Friday, December 20, 2013

Tips to Shift to 21st Century Learning

As teachers we are part of a learning community shifting to higher standards and expectations demanded by school boards, state and national standards. Our school communities include  administrators, supervisors, fellow teachers, and parents. Our Title I services understand these connections and make every attempt to communicate our programs and student achievement. We also provide dynamic parental involvement and professional development activities. 
         This article, aimed at classroom teachers (experienced and new), discusses needed changes in instructional mindsets we have to cultivate. Although our Title I services is a targeted assistance model, there is much to learn.  Supervisors and principals will benefit also from these ideas.  Our schools need to be on the same page so that others will notice we are in a 21st Century school.

Changing Instructional Mindsets for the 21st Century.  William Tolley. 12.17.13.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article
Note: Please read the interesting background of the author, William Tolley, at the end of the article.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Exit Tickets" to Assess Skill Mastery

Exit Tickets are an excellent way to see if students learned what was taught during a given class period.  The author suggests writing the exit ticket first so that the teacher teaches what the ticket asks the students to do.  Neat way to assess students as well as your own teaching.

Teaching Secrets:  Start With the Exit Ticket.  Ben Curran.  11.12.13.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article.

8 Teachers Offer Their Management Advice

In this excellent article, 8 teachers give readers their best piece of advice regarding classroom management.  It's interesting reading what different teachers do.  However, the advice is for "classroom" not small groups like we have in Title I.  Nevertheless, there are some applicable ideas.  Enjoy.

Teachers Share Advice on Classroom Management.  10.14.13.  Multiple authors.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article.

Math Guide to Teach Very Young Children

This may be a dream come true (or not) for all you math teachers having difficulty teaching young children.  The guide is designed for preschoolers and kindergartners.  Teaching Math to Young Children was funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.  Five best practices are listed and step-by-step instructions are included for carrying out each of the recommendations.  Now if only there would be a guide for older students!  Perhaps it will happen.  Let's hope.

New 'What Works' Guide Focuses on Teaching Math to Young Children.  Alyssa Morones. 11.13.13.  Education Week - Curriculum Matters

Educators Need to be Resilient

We've talked about teaching our students to be resilient and developing courage to work through those difficult times in other articles.  This article is about teachers and their need to be resilient too.  Do not miss the wonderful quote by Maya Angelou.  Parents are involved too in developing resilient children by limiting adversity in their live.  The authors Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers indicate that schools need to be places where we as teachers help children develop emotional skills and grow in confidence and courage.  What do we do when faced with a challenge or tragedy?  The authors list 6 common things we do.  In helping children become resilient, we in turn may develop more resiliency ourselves.

Resilience and Schools.  Jull Berkowicz and Ann Myers. 11.17.13.  Education Week

"Caught Being Good"

Effective behavior management involves making the most of teachable moments.  Most often we teachers catch students being "bad" but ignore those students being "good."  David Ginsberg discusses teachable moments saying that all students deserve attention.  One way he offers is to circulate.  Another way for students to gain attention is by being "good." 
Please check out David Ginsbergs related articles in links at the end of this article:  Responding --or NOT Responding --to Misbehavior and Student Attitude Adjustment or Teacher Attention Adjustment.  Both are excellent as this one is.  Well worth your time.

Reinforce More, Redirect Less.  David Ginsburg. 11.17.13.  Education Week Teacher

Technology Can Affect Student Writing

Technology has many advantages in schools where we use computers for many learning purposes.  However, in non-school time, many students use computers and smartphones in social media which has a non-academic writing style.  It is up to students to learn to write appropriately for a particular reading audience. Age and economic background affects writing style too.  Younger students text which is their primary form of communiction whereas older students do not.  It is up to us as teachers to inform our students of grammatical correctness in more formal writing for school essays, as an example.

OMG:  Social media may wreck your kid's writing.  Ruth Campbell.  11.24.13.  Southeast Missourian

Teaching is a Tough Job

No doubt we all have days when nothing seems to goes right:  difficult students, rigid school rules, unresponsive parents,  interruptions, paperwork,  to name a few.  Allen Mendler, author of When Teaching Gets Tough wrote this article offering 4 strategies to "stay on top of your game."  Interesting read.  What do you do to stay on top of your game on those tough days?  Share your tips with colleagues in Comments below.

Four Tips to Stay at the Top of Your Game.  Allen Mendler. 11.25.13.  ASCD Inservice

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Teacher of the Year Tells His Story

We all came to teaching from different histories.  Anthony Mullen tells his powerful and painful story as a child growing up and how he learned how life is unpredictable, sometimes awful and sometimes good.  Learning to persevere will get you through the hard times  Anthony still teaches, but with students whose lives mirror his own. He teaches in an alternative high school.  How fortunate are his students!  Not a story to be missed.  Wow!

National Teacher of the Year, 2009:  Why I Became a Teacher:  Why I'm Still Teaching.  Guest: Anthony Mullen.  11.18.13.  Education Week Teacher

How to Help Students Think Independently

Students are happiest when thoroughly engaged in complex activities that stretch their skills.  Noted psychologist, Mihaly Csilkszentmihalyi, defines this as autotelic development.  Teachers can utilize three strategies to cultivate improved focus:  sequencing instruction, recovery from mistakes, and setting goals.  Each strategy is thoroughly explained in the article.  Excellent!

3 Strategies to Promote Independent Thinking in Classrooms. Margaret Regan. 11.27.13.  Edutopia

30 Years - Huge Changes in our Schools

This author taught 30 years ago and is still teaching today.  Some of our readers went to school in the 70's and 80's and can identify with these immense changes.  Teaching was the norm in those years. Teachers had their favorite lessons for certain subjects and tests that matched those lessons.  Kids came to school to learn then just as they come to school today - to learn.  Big difference though.  Today the focus is on learning, not teaching.  Interesting read.  I do believe, however, that in many of our schools our older teachers have not made that switch.  Do you agree?

INSIDE OUR SCHOOLS:  Learning, not teaching, now drives classroom interaction.  Dan Stockwell. 11.24.13.  The Bellingham Herald.

Is Technology Taking Away "Think" Time?

The author of this article presents an interesting take on technology and wonders if we take the time to reflect and think deeply without interuptions of emails, texts, and tweets.  The market research company, Radicati Group reports that 144.8 billion emails are sent daily and receivers spend 28% of their time in their inboxes.  8.6 trillion text messages are sent annually and tweets 400 million per day. The result of all this tech communication has positive and negative effects.  This author unplugs technology one day a week.  Why?  To read closely and deliberately and take time to reflect and simply think.  He discusses the great education thinkers who have made such important contributions ---Jeanne Chall, B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget.  Can we imagine them tweeting?  I wonder.  Interesting read.  (I for one, treasure my alone time and love to read, think, and reflect.)  How about you?

What if Piaget Had Tweeted?  Malbert Smith III.  11.27.13.  Education Week - Premium Article

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What Teachers Don't Often Realize About Poverty

Peter DeWitt's article starts out with statistics about poverty we are already familar with.  But please don't stop reading.  What matters is at the end of the article and it's about you, the teacher.  Not only that but there is an embedded link to the ASCD Study Guide for Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement. This is a study guide to the book of the same title by Eric Jensen.

