Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Use the Right Internet Search Tool

This amazing article is a must-read, not only to help students, but for teachers!  Using the internet to do research is an essential skill in the 21st Century.  Most of us use Google to look "things" up but this article points us to other alternatives which might be better choices.  There are many embedded links to these research tools.  Read to learn how to search more effectively.  Excellent! 
Be sure to let your colleagues know your thoughts in Comments below.

Teach Your Students The Right Way to Google.  Kelly Maher.  11.24.14.  eSchool News

Monday, December 15, 2014

How Student-centered is My Class?

We all have different ways and options to teach our students especially in how to use the new "stuff." Instead of focusing on methods and "stuff" we should focus our questions on how best to enhance the student's learning. Author, George Cource asks a few reflective questions which are questions for you also.   Cource expands on each.
  1. Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?
  2. What is this student's passion?
  3. What are some ways that we can create a true learning community?
  4. How does this work for our students?
The author points out every teacher's dream...."After their time with us and have a deeper understanding of how they learn, they will be able to continuously grow after our time with them."

5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator.  George Cource. 12.14.14. Connected Principals

Instruction in 2015 -- -What will it look like?

We have seen many changes in instruction over the past few years, but do we foresee in 2015?
This article highlights what we can expect, so teachers, "Get Ready!"  What we have already seen will become more entrenched.
Here are some highlights about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom...
  • Student-driven learning
  • Greater individual attention
  • Smarter use of data
  • Differentiated PD
A note to the readers of this blog.  I'm sure there are areas in which you need support and encouragement.  There are over 400 posts in this blog with many articles and research reports dealing with these issues.  Please feel free to look them over as a part of your own personal PD.  As always, after reading the article below, come back and share your Comments with your fellow educators.

Outlook on instruction:  Class around the clock.  Jessica Terrell. 12.14.  DA District Administration

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Yes, You Have Students WithTrauma.... How to Help in Class

A recent study, a collaborative effort of the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego reported an alarming increase in students living and/or surviving trauma who have adverse experiences in their development along with trouble in the classroom.  Neena McConnico, Director of Boston Medical Center's Child Witness to Violence Project indicated that one in every 4 students currently sitting in American classrooms have experienced a traumatic event and the number is even greater for those living in impoverished communities!
As teachers of students living with trauma, what are some strategies that we can employ to help?  We can help students cope, learn, and heal from effects of a traumatic childhood.  How? 
The author of the following article lists and explains several powerful strategies that you can employ.  This article is an important must-read for all teachers in all kinds of districts because you have some vulnerable students in your classroom.
Please read the article and then share you thoughts in Comments below

How Teachers Help Students Who've Survived Trauma.  Jessica Lahey. 12.2.14.  The Atlantic.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Your Own Habits May Contribute to Behavior Problems

Teachers may not be aware that their own habits could be affecting classroom management.  This article by Jennifer Gonzalez is quite insightful and it will be enlightening to see if some of her bad habits could also be yours. Gonzalez expands on each habit and offers alternatives. 
  1. Smiling at the Wrong Times
  2. Handling Problems Publicly
  3. All Sound, No Sight
  4. Not Waiting for Quiet
  5. Making Students Choose Between Listening and Reading
  6. Only Speaking in "Don'ts"
  7. Taking Too Long
  8. Staying Up Front
  9. Focusing on the Problems
  10. Taking things Personally
Excellent article!  Not to be missed.  After reading the article, please share your thoughts in Comments below.

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management.  Jennifer Gonzalez.  11.23.14. Middleweb

"Minecraft" for CC Math - With and Without Computers

Sometimes we want to search for a game that is good practice for CC math, but alas, most of them are digital only.  That's fine if our students have access to digital devices during class, but that is not always feasible.  Minecraft, on the other hand has practice puzzles and games on computer but also without digital devices.  The following article lists and explains great ways to use the game in your CC math classroom.  Excellent!  After reading the article, share ideas with your colleagues in the Comments below.
  1. Let students create their world.
  2.  Create your own visual, conceptual math world.
  3. You can use Minecraft, even without access to computers.
  4. Minecraft is just one creative tool in the toolbox.
  5. Let the dog drive ---at least sometimes.
  6. Use Minecraft to help change your classroom culture into something students love.
6 Minecraft lesson ideas for your Common Core math class.  Jim Pike. 12.1 14.  eSchoolNews

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Most Challenging Standards in CC Reading & Math

This interesting website identifies the most challenging standards of Common Core Reading and Math.  Results are based on a study of 750,000 students.  Not only are the most difficult standards identifies, there are sample lesson plans available that address them.
Use the top tab to select reading or math.  Examples are for elementary and middle school.  If your school wants to purchase more lessons, there is a sample review copy available for you.

Curriculum Associates-Wisconsin. website  2013.  Curriculum Associates

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WANTED--Trusted Reviews of Computer Games!

In the ever-changing world of online educational games, teachers are seeking trusted resources from which to choose games for their students.  Remember "The Oregon Trail?"  Obviously dated back to the 70's, that game still is remembered for students in that generation.  Never since has a game been so popular.  With a plethora of games available today, students want fast, flashy games, but teachers and parents want an educational value for them.  This article is interesting, but the meat of it is reference to Graphite that offers a review of digital games. 

Oregon Trail computer game lingers, amid a slew of new educational games.  Nichole Dobo.  11.26.2014.  The Hechinger Report

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Get Students to Discuss, Debate & Collaborate

As teachers, we know that our students need practice in the 21st Century Skill - Communication & Collaboration.  So often they remain silent, give one-word answers and prefer the much sought after digital method.  This wonderful article lists and explains a dozen ways you can get your students talking in the classroom - and this from a math teacher!
Excellent! - a must read especially for math teachers.  Share your methods to stimulate conversations in Comments below.

12 Steps to Get Students Talking.  Lorraine Jacques.  11.13.14.  ASCD Express - Talking and Listening in Class.  Vol. 10.

