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1118 Search Results for "child"

  • Humus: A 1st Grade Close Readi Humus: A 1st Grade Close Reading Mini Moment

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:

      

       

      “Soil is made of hummus,” my daughter read.


      She was reading one of the leveled reading books that her teacher sends home with her weekly. This one had to do with farming.


      “Let’s look at that again,” I said, “that word is HUMUS.” I underlined the word with my finger and asked her to say it with me. “Humus is dirt with decaying plant matter mixed in with it.” We said the word together and I extended the definition by asking her to remember last spring when we first planted our seeds for our vegetable garden. “The potting soil we used is humus,” I said.


      We went back to the book. I asked her to read the sentence again.


      “Soil is made of hummus,” she said, pausing slightly as she got to the word and sounded out each syllable in the word as she read. She looked at me and knew it wasn’t right.


      We went down to the syllable level to analyze what she was doing. Note that I didn’t tell my first grade child that I was analyzing her every move, I was simply pulling from a toolbox of improvement opportunities at the authentic moment that one of the tools was needed.


      I asked her to show me how she was breaking the word apart, a strategy her teachers had taught her and her classmates to help them figure out new words. Her strategy was rooted in prior knowledge. She showed me with her finger how she separated the word:  HUM/ US/


      She sees and says the known word “Hum” followed by the known word “Us.” It was apparent that just telling her the correct pronunciation was not going to do the trick. I had to ask her to re-apply the strategy. I asked her to break the word differently, after the “u,” like in human. Thus, her brain would see HU/ MUS/ instead.


      She practiced a couple of times and then re-read the line.


      “Soil is made of humus.” She punctuated the syllables in humus but got it right. We continued reading.


      All of this happened over the course of just a few seconds. I didn’t belabor the actions nor did I repeat the correct pronunciation over and over. I recognized what she was doing and I tweaked her strategy. I didn’t focus on key ideas and details for the sake of making meaning across the entire text. I focused on making meaning of just one word in order to knock down a roadblock so that she could continue to access the rest of the text. When we were done reading, we went back to the page and re-read the sentence again, correctly and without hesitation.


      I consider this a mini close reading moment, but at the word level rather than the sentence or paragraph level. The evidence for thinking what she’s thinking lies in the knowledge she gains from using known strategies and growing those strategies when she encounters new words. I asked her questions about her text and she answered them, leading her to comprehend with greater accuracy. She is becoming an independent reader and a roadblock problem solver so that there is continued improvement over time.


      While this might not be a perfect match to the Close Reading standards around Key Ideas and Details, I do think it represents a quick analysis appropriate for the grade level. Even at the word level, I’m asking questions about both the text and the strategy.


      The key here is that she’s reading and we are navigating both skills and processes while she’s reading. Sometimes the reading is more guided in nature and represents an improvement zone. Sometimes it’s her reading to me so that I can hear what she’s doing. Sometimes I still read to her when she lets me, not so much anymore because I want her to hear me being a fluent reader but because I still can. I hope that lasts for a little while longer.



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  • R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Pla R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Plan Elementary Level or Beginning Foreign Language

    • From: Judy_Willis
    • Description:

      R.A.D. Neurological Lesson Plan

      Elementary Level or Beginning Foreign Language

       

       

      By Paula Berlinck and Luciana Castro

      2nd grade Portuguese Teachers

      Graded School

      Sao Paulo, Brazil

      March 2014

       

       

      Unit Title:  Where does the bread come from?

      Subject(s):  Portuguese  Grade Level(s): 2nd grade

      Lesson Concept/Topic:   Reading and Writing Non-fiction

      Lesson Goals/Objectives:  Reading and Writing Non-fiction

       

      Lesson Elements:

      (and how they will be Neuro-logical)

       

       

       

      Plan:

       

       

      Getting Attention:

      How will you begin this lesson to engage learners’ attention?

       

      The attention filter (RAS) gives priority to sensory input that is different than the expected pattern. Novelty, such as changes in voice, unusual objects, songs playing when they enter the classroom, will peak students curiosity and increase likelihood of the related lesson material being selected by the RAS attention filter.

       

       

      1-As soon as each student arrives in the classroom they will find one wheat stalk on top of your own desk.

      2-The students are going to watch and listen to the music “O cio da terra” de Milton Nascimento e Fernando Brandt

       

       

       

       

       

      Sustaining Attention:

      What will you do to sustain students’ attentive focus throughout the lesson?

       

      The brain seeks the pleasure response to making correct predictions. When students have the opportunity to make and change predictions throughout a lesson, attention is sustained as the brain seeks clues to make accurate predictions. Individual response tools, such as white boards, can be used to make predictions and reduce mistake anxiety.

       

      1-Make the link with the Field trip to the Bread Factory and list the Previous Knowledge about “Where does the bread come from?”

      2- The teacher will start to read the book “Kika: De onde vem o pão?”

      3- Treshing the wheat and grind to find out the flour

      Motivation and Perseverance:

      Which dopamine boosters will be included in your lesson?

       

      The brain seeks the pleasure response to increased dopamine. Incorporating dopamine boosters (e.g., humor, movement, listening to music, working with peers) increases attention, motivation, and perseverance

       

      4- Finishing the reading aloud of the book

      5- Watching the video “Kika: De onde vem o pão?”

      6- Using a Graphic Organize to compare and contrast the information in the book and the video  

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Buy-in:

      How will you help students see value and relevance in what they are learning – so they want to know what you have to teach?

       

      Positive climate and prevention of high stressors promote information passage through the amygdala to the PFC. Motivation and effort increase when the brain expects pleasure. Buy-in examples include personal relevance, prediction, and performance tasks connecting to students’ interests and strengths.

       

      7- Bake the Bread in the classroom

      Every student will take part on the process, in group of 4 students at a time.

      Achievable challenge:

       How will you tailor the lesson to address students’ differences in readiness, learning profile, and interests?

       

      Differentiation allows students to work at their achievable challenge level.  The students who understand the new topic, if required to keep reviewing with the group, may become bored and therefore stressed.  If it is too challenging they will become frustrated. By providing learning opportunities within their range of achievable challenge, students engage through expectation of positive experiences.

       

      8- Students will be able to choose one of the videos from the series “Kika: De onde vem?”, (Kika: Where it comes from?) where they can find different subjects that explain things like: the waves, where the eggs comes from,  how TV works, etc)

      Students will work in pairs, considering their complementary abilities

      They are going to watch, to learn about the topic, take notes and then write it down to explain to another person. They could use different formats of graphic organizers, with more or less parts to drawn and break it down the information. They will be assisted by the teacher depending by their level.

      Frequent Formative Assessment and Feedback:

      How will you monitor students’ progress towards acquisition, meaning making, and transfer, during lesson events?

      How will students get the feedback they need and opportunities to make use of it?

       

      Effort is withheld when previous experiences have failed to achieve success. Breaking down learning tasks into achievable challenge segments, in which students experience and are aware of success on route to learning goals (e.g. analytic rubrics, effort-to-progress graphs) and reflect on what they learned and how they learned, builds their confidence that their effort can bring them closer to their goals.

       

      Students will be active in some paces of the process. The summative assessment is the nonfiction text that they will write using movie information, translating it in a graphic organizer and/or nonfiction text like “how to” or “all about”.

       

       

       

       

       

      Short-term Memory Encoding:

      How will you activate prior knowledge to promote the brain’s acquiring new input?

       

      Helping students to realize what they already know about a topic activates an existing memory pattern to which new input can link in the hippocampus.  Graphic organizers, cross-curricular units, and bulletin boards that preview upcoming units are examples of prior knowledge activation tools.

       

       

      Create a chart with the students remembering the prior knowledge that they have about the unit ALL ABOUT and HOW TO, that they had studied in their English class.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Mental manipulation for Long-term Memory:

      How will students make meaning of learning so neuroplasticity constructs the neural connections of long-term memory?

       

      When students acquire the information in a variety of ways e.g. visualization, movement, reading, hearing and “translate” learning into other representations (create a narrative, symbolize through a video, synthesize into the concise summary of a tweet) the activation of the short-term memory increases its connections (dendrites, synapses, myelin) to construct long-term memory.

       

       

      As the students were exposed to a lot of different inputs, considering visualization, movement, reading, writing etc, we expect it will be built as a long-term memory.

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Executive Functions:

      Which executive function skills will be embedded in the lesson, homework, and projects? (e.g., analyze, organize, prioritize, plan goals, adapt, judge validity, think flexibly, assess risk, communicate clearly.)

