Temple Grandin Reflecting On Visual Thinking

One of the great undiscovered vodcast series is Science Friday’s Desktop Diaries.  The vodcast looks at the desktops of some of the great minds of our time, and more importantly it offers some 1:1 reflection time with those thinkers.  Recently I listened to the Temple Grandin episode, and in it she offers some great insight on visual thinking.  The insight Temple offers ties into the evidenced based practice of visual supports that benefit students with ASD and  also those without ASD.


Leaders Need To Learn To Be Good Writers – 5 Helpful Resources

I tend to scribble a lot

I never valued writing until I began to really write.  As a school leader, blogger, and podcaster I have had to hone my writing skills, and I will be the first to admit that they are still sub-par at best.  One of the things that I have learned to do in order to improve my craft is to study the habits of great writers and to mimic great writing through intentional practice.  Below are five resources that have helped me write better and practice better writing.   As the old saying goes: “good, better, best, never let it rest.  Till your good is your better, and your better is your best.”

1.  Learn to mimic writing with this great book: How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

2.  Listen to great writers talk about writing:  CSPAN Book Talk Playlist – Writers on Writing

3.  Listen to poetry and writing history every day on The Writer’s Almanac

4.  Avoid common grammar mistakes: Improve Your Writing by Avoiding These Twenty Common Grammar Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

5.  Follow some of these principles for writing clearly and coherently:  Principles for Writing Clearly and Coherently



Using Blog Badges To Motivate Students

My 4/5 GT students all have their own blogs, which can be found on the sidebar of my classroom blog, and they are all extremely proud of their blogs and get visitors and comments from students all across the country.  Ok, so you get the picture: my students blog and THEY LIKE IT!

Well, we recently completed an interactive simulation on establishing a colony.  This simulation lasted three weeks,  almost everyday for 15-40 minutes, depending on the day.  My kids loved this simulation and were excited to find out which colony had the most wealth units and was to be declared “Mr Atkinson’s Most Successful Colony of 2010.”  Of course I painstakingly deliberated over what I could do to celebrate this, and since my school can’t use food as any type of award I had to think outside the box.  That’s when it came to me…

Badges and Certificates!

I decided to create a badge that the winners had the privilege of displaying on their blog, as well as give them a paper certificate to be able to hang at home.  This, to my surprise was a huge hit!

Here is a picture of the badge I created on Adobe Illustrator:

I like the idea of using badges to promote healthy competition and a sense of pride with certain competitive projects.  I downloaded the vector for the badge here:  Web 2.0 Badge Vectors

Once I created the badge to be what I wanted it to I stored it in the public folder of my Dropbox and used an image embed script to add it to a “text” widget in Edublogs on each of the winning students blog sidebar.

In conclusion I like the idea and plan on expanding on it more in the future!