Sunday, October 26, 2014

The NEU Nation and Fairfield High

I attended the NEU Convention Monday-Wednesday this week and it truly rejuvenated me!! We are so lucky to be part of the NEU Nation where we are ONE of only FOUR high schools across the country that are NEU schools. We are leaders in this territory and we need to capitalize on that position.

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, was one of the keynote speakers at the convention. Jack is an inspirational speaker, life coach, and has keys to maximizing your potential in your life and career. I was truly inspired by Jack and couldn't stop Tweeting!! Here are some of the major takeaways.

"You only have control over three things in your life--the thoughts you think, the images you visualize and the actions you take." --Jack Canfield

"When do you give up on your dream? When you get it." --Jack Canfield

"Change is uncomfortable. People need to see the value in the change and will accept being uncomfortable. Event+Response=Outcome" --Jack Canfield

"Self-confidence is the result of surviving a risk." --Jack Canfield

"If you are complaining then it means there is something you can do about it. No one complains about the things they can't change." --Jack Canfield

"When someone complains...Ask them what they would rather have and how to do it." --Jack Canfield

Give up all of your excuses. Be results driven!!

"You are empowered when you say I Can. You are weakened when you say I Can't." --Jack Canfield

"We have the ability with our thoughts to protect ourselves from negative energy." --Jack Canfield

"Replace a negative thought with an action thought. You move from feeling hopeless to an action step." --Jack Canfield

Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. #positivity

"Commit to what YOU WANT and you will find the HOW.  Believing is a choice.  Your BELIEFS=Your REALITY."--Jack Canfield

"Writing down your goals increases your chance of success by 1100%." --Study reported in USA Today

"Only 4% of people who do not write down their goals followed through on their goals.  44% of people who wrote down goals followed through on their goals."--Study reported in USA Today

We need to add daily guided visualization to our practices. Both staff and students!!

"Perceptual Filters: You have to train yourself to consistently focus on the solutions and results that you want." --Jack Canfield


Denis Murphy, President of The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation was another keynote speaker. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is a magical story about a 9-year-old girl, a start-up Division I women's lacrosse team, and a big dream.  In 2004, 9-year-old Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a Medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. In 2005, through chance of events, Jaclyn became connected to and later adopted as an honorary member of the Northwestern Women's lacrosse team. Jaclyn's strength, courage, relentless spirit and joy for life inspired the players.  The team began to play for Jaclyn and a achieved a magical "perfect season," winning Northwestern's first NCAA national championship in 64 years.  Jaclyn inspired the team to go on to win 7 consecutive Division I NCAA national titles.  Soon after Jaclyn shared a big dream with her father.  She wanted other children with pediatric brain tumors to have similar experiences of being honorary team members. The Murphy's understood that it is ultimately the love, support and friendship of others that give people the inspiration and courage to get through this challenging journey. In 2005, the Murphy Family started The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation to improve he quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families by pairing them with college and high school athletic teams.

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is the NEU Charity of the Year. Visit The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation website to learn more: The NEU Nation will conduct a fundraiser this year in support of The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

The jewelry company Alex and Ani has a line that connects with charities and proceeds are given to the charities. Alex and Ani has partnered with The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Their elephant charm bracelet was created solely for The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. I am proudly wearing my Alex and Ani charm bracelet daily in support of The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Students Actively Learning Together....

All last week I had the pleasure of visiting many classrooms on campus. I was able to work with the entire English department three days straight; observing, planning, and debriefing. I was invited to visit two science classes on Friday that were engaged in a lab. What I saw was solid evidence of students engaged in real learning. I don't just mean students sitting compliant completing a worksheet, I mean active learning, critical thinking, and application. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few to give you a glimpse of the learning & engagement going on at FHS.

It all starts with a solid objective. The objective tells the students what they should know and be able to do by the end of the period. Many teachers are now incorporating their agenda directly underneath the objective, that way students see the steps they will take in class to reach the objective.

 Lynn Bocca's Reading Lab objective:  Students used four different colors to annotate the text. Blue: Who, Green: What, Orange: How, and Purple: Why. 
Laura Shafer's Biology objective: Students were using models to replicate DNA.

Peter Gelpke's Physics objective: Students were proving if Newton's Second Law was true.

Kelly Tomlinson's English 12 objective: Kelly modeled the process for students so they knew exactly what was expected of them. 

What struck me were the conversations that students were having with one another. This is when I knew that students were actively engaged and making meaning. 

