March 28

Two all beef patties, special sauce….

Henry and "Big Daddy"

Last night I took my 7 year old son to his first NBA game featuring the Philadelphia 76ers vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. As we settled in our seats, Henry asked, “What is the Sixers theme song, Daddy?” Every song that came on while the players were warming up was followed with Henry asking, “Is that the theme song, Dad?” Honestly, I haven’t been to a Sixers game in some time, and I wasn’t altogether sure what song they were using this year.

Finally, with a few moments before tip off, the lights dimmed, and the introductions began. I finally figured out that their theme song was 1 2 3 4 5 Sixers. We had a lot of fun throughout the game, and the Sixers dominated the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. So much so, that with about 4 minutes left, fans were heading for the exits. “Henry,” I said, “Let’s go down as close as we can to see the end of the game.” He agreed, and we literally were 20 feet from the court. We heard the college kids behind us yelling, “Big Mac!” Of course Henry asked, “Why are they yelling Big Mac, Dad?” “Not sure, bud,” I replied. As soon as the Sixers scored their 100th point, it became clear why they were cheering. The announcer came on and said, “Congratulations to all fans tonight! Since the Sixers scored 100 points you will receive a free Big Mac tomorrow at Mc Donald’s.” So, that is why they were cheering.

Henry and Daddy

Unfortunately, around 2:00 am Henry woke up and went to the bathroom to get sick. Mommy and Daddy helped him with that ever so unpleasant experience. In the morning, as we were getting his sister ready for school, he asked about the Big Mac. We told him he couldn’t eat a Big Mac today because he was sick last night. So then he asked, “What is in a Big Mac?” Mommy shouted from the other room, “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!” Then she looked at me and said, “You should blog about the importance of mnemonic devices as a learning tool. It is very important!”

Then it hit me, what Henry was looking for the whole time was the mnemonic device that would help him remember the experience. He was determined to make a connection with the Sixer’s theme song to provide a context for his first NBA game. In schools, we try to use mnemonic devices to aid with short, and hopefully, long term memory in applying skills and knowledge that they can link to their everyday lives. Acronyms, acrostic poems, rhymes, and keyword strategies are at our finger tips. They are designed to help our students learn.

I will never forget that night, and I am sure Henry will never forget it either. We both have our mnemonic devices!

Here are some resources:

March 26

#ASCD12…12 Giveaways for your next conference!

OK, you can have my pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, program guides and folders because I am not going to need them anymore.  For the most part, I went through ASCD12 on my BlackBerry. I simply tweeted, typed notes, and followed the “back-current” of the conference from the palm of my hand. It was so nice to not have a lot of “baggage.”

I know most people focus on takeaways, but I am going to try something different. Here are my 12 giveaways:

1. Using Social Media is a precious gift, but you still need to chat with people. People like Tom Whitby will hold court with you, make you laugh, and make you THINK!

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for pictures. The pictures, I hear, will last longer than the moment.

3. Don’t try to do lunch at Reading Terminal Market with more than 7 people during the busy lunch time. You won’t be able to find seats together.

4. Be selfish – You control your learning. If you are in a session and it is not what you thought, “punch out” and go to another, or back to the Exhibit Hall. I preferred the Re-Charge station so I could charge up my phone.  Thanks ASCD for all of the options!

5. Flank out and spread your wings.

6. When in the elevator or in line for coffee, ask someone where they are from. Ask them about their experiences at the conference.

7. Wait the extra few minutes after a session and thank the presenter.

8. Ask people about their technology. See a new gadget, ask someone if they can tell you about it. Might help you in future purchases.

9. Fight through a cold. I kick myself that I missed the 8:00 AM session on Sunday.

10. Buy at least one book that a presenter recommends. I bought Brain Rules, by John Medina. So excited to read it.

Who doesn't want to be Simply Better?

11. Convince your highest ranking administrator (Think Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent) to buy a set of books by an ASCD author, and agree to run the book club. Dr. Gentile, fingers crossed, will be purchasing “Simply Better: Doing What Matters Most To Change The Odds For Students Success” for administrators who are interested in motivating our students and teachers.

