New Feature: Some Kind of Supreme – April 2013

Blackberry Supreme from Jerry's Snow Cones by ilovememphis. Used with permission.
Blackberry Supreme from Jerry’s Snow Cones by Kerry Crawford. Used with permission.

Once upon a time, I used Diigo (my favorite social bookmarking tool) to publish a feature I called “In Retro Cite” on my “A Retrospective Saunter” blog. (Notice what I did there?) The goal of the In Retro Cite posts was to share links that might be valuable and worthwhile to colleagues, readers, and friends. I spend a fair chunk of time following and reading blogs, and some of my favorite bloggers offer this type of content. I usually find some great stories, resources, and reflections among these posts.

I discontinued “In Retro Cite” when I moved my retrospection to a self-hosted site, but I still believe  there’s value in sharing the best of what I’m reading and what’s influencing me. Therefore, I am beginning a new monthly feature “Some Kind of Supreme” named after my favorite frozen treat, the blackberry supreme from Jerry’s Snow Cones. (You really ought to try it.) The goal is to share some blog recommendations and posts that have truly resonated with me. For now, I plan to publish the supremes on the last day of each month. We’ll see how this goes and how it evolves.

Here’s my supremes for April 2013:

Favorite April Fool’s Gag – YouTube’s ready to select a winner

Best Reporting – Marc Perrusquia, The Commercial Appeal’s Leading Up to Six : 01

Six : 01

Most Amen-able – Chris Lehmann’s Teach Kindness

“So much of the current overarching structure of high school is fundamentally individualistic, isolating and solipsistic. What’s incredible is that most teachers went into the profession because on some fundamental level, they care about kids. And without a doubt, individual teachers in schools all over the world inspire students with their acts of kindness despite being in a system that discourages rather than encourages kindness as an institutional value.

That has to change.”

Coolest Math-related Site: Numberphile (h/t Doug Peterson)

Saddest - Gerald J. Conti’s Resignation Letter as shared by Valerie Strauss

“After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.”

Most Inspiring – Chris Wejr’s Share Who You Are, Let People In

“We need to be comfortable with sharing more of our personal side – the moments of joy, sadness, success and challenge.  As a principal, there is nothing I love more that hanging out, playing and chatting with the students every recess and lunch. I get to share a little bit of who I am and I get to see a little more about who they are.”

Biggest “Huh?! What?” – Venture Beat’s Why Your 8-year-old Should Be Coding

“‘Kids will have computing everywhere. Doctors will be using computing to make decisions. Jobs will require more technology. … The new jobs that will be created won’t be just programming jobs. But can you think about organizing data? Information and computation is coming to every field.’”

Best Writing Advice – Kristin Hohenadel’s Say It Out Loud: How David Sedaris Makes His Writing Better at Co.Create

“Sedaris says that he has usually rewritten a story about eight times before he tries it in front of an audience, where he ends up reading it and making tweaks up to 40 times before it is published. What he learns during those readings accounts for about 20% of the changes he makes in his text.”

What I Most Wish I’d Written – Nicholas Provenzano’s I Am Not the Enemy

“I am the person that forfeits personal time to ensure students have extra time. I am the person who provides a shoulder to cry on when nobody is around. I am the person who smiles when everyone else is frowning. I am the sunshine in a world of darkness for many.”

Most Likely to Become a Poster in Our Classroom – Todd Finley’s Why Do We Have to Write Today

“Because writing is critical to every discipline. • To understand author’s craft. • To make “text-to-world” connections. • To use metaphors to understand. • To predict the future, like George Orwell. • To map the psyche, like Freud. • To fill dark skies with cherry blossoms, like Matsuo Basho. • To leave love notes on the fridge. • Because poets scare fascists. • To be immortal.”

Best Reminder – Marko Saric’s Don’t Fear the Negative Comments

“A bigger worry than having negative comments is having no people checking out what you are doing and no feedback at all. If people are taking their time to be talking about you in the first place you are doing something right so see that as a positive thing.”

Favorite Post to Parents - Sarah Brooks’ Parents: A Word about Instagram

“They know exactly – to the digit – how many followers they have (and who they follow that isn’t following them back). They get their feelings hurt when the popular kids “like” the pictures above and below theirs on the Instagram newsfeed, but not their picture. They delete pictures of themselves when they don’t get as many likes as they were hoping for. They don’t get invited to parties, but see all the fun they missed out on in every photo posted from it. They post ugly pictures of their friends to get revenge for some heinous act they committed (like saying Louis is their favorite One Direction member).”

Best Question – John Spencer’s What About Solitude?

“Why don’t students enjoy being mentally alone? Is this something schools should be fostering? Are we not exposing kids to enough silence? Or is this silent wandering something that only some people need?”

Hitting Home the Hardest – George Ambler’s Busyness is Killing Leadership (h/t Rich Kiker)

“You become busy when you mistake activity for productivity, when you mistake efficiency for effectiveness and when you mistake more for better. You become busy when you ask ‘What’s next?’ rather then stopping to consider ‘Why this?’”

Most Encouraging – Shelley Wright’s Beta: The Courage to Fail & Change

“I think all teachers must have times when they’re faced with the decision to continue on the safe road that they know, or radically depart on a way that they believe to be better, but the specific route and outcomes are unknown. At least I’ve been faced with this decision. And in all honesty, sometimes I’ve chosen the former, and sometimes the latter. Although for the last five months, I’ve consistently chosen the latter, and they have been the most challenging and fulfilling five months of my career.”

Best Parenting Advice – Leo Babauta’s Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else)

“We don’t get angry at the wind for blowing, and yet the blowing does affect us. Let the actions of your kid be the wind blowing — you just need to find an appropriate response, rather than being stressed that this phenomenon is happening.”

Truest – Jose Vilson’s Resolve

“Do they not understand how well I want them to do on this thing? What am I saying? Do I even care about this stupid test? Is it really a measure of what they’ve learned this year or what they wanted them to learn and not learn? What if they were only one digit off? Do they have to conform to the state’s thinking to be good students? Good learners? Good people?”

Must Read for This “Dada” – Katrina Schwartz’s Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick

“Dweck understands it isn’t easy to praise process and emphasize the fun in challenging situations. Kids like direct praise, but to Dweck lauding achievement is like feeding them junk food – it’s bad for them.”

On My Nightstand – Amber McRee Turner’s Sway, Susan Cain’s Quiet, and Parker Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy

Through the Speakers in My Van – This month the boys and I have listened to Ingrid Law’s Savvy and Scumble, and we recently started Magyk, the first book in Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series.

My Most Popular Post in April 2013 - Diving Into Project-based Learning: Designing the Rubric

“I wasn’t completely comfortable with the wording of the rubric even as I shared it with the students, but we needed to get started. Together as a class, we discussed the rubric in detail, but I still worried that the boys’ understanding of the rubric was very different from mine. Nevertheless, this iteration of the rubric would serve as our guide.”

What about you? What have you read recently that’s left its mark on you? What’s happening on your blog?

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