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  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx

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 Daily.com

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.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/110077.aspx

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