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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

When most people think of a classroom, they think of a format something like this:


Students all at their own desks, all facing the teacher, who stands in front of or next to the blackboard, whiteboard, projector screen, etc.

Does this look like your classroom?

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

messy desk

First, we need to understand that the state of writing instruction has never been great.

If you are of a Certain Age (say, mine) you may recall a type of writing instruction that we could call the Lego Building Approach. In this method, students are first taught to construct sentences. Then they are taught how to arrange a certain number of sentences into a paragraph. Finally, they are taught to assemble those paragraphs into full essays.

This is junk. It assumes that the basic building block of a piece of writing is a sentence. No-- the basic building block of a piece of writing is an idea. To try to say something without having any idea what you want to say is a fool's errand.

Not that the Lego Building Approach should feel bad for being junk. The instructional writing landscape is littered with junk, clogged with junk, sometimes obscured by the broad shadow of towering junk. And on almost-weekly basis, folks try to sort out what the junk is and how best to clear it away.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Whats Your NumberTurning students' first names into number values is a terrifc way to build team, assess math attitudes and knowledge, and have fun early in the math year.

First, set up a computer so students can photograph themselves and print a picture of their face. 

Next, give each student a print out of a T-shirt.

After that ask students to determine the value of their name in the following way:

If A = 1, B =2 . . .X= 26, figure out the value of each letter of your name.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies


This will mark my 15th of year of teaching, and during that time I have made my share of mistakes. Seeing how I am close to the half way point of my career, I thought I would reflect on my top ten mistakes (the ones I can remember anyway) in hopes of others avoiding them.


Mistake #1: Burning bridges

Everyone knows everyone. It's a small world, and getting even smaller with PLN's. No matter what the situation is, always take the high road. Build bridges, don't burn them. Your older, wiser self will thank you.


Mistake #2: Losing that fun connection with my students I had my first year

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

It is important for teachers to make it easy for their students to work well together—an undertaking requiring diplomacy as well as dedicated effort. Social inclusion is such a vital aspect of any student’s life that the effort often results in beneficial dividends. What are some of the most common barriers to social acceptance in school? Many students could feel excluded because they do not know their classmates. It is a mistake to assume that students know each other well. Even students who have attended school together for several years may not know much about their classmates.

Another barrier is that your students may live in different neighborhoods. If you teach in a school where students may live at a distance or come from very diverse neighborhoods, it is likely that they have not had many opportunities to interact with each other outside of school.

In addition, students who have not been taught how to behave courteously or who have not learned socially acceptable ways to resolve conflict often struggle to form appropriate relationships with their peers.

Perhaps the greatest barrier that you will have to help your students overcome is the perception that they may not have much in common with a classmate whom they do not know well. With effort and persistence, you can assist students in learning to recognize their commonalities so that they can learn to accept and support each other. Use the tips in the list that follows to guide you as you work to help students remove the barriers to peer acceptance.

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