Five Things Most People Don't Know About Poverty & Student Achievement.  Peter DeWitt.  10.13.13.  Education Week - Finding Common Ground

Survey Synthesizes Teachers' Attitudes About Technology

This article synthesizes 5 prominent national surveys of K-12 teachers about their practices and uses of technology.  Different kinds of technology were used and results have indicated great questions that have yet to be explored more fully.  The report is available by download by an enbedded PDF link.  Some basic concerns......How has technology impacted student achievement?  What practical ways is instruction by technolgy aligned to state standards and Common Core?  Are tech tools more effective in certain subjects which then impacts costs at the school and district level?  What role do students play and what are their reactions and opinions?  Interesting stuff with no clear answers yet.

Surveys Snythesized:  What Are Teachers' Attitudes About Classroom Technology? Tina Barseghian. 10.11.13. Mind/Shift;postID=1416160411702999153

Study Skills, The Hidden Curriculum

There is no doubt that high achieving students have excellent study skills.  But how can we teach low achieving studnets effective study skills so that their achievement improves?  The teacher in this article has a year-long plan that starts with maximum support in the first quarter and lessens as time goes on.  Her system transfers to different content area subject.  Anything here that you already do?
What can you offer your colleagues?  Share below in Comments.

Building Study Skills: A Four-Step Plan.  Marsha Ratzel 10.2.13.  Tch Teaching Channel

Helping Struggling Students in Math

The teacher in this article was herself a struggling student in math.  Why?  She explains that her teachers lectured and students took notes and practiced.  The next day they did the same.  Today as a math teacher in Tenessee she reflects on the changes  in math in Common Core and likes them a lot.  Read to learn how she organizes her math classes and what she asks her students to do.  Very worthwhile!

Helping struggling students:  A view from one math teacher's classroom. Barbara Kantrowitz.  10.15.13.  The Hechinger Report

You Can Be a Teacher Leader

Wendi Pillars presents 7 verbs that constitute teacher leadership.  Ponder these powerful verbs and reflect on how you can develop them to the fullest...
  • Invite
  • Take Risks
  • Grow
  • Act
  • Fail
  • Catalyze
  • Respect
We all have the potential to be better than we are as teachers; it is now our responsibility to our students that we develop more fully as teacher leaders.

The Seven Verbs of Teacher Leadership.  Wendi Pillars. 10.15.13.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giving Students Choices

Developing positive relationships with students is an important key to motivate them to learn.  In spite of standardized testing which offers little choice, other aspects of school lends itself for students to make decisions about 'what', 'how', and 'why.'  The other references Larry Ferlazzo who has written a great deal about students and teachers in the changing environment in US schools.  He advocates "personalized learning," but not necessarily with technology, but personalize the learning experience by letting students make personal choices.  Excellent! Certainly something we can implement in our Title I classes.

Choice Equals Power:  How to Motivate Students to Learn.  Katrina Schwartz.  11.18.13.  Mind/Shift

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Problem Based Learning in Math

This amazing middle school teacher took Problem Based Learning (PBL) to a new level.  She decided to teach pretty tough functions in math combining technology and PBL.  Her lesson in square roots was brought down to an understandable, real-world level that made the students really think. She and so many other teachers today find that students are stumped if answers to questions are not Google-able.  She realizes that students need some hand-holding and practice as they take "found" information and "think it" into meaning. 

Two steps for incorpating PBL learning in math class. mratzel.  12.1.12. Reflections of a Techie

Simple Things To Help Your Students Everyday

All of us - students, teachers, and families - feel stressed most days with never-ending things to do or think about.  Often we feel nobody even cares.  Our students have such feelings in school.  Here are 5 such simple things to do that will make a difference in your classes.  Wonderful article and excellent reminders for all of us.

5 simple ways to be a better teacher tomorrow.  Annette Breaux.  11.28.12.  SmartBlog on Education

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Power of Effort to Meet Learning Goals

Kevin Washburn, author of this article, wears a wristband when he runs - "Give the Effort".  He suggests that it is as good mantra for schools and explains several ideas in detail that teachers can use to encourage effort in their students.  A brief headline follows...
  • Make stories about struggle and eventual success centerpieces of class discussions.
  • Direct attention to effort-result relationships.
  • Separate strategy from individual worth.
Excellent article and, if used by teachers, will dramatically affect learning outcomes. Be sure to read the comments after the article....very inspiring.

Inscribed upon my wrist:  Emphasizing effort to empower learning.  Kevin D. Washburn.  11.21.12.  SmartBlog on Education

Encouraging Curiosity in Your Students

John Barell, author of this article, tells an amusing story about his mother and how she encourged curiosity, the result being that he became a scientist. He gives teachers advice about the kinds of questions they should ask, as well as modeling their own curiosity about the world around them.  Very good.  Worth your time reading.

Fostering curisity here, there and everywhere.  John Barell. 11.20.12.  Smart Blog on Education

Math is Full of Stereotypes That Hold Us Back

I liked this article because it challenges not only students but teachers who need reteaching in shifting to the demands of Common Core.  Be sure to read the comments after the article.  Most comments disagree with the article and indicate it is difficult for students to learn multiple things.  How difficult it is for teachers to construct lessons is also brought out.  My take on this is that teachers have their own set of stereotypes which seem to be passed on to students along with parent attitudes.
What do you think?

The Stereotypes About Math That Hold Americans Back.  Jo Boaler. 11.12.13.  The Atlantic

Helping Students With "Can Do"

WIDA, the consortium of 33 US states and territories for English learners has long adopted the "Can Do Philosophy" (  The same philosophy extends to all kinds of learners, in particular Title I students who have often experienced failure and have "given up" many times. The author, Terry Heick, helps teachers develop a culture of "can" in their classroom.  He explains 3 Ways to create "Can."
  1. Use the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model
  2. Intentionally Use the Individual Student as a Culture-Maker
  3. Diverse -- and Authentic --Terms for Success
What have you done to encourage your reluctant students to keep on going and not give up?  Share your thoughts in Comments.

Creating a Culture of "Can".  Terry Heick.  11.19.12.  Edutopia

Monday, November 11, 2013

Early Readers Need Variable Consonant Sounds

Most of us believe that when beginning to teach consonant sounds we should select word examples that have consistent sounds. WRONG, discovered researchers who were quite surprised that students could read words they had never seen before After several days with revised phonics skills, the students applied their newly learned skills to tasks they hadn't before...successfully! A principal of one of the participating schools in the study suggested that this varied method could be used in other teaching, such as learning vocabulary.
Have you done this before?  If not will you try it with your Title I students?  Share results with your colleagues.

Variation on Traditional Phonics Helps Early Readers, Study Says.  Julie Rasicot. 11.2.12. Education Week - The Early Years.