Understand What Text-Dependent-Questions ARE and Are NOT

Students misunderstand what text-dependent-questions are and answer in a variety of ways.  Teachers also misinterpret how text-dependent-questions are defined and answered also.  Read this article for a clear understanding of this important Common Core skill.  Don't miss the excellent list of "Follow-up Questions" that you, the teacher can ask of your students.

Tackling the Misconceptions of Text-Dependent-Questions.  Ryan McCarty.  11l13.14.  The Teaching Channel.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Power of a Checklist

We adults all know that checklists help us keep track of things that need to be done.  How great it is to be able to cross out those that we finish!  We should teach our students how to use checklists to manage their own workload.  This article explains many reasons to make and use checklists.  The responses from students are very interesting.

Common Core in Action:  The Power of a Checklist.  Heather Wolper-Gawron. 2.7.14. edutopia

Conversation - Essential 21st Century Skill

This article is appropriate for the "haves" and not for the "have-nots."  What I mean by this are those students who have digital gadgets, particularly cell phones.  This article presents this amazing statistic.  According to the Pew Research Center, one in three teens sends over 100 text messages a day!  Only 33% regularly talk face to face.  Given that knowledge, is it any wonder so many teens have such trouble with conversations?  Students need to know that there is no more important 21st Century skill than being able to sustain confident, coherent conversation.

My Students Don't Know How to Have a Conversation.  Paul Barnwell.  4.22.14. The Atlantic

What is "Close Reading"?

What is "close reading" all about?  It's is the CC standards but never mentioned elsewhere.  The objective, in case you haven't figure it out, is COMPREHENSION.  For details, read...

A Critical Look at the Close Reading Standard.  MiddleWeb. 9.28.14.  MeddleWeb.

Common Core Math Standards for ELLs

Common Core math requires explaining solutions and relationships, constructing arguments, and critiquing the reasoning of others. While challenging for many students, these expectations are much more difficult for ELLs.  It is very important to include math language development for ELL success. It is the teacher's job to look for the "mathematical sense" in the ELL student's expression and then build on that.  The author suggests the use of visuals - diagrams or illustrations - along with math vocabulary really helps.  ELLs make language visible and that helps all kinds of students.

Common-Core Math Standards Put New Focus on English-Learners.  Anthony Rebora. 11.12.14. Education Week.

Math in the Real World - Middle Grades

What an amazing website! Designed for the Middle Grades.   Everything a teacher needs to apply math in a variety of real world applications:  Each of the following "Worlds" has articles, lesson plans, Web links, and other supports. 
  • The Biological World
  • The Physical World
  • The Social World
  • The Political World
  • The Financial World
  • The Creative and Artistic World
  • The Constructed World
Tell us what you have found and how it helped your students in the Comments below.

Real World Math - Articles, lesson plans, and activities for the middle grades. NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)

When Parents Read With Their Children, Not all is Good!

We've always thought that when parents read with their children, this helps to promote literacy growth.  Well, guess again!  This article lists 6 ways parents inadvertently hinder their child's reading growth.  Read this article to find out why.

6 Ways Parents Stunt Child Literacy Growth.  Jennifer Davis Bowman.  11.14.14.  ASCD Edge

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Keeping Early Enthusiasm Alive All Through the Grades

We've all experienced the reluctance for students beginning in 4th grade for coming to school.  Yet how different that was for those kids starting school in Kindergarten!  This article outlines 10 things schools can to do make things exciting again.  Not all ideas may pertain in your situation, but I'll bet a few do.  Let's try!

10 Ways to Create Engaging Schools. 11.5.14.  Laura Devaney. eSchool News

Effect of Internet Filtering in Schools -

Teachers often complain that websites have been blocked in school so that students cannot access them.  Censorship varies according to school/district criteria.  Obviously we don't want our students exposed to pornography, but other overzealous filtering can have an effect that divides the 'haves' from the 'have-nots.' Such filtering takes away the opportunity to teach students the critical thinking skills they'll need to discern the good from the bad.  Excellent!  Worth your time to read.

What's the Impact of Overzealous Internet Filtering in Schools? Kathy Baron.  6.26.14. Mind/Shift

Where Do the Good Jobs Come From?

This article is a must read for high school teachers who help prepare their students for post high school education.  Will it be a 4 year college degree, and associate degree, or a worker certificate in a community college?  What do federal government loans and Pell grants cover?  Surprising changes in the real world haven't computed with the old time perception of post high school college transitioning to great jobs.

Study finds higher-education is a 'minefield'.  Eric Schulzke, 11.4.14. Deseret News National Edition

Some Skills Taught Better Through Gaming

Gaming offers the excitement of competition and a clear promise of rewards for accomplishments. It can also help prepare students to win in the real world.  What skills are we talking about?  Dian Schaffhauser explains 5 gaming skills in detail.  Each skill has at least one game example you can try to see if it would work in your situation.
  1. Connecting Physical Experiences with Learning
  2. Rising to the Competition
  3. Working as a Team
  4. Grasping Systems Thinking
  5. Compromise and Ileration
Perhaps other skills come to mind when your students play digital games.  Share them with us in Comments below.

5 Skills That Games Teach Better Than Textbooks. Dian Schaffhauser. 11.5.14. THE Journal - Transforming Education Through Technology

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teens Without Their Devices! My, Oh My!

This is a funny, yet revealing article, about a small group of teens in Alaska who gave up their cellphones for 1 week.  Parents had to OK the project - no texting, tweeting, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Skyping, YouTubing, or emailing.  Could these kids survive?  I won't summarize the article.  The kids reactions are priceless and should teach us, the adults, what they rediscovered.  Not to be missed!

Teens challenge themselves to put down cellphones.  10.29.14. Kris Capps.


Motivate Without Rewards

We all want our students to learn intrinsically but so often kids think in terms of rewards in order to achieve.  We're not talking just prizes, snacks, etc., but also grades.  We would like kids to learn and master difficult concepts.  Author, Linda Flanagan, says that often children lose confidence in themselves because the adults in their lives make decisions for them.  Interesting article and certainly one worth reading.

