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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in 21st century learning

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

5StepsToBetterMemoryAndUnderstanding.jpg

Practice makes permanent. This is what we've become conditioned to say in recent years. It's a true statement no doubt, but what kind of practice are we talking about? And, how do we teach our students to practice to attain better memory, understanding, and ultimately deeper learning?

Here's the method I use:

CrushSchoolApproachtoMemoryandUnderstanding.png

1. Get Good Sleep

The brain uses a lot of energy, which produces a lot of waste products. This waste is made up of toxins that can destroy brain cells unless they are removed. The buildup of toxins makes it hard to focus. The toxins are flushed out during sleep when the brain relaxes. If you don't sleep enough, toxins build up. A tired brain and a toxic brain doesn’t work very well, so learning is harder.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
 

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Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash

Let's be honest. High school, middle school, elementary; most students don't know how to learn effectively. It's because they are rarely taught about their brain. They know it's there. They use it. And yet... They don't know how to guide it. Few consider how to leverage their brain to become awesome learners.

Even if we teach them how to, I don't think we do it enough. We might introduce this or that strategy and then expect students to do it every time. The truth is that in most cases they won't. Or, they might use it in the classroom while we watch, but not at all when learning on their own.

It's not because the strategy is no good. Typically, the opposite is true: the strategy kicks ass and is a game changer. So what gives?

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

turningbacktime

I still can't believe that I graduated Union High School 20 years ago this year. 1997 was a fun year–a senior in high school, not a care in the world. Then again, it was a different world.

My superintendent, Dr. Jakubowski (with whom I still speak), made two prominent points at our graduation.

1. Don't get into a stranger's car.

2. Don't use the internet.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

As I continue working with more and more teachers I'm often surprised at how many I still see "page turning" to plan instruction. "Page turning" is a form of lesson planning that a teacher uses, that is simply opening a textbook and continuing where they left off during the last lesson. Now don't get me wrong, textbooks have their place in education (I guess), but when teachers rely on them too heavily instruction can suffer greatly, and more importantly, learning does too.

Here are a few reasons you should get textbooks out of your lesson planning and start forging your own instructional path, outside the edges of those pages.

Textbooks Fail To Engage Students

I don't care how many pictures or fun activities exist in the realm of the book you are using, I will almost guarantee that it is not engaging all your students. The simple reason is that the writers of that book don't know your students, YOU DO. I have never (and will never) heard a student mutter "Wow! Chapter 7 was surprisingly fun and exciting! I can't wait to continue working to Chapter 8!" I would bet that you haven't either. That's because textbooks are designed as a curriculum TOOL to be used in lesson planning, not a curriculum in themselves. Students must interact, play with, and experience concepts, not just read about them. (or hear about them during your lectures...which don't work either by the way.)

Textbooks Are NOT Universally Designed

Textbooks are generally written at or above the grade level you are teaching. The pictures, diagrams, and experiences presented in them are also created at that level. I don't know about you, but most of my students, or at least some of them, were below grade level or still achieving their current grade level. I would also like to suggest that the context, circumstances, and lens in which most textbooks view your curriculum are not going to engage or allow for much adjustment or modification if they are your primary lesson planning tool.

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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

Confession. I am a YouTuber. ( www.youtube.com/hiphughes) Now before you stop reading, I should tell you I also am a teacher with 19 years of experience, although I prefer being called a FOLE. (Facilitator Of Learning Experiences -which of course I have a video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmJ-_G5VR-A )

The story of how I became a YouTuber is a story of teaching. To summarize, it was 2007 and I had a YouTube account and I taught at a school in Buffalo where attendance was killing me, mostly students missing an average of 20% of classr. So I figured I should at least record my lectures so they can watch them to review for the exam. I call these early videos, my "hostage videos".  By the end of the year, my room was a DVD burning factory and I was handing discs out like it was nobodies business. As the years progressed and the digital divide began to slowly close, the shift became less about using the videos for review and more as a way of freeing up time in my class.

I should tell you something. I love kids making videos as much as I love making them. In 2002, I was fortunate by being one of the first people in a program called, City Voices, City Visions which was run out of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo. CVCV was a digital video boot camp for teachers. We learned how to make videos. Not lecture videos but Public Service Announcements, Commercials, News Broadcasts and other genres which we believed could be used to facilitate our learning objectives in the classroom.  We made videos to learn how so we could teach kids how to "write" with multimodal literacies. Wow! That sounded fancy! But my 3rd year in the classroom, my students were producing videos, videos about Govenrment and US History. And as they made those videos they were reading, researching, writing, storyboarding, filming, editing, screening and most importantly being engaged in their own learning! My problem was always time, how could I make sure I still "covered" enough of my course and gave kids the time to create?

Perhaps you have figured it out. By flipping my class and pushing my lectures out of the class (and trust me I still did review lectures) I was allowed the time to become a facilitator of learning rather than just a content explainer. I was now not the stage on the sage but the conductor of learning. Now, you may be asking, how do I find the time to make videos? And my answer is you don't have to, unless you want to. There are thousands of teachers on YouTube already doing this; so go google, "Best (insert your content area) Teachers on YouTube" and go steal; steal like a gangster and see if you can free up some time in your classroom so your kids can become creators of meaning and not just consumers of content.

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