A Neat Way to Help Students Find the 'Right Word'

The sample exercises in this article may be too difficult for many or our Title I studnets, but the princple is the same.  Using a thesearus may be cumbersome and take an extra step, but it is really worth it to find exact meanings for what the student or (author) intends.  In the sample exercise, the teacher swaps out key words with similar words, but 'not quite' the original intent.  The best way to teach kids to find the right word is to read before and after examples.  There is also a list of 5 questions that teachers can use for students.  Also, an online thesaurus is compared to the print Roget's thesaurus.

Thank you, Thesaurus:  Experimenting With the Right Word vs. the Almost-Right Word.  Amanda Christy Brown and Katherine Schulten.  11.15.12.  The New York Times - The Learning Network

'Soft Skills' for College Readiness

Whether this article applies to Title I students making it to college remains a question in my mind.  I'd like you, the reader, to reflect on the content.  Dan Jones, the President of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors indicates that new freshman haven't had the opportunity to struggle.  The ability to solve problems and being resourceful seems to be lacking.  The reason stated is that high school students haven't developed resilency because parents and teachers have jumped through hoops for them.  However, I beg to differ, although teachers have certainly helped students grow, but many parents of Title I students don't have that capacity to do so, that is, being helicopter parents.

Your thoughts are appreciated.  What do you see as the problem?

'Soft Skills' Pushed as Part of College Readiness.  Caralee J. Adams.  11.14.12.  Education Week - Premium Article

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Math Manipulatives for School & Home

This article focuses on a Fort Wayne initiative that uses manipulatives in class for math.  Parents are urged to use common household items also to reinforce math concepts.  Suggestions are also given to help parents with practicing math facts with their children.  Common experiences such as going to the grocery store is an opportunity to engage children in a variety of math tasks.

Help Adds up - Tools, parents give students boost in learning math skills. Kimberly Dupps Truesdell. 11.13.12

How are Recent Graduates Doing in the Real World?

Pew Research recently reported that recent graduates (2005-2011) are super in digital literacy but in the workplace they have difficulty solving 'informational problems,' such as researching competitors, planning a conference, or looking up tax regulations.  Solving these problems - essentially synthesizing and analyzing - is becoming more and more important.  New hires seem to depend on "Google-ing it."  The solution to this prevailing problem seems to lie with new hires paired with veterans, a practice seen in teaching where we have mentors and coaches to help new teachers.

What other solutions can you offer help young people during their school years?  Share you ideas in Comments.

Can the Digital Generation Do Anything Right?  Jason Tomassini. 11.12.12.  Education Week - Market Place.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mind-Sets for High Quality Teachers

This is a wonderful article and gets to the heart of what a high-quality teacher is all about.  The authors of this article identify and discuss five dispositions of mind, that if acquired, will foster growth not only for the teachers but for the students. The authors continue with a series of questions teachers should ask themselves as they employ these mind-sets.
This article is excellent and you, the thoughtful reader, will gain insight about yourself as a teacher of children. 

What Mind-Sets Drive Teacher Effectiveness?  Arthur L. Costa, Robert J. Garmston, & Diane P. Zimmerman.  11.2012.  ASCD Express Volume 8 Issue 3

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is Kindergarten Too Hard With CC Standards?

Kindergarten teachers in New York City are protesting that Common Core is way too challenging for kindergarent students.  After reading this article, I wonder if the teachers or the students are finding the curriculum too difficult.  No doubt, teachers have to rethink, retrain, and reteach.  Language used in Common Core need not be the language used when teaching students.  Using complex language of CC would definitely be difficult, but I do wonder why, with proper teaching, the children can't be learning these important skills that will be built upon in the years to come. What do you teachers of Title I students in Kindergarten think?

Playtime's over, kindergartners. Susan Edelman.  1.27.13 New York Post

Essential Skills For HS Graduation

Read this article written by an educator for 37 years including the superintendent of Fayette County Schools in Kentucky.  What he has to say about preparing students for the real world is quite amazing.  Academic skills take a back seat to 21st Century Skills.  He observes this shift going on in schools after they have listened to employers tell them "Spend your energy bringing us more workers that have these skills.  We can teach them the knowledge needed to do the job."  Danville Independent Schools has 11 essential skills that need mastery before high school graduation.  Not one skills is strictly academic.  They are 21st Century with acadmic knowledge embedded within.

Are We Really Getting Them Ready?  Stu Silberman. 11.7.13.  Education Week - Public Engagement & Ed Reform

Lay Down the "Rules" for Academic Conversations

Dr. Allen Mendler, author of the following article, observed a 3rd grade classroom with posted conversation "rules."  He was surprised at first but after visiting middle school classrooms he recommends that those rules be posted for this age group also.  Why?  Could be many reasons....but he states that learning to listen and talk have fell by the wayside in lieu of other other behaviors and what students see and do on a daily basis.
Read the article to find 8 tips for speaking and listening.  Excellent!  We will have wonderful academic conversations if these tips are followed.

Teaching Your Students How to Have a Conversation.  Dr. Allen Mendler. 11.5.13. Edutopia

Does Testing Show If Students Grow Academically?

Standardized tests are built to cover all spectrums in the bell curve.  They do well to show large groups of students in judging performance, but what about individual students?  How do teachers feel about student growth?  But more importantly, how do students themselves interpret results on standardized tests?  In elementary school if a student doesn't learn "on time" they can easily think something is wrong with them.  The author states that these are emotional wounds that can carry throughout their lives.  Yet, with students with a mindset for growth, this does not happen.  Read this article and learn how you the teacher can change a negative mindset into growth mindset.

Promoting a growth mindset for all students.  Jim Dillon. 11.7.13  SmartBlog on Education

What 'Old School' Strategies Still Work?

We've all heard the expression, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."  The same principle applies to teaching.  As many new strategies and tools have entered the classroom, we need to figure out what to get rid of in order to make time and space for something new.  This article points out practices we had when we went to school that still work today.  Well worth reading.

Why Kids Should Learn Cursive ( and Math Facts and Word Roots).  Annie Murphy Paul 11.8.12. Time Ideas

Toxic Stress Affects Learning

Researchers from Harvard, University of Southern California, University of Maryland and others have identified though brain research that some stress is toxic makes students vulnerable to learning while other kinds of stress do not.  Be sure to watch the videos showing brain architecture in young developing brains as well as overall health development.  Some adverse experiences are never 'gotten over' even after 50 years.

Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity.  Sarah D. Sparks. 5.16.13.  Education Week - Premium Article.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Creativy in Math - The Perfect Place!

These difficult but thought-provoking examples in this article are definitely creative.  This 4th grade teacher uses word problems to encourage creative thinking as you probably do yourselves.  However, she goes beyond word problems into creative answers to mathematical procedures.  Read to find out more.
Do you have some examples to share with your colleagues?

Boosting Creative Thinking in Math Class.  Lana Gundy.  7.9.13.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article.

Parent Engagement - A Democratic Learning Community

Interesting, this post follows one that says that parents are not essential for students to learn.  Kim Farris-Berg, guest blogger, for Education Week, suggests that when educators make all the decisions for students. Yet many parents baulk at that practice and want a say in the major program and policy decisions.  MPS school, ALBA is an example of shared decision-making.  Read more to discover how this school and others have achieved a democracy in school governance.