12. Blog, Google+, facebook, or tweet about your experiences and “give” them to someone.

See you in Tampa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Denver, Dallas or Chicago13?


Category: ASCD12 | 2 Comments
March 25

ASCD12 Day 2 Reflections… and takeaways

For me, day 2 started out rough. I woke up with a continued cough that I can only attribute to allergies. I decided to sleep in, and ended up skipping the 8:00 AM sessions. I think the extra sleep helped and it was also important to spend time with my family before I departed for Philly. I ate a little breakfast and 2o minutes later I was parking in the City. It pays to live so close the National Conference site this year.

I attended the general session. Byrne Creek Secondary Schools was awarded because of the work they are doing with students. I was impressed with how  Principal, Mr. Dave Rawnsley told the story of his school, Byrne Creek Secondary Schools, through a poem “I AM” written by the students. I thought it was touching.

After the general session, I went to the recharge station and met up with my superintendent, Dr. Gentile and Joe Mazza, Principal of Knapp Elementary. Please check out Joe’s blog We discussed the power of social media and parent engagement. Joe is doing a lot of research on this issue through his doctoral program. He shared a video with us that we will defiantly be bring back to Millville to help teachers, administrators, parents and students recognize this awesome tool.

Joe Mazza and David Gentile at the Re-Charge Station

We went to a 1:00 PM session, but it didn’t work. Sometimes, what is written on the description is not what it seems in the presentation. No worries. We met up with Dr. Moore and Alicia Discepola and hit the Exhibit Hall. I was able to get a picture with an energetic representative from ADRENNA.

She was dancing to get people to visit

At 3:00 PM I attended Bored to Death: What we know (and Ignore) About Student Motivation by Bryan Goodwin. Bryan did a fantastic job of taking the attendee through the research and practical strategies that both identify and assist students who are unmotivated with their learning. I highly suggest that you purchase his book Simply Better: Doing What Matters to Change The Odds For Student Success.

Here is a video Bryan showed at the end of his presentation. Enjoy

All in all the day was filled with learning, connections, and resources that I can use to be a better educator.

Category: ASCD12 | 2 Comments
March 25

ASCD12: Day 1 Reflections

Day 1 Saturday


I arrived at the convention center a little before 8AM. My goal was to get registered quickly and make it to the Marzano session. Registration was so easy and everyone at ASCD was extremely helpful. When I arrived at the Marzano session I quickly began to listen, make connections and, of course, tweet. I was so happy to see that many other attendees were tweeting as well. Bob Marzano’s presentation was enlightening, humorous and, most of all practical. His research has enlightened me to the fact that teaching is both an art and a science.

I went through the exhibit hall. There were so many resources available to increase learning, technology integration, and student achievement. I met up with my Superintendent, Dr. Dave Gentile and another Principal, Dr. Brian Robinson, from the district and we went to the keynote address by Reed Timmer, storm chaser extraordinaire. I have never seen the show, but I will say that the other day as I was doing a walkthrough in my building, a 5th grade teacher was using Reed’s work to illustrate the powerful impact of Tornadoes for a project they were doing. What I liked about Reed was that he modeled effective instruction- he made real world connections, integrated story telling, and utilized technology.

After the Keynote, I went to lunch and had a wonderful conversation about Elementary education from one of my in district mentors, Dr. Brian Robinson. Brian always provides me with with insights into education, and he is a really good sounding board for all of my ideas.

It was all laughs before the presentation

I tried to attend an early afternoon session, but all the early birds got the worms. I attempted 3 sessions but they were closed. So, I helped out the team from Millville who were presenting at 3:00 PM. Their session on Transforming Schools Through Powerful and Systemic Walkthroughs (Dr. Pamm Moore, Dr. David Gentile, Mrs. JoAnne Colacurcio, and Ms. Arlene Jenkins) was the one I was looking most forward to. By 2:45PM the room was packed and the session was closed. My job for this session was to run the twitter feed. I think I sent out 35 tweets during the session. I felt like a court stenographer.

