Thursday, January 30, 2014

Helping Your Students with Close Reading

Here is a list of strategies from Great Books Foundation to help students develop close reading.  I realize you know some of them but this list of comprehensive strategies may give you new ideas.  Great concise article.

Turn Every Student into a Close Reader.1.29.14. Great Books Foundation

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Enjoy Your Job and Be Remembered

This teacher tells an interesting story that surprised her.  All teachers want to engage their students. We have many tech tools these days that can do this quite effectively.  But how about being inspired? The author says that the role of teachers have changed from the "sage on the stage" to the "guide on the side."  With various tools and many instructional leaders providing curriculum and guidance, we teachers have to be the caring human touch in the process and enjoy what we do.

Have fun, change lives.  Haphtali Hoff. 1.24.14.  SmartBlog on Education

Students Assess Themselves

Students need to know how to assess themselves and not depend on the teacher to assess them in everyday test or quiz situations.  Learn how this 3-colum method helps students analyze their responses.  Excellent system, especially for middle school students.

Helping students self assess.  Pauline Zdonek.  1.27.14.  SmartBlog on Education

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Is "Showing Your Work" Really Necessary?

Common Core Standards in Math changes the way teachers teach math.  Most teachers had been taught that students need to show their work.  However, Standard 3 states, "Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others."  This opens the door to how students can now respond.  This article is excellent and an important read for our Title I math teachers.  Please check out the embedded link by Marilyn Burns, Math Reasoning Inventory, and view the videos that model appropriate strategies when interviewing students. 

You Must Aways May Show Your Work. David Ginsburg. 1.22.14. Education Week Teacher

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sir Ken Robinson Talks About Curiousity & Creativity

Don't miss this video.  Again Sir Ken Robinson talks about American education.  This speech focuses on how our system is based on conformity and testing and neglects the qualities of diversity, curiosity, and creativity.  Excellent!

Sir Ken Robinson:  How to Escape Education's Death Valley.  Katrina Schwartz. 5.28.13.  Mind/Shift

Rekindle Creativity in Your Students

Young children are very creative and think so.  Older children don't think so.  Children lose their creativity as they get older.  Why?  Author, Jonah Lehrer is quoted in this article that as children compare their work (drawing, story, etc.) with other children, they become self-conscious and shut themselves down.  Read how Lehrer proposes to remedy this malady which will be helpful both to parents and teachers.

Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?  Annie Murphy Paul. 5.4.12.  Mind/Shift

Strategies to Develop Critical Thinking

Neurologist and teacher, Judy Willis M.D. shares brain-based strategies to make the shift toward critical appraisal of learning and assessment.  She explains that the shift will not eliminate the need for automaticity (as in basic math facts) and other foundational skills.  She lists important Executive Functions (EFs) and explains how teachers can use them.  The EFs are...
  1. Supporting Opinions
  2. Prioritizing
  3. Evaluation of Motive or Intent
  4. Organizing Time, Thought and Actions
  5. Cognitive Flexibility and Supporting Opinions
  6. Interpreting Source Bias or Accuracy
This is an excellent article and will help all our Title I teachers with this shift to Common Core expectations.  Also a great article to share with classroom teachers.

Beyond the Comfort Zone:  6 Ways to Build Independent Thinking.  Judy Willis MD. 1.10.14.  edutopia

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keys to Parent Engagement

Involving Title I parents, much less engaging them, is a huge task.  We try every year at every event and at every school to invite parents to attend. Yet our intentions are mostly unsuccessful in spite of interesting events, food, child care, hand-made invitations, and reminder phone calls. 
This article stresses and explains suggestions from Darcy Hutchins and Mai Xi Lee, guest responders to blogger, Larry Ferlazzo.  [I need to comment that Learning Exchange does not do home visits for security reasons if though they may be successful.]

Response:  Keys to Parent Engagement - Relations, Climate, Communication.  Larry Ferlazzo.

Let's Not Forget Skimming in Our "Bag of Skills"

Skimming is not the opposite of close reading.  It is the gateway to pull information out of text.  Sarah Tantillo tells of her experience observing a 7th grade class reacting to a teacher response to a student answer - a close reading descriptor with evidence in a passage 12 pages long - all in 3 minutes.  As she observed, she noted that the students did not know how to skim.  Asking the teacher for a "time-out" Ms Tantillo took over the lesson and taught the students the D.DAT strategy.  To find out more read her article.

