Children need reasons and direction to engage task

Many years ago, it probably was easier for an adult to say to a child ‘do this, or do that’. And what happened? The child engaged the task, without even asking, why? But children are at an early age engaging in discovery learning and critical thinking; they are inquisitive. It is true, children still go through the various stages in thinking and development, but being exposed to various media, as well as socialization that take place, they are encouraged to question and to explore different ways of thinking.
What adults are finding is that children no longer simply do as they are told but seek reasons as to why they should engage a specific task.
In some task, because of a lack of experience not all children can engage successfully, unless they receive direction. It is therefore left to their parents or/ and teachers to offer the necessary rationale for why they should engage a specific task and also offer the necessary directions to complete the task successfully.
Stay tuned as today’s podcast discuss this.

Teacher and parent relationships – a crucial ingredient: Cecile Carroll at TEDxWellsStreetED

TEDx Talks

Organizer, parent and Chicago Public Schools graduate Cecile Carroll shares what she’s learned about the need for relationships between teachers and parents. Based on achievements in her neighborhood, she offers concrete approaches and lessons learned for building stronger connections between home and school that are essential in all communities.

Building relationships between parents and teachers: Megan Olivia Hall at TEDxBurnsvilleED

TEDx Talks

Megan Olivia Hall teaches science and service at Open World Learning Community, an intentionally small Expeditionary Learning school in Saint Paul Public Schools. She founded Open’s first Advanced Placement program, recruiting students from all walks of life to college prep classes. She is a leader in character education, providing professional development, curriculum and mentorship. In 2013, Hall was named Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

5 Soft Skills to Teach This Year

With our continued shift to a technology driven society, few days go by that I don’t have a conversation with someone concerned about “today’s kids’ ” lack of “Soft Skills.” As the mother of 2 of these aptly named “GEN Z” babies…I can understand the worry. As an adult who has simply adapted to the culture, not grown up in it, I often find myself buried in my mobile phone rather than having an actual conversation. I’ve even recently learned a “wear your ear buds to avoid conversation” trick when I’m exhausted…from my twelve year old.

Yet soft skills remain some of the most important things employers look for when hiring according to the Jobs Can Blog https://www.jobscan.co/blog/top-resume-skills-for-2016-2/  .  As educators our job is to ensure our students are prepared for success when they leave our classrooms/schools. I wholeheartedly believe a HUGE portion of this success will increasing revolve around how well our schools teach students soft skills.

Here are 5 Soft Skills that are currently the “Most Often Looked for by Employers” (Jobs Can Blog) and some suggestions on how to incorporate them into your classrooms/schools this year:

1) TEAMWORK:

  • Working together toward a common goal.
  • Functioning successfully in different team roles
  • Putting the “Team’s Success” before personal success

Classroom/School Translation

Admittedly, I was a student who cringed when the teacher would say we were “working in groups.” I would end up doing the entire project/assignment myself due to my Type A personality (among other things)! There was NO Teamwork in these groups.

Thankfully, today I can say I have seen group work done so well I would’ve asked for it when I was a student! The key to this awesome group work I’ve been has been 1) Assigning roles to each team member (which changes with each assignment/project) 2) Clear expectations of the duties to be performed by the student assigned each role 3) A system of checks/balances in place to ensure the group is functioning as a TEAM with each student staying on task with their role. GROUP WORK IS GREAT…but it takes A LOT of work on the front end to establish norms, systems, and behavioral expectations to make “Groups” into functioning TEAMS! Teaching successfully in groups is one of the more masterful arts of our profession.

Another outstanding way to promote teamwork in your school is to encourage participation in an activity, club, or sport school-wide. (For example- Many schools require all entering Freshman to participate in at least one activity.) Increased social activities along with the group activities/teamwork are great ways to build soft skills in even the most introverted student. These can be done during an “activity” period in the day, during excess lunch or recess time, or even after school (if that’s the only option).

         2) Decision-Making

  • Making a choice based on evidence gathered
  • Being definitive…based on goals

Classroom/School Translation

Allowing students to choose from a variety of assignment types to show mastery of a skill is a great way to cause students to begin to critically examine their individual decision-making. Instead of “just doing what my friend does” students begin to look at what they would really prefer to do or what allows them to show they have mastered the skill in the most efficient (fastest and best) way.