As a celebration to the amazing presentation the team from Millville went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We laughed and joked while we snacked on a very diverse appetizer tray. As soon as we were finished with dinner, Dr. Pamm Moore and I headed over to tweet up.

@timito4 @web20classroom@NMHS_Principal @betavt @tomwhitby @drpammoore @katrinastevens1

At first I didn’t know what to expect from tweet up. I wasn’t sure what I would do or who I would talk with, or for that matter how long I would stay. Fortunately, Eric Sheninger arrived and we caught up and reflected on the visit to his school. He introduced us to some people. Before we knew it, we had met colleagues from all across the country, with various participation with twitter and blogging. We had so much fun! I thanked Tom Whitby, and Steven Anderson, the innovators of #edchat, for all they did to pave the way for all of us who have followed. And to think, only one day completed!

By the way, I sent out about 100 tweets throughout the whole day and I was able to complete this post before going to bed. I have to say this is very invigorating!

March 21

It’s all about the Journey AND the Destination

Scholastic cover: @NMHS_Principal

Our superintendent was able to secure a visit to New Milford, NJ to visit with Eric Sheninger, principal, blogger, presenter, leader, father, husband, traveler, and more. In Millville Public Schools, we use a systems approach to everything. One of the most important principles in systems thinking is to look to the “best in class”. Eric is considered to be the “best in class” when it comes to social media, leadership, and technology. Who can argue with his close to 20,000 followers, books, presentations, keynote addresses, Scholastic Administrator of the year, and other accolades?  Rightfully so!

We were scheduled to be in New Milford High School (NMHS) by 8AM.  Our crew (Dr. David Gentile, Superintendent; Dr. Pamm Moore, Assistant Superintendent; Mrs. Kathy Procopio, Principal, Millville Senior High School; and Dr. Spike Cook, Principal, Rebecca Mulford Bacon Elementary) assembled at our meeting place at 5:30AM in order to beat the traffic and allow ourselves time to get there safely.  We knew the journey would be part of the experience, so we all set our alarm clocks – EARLY. Armed with my contribution of coffee, we were set to take off.

The ride up was both comical and inspiring. We dealt with a lot of technical issues, including a new GPS system and our lack of experience in commuting in North Jersey.  We talked about how our lives were going. We learned about each other’s families and our recent experiences at school. Somehow, we even managed to make it there on time!

Once we arrived at NMHS, Eric’s secretary greeted us with a warm smile. The office was quiet, and all the students and teachers seemed to be in their places. Eric brought us into his conference room and spent the first 30 minutes discussing the day’s planned events, as well as what to expect in this school building. We had prepared questions to guide the discussion, but after a while that was not necessary. Conversation and ideas just flowed. We were curious about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, technology in the classroom, cell phones, culture and climate of NMHS, and of course, Eric. He took great care in crafting his answers making sure to let us know that he was no “prophet” but rather a man on a mission to bring 21st century learning to the forefront of the educational experiences for his students. Eric feels that the way NMHS embraces technology speaks to what students already understand – that phones are now devices, and making them taboo only adds to the problems, as opposed to being part of the solution.

NMHS's new 21st Century learning environment

As we walked through NMHS, it was clear that Mr. Sheninger was in his element. Students approached him with ease, said hello and some continued their conversation with him from earlier. One student, in noticing the visitors remarked, “The suits are here. This must be something important.” We laughed. Eric had us visit a few classrooms to experience what he can only describe to his Twitter followers or presentation attendees. His classrooms are, in some regards, traditional-looking from the hallway, but once inside, I felt something much different. As the students texted answers to their teachers, or looked up resources on their cell phones, there was something oddly normal. As a young lady in a Geometry class articulated, “Using our cell phones in class is really no big deal. When we are finished with it, we just put it away and move on with something different.”

Solve and text

In another math class, the teacher used the responses from the cell phones to understand the learning process of his students. In one question, 100% of the students answered correctly, and he moved on. Following a second question, 55% of the students missed the answer. Using that information, he promptly revisited the skill to address the needs of his class. To me, this was evidence of data driven and learner-centered education at its best!

