Saturday, 19 September 2015 01:07

7 NEW Teaching Visuals on Pinterest

During my teaching career I have noticed that there are a small number of “high-leverage” behaviors that all kids can learn and all teachers and parents can nurture and develop. With time, effort, and consistent attention paid to these areas, every child can become a highly successful student and experience the greater confidence, higher self-esteem, and greater learning gains that result from this success. I describe the quest to help children develop these behaviors as “The Drive for 5.”

Recently, I posted 7 new visuals on Pinterest to help teachers and parents share these traits with children. The first visual provides an introduction to "The Drive for 5," the second displays the acronym featured in this post, and the other five focus on the individual traits that comprise "The Drive for 5." I hope you find these visuals useful.

Click here to see these visuals on Pinterest.

Published in Blog

It takes a team effort for children to be highly successful in school. Parents, teachers, and the students themselves all have a critical role to play. The teacher’s role is carried out primarily at school, while parents’ real impact happens mostly at home. This article focuses on what research has shown to be the most important actions parents can take to help their children maximize their amazing potential.

Emphasize that education is a serious quest. For children to be successful in school, they must “buy in” to the purposes of education. They need to be dedicated to their daily learning and embrace the importance of rigor. Children need to know that school is where they are expected to learn complex material and develop higher-level thinking skills so they can thrive in the world.

See yourself as a coach. Take a hands-on approach throughout your child’s elementary years. Read to or with your child frequently. Quiz them on their multiplication tables during dinner. Work with them on difficult concepts. Encourage them to try harder and do better. Try to speed the learning at home. Give them autonomy for methods; hold them accountable for results. This develops driven, self-sufficient kids who know how to adapt.

Foster an intellectual culture at home. Parents who discuss movies, books, news, the events of the day, and current affairs have teenagers who perform better in reading. Engaging kids in conversation about things larger than themselves helps them become strong thinkers. Ask kids about their days. Take genuine interest in what they are learning. Discuss what they like about school.

Develop the habits that matter most. Two of the best predictors of academic performance are self-discipline and conscientiousness. Children can develop self-discipline by doing household chores and by taking as much responsibility as possible for their own learning. Children are resilient. They are smarter and tougher than many adults often assume. Their psyches aren’t fragile. Rigorous work frequently involves failure, and kids need to experience failure when they are young to develop self-discipline, endurance, and grit. These experiences matter as much as or more than academic skills. Let your child make mistakes and then get back to work. The goal is to create a mindset of high expectations and success.

Aim to be warm, responsive, and strict. Recognize your child’s progress, but don’t praise excessively. When given, praise needs to be specific, authentic, and focused on effort, not intelligence. Kids need clear, bright limits; they need to know that there are rules you don’t negotiate. Being consistent will gain your child’s trust and respect.

Reinforce the importance of reading. Read for pleasure at home. Children are more likely to enjoy and value reading when they see their parents reading. Set aside time with your child to discuss what you’re reading and what your child is reading. Even if you haven’t read your child’s book, you can ask questions that encourage kids to think for themselves. Being a reading role model sends a strong message to your child that you value reading and value learning about all kinds of new things. As adults, what we do is always more powerful than what we say.

Make math a top priority. Math has a way of predicting kids’ futures. Teenagers who master higher-level math classes are far more likely to graduate from college and earn more money after college. This is partially due to the fact that more and more jobs require familiarity with probability, statistics, and geometry. In addition, math is not just math. It is a language of logic. It’s a disciplined, organized way of thinking. There are right answers and rules that must be followed. Math is the essence of rigor. It builds perseverance and grit. Mastering the language of logic helps to develop higher-order habits: the ability to reason, to detect patterns, to make informed guesses. These kinds of skills have rising value in a world where information is so accessible.

This year, focus on the following math-related goals:

1) Help your child master his/her basic facts (if (s)he has reached the middle grades). When kids are automatic with their facts, their brains are freed up to do the harder work.

2) Present a favorable view of math. A child should never hear a parent say, “I can’t do math” or “I’m not a math person” or “Math was never my thing.” Parents who hold a positive view of math and its importance are more likely to have children who enjoy and value math.

3) Reinforce the message that math is about effort. Many kids think that math is something that people either “get” or “don’t get.” Dispel this notion by encouraging consistent effort during moments of difficulty. Math can be mastered with time, hard work, and persistence.