       

      It is important to provide ongoing meaningful ways for students to interact with information so that they apply, activate, and strengthen their developing networks of executive function. Assignments and assessments planned to promote the use of executive functions (e.g. making judgments, supporting opinions, analyzing source validity) activate these highest cognitive networks developing in students’ brains most profoundly during the school years. 

       

      All executive functions are in place

       

      What strategies help students to…

      Set and reach goals:

       

      Individual feedback from the teacher

       

       

      Evaluate sources:

       

      videos

       

       

      Make decisions (analyze and deduce):

       

      Graphic organizers

       

       

      Support opinions:

       

      Share peers

       

       

       

       

      

      

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  • Leader to Leader News: April 2 Leader to Leader News: April 2014

  • 9 Ideas You Can Steal from Tea 9 Ideas You Can Steal from Teachers

    • From: Suzy_Brooks
    • Description:

      This blog post is listed in its entirety at :http://blogs.falmouth.k12.ma.us/simplysuzy/2014/04/13/9-ideas-you-can-steal-from-teachers/

       

      After stumbling across Portent’s Content Idea Generator, I had a bit of fun… I threw in some favorite topics and generated some pretty giggly blog post ideas:

       

      10 Freaky Reasons Creativity Could Get You Fired.

      How Learning Can Help You Predict the Future

      12 Ways Technology Could Help the Red Sox Win the World Series.

      20 Things Spock Would Say About Schools.  <~someone should totally write this!!

       

      But those are all topics for another day….

      9 ideas you can steal from teachers

      So I started thinking about one of the topics that Portent generated….  What are ideas we teachers have, that others would find worth stealing?

      Here goes!!

       

      1: Attention Pleaseattention

      Whether teachers are clapping, chanting, counting, calling out, or throwing up Peace Signs – they are getting the attention of students coast to coast.  So, next time you need to get attention at the dinner table, or at the deli, or on the subway – try some tried-and-true teacher tricks.  Clap a rhythm, shut the lights off, or count backwards from 10.  Soon you’ll have the rapt attention of all those around you.

      2.   Everything is more fun with Music

      Music is a powerful medium. I can still remember all of the words from all the Schoolhouse Rocks videos of my youth. I can still sing my multiplication tables from 3rd grade (thank you, Mrs. Lynch!).  Classical piano and guitar help drown out all of the distractions of Real Life so I can focus on one thing at a time.  Sharing music in the classroom helps keep things calm and lively; serene and silly.  Students respond to rhythm, to rhyme, to rap, to relaxing tones.  So, try rapping that pesky list of chores to be done around the house, or singing the steps to cleaning a bedroom.  A little classical music during dinner never hurt anyone.

      3.   Read-alouds are good for everyone.  

      Read-Aloud time is one of our most favorite in Room 204. Whether we are sharing the next chapter in Charlotte’s Web, or rhyming along with Dr. Seuss, during read-aloud every student is engaged and involved.  Perhaps the next time you’d like to get an important point across to a family member, you could do it in the form of a read-aloud.  Gather them on the rug in front of you, muster up your best fluency skills, and have at it.  Whether you read the DVR user’s manual, summer camp brochures, or the latest junk mail, I guarantee you’ll have a committed audience.  Sell it.

      The remaining 6 ideas can be found here:

      http://blogs.falmouth.k12.ma.us/simplysuzy/2014/04/13/9-ideas-you-can-steal-from-teachers/

       

      As a teacher, what ideas do you have worth stealing??  Share them!!

      

      

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  • Effective Leadership: The Impo Effective Leadership: The Importance of Protocol

    • From: Jonathan_Jefferson
    • Description:

       

      Effective Leadership:

      The Importance of Protocol

      By

      Jonathan T. Jefferson

                      Ineffective leadership is reactionary.  There are other forms that ineffectual leadership takes, but this essay will focus on reactionary people in leadership positions who do not understand the importance of protocol.  Protocol can be defined as “the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.”

                      The following scenarios are based on true accounts, but the perpetrators will remain nameless.  A school district superintendent recommends cuts to the school district’s budget for the following school year.  He explains to his board of education that the cuts come from every department to be fair.  Student participation, and per pupil cost, are taken into consideration.  A parent of a child on the middle school bowling team is disappointed that the bowling team has been cut.  This parent speaks to a board of education member who happens to be her neighbor.  Said board member calls the superintendent to inquire about the bowling team.  Instead of explaining the legitimate reasons why the bowling team was eliminated, the superintendent feigns ignorance, and directs his business administrator, and athletic director, to reinstate the program.  Clearly, this is not leadership, but reacting in fear to one voice from the community.

                      What would proper protocol have been in the above scenario?  Firstly, board members have no authority acting independently.  Board members must act as a unit (board of education) to monitor, and set, school district policies that do not violate their state’s department of education mandates and laws.  The board member could have told the parent that he would revisit the issue the next time the board met.  The superintendent could have reminded the board member that his budget was approved by the board, and that the matter could be readdressed during their next budget meeting.  The manner in which the superintendent reacted led to the reinstatement of another team later that school year when one parent inquired about that team at a PTA function.  Leadership requires making decisions that will not please everyone, and having the conviction to defend those decisions.

                      In this scenario, a teacher learns that she is being transferred to another school, and decides to fight the transfer by speaking with a board member who happens to be a retired principal of her school.  This board member speaks to the superintendent, and the superintendent immediately calls his assistant superintendents, and department director, to tell them to reconsider the transfer.  The department director, who does have the courage to defend his decisions, explained to the superintendent that the decision was made in the best interest of instruction after meetings with the principals of both schools.

      Once again, a weak reactionary person in a leadership position can cause chaos by ignoring protocol.  If this teacher were to be successful at thwarting a transfer, what authority would her principal or directors have in future dealings with her?   Especially disturbing is the fact that a former principal (now board member) would act in a manner that would undermine the current principal.  This board member should have told the teacher that the decision was within the unilateral purview of the school administrators.  An effective superintendent would have politely reminded the board member of the proper protocol in place (if any) to appeal such decision in this instance.

      As a school district administrator, the most effective superintendent I have had the pleasure of working with was a former Marine.  She believed fully in the benefits of protocol, and held everyone to it.  If a member of the community raised an issue at a board meeting, she would redirect them to the appropriate administrator and through the appropriate channels for such matter to be addressed.  She was a stickler for following through with her decisions, and never backed down or shied away from the procedural soundness of her decisions when questioned.  Through courage, conviction and commitment to community (rather than personal) objectives, this former marine more effectively managed a nine member board than the inept superintendent worked with his five.

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  • Shut The Front Door Shut The Front Door

    • From: Steven_Weber
    • Description:

      As an educator, I am often surprised by the things I hear other educators say. You hear these comments at conferences, read opinions shared on Twitter, overhear opinions shared at other schools, and possibly even hear one of these statements at your own school. These statements make me cringe. When we are working with students, it is difficult to understand the statements that some educators make.

       

      Ten Statements That Make Me Say, "Shut The Front Door!"

       

      "Those students can't go to college. We should just prepare them for a career, starting in middle school."

      In 1903, Saunders, a professor at the University of Mississippi, described the perspective of many Americans at the turn of the century.  He wrote, "College education is desirable and theoretically necessary for preeminence, but it is not for the masses, and it would be but a utopian theory to plan for the day when a bachelor's degree shall be a qualification for suffrage or a necessity for success and happiness" (p. 73).

       

      In 2014, several Americans still share this perspective. The recent move towards College and Career Readiness is a positive move in education. This movement does not guarantee that every student will enter a four year college. It is the idea that every student should be provided with the opportunity to learn (OTL) key skills and concepts. Furthermore, adults should not determine a child's plans after high school when the child is in the seventh grade.

       

      "Our seventh graders made a PowerPoint, so I would say that I am proficient with technology integration."

      I am not offended by teachers saying that they require students to make a PowerPoint. However, it should be a red flag to administrators if any teacher hangs their hat on one project that incorporates technology. Technology integration should become seamless. In other words student projects will require technology integration, but the focus is on student understanding, not the device or program. After all, did you ever hear a teacher say, “My students used a pencil and paper today?” 

       

      "The Common Core State Standards are not new ideas. I have always taught this way."

      Regardless of your stance (for or against) the Common Core State Standards, there are obvious changes in the way teachers should approach curriculum development, instruction, and common formative assessments. "These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step” (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Introduction, p. 5). Be aware of teacher teams and administrators who claim, “This is how we have always done it.”

       

      The new standards will not fit into your state’s old standards like a jigsaw puzzle. The Common Core State Standards provide an opportunity to change how teacher teams communicate, collaborate, and reflect on standards. In the absence of ongoing communication, it will be easy to revert back to teaching in isolation and struggling to understand each standard. “Failure to understand the Standards and adjust practices accordingly will likely result in ‘same old, same old’ teaching with only superficial connections to the grade level Standards. In that case, their promise to enhance student performance will not be realized” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2012).