After our classroom visits, we went back to the conference room for more discussion. Eric showed us his new “interactive white board in a bag.” No, Eric is no magician, he showed us a newer device that connected his iPad, Apple TV, and HDMI display tool to create an interactive display wall. Of course, he mentioned, this can be purchased for a fraction of the cost that an interactive white board costs.  Ideas were swirling around in our heads.

Eric was excited to show us the cafeteria. We descended upon one of the first lunches to watch how the students used technology at lunch. Sure enough as we walked through the cafeteria, students were on their devices watching videos, playing Angry Birds, or reading. Dr. Moore and I chatted with two sophomore girls. Similar to the other student in math class, they both said that having their cell phones out at lunch, and when the teacher lets them in class, is nothing big. I asked if they felt that students used these devices to bully, harass, or cause problems at the school, to which one of them said, “Maybe at other schools, but not here.”

MPS and Eric Sheninger

We concluded the visits by getting our pictures taken with Principal Twitter, as his secretary jokingly mentioned, “I knew him before all of this, you know.” Eric signed a copy of the Scholastic Magazine featuring his story. He encouraged us to keep Tweeting, blogging and modeling the way for our teachers and students. 

On our car ride home, we reflected on the day. It was obvious to us that Eric had developed a culture and climate that valued technology and treated students with dignity and respect. It was also clear that the stakeholders of NMHS mutually agreed that learning was priority number one. We each shared our “takeaways” from the day (in between navigating Teaneck, New Milford, and the NJ Turnpike – think Clark Griswold from European Vacation, “Hey Kids, Big Ben, the Parliament”). Mrs. Procopio, who took 4 pages of notes, felt the experience helped her see how technology can be an integral part of the high school experience. She reflected on the many positive teachers at NMHS, and how she couldn’t wait to explore options for her school. Dr. Gentile felt that the whole experience, both the journey and the destination, was worthwhile and inspiring. Dr. Moore saw the important benefits of technology and curriculum integration which was neither forced nor contrived at NMHS.

Spike Cook and Eric Sheninger

As for me, I am looking forward to our district’s journey through technology exploration and our future destination of becoming a world class district.





Are you going to ASCD12?

Check out Dr. David Gentile, Dr. Pamm Moore, Mrs. Joanne Colacurcio, and Mrs. Arlene Jenkins, as they present on Saturday 3/24/12 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm #1335 — Transforming Schools Through Powerful and Systematic Walkthroughs

March 19

Turtle On The Fence …Post By Dr. Pamm Moore


“If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know someone helped him get there.”  I’ve been reflecting on that saying lately as I settle into my assistant superintendent position. Many people have offered encouragement, guidance, and much needed support throughout my journey. I realize that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who were placed in my life.   So my question for you is who have you helped along the way?

Each of us has an obligation to reach back and bring someone along with us as we journey through life. I’m often saddened when I hear comments such as “He/she will just have to learn through their own mistakes,” or my favorite, “If I help them, they may do a better job than I can.”  You may say that these comments are not the norm but I beg to differ. These sentiments, whether vocalized or merely demonstrated through actions, are present in each of our work environments.  

So I offer a challenge to you today.  Call one person in your organization and do one the following:

  • Offer your support
  • Help them avoid a potential landmine with one of the written or unwritten policies
  • Have lunch with them to help them brainstorm ideas for one of their current challenges
  • Call to see how they are progressing with their new position
  • Send them a note of encouragement
  • Listen

This list is finite but the possibilities are infinite. This is just the beginning of what you can do.  Each one of us is in a different job situation but everyone of us can do something.  I encourage you to do something today to help someone else.  My name is Dr. Pamela Moore (@DrPammMoore) and I am proud to say that I am a turtle sitting on a fence.  I would like to offer my deepest appreciation to all of those who helped me get there!

March 13

If you are reading this, then you might be…

If you are reading this then you might have been at Alicia Discepola’s workshop at Stockton College learning about the Social Network. Or you may have just listened to my presentation in Dr. Thompson’s “Introduction to the Principalship” class through Rowan University.  Or you may have seen this posted on twitter and kindly followed the link. However you landed here, I thank you and appreciate your time! I hope you enjoy what I can offer.


