Subject: Alternative Teaching Certificate Programs

Hey all – It hit me a few days ago that most of the Teaching Certificate programs are now accepting applications for their new cohorts. A while ago I sent this email to a friend who was thinking about taking the plunge hisself into a teaching certificate program. I suggest doing a bit of research and seeing if this is for you. Its been the greatest-most rewarding challenge I’ve ever taken.



Subject: Alternative Teaching Certificate Programs

Date: April 5, 2012


Yo,  forgot to send you this the other day –

Here are a few different teaching certificate programs that you can look into. Long story short these programs put people on an accelerated path to get their necessary state teaching certifications/licenses. Then they place them in high needs schools, generally low income/urban classrooms. The fellows teach in difficult to staff subject areas such as science, English, math, and special education. You teach in a K-12 classroom during the day time, and take classes toward a masters degree in education at night. Here are some pretty good videos you can look at if you want to see first hand accounts of the New York program. I have a feeling most of the others are pretty similar:

This is a very short list of some of the more popular programs. But there are many programs like this out there. You can search anything similar to “alternative teaching certificate programs indianapolis” “teaching fellowships chicago” to find local programs.

Teach for America –
New York City Teaching Fellows –
Indianapolis Teaching Fellows –
Chicago Teaching Fellows –
Philadelphia Teaching Fellows –

Let me know if you have questions about anything.

SkoolMoney Tag

Observation Notes

JW 5.2 Blog Screen Shot

Today I was observed by one of my university professors. Here is the transcript along with the electronic and print materials I used for today’s lesson.

FILES: JW 5.2 Ppt Link      JW 5.2 Pdf Link     JW 5.2 Worksheet


Description of Class:

I arrived to your class as you and your students were entering.  You asked Martin to give out the notebooks which were stored in the classroom.  You projected a slide on the SMARTboard and said hello to your class. One of the girls said she missed you very much and you said you missed her to.

You then said that you had projected a picture of Right brain, Left Brain, and you also had copies for them to keep.  You wanted them to have this.  One of the boys asked you if you were encouraging them to drink and you said, no, you were just showing them the right brain/left brain and they could interpret it on their own.

You called Marsha and Renee to attention because they were chatting.  You projected the Agenda (Unit 5 Day 2) on the screen and said that this was a short lesson and if they did everything, they might have free time at the end.  You then told them about their launch:  Describe a time when you helped out someone in need.  What did you do?  Why did you decide to help this person?  How did helping this person make you feel about yourself?

Students started working.  You asked Jaleel to take out his book.  He said something about never helping people.  I asked him if he might have helped someone without even realizing it, and he thought for a second and said, “Probably.”  He began writing.

You told your students when there were three minutes left. You added if they like, they could share out, but they do not have to.  You told them when there was a minute and a half remaining and said that you were very excited about hearing their stories.  You told Kenny that you saw he had written a nice amount but wanted him to write for another minute.

You asked if there was anyone who wanted to share out.  Marsha said she did and you said that everyone was going to listen to Marsha.  She read about seeing a bum on the train when she was going to 42nd Street.  She said she noticed that no one else had given him something and wondered why they were so selfish.  You asked her how it made her feel, and she said it made her feel like she wanted to keep her ass in school, because she didn’t want to see herself doing that.  A discussion ensued about how some people who beg actually have money.  You asked how they know and one student said you could tell by the clothes – like wearing Jordans.

Janae read next about walking down the block, seeing a woman and her daughter coming out of the liquor store, and being asked by the woman for money for food for her daughter.  The daughter said that she wanted a doll and one of Janae’s sisters gave her a doll.  Janae found out a week later that ACS took the little girl. You asked her how she felt and she said she felt bad about that.  You said something about her giving the girl a little positivity before this happened.

Another girl told a story about her mother giving someone who needed clothes some new clothes and the person returned the clothes to the store and got the money.  You told her that her mother sounded very nice – like a very giving person.

Next, you told your students the purpose of this activity.  You connected it to the launch theydid on Monday, writing about something they were thankful for.  You thought that the more they surrounded themselves by positivity, the more positivity will affect them.

At 10:45, you started the Syllable Review.  You asked what they know about syllables and the boy near me said they come in all shapes and sizes.  You said that people have different tricks for being able to break the syllables down.  You asked how do they know when a word has more than one syllable.  Marsha said it takes more time to say it.  It sounds like more than one word.  You agreed with what Marsha said and said that every time you have to take a separate breath, it is another syllable.  You said any time your jaw drops, it signifies a new syllable.

You projected cabin onto the SMARTboard and asked how to separate.  Marsha said ca- bin.   Janae said cab –in.  You asked how they know which one is the correct way to break down the syllables.  You asked them to raise their hands if they think cab – in is the correct way.  Nine students said it was.  You asked about ca-bin and three students raised their hands.  You told the class that the first one was the correct one – cab – in.  You asked them if they remembered what a closed syllable was – any time they had one vowel closed in, followed by one or more consonants.  That is a closed syllable.  You said that whenever they are breaking a long word down into syllables, the first has to be a closed syllable.

Next you projected “locket,” and asked how to separate it.  One boy said loc –ket.  Three agreed. You asked Cassie and she said lock –et.  You asked Mounique if she had something to add.  Seven agreed.  You asked Phillip what ck was and he said it was a diagraph.  You asked what they know about diagraphs and someone said they stay together.  We can never separate diagraphs.  That is why the one on the right is correct.  You projected five diagraphs:  wh, ch, sh, th, ck.

Next you projected “public,” and asked who can break it up.  A student said pub-lic.  You said that whenever they have a multisyllabic word, and asked if anyone knew what it means.  You said it means more than one syllable.  You also explained that in a multisyllabic word, if it ends in the sound “ick” it is spelled “ic.”  Phillip gave maverick as an example – and found a word that broke the rule.

You projected three words:  upset; pocket; and tonic: and asked them to divide the words into syllables.  You asked for someone to come up to the board and asked them to break the word up into syllables.  Phillip did the first one—upset.  He wrote up/set and you said he did it correctly.  You asked if up was a closed syllable and your students said yes, it was.  Phillip “scooped,” each syllable and marked them as closed.  He also put short vowels sounds on top of the vowels.  You said that this is how they should mark their syllables from now on, so they should take this in.

Marsha did pocket.  She wrote pock/et.  She marked the diagraph.  You asked her to mark both the first and second syllables as closed.  You also asked her to write in the short vowel sound above her vowels.

You asked who wants to do tonic and Whitney said yes.  She wrote ton/ic.  You said it was correct and asked her what was her next step.  You asked if ‘ton” is closed and she said yes.  You asked how she knows it is closed and she explained about the vowel in between two consonants.  You asked if “ton” was a long or short vowel sound and she said short, so she wrote in the sign.  You turned to the class and told Kareem to pick up his head because his head was down.  Whitney then wrote in the closed syllable and short vowel signs for “ic.”

You said that they were almost done with the lesson today, but you needed them to pep the energy back up for you.  You gave them a handout.  When you gave the handout to Phillip, you said you liked his participation but he needed to get it together.  He agreed.  You asked Marsha to take her feet down.  You said you would give her ten seconds, but she needed to take her feet down.  When ten seconds passed, Marsha did not take her feet down.  She sat there and looked at you.  You continued the lesson.  In a few minutes, she took them down.

You gave then directions.  You would say twelve words.  They would spell it correctly and break it into syllables.  Then they would scoop and mark the short vowel sounds.  You said you would do the first word as an example for the.  The first word was mascot.  You wrote:  mas/cot.  You showed how you broke it up and added that you wanted them to mark it as well.

2.  nutmeg   3. misfit   4. whiplash 5. frantic  6. public  7. Chipmunk    8.  Frolic

You said that you understand that they may not know how to spell these words, but the way that they learn if by sounding them out and try.  You want to see something in every box on their paper.

9.  disrupt        10.  nutshell    11. exit    12.  Index

You said that you will quickly go through the numbers again and catch them up.  You read the twelve words over again.  You projected the correct spelling on the board so they could correct their spelling (if they had gotten it wrong).  You added that you wanted them to mark them correctly.  Show the closed syllables and whether or not the vowels are long or short.

Throughout the lesson, students asked to go to the bathroom.  You asked them to be back in three minutes and they complied.  When it was Phillip’s turn to go, you asked him to finish his work first and he did.

As students were working, you walked around the room to see how they were doing.  AT 11:22, you said there was five minutes left and if they were completely done, they should close up their folders.

Students brought up their folders and chatted with their classmates until the bell rang.

