Steve Reifman

Steve Reifman

Two weeks ago I officially re-launched my YouTube page as the “Teaching Kids” channel and posted my first new video of the school year entitled “Teaching Kids to Transition Back into ‘School Mode.’ ” Each of my new “Teaching Kids” videos will feature 1-2 minute tips for educators and parents and will address a wide variety of topics that focus on teaching the whole child, including academics, character, and health.

Last week I officially re-launched my YouTube page as the “Teaching Kids” channel and posted my first new video of the school year entitled “Teaching Kids to Transition Back into ‘School Mode.’ ” Each of my new “Teaching Kids” videos will feature 1-2 minute tips for educators and parents and will address a wide variety of topics that focus on teaching the whole child, including academics, character, and health.

Over the past few years I have uploaded approximately twenty instructional videos on YouTube. These videos range from 1-6 minutes in length and deal primarily with academic tips and study strategies. I am excited to announce that I have re-designed my page on the site, and I am officially re-launching it as the “Teaching Kids” channel. All of my new “Teaching Kids” videos will feature 1-2 minute tips for educators and parents and will address a wide variety of topics that focus on teaching the whole child, including academics, character, and health.

In this final Teaching Tip of the 2011-2012 school year, I would like to re-visit an idea I presented last year at this time.  My website is less than two years old and doesn’t yet have any real traditions, and I would like to start one now.  I vow that at the end of each school year, this site's last Teaching Tip will focus on one of the foundational components of a quality classroom: an emphasis on continuous improvement.

The last few weeks of the school year are a terrific time to try new ideas that you’re considering using in the fall. I first started this type of experimentation approximately ten years ago. Until that point my classroom arrangement featured a series of rectangular tables that sat 6-8 students each. For the most part I liked this arrangement, but I didn’t like having so many students sitting with their backs to one another.

Inevitably, there will be times in our classrooms when things just seem a bit off. During these instances, for example, the typical level of focus and effort with which our students work may not be present or the kids may be having an unusually large number of arguments or problems on the playground with their peers.

In these moments it is important to remember the old adage, “As teachers, we don’t teach content; we teach children.” I always try to keep this idea in my mind, but I’m as guilty as anyone of forgetting it every once in a while. I may be so focused on rehearsing the steps of the math lesson I’m about to teach on a given morning that I am mentally unprepared to address the recess argument that’s still bubbling over when the kids return to class after the bell.

Saturday, 12 May 2012 17:45

Project Time (Teaching Tip #70)

When I first started teaching third grade many years ago, I wanted to create a regular time slot each Friday afternoon during which students would choose their own activities. I had high hopes for this “Choice Time.” In my mind I had visions of students playing chess, undertaking construction projects, conducting science investigations, researching topics, and pursuing activities and endeavors that they didn’t have a chance to pursue during a typical school day. In short, I wanted the activities to have “learning value.” I would also use this time to hold students accountable if they didn’t turn in a complete homework packet that morning.

Introduction

Two weeks ago I shared that my colleagues and I have spent the past few years learning about the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. A huge emphasis of this philosophy is the need for students to understand math concepts on a deep level and use strategies that make sense to them. Encouraging students to use a wide variety of strategies to solve problems is a practice that stands in stark contrast to the traditional way that most of us were taught. When I was a student, I learned a series of algorithms that I was expected to follow, step-by-step, whenever I needed to add, subtract, multiply, or divide large numbers.

Introduction

Last week I shared that my colleagues and I have spent the past few years learning about the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. A huge emphasis of this philosophy is the need for students to understand math concepts on a deep level and use strategies that make sense to them. Encouraging students to use a wide variety of strategies to solve problems is a practice that stands in stark contrast to the traditional way that most of us were taught. When I was a student, I learned a series of algorithms that I was expected to follow, step-by-step, whenever I needed to add, subtract, multiply, or divide large numbers.

A few years ago my school began embracing the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. A huge emphasis of this philosophy is the need for students to understand math concepts on a deep level and use strategies that make sense to them. Encouraging students to use a wide variety of strategies to solve problems is a practice that stands in stark contrast to the traditional way that most of us were taught. When I was a student, I learned a series of algorithms that I was expected to follow, step-by-step, whenever I needed to add, subtract, multiply, or divide large numbers.