This Friday, my tenth graders presented final projects on the Tempest for an assignment I called “Caliban + 1.” Leading up to it, groups had taken notes on selected motifs during our reading of the play. Each group then had to select a single moment that involved Caliban and one or more other characters, and design a stage production around that scene to emphasize their assigned motif using costumes, lights and all the magic of the theater they could muster. To show imprisonment, Jackie portrayed a doggish version of Caliban, with leaves and twigs in her “coat” and a collar from ...


Oops. In obsessively writing 714 posts about Entry Four, I forgot to mention the other three entries that comprise the portfolio, each weighted at 16 percent of the total score (Entry Four is weighted at only 12 percent; the six assessment center exercises at the end are each 6.67 or a whopping 40 percent of the total). Here’s a quick overview (remember, the standards are specific to my certification area, Early Adolescence English Language Arts). Entry One Analysis of Student Growth in Reading and Writing In thirteen pages or fewer, analyze four responses-- two reading assignments and two ...


As I drove to work one morning last week, dark clouds began to form. I was discouraged with the feedback I’d been getting about my accomplishment write-ups. Responses to my Entry Four attempts from various quarters, this blog included, have essentially been a no-nonsense chorus of so what’s. Should I pull the plug on this NBPTS thing, I half wondered? Am I just not the kind of teacher that registers on their scale? Forgotten comments on earlier posts came back to me, those voices of teachers who hadn’t made it. I read those words of warning with ...


Last week there was a lot going on (or was it just another week?). Homecoming fever swirled in the halls, we had our first writing groups in the graduate class that I teach at night, and there was an afternoon of work on the canoe at Mount Vernon. Below are some high points. Homecoming A schedule of events so complex that the student government writes a helpful 2-page guide (single-spaced) for freshman, including the themes. Freshman: Under the bed. Sophomore: Under the big top. Junior: Underwear, capes and masks. Seniors: Undercover. Faculty: Under age. A new tradition born from a ...


I’m winging it on the Latin, but what I mean to say is “Reader, beware.” Slow prose ahead. I brought a couple drafts of Entry Four accomplishments to class and got some feedback from my table mates. Not enough “I verb,” they said, and ditch the flowery language. Jill, who included bolded quotes from the standards in her draft, said this helps because they take exactly twenty minutes to assess it (she heard this from a friend of hers who thought about reading for NBPTS as a summer job but decided against it when she heard about the stop ...


Thank goodness it’s raining, so at least the sun isn’t calling me out to play in the yard with the kids. I’m at the keyboard and psyching myself up to begin Entry Four. Okay, I’m back in college. It’s a 10-page paper. That’s nothing. Write fast and throw in lots of catch-phrases from the bible ( “Keep those entry standards by your keyboard for constant reference,” reminds Marybeth, from California, in a helpful comment on my last post.) I'll use the template below when writing about my accomplishments. Entry Four consists of: · Description and analysis, ...


No one else has done Entry Four either. At least, none of the people that I talked to on Wednesday night at the first meeting of the NBPTS candidates support course had finished documenting their “Contributions to Student Learning.” Several dozen of us gathered in the cafeteria at Edison high school after a hump day to “begin” in earnest the process of board certification that will culminate with the submission of a four-entry portfolio in May and a one-day battery of online essays at a testing center in June. Among those dozens were more than a handful who, like me, ...


Davy Crockett in buckskins could have been striding through the halls at TJ last Wednesday, and not far behind him, Paul Bunyan with a double-bladed axe over his shoulder. But no, it was only Michael Sottosanti, primitive technology expert, and Mike Wilson, horse logger, two of the speakers at our “Canoe Kickoff,” an in-school field trip that introduced our tenth grade Humanities students to the year-long project to build a Native American dugout upon which we have now officially embarked. The one hundred kids split into three groups and rotated around to three stations: Wilson and Joe Youcha, director of ...


I suck at golf. When I hit the ball at the driving range, it might fly straight up and land ten feet away, or hook meanly to the left. Sometimes it’s a grass cutter, burning along just off the ground. Every now and then I whack the thing just right and it feels like the heavens have parted. The little orb describes a beautiful arc lit by a shaft of heavenly light. I haven’t been at the sport long-- just took it up this summer. Nor am I “avid.” Having two young boys pretty much prevents me from ...


We’ve survived the opening of school. Met our kids, issued lockers, given out homework. There was a lot of nervous energy, but things ran smoothly, and I had done enough planning over the past couple of weeks to actually feel a semblance of control. At this time of transition and fresh starts, I couldn’t help but notice some other memorable beginnings this week. First day of first grade for my almost 6-year old. A mental snapshot of him I’ll always cherish: tousled hair, kakhi shorts, a dark green polo shirt (in kindergarten they didn’t have to ...


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