Trusting Teachers Is a Means to Authentic Parent Engagement.  Kim Farris-Berg, guest blogger for Sam Chaltain.  Education Week - In Search of the Civic Mission of K-12 Schools

Do Students Need Parents to Learn Successfullly?

We all have heard or "blamed" parents as the reason so many students don't perform successfully in school. Teachers say, "It's not our fault that kids don't learn - it's the parents' fault."  Ben Johnson tells us that we need to change perspectives by saying, "We are the professionals and we do not need parents to help students learn in our classrooms."  This indeed is a powerful statement and he further quotes Mike Mattos from a Professional Learning Community Institute he attended with more forceful language.
After reading the following article, please share your thinking with your colleagues.

Parents Aren't Necessary for Students to Learn.  Ben Johnson. 7.23.13.  Edutopia

E-Readers & Students With Learning Disabilities

Researchers tested 103 students with learning disabilities.  Reading speed and comprehension were tested using traditional paper and on an iPod touch.  The study was later duplicated using an iPad.  Students continually remembered better using the iPod better than paper.  Dyslexics differ in their disability.  Researchers attribute increased speed and comprehension to type and shorter lines.
Read for more details.

E-readers may help peoople with dyslexia.  Jen Christensen - CNN medical producer. 9.18.13 Children's Health - Living Well

Does Technology Improve Learning?

Matthew Lynch's blog poses interesting thoughts about technology and learning.  He compares what was available to classrooms in 2009 to what is available now. He references Troy Williams of Macmillan at a 2012 conference that his company and others need another 3-5 years to analyze results of student achievement with and without technology.  So here we stand, hoping that technology will grab students' interest and provide stimulus to learn and achieve.
What do you think? Be sure to read the comments already posted after the article....interesting...

Classroom Technology: Does It Really Make a Difference?  Matthew Lynch. 9.20.13.  Education Week - Education Futures:  Emerging Trendes and Technologies in K-12

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No Tech - Collaboration & Critical Thinking

Collaboration and critical thinking are college and career-ready skills, but they are not about technology.  This teacher explains collaboration and how he provides students with protocols for brainstorming, decision making and accountability - all habits of collaboration.  Next, the author advises teachers to improve their questioning to go beyond surface level questions to encourage critical thinking.  Read to find out how.

Teaching Collaboration and Critical Thinking, Tech-Free.  Ben Curran. 7.31.13.  Education Week Teacher - Premium Article

Why Education is a Tool, Not an End

How many of us teachers view education as a goal to achieve?  This author, Cord Ivanyi, raises the pertinent question,  What really is the goal of education?  To find out answers to this question, please read this premium article from Education Week.  Excellent and not to be missed!

The Deeper Purpose of Learning:  Satisfaction.  Cord Ivanyi.  7.26.13.  Education Week - Premium Article


Writing Skills Are Not What They Should Be

Students are increasingly lacking adequate formal writing skills and are not workplace or college ready.  Why?  One reason:  Texting and tweeting have dumbed down English grammer to abbreviations that are not acceptable to real-world writing standards.  The question is, "How can teachers help in schools, and this includes Title I teachers who attempt to improve language arts skills aligned to common core standards." 
Have you seen the decline due to technology use?  Many of our students lack these skills anyway, but are they due to technology or from inadequate instruction and practice?

Texting, Tweeting, and Terrible Grammar in K-12 Schools.  Matthew Lynch. 8.6.13.  Education Week - Education Futures, Emerging Trends and Technologies in K-12.

Using Money to Decompose Fractions

Here's a complete lesson in fractions for you math teachers.  Fraction concepts are difficult for children without concrete examples to achieve greater understanding.   This article uses money to frame a detailed lesson plan. A Common Core alignment chart is also shown.
      PLEASE check out the embedded link to  Teacher Tools for Interactive Whiteboards - Mathematical Thinking. All of these tools are FREE.  Math tools are shown for various concepts K-7th grade.  Amazing resource!

Teacher Tool of the Month Decomposing Fractions Using Time or Money.  2.15.13.  Dreambox Learning

Tips to Build Resiliency in Children

Although suggestions in this article are aimed at parents, those same tips are equally helpful for teachers in school.  The embedded PBS video interview with Peter DeWitt points out that children today are exposed to to so many negative things that were not part of our experience at that age.  And because this is the case today, many parents shelter their children from all adversity.  Both extremes require adults to teach kids how to deal with adversity, failure, fears, and sadmess. 

Building Resilient Children.  Peter DeWitt. 2.20.13.  Education Week - Common Ground.

How to Recognize and Assess Creativity

What is creativity?  How do we recognize it in our students?  When we see creativity, how do we assess it and give feedback to students?  These questions are important and often are misinterpreted by teachers.  This article answers these questions and gives excellent advice to teachers that will stimulate creativity.  An interesting rubric for assessing creativity is the highlight of the article to me.  What do you think?  Please share your thoughts.

Assessing Creativity.  Susan M. Brookhart.  February 2013; Volume 70.  Educational Leadership

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teaching Strategies for ELL Students

This article is a 'must-read' for teachers of ELL students.  It's not just a 'read-only' but videos are embedded that show each strategy in action in 5 areas.  Key to all strategies is integrating language with content.  There are also 3 links to other resources for ELL teachers.
  1. Scaffolding Understanding
  2. Purposeful Grouping
  3. Background Knowledge
  4. Extended Discussion
  5. Valuing Linguistic Differences. 
Reflect on your own experiences with ELLs.  What has worked well for you?  Share your thoughts in Comments.

5 Key Strategies for Ell Instruction.  Rebecca Greene.  10.25.13.  Tch Teaching Channel

When a Student Gets Suspended

All of us at one time or another have probably had students who were suspended from school. Carrie Kamm has written a very positive article about how to relate to these students during their suspension and after they return to school. This article is not to be missed!
I love the introductory quote from Maya Angelou...
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Please share you thoughts below.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Realities of Adapting CC for Students With Disabilities

Here is another article explaining the difficulty that teachers of students with disabilities with Common Core standards.  Diane M. Browder, a professor of special education at the University of North Carolina and author of books on IEPs and common-core alignment,  offers PD to these teachers.  Margaret J. McLaughlin, a professor in the department of special education in the University of Maryland says that the time and the training to meet the standards in a way that students with special needs can handle.  Other experts offer their opinions. Well worth reading, especially for teachers of students with special needs.  We have some of those students in our Title I classes who have not been tested for a variety of reasons.

Common Core's Promise Collides With IEP Realities - Special education teachers struggle to make sure individualized education programs align with standards.  Christina A. Samuels.  10.30.13.  Education Week

CC and the Elephant in the Room

What happens to special needs students when implementing common core in the classroom?  Educators are working to design lessons for students with disabilities, English learners, and gifted students.  The latter we don't have, of course, in Title I, but the premise is the same.  Stakes are high because all kinds of students must prove themselves scholastically with the new Common Core tests. Standards-based IEPs are tough to write as well as academic language uniques to each discipline.  These are daunting expectations for students with disabilities and students learning the language.   Challenges are immense; there is no easy answer.

