August 19

Rules, Expectations and Routines

One of the keys to having a successful school year is to establish classroom rules or expectations and routines.  Our students will not know what is expected of them unless we tell them and show them.  

Rules/Expectations and Routines allow for smooth sailing in the classroom because everyone knows what to do.  Handle this from the beginning and you will have fewer problems and you class will operate more efficiently.

Rules and Expectations

First determine your expectations and then create your rules. Many teachers are leaning more towards creating a list of expectations and not rules because rules imply an attitude of ‘do this or else’ while expectations illustrate the type of behavior that is expected of all students.  Rules are punitive and can be counterproductive in creating a learning community within your classroom.  Expectations foster responsibility.  Discussing expectations, courtesies and manners is more effective than posting rules.

Your list of rules/expectations should reflect your philosophy of education. For example, you want class discussions so you want students to be allowed to talk to each but not when you are talking or when another student is presenting.  If you want students to be quiet and in their seats during class discussions, your rule/expectation might be:

  • Listen and stay seated when someone is speaking.

Always phrase rules in a positive not negative manner, for example:

Do say — This is a beverage-free classroom.
Don’t say — Do not bring beverages to class.



You must establish consequences for unwanted behavior.  Students should be rewarded for displaying the correct behavior but there must be punitive measures taken when students exhibit unwanted behavior.

Sample expectations:

  1. Be in your assigned seat and prepared to work when the final bell rings.
  2. Concerns and/ or appeals must be discussed with teacher privately before/ after class or submitted to teacher in writing after class.
  3. Raise your hand and wait to be recognized before speaking.
  4. Respect the rights and property of others.
  5. Be courteous to your teacher and your classmates.

Sample consequences:

1st Offense: A verbal warning will be given when a minor classroom or school rule is broken,.

2nd Offense: A 2nd verbal warning will be given accompanied by a telephone call to the parent/ guardian.

3rd Offense: If the problem persists after a verbal warning, students will be given a detention, which will be accompanied by another telephone call to the parent/ guardian.

4th Offense: If the problem persists a discipline referral will be issued.

Routines and procedures

Routines and procedures allow for the classroom to run smoothly and efficiently.  Teach students the procedures that you want them to follow.

  • Pass papers to the front of the classroom
  • Sharpen pencils when entering room
  • Take out journal and workbook when entering room
  • Enter the classroom quietly and begin Do Now
  • When using the activity center put things back in their slots
  • Teaching Assistant will distribute supplies to each row, etc.

A successful classroom has routines and procedures, which give organization and structure to learning.

Visuals are a great way to let the students know what your expectations and routines are.  If you want them to come into class and pull out their notebook, workbook and textbook, show them.

Let them see/read what it is you want them to have for the day’s assignments.  In this picture of a whiteboard, they are required to have their binder, pen/pencil, worksheet and brain.  They know exactly what is expected of them.  Teach procedures. They help to make your expectations possible.

 Communicate high expectations and teach procedures to facilitate them.


August 12

Remind 101 = a way to connect with students and their parents

Getting ready for back to school and I am trying to find ways to connect with my students.  YES, I will be Tweeting. YES, I will have posts on my Facebook page. I have also discovered Remind 101 to send out emails and text messages to students and to parents. I can provide them with test/quiz reminders, assignment clarifications/updates, homework reminders, etc.

Remind 101 provides a free service for teachers to be able to send text messages to students and parents quickly, easily, and NOT FROM YOUR OWN PHONE!  Teachers, sign up with your name and email and create your classes.  A special code is issued for each class and your students use the code to set up their accounts.

They get a return message that asks them to reply with their first and last name, and then voila, they are ready to receive messages.  I intend to use it several times a week to remind them that:

  • There is a study guide on the website that might help with homework.
  • Don’t forget to bring in workbook pages tomorrow.
  • Essay re-write is due in class tomorrow.
  • You have 3 more days to prepare for your literary circle meeting.
  • Don’t forget that we have a test on Friday.

The system is a convenient that will help to keep my students and their parents ‘in the know.’

August 5

To me CONNECTING means SHARING #ce12

Each time I Tweet, ReTweet or Share a link for a resource or activity I am reminded that this is Connected Educator Month.  Being connected to me means to share with others the good and useful things that we find in our dealings with other teachers, whether these dealings are online or Face-to-Face.

Regularly think about what it is that you share with others to help to foster the notion that together we are strongest and we should not be re-creating the making of the wheel.  We should all contribute to making it roll smoother and faster but we don’t need to redo what someone else has already done.

In the last 60 minutes I have shared

Ideas for Working Together with Parents

Bulletin Board Hangups – mini inspirational posters

Morning Meeting | Responsive Classroom

TeachersFirst’s Professional Resources

I shared using my Twitter account, Facebook page and Linked In account and Google Plus.  Do i overshare??? Probably. But I am ok with that.  My goal is to make sure that everyone in my connected world has a chance to try out resources and tools that help to support what we do in the classroom.

