In light of the recent election results, if you teach children, or have children, you most likely have noticed some emotions, frustrations, or fears come to the surface. In response to feedback from parents, families, and community members in our area, the school district has responded by providing additional training for teachers and school staff on recognizing bullying, and what to do about it. It is hard not to care, but what may be even more challenging is how to help and support students. That is why I would like to share a valuable resource that has helped me as an adult, and has classroom resources for you as a teacher as well. Bullying, and many other topics of identity, immigration, and much more are addressed by Teaching Tolerance (A Project of the Southern Povery Law Center). There are lessons, articles, and professional development available at their website: www.tolerance.org. You can follow them on facebook, and even sign up for their free email newsletters by clicking HERE. Empower yourself with tools and resources to help show students that your classroom, your school, and your community are a safe space for all students.
Mistakes are GOOD!
Did you know that when an individual knows they made a mistake, their brain grows? This is why feedback is so important. If you do not realize the mistake has been made, then your brain can't grow nearly as much. According to Jo Boaler, "Studies of successful and unsuccessful business people show something surprising; what separates the more successful people from the less successful people is not the number of their successes but the number of mistakes they make, with the more successful people making more mistakes."
So how do you help students see the value and importance of making mistakes?
In Mathematical Mindsets, Jo Boaler shares the idea of another teacher who would start class by asking students to crumple up a piece of paper and throw it at the board with the feelings they had when they made a mistake. Then, students retrieved their paper, smoothed it out, and traced all of the lines of the wrinkled paper with markers, and all of these lines represented brain growth. Students kept this as a reminder.
It is also important to not send the message that mistakes are bad, or negative, by taking points off for making mistakes on homework. Switch it up, give MORE points for mistakes.
Stop Motion Animator
Explore making movies with your students while integrating technology! A colleague of mine recently explored making his own stop motion animation on a chromebook in order to explore how to use the Stop Motion Animation app from google with his students. The Makerspace For Education Website has a wide variety of downloadable resources, from how-to, to handbooks, digital storytelling and lesson planning! Explore the website and resources by clicking the link above!
This would be great for an afterschool club, drama class, art class, reading, and more! Checkout this piece from ISTE for more on how to "Engage Elementary Students with Stop Animation!"
Share your Stop Motion Animations below! :)
What is it? Check out more about Desmos HERE! Sign up for free and start assigning and creating activities.
There are already activity bundles for Linear, Exponential, Functions, Linear Systems, Quadratic, and Modeling. Yes, this is for math, BUT don't tune out just yet, there is also a Card Sort option that can be used for any content area.
Make your own activity or card sort, with detailed how-to videos below! If you don't want to make your own, there are plenty pre-made available for you to use as-is, or adapt and use with your students by clicking HERE!
You may be thinking, "It's the week before break and I'm not about to do something collaborative, the kids are crazy right now." Although I might beg to differ, I completely understand! That's why this resource below is to help you plan and re-start the new year and support collaboration in your classroom.
Maybe you started the year with hopes of building and supporting collaborative groups, but it didn't go so well, or you didn't do enough to reinforce collaboration and group work throughout both first AND second quarters, or maybe you expected them to already know how to work together. Or perhaps, collaboration went well first semester and you want to continue that momentum!
Here are some suggestions for how to emphasize and build teamwork in your classroom when you get back from winter break:
What? Why? How?
As a teacher, I am sure at some point in time you have sat in a meeting and wondered ot yourself, What is the point in this meeting? or What are we going to do? Why am I here? and How will I ever get this done?. Raise your hand if this is you! **Everyones hands go up.**
Guess what, students feel the same way! More importantly, the students that haven't typically been successful playing the game of school, students that may be considered typically underserved, or in a low-income school district, feel this even more. Below is just one of many resources from www.ahaprocess.com with a wide variety of other K-12 Resources available as well! Take the time to consider WHAT students need to do, and WHY and HOW they need to do it. Help students find purpose in their work, if they don't see it, you need to provide it! Help unveil the "secrets" of education and the "untaught" curriculum! Level the playing field to help ALL students not only achieve, but find a safe place where they are honored and respected as human beings! ;)
Winter Break - Teacher Gift
Ask for these for christmas, buy them for yourself to enjoy in front of a warm fireplace over winter break, or buy one of these for one of your teacher friends. They're all great reads! Mindset by Carol Dweck even applies mindset research outside of teaching and talks about business, sports, and relationships! :)
Surviving the Week(s) Before Break
As we approach winter break, a wide array of feelings, concerns, and emotions are up in the air, or buried way down deep inside. One way or another, the feeling of anticipation is on most teachers', students', and family members' minds. For some this is an excited, happy feeling (Buzz Lightyear), for others it may be one of dread (Woody). So take a moment to consider these tips for survival for your sake, and the sake of your students:
Standards Based Grading
As the middle schools in our district move closer to full implementation of standards-based grading (SBG), and standards-based reporting, we continue to explore resources that are out there. This is a resource that I wish I explored when I was in the classroom. I am excited to play around, but I am more excited to see how this tool can help teachers communicate effectively with students and provide descriptive, timely feedback on their progress.
This post is two-fold, (1) about finding out if there are other schools and individuals out there that use JumpRope and what their experience or story might be as it pertains to SBG, and (2) getting people in my district as excited as I am about this opportunity. JumpRope appears to have a lot of great options, and is even free to teachers (but the administrative, full district edition is not.... and that's the part I'm excited to explore more as our district moves forward).
I'm interested in finding out how teachers have used, can use, and will use this to transform their feedback to students. Are you one of these teachers? Do you know one of these teachers? Tell me more!
If you are from my district, or just intrigued overall, check out JumpRope for FREE at www.jumpro.pe or their blog at www.jumpro.pe/blog and let me know your story!
How to study for EXAMS...
From the desk of Craig McKinney:
As the end of the semester approaches, teachers around the globe are giving their students the same piece of advice: “Study for your exams.” The unfortunate thing is that many students have no idea what this means. Providing learners with a clear picture of what studying looks like will help them develop practices that will yield results on final exams and other assessments. Here’s an acronym you could use with your students as you help them organize their study efforts:
Studying is not a passive activity. Many students think reading over their notes or review packets is an effective study technique, when in reality, it does little to reinforce long-term understanding. Try explaining the material in your own words. Work collaboratively with a study partner, or tell your dog, your favorite plant, or your little sister all about what you’re learning. If you can explain it, there’s a good chance that you understand it.
X (focus on the Xs):
Teachers traditionally put an X on a student’s paper to indicate questions or objectives the student answered incorrectly. But when students study for a test over the same material later, they often treat everything equally. Don’t waste your time re-studying all the things you already know. Pinpoint your points of confusion and work on ways to make sure you understand those difficult parts.
Use Costa’s Levels of Thinking to write (and answer) questions about the content you are studying. Predict the questions you think might be asked on the exam. Higher-level questions can help you make connections between the things you’ve learned throughout the semester.
Manage time and materials:
Schedule blocks of time to study, and turn off your cell phone so you can concentrate on the task at hand. Make sure you have all the materials you need: textbooks, review packet, old tests and quizzes, class notes, and whatever resources your teacher has recommended.
Sleep and study breaks:
Pulling an “all-nighter” sounds like a good idea when you’re under pressure to do well on an exam, but a tired brain isn’t a fully-functioning brain. To prepare your brain to do its best, make sure that you get some rest. Also, reward yourself for your hard work by taking short breaks while you study. After hours of exertion, your brain needs some time to relax.
Good luck during exam week!
English Language Arts Instructional Specialist
Facilitator of Information
Danielle Boggs - Coordinator of Secondary Teaching and Learning