A Common-Core Challenge:  Learners With Special Needs - Adapting the standards for students with disabilities, English-learners, and gifted students is no easy task.  Catherine Gewertz.  10.30.13. Education Week

PBS Math Videos to Connect to Students' Lives

Here's novel idea that should enliven your math classes.  PBS launched an experimental video series for middle school students.  The videos include a short interactive quiz with immediate feedback.  Videos are availabe on You Tube and 

PBS Launches New Video Series to Make Math 'Cool'.  Hana Maruyama. 10.31.13. Education Week Teacher

Questions for Deeper Learning

Asking questions is part and parcel of being a teacher.  But what kind of questions are the best?  To encourage critical thinking and deeper learning, Rebecca Alber suggests 5 question categories to get your students thinking and learning.  There are more intricate questions that offer the same result but these 5 should get you started.  And don't forget the 'wait/think' time that is needed for students to respond.

5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students. Rebecca Alber. 10.31.13. Edutopia

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Ways to Teach Fractions

Fractions cause such confusion for many students.  While students are young, i.e., third grade or so, they need to be able to understand the fundamentals of fractions.  So often teachers emphasize procedures at the expense of understanding relationships among numbers, which is vitally imporant in higher level math.  Children need to understand that the numerator is telling how many things there are and the denominator is describing the size of the piece.  Once that fundamental concept is grasped, then they will be doing much better.  Read how several different contributors have dealt with this fraction problems.

Federal Research Suggests New Approach to Teaching Fractions.  Sarah Sparks. 7.18.13.  Education Week - Premium Article

'Reading' Visual Information

Past research (20 years ago) has shown that many readers focused on text and often ignored visuals in textbooks.  That may have changed in recent years since we have moved to a highly visual society.  However, we still need to teach our students how to interpret charts, graphs, and maps that are embedded in text and show how these details contribute to understanding of text.  Other enhancements like videos and digital information all play a part in "close" reading, one of the important shifts asked for in Common Core.
How do you teach visual information presented in text to your Title I students?  Are your students learning from it and integrating the data for a more complete understanding?

What Do We Mean by 'Reading' Maps?  Phil Gersmehl. 7.22.13.  Education Week - Premium Article

Monday, October 28, 2013

Be a Teacher Leader!

There are teachers and then there are teachers.  Some do their job effectively and students achieve. Others merely put their time in.  And then there are some teachers who stand out above the crowd because they are teacher leaders.  What makes a teacher a leader?  This article defines those qualites in the form of verbs.  Excellent and worth reading and comparing those verbs to yourself and perhaps other teachers you might know.

The Seven Verbs of Teacher Leadership.  Wendi Pillars.  10.15.13.  Education Week - Premium Article

Are you a teacher leader? Why?  Why Not?  Share your thoughts below in Comments.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Use Strategy Cards, Not Flash Cards for Math

Like many schools and districts across the country, the teaching of math is undergoing significant changes.  Read this story of an Idaho teacher using critical thinking to teach math.  Basically, she asks students to explain their answers and write their own word problems.  Using critical thinking is a key component of Common Core.  The article states that few parents have heard of Common Core and that the schools have a lot of communication with parents to let them know what is required.

Idaho's new education standards promise to make homework a new experience for everyone involved.  Bill Roberts. 8.25.13.  Idaho Statesman

Rebramding "Failure" - Helping Students Take Risks

One of the many facets of building relationships with our students is helping them deal with failure.  It is an experience all of us have had and is a fact of life.  So in Title I classes, we always emphasize that making mistakes is OK.  We need to teach our students to rebrand failure as risk-taking which is another way to learn.  This article stresses that concept and suggests that teachers tell stories of people who have failed yet then achieved great things.  Example:  Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different materials before he found the right one for the light bulb filament.....[that's persistence all right!].

Making Friends With Failure.  Ainissa Ramirez. 8.28.13.  Edutopia

Think of your own "failures."  Are there any you'd like to share with your students or colleagues. How have you learned from them?  Share your thoughts below in Comments.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Feedback is More Than "Good Job"

This excellent article examines the nature of feedback we give our students.    Teachers err when we give praise or advice when feedback is needed.  Read this article to learn the "dos' and don'ts" of giving feedback.  I know I have made mistakes in the past. Perhaps you have too. Cited research in the article tells us that student feedback, properly given, results in improved student achievement. 

Seven Keys to Effective Feedback (ASCD). Grant Wiggens  9.2012 Educational Leadership

Share your thoughts below in Comments.  What have you learned?  Will you change your approach?  Why or Why Not?

Different Ways of Reaching Answers

Although this article's example is in a 2nd grade class at a Morgan County School, the principle is the same at other grades using different mathematical procedures.  Students display a bulletin board coming up with different ways to reach the number 4.  This class arrived at 20 different ways which were posted on a hall bulletin board seen by many other students going to gym class. 
        The district developed the OnGoing Assessment Project, or OGAP, which defines the knowledge and skills at each grade level.  OGAP has changed the ways teachers teach math.  There is lots of collaborative discussion in classes and students are asked to explain their how they arrived at answers.  Interesting....certainly an approach that should be very effective in our small group Title I classes.

Morgan adding math techniques.  Deangelo McDaniel. 10.21.13. Decatur

Tweens' Brains - What's Important?

How well do you know middle schoolers?  How do their minds work?  If you have a middle child as a son or daughter, you probably know more than anyone what's forefront in their minds.  Take a step back & think -- themselves --  of course!  Author, Heather Wolpert-Gawron has written a book, Tween Crayons and Curfews:  Tips for Middle School Teachers. This article is an edited exerpt from her book.  It is a help for us teachers in understanding how we can understand them, reach them and plan our lessons accordingly.  This article, however, is the first of three articles on this subject.  I'll post them on this blog when I see them. 

Brains, Brains, Brains!  How the Mind of a Middle Schooler Works.  Heather Wolpert-Gawron. 10.24.13.  Edutopia.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Adults Transfer Math Anxiety to Kids

Adults, especially parents,  transfer many attitudes to children about learning.  Such statements as, "I've never been good at science... or "I can't do math to save my life." are quotes from this article.  Teachers are not immune to these attitudes and can have negative attitudes as well.  Perhaps you yourself may not feel very confident in performing some mathemetics procedures or understanding some math concepts, much less teach it.  This article describes math anxiety and suggests ways to overcome these feelings.......Interesting comments - don't miss them at the end of the article.

Why Kids Take On Adults' Math Anxiety. Annie Murphy. 10.21.13. Mind/Shift

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Effective Educational Practices in 34 Countries

This article presents 7 conditions that if observed resulted in high student achievement.  Most of these are no-brainers, but immensely important for higher student performance.  In looking at those 7 conditions, I see 5 that we in LEX do very well.  Can you find the 2 that seem questionable? Leave your findings in the comments below and explain why you feel this way.

Global Sudy Identifies Promising Practices in Top-Scoring Nations. Catherine Gewertz.  Education Week - Changes Practices - Premium Article

Are Our Students Served Well Using CC?

