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General

Voices from the BAM Radio Community sharing their thoughts, insights and teaching strategies.

Posted by on in General

STUDENT MOTIVATION: 

Motivating students is probably one of the hardest things we do as teachers. Delivering content is meaningless without a student motivated to learn and apply it. During our workshops this is one of the most common topics that come up. While this is usually in the context of Mastery Learning the general advice I give us universally applicable to any instructional model.

While there are a lot of tips and tricks to motivating students, most of them come down to one simple philosophy: INCREASE STUDENT OWNERSHIP 

SIMPLE BUT TRUE...

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Posted by on in General

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i have been looking forward to this all day.

you are going to love this story.

you wait.

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Posted by on in General

Self-paced learning can be a great tool.

If you've ever tried to implement mastery or self-paced learning in your classroom, or attempted a long-term project that is student-centered, you've probably tried it (or are still doing it) because, frankly...these things work. Anytime you can make your classroom more student-centered and meet the needs of more students, you're going to increase achievement for your learners.

When self-paced learning goes wrong...

Regardless of how much positive data and research exists for learning that allows students to master material (by the way there is a lot...you can even google it if you want), even the best pedagogy can be destroyed by improper or poor implementation. As I work with schools and districts to implement mastery learning there is a common misconception that can cause this to happen. A lot of educators think that because students are accessing content or curriculum at their own pace that they are also supposed to learn on their own. This couldn't be further from the truth. Self-paced learning is NOT self taught.

Self-paced learning should mean more teaching, not less.

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Posted by on in General

teacher student

During our first official day back from summer break, the staff at my school spent some time discussing the value of developing relationships with students and the positive impact such relationships can have on the academic and behavioral progress of those children. Initiating such discussion is a daring move by our administration in this age of ultra-focused obsession on assessment data. Caring about the emotional wellbeing of children unfortunately has been, of late, ridiculed as being “soft” and a waste of valuable instructional time.

We have embarked upon the right path. Most of us were already somewhere along that road. In our grade level groups, we brainstormed activities and celebrations to fortify the relationships we will, most certainly form within the 180 days we share with our kids.

But building relationships is so much more than a one-time game or a certificate for good work. Those things are indeed worthwhile, necessary, and effective. However, forming a bond with your students (or with anyone, for that matter) takes time. For that connection to last, you need to work on the relationship every day, every week, every month.

There is no fool-proof “100 Ways to Connect” book of guaranteed strategies to use. No one knows the individual students you have in class better than you. No one knows the combination of the kids you have sitting before you. No one knows all of the tiny intricacies of each and every life represented in the confines of your classroom.

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Posted by on in General

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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?

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