As we ring in the new year, let me take this opportunity to introduce myself and to share some wonderful news.
First, the news: Teaching Channel – that is to say, you, the vibrant community of teachers, coaches, mentors, and educators of all stripes that comprises Tch — just topped the 800,000-member milestone and continues to grow each day!
This number represents to me not just the individuals across the country and around the world who call Teaching Channel a professional home. It also represents a validation of our mission to open classroom doors, through high-quality video, so that teachers can share practice, inspire and learn from one another, and, in the end, get better together. Read more
As the year comes to a close, we here at Teaching Channel would like to thank our Teams partners for making this year a rousing success. You are part of a growing crowd leading the nation in PD that makes a difference, by opening up classroom doors and collaborating with others to get better at what you do. We’re proud of your work, and you should be too!
You, our wonderful community of educators, watched A LOT of Tch videos in 2015. You also read a lot of blog posts. And you shared those videos and blogs with your colleagues, your mentees, your PLCs, your Facebook friends, and Twitter followers.
You commented on what you watched, asking questions of the teachers featured. You posted questions and responses to one another on our Q&A board. You prodded each other — and us — to learn, grow, and get better at the challenging task of educating our young people.
So what were your favorite videos and blogs? Which ones helped you improve your teaching? Which were the most interesting, fascinating, thought-provoking, innovative?
Here are the top videos and blogs of 2015, measured by the number of times they were viewed by the Tch community, and in order of popularity.
Teachers across the nation are earnestly working to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Three-dimensional student performances, a hallmark of the NGSS, require some big changes in classroom experiences, and everyone wants to know “what does an NGSS lesson look like in the classroom?”
The standards themselves provide some important clues:
- They describe snapshots of what students should be able to demonstrate when their learning experiences have prepared them for rigorous three-dimensional performances.
- They are student-centric.
- They define science goals for students at every level of the K-12 educational system.
The standards, though, are standards and not curriculum. They describe new and exciting end-of-instruction goals, not a prescribed path for how to get there. Since a standard is not a lesson, what does it look like in a classroom? It can look very different in different contexts, but there are some common features that can be found in materials (lessons and units) that support high-quality science education in classrooms. These features are described as criteria in the Educators Evaluating Quality in Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubric for Science, the topic of a new video series produced through a collaboration between Achieve and Teaching Channel.
It’s the last days of school before teachers and students are off to much deserved breaks. As my colleague Lily Jones posted last week, winter break is a great time to recharge professionally. However, don’t forget that winter break is also a time to recharge personally.
Educators spend so much time meeting the needs of others that we often forget about ourselves. This winter break, take the time to do personal development as well as professional, so that you’re refreshed and rejuvenated for the new year.
To help you out, we asked our Tch Laureates how they plan to relax over the break, and they shared fantastic ideas. Tom Jenkins is going to enjoy favorite sports by playing basketball, attending his son’s wrestling matches, and taking his son to a college football game. Josh Parker plans on embracing the holidays staycation style by creating a regional smorgasboard of his favorites: pizza, Cheerwine, and fried shrimp!
We also asked our laureates for suggestions and tips for what you, the Tch community, might do to recharge. Take a look at the list below for ideas on how you can relax over the break.
Educators from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. last week to focus on innovative strategies for building school leader capacity at the Learning Forward Annual Conference. Teaching Channel’s Engagement Team, along with partners from Upland and Fresno Unified School Districts and Arlington Public Schools, presented their strategies for video-based learning as a way of reinventing school PD.
There is no greater respect you can show a student than to respect his or her culture. As an African-American male, I’ve lived through examples — and nonexamples — of what it truly means to be culturally relevant.
I became fully alive in the 10th grade when my Language Arts teacher opened the pages of the Harlem Renaissance to me, and introduced me to Langston Hughes and Claude McKay. But beyond those authors, she made Shakespeare relevant for me. She also made many other writers that are traditionally outside the canon of Black authors available in ways that made sense within the context of my own life.
My biggest regret as an educator is that throughout the first half of my career, I continually underestimated the abilities of middle school students. (Slow to learn, I would later underestimate kindergarteners as well.)
It’s not that I thought that they were unintelligent. Nor did I think they lacked creativity. I just didn’t bother to ask for their input and, since they were fidgety 13 year olds, I assumed that more structure equaled a better learning environment. I thought that if I fed them a nice dose of PowerPoints, lab experiences, and classroom discussions, that they would walk out of room 8c with everything they needed to be successful in their high school science courses and beyond.
When their standardized test scores came back over summer break, my practice was validated. By and large my students were very successful at both filling in the correct bubble and parroting a rehearsed response to a writing prompt. I had become proficient at churning out very good test takers.
Winter break is upon us and, above all, I hope you’re planning on taking time off to rest and recharge. But winter break can be a great time to sneak in a little bit of professional development, too.
We asked our amazing Tch Laureates to share favorite resources to read (broken down into groups, depending on if you’ve got a lot of time or just a bit) and watch. As you browse this list of favorite resources, think about bookmarking one — or more — to dive into over break!
I’m watching as my students attempt to create an object using only cubes and tetrahedrons that will roll down a ramp in the least amount of time. It’s an engineering design challenge that was inspired by Curiosity Machine’s “Build a 3-D Object out of Tetrahedra.” (You’ll be prompted to log in to see this challenge, or you can create a free account here or by clicking the Join button from the former link.)
On the surface, it may seem like a very simple task, but there are actually quite a few STEM content areas that we’re exploring over the course of our four-day unit:
- Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Potential Energy
- Kinetic Energy
Not to mention the fact that my students are utilizing scientific and engineering practices. They’re constantly collaborating, working within constraints, collecting and making sense of data, as well as using the iterative design process to help them accomplish their objective.