How Teachers Can Motivate Students of Any Age.  Linda Flanagan. 10.22.13.  MindShift

Great Parent Conferences!

We all know that when parents are made to feel welcome and when conferences are mutually satisfying, parents will be back again.  This article is amazing and still more amazing is the mid-article graphic that you can click on to view an older parent conference article written by the same author.  There you will find 101 tips to great parent conferences.  Obviously, you won't need all of them but a few, I'm sure will spark an interest.  We, who work in the Title I population see only a handful of parents for a number of reasons.  But our research has pointed out that the school must be a welcoming place free of judgment.  This article is a must-read especially for you in schools with poor attendance at parent conferences.  Share you own experiences.  We'd love to here from you.

Report Card Comments and Parent Conferences Made Easy.  Genia  Connell.  10.29.14.  Scholastic – Top Teaching Blog


Saturday, October 25, 2014

You are Better than "Digital Natives"! '!

It's time to dispel the notion that those "digital natives" in your classroom are better with technology than you are.  A recent study of middle school teachers from New York and Utah discovered through observations and teacher focus groups that students use technology differently than their teachers.  Students are fluent in using technology for entertainment and communication.  Teachers, on the other hand, use technology to solve problems.   Teachers help students in using technology to develop sophisticated thinking.  Excellent article and one that should make you feel a whole lot more confident!

Report:  Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students.  Dian Schaffhauser.  10.22.14. THE Journal - Transforming Education Through Technology

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ideas to Engage Families Living in Poverty

For a variety of reasons, schools in high poverty areas have difficulty engaging parents. It is important to discover the barriers preventing parents from becoming involved.  By forming a focus group of parents, schools can discover more details and begin respond to them.  Make sure your school is a welcoming place.  Begin addressing concerns by providing solutions to help remove those barriers.   Here is one school's story.  Perhaps one or more ideas would fit your school's situation.

Road Tested / Three Ways to Engage Parents in High-Poverty Settings.  Tiffany Anderson. Sept. 2014 Education Update ASCD

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Toddlers: Books or E-Readers?

This New York Times article today is another in a cluster of articles asking which is better for young children - e-readers or print-books.  Research does tell us the early language acquisition is of great importance and is the foundation for developing reading skills.  Parents, teachers, and pediatricians are struggling to find the answer.  Child development experts have long asked that parents read to their children early and often.  Now the question becomes a bit complicated - digital media has entered.  Too much screen time has other disadvantages - not just language acquisition .  The jury is still out.  Read the article and reflect on different viewpoints.

Is e-reading to your toddler story time or screen time?  Douglas Quenqua. 10.12.14. New York Times

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Are Paperwork & Other Duties Eating Up Your Time?

These days teachers have so much paperwork and administrative tasks. Many say little time is left to attend to the teaching/learning life of the classroom.   District regulations, test procedures, state level data requests, and many other building duties eat up valuable time. Yet we do it all!  We plan.  We differentiate  instruction.  We engage students by getting to know them academically, socially, and emotionally. What is left over?  Are we fully prepared to meet the new demands of Common Core Standards that we will be held accountable for? 
This article describes the life of many teachers who may have left the profession because of time demands beyond their ability to manage.  How do you manage your time? Please offer your opinions in Comments below and feel free to remain anonymous

A Teaching Reality Show:  Paperwork vs. Priorities.  Mary Tarashuk. 10.8.14. MiddleWeb


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Qualities of a Good Mentor

If you want a mentor or are a mentor yourself, here are some qualities that are essential for a good working relationship.  This applies to coaching as well as a PD activity - mentorship under a different term.
Author, Kimberly Long lists describes eight qualities that are essential. I'll list them here but please read the entire article. 
  1. Respect
  2. Listening
  3. Challenging
  4. Collaboration
  5. Celebration
  6. Truth
  7. Safety
  8. Empathy
Share your experiences with your colleagues.  What do you remember most about your mentor relationship(s)?

Eight Qualities of a Great Teacher Mentor.  Kimberly Long. 9.30.14.  Education Week - Teacher


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Interesting Survey About Common Core Implementation

The last 2 sentences are ones we should definitely remember....."Teachers don't shy away from a challenge, but they need support.. "We need to listen to them because nobody knows teaching like teachers."
This CC survey was underwritten by the publisher Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  To summarize results 68% of the respondents said implementation was going well, up from a year ago.  But 81% of the teachers indicated CC is challenging to implement.  For more details please read the article.
How do you fit in?  Are you adapting to CC?  How challenging is it for you?  What kinds of support would be welcome?  Please share your views in the Comments section below.

Survey:  Common Core standards working well.  Greg Toppo. 10.2.14. USATODAY

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's The Downside of Oral Reading?

If oral reading is part of your daily reading instruction, then you are not alone.  Richard L. Allington, long-time expert and author of this article states that oral reading does not improve comprehension.  What does?  Silent reading.  Since silent readers read much faster than oral readers, the reading volume is so much lower for oral readers.  This is not what we need for struggling learners.  Allington also stated that most teachers ask low level questions and are not skilled enough in asking higher level questions that are suited for discussion.  Excellent article that reading teachers should think about and adjust their practices if needed.

Reading Moves:  What Not to Do.  Richard L. Allington.  October 2014 Volume 24 Educational Leadership.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How are you with student questioning? Do you answer your own questions?  Do your students understand what you are asking?  Too Easy?  To hard?   Could you use some tips?  This article presents excellent model questions that you can ask students.  All contribute to the deeper learning asked for in Common Core.  Do you have other questioning strategies that work for your students?  Share in the Comments section below.

