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