To Blog is To Share and To Learn is what I named my blog.

What have you shared lately?  

How did you share it?

August 4

Enquiring Minds

I am reading Enquiring Minds by Microsoft.  It is a document with theory, tips and resources geared to help you help your students think… no it helps you to demand that your students think critically and creatively.  “Enquiring Minds is a research and development project exploring questions of educational change. The aim of Enquiring Minds is to enable students to take more responsibility for the content, processes and outcomes of their learning.”

Interesting guide with basis on making a shift to empowering students more.

Their philosophy is a change from what some people have called ‘transmission’ pedagogy to a ‘co-constructive’ pedagogy / ‘enquiry’ pedagogy).

Transmission pedagogy (teacher as lecturer) has a number of features:

  • teacher teaches and students are taught
  • teacher knows a great deal and students know little
  • teacher thinks and students are thought about
  • teacher talks and students listen
  • teacher chooses and enforces her/his choice and students comply
  • teacher chooses the course content and the students adapt and respond to it.

Features of enquiry pedagogy (teacher as facilitator/learner) include:

  • teacher and students are co-learners
  • teacher uses her/his knowledge and understanding to elicit
  • and bring on students’ knowledge
  • the classroom is a place where teacher and students think together
  • teacher and students develop ways to talk together
  • students take on more responsibility for how the classroom
  • should be and how learning takes place
  • students choose the course content and teachers adapt and respond to it.

The guide doesn’t re-write the way to teach, it just tweaks it a little so that the student has more authority over their own learning.  It can only work if a teacher is using best practice techniques coupled with a caring and sharing learning community.



August 4

EdCamp, the ultimate connector #ce12

EdCamps are a great way to connect with other educators in your area. If you are tired of the same old PD, EdCamps, the unconferences, are the way to go.  They allow for professional development to be done BY Teachers FOR Teachers.  To find out more, check out the hangout scheduled for September.  I am an EdCamp Louisiana Organizer and I am soooo hooked on the idea of providing space and opportunities for educators to share and collaborate that I am trying to work on monthly citywide EdCamps for New Orleans.

It is empowering to be able to spend time with other like minded educators who want to share and collaborate ideas and resources to improve our craft.  If EdCamps are new to you, check out the Hangout and learn more.


August 1

TTT and Connected Educators

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”  ― Robert Frost

I just finished a Google + hangout and it was awesommme. Teachers Teaching Teachers met at (9 p.m. est)

Paul Allison invited me to help to kick off Connected Educators Month with Teachers Teaching Teachers and I said YES!! His weekly broadcast coincided with Day 1 of Connected Educators month talked about what it all means to us, especially when we think about how important it is to be connected locally and physically as it is to be connected nationally or globally and virtually.  The Google + hangout participants were
— Paul Allison of the New York City Writing Project
–Darren Cambridge, director of the Connected Educators project
–Kevin Hodgson of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project;
–Pamela Moran, Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools and a teacher-consultant at the Central Virginia Writing Project
–Steve Moore of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project
–Karen Fasimpaur, founder and organizer of P2PU’s School of Ed.
–Jeff Lebow founder of and co-founder of (Jeff will be joining us late, perhaps with a class.)

and myself

–Valerie Burton of the Greater New Orleans Writing Project

We talked about so much and connected on so many different levels.  We are CONNECTED EDUCATORS and even though these people are part of my online PLN, I respect and admire and trust them.  They are people who help me better myself and my craft.  We are connected if only in a hangout, a tweet or a facebook post and I am grateful for it.
Learn more about some the Connected Teacher events on this recent post by +Steve Hargadon, “Connected Educator Month – Week One’s Amazing Schedule!”


July 24

Using assessment to engage at #DENSI2012

Engage Students through Innovative Assessment by Jason Altman

On a pencil and paper test, can we really accurately assess the student’s performance?  Do we actually measure and discuss the good and bad of their work?  How can we do better?

Rubrics allow students to better understand the meaning behind their grade. If students know exactly how their work will be evaluated, they are more likely to produce higher quality work. The best rubrics are created by both the teacher and the students.

Rubrics allow students and parents to see specifically how a teacher will score the work submitted.  The best part is that once a rubric is created, grading goes much faster. Fewer written comments are needed on products because the rubric’s descriptors can be circled. Rubrics do need to be tailored for each class and NOT just re-used each year for each class.

We looked over a checklist and tweaked it to create a rubric.

Notes to take and use:

We should not always focus on the negative.  We should focus on the positive of the student’s strengths.

