Classroom Solutions > Addie Albano

The Challenge Based Classroom: Using Curriculum to Serve the Community

HabitatLast year I came to a crossroads in my teaching. During my annual review, I found myself agonizing over my goals for this upcoming school year. I was completely stuck. I browsed through our district's professional development opportunities with a sense of “been there, done that.” It surprised me that so early in my career I would feel this way. My classroom certainly kept me on my toes, but I was missing that spark that ignited my planning each year. An offer to explore curriculum development made me even more confused. Was I really ready to leave the classroom? I needed a teaching makeover!

As if on cue, two amazing things happened that would transform my teaching: the opportunity to be a teacher advisor here and the discovery of Apple’s Challenge Based Learning. The journey outside of my comfort zone had begun.  


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Motivating the Unmotivated: Tough Kid Tools That Really Work

Toolbox At some point in your teaching career you will have a "tough kid" in your classroom. You may even have several at the same time. These students send you home exhausted, often in tears, and raise doubts about your career choice. The tough kid changes the dynamic and mood of the room in an instant, and you may find yourself wondering what to expect from minute to minute. The tough kid may come to you with a prior history, with warnings from your colleagues, and with a cornucopia of labels such as "at-risk," "difficult," "attention deficit disorded," or even "lazy." How do you deal with tough kids, and what can you do to restore order to your classroom? Read on for the top five ways to motivate the seemingly unmotivated. 

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Hands-On Geography: "Paint a Partner" Topographic Maps


"Where in the world is Randolph, NY? Is that near New York City?"

I smile every time I hear that question because our little corner of Western New York is nowhere near — and geographically nothing like — the big city. Modern technologies such as Google Earth show students the world through a whole new lens and offer exciting opportunities for them to improve their geography. But unfortunately most of my students still can't identify basic geologic formations on a topographic map: they're far more used to the flat, traditional maps they see online. For teaching topographic maps, modern technology just won't cut it.

Instead, I take an old-fashioned, hands-on approach that gives my students a solid understanding of how topographic maps work. Read on to turn your students into expert cartographers using their classmates as canvases.




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Creating a Positive Classroom Climate: "Capturing Kids' Hearts"

"If you have a child's heart, you have his head" - Flip Flippen

DSC00338 On the day I was hired at Randolph Jr/Sr High School as a special education teacher, the principal, Bill Caldwell, informed me that part of my professional development for the year would be to attend a three-day training titled "Capturing Kids' Hearts." The name alone had me hooked, and to hear him speak so passionately made me extremely eager to find out more about it. However, he didn't divulge any more information, other than to bring a personal item that held meaning for me and a lot of Kleenex. Little did I know that the magnitude of those three days would continue on in my teaching years later.


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Easing the Middle School Transition: "Getting to Know You" Geocaching

225 "Middle School" - Just the words alone can strike fear into the hearts of students and parents alike. Sixth- through eighth-grade teachers will agree these years can be the some of the toughest, and most tumultous, in a child's life. For some, it will mean a chance to advance to a higher-level floor in a familiar building, but for others it might mean acclimating to an entirely different school. While this is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends, it may mean leaving lifelong friendships behind - which can be one of many scary steps to endure. In addition, there seems to be a laundry list of changes that middle-schoolers can expect, such as:

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How to Create a Highly Effective Inclusion Classroom

DSC00090[1] Last year my alma mater, the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Fredonia invited me to speak at a symposium honoring "Exemplary Educators in Inclusion Settings." This was an amazing opportunity to share with my peers some tried-and-true strategies that I had "perfected." Moreover, it allowed me to team up with other educators who faced the same universal issues. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a first-year teacher, delivering high-quality instruction to a classroom full of diverse learners can be a daunting task. Below are the essential areas that will serve as the foundation for building a highly effective inclusion classroom.


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Teaching 9/11: Using Task Rotation for Analyzing Artifacts and Primary Sources

Flag editedFor people of each generation, there are historical events that will haunt them forever. For me, these are the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle during elementary school, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing when I was in high school, and the events of September 11, 2001 in adulthood. I remember, like it was yesterday, being called into my elementary school gym, seeing a TV sitting atop a rolling cart, the staff beside themselves as pieces of spacecraft fell down from the sky. I also recall racing home to my son after being evacuated from work one crisp September morning, sobbing and trying to make sense of the world as it literally crumbled around me.

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Middle School Setup Inspired by Dr. Seuss

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Everything I needed to know about middle school I learned from Dr. Seuss. For decades, this beloved educator has both comforted and inspired me in ways that have extended beyond my personal life and into my classroom. Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel had a way of turning the most simple phrases into life lessons, and somewhere along the way, showed us that magic can be found around any corner -- and often times within ourselves. I've chosen my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes to illustrate how these basic words of wisdom can inspire any classroom.

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Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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My Top Five Tips on How to Celebrate Summer in Style

VacationLike most teachers, I am relishing every moment of summer, but before we know it the days of grading papers and creating dynamic lesson plans will be upon us. Therefore, let's live each day of the next few weeks to the fullest so we can return to our classrooms refreshed and ready to go. Here are my top five ways to celebrate summer. You can use these tips to make the most of your time off and rejuvenate yourself and your teaching as well!

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About the Teacher
Addie Albano
Addie Albano
Randolph, NY
Grades 6-8
Special Interests:
Differentiated Instruction
Behavior Management
21st Century Skills
Challenge Based Learning

Addie's Bio


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