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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Best Practice

Posted by on in General

As you read this you probably have a lot of ideas floating through your head about the amazing learning activities you’re going to experience with your students. Whether it is an idea you read about in an article, something a colleague of yours has tried, or an awesome PD session you’ve attended, it’s time to put those concepts into action! Regardless of how far into, or away from, the start of the year you are, I’d like to share 7 simple ways that you can start increasing student success in your classroom today! 

1. Set Systems and Routines:

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here ,or echo the wisdom of Wong and Wong, but the key to any successful instructional environment is systems and routines. Students will do better in an environment that is safe, predictable, and positive in nature. I would also argue, based on experience and observations, that it is a foundation of systems and routines that can allow for greater student freedom in the classroom. By providing this type of environment you will allow your students to thrive! 

2. Let Students Set The Pace:

If you did an evaluation of the most common reasons why management issues occur, or what causes student frustration to increase, or if you reviewed the most common interventions for special needs students, pace would be at the core of it all.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

There is nothing wrong with your screen. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. I am controlling the image. I control the horizontal and I control the vertical. I can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next 10 minutes, sit quietly and I will control all that you see and perceive. You're a subject in my experiment. You're about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.

Follow the directions below carefully.

  1. Imagine you are Picasso, Elizabeth I, Michelangelo, Maya Angelou, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Jackie Kennedy, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams or whoever that one extraordinary person you aspire most to be like is. Imagine what their life is/was like. How do they look? What clothes are they wearing? Where are they? What world changing thing are they doing right now? Are you inspired?
  2. Imagine that you are surrounded by plants and flowers. Stand up and walk toward them. Focus on them. If something has been on your mind today, forget about it. Forget about everything. Let your mind wonder. How do you feel now?
  3. Think about a big goal you have. Conjure up images associated with it; the more the better. Think of words that represent it; the more the better. Is there a phrase or two or a quote it brings to mind? If you have not made one before, but are compelled right now, step away and do it. Grab a big sheet of paper, put your goal down in the center, gather the images, write down the words and phrases and quotes, and connect them to the goal. If you've ever created a mind map such as this you know the feeling. It's important to look at it often.

It's also important to control your students' minds without them knowing it.

PrimingStudentsForCreativityInfographic.png

Alter the environment. Imagine it. Model it. Help students achieve the right mindset first so they will be more creative later. Abracadabra!

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
 

Screen-Shot-2017-09-04-at-10.30.44-AM.png

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 Early Childhood

young boy writing with pencil

I once had a reading specialist tell me that the only way for children to learn to read is for them to read. I never have figured out how one learns to do something she can’t yet do by doing it! But I sometimes feel as though I’m in the minority here, as this attitude seems to be a fairly prevalent one – and not just in the area of reading.

recently I had the opportunity to talk with pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom and early childhood specialist Amanda Morgan on my radio show, Studentcentricity. As I told these two dedicated professionals at the beginning of the discussion, while doing some instructional coaching last fall, I watched as a kindergarten teacher handed out pencils to the children, along with some lined paper, and instructed them to practice their writing. And what I witnessed made me sad. Not only were these children not prepared to write; also, their little hands were having a terrible time controlling those long, skinny, yellow things. But despite those two overwhelmingly obvious facts, it was clear that the teacher believed that the only way these students could learn to write was by writing.

For those who understand child development, however, it’s clear that this is a serious misconception. All forms of development, including the fine motor development required to manipulate a pencil, involve a process. And unless a child has progressed through the stages necessary to ensure the appropriate hand strength and fine motor control, trying to write is an exercise in futility and frustration.

Motor skills develop from the inside to the outside of the body, and from the large to the small muscles. That means that until a child has control over such body parts as the trunk and arms, control of the hands and fingers just ain’t happening. And it is due to this progression, put in place by none other than Mother Nature, that it’s been said – believe it or not -- that the best way to prepare children to write is to let them swing on monkey bars. Or, as Angela recommended during our conversation, to let them hang from tree limbs, because the limbs stimulate more parts of the hands than do the monkey bars. She also recommended crawling, particularly in the outdoors, where the arches of the hands will contact far different surfaces than they would indoors. And, of course, hanging from tree limbs and crawling have the added benefit of strengthening the body’s large muscles, which must take place before the hands and fingers are ready to write!

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

I had a conversation this week with an educator that I would define as a master teacher. “What,” she asked, “defines mastery in teachers?” Is it years of experience? Self-efficacy? Or perhaps a set of specific skills that lend themselves to high achievement for students?

I would say possibly a combination of all three.

Can new teachers really be thought of as masterful? Maybe, but I would bend more toward the thinking that in most cases it takes a few years to attain mastery. I have seen brand new teachers do a terrific job immediately, but they are few and far between.

Certainly there are teachers who have been teaching for many years and still have not risen to this level. How, then, does a teacher attain this art of mastery?

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