Published in Blog
Saturday, 24 May 2014 00:03

Exemplary Sample of 4th Grade Writing




































A 4th grade student of mine recently wrote this paragraph as part of her Writing Workshop fiction story about a girl who showed poor judgment and then faced the consequences once her parents found out what she did. When I first read the paragraph, I was reminded how wonderful it is to work with children who fall in love with reading and make books an important part of their lives. Kids who read for significant amounts of time outside of school advance to higher levels of text that feature complex sentence structure. Over time, enthusiastic readers such as this child will begin to experiment with this type of sentence structure in their own writing. They will experiment with sentences of different lengths, include parenthetical phrases, and purposefully incorporate sentence fragments that add power and drama to their writing. If you have any noteworthy examples of quality student writing that you'd like to share, please feel free to send it along.  
Saturday, 24 May 2014 00:30

Make It, Take It (Teaching Tip #118)

          "Make It, Take It" is a teaching strategy I use during word work and other frequently conducted whole-class activities that have the potential to become monotonous after a while. I adapted this idea from the realm of playground basketball. In organized games at the professional and amateur levels, when a team scores a basket, the other team then gets the ball. Playground games, however, sometimes follow the policy of "make it, take it," in which the team that scores a basket maintains possession of the ball.
          One day, when my students were practicing their editing skills by correcting sentences that I put on the board, the "make it, take it" idea popped into my head, and I decided to try it out, not expecting much of a reaction. After explaining the concept to the class, I was shocked when tons of kids raised their hands to answer the next question as if I was asking who wanted free ice cream.
          The way it works is that when a student answers a question correctly, (s)he gets to answer the next one. If a child makes a mistake, I choose a different student for the next question. Initially, I was worried that the kids might have bruised feelings if they missed a question and didn't get the chance to answer the next one, but this never became an issue.
          Many times, when a new idea is introduced, everyone is excited about it, but then the novelty soon wears off and enthusiasm wanes. After many months, this hasn't yet happened with "make it, take it." Perhaps it's because I have many athletes in my class, and they appreciate any connection to the sports world. Or, maybe the kids like having the chance to earn another chance to participate, and they enjoy their moment in the spotlight. Either way, making this minor change to how I call on students during whole-class learning activities has led to greater engagement, better attention to detail, and improved performance. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Friday, 23 May 2014 00:04

Check Out This Cool Mission Statement






Here
is a mission statement I recently found at a local restaurant called "The Counter." When I first saw it, I knew I wanted to add it to the collection of mission statements I share with my students at the beginning of each school year when we begin writing our class mission statement. Not only is the hamburger shape an attention-getter, but also the statement itself contains some powerful messages that apply to classroom life, such as "create something special," "creative construction," and "life should be about experiences." If you find any strong mission statement examples in your travels, please let me know.

In this Teaching Tip I provide a link to a short YouTube video. In the video I present a brief chant, along with a corresponding set of hand movements, to help children understand what it means to make an inference when they are reading. By repeating the chant and doing these movements for just a minute or two per day for a few days, kids will remember that when making an inference, they need to combine a piece of information from the text with their own knowledge. Give this idea a try in class with your students or at home with your children.

In this Teaching Tip I provide a link to a short YouTube video. In the video I describe a few ways in which children can form teams for sports. Traditionally, in this situation two children act as team captains and take turns selecting players until every child has been assigned to a team. This method may appear fast and efficient, but it can cause lasting self-esteem damage in the kids’ who are chosen last. In the video I share ways to form teams that avoid this type of public selection.

 In this Teaching Tip I provide a link to a short YouTube video. The video describes three ways in which mathematicians express numbers: word form, standard form, and expanded form. Children are expected to learn these various forms as part of their study of place value, yet they frequently confuse the meanings of these forms. The video features three movements that you can use to help kids understand the difference between word form, standard form, and expanded form. Using movement to learn and remember academic content is always something that I strongly recommend. Give this idea a try in class with your students or at home with your children.

In this Teaching Tip I provide a link to a short YouTube video. The video features a method of editing that I have used with my students over the past several years. This strategy breaks the complex task of editing into a series of smaller, more manageable steps. Kids will need a four-color pen in order to use this approach. I have found that the strategy explained in the video not only increases students’ proficiency with editing but also builds enthusiasm and motivation for the activity. Give this idea a try in class with your students or at home with your children.
In this Teaching Tip I provide a link to a short YouTube video. The video features a simple activity that you can do with children to introduce the topic of metacognition and encourage them to think on a deeper level about the various types of thinking they do in school. The “closed door” and “open door” thinking explained in the video prepares kids to participate in reflection activities that empower them to analyze the strategies they use in class, gain a greater awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, and, in general, understand themselves as learners to a greater degree. Give this idea a try in class with your students or at home with your children.
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