My 19th teaching year has passed into the past.  In my mind it is 20 years because of the joy and impact that my student teaching year kids had on my life [still think of you as kids who are now 32 and 33!!].   First off, it was truly a great year.  My 7th grade kids bought in [measured by the number who still gave me maximum effort during the last 10 days of school]  and my 8th grade class was truly special [suffered from emotional dehydration for a week after school].  Teaching 196 students was filled with late nights and many 2-day prep periods called Saturday and Sunday, but it was worth it.

My 8th grade class was a source of particular joy.  They were a great group; talented, personable, competitive, and special.  They will be hard to replace.We the People Team Photo at State - Dec 2015

On a personal level the year energized me.  Teaching students that are willing [well mostly willing], with people that inspire me, and for someone so supportive of real learning has inspired me to keep growing as a teacher.

Probably the only real negative was the loss of families from redistricting.  It was difficult to see some of these foundational families leave our building.  Listening to them lament that their younger children would not come through our school was heart wrenching for me as I tried to keep the neighborhoods as a member of the redistricting committee.  I have been through it three times before so I expected the feeling of loss.

That is my look back.  Anything more violates my principle of:



Sketch noting and Learning Walls.  Two years ago I read an article about effective and lasting note taking strategies.  Every teacher complains about the lack of note taking skills and every student complains about note taking.  Last year Fassold SketchnoteI introduced sketch noting to my students.  Pinterest was a lot of help and I found a great YouTube channel called Verbal to Visual [I cannot recommend this channel enough].  My kids took to the format.  In fact it made up the bulk of my three-part final exam.  The skill requires constant engagement from the note-taker.   To the right is my quick sketch note about my opening 7th grade units for next year:

Gracey Scholl Learning Wall

On the left is a learning wall (more a graphic representation of learning).  I use these as a metacognition summative activity versus a real time activity.  The assignment was an academic honors culmination project.  I use learning walls in my interactive notebooks for religions and philosophies.  Each lend themselves to the format.

I will be teaching 7 periods a day next year.  To be honest this scares me to death.  It is not the actual teaching that scares me.  It is more the loss of my prep period.  I CONSTANTLY tinker on my lessons…every day.  Some of you know that I get to work around 6 am; without first period prep I can see that arrival time creeping toward 5 am to allow sufficient tinker time.  My principal gave me 5th period for my We the People class–the additional time is critical and the prospect of having “working lunches” with units is exciting.

Camp Tecumseh. Our program is building and expanding.  Thanks to our newest co-director, Deb Kletch [aka Science Queen], we are moving forward with a centralized science theme that will include real-time reporting of data tracking erosion and invasion of foreign plants.  The new Camp Tecumseh program director is also a science teacher so that help as Camp is as interested in expanding the science in our program as we are in taking advantage of the 600+ acres.

The Mapping Project is Coming Back!! I have missed this cornerstone of my class.  When I moved classes the project went away due to a lack of room.  I spent the summer adapting the project for the outdoors…spray paint, 2 gallon kitty litter containers, and pvc pipe.  I am looking forward to watching my kids struggle, succeed, and become frustrated when I do the whole project in 12 minutes.

John Hattie’s Visible Learning. I cannot recommend this book enough.  Below are the factors that his consolidated research has proven to make a difference in the teaching of studejohn-hattie-effect-sizes-on-achievement-22-728nts.  I am stuck by how much of what matters in teaching is not always valued in practice.  I understand why those that profit through testing would discount what actually matters.

Teachers need to also take a hard look at their practices.  The things on the list that jump out at me are “Teacher-student relationships”, “Feedback” and “Providing formative evaluation to teachers”.

Hattie’s exhaustive research also sparked my interest in what was deemed “Not Worth It Yeinfluences-on-achievement-john-hattie-13-638t” and “Disasters”. It would be an interesting discussion with our lawmakers and their “education reformer” masters the research behind their support for “Religious Schools” and “Charter Schools”.