5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students.  4.13.13.  Rebecca Alber.  edutopia

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Helping Middle Schoolers Improve Basic Literacy

All of us who have taught older students with severe literacy issues can identify with these challenges and appreciate the strategies that Beth Morrow offers in this article.  Ms. Morrow also teaches ELL students at this level and has to face daily decisions  ---literacy skills?  content knowledge?  She suggests 7 practices that will definitely improve literacy and ease anxiety. 
Excellent article!  Not to be missed.  Have you used any of these practices before in your classes?  Share your comments below.  Offer other ideas to colleagues as well.

Seven Considerations When Developing Adolescent Literacy.  Beth Morrow. 9.16.14.  ASCD IN SERVICE

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Books for Kids - Educator Favorites

It's helpful to know what books are popular with students today.  Read "in" or "out" of the classroom frequently read books are important to educators today.  This article rates some of the favorites and gives a brief explanation of the content.  It's great to know a current book list for recreational reading.

What are kids reading in class?  Educators rate some of their favorites. Brian Nordli. 9.11.14.  Las Vegas Sun

Your PLCs --- How Effective Are They?

Your school probably has professional learning communities (PLCs) to collaborate with colleagues.  This article presents some interesting views about different structures and time allotted for PLCs to meet on a regular basis.  The author asks important questions regarding your school's structure.  To me, the most important one is...."Does your PLC believe that teacher learning translates into student learning?"  Now I am a blogger and no longer in the classroom.  I would certainly be a transformed teacher today because I have learned so much by reading and reflecting on the many articles I offer you in this blog.

5 questions every PLC should consider. Paul Barnwell.  9.12.14.  SmartBlog on Education

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ways to Build Relationships With Students

Positive relationships among teachers and students are fundamental to student performance.  This article presents 6 short videos that model different aspects of relationship building. Intended for middle-schoolers, the ideas shown certainly translate to other ages.  Perhaps you would like to try some.  Do you have other ways you'd like to share? If using this post with other teachers at your school, I suggest the sidebar questions on the webpage as a guide.  

Video Playlist:  6 Ways to Build Relationships with Students.  Elizabeth Weiland.  9.8.14.  Teaching Channel

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Use Technology Successfully For At-Risk Students

This article is a summary of the full research report  - "Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students' Learning" by Darling-Hammond, Zielezinski, and Goldman.  The research was done at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.  The authors present 5 recommendations which are thoroughly explained..
  1. Districts should aim for 1-to-1 computer access.
  2. Internet speed matters.
  3. At-risk students benefit most from highly interactive technology.
  4. Schools should encourage students to create their own content.
  5. Blended learning works.
The full report is downloadable for you.  See the link at the end of the article.  Also, please review the wonderful graphic - Digital Learning Ecosystem.  Your comments would be appreciated by your colleagues in different types of schools and districts.

Report Details 5 Keys to Using Technology to Help At-Risk Students. Christopher Piehler. 9.10.14. 
THE Journal - Transforming Education Through Technology


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paint Chips For instruction?

Many thanks to the Teaching Channel for this creative idea!  Unless you know of a store giving away quantities of paint chips (and I don't) you might want to adapt (as we teachers do) and make our own.    For whatever reason, this article was written as a vocabulary activity for students in grades 9-12, but I certainly think it would be successful in primary grades using various decoding skills.  The essence of the activity is that that the top paint chip is given - in this case a target synonym -  the students then write synonyms underneath the target word.  I can easily see this used for affix practice.  A target root word is given and students then write the word adding prefixes and suffixes underneath.  Your imagination is the limit in how you might engage your students!  How cool it would be for collaborative learning and sharing!  You'll enjoy this article & 2minute video.  Please suggest how you might use it for your students in the Comments below.

Vocabulary Paint Chips.  9.14.  Teaching Channel

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Routines to Support Math Thinking

This article sponsored by the Teaching Channel is a result of a veteran teacher watching a video series presentation by the Teaching Channel.  She, as well as other viewers, probably have wondered how the those teachers in the videos got to the point where students became independent learners.  Author, Lily Jones, examines those requirements and offers 6 routines for you to set up a supportive math environment in your class.  So that you are aware of the videos please view the Teaching Channel  video series link with the American Federation of Federation. Videos are short  - about 3 minutes each.  Jones's mantra is "Organization" and divides it up into 6 routines.  Read the article and assess where you are in her recommended routines.  Please offer your thinking in Comments below.

6 Routines to Support Mathematical Thinking.  Lily Jones. 1.16.14 - published 9.7.14.  The Teaching Channel

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jump In & Learn a New Tech Tool!

I love this article.  William Gibson states, "The future is already here - its just not very evenly distributed."  How true.  You can't wait until things stabilize.  They won't.  "The only way to make sense out of change", says Alan Watts, " is to plunge into it,  move with it, and join the dance."  This article is about how to do that.  Excellent!  An article not to be missed.

How to Integrate Tech When It Keeps Changing.  Todd Finley. 8.27.14. edutopia

Ideas to Consider in Picking Games

This is an excellent article with some good advice.  I laughed to myself when I read that game creators do not consider the time it takes to play.  This is the #1 concern for teachers!  There is only so many minutes in a given period to play.  The author describes short and long form games.  Please do not miss the embedded links, especially MindShift's Guide to Game-Based Learning.  This is the most important part of this article.  Many excellent thoughts and examples for you to consider when choosing games for your students.

Need Help Picking the Right Learning Game?  Some Things to Consider.  Jordan Shapiro.  8.29.14.  MindShift

Monday, September 1, 2014

How To Connect With Parents

Especially important at the beginning of the year, is the first contact with parents, whether by phone or at conference time.  Elena Aguilar, an experienced leadership coach, recommends that you ask parent questions.  We tend to tell parents what the students could expect from yourself, the teacher.  What is more helpful are key questions to ask parents.
Ms Aguilar shares 7 questions and explains her rationale, both as a teacher and also as a mom.  Not an article to be missed.  Excellent!

7 Questions to Ask Parents at the Beginning of the Year.  Elena Aguilar. 8.18.14.  edutopia

Teachers : Is Your Room Designed for 21st Century Learning?