Social media has become an amazing resource for educators. As a principal,  I am able to use twitter, and blogging (I have 2 – this one and my school blog to communicate with parents, teachers, and administrators either within my district or throughout the world. In fact, today as I was walking up the stairs at my school, I had a 3rd grader tell me he read my blog! I consider myself a life-long learner, so I also use these platforms to reflect on my insights into my learning experiences, and model the way for the students.

Although it may seem like a lot of work, it really isn’t. I actually find it very relaxing and inspiring. At first, setting up a blog or twitter account might be time consuming, but once you have the format, it only takes as long as you want and or need. It takes more time to prepare the blogs then a tweet because twitter reduces your tweets to 140 characters. Because of all this, I read a lot more then I ever did before getting into Social Networking. I have been able to communicate with other teachers and administrators around the world. I read their tweets, twitter links, and blogs to learn information and answer questions.

Eric Sheringer, Scholastic Cover2-175ft5c.jpg

For example, over the weekend I saw a quote on twitter and I thought I would share it with you. The quote was from Eric Sheringer, Principal at New Milford High School, in New Milford, NJ. He was presenting at the NASSP2012 (National Association of Secondary School Principals) conference which was held in Tampa, Fl. During the presentation he said, “If you don’t tell the story of your school (insert district, curriculum area, classroom, etc.) someone else will. Be the storyteller-in-chief.” Wow, I thought that was so powerful. And to think, someone tweeted it out while he was talking. Then I was able to discover it while he was speaking. I did mention he was Tampa, but I wasn’t!

As you go through your journey, you will find so many connections. I agree with Eric that we all have a story to share.

What is your story? Who is going to tell it?

Good luck!

March 11


This is the first in a series of one word blog posts.


Intensity encourages me.source: google image intensity of conflict It comes in all shapes and sizes and it is different for everyone. There are intense people, situations, movies, songs, and even tests.

When I think of INTENSITY, I think of power, focus, and tenacity. Someone who is intense never gives up. I like that. I aspire to be that.

For instance, when my wife gave birth to our children without an epidural – That was intense!

For me, it was finishing the 2001 Philadelphia Marathon. The last 13 miles were run almost exclusively on intensity because my left knee was suffering from severe tendonitis. I wanted to give up.


I saw it last night as I watched the drummer for The Black Keys at their concert in Philadelphia.

I thought about it today while I watched college basketball games or when I remembered the time Michael Jordan played against Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the NBA finals with the flu.

As a principal, I can only hope to bring the intensity of someone like Randy Pausch whose Last Lecture was delivered as he stared death in the face.


Where do you see intensity?

What are you intense about?


March 5

Oh the places we went…. and are going

Finger knitted thneed bookmarks

“It’s not about what it is, it is about what it will become.” Dr. Seuss, the Lorax.

A few weeks ago a teacher asked me if I would approve the students seeing the new Lorax movie. She made a compelling presentation. She said, “It is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Read Across America, and the new Lorax movie all in one day. It will be epic! We will tie in activities, themes, and even a Seussville themed hallway decoration. Also, I contacted the Movie theater and we will be the first ones to see it!” I replied, “I will see what I can do, there is not much time. I doubt it will get approved, but I will try. Make sure to collect resources.”
From that point on, just as the seed in The Lorax, it grew and

3rd grade math and Seuss

spread. I found out we could get buses and afford them. I talked to the PTA who graciously approved donating $4.00 per ticket to reduce the parent/student responsibility in half. I talked with my Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and she supported the curricular connection. I talked with our amazing educational technician, Alicia Discepola, and she agreed to pool all things Seuss into one site for kids, parents, and teachers. We were, to a certain extent, on a roll. We had to wait a day for the final approval, and then we got the call around 10:00 AM “You are approved!”It was Thursday, and I was going to be out on Friday.
We contacted the movie theater and began the process of making final arrangements. They wanted the money by Tuesday. Time was of the essence. We decided to have an “emergency” assembly at the end of the day to tell the kids about this epic Read Across America event. We showed the original Lorax movie and then stopped it with a few minutes remaining. I asked the students if they would like to see the end and they all yelled, “YES!” I then replied, “Well, how about you see the new Lorax, which is the “ending” to the Lorax?” The kids went nuts.