Strengths/ For Further Consideration


I like how you are using your launch to help your students focus on what is positive in their lives.  You chose a prompt that everyone in the class could write about, and that was thought provoking for most of your students.  I also like the way you told them that you were excited about hearing their stories.  You made them feel like what they had experienced and were writing about was valuable.   When students read, you asked them how the experience made them feel which opened up a discussion in the class.  You obviously do a lot of sharing out in your class and have put in place good procedures for sharing because your students were very respectful when their classmates were reading.

During our debrief, we talked about the value of the Just Words class.  We both agreed that the skills your students are learning (spelling, sounding out words, breaking words into syllables) are important skills.  I wondered, though, if your students are becoming better readers as a result of this.  You told me that next year, when they are sophomores, there is more of a reading component to the class, which makes more sense to me.  We also talked about how the content of this class allows your students to feel successful.

I think you have a wonderful way of interacting with your students.  In a calm tone, you clearly let your students know what you expect of them and why.  You are positive, supportive and caring.  When Marsha had her feet up on the desk, you told her she needed to take them down and told her to do so in ten seconds.  When she didn’t, you didn’t confront her, but gave her additional time, and she did take them down.  When Phillip was attracting attention, you went over to him and in a quiet but firm manner, told him how you wanted him to act.  You also spoke to Kareem at the end of class in a caring, concerned way, telling him that he needs to come to school every day.

Your students are very fortunate to have you for their teacher.  It is obvious to met hat they enjoy being in your class and are focused and engaged on their work.

It was a pleasure observing this class.  I look forward to observing you again in the near future.


Insomnia Thursdays: Yes, I’m up right now…

This might seem OD, but yes I’m up right now. Its 3AM, the Friday back from christmas vacation. School started back Wednesday, January 2, 2013. I’m already back to being knee deep in activity. Productivity definitely isn’t the right word to use here.

Either way, I’m figuring it out. I just thought of a few games I want to try in Just Words and Rewards, my two reading intervention classes. I’ve been trying to think of ways to get the students to understand that they can help each other learn how to correctly decode and read. I’ve had them do writing activities to test out their ability to metacognate (to think about what they’re thinking about) on what they’re doing while spelling. I think having them think about their thinking in their heads was confusing them. So instead I’m going to try to have them say what they’re doing as a part of the game in order to get points. I’m hoping that the competition of the game will help peak their interest. While the rule to audibly tell the class how you’re translating the sounds into written letters while spelling will help those students that still have gaps in their knowledge. This way they can discreetly fill in those gaps while still participating in the game.

My frat brother and I are having what I intend to make an important meeting tomorrow after work. I want us to start a business together. So I’m trying to prepare a few speaking points to make sure I cover all of my important ideas. We have a solid business energy between the two of us, and I want to make sure we capitalize on this as much as possible while we can and while we’re energized to make moves.

The grades were due today for the first grading period in second trimester. I’ve gotten pretty good at calculating grades. I’m lucky though, my intervention classes have a fraction of the benchmark (grading categories) that the other traditional classes like Math and English have.

I finally finished an IEP that was about 2 months late tonight. Along with an email to my principal, special ed coordinator, and special ed coach thanking them for their patience. As well as the lessons I learned about being more aggressive in seeking teacher feedback, and continuing to view my IEP’s as priorities just as I do my daily lesson plans.


I’m reading an AMAZING book that has already impacted my teaching practice and I haven’t even had it for a week yet. Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu. Literally a work of educational art in my opinion. I’ll be done with the book in a day or two and then I’m off to read either The Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Getting the Right Work Done by the Harvard Business Review Press or The Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America by Ellis Cose. I’ve decided to focus on reading again. For some reason reading makes me feel high on knowledge which in turn makes me feel energized to knock out work even when I’m too tired like right n…

Stay tuned for a review of Dr. Kunjufu’s book by the way. It really has changed the scope I’ve used to view this work in a huge way in less than 7 days. It’s humbling to read another Black man’s words about what can, should, and will work to help influence change in our young black boys out there. Even if his ideas are wrong, which I highly doubt, I truly just appreciate being able to read this man’s ideas to allow them to contribute to my educational tool belt so it’s called. I plan to reach out to him via email to learn more about what he feels we educators can do to help train our young boys to grow into positive men.

This is the year to take it to the next level! I’m speaking it into existence, and pushing myself from behind to make it my reality.

*Edit – I know what you were thinking…. where were the book order links… that’s why I added them for you 😉 Yikes, I should really start proofreading as well, LoL