Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Students Need Time to REFLECT

Common Core requires us to provide deeper learning opportunities for students.  Our fast-paced society seems to demand speed everywhere and in every thing we do.  But how can we possibly expect our students to reach those deeper levels if we don't provide reflection time?  This article describes the author's experience in a class discussion. He quotes noted Paolo Freire's idea stating that reflection is an essential part of learning and of becoming an agent of change in the world.  Wonderful!  This is an important article for all teachers at all academic levels to read.  Have you experienced time to reflect yourself in teaching?  Describe your experiences below in Comments.

Let It Marinate:  The Importance of Reflection and Closing.  Joshua Block.  4.28.14.  edupopia

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Do We Need to Teach Conversational Skills?

Subtitle, "Students' reliance on screens for communication is detracting - and distracting - from their engagement in real-time talk." is the focus of this article.  That concept is important, I believe for many students in many populations depending on devices to communicate.  This article is excellent and should be read by most teachers.  My question, however, given the nature of our Title I population living in poverty is, "Do our students have personal communication devices to use?  This is a balancing act we teachers need to take - teach digital communication skills, but not forgetting conversation.  Both are equally important in the real world.  How would you conduct a job interview without good conversational skills? Would you get that job? 

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Student Researches Effects of Social Media

This article is most interesting because it discusses a 17 year old girl's graduation research project at school --researching the negative effects of social media on teenagers.  You need to read this to appreciate her findings which are quite revealing about what is happening to more than a few young people today. Lexi Duley chose this topic because she became aware of changes in herself.  Her research shows a number of disorders stem from spending too much time connected to technology.  This might be a good topic that could engage our teens in Title I classes.

Student examines negative effects of social media on teens.  Aurelie Krakowsky. 4.15.14.  StarNews Online in North Carolina

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What Parents Wish You Knew plus Conversation Starters

This is a fantastic article and one I hope lots of teachers take the time to read and reflect.  The parents in our schools reflect our society with some difference in economic status, but not much.  Every home situation is different states the author Dr. Joe Mazza....parents not living together, grandma raising the children, families without transportation, single mom with 3 jobs, moved to the US from a foreign country, both parents working so schedules for conferences are difficult, and so on.  Do any of these sound familiar to you?  They should.  Dr. Mazza recommends more listening to the needs of our families than offering one-size-fits-all solutions on our part as teachers.  His last 2 sentences are classic. "Working toward a strong home-school partnership is hard, and you should never feel like you've reached the summit. This work is ongoing."
Please read this article and reflect.  We'd enjoy reading your comments.

12 Conversation Starters on What Parents Want You (Teachers) to Know.  9.24.13.  edutopia

Do You Have Students Who Get Stressed Over Testing?

Lori Desautels explains how we as teachers can use 6 brain compatible strategies to help our students manage stress during testing days.  These strategies should become useful as we are close to the final days of MAPS testing. 
     [It has been my own experience with testing that some students simply don't care if they do well or not, mainly because they don't understand the nature of high-stakes testing.  On the other hand, these same students do become very stressed when testing involves masteries, end-of-chapter or unit tests.  Why?  They understand their grade depends on their performance.  So to me, there are tests and there are tests and the important thing is how it affects student perception.]

Survive and Thrive During Testing Season.  Lori Desautels. 4.4.14. edutopia.

Let's Teach Students the Reality of Mistakes

Ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Malcolm Gladwell's main idea of the 10,000 rule is that it takes that many hours to become expert in most any field.  Work does lead to expertise, but what kind of work are we talking about?.....deliberate practice. Mistakes are the most important thing in the classroom because they tell you what to focus on in deliberate practice.
Kids, however, don't think this way.  Students think about their mistakes emotionally.  Some kids, like the lion in this great article picture, want to hide their face.  So it is us, as teachers to give students a different perspective on their mistakes.
Excellent article.....love that lion!

Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes. Hunter Maats and Katie O'Brien.  3.20.14. edutopia

Scaffolding Your Lessons

Rebecca Alber, author of this article presents six scaffolding strategies you can use with your students.  Without scaffolding most of your students will be fumbling and guessing what you want them to do, regardless of the content.  "Scaffolding" and "Differentiation" are often confused.  Scaffolding is what you do before students work, breaking down the task into chunks, providing an understandable structure for students to use. Differentiation, on the other hand, is a completely different approach....perhaps using a different text, or altering a writing assignment that might follow.....tasks that a child can do successfully. Both require a good understanding of students.
     You may have tried some of the scaffolding strategies yourself, but others you may not have tried.  It's always good to remind ourselves of these powerful techniques, familiar or not.  It is just plain good teaching which is what this blog is all about.

6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students.  Rebecca Alber. 1.24.14. Edutopia

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How To Evaluate Online Information

Interesting findings in this article. 770 seventh grade students from two states were interviewed and 70% were more interested in finding relevant information online than on its level of accuracy, reliability and bias.  This article presents 4 dimensions of critical evaluation.  Each is explained thoroughly and strategies are given to assist the teacher with the students.
  1. Dimensions of Critical Evaluation
  2. Modeling and Practice
  3. Prompting
  4. Things to Consider as a Healthy Skeptic
It is more important than ever for students, in fact everyone, to learn how to evaluation online information.  Anyone these days can say anything and if its inaccurate, but relevant, to the searcher's purpose, it is often quoted as expertise.  So it is in everyone's best interest to learn to evaluate online information.

Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information. Julie Cairo. 4.7.14.  edutopia

Monday, April 7, 2014

Use Virtual Field Trips for Deeper Learning

Field trips offer students actual experience in what they are learning in book-based content in school.  Actual field trips may not be feasible because of budget concerns but a plethora of virtual field trips have come on the scene that teachers can use to enhance students' learning.  This article lists many possible avenues.  Check out the numerous resources and you'll be certain to find one to suit your purposes.

Engaging virtual field trip apps, resources.  Laura Devaney. 3.26.14.  eSchool News

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Financial Literacy for Time-Squeezed Math Teachers

Math teachers have a heavy curriculum, as you know.  It's hard to squeeze in other important subjects but financial literacy is important to students even to middle schoolers as they ponder how much to manage the money they do have, which is probably not much.  This article  presents some lesson ideas and resources you can use.  Please follow the embedded links for ideas for middle and also for high schoolers.  There are even 30 financial education games students can play on their own time.  What resources do you use as a busy math teacher to address financial literacy concerns? Enter your ideas in Comments below.

Revolution, Responsibiity and Football:  Teaching Financial Literacy to Middle Schoolers.  Brian Page. 3.28.14.  edutopia

WOW - Look at These New Kinds of Schools!

Although Pat's blog is supposed to be strategic, I couldn't help but publish this article about 3 imaginative school models.  Administrators threw out the rulebook and fundamentally changed the nature of their schools.  Quite dynamic changes occured that you'll have to read about in order to appreciate. You may have heard of them.  I'll name the schools but won't attempt to describe them.  At the end of each description, there is a sub-heading, 'What You Can Steal.'
Please comment on your impressions below.

Spark Academy,k Lawrence, MA
Public middle school
A.Kevin Qazailbash, principal

Howard Gardner School Alexandria, VA
Private middle and high school
AErick Johnson, head of school

The Odyssey School, Denver
K-8 charter school
Marcia Fulton, executive director

Reimagining Schools.  Calvin Hennick. Spring 2014.  Scholastic

How Did the U.S. Perform on the International PISA test?

In this article you'll see all the countries and scores for 15 year-olds who took the PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment) in reading and math.  The US improved slightly in the problem solving part of the text, but as you can see we have a long way to go.  Follow the link to see sample questions.  New in the exam are interactive questions using a computer.  Not everything was paper/pencil.  Interesting and some surprising analyzes.

US students rank better internationally on new problem solving test than they do on conventional math and reading exams.  Jill Barshay. 4.1.14.  Hechinger Report - Education by the Numbers.

Attention Math Teachers!

There have been many discussions about common core reading/language, but fewer discussions about math.  This article goes beyond discussion into probable assessments for math standards. PARCC and SBAC  are desiging the new assessments. This article is a 'must-read' especially for teachers of high school math.  Excellent!

The Common-Core Assessments:  What Math Teachers Need to Know. Allllllison Wright. 3.5.14
Education Week Teacher

Tips to Build Student Confidence

As children proceed in the grades, content can become overwhelming.  So much is new, unfamiliar, and "hard."  How to help kids gain confidence in their study and remember what they are learning is the focus of this article. The authors offers 4 strategies to help.   It ends with a humorous video from "Happy Days."

4Tips to Build Student Confidence.  Matt Levinson.  4.2.14. edutopia.

Friday, April 4, 2014

This School is Devoted to Mastery Learning

Not quite like ours because we have mastery learning in our core programs but we also must comply with the demands of MAPs tests in reading and math.  In this school teachers don't give typical grades;  A, B, C, etc. and don't believe in standardized testing.  Wonder how such a school would go over here in Milwaukee...don't think so, but what a great concept! 
[This school is in Massachusetts.]

Thinking Outside the Box:  Fall River's New Mastery School for Independent Learning Focuses on each child.  Lauren Daley.  4.4.14.  South Coast Today

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Giving Voice and Choice to Students

Have ;you every been asked a question by a student that you don't know anything about?  What was your response?  Might have been " I don't know."  Then because you are such a 'wonderful teacher', you then asked, "Who knows something about this that they can share?"  Now you've got the ball rolling......
The author of this article proposes 5 ways to get that ball rolling in transforming the learning space you share with your students into a place where you serve as facilitator and guide, presenter or instructor.  This artical is not to be missed because all of us, I'm sure have been in this postiton sometimes.
After reading the article, please post you comments below.

5 Ways to Give Your Students More Voice and Choice. Rebecca Alber.  3.31.14. Edutopia. 

Excellent Model of Project Based Learning in the Classroom

It's always good to read about excellence even though the scenario isn't ours in Title I.  However, I envision something similar with 6 students actively involved in a project that is important to them and for whom they are working.  The last part is important.....picking a project that has potential excitment, both on the part of the student and teacher and then for the receivers of the project.  This is real word stuff and lucky are the higher schoolers taking part in it.
Read it in appreciation for what it is and invision an similar application for our TI classes.

Controlled Chaos:  Project Based Learning.  Meredith Licht, Everyday Education. 3.31.14. The Transylvania Times