Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finishing the semester strong!

Hopefully everyone had a great holiday break and hopefully everyone was able to take advantage of some down time to recharge and re-energize. Take a few moments to read the short blog post below on Character Education Partnership's blog in regard to gratitude in education:

"Nothing in education puts a bigger ceiling on learning than limiting kids to what’s in the textbook. We live in the age of iPads, Google, and Skype. To the learner that wants to know more, do more, and explore more, the opportunities are there. We just have to think outside the book." via @mcleod

Protect your dreams... protect your students' dreams. (2 minutes)

Working together toward a shared and common goal couldn't be more important than it is now...

Consider how you respond when a student or a colleague says, "yeah, but..." (by @plugusin)

"The No Complaining Rule" ~ 2 minute video (try not to be like this guy...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A new essential curriculum...

"Do our students feel like they are time traveling as they walk through the school door each morning. As they cross the threshold, do they feel as if they are entering a simulation of life in the 1990s? Then, at the end of the school day, do they feel that they have returned to the 21st century?"

"As educators, our challenge is to match the needs of our learners to a world that is changing with great rapidity."

~ Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Rigorous Curriculum Design by Larry Ainsworth
(2 minutes long)

Our students must gain the skills to "perform work that overseas knowledge workers can't do cheaper, that computers can't do faster, and that satisfies the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time." ~ Daniel Pink 

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink: Right brain vs. the left brain
(4 minutes long)

How does this fit & align with the new Common Core Standards?

For a lot of our kids, we only have one chance... 

~ are we making that chance count...?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A powerful lesson in leadership...

One day, three blind men happened to meet each other and gossiped a long time about many things. Suddenly one of them recalled, “I heard that an elephant is a strange animal. Too bad we’re blind and can’t see it.”

“Ah, yes, truly too bad we don’t have the good fortune to see the strange ani­mal,” another one sighed.

The third one, quite annoyed, joined in and said, “See? Forget it! Just to feel it would be great.”

“Well, that’s true. If only there were some way of touching the elephant, we’d be able to know,” they all agreed.

It so happened that a merchant with a herd of elephants was passing, and overheard their conversation. “You fellows, do you really want to feel an elephant? Then follow me; I will show you,” he said.

The three men were surprised and happy. Taking one another’s hand, they quickly formed a line and followed while the merchant led the way. Each one began to contemplate how he would feel the animal, and tried to figure how he would form an image.

After reaching their destination, the merchant asked them to sit on the ground to wait. In a few minutes he led the first blind man to feel the elephant. With outstretched hand, he touched first the left foreleg and then the right. After that he felt the two legs from the top to the bottom, and with a beaming face, turned to say, “So, the strange animal is just like that.” Then he slowly returned to the group. Thereupon the second blind man was led to the rear of the elephant. He touched the tail which wagged a few times, and he exclaimed with satisfac­tion, “Ha! Truly a strange animal! Truly odd! I know now. I know.” He hur­riedly stepped aside.

The third blind man’s turn came, and he touched the elephant’s trunk which moved back and forth turning and twisting and he thought, “That’s it! I’ve learned.”

The three blind men thanked the merchant and went their way. Each one was secretly excited over the experience and had a lot to say, yet all walked rap­idly without saying a word.

“Let’s sit down and have a discussion about this strange animal,” the second blind man said, breaking the silence.

“A very good idea. Very good.” the other two agreed for they also had this in mind. Without waiting for anyone to be properly seated, the second one blurted out, “This strange animal is like our straw fans swinging back and forth to give us a breeze. However, it’s not so big or well made. The main portion is rather wispy.”

“No, no!” the first blind man shouted in disagreement. “This strange animal resembles two big trees without any branches.”

“You’re both wrong.” the third man replied. “This strange animal is similar to a snake; it’s long and round, and very strong.”

How they argued! Each one insisted that he alone was correct. Of course, there was no conclusion for not one had thoroughly examined the whole elephant. How can anyone describe the whole until he has learned the total of the parts...?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sample problems for Math and ELA for the new CCSS

We are all well aware that the Common Core State Standards are going to require our kids to do more at a younger age. Our students will be asked to approach learning and classroom instruction in a way that is different than what they are accustom to. Likewise, we will need to approach student learning and our teaching in a slightly different way as well.

This will help to ensure that our assessments are more closely aligned to the CCSS and to the higher levels of rigor with which our our students will be faced. 

(Be sure to click on "view more" at the top to find your grade and topic)

Sample math problem for 3rd grade:

Sample math problem for 4th grade:

Sample math problem for 5th grade:

**Check out Shaunteaches YouTube channel for more practice math problems. Simply search his channel to find what you need.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The importance of literacy...

"The simplest acquisition of literacy can have a profoundly empowering effect personally, socially and politically.

Literacy gives people tools with which to improve their livelihoods, participate in community decision-making, gain access to information about health care, and above all, it enables individuals to realize their rights as citizens and human beings.

Literacy is not just about reading and writing; it is about respect, opportunity and development..."

Use "Word Walls" throughout the year and personalize them to your content area as well as the specific classroom focus at the time:

Word walls can also be used:

  • To support the teaching of important general principles about words and how they work.
  • To foster reading and writing.
  • To promote independence on the part of young students as they work with words in writing and reading.
  • To provide a visual map to help children remember connections between words and the characteristics that will help them form categories.
  • To develop a growing core of words that become part of a reading and writing vocabulary.
  • To provide reference for children during their reading and writing.

Ways that you can increase opportunities in regard to literacy in your classroom:

~ When your students do a project, solve a problem, or answer a question, have them write a response answering the "how" and the "why."
~ Do more "read alouds" in your classroom and give your students time to focus on oral and audio comprehension. (this is especially important at the elementary levels)
~ Encourage AND allow your students to read more than just books for your class, and don't limit students to reading just printed books.
~ Push the level of rigor in your classroom as it relates to reading materials and writing expectations.

~ Make reading and writing a priority and a central focus in your classroom. When districts make this commitment and transition, the positive effects on student success are huge.
~ Consider having your students start a reflective blog and/or journal to document and monitor their learning and progress. (when students see their progress and growth it can become quite powerful)

And... if all else fails, check out this Education Week article titled, "Five reasons why teaching is still great."