       

      "I require the gifted students to do double the work. They can handle it, because 'they are gifted.'"

      You do not hear this myth as often as you did at the turn of the century. However, there are still misconceptions about rigor and about homework for gifted students. Giving gifted students more work does not support student understanding. If you hear a teacher bragging about giving the gifted students double the work, you should refer them to resources such as (Edmonds, SERVE) and Rigor on Trial (Wagner, 2006).

       

      "How do you expect me to read a journal article or blog. There's no time for that."

      The field of education is changing and professional growth is not optional. Online journal articles, blogs written by teachers and administrators, Twitter chats, webinars, and teaching videos provide educators with a multitude of resources. As a professional, I grow frustrated when someone claims that there is no time for continuous improvement. As educators, we should continue to grow and seek to understand best practices. It is professional malpractice to claim that there is no time for learning.

       

      "Those aren't my students."

      Teachers in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) change from saying ‘those kids’ to ‘our kids’ (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008). If the goal is to prepare all students to graduate College and Career Ready, then the teachers and staff members in the school district must collaborate to support students. Principals within the same school district should share ideas and discuss instructional strategies. Competition is good when it comes to athletics, marching band, academic clubs, and science fairs. It is also appropriate to see which school has the highest graduation rate, lowest dropout rate, and highest number of students enrolled in advanced courses. The idea that “Those aren’t my students” should be a thing of the past. As adults, we should share ideas within our school district, across state lines, and even around the globe. When more students graduate prepared for college and careers, the world wins! These are “OUR” students!

       

      "Do we get credit for attending this meeting?"

      Have you ever heard a colleague whisper, “I hope they are giving us credit for this.” Most school districts require a number of credits over the course of one year or a five year span. If a teacher is more focused on receiving credit than learning, it is a red flag. Have you ever attended a meeting until lunch and then your co-worker goes to the mall, because the credit was given in the registration packet? It is a shame that some educators view the credit as the purpose for attending. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that educators should receive credit in order to renew their license. I also believe that more school districts should begin recognizing blogging, Twitter chats, and webinars as ways to earn credit. Asking for credit is similar to the following scenario:

       

      A high school basketball coach asks the starting five to run a play in practice, one day before the game. The starting point guard pauses before running the play and asks, “Will we all five get to start in the game if we run this play right?”

       

      Running the play several times is part of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is the reason for professional development, not credit or a certificate.

       

      "We are no longer teaching during the last nine weeks. We have started benchmarking and test prep."

      Test prep is one of the worst things that teachers can do during the last nine weeks. Did you ever try to cram for a test in college? It usually does not result in transfer or understanding. There are multiple approaches that educators can take which will virtually guarantee instant gains or increases in student achievement. Curricular reductionism is a test prep strategy that eliminates arts education, social studies, character education, and soft skills. If it’s not tested, then it’s not taught during the last nine weeks (or even semester in some schools).

       

      Taking shortcuts to improve the data at an individual school is akin to a professional athlete taking steroids. When our students graduate from high school, we do not want them to reflect on their K-12 experience and see that the shortcuts adults took created long-term detrimental effects.

       

      When educators choose to give students multiple assessments that look like the high-stakes test, eliminate subjects, and create a test prep boot camp atmosphere, then students lose. High-stakes tests have changed the way some teachers and administrators approach teaching and learning.

       

      "I would assign more project-based learning, but it interferes with the pacing guide."

      Pacing guides provide students with a ‘guaranteed and viable curriculum’ (Marzano), if the curriculum is implemented in each classroom. Pacing guides can support teaching and learning. Alignment in a school district is important and pacing guides can provide an outline of what should be taught to each student. Pacing guides should allow for flexibility in pacing and the readiness level of each student.

       

      The statement above is often overheard at high schools that teach on a block schedule. While there may be 90 minute periods, some teachers cannot overcome the fact that a one year course is taught in one semester. If student understanding is improved through project-based learning (PBL), then teachers should identify days of the week and units of study that provide students with time for PBL.

       

      I say, “Shut the Front Door” to this comment, because it is an example of putting the needs of adults in front of the needs of students. We are paid to prepare each student for the next level of learning. Some educators say, “Research be damned, I am going to get through the pacing guide and make sure that I cover the content.”

       

      "I believe that soft skills are critically important, but they aren't tested by the state."

      Soft skills include, but are not limited to, teamwork, decision-making, and communication (America’s Promise Alliance, 2007). “The goal of college and career readiness for all high school graduates is no longer a radical reform idea promulgated by a handful of states: It has emerged as the new norm throughout the nation” (Achieve, 2010, p. 23).

       

      Employers seek applicants who are problem solvers, communicators, team players, and have perseverance. These skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills, are needed by all high school graduates to ensure that they are college and career ready, regardless of whether they plan to complete an apprenticeship after high school or attend a two-year or four-year college.  While employers are seeking students with strong academic skills, they are having trouble finding applicants who can collaborate, create, think outside the box, and communicate. When educators focus on tested subjects at the expense of soft skills, students pay the price. If test scores are the reason for teaching and learning, then someone forgot to tell the employers who are seeking qualified applicants (Wagner, Seven Survival Skills as described by business leaders in their own words).

       

      Closing Thoughts

      I believe in instructional leadership, teacher leaders, the Common Core State Standards, curriculum alignment, professional learning communities, and College and Career Readiness. When teachers and administrators make statements that you disagree with, you should challenge the statement. As a professional, you owe it to students and to the profession to challenge broad statements or beliefs that are not in the best interests of students or the profession.

       

      Share your thoughts below:

      What makes you say, “Shut the Front Door?”

        

      Steven Weber is an elementary school principal in North Carolina. During his career, he has served as the Director of Secondary Instruction for Orange County Schools, High School Social Studies Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, K-12 Social Studies Specialist with the Arkansas Department of Public Instruction, and as a classroom teacher and assistant principal in the West Memphis School District. Weber blogs on ASCD EDge. You can connect with Weber on Twitter at @curriculumblog.

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    • 3 weeks ago
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  • Gimme a Break (Because I Sure Gimme a Break (Because I Sure Need One)

    • From: Eric_Russo
    • Description:

      It is open season on students in regards to testing, and in some school settings, this can mean a lot of pushback. This third quarter was a mess with all of the days off.  It killed instructional momentum, disrupted the classroom culture, and narrowed the number of day in that ever so important “testing window.”  Teachers are frustrated by the interruption in learning; students are frustrated by yet another meaningless assessment (at least to them).  As we sat in planning and looked at the testing calendar, there was no way around it - a week worth of testing that had to be completed before spring break.  Some of my colleagues lamented about how this would impact their data, or about complaints they would surely get from the students. It is true that the students would complain, and knowing that is a part of teaching; but what are you going to do with that knowledge?  Last year, at ASCD13, I attended a session on kinesthetic learning.  The speaker said something that has stuck with me since:  If you don’t like the state of your classroom, change the state.  It echoes something I always share with my advisory students as well:  You can’t control what anyone else does; you can only control yourself.

       

       

      I decided to do two things to be proactive about changing the state of this potentially negative situation.  The first was to share a poem.  Poetry was a major passion of mine in college, and one that teaching has taken away from me in some regards.  For National Poetry Month, I’ve decided to share a poem a day.  Not to annotate, or analyze, or read closely for some standard, but simply to share.  I want to share poems that meant something to me when I was a student; that shaped my love of poetry to begin with. I want to share them the way they were meant to be delivered – spoken aloud.  I want students to know that poetry is a great way to express our ideas, and I want to them to hear some of my own compositions.  And maybe through sharing my passion, it will help shape theirs.  I have to admit, that I am ferociously scouring my old college books, and reliving the joys of these poignant words all over again.

       

      The second thing I decided to do was play a game before testing.  Nothing fancy, just a simple game of silent ball.  I set a timer for 5 minutes and let them go.  It got the room quiet, which set the tone.  It got the kids moving, which got their energy out.  It got the kids smiling and laughing just before they were about to take an assessment, which got their brains firing on all cylinders.  After we got settled in our seats, the kids were more serious about working.  Their posture was better, and they were visibly focused on the task at hand.

