ncreasing Achievement Through Writing, Part 1
A Brave Young Teacher
Several years ago I shared writing strategies with a large group of middle school teachers and administrators – well over a hundred educators from all grades and subject areas. Everyone participated enthusiastically all morning as I demonstrated note taking, summarizing, responding to text, breaking down definitions, and asking or answering questions.
Motivation, according to a recent textbook on adolescent literacy*, is “a feeling of interest or enthusiasm that makes a student want to complete a task or improve his or her skills.” Teachers of adolescent poor readers, however, often find that their students are willing to do anything BUT read and write. Getting students to believe that they can make meaningful progress—when all prior experience suggests they will not—and to work at something that has never been rewarding is a major challenge.
Hello, EdView360 readers, and welcome back from your summer break! Don’t you just love the sound of it? Summer break. What a wonderful and highly deserved time for education professionals.
You might have spent your days traveling, focusing on professional development, enjoying time with family, or refreshing your look and enhancing your greatest attributes … like we did! We spent the past few months picking the brains of some of the industry’s greatest minds (like YOURS) to ultimately uncover what matters most to our readers, the individuals who serve as the backbone of our education system.
The implications of 3D printing in our society are simply mind-boggling. From NASA sending a 3D model of a wrench into space, to businesses being able to implement JOOM (Just On Order Making) and immediately produce anything your heart desires, to shipping objects via data packets that the recipient can simply print, 3D printing holds an unprecedented level of practical promise. It all sounds really great, but how does this technology impact the classroom? Immensely.
Being a teacher in the 21st century means that there is a wealth of resources and educational technology available for you to use in your classroom—much more than even five years ago. Having all of these tools available to you greatly opens up the resources you have to enhance your content and make it readily accessible and engaging for your students.
student Photoshop projectOne of my favorite things to do in my classroom is transform it into a blended learning environment, where students are accessing new content and material on their own through the use of technology. At left is an example of a student's work using Photoshop to redesign a logo to fit with an education conference's theme of being "thrown together with tape and cardboard."
At the Kids In Need Foundation (KINF), our mission is to help students learn and succeed by providing school supplies to kids who need them most nationwide. We are so thankful to be working with Voyager Sopris Learning for a third year!
students surprised by new backpacksAs the senior director of Development and Corporate Partnerships, I have the opportunity to work with Voyager Sopris Learning™ and other companies who want to change lives through the gift of school supplies. Many of the boys and girls we help have never received anything new in their lives, so getting a backpack filled with brand-new supplies is that much more exciting. Apart from the backpacks we distribute, KINF maintains 34 resource centers around the country, where teachers can go to get new notebooks, folders, and whatever other supplies their students need.
The month of May has arrived, and whether you’re merry or at the brink of sending out a Mayday, the end of the school year is upon us.
If you are in the midst of state testing or working with students on culminating projects, you may not have had time to notice that today kicks off Teacher Appreciation Week. We hope that you have felt appreciated the entire school year for doing what could be the toughest (and most rewarding) job on the planet.
Reading opens the world. There are, unfortunately, some students to whom the world remains largely on lockdown.
These struggling readers present unique challenges to the classroom teacher. The one-size-fits-all idea often succumbs to the one-size-fits-some reality as unique situations and struggles reveal themselves. Students are not perfect copies of one another, and neither are the challenges they face. As teachers, we know this, and yet, often, we apply and re-apply the same methods for “fixing” these problems.
rsz_students-outdoor-backpackWhy? Because, sometimes, we’re stumped.
And sometimes, we’re not seeing the gaps that need to be filled.
I’m an early childhood educator. One of the most important early literacy components for me has always been phonological awareness. Why? Because I see the real-life connection that it presents for our youngest learners: the spoken word. Language acquisition begins here. Babies start with it. All of those cute dadadadada’s and mamamama’s are them putting words to concrete objects and, later, abstract thinking.
The end of the school year brings excitement, events, and energy. It is also the time for summative state assessments. Regardless of your opinion on the validity, value, or necessity of mandated state testing, the reality is it is a standardized measure of what is being accomplished in our profession, and it isn’t going away any time soon.
As a music teacher, I have an interesting vantage point for the state testing experience at my school. My district has adopted two assessments as our benchmark to demonstrate learning and growth in music: one based on music theory, and the other based on performance. However, my state has not adopted a standardized exam with astatetest music component, although rumors that one will be created have persisted throughout my professional career.
In some districts, this may translate into an unspoken culture of a “sub” content; that a class is of lesser importance because it is not being tested. Assessment in today’s educational environment is equated with validity for an educational professional. It is how educators show the “outside world” that what is happening within the walls of our classrooms has value and worth. I understand that mentality, but I don’t think it should be the only factor that determines what, or rather why, students are being taught.
Despite having only been teaching for seven years, which compared to some is barely any time at all, I feel that I have settled into a good routine and teaching style/strategy in my classroom. Because, like I’ve said before in a previous blog post, you own your classroom and what goes on inside its walls.
One of the things I have seen time and time again that seems to bring out not only successes in students, but also evidence of high-quality work, is when students are given a choice to complete a given task, assignment, or project. I call these “Menu” projects, because students essentially are choosing from a menu of project optiokidschoosingfoodns what they want to complete in order to demonstrate that they know and understand a topic.
Now, there is a catch to the “Menu” project option: the teacher has to come up with not one but multiple ways to complete the task, assignment, or project, as well as multiple rubrics and grading components. Given this, the “Menu” project may not be an option for every single task, assignment, or project in your class. However, for larger projects or summative assessments, this type of model might be just the right fit.