Another example is providing students “student voice” within the school. Give them spots on committees and other duties that require responsibility. This demands a huge amount of decision-making; 1) are they willing to do it 2) decisions they have to make through the process This is a great way of giving students a “window” into the world of the adults in the school.

Soft Skills MATTER!

Soft Skills MATTER!

3) Communication

  • Talking face to face, making eye-contact while speaking, understanding social norms in various situations
  • Appropriately using Social Media for communication

Classroom/School Translation

Modeling appropriate ways to communicate can go a long way. Educators must assume students are not being taught these skills at home (most are not). Assignments that require interviewing adults, peer-to-peer questioning, and other communication via non-technology means (no emails please!) are great assignments for this. Make sure you do not assume students know how to do properly do this (they usually don’t); provide live examples for them.

Telephone (land line & cell) conversation etiquette is something that needs to be taught. What you should or should not say, text, or post to social media is a very important piece of information that can impact your students’ futures long after their lives in school.

As a school why not train students to greet visitors and give tours. No better way of learning communication skills than actually putting them to use in an important setting.

 

4) Planning & Prioritizing

  • Scheduling for optimum production over time
  • Doing what is most urgent first then following with items in order of importance

Classroom/School Translation

Educators have a great opportunity to scaffold students’ abilities to plan & prioritize. Long-term goals provided at the beginning of a class that have multiple components and will not be due until far into the term are a perfect example.

For younger students, allowing them to prioritize what needs to be done first in a project versus giving them step-by-step directions is a great way of building students’ prioritizing skills.

As a school it’s important to plan and prioritize and your students can be part of this. Student leaders can maintain an activity schedule they create among the different clubs and activities in conjunction with school administration. Along with planning and prioritization…this also requires the other soft skills we’ve already discussed.

5) Research Skills

  • Finding information from a variety of sources
  • Ensuring information is truthful & meets actual research needs
  • Ability to cite research

Classroom/School Translation

Long gone are the days of the card catalogue and the bound encyclopedia from our students’ research repertoire. Teachers are now responsible for instructing students on how to navigate “the Web” for their research needs.

Students must understand the difference between a credible source on the Web and one that may not be credible as well as where to go to find each. Along with this tall task we also must make sure our students understand the importance of citing works and how-to do this when using electronic sources. Thankfully, there have been several tools created to make this simpler.

As a school, moving to e-portfolios that require students to keep a sampling of their work for each term (with various different specifications for different schools) makes great sense. A requirement like this would not only provide evidence your students had appropriate research skills and were applying them in their classroom; it would also show the growth of these skills over time.

Post:http://daisydyerduerr.com/5-soft-skills-to-teach-this-year/

30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

One day, in front 36 riotous sophomores, I clutched my chest and dropped to my knees like Sergeant Elias at the end of Platoon. Instantly, dead silence and open mouths replaced classroom Armageddon. Standing up like nothing had happened, I said, “Thanks for your attention — let’s talk about love poems.”

I never used that stunt again. After all, should a real emergency occur, it would be better if students call 911 rather than post my motionless body on YouTube. I’ve thought this through.

Most teachers use silencing methods, such as flicking the lights, ringing a call bell (see Teacher Tipster’s charming video on the subject), raising two fingers, saying “Attention, class,” or using Harry Wong’s Give Me 5 — a command for students to:

  1. Focus their eyes on the speaker
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be still
  4. Empty their hands
  5. Listen.

There is also the “three fingers” version, which stands for stop, look, and listen. Fortunately, none of these involve medical hoaxes.

Lesser known techniques are described below and categorized by grade bands:

How to Quiet Kindergarten and Early Elementary School Children

Novelty successfully captures young students’ attention, such as the sound of a wind chime or rain stick. Beth O., in Cornerstone for Teachers, tells her students, “Pop a marshmallow in.” Next she puffs up her cheeks, and the kids follow suit. It’s hard to speak with an imaginary marshmallow filling your mouth.