How is the furniture arranged in your room?  Does it support collaboration among peers?  Easy to access communication technologies?  Flexible enough to meet different learning styles?  Long gone are the days of stationary desks in rows facing front to the teacher, of course.  For some great ideas read Emily Vickery's article offering interesting insights from designer, David Jakes.
We'd be interested in learning what ideas you might try or have already used in your classroom.  Share your thoughts in Comments below.

Are You Hacking Your School's Learning Spaces?  Emily Vickery. 8.17.14.  MiddleWeb

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Award Winning Links by Smart Brief

Smart Brief Education awards monthly content winners after researching thousands of sources each day. This article lists the winners from January through July 1914.  I can't list them all here, but I'm sure at least one will interest you.  Be sure to check them out.  Links are embedded, so explore.  Comments are appreciated below.

Editors Choice Content Award: July - Connected Teaching and Learning. Melissa Greenwood. 7.31.14.  SmartBlog on Education.

What is SEL? Why is This So Very Important?

To answer the first question in the blog title.......SEL= Social & Emotional Learning.  Why do you ask is this topic included in a blog that focuses on academic achievement for struggling learners or other students in classrooms?  I asked that question too until I read this article and watched the powerful video - a speech by Trish Schaeffer at TEDxUniversity of Nevada.  Research has shown that children who have been taught social and emotional skills have increased their standardized test scores by 11%ile points.  It pays attention then, I believe, for us to learn more.  SEL is grouped into 5 competencies: 
  • Self-awareness,
  • Self-management,
  • Social awareness,
  • Relationship skills,
  • Responsible decision making.   
These five skills then become the foundation for the 4Cs of 21st Century learning....
  • Critical Thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity

2 vital components for true college, career readiness.  Steve Saul and Daniel Jhin Yoo. 6.9.14. eSchoolNews

Our 1,000-year-old math curriculum - You're kidding me!

Yes, math curriculum in our U.S. schools is 1,000 years old.  Many teachers continue to teach math concepts with old style calculating procedures, solving equations, and doing geometric proofs.  Nothing wrong with that but......why?  That is the question today's teachers must address for their students --- mathematics in terms of conceptual thinking and abstraction.  To learn more, please read Edward Frenkel's article and click on the link below.  He is a mathematics professor at UC Berkley and the author of Love and Math:  The Heart of Hidden Reality.

How our 1,000-year-old math curriculum cheats America's kids. 4.29.2014  Edward Finkel. eSchoolNews

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Skills Are Essential for Our Future Citizens?

Judy Ellis, MD writes this article as both a neurologist and as a teacher.  She has good answers to those questions we often ask ourselves....."What else besides the standards should I be teaching my students in order to be successful citizens?"  It's their future and yes, the standards are important but there are other essential skills that will become important as they take on challenges and opportunities that we can't yet even imagine?   I could list her 6 tips here, but you need to read her rationale for a more complete understanding.  Please enter your opinions in the Comments below.

Preparing Your Students for the Challenges of Tomorrow.  Judy Willis, MD.  8.20.14.  edutopia

Arne Duncan's Wonderful Message to Educators

How good it was to read this article!  I hope you do too.  All of us work very hard to provide the best possible instruction for our students - whole classrooms or in targeted assistance small group Title I classes.   Duncan has been listening to teachers about many things - Common Core, new standardized tests, time for test prep, and so on.  I won't spoil the article for you with too much advance discussion.  But what a breath of much needed air!.  Thank you Arne Duncan.

A back-to-school conversation with teachers and school leaders.  Arne Duncan.  8.21.14. SmartBlog on Education.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Math - When Do Children Stop Using Fingers?

New brain science helps explain how finger counting shifts to memory formation.  MRIs of childrens' brains show changes in the hippocampus activating neurons as the brain matures.  Scientists do say, however, that more work is needed to study the brain in other memory based math skills, not just counting.  Interesting....

Developing brains switch maths strategies. Helen Shen.  8.17.14.  nature - International weekly journal of science.

Gaming - A Better Learning Experience

For a long while "educational" games were more fun than educational.  Times have changed and you should take a second look at what gaming can do. True game-based learning uses intrinsic experiences and moves away from a more simple extrinsic rewards-based system. Today, game developers identify the concept or content students should learn and in conjunction with 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, and communication.  Excellent article that should persuade you to re-examine gaming.

Games:  The new learning experience.  Laura Devaney. 8.18.14.  eSchoolNews

Monday, August 18, 2014

Power Up Your Field Trips!

Many classes go on field trips - to a farm - to the zoo - art museum - to an historic site -.  For too many classes, this is a day for fun, an escape from school.  And sadly, teachers go along with it too.  Some years ago, I did my masters' research paper on field trips and I went around with many classes of students, from all different kinds of schools and all different age students.  Most classes went for fun and surprisingly the site docents didn't do very much either to make it an learning experience.  The result of my research ended in providing field sites and teachers with an instructional model so that these excursions can be powerful learning experiences.  In our organization, Learning Exchange, we use this model for our summer school field trips.
     I also want to mention that some schools cannot afford the cost of transportation and admission to some sites.  In many cases, representatives from the site will come to the school.  Also, if nothing else works, we now have internet access to a number of national sites that offer field trip experiences.  All field trips require teacher preparation.  These can be powerful learning opportunities.  Make the most out of it.

Hope the following model is useful to you.  Offer your opinions below in Comments.
                                                                                                                                     Pat Hinske

                                                   Field Trip Instructional Model
Field Trip Organization

Teacher Planning
·   Pre-visit desirable, but not essential

·   Conversations with Site Personnel
  •  Guided/Unguided
  • Teacher materials from site
  • Student Activity ideas – Locate a pre-reading selection.
  • Opportunity for students to ask questions during the experience.

·   Transportation

·   Chaperones

·   Other logistics


Administer a pretest with basic background knowledge and key vocabulary.
Background information
    From Site
    From websites
    Pre-reading selection 
          about site

Develop Lesson Plan
  • Important vocabulary and major concepts
  • Form questions with students to discover or ask about on the site.
  • Develop observational purposes/tasks for the “During” phase. 


All students should have an observational task that engages their attention and for which they are held accountable.
Consider pairing students together during the trip.
Tasks should have “differentiation” in mind.  Plan tasks at about 3 levels (because of different ability levels).
  •  What all students should observe/
  • What some students should observe 
  • What all students would like to find out or learn more later.

·   Share/discuss observations that may include conversations in class or at home.

·   Review key vocabulary and concepts.

·   Collect documented observations.

·   Share students’ personal perceptions, attitudes, thoughts or viewpoints about the site.

·   Share questions students may offer about what else they would like to learn.

·   Administer post-test and measure differences in scores.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Help that Really Troublesome Kid

Read this story about Justin and what his teachers did to finally turn him around.  He certainly was in a lot of trouble at school.  Hopefully, you don't have students like Justin but we can all learn ideas about what changed him to a become a responsible, friendly student.  Read about Melissa, Joshua, and Charles - all with significant issues.  We as teachers can transform futures by building relationships with students, even the most difficult ones.

Building Relationships That Transform Futures.  Rachel Garfield.  8.14.14. ASCD EXPRESS.  Making a Difference, Volume 9  Issue 22

Teachers Are Speaking Up. Do You Agree?

We all have opinions about teaching and are tired of hearing the same old, same old....what should happen....what we need to forget....what research says....critical thinking advice.... what is good instruction  and many other forget-me-nots.   Interesting article that I'm sure you may agree at least on one thing.  How would you like President Obama, Arne Duncan, and Melinda Gates walk into your classroom?   I feel sorry for the poor student who is undoubted embarrassed in this article photo.

Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers.  Valerie Strauss.  8.14.14.  The Washington Post.

College Admission Games

This article is for high school teachers although you'd never guess that by looking at the young man in the article photo.  Maybe the way to start is in middle school.  There are many games and types of games described in this article, all of which are engaging and helpful to students who want to attend college after high school graduation.  I won't attempt to list them all here.  An excellent read and recommendation for students for in-class or personal time.

Gaming the College Admission Process.  Mathew Farber. 8.8.14.  Edutopia

Teachers & Administrators - What Matters?

This article is about trusting relationships between teachers and their principals.  I would like to include all administrators in this "principal" group because depending on the school, responsibilities can be divided among several administrators.  This is an excellent article for both kinds of employees.  We should all be reminded of the essential 15 things described by the author, Ryan Thomas.
An extra bonus at the end of the article is a downloadable Principal Coaching Guide.

15 Things Every Teacher Needs from a Principal. Ryan Thomas. 8.14.  ASCD Edge.

Screen Time? How Old? How Much? What Kind?

We all have questions about screen time, not only for our students in class but for our children at home.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 years old get no screen time at all.  For older children 1-2 hours of electronic media per day.  In school, teachers need to ask themselves how and when electronic media is used.  Justification for its use needs to be determined and then to leverage the efficiency of digital tools that best serve our young learners.
This is a most interesting article and should be read by all teachers because we are all required to use digital tools in our classes.  Just how, when, and why are important questions to answer.

Screen Time That's Valuable For Young Kids.  Jordan Shapiro.  8.8.14.  MindShift

Khan Academy Doesn't Have to be "Boring"

Teachers who use Khan Academy in their classes should read this article.  If not thought through students will say, " Oh, those videos are so boring!  Not again, please!" 
Read this article to get fresh insight in how you can use KA more effectively.

Revisiting Khan Academy with a Clean Slate.  Eric Patnoudes.  8.8.14.  EDTECH - Focus on K-12

Collaborative Learning More Powerful than Solo Learning

"Great inventions, solutions, and technologies are always supported by a group of people." This is the first sentence of this article.  What an implication it has!  Technology has helped the collaborative effort.  No longer do people have to sit and collaborate in the same room!  The author mentions the "study cages" she experienced at the University of Wisconsin.  You have too, I'll bet.  How many of you have learned the benefit of collaborative learning?....perhaps your students more so than you.  PLCs in your school are an interesting popular PD example.  This article is not to be missed especially for you doubters out there.

Say YOLO to Studying Solo:  The Power of Collaborative Learning.  Becky Splitt. 8.9.14. EdSurge

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Can You Minimize Digital Distractions?

Digital devices are keenly interesting to young people.  They love nothing better than to try this and then that, fingers and thumbs flying at numbing speeds.  We do know that unless you restrict how and when students use their devices in class, distractive behaviors will result.  Here's what you can do......

How to minimize digital classroom distraction.  Kyle Albert.  8.14.14.  eSchool News

Are You Tired of All Your Problems? What to Do?

Problems, problems, problems.....everyday here at school, most everyday at home!  This special article by Jim Dillon understands problems and peoples' various reactions toward solving them.
Make no mistake.  Problems are here and everywhere.  Learn Dillon's approach and evolution from problems to problem solving to education.  He even quotes a Zen Buddhist saying...."the obstacle is the path.'

No problem with problems.  Jim Dillon. 8.13.14. SmartBlog on Education

Are You Comfortable Using all the New Technology?

We've all heard that the young teach the old in many ways.  No truer statement is that than in the field of technology.  We have so many digital tools now.  What is being asked of you as a teacher?  Are you familiar enough to work comfortably when you should be? I'm not in the classroom right now, but my answer would be a resounding NO.  If you are like me in your feelings what can you do about it?
This article will help and then go for it!  Be part of the 21st Century!

Simple ways to achieve fluency in classroom technology.  Matt Renwick. 8.13.14.  EDTECH - Focus on K-12.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Not Enough Time to......??