Skimming:  The Overlooked Close Reading Skill. Sarah Tantillo. 1.19.14 MiddleWeb

Testing Done Right

We all know the current popular view of standardized testing : that it is negative, destroys morale, and other such horrors.  Jessica Lahey writes this article about researchers, Henry L. Roediger III and William James (in 1890) who promote the advantages of testing and their applications to educational practice.  Be sure to watch Roediger's video presentation at Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching in 2012.  Your comments about testing would be appreciated below.

Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less.  Jessica Lahey. 1.21.14.  The Atlantic

Relationships Matter the Most

Our students come to our classes with a variety of life stories, many tragic and troublesome.  Our students are more than numbers and data; let's not forget them as individuals.This moving article will stay with you awhile and I'm sure you'll agree that the author speaks the truth.

Let's not lose perspective. Tom Murray. 1.21.14.  SmartBlog on Education

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fun Strategies to Practice Collaboration & Communication

Besides academic preparedness, we know that success after high school depends on key skills.  When a student is developing a career or attending college, collaboration and communication skills are essential.  In this article Rebecca Alber offers strategies that are fun for students and help develop those important skills.
How can teachers help prepare students for this eventuality?  She offers strategies in these three areas:
  • Strategies for Mingling
  • Strategies for Listening
  • Practice Persuading
Common Core in Action:  Why Collaboration and Communication Matter.  Rebecca Alber. 1.16.14. edutopia

Getting to Know Those Hard-to-reach Kids

You win when you get to know your students and what they feel is important. Heidi A. Olinger, author of this article offers quite a few ideas to help you 'get inside their heads.'  The payoff is increased cooperation and engagement in classwork which didn't seem relevant to their lives.  She gives a creative example of force in physics making the analagy of a young girl's Crush on another boy.  Read further for those details.  (Hard to come up with a more relevant analogy.)

To Help Students Learn, Appeal to What They Value.  Heidi A. Olinger.  1.15.14.  edutopia

Friday, January 17, 2014

You Can Teach Imagination

Resilience and imagination are connected.  The author, Kevin Washburn,  uses visualization to describe the underpinnings of resilience.  Picture a tripod with its 3-fold support:  One leg is imagination and the other two are reflection and attention.  The author walks us through four strategies that trains the imagination.  Excellent and sometimes surprising. 

Teaching resilience:  Imagination.  Kevin Washburn. 1.15.14 SmartBlog on Education

First Minutes in Class - Great Vocabulary - Reading Activity

Many teachers struggle with those first minutes in a period when business is conducted like attendance.  Kim McCready, author of this article, has used the same type of opening activity for years but kids became bored and did the minimum required.  McCready searched for other opening activities which you will read about in this article.  What about you?  Have you done something similiar?  Different but with great success?  Share your ideas below in Comments.

When Bell-Ringers Go Bad:  My Quest to Deepen Start-of-Class Activities.  Kim McCready.  1.15.14.  Education Week Teacher

Is Poverty Really an Excuse for Poor Education Outcomes?

Angel L. Cintron Jr, author of the following article presents two sides to this important question.  Yes, it does.  No, it does not.  Both views have anecdotal evidence to prove their point of view.  After reading this article, you too should come to some type of conclusion along with your teaching experience in Title I where so many of our students are living in poverty.

Poverty & Education:  Meaningul Discussions or Misguided Diatribes?  Angel L. Cintron Jr. 1.17.14. Education Week - Finding Common Ground

Deeper Learning - A Critical Need For Our Students

It is not surprising that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)  showed that United States 15-year olds are medicore in performance.  What is troublesome is that our U.S. children are not learning to make critical decisions and applying what they have learned to tackle complex problems.  This is what is meant by deeper learning.  An earlier post entitled Comprehension Plus eluded to this too.  It is important not only to learn a skill but to think critically and apply it to other situations and problems.  This article describes the need for deeper learning that we all are trying to achieve in our Title I classes.  What it does not do is advise teachers with strategies to accomplish that.  But given the talent of our staff, we know what to do.  Our kids will be much better thinkers!

New international exam results show U.S. must back changes to help students develop deeper learning.  Bob Wise and Barbara Chow.  1.15.14. The Hechinger Report

Early Readers - Which Digital Device Helps the Best?

Ever wonder about mobile devices for very young children?  Which device is the best?
Our Title I teachers in kindergarten and 1st grade may be interested in this article.  Very interesting and not so surprising.

Engaging with Ebooks Can Aid Children's Literacy, Study Finds.  Karyn M. Peterson. 1.15.14.  The Digital Shift - Library Journal

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Comprehension Plus

We use a reading book series entitled Comprehension Plus which defines the nature of the article in this post.  Do we really want students to just understand the text they are reading or should we want more?  In this article, Janice Silva examines a historical piece from an historian's point of view, not as student reader who understands text after reading it.  Yes, I believe we need more and from what I hear from our Title I teachers, some students are going beyond mere comprehension.

