Breakdancing Brooklyn Catholic School Teacher Video Goes Viral

From the New York Daily News:

Michael (Mikey) Satira, Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School’s director of student activities, has become the latest Internet sensation after a student captured him on tape executing a perfect windmill spin on the school’s cafeteria floor.

An unknown student filmed Satira, 41, who also works part-time as a DJ and entertainer, breakdancing in the lunchroom of the Windsor Terrace school during eighth period last Wednesday while students in the background are wildly cheering for the educator.
“Evidentally its pretty unqiue for a guy like me in a shirt and tie to be busting windmills in the cafeteria with students going nuts,” Satira told The Daily News.

Check out his video below, and read the entire article at NYDailyNews.com.

 

Catholic School to Use Bitcoin Digital Currency for Fundraiser

From Huntsville, Alabama:

Bitcoin LogoHoly Spirit Regional Catholic School is offering supporters a high-tech way to buy tickets to its biggest fundraiser.

The private school on Airport Road says reservations and donations to the Jan. 25 BASH (Building an Academic and Spiritual Heritage) event at the Von Braun Center can be made using Bitcoin, an increasingly popular digital currency.

“In a technologically savvy city, it only makes sense that the BASH embrace this new payment system and educate our parents and students through real-life experience,” BASH Chair Carlen Williams said in a news release.

Read more here.

NCEA Begins Book Club for Catholic Educators

The National Catholic Education Association is launching its book club with not one, but two outstanding titles for Catholic educators to discuss: Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus* by Sherry Weddell and Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement* by Robert Marzano.

According to Kathy Mears, Executive Director of Elementary Schools:

Our books have been selected and we hope that you will join us in our discussions.  Pick one or do both discussions!  It is easy to participate!

First, you must join Edmodo (www.edmodo.com), because that will be our platform.  After you register, you can follow one of the following links or use one of the following codes.

Forming Intentional DisciplesIf you are interested in knowing more about how to transfer our faith to future generations, please consider joining the group reading:  Forming Intentional Disciples:  The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell.  Through the reading of the book and the exchange of ideas, we believe that participants will grow stronger in their faith and their knowledge of how to share the faith, and meet other committed Catholic educators from all over the country!  To register for this book study, please follow this link:  https://edmo.do/j/u3vnpq.  The code for this book is:  2fdna7.

Classroom Instruction that WorksIf you would like to learn ways to implement the best practices outlined in Robert Marzano’s book, Classroom Instruction That Works:  Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2001), please consider registering for this book study!  We will read, share pedagogical practices and learn new strategies from each other.  To register for this book student, please follow this link:  https://edmo.do/j/bk3n4k. The code for this book is:  2w2se8.

These book studies require you to read a little, share a little, and work together to build some common knowledge with your colleagues from across the country.  Please consider joining us, as we begin to connect this way!

These two books are excellent choices to kick off the book club. I’ve read both of them, and I can’t wait to discuss them. I’ve already sent my request to join the Edmodo group, and I look forward to seeing you there!

*Ordering your books from this link helps support Catholic School Chronicle.

Teach Like a Time Lord: Lessons for Teachers from Doctor Who

How long have you been teaching? Five years? Ten years? Twenty? Forty? The BBC science fiction TV show Doctor Who has been around for fifty years. That’s a long time for a show to stick around, especially for one so quirky and eccentric. It’s found a fresh audience the past few years since it rebooted in 2005, and it continues with a new season currently filming and veteran actor Peter Capaldi taking on the title role from departing Matt Smith.

The show began an educational program intending to use time travel as a way to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history. Thought it may have strayed from its initial purpose, there’s a lot we can learn about teaching from the time-traveling time lord known as the Doctor.

Regenerate every once in a while. 

The most famous and unique characteristic of the Doctor is his ability to regenerate—to get an entirely new body and personality every so often, while still remaining the same person. While we teachers (regrettably) can’t turn in our tired bodies for new ones, we can rejuvenate and reinvigorate our teaching. Maybe it’s time to teach a new novel, or move to another grade level. Instead of simply recycling our lesson plans from year to year, we can introduce some new angle to a unit we’ve taught for years. Maybe it’s time to try something out of our comfort zone, like a global project, or an interdisciplinary unit taught in conjunction with another teacher. We don’t need an entire personality makeover, but is there some new tradition we can start in our classroom that will energize the students and ourselves?