Although I am not in the classroom anymore, I do identify with teachers who feel there is not enough time in the work day to........(and the list starts, including reading this blog)  Here is another article that will help you find that time and become more efficient in your work day.  If you are one of these teachers, then this article is for you.  Don't miss it!  Share your thoughts after reading it in the Comments section below.

10 time management tips for teachers.  Benjamin Schrage.  8.5.14.  SmartBlog on Education

Remember the "Audience" Concept?

What a gifted writer - Terry Heick!  I can see why he is now an English teacher.  All of us at one time or another in our past schooling were taught the concept of 'audience.'  Who is going to listen to me?  Who is going to read this?  What is important to that person?  Why should I be the person communicating?  All of these reflective questions are the basis of Heick's article.  As teachers we need to be reminded that the students we see every day are our audience.  Are we reaching them?  How can we tell?
Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Audience and Purpose.  Terry Heick. 8.8.14. edutopia

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mandatory Financial Literacy?? Texas is Leading the Way

How I wish more states would mandate the teaching of financial literacy!  We are supposed to teach relevant content and life lessons.  Understanding how money works is an extremely important life lesson.  Better to start young to make good choices and take care of money.  Interestingly, the first financial lesson is in Kindergarten with lessons on getting money as a gift versus borrowing from someone.  Along through the years, students will learn supply and demand, calculating income tax, interest rates, and loan lengths.  WOW!  Now this is certainly relevant to today's world.

Area educators equipping themselves for financial education - Financial literacy now mandatory.  Andrew Atterbury.  8.7.13,  Standard-Times

Is Summer Your Time to Relax & Recharge?

Hopefully, teachers can use the few weeks of summer to relax, recharge, and ready themselves for the rigor of school and home responsibilities.  It's not easy, is it?  One way to maintain balance throughout the year is to recall the matrix presented by Steven Covey in his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."  Then Look at the embedded link. Wheel of Life.  This powerful graphic tool can be arranged to fit the important roles and people in your life.
Share your ideas about balancing your own life in Comments below.

Maintaining Balance.  Naphtali Hoff. 7.21.13  SmartBlog on Education

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Do Employers Advise Educators?

The message is loud and clear - job applicants need to show individuality, confidence in their ability, communicate personal strengths

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How Do YOU Make a Difference?

Read this amazing article from Salome Thomas-El who tells his personal story of teachers who made a difference in his own life. He grew up in tough circumstances.  He says teachers are "saving Private Ryan every day."  That influence is so important because it may be that the teacher becomes a mother, a father, a counselor, a  life coach.  His teachers (40 years ago) knew that failure was a part of becoming successful or students would become complacent.  Interestingly, Salome hails the value of playing chess, for in that game, the player becomes the thinker, the mathematician, and the innovator. He promotes chess in every school for those reasons. This article is not to be missed.  Absolutely excellent!

Making a Difference Every Day:  A Conversation with Salome Thomas-EL.  Naomi Thiers.  June, 2013 Volume 71. Educational Leadership

Gaming's Learning Benefits

Interestingly, earlier today I posted an article that questioned whether digital tools affected attention.  This article, conversely, describes the benefits from playing educational games in the classroom. The author, Laura Devaney, compares gaming to museum visits.  Both experienceas she claims are: interactive, open-ended, varied and age-appropriate, and provide immediate feedback.  All of this is in the context of FUN.  Excellent article.

4 Ways games make it 'OK to play'.  Laura Devaney, 8.4.14.  eSchoolNews

Technology - Tool for Learning or Distraction to Police?

This article raises an important issue - distraction of digital tools that effect attention.  If we as teachers are to foster deeper learning, we need to give students sustained practice and awareness of focus.  Many students are living in the world of multitasking, multiple-screens, headphones, games, social media and apps - all at once.  Some students, depending on their family's economic status, may not have the means to own these devices, but they have them on their wish-list.  The author of this article, Paul Barnwell, is determined to provide more technology-free lessons this next year.  How do you feel about this?  Technology has certainly opened doors, but at what cost we need to ask.  Please offer your thoughts in Comments below.

Digital distraction in the modern classroom.  Paul Barnwell. 8.1.13.  SmartBlog on Education

Making Plans....for Yourself!

We teachers are very used to making lesson plans for our students - goals, resources, discussion points, assignments, etc.  BUT, have you ever made these kinds of plans for yourself?  Without an organized self, how do we expect to deliver organized lessons to our students.  Read this thought provoking article.....(and plan a weekly visit to Pat's  blog - Teach to Make a Difference - joking of course)

7-Step Prep: Make a Weekly Plan for YOU!  Mala Heyck-Merlin. 8.1.14. Edutopia

Monday, August 4, 2014

Are You a Transformational Teacher?

What do you think a transformational teacher does?  I'll bet you have some of these traits, probably not all.  We all need to ask ourselves, "What can I do to make myself a better teacher?"  This article may help answer that question.  Todd Finley presents a wonderful set of characteristics that all of us can work toward.  Join the discussion and let us know what you think in Comments.

4 Big Things Transformational Teachers Do.  Todd Finley.  7.28.14.  edutopia

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Do Readers Read to Learn?

We've all heard the mantra....By 4th grade, readers read to learn and learning how to read is not an issue.  With this mantra we're not talking about struggling readers.  However, in this article, researchers are discovering that for many readers this shift is not clear cut at all.  Donna Coch who heads the Reading Brains Lab at Dartmouth College did brain research to find out when automatic word recognition starts.  Automatic word recognition is important because the brain needs resources for comprehension, not word recognition.  Interesting....Read the full article for more details.

Learning to Read May Take Longer Than We Thought. Anya Kamnetz. 7.26.14.  nprED.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaching Math to Struggling First Graders

The newer CC methods to teach math using hands-on materials, whole body movements, and discussions of different strategies are not working well with struggling very young children.  Guess what works?  The old fashioned way...drill and practice!  The newest research published in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis studied methodology used in teaching young struggling students.   What was effective was traditional teacher directed instruction.  Read the whole article for details.

