Posts tagged ‘Teaching’

Adding Quick Writes into Daily Practice

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” By Isaac Asimov

writing

Quick writes are an instructional strategy that are brief, timed writing opportunities that require only 5-10 minutes to integrate writing into any content area.  Quick writes are great way to start or end a class as it will become part of the students routine and daily practice.

Here are five ways you can have your students quick write:

  1. Reflection: Have the students reflect upon ___________ (fill in the blank with lesson, concept or the students goals)
  2. Assessing student knowledge: If you want to see if students grasped a concept, have them write about what they know.  Then you can use that data to see who needs a reteach, more practice or have mastered the concept.
  3. Critical Thinking:  Have students take an alternate point of view on a topic or character.
  4. Creative: Have students write about an image and tell a story
  5. Personal Connection: Students write about a connection they have to a topic that is personal to them.

*Tip: Have the students do there quick writes in a Google Doc so you can provide them feedback virtually. You don’t need to give feedback everyday, I used to do once a week. I would have a schedule and do a few a day so that it became a habit for me.

Quick Write Writing Resources:

Emoji Prompts: Start with an emoji image and continue to click ‘and then’ to reveal a new emoji. Use these images to write a story.

Story Starters: This site generates story starters that can be used to start writing but if you do not like the story starter sentence generated for you, you can click on the button to get another one!

365 Creative Writing Prompt Ideas: Pick on a day for a year!

 

 

 

 

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100 Word Challenge

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” By Ayn Rand

I first heard about the 100 Word Challenge on Twitter and thought it was an awesome idea. The 100 Word Challenge is a free weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 created by Julia Skinner.  Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and students can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. You can learn more about the 100 Word Challenge here.

I have helped teachers implement this concept in their classrooms different way; so I thought I would share a few ways as one of the ideas might fit your classroom.

  1. Have a picture up on the board for morning work each day or during transitions if you are in secondary. If you don’t want to do it everyday, some teachers have “Moment Mondays” where they participate in this concept. It is a great way to also bring in global relevance and/or current events.
  2. Use an image to open a new unit (such as the one below, I have used to open up the  water cycle unit) and or close out a unit.
  3. When you finish a lesson early, have a few pictures ready to use. Or have a folder of pictures for students to chose from when students finish their work early so they can be working on it.
  4. Use as a fun homework assignment. I am not a fan of homework (read previous blog post: Why I don’t give homework anymore) but some schools have policies that teachers have to give homework and this is a meaningful and purposeful homework that allows for students to be creative and critically think.
  5. I have used this as a way to start off Professional Development. I tweak it by saying 100 characters vs words.  I have them create a Tweet or caption of the photo as they are walking in. This gets the participants to start thinking about the topic through their lens.

*For younger grade such as K-1, you can have them do a 10 word challenge.

It doesn’t have to be a paragraph story but you can change it up and have the students write a 100 word song, poem or letter etc or even better let them chose! The main focus is to integrate creating writing through critical thinking (hence the 100 word rule).

Here are some picture examples and/or ones you can use to help get you stated.

clous

frog

boy

sun:moon

Giraffe-Leap-Frog

* Make sure to always use an image that has a creative commons license, which means you are free to copy it/share along one that is appropriate for the age level you teacher.

Meeting the Whole Child through Cultural Responsiveness

“Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest. When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart. ” By Ed Koch

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post about creating a culturally responsive classroom and since then it has been a topic that I have been interested in. To further my practice and understanding of the Whole Child, I have been attending culturally responsive leadership meetings my district has offered, read books and attended sessions at conferences on this topic. I find it fascinating as I love learning about different cultures and how it plays into the education world. Below are some of my take-aways from my learnings over the last year. These are high level take-aways and I encourage you to think about if you are culturally responsive educator and how are you trying to improve your craft to meet the Whole Child.

  1. I was able to hear Manny Scott, an original Freedom Rider at ASCD conference in Atlanta. He was one of the best keynotes I have heard. He made me laugh, cry while also being able to push my thinking around culture responsiveness. Manny gave us a new lens to look through as educators and how one educator made a difference in his life. Here are some of my take aways/reminder from Manny:
    1. What a powerful reminder that dropping out is a process, not an event.
    2. You will not reach anyone if you vilify the things they find important. Become a student of your students. (think about their culture and background)
    3. Giving up on students is unacceptable. We might be the only chance some have in this world.
    4. Do not let labels of students determine your relationship with them.
  2. I thought The Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People was a captivating book. It really opened my eyes to how I look at things. Now I have a better understanding of myself and others. For example how often times we assume our culture is the right culture and make judgments based on our beliefs such as ‘this parent didn’t show up to a parent teacher conference, they don’t care about the students education like they should.’ Meanwhile the conferences are held during the teachers preferred time, not necessarily taking into consideration some parents work different shifts or multiple jobs so their child can have things they need.
  3. I have read a lot of articles/blogs but I highly recommend reading this great article: The Culturally Responsive Educator. It is about how culturally responsive classrooms is more than food, traditions and flags; “cultural responsiveness is a frame of mind in which we view the tasks of teaching through the lens of cultural diversity.” It offers great examples and ideas of things to think about in your classroom or school.

