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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 Teaching Strategies

Happy Friday!

Or Saturday, depending on when you read this.

As school draws closer (or maybe already back to the grind?), teachers and administrators experience a renewed sense of purpose. We reflect on how to start the year off right and how we can do things better.

I have an ironic, but very true answer for doing things better. It involves making mistakes. Lots of mistakes!

I took a screenshot of something I found on Pinterest a while ago and decided to make it into a poster you, I, and the rest of the Universe can print and use in their classroom, office, or spaceship.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Without a doubt the first few days of school are the most critical ones in helping to create the foundation of good human relationships with your students. Even the most skilled teacher in the pedagogical sciences of education will be less than effective if the kids don't "like" them, yes, I said, "like them". Now I am not talking about making lots of young friends but I am talking about creating a relationship with your students that is built on mutual respect and a kinship, a kinship that forms your stove of learning. So here are six tips, teachertips, to build a strong, effective stove of learning for your classroom. 

1. Please don't go over the syllabus on day one. I know, it's expected, and that is exactly the reason I strongly advise against doing it. Your first impression, is just that, your first and only first impression, you get no do-overs, so make it magnificent. I am not here to tell you what to do on day one, you can go google that, but if you see your first day as the first blind date into a forced marriage, it takes on a more powerful significance. I used to start a video project on day one, a DV quilt, where all the students were responsible for coming up with a finish to the sentence, "America is __________" and one visual. We then patched them together for a class film that we could analyze and use to springboard ourselves into a discussion of the nation. It wasn't the tech or the fancy final product that made them want to come back for more, it was the engagement. So ENGAGE them, make them want to be in the forced marriage, otherwise you may be on the road to a difficult and long, painful divorce. If you are interested in developing your own DV quilt, check out the tutorial below to start marinating. 

 

2. Use the magic word. What is the magic word? It's their name of course! I understand it's a difficult task, especially if you teach secondary, there literally could be 150 names or more. But the point is not to memorize all of their names quickly, it's to convey the message to your kids, that their name is important, it's important to you. Make it a point in the beginning of the year that you are on a mission to learn their names, I would make a bet that if I didn't know their name in two weeks I would give them a point on their next test. It was this act, this act of good faith, that I believe, earned the respect from my students. You may make mistakes, no, you will make mistakes, but make no mistake about it, one's own name is truly the most magical word in the human language. So learn them and use them to make magic in your classroom of learning. 

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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 Teaching Strategies

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Cognitive Overload. Unfortunately, we do that a lot. We often overwhelm students with information when we present it to them. What's worse, we teach them to do the same to others when they present. We are killing them. Well... We're killing their learning...

So, it is only fair we call the police on ourselves... Or stop the insanity...

Talk About 1 To 3 Key Points And Expand On Them

One way you may be killing your students is by doing too much. They say: Say Less! They mean it. So never, ever spend the entire class period presenting. Such practice is questionable even in college. And, it's NEVER student centered.

This is what most of my college experience was. Presentations were meant to be interactive, but usually only a small percentage of students asked questions or commented.

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