Right and wrong methods for teaching first graders who struggle with math.  Jill Barshay. 7.21.1014. The Hechinger Report.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

ELL Education: Best Practices from Exemplary Schools

This well researched study analyzes how highly effective schools with high ELL populations provide instruction that results in excellent performance in state states.  ELLs in 5 states were examined (California, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Mexico).
Findings include these characteristics...
  • Explicit instruction
  • Interactive learning environments
  • Collaborative learning for language and reading
  • Student engagement in culturally relevant lessons
  • Teachers certified in bilingual or ESL or large number of highly trained staff
  • Professional development:  effective instructional strategies
  • Greatest challenge:  parent-school connections
Read summary findings and obtain the full study on Colorin Colorado website - an excellent source for ELL information of all kinds.

Effective Practices for English Language Learners.  Rivera, David J. Francis, Magdalena Fernandez, Ani C. Moughamian, Julia Jergensen, Nonie K. Lesaux; Center on Instruction. 2010

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wrong Message Parents & Teachers Are Sending Our Kids

ASCD 's new initiative is the "Whole Child."  Maybe we should pay more attention to that initiative  because a new study from Harvard University reveals that adults' main messages to children are achievement and happiness but not character education or empathy.  We adults may mean to encourage moral development of children, that's not the message they are hearing.  The author of the study, Richard Weissbourd, said he was surprised by the results.  The study does have some positive statements, however.  Parents are recommended to provide opportunities for caring as part of daily living.  Parents also are recommended to help their children channel negatives feelings.  Talking is not enough.  Teachers in school can also model these behaviors.

Why Kids Care More About Achievement Than Helping Others.  Jessica Lahey.  6.25.14. The Atlantic - Education.,

What Are You Doing for PD This Summer?

Is PD on your agenda this summer?  Like most teachers, we relish time off, yet.....  The teaching profession, like most professions, require people to keep current with issues, strategies, and trends.  When do we do this?  During the school year, after a hectic day at school, weekends which you'd like to spend with family, friends, and relaxation, if possible?  Summer, on the other hand, is a good time to reflect on your past year....what was good and what could use some work.  Elena Aguilar, prominent blogger, read a book called Play by Stuart Brown where he espouses the value of play as a chance to lose ourselves, become more innovative, and a way to bond with other others.  There is plenty of scientific evidence showing that a lack of play in childhood can lead to significant problem behaviors in adulthood.
Read this article and then go outside and play...throw that ball to your kid and jump with joy!
Wonderful article!

Summer Professional Development:  Play! Elena Aguilar. 6.28.14. edutopia

Here's a Lesson From Baseball

Are your students motivated?  Why Not?  In today's world, 'learning to learn' in a school setting may not be all that exciting, but in a sports setting, Yes!  Although the Giants are not my favorite team (And I'm a baseball fan; thank you Brewers for a wonderful season!), here's a lesson we can all learn from.  Teachers:  Use this with your unmotivated students.  They may connect with Tim Lincecum and what he has gone through. (Or if you are a Brewer fan, there are stories here too; your kids will know them if you don't.)

What We Can All Learn from a No-Hitter.  Sherri Devine. 6.26.14. Tch TeachingChannel

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Amazing Listing of Teacher Approved Apps

Just what we were waiting for!  This article, written by tech savvy librarian Katrina Schwartz, includes a most extensive list of apps voted the best by educators across the country.   Katrina has grouped them in different categories so that teachers can best locate an app most suitable for their purposes.  I can't begin to list all the apps but here are the categories...  Search and you shall find!
  • Digital Storytelling and Presentation Tools
  • Video Tools
  • Photo Editing
  • Augmented Reality
  • Reading Engagement
  • English Language Arts
  • Commenting Tools
  • Coding
  • Note taking and Organization
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Social Media
  • Apps for Educators/Librarians
  • Miscellaneous
Apps That Rise to the Top:  Tested and Approved by Teachers.  Katrina Schwartz. 6.11.14.  Mind/Shift

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Key Interventions Teach the Brain to Learn

Young children are not wired at birth with important neuro functional systems.  But with the right kind of interventions done at young age we can change a child's educational future.  It is also true that interventions for high school students can also help them learn better.  The adolescent brain goes through enormous change and because of the brain's plasticity, changes can occur to encourage the health of the brain.  Much is being studied at the present time, but we do know that physical and cognitive exercises are good for the health of our brains, no matter the age.
Interesting article.

Teaching the Brain to Learn.  Greg Thompson.  6.2.14.  theJournal - Transforming Education Through Technology

A Lesson For Teachers and for Parents Too

Can we save our children from struggle?  Should we?  Of course not, though many of today's parents try to remove all such obstacles so their children will always succeed.  (You've heard of those helicopter parents coming to job interviews with their college graduate sons or daughters. Yikes!)  Some teachers show their students what was wrong before they even knew they had made a mistake.
This article tells the author's own story which is rather humorous.  Hope you enjoy it and learn to let the kids struggle a bit.

Struggle is a natural part of learning.  Austin Kassinger.  6.6.14. The Washington Post

Are You a Trainer or an Educator?

Think about the title of this blog entry.Yyou might not be able to tell the difference so easily.  Rather than defining the differences here, you need to read this article first, then answer the question in the title.  Maybe you are a bit of both...let's see.

Education builds character.  Jim Dillon. 6.9.13. SmartBlog on Education.

Deeper Learning - Key to College & Career Success

Read how a small charter high school in an immigrant section of San Francisco promotes deeper learning in preparation for a portfolio defense needed to graduate.  The school offers opportunities for students to practice 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking, working collaboratively and developing a "learning to learn" mindset.  Leon, daughter of immigrant parents from Nicaragua, tells her story, one that is leading her to college, a path she never envisioned.  She and other graduates feel that deeper learning has prepared them better to meet educational and career paths after high school.

Deeper Learning Inspires Dreams of the Stage.  Peter Schurmann. 6.9.14. New America Media - Education