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Non-Cognitive Skills in the Classroom

“Dispositions to learning should be key performance indicators of the outcomes of schooling. Many teachers believe that, if achievement is enhanced, there is a ripple effect to these dispositions. However such a belief is not defensible. Such dispositions need planned interventions.” – John Hattie (2009), Visible Learning

Teaching non-cognitive skills (also known as life skills, soft-skills, dispositions, habits of mind) are just as important as teaching our students the cognitive skills. Non-cognitive skills are traits and skills that help students (really everyone) facilitate success in everyday life. Non-cognitive skills are attributes teachers strive to foster in students. These skills seldom stand alone and are even more important in this day of age where almost everything we do is working with others.

There are many non-cognitive skills such as the famous four C’s of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication but we need to go beyond just them and think about how learners need to also be reflective, adaptable and flexible as well.

3 Quick Strategies to Embed Non-Cognitive Skills into the Classroom:

1. Praise effort, not ability and have students reflect on their work.

2. Highlight skill and talk about it purposefully. This could be done in morning meeting, classroom meeting or part of a lesson. It could also be when you notice a student, character or someone famous doing an exemplar job at one of the skills you could make it apart of a discussion.

3. Have a Genius Hour, Makerspace and/or Experiential Learning area where students can explore and tinker.

More Books/Articles on Non-Cognitive Skills:

The Need to Address Non-Cognitive Skills in the Education

My #ISTE2015 Round Up

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” By Leonardo da Vinci

It is hard to believe that a week ago was the first day of #ISTE2015! There was over 18,000 educators from all over the world at the conference in Philadelphia, PA. There was great sessions, keynotes and my favorite networking with my PLN! Below are my top three ‘items’ from ISTE that I rounded up from my notes:

Google Cardboard Expedition

1. Google Reveals: #GoogleEdu
  • Google will allow developers to embed a “share” button that allows teachers and students to share resources to Google Classroom. More than 20 educational content and tool providers have already committed to integrating the Classroom share button.
  • Google is rolling out an API that lets developers integrate their tools with Classroom.
  • Google Expeditions (using Google Cardboard) allows you to take a virtual tour through museums.
  • Google Classroom mobile notifications: In the next few weeks, Google will be adding mobile notifications in their iOS and Android app. Students can immediately see when they’ve got a new assignment or grade, a note from their teacher or a comment from a fellow student.
2. Resources for STEM schools and Makerspaces:
  • MakerBot launched an education site. You also can have a free download of ‘Makerbot in the Classroom’ which includes an introduction to 3d printing and design along with lesson ideas etc. and @makerbotedu
  • IgnitEDLearning features teacher designed projects around making and circuits.
  • The Autodesk Design Academy features collection of materials that help educators teach creativity and design.

3. These are app/sites I am going to be looking more into:

  • Periscope – I have used this to watch video but have not created one myself for others to view.
  • 81 Dash – A new way to back channel that also integrates with Google Classroom.
  • Twine – is an interactive story telling site. (You can also challenge your students by adding coding to it as well)

5 Ways to Improve Your Practice This Summer

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” By Benjamin Franklin


With summer starting for some educators and for others it is right around the corner. I wanted to take a minute and offer five ways to improve your practice over the summer.

1. Take Time for YOU: Take this time to do things you love as it will help you get refreshed and ready for the new school year. When I take time for me, I find it happens to be when my best ideas formulate without even realizing it.

2. Read: It doesn’t have to be books but it can be blogs, articles, magazines and it also doesn’t have to be an education item. When I read outside of education, I get just as many ideas of things I can try to implement. It helps me think outside the box and be creative.

3. Participate in Professional Learning/Development: Take at least one class or course this summer that can help you improve your practice. Instead of your traditional face to face class try an edcamp or a virtual course such as a MOOC or book study.

4. Build your PLN: Connect with other educators and build your PLN through Twitter, G+, Instagram and Voxer. I am not saying you have to do this every day but take a few days out of the summer and connect with others to see what they are doing in the classroom and also share out what you are doing or plan on doing.

5. Reflect: Take time to reflect on your teaching practice. Think about what worked in your classroom last year and what didn’t. Before diving into what you plan on doing the first few weeks back to school, think about the year as a whole, what do you want to accomplish? What do you want for your students? What is something new you are going to try?

I would love to hear how you plan on improving your practice over the summer, share with me in the comments.

#edcampldr NC – Connecting and Learning to Improve Leading

Originally posted on mccoyderek:

Edcamp LeadershipJuly 10, 2015 promises to be a historic day of learning and connecting for North Carolina educators!