       

      I believe that if we are truly trying to create a Whole Child Classroom, then we need to think about what our children truly need.  They do not need another test. They do not need another lecture. They do need to have some fun during the day.  They do need to know that their teachers love what they teach, and care about things other than work and tests.  And with those few quick moves they understood.  They understood that we (my co-teacher and I) understand.  We acknowledged how crappy it is to have to take so many tests, but we stressed the importance of doing our best.  We gained their trust and buy-in and changed the state of the classroom.  I thought about some of my peers, who were probably struggling to get their kids quiet, dealing with complaining or lack of effort.  Would they be willing to try something like this, or would they just talk about holding students accountable or wasting time?  Either way, my mind is made up.  Give these kids a break (even if it is 5 minutes), give them some of yourself, and they will give you more of themselves.   I’ll let the data work itself out.

    • Blog post
    • 3 weeks ago
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  • Bounce Back...AIM Toward Your Bounce Back...AIM Toward Your Vision

    • From: Marcia_Collins
    • Description:

       

       It's Hump Day Wednesday! 

      I love Wednesdays, because it helps us see take inventory of our midweek and keep riding the horse through the end~

      Bounce Back...AIM toward your vision with (3) SIMPLE STEPS

      Four weeks ago, I went to a VISION PARTY hosted by @empowerchics! The VISION PARTY was electrifying and inspiring, as @empowerchics SHARED the WHY behind the vision we were going to create! Women of all ages, and of different walks shared their stories and their VISION for the future. As we strategically picked images that depicted our VISION toward our goals, we began to imagine the vision as if it was the REALITY. You see that's the POWER of a VISION PARTY! Not only do you create your vision with images and words, the images and words start become YOUR REALITY!

      Furthermore, I believe we all have a unique, divine purpose that only we can fulfill. Our divine purpose comes wrapped with unique gifts, which we use for His glory, and our gifts benefit others. However, as we tap into those gifts, and began the vision we've imagine for our ideal lives; we may experience temporary setbacks. These temporary setbacks are characterized as problems we all will experience from time to time. You've heard of the phrase " A TEMPORARY SETBACK for a MAJOR COMEBACK! In the article, Spark People  Lisa Noelcke shared (3) specific steps you can take to help you bounce back...and AIM toward your vision!

       

      First step: Be objective
      Let's face sometimes we can't see our faults, but we can see faults in others. Being objective enables us to reflect and asses the situation. When was the last time you looked at something objectively?

      Second Step: Take Responsibility
      Remember when you were a child, your mom used to say "take responsibility for your actions." Well, the same holds true as adults. However, sometimes, we blame things or others for decisions made. Another name for this is external locus of control, all of us are guilty if this at some time, or another. Instead of blaming others or things, use internal locus of control, and ask the question "what could I have done differently to prepare for a better outcome?" REFLECTION is POWERFUL! Also, taking responsibility for our actions are counterintuitive to "being objective and assessing our situation, dusting ourselves off and pushing forward toward our vision!

      Third Step: Ask for help
      Are you too proud to ask for help from a professional coach, mentor or trusted friend? Sometimes we have to come to terms with areas in our lives that need improvement such as our finances, weight loss, building a thriving business or viable career. Seek help from those who have traveled the journey ahead of you. As a Resiliency Coach, and working professional I seek the advice of others, and use that advice to grow toward my divine purpose. Also, their advice and wisdom helped me make better choices and take a different path. Overcome your temporary setbacks by asking for help...from a professional coach, mentor or trusted friend. Nothing is new under the sun, we all have experienced similar challenges...however some of us respond differently to challenges faced. Resilient professionals "immediately look at the problem and say what's the solution to that? What is it trying to teach me?"

      Journaling Assignment and Action Step:

      Which of (3) simple steps resonated with you the most? Share a personal or professional experience with the simple step you resonated with. Write one action step you will take TODAY to bounce back...and AIM toward your VISION or GOAL.

      Are you ready to Bounce back and AIM toward your vision today. Discover What's N U! Schedule a FREE 45 minute coaching consultation @ Contact Marcia

      Let's connect today...leave your comments below and please...please share the love of information with your FRIENDS and FAMILY! I look forward to connecting with you soon;)

      Until next time...

       Marcia

    • Blog post
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  • Kelli_Hueneke

    • ASCD EDge Member
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  • Shiny Happy People Shiny Happy People

    • From: Barry_Saide
    • Description:

      It was the middle of a long week and there was no end in sight. My priority list seemed neverending. I grumbled as I walked into school. I was tired, and I didn’t care who knew it. My vibe was not a good one. And, it was the wrong one.


      The first day I welcomed in a new group of students and told their parents not to worry, that their children would be fine under my care, my life stopped being about serving myself and began about serving others. This job stopped being about me a long time ago, and I’d forgotten about that.


      I felt like road kill. And, that’s okay. It’s human to be tired. It’s not okay in our field to let it affect us, because that impacts not just us, but the students we serve, the families who entrust us to keep their children in the forefront of each decision we make, and our teammates who feed off our energy.


      That’s why outside of this day, whenever a student or a co-worker had asked me how I was doing, I’ve always told them some combination of: “I’m awesome,” “I’m great,” or, “Never had a bad day.” Because everyone benefits from hearing that. Maybe it lifts us up, maybe it serves as a model for keeping a positive attitude.


      Or, maybe my students, parents, or peers walk away and think I’m nuts. But, if they’re tired, not feeling well, or life has dealt them a bad hand that day, I’ve at least given them something else to think about: that guy must be nuts. How is he always in a good mood?


      In reality, I’m not always in a good mood. I have arthritis, which can make some mornings tougher than others to loosen up and get moving. I have two boys, a three-year-old, and a 19 month-old. Neither has mastered sleeping overnight. However, I have the potential to wake up and put others in a good mood each day, and that’s a powerful thing. How many people can change someone’s day with a handshake, a smile, a nod of the head, raised eyebrows, or a silly face. Who was I to take away someone’s potential positive mindset because I had a long to do list!? That’s a misuse of power, and, that makes me sad, which is worse than being tired.


      As I walked into my classroom, I reflected on how I felt, acknowledged it, and put it aside. Because, my day was now about investing in others: making each person I came in contact with feel significant, that they belonged to something, and the environment they came to each day was fun. This was no place for a sleepy party pooper.


      I checked my coffee and diet soda to make sure I was armed for the day, turned on the tunes, and sat at my desk. It was time to review my plans, look at my morning message, and create another positive experience for those I would come in contact with that day.


      We may not always feel like shiny, happy people. But, we do need to put that out there for our students, their families, and our peers. They deserve nothing less than our best. We can always nap later.


    • Blog post
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  • I Hate(d) Failure. I Hate(d) Failure.

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      For most of my 36 years, my personal mantra has been “Failure is not an option.”

       

      Seven months ago, I made a public pledge to blog at least twice a month.  I may as well have also labeled it “My New Year’s Resolution” because I have not written a post after that, despite it being received relatively well.


      Over the past few months, I made fun pacts with fellow ASCD Emerging Leaders (specifically Barry Saide, Eric Bernstein) about how I would follow their blogging lead, writing amazingly interesting blogs that reference cool ‘80s movies and inspire educators to work wonders in their classrooms.  I also made excuses for why I never quite got around to writing (doctoral classes, family commitments, travel, conferences, sleep…).


      Honestly, I didn’t write because I was afraid that my thoughts would be considered un-engaging, un-informative, or worse, poorly written.  (Read: NOT GOOD ENOUGH.) 


      In my effort to avoid feeling like a failure, I failed.


      As an educational consultant who focuses on social emotional learning, I am privileged to work with teachers and students in states across the country.  In this role, I often encourage – no, I intentionally PROMOTE – failure.  I believe whole-heartedly in giving others a 2nd, 3rd, even 4th chance.  I urge teachers to incorporate formative assessment into the classrooms and offer students “second chance learning” on summative evaluations.  I persuade students to forgive themselves, back up, redirect their paths, and move forward again with confidence based on new learning.  Why can’t I seem to give myself those same opportunities?


      Failure helps us grow character, build resilience, and increase knowledge and expertise.  Failure lets us know who is standing by our side.  Failure stretches us in ways we never thought we’d experience.  Failure directs us to success.


      Since everyone defines “success” differently, failure can always lead us to success.  It is all in how we frame it.


      Prior to starting my doctoral program, I set a goal to achieve a 4.0 GPA.  Near the end of my first 9-credit semester, I earned my first “B” on a paper.  For some, this may not seem like much.  For me, the knot of failure sat in my stomach for days.  I tried to ignore it, overcome it, and push it away. 


      Finally, I decided to embrace “it”. 


      I embraced failure. 


      I reframed my thinking.  Realizing that I no longer had to (was able to) achieve my goal, I could actually enjoy my journey of learning – relish all the new insights my professors and classmates offered.  I was now open to truly grow as an educator, as a learner, and as an individual.  I was stretched, and I bounced back.  And truly, I am much better for it.


      As a consultant, you build quick relationships with those with whom you work.  One of my mentors, Thom Stecher, once told me that in order to build my consulting skills, I needed to find MY stories – and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to share them.


      I think this might be a good place to start.  From failure. 


      (And Barry and Eric, lest you think that have failed to tie a movie to this post: The 1993 movie, Cool Runnings, tells the inspiring story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team trying to make it into the Olympics.  At different stages of their lives, the bobsled teammates, and their coach, experienced intense periods of failure.  But, they embraced it, learned from it, and found success.  As one of the main characters states in the movie, “Cool Runnings means ‘Peace Be The Journey.’”


      May we all find peace on our own journey through embracing our failures and remaining confident that we will eventually meet success.

    • Blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
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  • An Introvert In A 21st Century An Introvert In A 21st Century Skills-Driven Classroom

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      Introverted students constitute one-quarter to one-half of your classroom.  Just as we differentiate our instruction for student learning styles, interests, and needs, so should we consider differentiating for this trait that impacts how we process and respond to information and our environments.  As teachers, it requires an awareness of how others learn and respond to stimuli along with slight modifications in the teaching and learning strategies employed in our classrooms.  A little shift can go a long way.

       

      The headphones and book I always carry within arms reach?  Not just to entertain me, but to keep me from having to engage in random small talk conversation.

      The U-shaped format for my classroom desks?  Not just to facilitate conversation among my students, but to give me enough personal space to breathe easily in a room filled with people.

      The 45-minute afternoon nap I take after working with a school district all day?  Not just because I am exhausted after throwing all my energy and positivity into a presentation, but to find my balance again so I am not cranky for the rest of the evening.

      The beautiful, light piano music that plays every time my cell phone rings?  Oh, wait.  I never hear it because my phone is always on silent.  Leave a message and I’ll call you back when I have the answer to your question or know what you want to talk about.

      You are a teacher!  You have presented at conferences! You talk to and with people all day long!  You cannot possibly be an introvert!

      But, I am - and the rising popularity of books and articles (Marti Laney’s book “The Introverted Advantage”Susan Cain’s book “Quiet”, Carolyn Gregoire’s Huffington Post article) on what it means to be an introvert continues to remind me.  Through understanding, introversion is no longer seen as a “personality disorder”, but as an end-post of a personality continuum (Introvert – Ambivert – Extrovert) that is dependent upon a number of factors: Are you energized by solitude or by large groups? Do you need time to process information and gather your thoughts?  How do you feel about making small talk with others?  Do you enjoy phone conversations?  Do you look forward to engaging in deep, abstract conversations?

      I love to collaborate.  I love to communicate.  I love people; I really do.  But, if as an adult, I have developed coping strategies for living in a country where extroversion is more the norm… how are our students faring, especially if they have not recognized that they lean more toward the introverted side of the Introverted-Extroverted Continuum?

      As an introvert and a strong advocate for 21st century teaching and learning, I can’t help but think about how classroom teachers are now encouraged to foster collaboration and communication.  How do we cultivate a natural fit between the two that creates a safe learning environment for all?

      I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to support the introverted student in your class (beyond helping them develop their own coping strategies for daily life).

      1.  Seating – I understand that it is easier to put students in alphabetical order when creating seating charts.  But I like to sit in the back or near the edge so I feel I have room to “breathe”.  I was once seated in the front middle seat because of my name and the teacher taught the class standing three inches from my desk; all I could focus on that year was devising methods of escape.  Please allow me to select my own seat with the understanding that if there is a disruption to the learning process, you will rearrange.  Besides, you can learn a lot about a student by watching where, and near whom, he or she sits.

      2.  Icebreakers – I understand the value icebreakers to foster a sense of community, and I admit that it DOES get better once you get started.   But, as soon as I hear that word, I want to slink to the floor and crawl to the door.  To keep me in my seat, to encourage participation, and to prevent me from leaving for an unnecessary bathroom/coffee/water/food/phone call break, don’t tell me to “find a partner you don’t know”.  Please pair me up with someone randomly by counting us off, using playing cards with numbers, pulling popsicle sticks with names… anything.

      3.  “Turn and Talk” – I understand the need to formatively assess how students are processing the information and to check for clarity by sharing it out, but I need time to internalize and sort through information on my own.  If you gave me two minutes to collect my thoughts or even allow me to write them down, I will be better prepared to share with a partner what I have learned.  The concept of “Think, Pair, Share” works much better for me.  Please give me the time to “think” and organize the array of thoughts racing through my head.

      4.  Group Projects – I understand the importance of learning how to collaborate in a group, divide up roles, share ownership, and negotiate ideas.  But sometimes I like to do projects independently instead of being forced into a group.  I’d love the occasional opportunity to “work with a group/partner or work independently” – even if this means I will have “more” work to do on my own.  Please give me a choice occasionally.

      5.  Participation Points – I understand, and appreciate, that you want everyone to be involved and to have an opportunity to share his or her thoughts.  I realize that participation points are one way to encourage this.  Check out my body language, notice my eye contact on you, see that I am taking notes and listening to what is being said, use a polling system in class (polleverywhere.com, mini whiteboards, thumbs up/down), or ask me to turn in an exit slip before leaving class.  Please recognize that I can be participating and actively processing discussions and activities without having to speak out loud.

       

    • Blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
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  • Putting the Child into Whole C Putting the Child into Whole Child: Give Students Voice to Improve Your Practice

    • From: Eric_Russo
    • Description:

      Recently I was having a discussion with a colleague who is new to the building.  This teacher is confident, self-assured, and has decades of experience over me.  We teach the same children, so we meet frequently for RTI and team meetings.  This is the type of teacher that takes pride on being “old school,” which roughly translates to a no-nonsense, quiet-equals-learning, behavior-should-have-negative-consequences type of environment.  It’s the model that many of us grew up with.  Although I was able to navigate through this system because I was a so-called “good student,” many friends were not particularly successful, with the logical assumption that they were “bad students.” This model puts the system itself as the driving force for success, which is disempowering both to educators and to the students alike.
       

      Now, the conversation in question did not go smoothly, especially when I insensitively insisted that the teacher “would not be successful” using this old school approach.  Realizing that I was working against my goal, I quickly concluded with a final statement that I paraphrased from a Maya Angelou quote:  People don’t remember what you say; they remember how you made them feel.  It is a statement that I share with staff and students, and for me it is at the foundation of the type of teacher I strive to be.  It is also at the core of the safe and supported tenets of Whole Child.  The Whole Child philosophy offers a new approach that does not consider students to be good or bad, but forces educators to consider students’ needs.  And what better way to find out, then to ask the students themselves?  Consider two examples of how student voice and Whole Child thinking work together to show improvements on both the classroom and individual level.
       

      Example 1:
       

      In the beginning of this school year the majority of my first period reading class was sitting with their heads down.  There are two quick assumptions that a teacher can make.  One is that the kids don’t care about school; the other is that the teacher and or content actually is that boring.  The old school of thought would assume the first, placing the responsibility of learning on the learner.  The second is something that many teachers don’t want to admit, or that they convince themselves is all right because (true to old-school fashion),“it’s school, we sat through boring classes too, but it’s just something you have to do.”    But a Whole Child approach caused me to consider a third option based on the Healthy tenet.  As I was addressing the class about having their heads down I thought came to mind: “Raise your hand if you ate breakfast this morning.”  Few hands went in the air, and surely none of the droopy heads had their hands up.  On the spot, the homework assignment for the next class was to eat breakfast in the morning (in hindsight, I should have made students report out and really build understanding by reading articles as well, but now I know for future reference).  I checked up on the class the next day, and pointed out how different the dynamic in the class was when all or most ate breakfast.  I also included this information in my weekly email to parents with a link to an article about the importance of eating in the morning.   

       

      I started to think about my own practice and the assumptions teachers make everyday.  How many students have been written off as not caring, when in fact they may have simply been hungry and unable to concentrate?  The combination of awareness of the Whole Child tenets, and a discussion with the students lead to a change, and hopefully a lesson that they will never forget.  This is also something that will be woven into my opening lessons at the beginning of the next school year along with other brain-based research.  Had it not been for Whole Child thinking, and a moment to talk with the students, I may have plugged forward with the lesson.  Others might have fallen back on an “old school” management approach of consequences or phone calls home.  Whole Child opened my mind to other possibilities.  I still get some heads down during class, but it is almost guaranteed that every time a student complains about a stomachache or being tired, they skipped breakfast; and we can fall back on that day and use their experience as evidence.   On the flipside, I also have several students that tell me what they ate for breakfast regularly now (win). 
       

      Example 2:
       

      Having conversations with the students is an essential in serving the whole child on the individual level as well.  At a recent student conference, the teachers asked about being off-task in math class.  The student shared this:  
       

      “When you tell everyone to pass the warm-up to the front, I haven’t even done it yet because I don’t know how.  I’m still just trying to figure out what to do.  Then I get so frustrated and upset because I don’t understand what you guys are talking about, and it’s not even worth trying after that.”

       

      The teachers asked him why he doesn’t ask for help when he is confused, and he replied:
       

      “I look around and see how much the other kids in the class need you and how you are trying to help them out, I just don’t want to be bothering you.  You already have your hands full.”


      Finally when we asked him about the classes he was doing well in, he shared that in those classes he felt the teachers explained things more clearly to him, and checked up with him to make sure he understood what he was doing. 
       

      Thinking about the Whole Child philosophy forces teachers to go back to the tenets. This student definitely did not feel supported in math, which caused him to disengage.  Possibly the most disheartening aspect of this story is that the student felt like he was bothering the teachers to ask for help, or even worse, that he wasn’t worth their time.  Meanwhile, the teachers thought that he didn’t care, that he was all over the place, too social, or just couldn’t focus.  In this case, trying to reach the whole child truly led to an improvement in instruction and learning by changing the thinking of both the teachers and the student.

       

      From that meeting a direct plan came about to give the student extra time to complete his warm up, to assist with some guided notes and cloze steps for problem solving, and to find a peer tutor that can be trusted to assist during presentation and practice of new content.  It was a powerful meeting and one that came about from allowing the student voice into the process to assist with figuring out the missing pieces of the puzzle.  The student felt more supported, and would then presumably engage more in class.  The teachers were forced to think outside of the “old school” model of learning, and truly personalize for the individual in front of them.  More of these conversations need to happen regularly if we are truly going to reach every child, every day (and we have to push our colleagues to have them).  These conversations lead to greater understanding, but none if this understanding can happen without allowing the whole child to help you see the whole story.  Not every child is so open and self-aware, and many children are not used to sharing their opinion about instruction.  Some may not even know how to explain themselves, but they do know how you make them feel in class, and that discussion alone may be enough to help them help you.

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  • What I Learned Lately (WILL 13 What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #17)

    • From: Joshua_Garcia
    • Description:

      What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #17)

      3/16/2014

      @Garciaj9Josh

       

      “Standing Next To a Mountain”

      As we enter the spring with gusto, I feel like we are standing in front of mountain.  There is a pile of initiatives that are standing right in front of us and it feels like we are trying to push a boulder up that mountain.  I often here how much there needs to be done and how many new things are being added.  I am not sure what is new or what is just renamed?  We have done standards, now we have different standards called the “common core”.  We have done standardized testing, now we have new ones.  We have come to recognize these test scores are essential to our perceived future success as schools, but not necessarily essential to the success of our society.  We are constantly bombarded by negative messages of how bad our American education system is.  Most of legislative conversations in today’s politics are based on adults outcomes and struggle to connect to the students we serve.

      This week, I become clearer that pushing the boulder is not the best work.  For me the mountain has unfortunately remained the same. It is big, it is daunting and it is real.  We still have a mountain of prejudice in our system.  Now more than ever, we must renew our commitment to eliminating prejudice in our schools and society.  We must identify and prioritize our work, focusing on only work that continues to dismantle the framework of segregation.  We must work to support initiatives and systems that don’t restrict student rights by adult perceptions.  We must identify multiple measures to demonstrate mastery not as gate keepers but rather keys to access and success.  We must remove our egos, it doesn’t have to be our original idea for us to believe in its mission.  We must create a manifesto for our students.  One that articulates what we the adults will do for every child, every day.  This manifesto must be so clear that we can hold each other and ourselves accountable when we don’t live it.  We must study our current practices to unfold why we still have segregation.  Is it based on learner skills or because of our adult beliefs?  We must recognize that segregation in society is about power and those who are in power are not going to give that up easily.

      Let us tell our children that education is the most important thing and we are renewing our commitment to each and all of them.  Let us run towards our students’ pain and recognize their pain is only our pain that we have run from.  Today, is the day that you find your fierce urgency to save our children.  Today, we must become a part of co-conspiracy to help each child reach our shared definition of success.  Today, may be a good day to stop trying to push the boulder up the mountain.  Today, may be a good day to begin to tear down the mountain…

      Finally from, “Unknown”

      “You can do this!  We can do this!”

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
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  • Dawn-Marie_Baletka

    • ASCD EDge Member
    • Points:250
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  • Response to the White House I Response to the White House Initiative on Excellence for African Americans : Wondering

    • From: Zernon_Evans
    • Description:

      The true commonality of all educational institutions is the fact that we all work with and for children. They don't all live in the same city; they come from different backgrounds, genders, economic status, religions, and academic levels, but they are all literate beings.  If students are given acceptance, motivation and encouragement, it is indeed possible for all of them to acquire academic excellence. We must meet them where they are emotionally, socially, developmentally, and academically to close the achievement gap. Children will perform based on the level of expectation from the teachers and educational institutions. The following is a poem I wrote that is dedicated to children that experience discouragement.

       

                                          Wondering

                                          By: Mrs. Zernon S. Evans          

                                          

       I wonder if men, like Dr. Martin Luther King,

      Knew exactly what their future would bring?

      Did he just grow up to be smart, without any effort

      To plant a persuasive seed in his heart?

      Was he always well mannered and behaved?

       Or, did his actions sometimes cause his

       Parents to be dismayed?

       

      How did he learn such precise and eloquent speech?

      Did he set goals that he was sure to reach?

      As a child, I get so many complaints. I do have faults;

      I’m too young to be a saint.

      I can learn to speak, to create, to lead and persuade.

      I can be trained to make excellent grades

      If you would do more to guide and less to condemn,

      I could grow up to be just like Him.

       © 2000 by Mrs. Zernon Evans

           all rights reserved

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  • A response to White House Init A response to White House Initiative on Excellence for African Americans: Strategic Diversity Plan

    • From: Zernon_Evans
    • Description:

       

      Response to White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African

      Americans: Strategic Diversity Plan Executive Summary for African American Males in the Arkansas Delta.

      If we continue to call the institution that our children attend to acquire an education “school” we must begin to demonstrate some evidence of learning. Names can be very misleading; the name of an entity should match its purpose and accomplishments. Based on the ineffectiveness of most school in the nation, to call our institutions for learning “school” is a misnomer.  Locally, our students continue to score low on the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP); we continue to sustain the employment of incompetent teachers. We continue to use the same instructional strategies that have failed to advance students achievement even though there are alternatives that have proven to advance academic achievement available. The key to success in diverse classrooms is selecting and implementing powerful instructional methods that simultaneously address a variety of different learning needs (Voltz, Sims, & Nelson, 2010). The students in this district are mostly African American; we have about two percent of other groups. Yet, we still have a diverse group with in the African American student culture. Diversity refers to differences in persons.  It incorporates skin color, gender, age, abilities, economic-status, sexual preferences, religious preferences and language to name a few. 

      African American male students should learn to identify with their own culture before they can be expected to respect other groups. There is a profound diversity within the African American culture. Because of insufficient grammar/language skills and lack of travel experience our African American youth are English Language learners in their own Nation.  We cannot justify nor expect the community to accept and support our failure to educate African American males.  When I compare data from the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) test scores and academic progress in class over the last five years, I find that African American males in this district have not received the encouragement they need to be successful. These students are not aware of the history of cultural racism. Cultural racism is the practice of recognizing the activities and contributions of one racial group in preference to others within a multiracial society (Koppelman, 2013). Black males need to know and understand why their present conditions are as they are. By exposing them to their history, we can help them gain such valuable insight. Without this understanding, they will continue to accept incarceration as a natural condition rather than as the consequence of centuries of racism (Kafele, 2009). It is the responsibility of this district to provide these students with the means to navigate through obstacles and master academic challenges.

       

      Students spend more time at school than any other place that they venture. I foresee a school climate where students are interested in learning. This comes about with motivation and encouragement from administrators, staff, teachers, community patrons and parents. Also students are more productive when they experience success; therefore I envision teachers that model high expectations and reach out to students with total acceptance; we must work to ensure that all students have a sense of importance in the school environment.  Some students do not feel valued in their home. The response they receive at school can fill that void and improve their self-esteem; when students feel safe they achieve more in class. Also children lack sufficient physical and emotional support in their homes; we must put agencies in place to help with issues of food supply and heat/air conditioning when needed.  Children are experiencing crime in their neighborhood; fears begin to grip their minds leaving little room for academic function. A positive culture inspires optimism and hope; a negative culture promotes cynicism and defeatism (Danielson, 2006).  Since the school/community is laced with apathy, poverty, Black-on-Black crime and violence, it is easy to see how the children in the public schools adopt the motto, “none of us will learn.”

      Over the next five years, we must decrease the number of African American males attending alternative schools. This is not because alternative school is detrimental, but due to the fact that in society there is no reward for not being able to conform to the norm.  Lack of respect and outlandish behavior can result in a prison sentence or an early grave in the real world. Young men must learn to control their behavior and respect authority to avoid dire consequences.  Alternative schools should service students that need a legitimate alternative. We service students that refuse to participate in class, blatantly disrespect teachers and instigate chaos all day.  We will focus on engaging these students in grade-level appropriate, authentic, purposeful curriculum that reflects their interest, culture and academic needs.

      Absenteeism is a hindrance to academic achievement.  Many students skip school because they feel so unappreciated and cannot demonstrate competence in grade level subject matter. These students need a curriculum that addresses their interest and moves them from underachievers into the arena of successful grade level accomplishments. Students who see themselves in the curriculum will want to attend school; we must provide them with the proper curricular. This is a major issue for third through sixth graders even though attendance is not a profound problem at this age group; parents still have the control to make them go to school in the lower grades. We must draw these younger students into our present so that we can administer the instructions for the strong foundation they need in order to be prepared for upper grade level proficiency.  On the other hand, high school students cannot perform well on the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) unless they are in attendance when instructions are being given. Eleventh grade literacy, tenth grade biology, algebra I, and geometry scores reflect the necessity for increased attendance rates.

      Our Black males are struggling to write a single paragraph; we must give them authentic purpose for writing and using correct grammar. For black adolescent males, in order to offset resistance that occurs because of cultural differences and to develop their identities, it is essential to establish culturally responsive instructional practices and infuse the curriculum with culturally relevant materials. (Tatum, 2005)

       African American Males need competent male teachers.  Poor achievement among our neediest students is the result, at least in part, of a lack of strong, positive black educators in the classrooms. This nation needs to move swiftly to engage more African-American men in teaching. No longer can we simply be OK with black men representing less than 2 percent of our teacher workforce. It is unacceptable (Nicolas, 2014). He continues, “I have also seen the tremendous impact an effective black male educator can have in the classroom. Notice I use the word effective; this is because an effective black male educator can have a more detrimental impact on a school than perhaps a teacher from any demographic.”

       

      Our mission is to prepare students for college, careers and life. All district and school personnel are equally responsible for the success of students. In order for us to move high school students from fifty five percent basic to fifty-five percent advanced we must create and implement a shared vision that all of us will support. School security guards, secretaries, nurses, custodians and cafeteria workers are all a viable part of the organization. All these internal patrons will interact with students in a way that reflects acceptance, and respect. It is the responsibility of the Principal to set the tone for the school culture.  With support from the principal the teachers will receive professional development that takes the needs of the students into account. Teachers must learn to focus on the emotional, physical, psychological, social and academic needs of the students. They must also learn to reflect on their own personal prejudice and strive to be fair to all students by eliminating inconsistences that hinder the performance of students. There is a requirement of innovation, concern and educational reform to increase the academic performance of our students. The district administration office must support the principals and provide finances, resources and technical support as the schools engage in transforming students from kindergarten to twelfth grade into lifelong readers, learners and American Citizens.

      By the end of the 2014-2015 school years the district personnel as well as the local community will be aware of the vision, objectives, mission and other components of the strategic diversity plan. Successful schools are much more than a list of strategies or activities. At their core, each of the “breakthrough” high schools demonstrates a belief that every student in the school can be academically successful (Westerberg, 2009). The district office will contact Mr. John Hoy, Assistant Commissioner Division of Public School Accountability for information on equity monitoring at the school.

      Administrators and the stakeholder will have met together to create, distribute and implement the goals and objectives. This will include the community patrons, parents, students, staff and teachers.  The plan will be posted on the school web-site, also. School leaders will ensure that teachers have begun professional development and will have already begun to revert to instructional strategies that are proven to ensure academic excellence for the targeted students. The literacy coaches will meet with the K-12 teachers periodically to vertically align the curriculum. During the 2015-2016 school year administrators will monitor this process ensuring that teachers are following the instructional strategies that match the school vision. Teachers will be responsible to participate in professional learning communities that include community patrons to collaborate and share in the planning and implementation of the identified goals. Administrator will work with teachers to clarify problems or misconceptions that they may have encountered. In 2014-2019 the administration and teachers will use the data to identify students and procedures that require special attention including academic, social and emotional growth of the students.  In the 2014-2019 school years the administrators will assess title one funds as well as other state funds to plan the expenditures for resources to cover the needs of the district.  Individual school will submit their school plans to the Federal Program Director for access to funds to support their programs. 

       

       

       

      Task Force for School Diversity Plan

       (Pseudo names to demonstrate how we will select a task force)

      1. Mr. Moore is a local pastor. As a member of the committee he will be able to reach community patrons on all levels. He is in touch with parents and students on a weekly basis; also, he has been on the school board so he is aware of the problems of the students in this community. He is able to contact other ministers with information and can persuade them to work with the parents and students in their churches. He will be available to meet with students, parents, other community patrons, and teachers. Reverend Moore can facilitate community meeting to share the school vision and mission for the improvement of academic performance of African American students.  Reverend Moore is also a radio talk show host. He will be able to use that platform to highlight students’ accomplishments and inform the community of school activity.

       

      1. Mrs. Jones is a parent in the community. Mrs. Jones’s son was murdered on the streets of this community. Mrs. Jones’ experience, even though it is very painful, can be used to reveal to parents the importance of guarding their children from spending too much idle time. Mrs. Jones speaks to parents on many occasions during community events. She acknowledges that her son was disruptive in school and preforming several grades below his grade placement. Mrs. Jones will be instrumental in convincing parents to support the goals of the diversity plans based on her experience of losing her child to a senseless murder. She will bring a serious tone into the process of developing a plan to redirect the lives of the African American males in this city. As the district reaches out to train and support parents, Mrs. Jones can help facilitate seminars and witness to parents that teachers are sincere when they reach out for parental support. She will be instrumental in rallying parents to attend workshops and encouraging their sincere commitment to the school/community.

       

      1. Mr. Smith is the Junior ROTC director in our high school. Mr. Smith has a background in the military. He is a good disciplinarian. Also, the students love ROTC and will do anything for Mr. Smith.  Mr. Smith will contact students, parents and community patrons with information about the diversity plan and its value to the students. Mr. Smith can also intervene for parent and teachers when students are not doing their best work in class. Communication skills are paramount in succeeding in the real world. Mr. Smith, because of his experience in the military, can help with students that rebel against the school discipline rules. African American males need strong men of their race to mentor and guide them as they struggle to defend their manhood in an institution that challenges their authority.  Instead of killing the gift to be a strong independent Black man, Mr. Smith can work with other Black men in the community to find occasions to use the gift in a more appropriate way.

       

      1. Keith Rollon is an honor student at the high school. He is in the eleventh grade. The majority of the students are loud and undisciplined. Keith is not threatened by their behavior. He is not embarrassed to be a nerd. Keith can meet with small groups of students periodically to discuss the necessity of academic achievement for having a successfully life. He will also be good as a tutor in some of the after school programs. Keith can represent our school in seminars and report back to his peers. He can help organize study groups for students that need help in content areas. Keith will also organize groups to act mentors for the lower grade students.

       

      1. Judge Ann Hall is a Juvenile Circuit Judge in the family courts. Judge Hall has created programs designed to give more options for children. Before becoming an attorney, Judge Hall taught elementary, junior and high school.  Judge Hall will help us secure a safe learning environment for our school/community.  Judge Hall will share information with students pertaining to her educational background and show them how they can become anything that they set their minds to.  Judge Hall can familiarize the school/community with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She will lead in understanding policies and acquiring funding for the school. There is a chance that we can start a local organization to focus on prevention as well as develop new methods of dealing with juvenile offenders.  

       

      1. Mayor Robert Lee will be able to help us plan programs that are available through city grants and other finances. Some programs and grants are only available to schools through the city. Mr. Lee will work with us to get addition finances for community programs and summer programs for the schools. His office will find research data from other cities that have programs for youth in the school/community. The Mayor will travel to these cities and collaborate with the Mayor and city officials to learn about programs for the youth of our city. The Mayor will visit classrooms and engage in activity with the students. He will plan for visits to the city council meeting and work with the staff and students to understand the role of the mayor. The strategic diversity plan will become part of his agenda during city council meetings. He will relay information to other city departments such as the fire, police, sanitation, street and water departments.

       

       

       

      Diversity Strategic Plan                                                           

      1. African Males will improve their performance by 40% on the end-of-course Literacy test with emphasis on reading literacy and content passages.

      1.1     K-12 teachers will use instructional strategies and curricular that’s researched and proven to increase student performance of African American males.

      1.2     Staff, teachers, and community patron will exhibit a school culture of safety, acceptance and high expectation for all students.

      1.3     Parents will be included in developing and implementing a vision for the school that supports the emotional, social, cultural, and academic needs of the students.

      1.4     Teachers will have on going professional development and collaboration that support the vision and mission of the school.

      1.5     Incorporate frequent surveying  to assess the students’ opinion of the school culture

       

       

      1. African American male’s attendance will reflect a 25% decrease in absenteeism.

      2.1 The cafeteria will provide a nutritious breakfast and invite parents and community

             Patrons to serve students.

      2.2 Provide weekly incentives for students that come to school every day.

      2.3 Allow students to visit the elementary school as peer tutors during the morning hours.

      2.4 Modify instructions to allow reasonable success.

      2.5 Allow students to use their personal I phones to research in class.

      2.6 Conduct bi-weekly recognition of attendance and academic progress.

      2.7 Allow students to use their talent such as singing, playing musical instruments, and

            Art.

      1. The placement of African American males into an alternative learning environment will decrease by 30%.

      3.1     Provide professional on effective classroom management

      3.2     Train students to handle conflict resolution

      3.3     Provide counseling/medication

      3.4     Connect students with police officers as mentors

      3.5     Create a culture that encourages parents to visit classrooms

      3.6     Arrange for convicts to come in as resource/scared straight tactic

      3.7     Arrange for former successful residents to return as a resource speaker

      3.8     Model/role play appropriate behavior

       

      1. African American males will show an increase of 40% proficiency on their portfolio of

      Writing/grammar mini lessons.

      4.1     Read and write using technology/online portals

      4.2     Use culturally appropriate interesting fiction/nonfiction text

      4.3     Teach writing/grammar skills in context of literature

       

      1. African American males (K-12) will improve their performance by 30% on the Arkansas Comprehensive Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP).

      5.1     Develop curriculum that reflects the cultural social, emotional, physical, developmental, and Cognitive needs of African American students.

      5.2     Raise the bar/rigor to accomplish grade level reading proficiency

      5.3     Teach African American history/inventions

      5.4     Visit colleges (3-12)

      5.5     Keep a personal portfolio of graduate credits (9-12 grades)

      5.6     Employ competent African American male teachers

       

       

                                                                                          

       

       

                                                        

                                                                        References

       

      Danielson, C. (2006). Teacher leadership That Strengthens Profession Practice.

               Alexandra, VA: ASCD.

      Kafele, B. K. (2009). Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life.

              Alexandria, VA: ASCD

      Koppelman, K., L. (2014).  Understanding Human Differences Multicultural Education for a 

                Diverse America. (4th ed). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.  

      Nicolas, Donald G. (2014).  Where are the black male teachers? Education Week, 33(22), 28

      Tatum, A. (2005). Teaching Reading to black Adolescent Males. Portland, MA: Stenhouse 

                 Publishers. 

      Voltz, D. L., Sims, M. J., & Nelson, B. (2010). Connecting Teachers, Students and Standards

               Strategies for Success in Diverse and Inclusive Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

      Westerberg, T. R. (2009).  Becoming a Great High School 6 Strategies and 1 Attitude That

               Make a Difference. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

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  • Check out these #ASCD14 Sessio Check out these #ASCD14 Sessions with ASCD Leaders

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  • “Real Talk for Real Teachers” “Real Talk for Real Teachers”

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      After reading several of Rafe Esquith’s books, I have come to the conclusion that not only is he a very good teacher, but he is very wise. He is able to communicate many “truths” about educating children that only someone with lots of experience and thoughtfulness can do. And while you may not agree with everything he says, he will certain get you thinking about teaching, learning, children, schools, and the community at large.

       

      His latest book, Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: ‘No Retreat, No Surrender!’(2013: Penguin Books) contains a wealth of ideas, comments, and “wisdom” from a veteran teacher. The book is separated into sections for new teachers, teachers who have been teaching for several years, and even “master” teachers, but I think that everyone who is teaching at any level can profit from his insights in all three categories. He talks about things that mostly get ignored in the educational literature – bad days, first days, good routines, classroom management, classroom disasters, values to live by in the classroom, how to handle outside pressures and disagreeable people, testing and assessment, taking care of yourself, homework, the differences among kids and teachers, and many others.

       

      Note that this book is not a how-to cookbook of ideas to improve teaching. While many of the thoughtful comments in the book may profoundly change teachers’ ways of thinking about their schools and classrooms, you will not find specific instructional strategies that work better than others, or even specific ideas about how to assess children. But many will come away with a better understanding of their own teaching, some guidance as to how to make teaching better for kids, and worthwhile ideas as to how to survive in a teaching environment.

       

      In fact, everyone involved with education, including politicians and administrators who make laws and policy regarding education, should read the book.

       

      The book is deep and rich, with many ideas, insights, and examples, and it is important to read it as a whole. But to give you a flavor of the Esquith’s views, below are a few short quotes from some of the chapters in the book. Note that some quotes might be out of a context, so you might find that they will read differently in the book.

       

      I hope that they inspire you to read the book and consider his ideas for your classroom, school, or district.  

       

      Chapter 2: First things first

      p. 42 …the truth is, in my class, Day 1 looks a lot like day 91. The kids will not grasp your program on Day 1. Introduce it and get to work.

      [Note: This chapter has an excellent discussion of his philosophy of teaching and the rules and expectations he lays out for his students on the first day and beyond].

       

      Chapter 4: An inside job:

      p. 60-61  [In terms of classroom management and control]: My goal is to teach…children a set of values that they internalize. I want them to work hard in the class not because they fear a consequence but because they enjoy the work and also because they believe that good behavior is the right thing to do.

       

      Chapter 8- Even the devil can quote scripture for his purpose

      p. 106 –The reasonable desire to hold students and teachers accountable for what is being learned in school has snowballed into an avalanche of examinations that are hurting children and depriving them of a meaningful education…

      p. 107 I have chosen a[n assessment] middle path. I consistently assess my students’ work and have no need for the exams being thrown at the kids by the school district and state. I fantasize about starting a bonfire with those infamous testing booklets that stimulate a groan from my students faster than the bell made Pavlov’s dog drool.

       

      Chapter 11 – Keeping it real

      p. 139 - Make sure the children make the connection between the lessons they are learning and how they will apply them in real life. Have the kids explain the connections rather than listen to you.

       

      Chapter 14. Leave some children behind

      p. 160 We have created situations where children do not understand that actions have consequences. School systems, under fire from all corners, have become desperate to please everyone. In doing so, they hurt the very children they are supposed to be helping.

       

      Chapter 15 – Eyes wide open

      p. 171 The unending problems and hurdles placed in front of a classroom teacher guarantee that you will not be able to help and reach every child to the degree you would like.

       

      Chapter 18 Thomas Jefferson’s big mistake

      p. 206  All students are not created equal, nor are they the same. When it is impossible to create individual assignments for the students, try to create assignments where one size does not fit all.

       

      Chapter 21 One of a kind

      p. 230 Pick something that you love to do and create a project with your students that will frame the entire year. Whether the students make quilts, become Scrabble experts or learn to surf, a special project will make all parts of your day better.

       

      Chapter 22 All for one and one for all

      p. 245 As you grow as a teacher, ask for lots of help…We can all use assistance.

       

      Chapter 23 Getting better all the time

      p. 252 Veteran teachers do not have to be stuck in a rut. Teaching the same lesson each year is not the same lesson if improvements are made.

       

      Chapter 25 Stairway to heaven

      This chapter deals with three ways for veteran teachers to stay “revved up and ready to go”: stay in physical shape (physical stamina); have a good social life (social stamina); deal with the emotional toll that the job takes (emotional rescue).

       

       

      Elliott Seif is a long time educator, Understanding by Design trainer, author, consultant, and former Professor of Education at Temple University. Additional  blogs can be found on ASCD Edge at http://bit.ly/1kPsxBx.  If you are interested in further examining ways to improve teaching and learning and help to prepare students to live in a 21st century world, go to:  www.era3learning.org

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

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