Oh the places we will go someday

Throughout last week the entire school turned into Seussville. Each classroom decorated their door with a different theme. Teachers took pictures of students with the Cat in the Hat, Lorax mustaches, 1st grade did Thing 1,2,3 until they did the whole grade.

Seuss + Math = Learning

Teachers integrated the themes of Seuss into math, reading, writing, science, social studies as well as art, Spanish, physical education, and music. I watched 5th graders construct their own math problems for others to solve on Truffula trees, while 3rd graders compared and contrasted themes from the Lorax. I received, via twitter, excellent trivia questions along with facts about Dr. Seuss from @PrincipalJ in Wisconsin. We took time throughout each of the days to make sure the whole school stopped and listened. Sometimes the winner had to run to the front office, other times we would take the 9th caller. Each winner received a prize for their hard work. It was a truly amazing week to be an educator.


4th grade used the book Wocket in My Pocket and had the students each pick an object in their classroom to write their own page for a rewrite of the story.  They illustrated their pages and we made a poster book which is in the hallway.  They used to make a “tech” version as well. They highlighted the difference between computer illustrations and personal illustration and they did a Venn diagram to compare.

 4th graders also watched the original Lorax to decide focal points to be debated between the Lorax and the Onceler.  This turned into more of a summarizing and exploratory lesson for the kids to gain insight into what could be expected from the new Movie we saw on Friday.  They will follow up with a comparison essay between the two letting the kids pick their own way to organize the details from the movie.

Dr. Moore at Read Across America Assembly

On Read Across America Day students and teachers dressed as their favorite characters from the Seuss books. Our Kindergarten through 2nd grade had a wonderful assembly with guest readers. After the assembly they watched Green Eggs and Ham while eating green eggs prepared by our teachers. Grades 3-5 watched the new Lorax movie and were the first kids to see it on the east coast. Which ended up being the number 1 movie over the weekend. During the movie, the students were so well behaved I had to keep reminding myself that we actually pulled it off. On the way out of the movie theater, as students walked by me they said, “Thank you”, and others hugged me. One girl told me that she cried because it was such a good movie. One 3rd grade teacher told me that we should plant a tree during the Earth Day activities and have the students put stones around it like they did in the Lorax.
At dismissal, students asked when we were going to “clean up the outside of the school” because they do not want any litter, leaves or branches on the property.

Truffula trees growing


Truffula seed from new Lorax movie. Source: truffula-seed-from-movie-rxzo3v.jpg

I still can’t believe we pulled it off. But luckily we are not finished. K-2 will be going to see the movie in a few weeks. Teachers and students are already (as you can see from above) looking for that next thing. Believe me, there are many things I did not include in this post about just how busy I was during this week (discipline issues, parent conferences, Professional Development plan due, redesigning our upcoming basic skill interventions, observations and APRs due, not to mention the walkthroughs, faculty meeting, and bullying paperwork just to name a few). But as I sit here and type this out that stuff seems so insignificant when I reflect on the impact this week had on our students, teachers, and me.

3rd graders answer higher level questions

I watched the video by @Mrs. _Devita and I told her I was going to cry. After the 5th grade students did their announcements for the upcoming week, she went around and filmed each door, hallway, and classroom that had a connection to Dr. Seuss. As the images passed by on the screen I could hear the recording of a 3rd grade class and the music teacher singing, “I will not eat green eggs and ham.”

Here is a list of the places we went, and will continue to go:

One teachers slide share on Lessons from the Lorax:

Lessons from the lorax from Carrie Woodman

Lessons from Dr. Seuss by Mr. Selfdevelopment:

@aliciadiscepola’s most excellent Read Across America website:

30 Dr. Seuss quotes that can change your life: