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It takes the right teacher to make a student's winning effort enough

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This is the fourth in a short series of posts about Coach Morgan Wootten’s influence in the classroom for me. It includes thoughts on his coaching lessons but mainly contains reflections on my experience as a student in his classroom where he remains one of the best classroom teachers I ever had.
A couple other activities that were part of Wootten's class brought many other learning concepts into play.  On Fridays, students, on a rotating basis, would present Current Events (local, national, and international news stories) to the class. We were given freedom to present what we wanted and how we wanted to do it. In a way, it was Google’s 20% time long before Google was even a thing. Again, the effective learning methods of student choice, students teaching other students, relevance, public speaking, accountability, and authentic audience all came into play in his classroom.

But, that was just the lead into a far bigger activity.
As a significant part of the course, we each were assign…

Wootten started class with a quiz and did it in Hall of Fame form

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This is the third in a short series of posts about Coach Morgan Wootten’s influence in the classroom for me. It includes thoughts on his coaching lessons but mainly contains reflections on my experience as a student in his classroom where he remains one of the best classroom teachers I ever had.

Morgan Wootten followed what I came to know (and later incorporate) as the “classic” DeMatha class structure: Quiz. Grade and discuss quiz. Direct Instruction, Inquiry, and Storytelling. 
Class always started with a quiz and it was five questions which could be vocabulary and/or reading recall. 

We always just thought that the daily, low-stakes quizzes were given to hold us accountable but that was only partly true. What he was also doing was putting into practice the Testing Effect. We were getting retrieval practice on the important concepts, something Daniel Willingham and others have shown is so important to learning. It’s not surprising that when I think back on it, one of the other great te…

Building Connections to Legends

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While he was nationally recognized as a great coach, I witnessed that Morgan Wootten also incorporated many of the most effective teaching and learning strategies in his classroom each day. Even if some of those lessons weren't as readily apparent as the reason for a basketball player to be using a tennis racket in practice. (see Part 1 in this Wootten series).

One of my first days in Morgan Wootten's World History class as a freshman, Dr. Charles “Buck” Offutt came into our classroom and “interrupted” us to have a discussion with Wootten. Offutt was already a veteran at that time, having been at DeMatha for over 20 years (he retired at 52 years) while teaching English and coaching the football linemen. Our class was drawn into their conversation (later to realize that this was on purpose) and at one point Offutt pointed me out.

“Krawczewicz?” he said as he eyed me in the back of the room. Me? I thought. Then I started looking around me like there were several other Krawczewicz…

"Coach, when are we ever going to play someone holding a tennis racket?"

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This is the first in a short series of posts about Coach Morgan Wootten’s influence in the classroom for me. It includes thoughts on his coaching lessons but mainly contains reflections on my experience as a student in his classroom where he remains one of the best classroom teachers I ever had.

In a recent documentary about DeMatha’s longtime Hall of Fame basketball coach Morgan Wootten, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski says that Morgan Wootten’s blueprint is all over basketball. Wootten was seen as an innovator in the X’s and O’s of basketball and on the people he coached. Looking back on my experiences in his classroom, I think his (along with a few others) blueprint is all over my classroom at DeMatha as well.

DeMatha vs. Power Memorial game preparation

A great coach must be a great teacher and one of Wootten’s signature moments in coaching shows this to be true.  In preparing for DeMatha’s second Power Memorial game back in the 60’s, Wootten had a player use a tennis racket i…

3 Things to do BEFORE using Google Classroom

Google Classroom does not do everything (yet!) but it does do several things very well. If you plan to use three of its strongest features (distribute resources, distribute and collect assignments, or create complete lessons), there are a few things to do before you use it with students.
#1 Prepare “static” resources
Let’s start small. Classroom is great for distributing “static” resources (articles or readings as handouts or website links). Gone will be the days of “I lost it,” “I wasn’t here,” or “You didn’t give me one.” “But you were in class when I handed them out!” “Well then, you must not like me.” You’ll want to get the resources “Google Classroom ready” and keep track of them for future reference.

How to get resource ready: Add the link or the document name to a document that has all the links and handout names in order. Copy the handout/document to Google Drive.

The details:Create a Google Doc (this will be a theme) in a Google Drive folder for the course and/or unit. In this …

How did #AprilBlogaDay impact my practice?

I've often heard that it takes 30 days to develop a habit. From my #AprilBlogaDay experience, that may not be completely true. But it was only by taking part in the challenge that I was able to figure that out, along with a few other key things.

Time is of the essence
When the challenge began, I was on Spring Break. This gave me the necessary time to get a blog finished each day. Once classes began again, I found that many of my blogs were completed and submitted after 11 pm. The daily deadline helped make it happen but I'm just not ready to commit to that going forward. Even though I got better at churning them out, it still takes quite a bit of time each day.

Practice, practice, practice
One of the biggest takeaways was that the daily writing helped me develop a process to writing each post. I learned to let go and press Publish. It's never going to be perfect so just let it be and move on. It has certainly made it easier for me to post something and so the hurdle each tim…

The worst advice I've ever heard about technology in the classroom

The worst advice I've ever heard about technology in the classroom came out of my own mouth. It went something like "You should do/use/incorporate this because it is great and easy to do."

I don't remember what this was but I do remember the comment from one of my colleagues after I said it a couple of times during a professional development session. She stopped me at one point and asked if she could be perfectly honest with me.

Me: Of course.
Her: "Well, it is probably easy for you but it's not really easy for me."
Me: Yet
Her: "Maybe. But until then, it's even more frustrating that I don't get it when you keep reminding me how easy it should be."
Me: I guess I'll hide this big red "That was easy" button until a later session.

I've tried to avoid the word in any presentation or PD session since.