This provocative article examines common core standards effect on disadvantaged students.  Note:  [The article is the personal view of the author who is currentlty the director of the Washington office of the Carnegie Foundation.] Arguments, pro and con, and presented.  Interestingly, the history of public education in this country is also brought to light.  Interesting article, to be sure.  Also not to be missed are the comments at the end of the article.  Conflicting views are noted here too.  Question to ask yourself, "How to I feel implementing the Common Core standards in my Title I classes?"  Share your thoughts.

Common Core and Disadvantaged Students.  Thomas Toch. 10.22.13. Education Week - Premium Article.

What is the Reality of Reading Today following CC?

Common Core Standards in reading/language arts have given us a blueprint of what needs to happen in our reading instruction to Title I students.  I found the 3 bulleted discussion points quite interesting.  How do you think we have implemented the standards in our LEX program?

Common Core in the Schools:  A First Look at Reading Assignments.  Tim Shanahan & Ann Duffett. 10.22.13.  Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Excellent Common Core Math Strategies

Tennessee has adopted new program processes in the teaching and learning of math.  Read how this 8th grade teacher teaches math and loves the new approach:  qualifying  answers, solution options, discussion about different strategies to solve problems.  She also asks her students to explain their thinking in writing using complete sentences and correct punctuation.  There is lots of talking in her classroom about applications to real-world situations.  Excellent read!  We are attempting to do the same thing in our Title I classes. 
What ideas did you get after reading this article?  Anything you do in your classes that you'd like to share with your colleagues?

New standards mean lots of talking --and even writing --about math.  Barbara Kantrowitz.  10.15.13. The Hechinger Report

How Can Teachers Inspire Wonder and Joy?

Lately, I've read and posted a few articles on the importance of you, the teacher.  We do know that what we do, how we feel, how we treat our students are noticed by our students and can have a lasting impact.  Just how so is described in this reflective article written by July Wallis who recently attended her 50th class reunion. (My goodness!....50 years and she's still kicking!) Socialization among her old classmates included views of teachers they had.  Read what she heard. 

Reflect on your own past experience as a student.  What remains in your mind about your own teachers?  Interestingly, the article points out that students will not remember the subject content but  will remember the teacher who taught it.

Teachers, Don't Forget Joy.  Judy Wallis.  10.16.13.  Education Week - Premium Article.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teaching Students How to Learn

When students know how to learn and understant what works best for them, they will achieve.  This article is excellent and presents strategies in the first person so that the student can self-access. What works well for one student may not work as well for another.  Also please check out the embedded article - What Students Should Know About Their Own Brains. 

Please use the Comments section below to share how you have introduced different learning strategies for your students.

Smart Strategies That Help Students Learn How to Learn.  Annie Murphy Paul. 10.7.13 Mindshift

Understanding Poverty & Student Achievement

Noted author, Eric Jensen, is guest blogger on Education Week - Finding Common Ground. This article helps us understand various aspects of poverty with special emphasis on poverty.  Excellent.
A must-read for our Title I teachers who meet with their students of poverty every day.  Realize how important you are in their lives!

Five Things Most Peoople Don'[t Know About Poverty & Student Achievement. 10.13.13 Peter DeWitt. Education Week - Finding Common Ground

Share your thoughts about how you apply what the article says about teachers.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Options Do We have When Kids Misbehave?

The Responsive Classsroom website is an excellent resource for both classroom and Title I teachers.  Here is an article offering several excellent strategies teachers can use when students misbehave.  [This excerpt may be a little"old" but excellent]. 
What are your thoughts?

Responding to Misbehavior.  adapted excerpt from Rules in School published in the Responsive Classroom Newsletter, Nov 2011.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Rigor" - Understand What Rigor is All About

What do you think "rigor" implies?  Since the term is an important part of CC language, we need to understand what it means and what it does not mean.  The first article presents what rigor is not.

Seven Myths About Rigor.  Robyn Jackson.  ASCD Edge.

Here is a link to sample chapters of a book written by Robyn R. Jackson revealing what rigor should be about.,
How To Plan Rigorous Instruction.

Well worth reading and taking the time to reflect how you are planning rigorous instruction in you Title I groups.  Share your thoughts.

Proven Tactic to Relieve Stress Before Taking Tests

Writing down stresses and worries for 10 minutes before testing results in higher test scores, University of Chicago psychological scientists discovered with high school and college students.

[Personally, I can identify with the thought behind this technique.  When I was director of a LEX prescription center, I would greet the students coming into the room.  I could easily spot students who looked worried or distracted about something.  I asked them to give me their worries and I'll put them in my pocket  (pretend...not real).  I'd extend my hand and the child would extend his/hers & I'd put their worries in my pocket.  At the end of the session I'd ask the student, "Do you want to take your worries back with you?"  The result of this little drama is that kids really did improve their attitude and tried harder.  Today, if I was a teacher I'd have a "Worry Basket" at the door where students could put their worries in and take them back with them when they left.  (I never asked to write them down.)]

Take note of simple tactic to beat test stress - Study:  Students who write about worries before exam score higher. Tara Malone. 1.13.11.  Chicago Tribune News

Helping Kids "Get It" with Everyday Math

Common Core has changed the way math is being taught. Both teachers and students struggle with ways to increase understanding and improve basic skills.  There are good examples in this article which can be used in Title I classes.  So many kids figure they won't need math because they have good technology to do the work for them.  One 6th grade teacher told her class to give her a situtation where you will never use math.  She responded....I'll give you 10 ways that you will.

Subject Matters:  Students struggle with math fundamentals. Sally Holland.  1.11.11 CNN Living

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Unplug Week! What These Students Learned

We teachers grew up in a time where technology was totally different.  Devices today were non-existent years ago.  This teacher decided it would be an interesting experiment if her middle school students went technology free for one week....and that included home too.  Read about this experience and what the students learned about themselves and older generations.  [Good example for a history lesson about how families lived 50, 75, 100 years ago.]

Still Middle School students unplug.  Jane Donahue. 12.30.10.  The Beacon News - Chicago Sun-Times

Monday, September 30, 2013

What is Right With Our Schools?

My blog title is just the opposite to the article title, "What is Wrong With Our Schools."  Yet the content of the article stresses how we should focus on what we are doing well, and we are doing well, raising achievement for so many low performing students.  Yes, we have a segment of students who do not perform well and believe school is not that important to them. So the bottom line is to focus on what we do well to increase student achievement and replicate the process for our other kids.

What is Wrong With Our Schools?  Jull Berkowicz and Ann Myers. 9.26.13.  Education Week - Leadership;postID=6361350268327854149

A Good Idea? Intellectually Disabled Students with Other Students

Rhode Island, by court order, is now required to include intellectual disabled students in "some" classes with regular students to raise their level of academic achievement.  Examples in the article seem that the intellectually disabled students have disabilities more serious than those we see in our Title I classes.  However, this is an age-old question.  Is this a good idea or not?  Mainstreaming was the term used in the past.  How do you feel about this practice?  Do you think other states besides Rhode Island will follow suit?

Share your comments below.