Can We Go Beyond Comprehension?  Janice Silva. 11.19.13  November 2013. ASCD Educational Leadership

Study Strategies for Middle Schoolers

Dori Desautels from Marian University discusses brain based study strategies for middle schoolers.  She lists skills to be mastered in middle school before the more taxing subjects in high school.  Her example of baking a cake is easily understood by this age group.  I like the beginning of her next description - studying for a math test.  Instead of getting down to business right away, she wants students to write down life stresses they may have and take deep breaths before they actually study.  Interesting.

Brain-Compatible Study Strategies.  Lori Desautels.  11.18.13.  edutopia

Friday, January 10, 2014

Teaching Academic Language

This is another excellent article for teachers of reading.  The authors gives specific strategies for teaching academic language.  Useful, not only to mainstream students, but to ELLs as well. Have you used any of these strategies in the past?  What new strategies might you try with your students?  Share your thoughts in Comments.

8 Strategies for Teaching Academic Language. Todd Finley. 1.2.14. edutopia

Customize Reading Experiences Using Technology

This article discusses varied reading purposes and matching the right technology to meet those purposes. Examples:  (1) Reading to study which requires annotation. (2)  Struggling students having decoding difficulty. This article is a "must read" for teachers using technology in their reading classes.

Creating a Custom Reading Experience with Mobile Devices.  Beth Holland 12.9.13.  edutopia

Make Discusssions Dynamic

We all want to have interesting discussions in our classes, don't we?  Lots of discussions end up boring.  But how to make them exciting everyday and keep the students' interest high and inviting?  Dr. Richard Curwin presents 5 ways to design discussions that are guaranteed not to make your students fall asleep.  Excellent!  Now share your experiences with your colleagues.  Have you tried these in the past?  Do you have other ideas to share?  Please use the comments section.

5 Ways to Make Class Discussions More Exciting.  Dr. Richard Curwin. 12.10.13.  edutopia

How to Help Kids See Algebra in Their Lives

Algebraic expression writing.  What's that?  In most schools this subject is difficult for struggling students to learn because they don't see it connecting to what is relevant in their lives.  This article stresses personalization of subject matter so that students understand connections.  Toward the end of the article the author gives examples of turning story problems into algebraic expressions.  Other examples use shopping, computers, food, music and cell phones.  The power of interest drives learning is the author's mantra.

In Teaching Algebra, the Not-So-Secret Way to Students' Hearts.  Katrina Schwartz. 12.9.13.  Mindshift

Thursday, January 9, 2014

How Do You Know That?

Students of all ages are expert at reading their teachers faces when they have answered a question.  They know immediately if they are right or wrong.  Well, you can change that with a simple question, "How do you know?"  When students are asked to explain their answers it gives clues as to their level of understanding and also encourages others to enter the conversation when asked by the teacher.  Read this insightful article by a teacher who uses this strategy.  Excellent! 

Road Tested / Making a Habit of "How Do You Know?"  Jennifer Orr.  December 2013. ASCD Education Update

PBS Math Enrichment Program

Some of our Title I teachers are familiar with PBS programs for children. An Education Department- funded study of a math enrichment program for early learners from economically disadvanaged background has shown promise.  Read about the the 3 control groups in the study, particularly about the introduction of digital tools.

PBS Math Supplement Boosts Math Skills for Young Children. 11.27.13.  Education Week - Early Years

High School Math Teachers -- Take Note

Many Title I students in high school will not be going on to college.  Realistically, they will enter the work force and some of them will become independent from their families in a short time.  Are they prepared to deal with the demands of real life?  While our program does not deal directly with financial literacy, many problem solving experiences in Title I can very well include various scenarios.  Real this excellent article for ideas.

Real Life Math Class Helps Cassia Students.  Jay Michaels. 12.5.13.  KMVT.Com.  Twin Falls Idaho

Printed Books vs E-Books

Another survey came out about preferences young people have about reading books.  This one is from the UK.  A Scholastic survey noted the same result.  Result?  Print books won.  Read this article to find out why.

In a Digital Age, Print Books Find Favor With Young People.  Anthony Rebora.  12.4.13.  Education Week Teacher

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Early Education Needs Embedded Math

The embedded link at the end of the article is of great value.  The link takes you to a pdf file with many ways to infuse math in the early years of a child's education.  Don't miss Douglas Clements's video who explains all the ways children use mathematics in play that seemed to have to downgraded to "socialization" in kindergarten  Our role as teachers is to build on those play experiences that are examples of math.

