Read Alouds & Book Talks

Read AloudsReading to every classroom every month is by far one of my favorite things I do as principal. It is a fantastic opportunity to build personal relationships, set the tone for expectations, and prioritize literacy as a leader. Reading tons of books to students is one of the most important things we can do … Continue reading Read Alouds & Book Talks

Mobile STEAM Labs – Update

This year, our teachers At Ashland led by 5th grade teacher Jen Young, created mobile STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) carts that are housed centrally in our STEAM garage and checked out by teachers to use in their classrooms. Recently, they made some amazing updates based on what they have learned about the organization … Continue reading Mobile STEAM Labs – Update

Modeling Should Be Exact for Student Success in Lessons

As principal, I have the honor of observing classroom lessons to learn about instruction and student motivation. This week I was able to directly see the positive impact that specific and direct modeling had on student performance in a 4th grade math lesson by Jesse Raines  (@Mr_Raines on Twitter). His lesson's objective was for students … Continue reading Modeling Should Be Exact for Student Success in Lessons

Kindergarten Readiness Top Tips Video

As Hannibal in the A-Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together!" This year our kindergarten team decided to create a new program to help communicate to parents what helps students be successful in school. As students at Ashland register, they typically receive supply lists and will receive a school shirt, … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness Top Tips Video

The Power of Principal Read Alouds

Principals need to be engaging with students in their classrooms for them to be an effective leader. It is imperative that we get a feeling of what the teachers’ and students’ lives are like in school on a regular basis. Random walkthroughs and class visits don’t always give this immersed feeling because they are quick … Continue reading The Power of Principal Read Alouds

Let Student Lead! Making a Case for Student-Led Conferences

It is critical that students know how they are performing and what they need to do to improve on their skills to be fully invested every day to achieve their learning goals. Student-led conferences are one way to support this effort, and research for many years has stated the positive aspects of involving students in this way. In … Continue reading Let Student Lead! Making a Case for Student-Led Conferences

Costumes Show You Care

Recently I was cleaning out my office closet and noticed that most of it was full of my costumes and accessories that have accumulated over the years! I thought to myself, I wonder how many other principals' closets look like this? I've taken Dave Burgess' philosophy of going above and beyond to create excitement and … Continue reading Costumes Show You Care

Good evening! How may we serve you at the Decimal Diner?

Education does not have to be miserable. All of those things we complain about in the great system of education can be improved. It starts with us. With our thinking, planning, and effort. Recently, two or our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Clevenger and Mrs. Milleson took basic math decimals practice to a new level of … Continue reading Good evening! How may we serve you at the Decimal Diner?

What, Why, & How of Instructional Technology: Our School’s Story

Using new technology just because it looks cool or because it makes you feel innovative is not enough. Culture, instruction, and the needs of students come first, technology comes after. At Ashland Elementary, we have worked tirelessly to research and try new technologies but to also quickly re-assess usage for students. I talk every day with my … Continue reading What, Why, & How of Instructional Technology: Our School’s Story

Some Gifts Are Not So Obvious

Virginia Tech security just taught me a life lesson this week, but probably not the one you would expect! Every week, two times a week, we have class at the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center. Hamish and I always make it a point to say hi and get to know the security guards or custodians … Continue reading Some Gifts Are Not So Obvious

Dyslexia is Not a Mystery

For many, dyslexia is a mysterious and strange word of a disorder that sounds like it is really difficult to support in school. The reality is much different. Parents have been bringing this concern for their child to our schools for years and finally we are addressing it in a more systematic and educated manner. … Continue reading Dyslexia is Not a Mystery

Sphero Ideas for Teachers

Finally! Robotics & Coding finally are far enough along to create amazing engineering lessons for students! This post is just a mish-mosh of visuals and ideas to help you think about using our Spheros with your students. These will create special moments for your students as well as give you a tool to pull students … Continue reading Sphero Ideas for Teachers

Learn How to Code to Learn How to Think

Why the pressure to have our students coding all of a sudden? It's not like everything that they do uses computers, right...right? Wrong. Basically every recreation and professional occupation now uses computer programming in some way. The old emphasis on teaching simple machines is now evolving to into complex machines. This is coming to us in the form of … Continue reading Learn How to Code to Learn How to Think

A Positive Mindset

This guest post is written by Lauren DeIntinis @laurendeintinis, a 2nd Grade Teacher in Manassas, Virginia. Check out more of her information at the end of the post. My name is Lauren DeIntinis and I am a 2nd grade teacher at the FABULOUS Ashland Elementary School in Manassas, VA. I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA but have lived in Virginia for … Continue reading A Positive Mindset

Games or “Gamification” in the Classroom?

This guest post is written by Justin Holbrook @JustinHolbrook, a 4th Grade Teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Check out more of his information at the end of the post. I fondly remember the games I used to play with my family as a little kid.  Legos with my mom.  Monopoly with all the money missing or … Continue reading Games or “Gamification” in the Classroom?

Autism Resources by Sesame Street

I played this music video as I started writing and my kids swarmed me, halfway sitting on me, arms around my head! They were totally drawn to the sounds of Elmo, Abby, and Grover celebrating Autism! We have come a long way with the resources available for children, adults, and families that are affected by Autism. Sesame Street … Continue reading Autism Resources by Sesame Street

Instructional Blocks with a “Flexible Purpose”

This guest post is written by Justin Holbrook @JustinHolbrook, a 4th Grade Teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Check out more of his information at the end of the post. When thinking about designing a dream instructional block, questions start whipping through my brain like the frantic tornado scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”  How much time … Continue reading Instructional Blocks with a “Flexible Purpose”

Our Students Need Grit

I've almost been trying NOT to use the term 'grit' because of how trendy it has become, but I've found it may be one of the best character traits we could possibly teach our students! Grit is courage and resolve; strength of character. It's clenching the teeth, especially in order to keep one's resolve when faced with a tough or difficult responsibility. Angela … Continue reading Our Students Need Grit

Inclusive School Week is Every Week

This week is Inclusive Schools Week and we celebrate what it means to be inclusive through activities, readings, and discussions with our students. But why do we only talk about inclusive practices during this week? Inclusive Schools Week should be EVERY week! "Inclusive" is a powerful word. Remember that inclusive refers to mixed abilities but also … Continue reading Inclusive School Week is Every Week

Manage Stress, Have Fun!

WE LOVE KIDS. We love making a positive difference in the future of students. We love feeling like our job matters and that the work is worth it in the long run. We radiate absolute joy when our students show growth and success. WE FEEL STRESSED. Like...all...the...time. Stressed about the tasks that have to be done. About the thousands of decisions … Continue reading Manage Stress, Have Fun!

Value All Students: 7 Tips for Challenging Kids

Value each and every child in your classroom and school. Really. All of them. Not just the cute ones... Not just the funny ones... Not just the well-behaved ones... Not just the ones with supportive parents... All of them. Hopefully as educators, we went into this profession like superheros. Idealistic. Ready to swoop in and save every … Continue reading Value All Students: 7 Tips for Challenging Kids

Use Cell Phone Videos to Make Instructional Hooks

  Look closely. No, not at Jason Aldean, the country music superstar. Look at the crowd. What do you notice? In a quick count, I see more than 70 lights from cell phones, let alone my own as I took this picture and probably hundreds behind me in the crowd. This really caught me as a … Continue reading Use Cell Phone Videos to Make Instructional Hooks