R.I. Redoubles Efforts for Intellectually Disabled.  Christine A. Samuels.  9.25.13.  Education Week Premium Article.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Drawing Pictures Helps Comprehension

We Title I teachers know that many students learn through visual imput, whether it be illustrations, videos, games, or TV viewing.  What we probably don't do enough is visual output - asking kids to draw pictures about what they are learning in vocabulary and understanding content.  The author of this article was an illustrator herself in class and often used it as a technique to learn.  She has translated "drawing" into a study strategy, one that I am sure would help many of our struggling learners. Be sure to look at the example illustrations.  (Another term for this practice is sketchnoting.)

Read and share your ideas with colleagues.

Visual Notetaking in the Classroom.  Wendi Pillars. 9.24.13. Education Week Teacher

Friday, August 30, 2013

Student Resilience to overcome their disfunctional life -YOU can help!

This short article is part of the current September 2013 ASCD issue of Educational Leadership.  There are many similiar articles in this issue which will become available online in another month or so.  The point is....we as teachers can have a powerful impact in changing the direction of many students' lives who live in poverty, have disfunctional familiies, and live in crime-filled neighborhoods.

You've Got the Power.  Nan Henderson.  8.29.13.  ASCD Inservice.  8.29.13

Resilience reseach is rather a new field of study and much needed to help educators teaching in many schools.  Foir more further information about Nan Henderson, please check her website.
Resiliency in Action.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.  (New readers - Click blog title, not article title and the comments section will show up below.)

Transforming Ourselves - the Teacher!

This article may describe many teachers; however it is clear that teachers described at the beginning of this article to not fit any of our LEX teachers.  The second part of the article is certainly worth reading and examining our oen adjustments to new ways of teaching to get better results from our students, both cognitively and subjectively.

Changing Our 'Stuff" is Not Enough.  Becky Bair. 8.29.13.  Powerful Learning Practice - Professional learning for connected educators.

After reading this article, what speaks to you as being important?  How have you changed recently in your teaching practice?  Share your comments with othe LEX colleagues in the Comments section below. 
(For new blog readers, click on the blog title - Transforming Ourselves - the Teacher!, and the comments section will appear.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sample Questions for the New Math & Reading Tests

Want to see what the new test questions might look like?  The sample questions published here are from PARCC, an oirganization working with a 19 state consortium to create next generation asessments. Wisconsin is not one of the PARCC states.  A review of sample questions from PARCC could let us know the kind of questions we might be having in the next update here in our state.
Be sure to check out the embedded links, sample math items and sample literacy items.
If you read the comments at the end of the article, there are criticisms on using standard English.

Testing Consortium Previews Test With Sample Items.  Catherine Gewertz. 8.20,13. Education Week - Curriculum Matters.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Reading" Maps is "Close" Reading

Common Core requires us to teach close reading, but don't think for a minute that entails only text.  Maps, charts, diagrams, photos, videos and other visual aids are often present for the student to use to better understand the concepts of the text.  Read this amazing article and find out why1492 was chosen as the year Columbus started his expedition across the Atlantic.  (Question:  Did you know the full answer?  I know I didn't)
Close reading of these aids is important to teach our students; they are not just simply factual storehouses.

After reading this article will you be doing something differently in your Title I class?

What Do We Mean my Reading Maps?  Phil Gersmehl.  7.22.13.  Education Week.  Premium article.

Solving Math Problems With Games & Puzzles

Author, Deepak Kulkarni, promotes math problem solving with  grid puzzles.  He also teaches short-cuts using algebra, divisibility rules, multiplication tricks, sets, Venn diagrams, factors, and other techniques.  Puzzle math is useful in some situations but not in situations relating math concepts to real world situations.  Very interesting!  Are you good at these puzzles?  Have you used them in T1?

Recreational and Educational Value of Math Puzzles.  Deepak Kulkarni.  7.5.13.  edutopia;%20no%20ad;%2040K%20throttle)%20remainder&utm_content=&spMailingID=6564005&spUserID=MjcyOTI0ODQzODgS1&spJobID=78576993&spReportId=Nzg1NzY5OTMS1

Think Time or Dead Air?

This excellent article gives teachers ideas to build in "think time" in lesson design.  So ofen silence is not "dead air" but golden as student minds process the material.  Excellent ideas for teachers to make connections.  Well worth your time to read.  Share your thoughts.

Planning for Processing Time Yields Deeper Learning.  Jessica Roake. August 2013 Vol 55. No. 8 ASCD Education Update

Are iPads Key to Teaching and Learning?

This article is not an "article" in the normal sense but an open forum where readers can ask questions, share ideas and solutions, and engage in conversation with colleagues everywhere.  Read what is already written and share your thoughts as well.

Are iPads Key to Teaching and Learning?  8.9 to 8.17,13 Education Week Teacher - Forums.

What's Happened to Spelling & Grammar?

Thought you’d be interested in reading this article published in the Milwaukee Journal, but originally written 8.10 and published in the Kansas City Star.  The article talks about the gatekeepers:  standardized tests, college essays that require standard English, etc.  Many of our digital natives are line sqigglers who fake actual spellings.  My thoughts: I'm guessing that our Title I kids don’t have as many digital opportunities as kids in more affluent families, but I could be wrong on that.  In either case we need to make our students aware that each as its place.

In rush to write, students leave spelling, grammar behind.  Joe Robertson. 8.10.13.  The Kansas City Star


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Video Games Studied to Be Learning & AssessmentTools

Not quite what you might expect but the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding serious brain research to discover how video games can help in complex learning and develop noncognitive skills  such as empathy.  Many questions to ask.  Interesting research.  Check out the embedded links.

Researchers See Video Games as Testing, Learning Tools. 8.6.13 Benjamin Herold, Madison, WI. Education Week.  Premium Article.

Can a new SAT Test Give Opportunity to Low Income Students?

The new SAT test due in 2015 will have many changes that will benefit students like ours in Title I.  New questions will require students to analyze data, draw conclusions from text and support arguments using factual evidence from literature, history, and science.  Sound familiar?  That's what we are doing in our vocabulary, close reading in Title I.  Not only that, but the new test will benefit low income students.
Read to find out more.  Be sure to share your viewpoint in the comments section.

Retooling the Test:  Can a New SAT "Deliver Opportunity" to Low-Income Students?  Ilana Garon. 8.7.13.  Education Week Teacher - View from the Bronx - An Urban Teacher's Perspective

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Power of Gestures

We've known for some time gestures are important for new ELLs to learn new words.  Earlier I posted an article relating how gestures help students learn Math.  This article is written for parents and was published in the Los Angeles Times by science writer Amina Khan.
As you read this article, think "teacher" instead of parent. You as a Title I teacher can do the same thing, especially for very young readers.  So many of us speak with our hands anyway - now is the time to think just how are hands are helping students read.  Excellent and worth your time.

Want your kids to learn more words?  Use your hands, study says.  Amina Khan. 6.24.13.  Los Angeles Times.,0,6140562.story

Tell us your stories about gesturing which teaching vocabulary.  Share and we will all learn.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ELLs: What Images Should We Avoid?

We know that images are helpful to ELL students and we use them frequently in instruction.  But....images associated with "home" make learning a new language more difficult.  The National Academy of Sciences with researchers from Columbia University and Singapore Management University published a study 6.17.13.  Interesting article that should affect the images we select for our students.

