For This We Thank You

The Teaching Channel blogs we love are the ones that provide us with ideas and quick tips. Your clicks and comments tell us that. This is not that type of blog. This blog’s aim is to remind you that you make a difference, an idea just as useful and equally important as our blogs with classroom ideas and quick tips.

Days set aside for national recognition give us moments to think about why we do what do,  just when we need to hear it most. May is the month we teachers often feel––simultaneously frazzled to the point of unravelling and also fulfilled to the point of pride as the hard work of the previous 8 months blooms. Teacher Appreciation Week is well timed.

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[Archive] #TchLIVE: Preparing for the End of the Year

Thank you to all who joined us as we think about how teachers can create an “end of the year” with capstone experiences and projects where teachers release responsibility and students learn because of school, not in spite of it.

#TchLIVE Reminder

Want a reminder about #TchLIVE chats on Twitter? Sign up for our Remind class and receive timely reminders: remind.com/join/tchlive.

See the Archive

First Grade Findings: Adapting Lessons to Support Students

Every teacher knows that “within the overall patterns of development, each child’s trajectory is unique.” In a class of 30, they will each fall in a unique place somewhere on that developmental continuum. Some students come over-prepared, and some woefully under-prepared. However, their level of development shouldn’t prescribe the kind of instruction they receive. Students who are ‘behind’ need time and support to strengthen their phonics and phonemic awareness skills in fun and engaging ways.

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Special Download: 10 Ways to Be a Creative Genius for Teacher Appreciation Week

Celebrate a teacher or set of teachers at your school or in your district! All it takes is a little creativity, paper, scissors and glue! Well, sometimes a lot of glue…. Consider some of these ideas as a way to say thanks to a teacher in your life.

When you are finished take a snapshot of your amazing creation, perhaps even with your favorite teacher in the snapshot and share it with us on Twitter and Instagram. Use #TeachersRock so we can find and share your projects!

Download the PDF of 10 Ways to Be a Creative Genius for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for our annual Teacher Appreciation Week Giveaway! We’re giving away hundreds of Thank You gifts to teachers across the nation. All you need to do is create an account with Teaching Channel.

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Paul Teske works for Teaching Channel Teams as an Engagement Manager, helping states, districts, and school launch and sustain professional learning in Teams.

Four Tools to Improve Communication Between Home and School

How do we improve? We ask questions. We read. We do what we can to learn more, and make changes based on what we’ve learned. If we want to help our children have a more successful experience in school, it’s no different. We need to understand what they’re doing, where they might be struggling, and what they’re doing well. We might get a rough idea by reading their progress reports, or from the kids themselves, but ultimately, we need more.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to love that my children’s teachers have increased their means of communicating with parents. Communication is no longer limited to the paper newsletter in the backpack, a website, and the occasional conference. That change has created a stronger partnership between myself and the school and teachers. In turn, it has changed how I support my children’s teachers, the school, and learning from home — no doubt enabling my children to have greater success, and enjoyment, in learning.

So, what communication tools do I wish all of my children’s teachers used? And, as a school or teacher, how do you choose which tools to use? Personally, I love online and mobile tools, and there are many reasons for this.

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Three Strategies to Support Gifted Students

Teaching gifted students has been an amazing adventure. When I first began my quest as a teacher of gifted learners, I had no idea the learning that I was about to embark upon. It didn’t take long for my students to debunk the myths that sometimes go along with the idea of teaching the gifted population, and it took an even shorter amount of time for me to change my ideas about teaching gifted learners.

I teach gifted learners in an urban population. Our program is called CLUE, which stands for Creative Learning in a Unique Environment. We are a pull-out program that focuses on the processes of thinking, and not just the products of knowledge. Getting my students to a point where they understood that the process was just as important as the product was not an easy one. At first, students were reluctant to discover, because some were not used to making mistakes and many were fearful of the possible repercussions. It took a brainwashing of sorts, and an attitude change on my part, for me to help my students take a different approach to learning. This feat did not occur overnight and definitely continues to be a work in progress.