Researchers Explore Ways to Embed Math Learning in Early Education.  Christina Samuels.  12.12.13.  Education Week - The Early Years.

How Potty Training Helped this Teacher Celebrate Success

Mental images you might have from this blog title may be funny.  Yet this author compares the celebratory behavior his wife uses with his son learning to use his little potty chair.  How the author compares this celebration to celebrating successes in the classroom is humorous but induces the author to consider how to recognize achievements better with his students at school.  I hope we do these things with our Title I studnets who need praise so desperately.

Celebrate Success.  Kevin Parr.  12.13.13.  ASCD Inservice.

Many Ohio 3rd Graders Face Retention

This article is somewhat controversial.  Some districts are adopting the same approach - Pass the 3rd grade reading test or face retention.  I posted an article the other day that challenged the prevailing wisdom of K-3 being the years studentts learn to read and 4th grade begins the reading to learn process.  After reading both posts, reflect on your thinking and share with your colleagues.

Many Fail Third-Grade Reading Test.  Catherine Candisky.  12.11.13. The Columbus Dispatch

Changing the Outcome for Special Education Students

Baltimore has a 1-year policy for students with disabilities who have IEPs.  Long overdue, IEPs can be structured so that students with disabilities can achieve educational goals with much more rigor.  Most students can achieve a 1 year's growth with the exception of students with several cognitive disabilties.  This model should be taken to heart by other districts seeking more challenging services. Excellent read for our Title I students with students with disabilities in their groups. They can and they do!.

A Promising Academic Model for Students With Disabilities.  Candance Cortiella and Kalman R.Hettleman.  11.13.13.  Education Week.

Questions That Teachers Should Ask About Student Engagement

This excellent article written by Robert J. Marzano is a pathway to engaging students.  He presents 4 questions that teachers should ask themselves.  Each question is carefully explained with specific examples by modeling key behaviors and understanding the psychology behind them.  Well worth your time to read and reflect on your own answers to Marzano's questions.

Art and Science of Teaching / Ask Yourself:  Are Students Engaged?  Robert J. Marzano. March 2013 ASCD Educational Leadership

Friday, January 3, 2014

Reading To Learn Starts at 4th Grade. Really ??

For decades, educators have been taught that K-3 were the years that children learned to read and that 4th grade was the turning point when children read to learn. Common Core calls for a shift in that thinking.  Making that shift maybe harder for teachers than for children.  Countless research studies show that children are highly engaged in the world around them. What better way than to read and write about those engaging topics.  Nell K. Duke the author of the following article presents seven ways that primary classrooms use informational text effectively.  Do you use any of the 7 practices in your Title I classes?  What worked for you.  Share your thoughts in Comments.

Starting Out:  Practices to Use in K-3.  Nell K. Duke. November 2013. ASCD Educational Leadership

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Motivating Students' Minds

Although this article is based on interviews with hundreds of teenagers, we can assume many younger Title I students fit the same pattern.  And what is that pattern?  Most significant learning is usually not happening in the classroom.  The obvious next step for schools to look at school curriculum and find the places that inspire and motivate students to learn. From the University of California - Los Angels Center for Mental Health comes this idea in equation form...
            V    x        E          =        M
        Value x Expectation = Motivation
Researchers used this equation to analyze lessons presented to the research group.  There is so much more in this article.  Please read and reflect on what your Title I students are seeking in the lessons you offer.  Share your reflections in Comments.

Minds on Fire.  Kathleen Cushman. December 2013/January 2014.  ASCD Educational Leadership

Essentials for Mastery

Catlin Tucker shares 5 Musts for Mastery, prerequisites for mastery learning to happen.  Tucker states that we can master a concept or skill but that is not the endpoint.  Absolute mastery is out of reach;  there is no dead end in learning.  His '5 Musts' may seem surprising to you, but in reality they are not 'mastered' but are important for real learning to take place.

Five Musts for Mastery.  Catlin Tucker.  December 2013/January 2014.  ASCD Education Leadership.

So Many Ways to Interpret Mastery

We all have slightly different interpretations of what it truly means to master a skill.  Our math and reading programs are skill based and we test for individual mastery.  But what actually does that mean to the student, to the teacher, or to the parent.  This excellent article deals with these issues and more.  Not to be missed!

How Good is Good Enough? Grant Wiggens.  December 2013/January 2014.  ASCD Educational Leadership.