Seeing Pictures of Home Can Make It Harder To Speak a Foreign Language. Joseph Stromberg 6.17.13.

Have you noticed this reaction from your ELL students?  Tell us about it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who Should Do the Explaining - Teacher or Student?

All teachers want students to understand what they are learning.  Sounds simple doesn't it?  Kids can get the correct answers to many questions generated by teachers and by text, but do they understand why?  Can they explain their answers?  How to get deeper learning from our students probably means we as teachers need to do things a bit differently.  Habits form and are hard to break.  Excellent article for all of us.

Students Can Learn by Explaining, Studies Say.  Sarah D. Sparks.  6.5.13.  Education Week - Premium Article

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Digital Reading Products - How to Evaluate? Decide?

Teachers and parents are faced with a multitude of products that are designed to build early literacy skills.  How to evaluate them and decide what to use is a current question asked by many.  This article focuses on these questions which are not that easy to answer.

Evaluation Quality in Digital Reading Products.  Academic experts say teachers and parents are often left to determine educational value.  Sean  Cavanagh. 5.22.13 Education Week - Premium Article

In your experience at school or at home what product(s) seems to have great potential?

CC Improves High School English Curriculum - [Good for Middle School]

Although this article focuses on English classes in high school, the basic premise is applicable to most high school content subjects.  This is one teacher's account of how her classes have improved using fiction and non-fiction to bring the subject matter to life.  Students became more engaged and made connections across a variety of literary genere that she would have not thought possible without non-fiction.  I love her ending statements which are true also for the lower grades.
"Every time we turn on a television or a radio, every time we sit in front of a computer or open a book, we become consumers of the English language. We feast on words every day: fiction and nonfiction, accurate and misleading. The job of teachers is to guide students to be shrewd consumers of all types of language."
 A Happy Tale From a Common-Core Classroom.  Lyn Cannaday.  2.27.13.  Education Week - Premium Article.;postID=7090960038537158328

Tell us how you are able to combine both in your Title I classes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Teaching Online Research Skills is Critical

This is a must-read article that is essential for student success in using the internet for reading and gaining reliable information.  The stunning graphic summarizes online research techniques for students such as smart searching, finding the right search engine, and evaluating websites.  A great deal of attention is given to teacher/student dialog which is very helpful.

Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills - Improving web research tctics is a priority . 5.20.13 Leslie Harris O'Hanlon.  Education Week - Premium Article.

What errors have you discovered with your students?  What can you do to remedy the situation?
Share your ideas.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tips for Deeper Reading

In this excellent article, author Rebecca Alber recommends structured opportunities to engage with text in deep and meaningful ways.  She presents 5 great strategies which are described in detail in the article.  You may be familiar with some already, but together, they are powerful!
  1. Previewing Text and Vocabulary
  2. Reading with a Purpose
  3. Marking Text - [ Use sticky notes or bookmarks with writing space on them for materials that cannot be marked.]
  4. Making Connections
  5. Summarizing
Be sure to read the whole article.  The list of 5 strategies is thoroughly described.  Share with your colleagues the strategy that has worked the best with your Title I studets.

Tools for Teaching:  Developing Active Readers. Rebecca Alber 5.13.13. Edutiopia

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaching Nonfiction Reading Skills

The author Bill Ferriter is a science teacher working with teachers in Austraslia.  Regardless of his subject area, Ferriter presents nonfiction reading skills that he uses in his 6th grade classroom.  You will have to work a bit because all his behaviors and skills are downloadable through embedded links.  It is worth your time to do so.  They are excellent and are aligned to Common Core Literacy in History, Science, and Technical Subjects.  Our job as Title I teachers is to expose students to different nonfiction texts.  His downloadable handouts are used by the students during the reading process.

Teaching Nonfiction Reading Skills in the Science Classroom. Bill Ferriter. 5.20.13 Center for Teaching Quality CTQ

Essential Article for our Reading Teachers

Not only our teachers should be reading it but it would be an excellent idea to share it with classroom teachers in your building.  We've talked about online reading research skills before, and this article puts important skills in a nutshell.  I would be a good idea for students to have a copy of the article graphic in their folder or a larger copy posted in the room.  Improving student research skills is a priority these days and this article is a winner.  A must for all of us!

Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills - Improving web research tactics is a priority .  Leslie Haris O'Hanlon. 5.20.13 Education Week Digital Curricula Evolving.  Premium Article

Monday, May 13, 2013

Graphics - Are they helpful to students?

This is an interesting article that points out that graphics embedded in text or technology can interfere with student learning because of the "artistic" value of the graphic design.  "Pretty" doesn't enhance but can distract.  So when we encounter distracting graphics we need to point out the basic information the graphic is telling the student.  Please note the comments at the end of the article.  One in particular points out that a well designed graphic is to the point and "could be" pretty.

Study:  Prettier Charts Can be Harder for Students to Read.  Sarah D. Sparks.  5.9.13. Education Week - Inside School Research

Have you encountered this in your classes. Have graphics helped your students understand the content?  Share your thoughts below.

Scavenger readers? We have them.

Whatever comprehension skill we as teachers work on with our students, you can bet on the fact that some students are "scavenger" readers.  This article explains scavenger reading and helps teachers realize that sometimes their own strategies lead to this undesirable reading behavior.  What the article does teach us is that we can help students digest the information they are "reading."  The author explains 3 simple ideas:  1.  Keep it real; 2.  Question your questions; and 3.  Model.

Are we creating readers of scavengers?  Fred Ende. 5.9.13 Smart Blog on Education - Ideas that Work.

Make sure you read the many comments following the article and let's hear some of your own. Post them below.

Teach Attention Behaviors Before Using Technology

This article is important to educators and students as digital tools are incorporated in the learning process.  There are positives and negatives to these devices, i.e., tablets, but the key in maximizing their educational value is to teach students ways to focus their attention.  Digital tools of all kinds are here to stay with new ones not yet invented.  What becomes important is to define their educational purposes and teach students how to avoid negative distractions.  Students will be distract themselves anyway such as engaginbg in a more interesting ap, but that kind of behavior is predictable whether digital tools are a resource or not.  It's up to us to monitor that kind of behavior just as teachers did 50 years ago when only print materials and lectures were resources.

The Future of Tablets in Education:  Potential Vs. Reality of Consuming Media. 5.8.12 Mind/Shift

What do you do to focus student attention on the learning purpose of a particular medium, other than paper/print materials?  Share with us.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Interesting Take on the Value of Quizzes

Tranfer this article to your Title I class although the audience is more for adult classes and online courses.  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that interspersing videotaped lessons with quizzes improved students' ability to stay focused, take relevant notes and learn material.
As a former classroom teacher and student, I used quizzes with my studnets frequently to see if they understood the material.  Results often revealed what needed reteaching, a different approach, etc.
How do you feel about quizzes?  Sometimes beginning a session with a quiz from the previous session's topic can tell you a lot.

Science in Mind - One way to curtail a wandering mind during class:  more testing.  Carolyn Y. Johnson, 4.2.13.  Boston Globe.