C. R. C. D. should drive our classes. 

  • Collect – inquiry gathering information
  • Relate- relate their knowledge of subject and another student
  • Create- create ?? some document that shows their knowledge
  • Donate – share what has been created has great rubrics to use for assessment

July 24

Sharing and giving back

Each night we are asked in our DENSI team meetings what we can do to promote community service. I have decided to go ahead with my incomplete and incoherent thoughts of doing monthly EdCamps.  I want to have a monthly unconference that has a focused portion and an unfocused portion. Our second EdCamp Louisiana was more successful than the first BUT there are somethings that need to be improved upon.

I want to add more structure and focus to our unconference because I know that there are somethings that need to discussed continually, social media, organizational / productivity tools, classroom management, student data tracking and the creating of student products using or not using tech tools.  Each time I talk to teachers about what they want to see and do in their classes these topics arise and therefore must be addressed on a regular basis. For these topics we need more than a facilitator to talk, we need a facilitator who will talk to them about the whys, why nots and the hows of the topic.  This facilitator would put some sort of plan into their hands so that they can begin working on their new skill/resource Monday morning.  Many of the attendees of our EdCamp Louisiana have expressed that they need this final piece to our discussion sessions.

I have started talking with other teachers to get them to commit to Teaching Teachers Tech one Saturday a month for a year.  I want us to travel to different schools for our training sessions and talk to as many teachers as possible.

Why do I feel the need to share everything with everyone?

Because so many teachers do not.  They want to keep things a secret.  I want the world to see the good and bad that I do.  If it is good and you like it, do it in your classroom with your students.  If it is bad and you do not like it, do it better in your classroom with your students.

July 24

I have been chosen to present at T.C.E.A.

I just saw this email

“Dear Valerie,
We are pleased and excited to inform you the TCEA Workshops and Sessions Committee has accepted your proposal to present at the TCEA 2013 Convention & Exposition, February 4-8, 2013, in Austin.”   Whoo Hoo!! I am going to Texas to talk about ePortfolios!!! I <3 Tech.

It was this blurb from their website that made me apply. It sounded like they were talking to me and even though I am not from Texas, I took a chance and applied.

The convention brings together campus and district-level educators for a networking and learning experience that stimulates growth and innovation. Passionate teachers, campus and district leaders unite at this annual event to gather and share the latest trends and best practices for creating engaging classrooms that excite today’s active and inspired learners.

The TCEA annual convention is the educational technology integration and best practices event of the year with more than 400 presentations, 450 exhibiting companies, and networking opportunities

Yay meeeeee!!!!!

Now who is going to tell my Mom and my daughter that this English Teacher is going away to present at another Tech Conference?  Any takers?!?!….???

July 24

The DENsations compete in the #DENSI2012 DENmazing race

The DENsations Rock

We are

Kathy Sedlacek

Valerie Burton

Davina Turner and

Beth Burau


DENSI has yet another team building activity.  This one involves completing a series of challenges in hopes of having your team win the DENmazing Race.  I was able to join the race with this great group of educators who wanted to have fun and FINISH.  We did and We did. We had fun, ran a little, plotted how to succeed and laughed a lot.

We supported one another (they did not leave me as I heaved up the street feeling every above sea level breath I sucked in) and we cheered for our successes (we rocked the dance and bowling legs of the race, thank you… thank you very much.)

Thank you DENsations for helping to make my first DENSI memorable.


How many DEN Stars does it take to use a GPS to geocache during a scavenger hunt?

Uh… 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 …. I lost count.  19, 20…

We even tried to use cellphones when that didn’t work.

What is this and what does it mean?

BUT we all worked together to finish that challenge and ‘Get ‘er done.’

July 24

Somersaulting the Classroom at #DENSI2012

Tim Childers discussed how to somersault your classroom.  He began his presentation letting us know that somersalting the classroom can be a  more comfortable way to get ‘flipping’ into their classrooms.  Somersalting allows you to select 1 thing to change and improve student engagement, parent interaction and student achievement.

The concept behind ‘flipping’ involves students watching videos or reading notes at home and then coming to school to do the work.  Flipping allows teachers and students to work together on the work products after students have completed the theory portion of the assignments at home.

Tim encouraged us to ‘somersault’ some of our lessons by creating screenshots/screencasts or teaching videos showing the teacher completing a lesson.  His session focused on showing us how to use interactive white boards, flipcams, iPhones, Jing, Knovio and Screencast-O-Matic. to create video content that can be shared with students, their parents, administration and teachers.  Tim also pointed out that Edmodo is a good place to house videos.  If you missed his session, he has started a group on Edmodo.  Look for his post for today, Monday, and you should see it.

Tim’s session left me THOUGHTFUL.

Now I am trying to find ways to be creative and somersault my classes.  I now have an AP class and I want to have them do readings at home to free up class time for the LEARNING and CONNECTING that happens after we get the pedagogical tasks out of the way.


July 23

My #DENSI2012 Monday

Yes Kathy, I know that this is more of a POSTER than an INFOGRAPHIC.