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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in creative teaching

Posted by on in General

2e1ax elegantwhite entry adambindslev

My mantra is simple, "Where attention goes, energy flows". Without a student's authentic attention, you are basically swimming with no arms or legs in a choppy ocean of learning. Therefore, garnering student's attention in the first few minutes of class as they walk in is perhaps your most important job as an educator. Setting the stage for your lesson and doing everything you can to be sure kids are engaged is not as difficult as one would imagine but it does take effort. Here are three tips to consider as you attempt to tune in students to your learning frequency.

1. Kids come to class with a million things rattling around in their brain. The hallway is a test tube of attention virsuses which seek to invade students consiousness and disrupt your class. With that in mind, the one thing you can most definately control in regards to their attention is sound, I am talking about music. Having kids walk into an empty, quiet class is an invitation to disruption. So choose music which can not only interupt their consiousness but is related to your teaching concept. On test days I would pipe in "Rocky" and as a history teacher it was easy to find music associated with concepts I was teaching; Woody Guthrie for the Great Depression, "Over There" for WWI but if you teach math, science, art, ELA, ELL or anything else, use your creativity to support your lesson. Whatever you do, don't give up one of the most powerful forms of attention engagement.....sound!

2. Your visual. In my travels as an Instructional Technology Coach is a district of 35k students, i see a lot of classrooms. In the vast majority of classrooms I visit, I see pretty much the same thing on the wall when class begins; a scientifically written objective with either text directions on a white smartboard or a visual of a content specific item; the Scientific table of elements or a picture of George Washington. Chances are students rarely pay attention to what they see on your wall when they walk in, so make them. Find powerful visuals that will not only knock their socks off but will also facilitate your learning objective. I use Skitch on my MAC ( http://mac.filehorse.com/download-skitch/ ) but with a PC you can use ( http://jing.en.lo4d.com/ ), either way, not only can you rip a quick image but you can manipulate it to give student direction. How could a kid not pay attention to this?

 b2ap3_thumbnail_download-3.jpg

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

I have a confession to make. I've become obsessed with Design Thinking. It's gotten to the point where I "Design Thinking" everything. How do I Design Thinking my lunch? How do I Design Thinking my classroom phone policy? How do I Design Thinking teaching?

Teaching? Yep. Let's do that.

What I love about Design Thinking is that it's flexible. There are teaching approaches out there that tell us what to do, but it makes more sense for every teacher to teach differently every year, because we each get different students.

Think about it. We don't treat all our friends and family the same. Our interactions with them are largely based on our experience of who they are and what makes them tick. Teaching is the same way. One size fits all approaches do not work.

The challenge is that, in the grand scheme of things, we only know our students for a short time. However, personalization of education is not a fad; it's a thing. So. let's use the Design Thinking Cycle (Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing) to improve Teaching, shall we?

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

creativity

Check out Part 2 of my previous post, "Prompts to Pump Up Creativity and Imagination." The upcoming "sparks," all crucial areas in education, don't get enough time in our classrooms. They can be used in various ways: a "wake-up call" in the morning to get students thinking and feeling. The prompt can be written on the board or said orally to students. Give them a minute to understand what the statement, question, or "equation" means. Add another minute for reflection-and-thinking about their interpretation. Follow up with a class discussion about the prompt and all its associations, connections, meanings, and practical applications in everyday life.

You might want to add writing to this mini-lesson. Instead of just discussing the prompt with students orally, ask them to write a short paragraph response to it. Follow up with kids reading their responses to classmates and discussion. They would think about and reflect on the prompt's meanings, associations, connections, as well as their practical applications in everyday life, and write out their answers. It all culminates with students' oral readings and a class discussion.

Note: The mini-lesson should not exceed 30 minutes. Scan the different prompts and see which ones would be suitable for your students. This would work for upper elementary/middle school to high school students. 

CREATIVITY PROMPTS 

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Posted by on in General

LEARN TO TEACH isn't a declarative or imperative. I'm not slamming your approach or telling you I've got the goods on classroom management, pedagogical mindset, or a million other things you probably have a better handle on than I do.   I'm lucky enough to do the work I do and so are you.  LEARN TO TEACH is my way of reminding myself to keep questioning and learning from the world around me-- to turn exciting and mundane experiences alike into ones that I can find truth and knowledge in, so I can share them with students and turnkey them into project-based programs. Simply put: I LEARN TO TEACH. 

A DAY ON THE LOWER BAY

The Lower Bay is the body of water that runs between New Jersey, Staten Island, and Brooklyn.  Every once in a while I'm lucky enough to go out on a friend's boat and explore the water with a knowledgeable group of fisherman and a legit sea captain. For a lot of people, this is a day to relax, to shut down the brain and take in the sun.  For people like us, those obsessed with finding new ways to turn the content we are expected to teach into something great, a trip on the ocean(or anywhere) can inspire a thousand lessons we can bring back to our classrooms. More importantly it can inform who we are as learners, so that we can better serve our students.  Here are 3 lessons I learned about how to become a better teacher:  

INSIGHT #1:  IT'S OKAY TO NOT KNOW STUFF

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Posted by on in Teaching with Rigor

Grade 3 Concert Oct 28 2013 009 Wiki 5

Twenty years ago, Arlene Croce, writing in the New Yorker, declared that she felt that Bill T. Jones' work exploring his own AIDS diagnosis and the terminal illnesses of his performers made his work "undiscussable" - beyond the reach of criticism. She coined the term "victim art" and vented her frustration at the way she felt manipulated by art that seemed more about issues than it was about aesthetics.  Now, I don't agree with Croce, but I'm finding myself this morning sympathizing with her frustration.

I'm frustrated because I'm struggling with another type of performance that we do treat as undiscussable, performances we don't dare to critique, not because the performers are victims but because they're just so darn cute.  I'm talking about performances that are so far away from Bill T. Jones as to hardly be in the same universe.  I'm talking about the school concert.

I have been part of school concerts as a music teacher, classroom teacher, director, and parent.  I've spent long hours rehearsing kids for all sorts of shows, some good, some bad, some cringe-worthy.  I've toiled in the trenches of recorders, boomwhackers, and box steps.  I know how much work it is to put on one of these shows, even the worst of them.

So, I'm reluctant to criticize, really I am.  But, I just can't hold it in any more.  We need to take a hard look at this ritual and ask ourselves some big questions.  Like, why in the world are we doing this? What's the value? What's the point?

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