Author: Dr. Christina Podraza

A Mathematical Conundrum

It’s Wednesday.  I’m sitting in my office with two students waiting for a third to arrive when one of them shares this epiphany. “I couldn’t stop Dr. Podraza.  I worked on this problem the entire weekend.  I looked up articles.  I had my parents Google stuff.  I got everyone involved.” “And I don’t think the

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What are Your Blind Spots?

I had the privilege of attending an amazing workshop on Monday with author and researcher Jane Kise.  It was a part of our Elmhurst D205 Professional Learning Strand initiative where teachers get to pick one topic and delve deeply into it throughout the year.  Her presentation was part of the Teacher Leadership cohort, but could

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Am I Doing It Right?

During my five years as a coach in Naperville, we implemented at least 15 new initiatives, maybe more.  So it makes sense that I was frequently asked, “What’s the right way to do this?” or similarly, “Am I doing it right?” Questions of this variety reflect our desire as educators to do our best.  Many

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Predictions for the Next Decade of Education

I recently read this article from the Atlantic titled, Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong.  It’s an interesting read for a variety of reasons, but what stood out to me was the plethora of evidence that confirms what many of us have known for decades: the standardized testing movement simply doesn’t work.  Despite our efforts to

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Do We Need Grade Level Standards Any More?

I’m writing this post as a question, not a statement for a reason.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’m honestly not sure.  Writing this post is an effort to organize my thoughts. This struggle is mostly connected to the conviction I have that students are all individuals who have a variety

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The Phrase in Education That Needs to Go

Teach with Fidelity. If you want to get me riled up, tell me I need to do anything with this as the standard. I remember when I first started teaching almost 20 years ago, I was told by a colleague that the first year we implemented a new curriculum we had to, “teach it with

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Empowered Learning Experiences

I recently finished, Innovate Inside the Box: Empowering Learners through UDL by George Couros and Kative Novak.  Full of inspiring anecdotes as well as thought-provoking ideas, the book is split into three sections:   The Core of Innovative Teaching & Learning Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset You are the Change You Seek One of my favorite things about

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The Paralyzing Effect of Stress

This week was not a stellar one for me.  I found myself in the familiar place of adulthood where there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.  I followed none of the advice I know is best and instead retreated into my office for large portions of the day, worked

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The Evolution of Parent Communication

I’ve been reflecting this week a lot about some conversations I’ve had recently with staff about parent communication.  In Elmhurst, we have something called, “Acceleration Block.”  It is a time when we group students based on a specific learning standard or need and plan learning experiences to accelerate their growth in that area.  In previous

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Best Practice Isn’t Always Next Practice

I walked into a 5th-grade classroom Tuesday morning during our math block and almost walked right back out because I was sure the students were taking a test and I didn’t want to interrupt.  The students were working fervently on a worksheet, pencil to paper, pausing periodically to reflect, erasing at times, and moving on

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