An equally imaginative approach involves filling an empty Windex bottle with lavender mineral oil, then relabeling the bottle “Quiet Spray.” Or you can blow magic “hush-bubbles” for a similar impact.

If you want to go electronic, check out Traffic Light by ICT Magic, which is simply a stoplight for talkers. Other digital methods include the Super Sound Box, Class Dojo, or the Too Noisy App — an Apple and Android tool that determines noise level and produces an auditory signal when voices become too loud.

Late Elementary and Middle Grade Attention Getters

Back when I taught middle school students, I would announce, “Silent 20,” as a way to conclude an activity. If students returned to their seats and were completely quiet in 20 seconds, I advanced them one space on a giant facsimile of Game of Life. When they reached the last square (which took approximately one month), we held a popcorn party.

One of the best ways to maintain a quiet classroom is to catch students at the door before they enter. During these encounters, behavior management expert Rob Plevin recommends using “non-confrontational statements” and “informal chit-chat” to socialize kids into productive behaviors, as modeled in Plevin’s video.

Two approaches for securing “100 percent attention” are modeled in a short video narrated by Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov — a minimally invasive hand gesture and countdown technique (“I need two people. You know who you are. I need one person . . . “).

Another idea is to use a content “word of the week” to signal that it’s time for silence. Examples: integer, renaissance, or circuit.

Quieting High School Students

Sometimes, rambunctious high school classrooms need a little longer to comply. In An ELT Notebook article, Rob Johnson recommends that teachers write the following instructions in bold letters on the chalkboard:

If you wish to continue talking during my lesson, I will have to take time off you at break. By the time I’ve written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence. Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for five minutes.

The strategy always, always works, says Johnson, because it gives students adequate warning.

Another technique, playing classical music (Bach, not Mahler) on low volume when learners enter the room, sets a professional tone. I played music with positive subliminal messages to ninth graders until they complained that it gave them headaches.

Call and Response

Below is a collection of catchy sayings that work as cues to be quiet, the first ones appropriate for early and middle grade students, and the later ones field tested to work with high school kids.

Teacher says . . . Students Respond with . . .
Holy . . . . . . macaroni.
1, 2, 3, eyes on me . . . . . . 1, 2, eyes on you.
I’m incredible . . . . . . like the Hulk. Grrrrrr. (Kids flex during the last sound)
Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . . . . . macarena.
I get knocked down . . . . . . but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.
Oh Mickey, you’re so fine . . . . . . you’re so fine, you blow my mind — hey Mickey.
The only easy day . . . . . . was yesterday. (A Navy Seals slogan)

Implementation Suggestions

For maximum effect, teach your quiet signal and procedure, as demonstrated in these elementary and high school classroom videos. Next, have kids rehearse being noisy until you give the signal for silence. Don’t accept anything less than 100 percent compliance. Then describe appropriate levels of noise for different contexts, such as when you’re talking (zero noise) or during a writing workshop (quiet voices), etc.

If a rough class intimidates you (we’ve all been there), privately practice stating the following in an authoritative voice: “My words are important. Students will listen to me.” Say it until you believe it. Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that, out of three million U.S. educators who taught today, two or three might have struggled to silence a rowdy class.

How do you get your students’ attention?

Post:http://www.edutopia.org/blog/30-techniques-quiet-noisy-class-todd-finley

How to Become and Remain a Transformational Teacher

An illustration of a shadow-like teenage boy. He's drawing a school, inspired from reading a book. The word "growth" is highlighted in green in the background.

However talented, no one is a natural-born teacher. Honing the craft takes significant care and effort, not just by the individual, but also by the school at large. Though experience does matter, it matters only to the extent that a teacher — regardless of how long he or she has been in the classroom — commits to continued professional development to refresh his or her status as a transformational teacher. Along those lines, even after a decade in the classroom, I don’t claim to be beyond criticism — not in the least. Still, I wish to offer some advice on constantly striving toward perfection, however elusive that goal will always remain.

Constantly Share Best Practices

As a first step, work toward recognizing that, no matter how long you’ve been in the classroom, there will always be someone else who’s more effective at a certain facet of teaching. When I was a first-year teacher, a veteran colleague inquired how I’d engaged such strong student interest in the American Revolution, something that he’d struggled with achieving. I shared my lesson plan, which culminated in a formal debate about whether the colonists had acted justly in rebelling against British rule. Moving forward, I felt more confident and comfortable about asking that colleague for help with providing quality written feedback, which he excelled at doing.