Friday July 10th, we are hosting the first ever Edcamp for School Leaders! Edcamps are not new to North Carolina – for years, dedicated educators have been coordinating and hosting these ‘unconferences’ across our great state. These edcamps have brought in educators from different school districts to share, connect and ultimately help others improve the learning and teaching in all our schools. Talk to any participants in these edcamps and they will tell you that these experiences have been incredibly valuable and significant to their personal/professional development.

Edcamp Leadership NC [held Friday July 10 at the @FridayInstitue] is the first of its kind in NC and we have some great reasons to be excited:

This is a first NC unconference targeted for school leaders across the state. Make no mistake…

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Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” By Gandhi


Last week #21stedchat on Twitter was about creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms. Throughout the chat I could see many educators ‘favoriting’ a lot of the tweets/resources but were not participating with their own teacher voice. I soon realized it was because educators are still not comfortable talking about culture diversity in the classroom. In response to this I want to share all the resources from the chat to help educators start feeling more knowledgable around this topic because the more we discuss and share, the better we will get as an education system to become more culturally responsive.

What is a culturally responsive classroom? It is a classroom that purposefully acknowledges the presence of culturally diverse students and the need for relevant connections among them and the content being taught.


Five-Minute Film Festival: Culturally Responsive Teaching

Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms

A Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching from ASCD

Teaching Tolerance Website 

The Best Sites for Learning About the Word’s Different Cultures by Larry Ferlazzo

Relationship Building Through Culturally Responsive Classroom Management

Uncomfortable Conversations: Talking about Race in the Classroom

How Cultural Differences May Affect Student Performance

Culturally Relevant Teaching Resources

Cybrary Man’s Culture Resource Page

Culturally Responsive Lesson Plans


Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders

Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Tatum

Please share any resources you have in the comments to help educators have a more culturally responsive classroom.

10 Creative Play Gadgets to Add to Your Classroom

“I love technology, and I love new gadgets. I can no longer figure out how to use ay of them, but I love them.” Jerry Zucker

New technology gadgets are always coming out; check out some of these creative play gadgets to add to your classroom.

1. Ozobot

2. Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider Blue*

3. Spheros*

* Bonus both the MiniDrone and Spheros can utilize Tickle App to teach programing.

4. LittleBits

5. Fascinations First Time Clock Puzzle

6. Rubik’s Slide

7. Osmo

8. Roominate

9. Cublets

10. Moss

Be on the lookout for Bloxels which is coming soon! Please share any gadgets that you are utilizing in your classroom in the comments section.

Digital Storytelling Tools Sequel

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” By Robert McAfee Brown

A few years ago I wrote a blog post on Tools for Using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom and a lot has changed in digital learning so I wanted to do a sequel. Many of the tools in the first digital storytelling post I still use along with Digital Storytelling with Tellagami App. Below are a few more I have added to my FREE Digital Storytelling Tool Kit.


ChatterPix Kids: Is a user-friendly app that allows students to chose a picture and make it talk in 3 easy steps. One take any photo, two draw a line to make a mouth, and three record your voice. (They also have a ChatterPix for students that are 13 and up).

Imagistory: Is a wordless app where students become the creator of the story based on the pictures they see. It is a great way to see if they have mastered plot diagrams.

Storehouse – Visual Storytelling: Is an app that allows you to use picture to create a story. It is a great way for students to present using just pictures and let them show mastery of the content.  I had a student app smash using ShowMe and Storehouse and present (explain) on how to multiply and divide fractions only using pictures….now that shows true mastery!

Adobe Voice: Is an app that records your voice, imports pictures, and allows you to write text to create a short video.


Google Story Builder: Is a great collaborative web tool that can be used in so many ways. One of the students favorite ways I have used it was updating the old school “story carousel” where you start a story and then pass the paper to a classmate after two minutes and repeat a few times and see what the story ends up as. Instead of passing the paper, the students do it collaboratively in the document.

Storyjumper: Students can create ebooks for free. (If you want it as a hard cover book, that is when you have to purchase)

Fodey: The site isn’t visually pleasing but it gets the job done. Create a newspaper articles using this site.

Dvolver Moviemaker: Using avatars create a story and turn it into a movie.

Both App and Webtool:

Make Beliefs Comix: Who doesn’t love creating comic books! This is a simple user-friendly

Please add in the comments your favorite FREE app/webtool for storytelling so we can add it to the toolkit.


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