 

Moving Through The Continuum of Instructional Models

“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.” By Solomon Ortiz

As we continue to change out instructional practices in the classroom, I think the difference between teacher centered, student centered and student driven need to be defined better. I do not see student centered and student driven as interchangeable as they are not the same. I see these instructional models as a continuum and defined below.Slide3 copy.jpgWe need to help move teachers across the continuum so that our classrooms are becoming places where students are agents of their own learning which is what Personalized Learning is all about. Personalized Learning leads to more student motivation, independence and empowerment. How do we move teachers across this continuum? Here are few ways to start making the shift across the continuum; the most important thing is to remember to start small and at your pace.

From Teacher Driven to Student Centered:

  • Allow students to have choice through a standard based choice board
  • Implement a workshop model
  • Allow students to self assess after a project is complete (self-assessment)
  • Allow students to set goals.

From Student Centered to Student Driven:

  • Allow students to own and track their own data
  • Allow students to chose what task they want to complete off their data
  • Allow students to plan lessons of skills they have mastered

The hardest thing for teachers to do within each model is the release of control to the students. As you move across the continuum, the teacher has less control which often gets confused with not having any classroom management but this should not be the case. There always should still be rules and clear expectations in the classroom no matter what model you are utilizing.

 

 

#NCTIES16 Round Up

“Leadership provides the vehicle for others to generate ideas!” By @PrincipalKafele 

One of my favorite conferences every year is #NCTIES. Below I have done a round up of resources from the sessions I  attended in no particular order that you can now look at and utilize in your classroom.

Best of the Web 2016 by Richard Byrne

Mobile Apps in Common Core Aligned ELA & Social Studies Lessons by Richard Byrne

Teaching “Wired” Learners by  Kevin Honeycutt

  • Use a video as an opportunity to narrate a story
  • Student Created Products
  • Quotes from Honeycutt that are meaningful:
    • Stop finding reasons to fail
    • Help students understand the transformational power of tech
    • The only cavalry that will save you is you!
    • People protect and support what they are proud of – tell the stories of success
      • People won’t attack stories about student success
    • Your biggest weakness is your biggest strength, ready to be told well.
    • Emotion cements learning

Sketchnoting in Classroom by Kathy Schrock
Global Collaboration (To Fit Your Needs) by Pernille Ripp

S.T.E.A.M Powered PBL for K/1 by Jill Zsuppan and Heather Surgen

Other random things I picked up:

  • Create a “You Matter Wall” have your kiddos write thoughtful messages to other students, teachers, family members, etc

  • Your plan and reality are not always the same!

  • Use the square root of your staff to find the number of staff to find momentum to see change in the classroom, coaching is a must

  • “We don’t need consensus  – we need momentum”

  • “What is the evidence that I am the instructional leader of my school?”

  • Stop and review your game film.  Is what you are doing making a difference for our students?

 

 

The Coaching Cycle: The Link Between Coaching and Student Achievement

“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” By Pete Carroll

Guest Blog Post from the amazing Kenny McKee

Instructional coaches are tasked with many responsibilities. Leading and developing workshops, collaborating with PLCs, facilitating school-wide assessments, organizing learning walks, analyzing student achievement data, and various other activities all contribute to positive change in schools. However, in the proceedings and productions of these large-scale activities, oftentimes, the heart of coaching, the one-on-one coaching cycle, can fall to the wayside.

Why? To some people, the coaching conversation seems so small. Facilitating workshops and school-wide activities seems important and can make the coach feel important. Activities like these might provide justification for his or her job to wary teachers and administrators.  Let’s face it — big activities look good.  Also, it feels like we are accomplishing more (faster!) when we have lots of people involved. The coaching cycle just doesn’t seem time efficient, right?

However, much of the available research about coaching suggests that change really happens one collaboration at a time, through the use of one-on-one coaching.

So, what do I mean by a coaching cycle? Although there are many interpretations of what constitutes a “cycle”, I categorize a cycle as a professional learning sequence that includes a pre-conference, classroom instruction, and a post-conference reflection.

The classroom instruction and reflection can play out in three scenarios.

  1. The coach observes the teacher teaching a lesson and provides feedback to the teacher.
  2. The coach and the teacher plan and teach a lesson together. They then reflect together.
  3. The teacher observes the coach teaching a lesson and provides feedback to the coach.

There is still much research to be done, but studies that suggest that coaching has a positive impact on student achievement describe collaborations that I would characterize as coaching cycles.

Some studies show that teachers implement more literacy strategies in their classrooms when they work with literacy coaches (Feighan & Heeren, 2009; Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010). Teachers especially give high praise to one-on-one coaching when compared to traditional off-site professional development (Gross, 2010; Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010).  Of all the possible ways coaches work each day, teachers report that significant coach and teacher collaborations have the most impact upon the learning in their classrooms (Campbell & Sweiss, 2010; Gross, 2010; Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010).  Most studies show that teachers report increased student engagement and on-task behavior as results of coaching collaborations (Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010). Coaching cycles help teachers make changes in their instruction because coaches can tailor data collection, planning, and advice to the individual teacher’s situation and needs.