The Reality of Fishers Junior High.

Burden Quote

Improve my students’ ability to reason.  Metacognition and proving understanding has  been the right and left eye of my class (some of my former students might recognize the line).   It comes from my days as a systems analyst and belief that teaching must be transferrable outside of the school environment.  Problem solving and understanding are critical skills that need to be developed and nurtured.  Writing has to become more intentional in my class.

My focus will be to deepen the natural writings that fit into my class:

  1. Deciphering text; with an emphasis on identifying main points and supporting information.
  2. Making an argument; with an emphasis on supporting a position and considering the opposite position.
  3. Synthesizing multiple texts; with an emphasis on linking arguments between texts.

I had already curated 180 bell work sources for the upcoming year (please don’t judge me–every one has addictions).  I want to use the bell works as formative activities. I love educational books that I can immediately make improvements in my class.  For me it was Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison.  The practical activities that uncover thinking and push understanding will find a way into my class and into their interactive notebooks.

Fassold and Potts - July 2016

Fassold and Potts at IU at the We the People Institute

We the People.  This is our school’s third year with a team.  Each year we finished second to Mike Potts’ great Brown County team.  I learned a lot our first year and we got better last year; unfortunately, so did Mike’s team.  This year we will be even better.  I have studied a lot this summer to improve my knowledge base.   This is especially true for my Unit 5’s case law.  The We the People Institute in Bloomington was such a great experience again.  I heard two great speakers; Dr. David H. Adler and Dr. Thomas Mackey.


Crystal Thorpe, my great principal, went to great lengths to give me more time and it will make a difference.

For the first time I have a clear plan on what we need to do.  I am excited for next year’s kids.  They are already working.  Our goal is to win State.

I decluttered my classroom and made a lot of additions.  My classroom is cleaner, more organized, less junky this year.  Barrel after barrel of junk and paper was trashed or recycled.  I am more ready for the year than ever before.

Classroom Panoramic View

Panoramic View of my Classroom





Classroom Ceiling Tiles

G101 Gallery

Tony Sturgeon.  It is our 20 year anniversary this year.  We started our teaching careers together and have worked hard to make each other better.  I value his opinion.  I count each year from this point a gift.

Staff - Tecumseh 2009 - Sturgeon Napping with Crown

Staff Departures.  Our building does not turn over very often.  Sometimes redistricting has cost us people we did not want to loss, family relocations take some, retirements cause changes in our staff.  Our building is losing someone to a well deserved promotion; Donna Schiele is moving on to become an administrator at the Tindley Academy.  I normally would leave my emails private, but Donna deserves better.  For my students you will recognize the chapter from my favorite book.  If were lucky enough to know Mrs. Schiele (pronounced She-Lee) you will understand my respect and adoration.  Below is what I sent her.


I expected it, but that does not mean that I like it.  You represent what is right in education.  In my favorite book, The Prophet; Khalil Gibran writes this about work:

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.


 Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

 You have worked with love.  You enriched our building and our kids.  Your loss will be felt,  You are one of finest educators that I have known in both my careers.  I wish you every success and joy.  Give my love to your family.

I am grateful for our paths crossing.

With respect,


My Golden Birthday?  I was born in 1958 and will turn 58 this year.  It seems that this should be something special; lottery win, good luck, 58 straight days of gifts, something. As one of two oldest teachers in my school the conversation about when I am going to retire comes up a lot.  My answer?  I don’t know.  My energy level is still good and my love of teaching has not waned.  There is a part of me that would like to teach for seven more years.  I am pretty sure that I will teach for 2 more as Ally will graduate from college by then with Caitlin graduating a year and a half earlier.  Regardless, each day in the classroom is a gift; every day teaching at Fishers Junior High is a gift; every day working for Crystal and Tige is a gift; so who am I to be ungrateful for such wonderful gifts.

Have a great school year.