Field Trip, The Met

Why History?

Sometimes a student, usually a smart student who is bored or lost will ask,

Mr. W, why are we doing this?


Why do I need to know this?

Those moments are a great opportunity to step back and lead students to the purpose of Social Studies, of history.

The purpose of history is to create stories of our past, to know who we are today, and create the stories of our future.

If a teacher cannot give a response to student as to why they are learning about a topic or theme other than, it’s on the test, or it’s in the text book, then why is the teacher teaching it?

The Internet is Real Life

One of the things that felt exciting about the internet (before Facebook and a twitter president) was the fact that it felt like a place people were trying things out, like a classroom or a sandbox.  People making things in the internet felt free to try things because it wasn’t real life.  The term IRL ( In Real Life )makes the internet feel safe to try things our, make social networks  and collect user data.

One of the worst days to go on the Internet is April 1st. Large Fortune 500 companies make off beat practical jokes. It’s the one time that trust is truly broken. Maybe that is a good reminder that anyone can create anything in the Internet.

Fuck Grades or how I fell in love with authentic feedback loop.

Kasper Helping Dad Grade QuizzesGrading is hard.  I think is especially true of the humanities classrooms because there are so many things you can grade.  If a student writes an essay on the rise of River Valley civilizations do I give a B for their understanding of the factors and outcomes of the Neolithic Era, or a C for their ability to write a four paragraph essay?  So much grading, so little time.

Grades, whether their letters or numbers do not contribute to students learning.  Grades only communicate a students’ ranking in the class.  There is no value in ranking students.  Does the boss at the job come out and dole out rankings of the employees on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis? Nobody wants that job. In fact the one large company, Microsoft, that did this went from dominating the P.C. business to becoming the a shadow of its former self. Microsoft eventually dropped the ranking system.

So I am interested in creating a grading system that has a few features.

  1. It must communicate the goals and standards for the student and class up front.  Language must be clear and students must be able to internalize the goal for themselves.
  2. It must communicate how students will achieve these goals.  A rubric is a start to how students can visualize how to achieve their goals.
  3. Feedback from teachers and peers must be clear, concrete and something the student can control or change.
  4. Students must be given time to reflect on their work and goals. This is also a time to celebrate their accomplishments.

As I develop this grading system, I will share aspects processes that I will use in the classroom this Fall. I want to be reflective of they grading system just as I want the students to become reflective of their work.




A fresh start in the Bronx.


Over the summer I transferred from Arts & Media Prep Academy to Bronx Design and Construction Academy.

Arts & Media, or AMP as it is know, will always have a special place in my heart. I could not have asked for a better start to my career as a teacher. The Administration and staff created a truly magical experience. I have made connections and friendships at AMP that will last forever. I learned so much about education in my 6 years at AMP.

I am very excited to be teaching at Bronx Design and Construction Academy. The team at BxDCA is amazing and have developed an amazing culture in the last 5 years. The mission of BxDCA is to provide quality liberal arts education and a C.T.E. program.  C.T.E. stands for Career and Technical Education. John Dewy said that “children learn by doing”. That is the core of what BxDCA is doing.

Goals for Teaching Fall 2012

1. BLOG- I would like to write regularly . I would like to write about my classroom and share the challenges and success of my students. I would like to write about my teaching experience. I would like my students to blog, and my writing would be a way to lead by example.
2. FEEDBACK- Feedback is the most important aspect of my job. Giving students timely and constructive feedback is essential for students to learn and feel challenged. I would like to improve the feedback I give students. This goal is the most challenging. It requires me to be absolutely clear as to my expectations of my students. It requires me to establish the standards for feedback at the onset of the school year. I would like to develop a way to check in with the students often that would be feasible. This would put more responsibility on students to be prepared to share with me where they are in a project and they could voice their concerns, challenges and questions.
3. A BETTER CLASSROOM-Moving to a Project Based Learning environment has been wonderful. It has also been challenging to create an efficient classroom environment. There are times I would like groups working on one thing while another group works with me on something else (a discussion as an example). But the acoustics in my room do not allow for this. The discussion echoes too much. I need to find ways to dampen the echo in my room. I also would like to improve the efficiency and the group collaboration.