Travel with companions.

Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Amy Pond—the companions of the Doctor are almost as memorable as the Doctor himself. The Doctor always travels with a companion or two because they make him better. They keep him on the right path when he strays, they remind him of who he is when forgets, and they get him out of trouble when he risks too much. The same is true with teaching. We need colleagues for the same reasons. Our fellow teachers and administrators who travel this journey of education with us are invaluable to our success. Teaching can be an isolating activity in which we find ourselves locked in a room with twenty or thirty young minds looking to us for leadership. It’s easy to forget we’re not alone. Whether it’s the teachers in our building or the teachers in our Personal Learning Network on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook, we need   help from friends to stay on track, to remember who we are, and to get us out of trouble.

It’s not about big budgets or special effects.

Doctor Who Bubble WrapThe early years of Doctor Who are infamous for their cheesy effects and cheap costumes—green bubble wrap, duct tape—you get the picture. In spite of the low-budget effects, the show became an icon of British culture because of the power of the stories it told. The same is true of good teaching. It’s not the latest technology or a state-of-the-art classroom that is most essential to effective teaching. My principal is fond of telling me about the best college math professor she ever had, who simply walked into to the room each day holding nothing but a piece of chalk. Good teachers make the best of whatever environment they are given, with whatever tools they have at their disposal. Would it be great to teach in a 1:1 environment with air-conditioned rooms, smart whiteboards, and the latest textbooks? Sure, it would. But at its heart, good teaching is a relationship: between teacher and student, between students and the subject matter.

Everyone is important.

In the Doctor Who episode A Christmas Carol, the scrooge-like Sardick tells the Doctor that the person trapped inside a hibernation chamber is “nobody important.” The Doctor replies, “Do you know, in 900 years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.” Would we say the same about the students we’ve taught? In all our years in education have we ever met anyone whom we ignored or treated as non-important? In our classes right now, whom do we tend to overlook, to dismiss, to avoid? Our belief in the dignity of every person compels us to reflect and actively seek out these students and build our relationship with them.

We may not last fifty years in a classroom, but we stand a better chance of being successful teachers if we find ways to renew ourselves, to spend time with our colleagues, to connect with our students, and to treat everyone with dignity.

Using Visual Writing Prompts in the Catholic Classroom

It’s tough to get eighth graders to settle down for Language Arts right after lunch, but one thing that’s been successful for me is the use of visual writing prompts. Here’s how it works:

Before students come in from the lunch room I project an interesting image on the screen, like this:

Writing Prompt Sample
Image source: http://visualwritingprompts.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/sharks-swim-in-the-forest/

They enter the classroom,  sit down, and begin a free write based on the image.

I usually have them write for ten to fifteen minutes with a goal of producing one full handwritten page. As they write I circulate around the room making sure everyone is on task, and I hand out their writing folders.

As with a typical free-write, they are to keep their pen moving constantly, and if they get stuck they are to write the last word they wrote over and over until they get unblocked.

After ten or fifteen minutes, I signal that the free write is over. On the front of their folder they number the free write and label it.

Writing Folder

The class is currently in the middle of a Digital Writing Workshop in which they blog each day on Kidblog.org. Their full page of writing acts as a “ticket” which they exchange for getting a laptop out from the mobile cart. Since starting this in the middle of November, students have written almost thirty pages of free writes.

The main purpose of the free write is to get students writing fluently and to bypass their inner critic. The activity has two advantageous side effects: first, it helps to create a quiet, calm environment just after the busyness of lunch; second, it gives students lots of material to work with when trying to find something to blog about.

It’s pretty easy to find images to use–I usually just type “visual writing prompt” into Google’s image search–but there are a few websites that produce visual prompts regularly:

Often, while students are writing, I will play instrumental music in the background as another way to stimulate creativity. For instance, when I used the picture of the shark in the forest I played the theme from Jaws.

If you use visual prompts or would like to know more, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Here are some of the students’ favorites so far:

Minions Writing Prompt
Image source: http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/
Old Superhero in the Mix
Image source: http://www.artnau.com/2013/11/andreas-englund/

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