A three-year study of elementary schools tracked the amount of time spent coaching and resulting student achievement.  The researcher used alphabet letter recognition and scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III) to measure student achievement.  A significant correlation between time spent coaching and student achievement was found in the first year, but weak correlations were found during the following two years.  The first year both coaches and teachers had a strong focus on particular content and techniques.  They also had well-defined consultative and reflective conversation cycles.  Teachers and literacy coaches had little focus and fewer structured coaching cycles in years that yielded weak correlations.  The author suggests that more time is not as important as the “type and quality of the interaction” (Shidler, 2009). Thus, the use of structured coaching cycles and a school wide focus likely explains the greater student achievement results in the first year of coaching.

In a study of four middle schools where literacy coaching was implemented for one year,  teachers reported much higher student engagement levels, and student scores made modest gains. Baselines from the state reading test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) from the prior school year were compared to scores on both assessments after the year of literacy coaching.   Classrooms with the treatment (individual literacy coaching collaborations) increased an average of five points on the state test and seven points on the ITBS (Feighan & Heeren, 2009).

According to available research, structured coaching cycles yield a significant impact on student learning.

Lasting change happens one conversation at a time. Let’s not allow the elaborate productions of meetings, workshops, and high-stakes data blind us from what we can do that really helps teachers become better for their students: one-on-one coaching.

References

Campbell, M. B., & Sweiss, C. I. (2010). The secondary literacy coaching model: Centrality of the  standards and emerging paradigms. Journal of Reading Education, 35(3), 39-46.

Feighan, K., & Heeren, E. (2009). She was my backbone: Measuring coaching work and its impact. CEDER Yearbook, 67-93.

Gross, P. A. (2010). Not another trend: Secondary level literacy coaching. The Clearing House, 83, 133-137.  doi:10.1080/00098651003774844

Kretlow, A. G., & Bartholomew, C. C. (2010). Using coaching to improve the fidelity of evidence-based practices: A review of studies. Teacher Education & Special Education, 33(4). 279-299. doi:10.1177/0888406410371643

Shidler, L. (2009). The impact of time spent coaching on teacher efficacy of student achievement.  Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(5). 453-460.

Entrepreneurship in the Classroom

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” by Albert Einstein

Guest Blog Post by: Dylan Schreiner 

Whether people like to admit it or not, entrepreneurship involves everyone. Even professionals not commonly thought of as being business related. For example, an artist is still an entrepreneur due to the fact that he or she needs to sell their art or put on a show at a venue. No matter where you look, entrepreneurship can relate. Such is why, I believe teachers should focus on implementing entrepreneurial activities into their subjects. Involvement with entrepreneurship teaches people firsthand life skills applicable to whatever field they choose. Specifically, having entrepreneurial activities and projects allow incredible learning that translates to real world experience. 

A project might involve raising funds or awareness for charity. For example, after learning about the risks of smoking in “Life Management” class, the students could attempt to spread awareness through email marketing.  They could use graphic design in “art class,”  marketing fundamentals learned in “economics class” and analytics learned in “math class.”  This is just one example that illustrates the point.

The following are some benefits of such a system:

1. Teaches how to better work in groups

All too often in group projects, one person carries the group by doing a majority of the work. Instead, by having projects where students can choose their roles and what they’re passionate about, they become more invested. Also, even if one role gets filled, a person gets to learn how to do something new and thereby increase their skill set.

2. Give students marketable skills and experience

One huge limiting factor for students just entering the workforce, whether for a summer job/internship or a full time job, relates to experience. It’s almost as if a cycle exists by which lack of experience inhibits getting a job, but then students are stuck with no experience because they can’t get a job. Therefore, by creating projects with market potential and real world experience, graduates truly enter the job market ahead of the pack.

For example, if students were able to develop a product and were able to bring it to market, the experience gained through that entire process would make them more sought out by employers. . If that product were, let’s say a mobile phone application, the students involved in coding the application would also be sought after by potential employers. This idea even works for the arts. What English department or publishing company wouldn’t want a student with experience in marketing something? After all, sometimes the hardest part is selling your art.

3. Provides a well-rounded education

Think about it. How often do students in one college or area of study interact with those in another? Often, in college, all of the business majors group together and all of the engineers do the same. Even in high school, the AP and IB students are in a group of their own. Wouldn’t it be great if these students learned how to collaborate and gained a better understanding for the passions of one another? Doing so creates a society of well-rounded people adaptive to their environments.For example, working on projects that rely on creativity, adaptability and surviving change really sets someone up with the skills needed to be successful almost anywhere.

Overall, I hope to have interested you enough to think about including entrepreneurial activities in your school or classroom. Though, the article only includes some of the many benefits and reasons behind such an idea. Look out for continuation on this discussion in the future!

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