Here are a few student quotes:

"The air track is being used to cancel out friction to show that Newton's Second Law is true," Tramale Hughes.

"Weight is dependent on the force of gravity.  Mass is constant, weight can change," Kelly Ann Bautista-Ong and Iman Ereiqat.

"I have finished highlighting the who, now I need a green highlighter to highlight the what," Dalaun Grady. When asked about the highlighting he explained that it helps him understand the article better. 


Assistant Superintendent Malcolm Butler visiting a lab group in Gelpke's Physics class. 

Lab groups working on proving that Newton's Second Law is true using the Air Tracks.

Students working together to place the DNA molecules. 

Student annotating his article with the color coding rules. 

Student taking a measurement before placing the mass on the air track. 

Student piecing together her DNA molecules. 

Student painting her ceramic work of art. 

Student painting her original ceramic work of art. 

Student in Computer Science Engineering class working on building his app. The tablet shows his artwork and original app and the Chromebook shows the lines of code.


As you plan your lessons continue to keep in mind that 
we are preparing our students to be successful in both college and career. This visual is a great reminder of that! It is all about BALANCE. 

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

In a meeting last week a student made a statement that I feel was very profound. He said, "We should be able to decide the classes we want to take. We can show what we are interested in and then take classes that support that. Then, we would really be ready for college or a job after high school. We shouldn't have to take classes just because it is a requirement that we take it. When we are in a class we aren't interested in, we won't do as well." The truth of the matter is that there are many more students that feel the same way as this student. We obviously cannot put aside the state requirements for high school graduation, but we need to take this student's statement to heart. We MUST attempt to make every class as relevant and meaningful to our students as possible.

Every class has a purpose and a connection to the real world. I am calling on all teachers to find that connection and meaning and capitalize on it. If you teach English, bring in the journalists and published authors to talk to your students. If you teach math bring in the engineers, the chefs, and the carpenters that use math daily in their professions. Let students experiment with new ideas and applications. Our students need to be able to think critically and to apply their knowledge in the real world. We want our students to be great successes upon graduation.

When students feel purpose and meaning in what they are doing that they will in turn find intrinsic motivation. Ask yourself this before you hand out an assignment, "How will this assignment improve the success and ultimate productivity of my students?" If you can't find an answer to that question you should rethink the assignment/activity. As a No Excuses University school we are preparing ALL of our students for college and career. We need to ENSURE that our activities, lessons, assignments, and projects are truly preparing them for success in college and career.

I have mentioned Daniel Pink in previous posts, but now is a great time for everyone to read DRIVE by Daniel Pink. You have to watch this short ten minute video from Youtube. It is an RSA animate video that depicts the fundamentals in DRIVE. RSA Animate DRIVE

I also found an audio book recording on Youtube of DRIVE. I have provided you the link here. AudioBook recording of DRIVE

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Perseverance....Never Give Up....Push Yourself Further Than You Think Possible......

Webster's dictionary defines PERSEVERANCE as, "continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: steadfastness." We not only need to develop perseverance in our students, but we need to continue to always persevere ourselves. It is in challenging times that we are forced to look deep inside ourselves and find the inner drive and passion to rise above the struggles, see the silver lining at the end, and push without looking back to reach the positive outcome.

Our Varsity Football players can attest to this! On Friday, the game against Armijo seemed like it was in the bag for us. Then, the tables turned and we were no longer in the lead and time was running out. The players did not give up. They continued to run their plays and look for an opportunity to overcome the opponent. That opportunity presented itself and we scored another touchdown. But, then Armijo, with a minute on the clock, was within 10 yards of their end zone and had possession of the ball. The Falcon Defense held strong and made the win happen. These young men have continued to train every week harder than the week before despite previous losses. They visualize the win in sight and continue to drive to make it happen. Let's have our Falcon Football Players be our inspiration this week.  Just as they did not give up on the field Friday night, we cannot give up on our daily endeavors to make change, impact lives, and educate students!! Keep the bar HIGH!!

Check out this Youtube video: A great overview of key strategies for improving teaching and learning in schools and in the classroom, with successful examples of each: Project-Based Learning, Technology Integration, Integrated Studies, Cooperative Learning, Comprehensive Assessment, Emotional Intelligence, Teacher Preparation, Parent Involvement, Community Partners, and Maximizing Resources.

Many more great things are in store for Fairfield High!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!