Find a Trusted Mentor

No matter how much experience you have, it’s crucial to find and rely on a trusted confidant. As a new teacher, I spent countless hours chatting with colleagues about best practices and where I feared that I might have fallen short. Not once did they pass judgment on me, or suggest that whatever I had done (or failed to do, in certain cases) was beyond repair. Instead, they offered thoughtful advice on how I might do things differently. No matter the subject, I value hearing fresh perspectives from new and veteran teachers about becoming even better at my job. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.

Commit to Classroom Observations

I do my best to observe other teachers in action. This year, I benefited from watching a colleague inject humor into his English classroom to cultivate a more relaxed but effective learning environment. In turn, I tried to strike a similar balance in my history classroom, which helped students feel less afraid of sharing ideas and learning from mistakes. I’m equally grateful for observing a colleague teach French to students whom I also instruct. She possesses a gentle firmness that learners respond to, but more importantly, students know that she cares about them — and they don’t want to let their teacher or themselves down.

Change Things Up

I also observe other teachers to see how they change things up, especially when I get too comfortable in a routine. It’s certainly easier to teach the same books and content each year, but it’s also incredibly boring, which can lead to burnout. This summer, I’m working to revamp some of my American history curriculum to fall more in step with what students are learning and doing in their American literature class. For example, when juniors are studying the Cold War in my class, they’ll be reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen in their English class — an award-winning graphic novel highlighting many Cold War-era fears and tensions. For both classes, students will complete a yet-to-be-determined project to showcase their understanding.

Model the Usefulness of What You Teach

In line with changing things up, I’m always looking for new ways to model the usefulness of what I teach. More than ever, I find that students want to know how they can apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world. In American history, I continue to de-emphasize rote memorization in favor of activities requiring clear, analytical thinking — an essential tool for whatever students end up pursuing in college or as a career. On most assessments, I allow students to bring a notecard. It seems less important in the age of Google to assess how much students know. Instead, I’m significantly more concerned with how much sense they can make of all this information so readily available to them. In all of my classes, I also make it clear that knowing how to write well will play a significant role in their future success.

Caring Beyond What You Teach

To motivate my students toward success, I strive to show that I care about them beyond the classroom. I do my best to chaperone trips, watch sporting events, and attend plays and other student-run productions. I advise the Model United Nations Club, which allows me to share my passion for diplomacy and fostering change. I also coach cross-country to help students see that I value maintaining a healthy body just as much as developing an inquisitive mind. The most transformational teachers that I know have a deep understanding of how their role transcends far beyond any subject that they’re teaching. Such teachers have the most lasting impact on their students long after graduation.

How else can one become a transformational teacher? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Post: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/become-and-remain-transformational-teacher-david-cutler

Dialogue Defibrillators: Jump-Start Classroom Discussions!

By: Todd Finley

During a 12th-grade English discussion years ago, I asked a question that nobody answered. Wanting students to do more heavy academic lifting, I decided to wait until someone spoke before saying another word. A minute crept by. The class fidgeted while I waited. Ninety tense seconds passed. Students’ faces registered confusion and frustration at my brinkmanship. At the two-minute mark, I continued to wait. . .

8 Issues and Remedies

We’ve all experienced whole-class discussions where students don’t play along. You’ve begged, “Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?” The paragraphs below unpack why academic discussions go quiet and what to do about it.

1. Fuzzy Questions

Sometimes students don’t respond to a prompt because it’s either too complex, ill-structured, or inaudible. The trick is to teach kids the art of questioning the questioner.

To begin, I describe all the things I don’t understand:

  • Why do electrons change behaviors when they are observed?
  • If two husbands pass away, which life partner do you spend time with in heaven?
  • Why is the plot of Game of Thrones such a chore?

Nobody, I say, is expected to know everything. So here are ways to respond to fuzzy questions:

“Would you please. . .
. . . state the question in a different way?”
. . . break that question into parts?”
. . . give me an example?”
. . . repeat the question more slowly?”