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#TchLIVE: Preparing for the End of the Year

When I watch 11-year-old Thomas Suarez in his TEDTalk, I am struck by the question: Is he learning because of school, or in spite of it? A tough question, I know. But it’s a question that compels me, and one that begs others:

  • Are the questions we ask students authentic and relevant?
  • Am I underestimating what they can accomplish when I let go?
  • How much content learning could actually collapse when students self-direct?

I may not have answers to these inquiries, but I’m pretty convinced these are some of the right questions to be asking. And I have an inkling we’ll continue getting closer to some truths about teaching and learning when we ask ourselves what we must let go of in order to allow our students to hang onto and construct their own learning.

Enter April’s #TchLive chat! Join us as we think about how teachers can create an “end of the year” with capstone experiences and projects where teachers release responsibility and students learn because of school, not in spite of it.

The #TchLIVE chat will be on April 23rd, at 4pm PST.

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Sharing Lessons to Shift Practice

How to Strengthen Lessons - CCSSAs a teacher, I loved designing my own lessons. There’s something exhilarating about using your own creativity, content knowledge and understanding of your students to create a learning experience. But we all know that writing lessons and units on your own takes a lot of time and energy, especially when you want to check that your lessons align to standards or that they help you shift your practice. Once I created them, I wanted to be able to share them with the world in order to save other teachers time, as well as to get their feedback and ideas for revisions. Today, there are so many ways teachers can share lessons on the web, and with many states sharing common standards, it’s even easier to share standards-aligned lessons. One place to find lesson planning rubrics and quality instructional materials is Achieve.org.

Teaching Channel and Achieve.org partnered on a three-part series featuring EQuIP’s (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products) tools for Common Core lesson planning.

  • We showed you how to use EQuIP’s Student Work Protocol to analyze student work as an indicator of the strength of your instructional materials.
  • We introduced you to the EQuIP’s Math and ELA rubrics for evaluating lesson plans for Common Core alignment. While you can use these tools alone or as part of a team in order to plan and evaluate your materials, you can also submit your materials to EQuIP’s Peer Review Panel.
  • In this last part of the series, we get to see lessons resulting from this process of educators creating and submitting materials for peer review. Four Maryland teachers selected these exemplar lessons from Achieve’s website, downloaded the instructional materials, read the panel’s feedback, and tailored the lessons to the needs of their own classrooms.

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Shifting your Professional Network into the 21st Century

When I first became an educator, the term “network” had a different connotation for me when I compared it to other professions. In my mind, it implied we were supposed to reach out to other educators within our building, or perhaps at the district level, to exchange both ideas and resources.

After being selected to Honeywell’s Educators @ Space Academy in 2006, my idea of an educator’s network broadened to include educators not only in other states, but around the world. In fact, after realizing the opportunity, a few of us decided to make our own website to stay in touch and collaborate. It worked so well that my students participated in joint science experiments with students from other states, but they also helped set up an “American style” student council in Romania.

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The Harlem Renaissance: Collaborating to Plan & Teach Gifted ELA Lessons

planning and collaboration

We filmed Sherwanda Chism and Debora Gaten over a year ago, and I’ve been talking about their lessons ever since. As teachers of Gifted ELA classes in Memphis, Tennessee, Sherwanda and Debora worked together to plan, teach, and reflect on an amazing unit about the Harlem Renaissance. When I watched their lessons, I was in awe. Though their students are only in fourth and fifth grade, they are poised, articulate, and engaged in making connections and collaborating with each other.

In Sherwanda’s lesson, students prepare for learning about the Harlem Renaissance by analyzing the points of view of stakeholders involved in the Great Migration. Sherwanda encourages her students to talk about stakeholders by having them use “accountable talk stems” like, “Let me see if I understand what you meant…” and “I agree/disagree because…” Her students had lots of experience using the prompts and were able to seamlessly build off of each other’s ideas, ask questions, and participate in collaborative discussions.

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