’t get control of his kids who were making the ride horrible for everyone in the car.
Just then the father took his face out of his hands, rubbed his eyes and then spoke to Covey.  He said, “I’m sorry.  We are on our way back from my wife’s funeral.  The kids just don’t know what to do with themselves.”
That was a paradigm shift for Covey.  His anger and frustration instantly turned to compassion and empathy.
Yet, how often do we have paradigm shifts like this in our classrooms when our students are annoying the crap out of us?

I think the best example of this came from an essay I read several years ago from one of my sophomores.  Back then he had moved her from the cities.  He wrote about how in elementary school there was this kid who was bigger than everyone else.  For the first part of the year, they were good friends and got along great.  However, in the middle of the school year, the kid became a totally bully.  He would pick on other kids, the author in particular.  The big kid made the author’s life a living hell.  All winter he lived in dread of this kids.  Finally spring came and the school had a spring break.
During break the author found himself walking through an alley behind the kid’s house.  He looked closely and realized no one was home.  The author quickly grabbed as many large rocks as he could and began to shatter as many of the windows in the kid’s house as he could hit.
In his fit of rage (and revenge) he did thousands of dollars of damage.
When school resumed the truth came out - the kid’s father was dying from cancer.  The kid never told anyone so he had no way to deal with the pain and anger he felt at watching his father die so he took it out on the other kids.
Worse yet, the family spent all their money on health care costs and needed help to cover the cost of new windows.
The author was heartbroken.  He never told anyone what he did (the essay itself was his first confession of it) that he was the leader of the fundraising efforts.  He went door to door in every neighborhood he could reach.  He donated as many of his toys as his parents would let him.
The author learned a very painful, but important lesson.  Just because the other kid was being a bully, it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a larger problem or more to the kid than that.
How often do we judge our students too soon?
I’m just as guilty as anyone.  In fact, I’m probably guilty of the reverse of this more - where I am willing to give kids breaks that they don’t really deserve. But I’d rather be on that end of the spectrum than never offering grace to anyone.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wish List

Hope springs eternal tomorrow for every NFL team (well, except the Pats who lost their first round pick as part of their punishment for deflategate).

Here is my top ten wish list for players the Bengals could nab 24th overall.  And maybe with a little luck, 55th overall in the second round.

This also takes into consideration the top ten players will be off the board early.

1.  Andrew Billings - DT Baylor.  I love this kid.  He'd be a great fit alongside Geno Atkins as a nose tackle.

2.  Laquan Treadwell - WR Ole Miss.  Now this is with the expectation that he will slide past the Texans and Vikes who pick before us.  Mel Kiper JR. referred to him as the next Anquan Bolden.  I'll take that opposite AJ Green.  His hands are huge and he can pluck the ball out of the air.  He lacks great speed, but Andy Dalton doesn't have a rifle for an army anyway, so it's better to have someone who can fight for contested catches (something Marvin Jones and Mo Sanu were great at).

3.  Josh Doctson - WR TCU.  How great would it be to go back to Dalton's alma matter to get him another weapon in the passing game.  Doctson has some descent speed and is great at contested catches.  If he is there at #24, the Bengals should draft him immediately.  The last WR the Bengals drafted

4.  Jarran Reed - DT Alabama.  The Bengals love their SEC players, but they haven't taken one in the first round in the Marvin Lewis era.  But there has to be a first, right?  This guy would be great as a nose tackle.

5.  A'Shawn Robinson - DT Alabama - Reed's line mate at 'Bama.  He'd be a force on the interior, making it easier for Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson to pressure the quarterback.

6.  Shaq Lawson - DE Clemson.  The Bengals haven't taken a DE in round one either.  But it's hard to turn away excellent pass rushers - just look at what won Denver the Super Bowl last year.  What a rotation it would be with Johnson, Dunlap, and Lawson as edge rushers.

7.  Vernon Butler - DT Louisiana Tech - The Bengals usually don't draft small school kids in the first round, but this kid has the bulk and long arms the Bengals love in their defensive linemen.  He'd be a great replacement for Domata Peko in another year.

8.  Reggie Ragland - LB Alabama.  In keeping with their love for the SEC, I could see this pick happening.  Ragland would replace Rey Mauluga next year at linebacker, but the Bengals usually try to fill linebacker in the middle rounds.  Their secondary is full of first rounders and their defensive line has Pro Bowlers, so they can afford to be a little light talent wise at the linebacker position.