If they comprehend the question, but their answer is tentative, I suggest that they say:

  • “Let me answer the part that I know.”
  • “Would you please come back to me after I’ve given the question more thought?”
  • “May I phone a friend (receive peer help)?”

2. High Percentage of Introverts

There’s a 25-minute Psychology Today test that determines if students in your class are introverts or extroverts. If your students are mostly introverts, then avoid cold-call methods like the popsicle stick protocol. Because introverts appreciate more time to think through the question before answering, direct students to “sneeze write” about what they heard you say or read (PDF). Asking early classes to fake sneeze when they finish their written reflections will wake everyone up during the ensuing hilarity.

3. Lack of Focus

Engaging in social media conversations can distract students, even after they’ve put their phones away. However, a recent study revealed that focusing on nine deep breaths improves the attention of individuals obsessed with their last Instagram post. Additionally, watching a grassy rooftop (or a picture of one) for 40 seconds boosts concentration and reduces mental errors.

4. Social Threat

To preserve social status among unfamiliar peers, some students remain guarded. The remedy, developing trust, begins with the teacher: “Even one supportive relationship with an adult at school can have significant positive effects on a student’s school functioning” (PDF). According to Dr. Megan Tschannen, trustworthy people manifest the following traits:

  • Benevolence: Showing appreciation and being fair
  • Honesty: Following through on promises and owning up to mistakes
  • Openness: Making yourself available and letting others make decisions
  • Reliability: Meeting obligations and being a can-do problem solver
  • Competence: Being professionally capable

Talk about and model trustworthiness in class.

5. Boredom

When learners find the class topic tedious, interrupt the discussion with surprise, movement, an academic game or problem, or partner work to enhance interest. Sometimes, a little more structure can transform a discussion from “blah” to “aha.” Ask students to write an answer to your oral prompt and then share the reflection with a peer. Every time an idea is voiced, the partner has to complete this phrase: “I heard you say that. . . ”

Teachers telegraph disinterest or engagement; the latter is predicated on the instructor genuinely listening. Chambering your next question while students talk unmistakably conveys disinterest.

Celebrate contributions. One time, I telephoned the mother of an at-risk learner to describe how her son made an astute point during class. “Someone that profound is going to experience a lot of success in college,” I said. There was crying on the other end of the line, and I followed suit. During class talks for the remainder of the semester, the boy’s eyes sparkled.

6. Sleepiness

Students sleeping on their faces during class discussions is not uncommon. Find several tactics in my post about keeping students awake.

7. Cognitive Load

Ask a child to multiply 47 x 47. Her eyes will shift more rapidly and squint — an indicator that cognitive load is about to make the student tune out. Fortunately, brain breaks can relieve cognitive load. A study of third-grade students demonstrated that subject-related brain breaks employing “moderate amounts of movement achieved the best results in terms of combined enjoyment and refocus time.”

8. Wait Time

Wait time is a specific amount of silence that elapses between an instructor asking a question and a student answering. It also includes the time between a student’s answer and the teacher’s response. Good things happen after a three-second pause, including increased achievement and more questions posed by students. There is another type of wait time to consider. According to Robert Stahl’s research, instructors interrupt when a student’s pause in the middle of an answer exceeds point-five seconds. Stahl recommends always waiting for students to finish a thought.

Minimize Everyone’s Performance Anxiety

I find that distributing participation points during discussions changes students’ motivation to contribute. Moreover, my own multitasking skills are not up for the simultaneous challenges of:

  • Tallying contributors
  • Introducing rich prompts
  • Refocusing the discussion
  • Listening with as much concentration as my niece at a Taylor Swift concert

You might be interested to know what happened to that silent 12th-grade class mentioned at the beginning. After three minutes, I broke the silence: “Why didn’t anyone answer the question?” The students reported that the prompt was unclear and that their intimidation grew as time passed. Robert Stahl’s research reinforces their interpretation: When accompanied by fuzzy prompts, extended wait time ratchets up anxiety and leads to “no response at all.”

Original Post: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/dialogue-defibrillators-jump-start-classroom-discussions-todd-finley?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow