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