9.  Corey Coleman - WR Baylor.  Marvin Lewis has drafted taller wideouts, but he has also tried for some short ones - he just missed out on Devery Henderson in 2006 when the Saints took them ahead of the Bengals.  He'd bring speed and playmaking ability to the receiver corp.

10.  William Jackson III - CB Houston.  If it's one position Cincy loves to draft in the late first round, it's the corner position (see Jonathan Joseph and Darqueez Denard).  And Jackson fits their mold for a corner.  He could step in and start opposite Adam Jones in 2017.

Five players I hope they avoid

1.  Will Fuller - WR Notre Dame.  I love his speed, but he drops the ball often.  Plus, Dalton's arm is not great, so the long ball is not what our offense is built around.

2.  Ryan Kelly - C Alabama.  I just don't see the value in taking a center this high.  Maybe if they trade back.  The Bengals treat C like LB:  it's not a high value area (unlike QB, LT, CB, and DE), so you can get by with mid round picks.

3.  Leonard Floyd - OLB Georgia.  I usually love Georgia players for the Bengals, but after the horrible one/two selection of David Pollack (OLB) and Odell Thurman (ILB), I'd hate to see them spend a first round pick on another one.

4.  Noah Spence - DE/OLB Easter Kentucky.  He was a top recruit for Ohio State, but got into trouble.  Not what Cincy needs in terms of character red flags.

5.  Leonte Caroo - WR Rutgers.  For the same reason as Spence.

Teaching Tip #155

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #155
This is yet another way that limiting beliefs can ruin things.
I had a student last year in College Comp 1 first semester who struggled mightily with his writing.  I felt bad when I would return one of his essays and it had more of my scribbling and correcting on it than he had written on it!
Finally, he sent me an email asking what he could do to get better.  We had a few sit down sessions, and his writing did improve, but it didn’t improve quite enough as I had hoped.
When that class was over, I saw he had signed up for College Comp 2 second semester.  I had serious doubts about his ability to keep up with the rest of the class.
However, something clicked in the student’s head, for his writing was totally up to par with everyone else’s in that class.
He embraced the growth mindset, and he worked his tail off to get his writing up to par.

That was the highlight of last year for me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Teaching Tip #154

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #154
Maybe the most disastrous thing about limiting beliefs is when we let them become global.  Just because something doesn’t work once, we assume that will be the result every single time we attempt the task.
Again, I see this occur in teaching all the time.
Some classes eat up our class blog.  They love going there for videos and discussions.  Yet, there are some classes that want nothing to do with it.  No matter what, they visit the class blog only when I force them.
I can’t assume, however, that all classes will react that way.  If I do, I am limiting my teaching, and worst of all, limiting my students’ learning.
This happened to me in coaching.  Early on in my coaching career I worked with a legend, Coach Drechsel.  In the biggest game of their season, they were facing Browerville in the first round of the state playoffs.  They just tied the game on a huge drive.  Since they never kicked extra points, they would have to go for two.  I couldn’t wait to see what Drechsel would call.  He was famous for his straight t formations and hammering the ball.  Yet, he called a counter that totally fooled the defense and Blaise Larson scored the two points and RLF won.
When I began running the offense for the 9th grade team at LHS, I often tried the same play on the goal line and when going for two.
It failed all the time.
When the defense was in every gap, it was simply too easy for them to shoot through the gaps of the pulling guards and blow the play up.
I bet if we can the counter 10 times in the red zone, it failed 10 times.
Yet, we began running a better counter, called the Criss-Cross, to great effect.
And after we had it down, I began calling it in the red zone and it was incredibly effective.  Now there were some reasons why this was more effective than the regular counter (better ball fakes) though we had more pulling linemen than the counter.
I even remember calling it on the 5 yard one game with one of my favorite coaches, Coach Pete, watching with me from the sideline.  Our runningback was nailed for a five yard loss by a blitzing linebacker.
“Avoid the criss-cross inside the ten,” Pete advised me.
“Ah, dammit! The center missed his downblock on the blitzing linebacker,” I said.
The next play I called a power and we got those five yards back plus another 8, which left the ball at the two, which was the same exact spot where Dreschel called his great counter play.
I called the Criss-Cross this time.  Our running back walked untouched into the end zone as every defender went after the same runner who had just taken the ball down to the goal line, but he didn’t have the ball.
I smiled at Pete.
“Good call,” he said.
That play was a huge success and resulted in a lot of touchdowns for us over the years  So if I had let that one limiting belief become global (that we could never run a counter play in the redzone), I would have left a lot of points off the board).
What is a limiting belief that you let become global?