Content Conversations: Strategies for ELLs

Editor’s Note: Oakland Unified School District’s ongoing partnership with Teaching Channel has involved producing videos, building capacity on Teaching Channel Teams, and creating interactive video for #TchVideoLounge.

Recently, the Oakland Unified School District partnered with Teaching Channel to launch a three-part video series on Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations. We were at the beginning stages of using classroom discussion as a district-wide strategy to more explicitly integrate language development into content area instruction.

A little over a year later, our learning continues! Oakland teachers are still hard at work, exploring the ways they can best support both language development and content understanding through whole-group and peer discussions. We know from research that language learners need regular opportunities to rehearse new language and apply it in authentic contexts. We also know that teachers need to be intentional about engaging all students, especially our ELLs, so that no one can hide and everyone can experience success. And anyone who has spent time in the classroom knows fostering authentic conversation among ELLs is no easy task.

In this new series, we visit or revisit Oakland elementary and high school teachers taking on the challenge of integrating language instruction for their ELLs in content instruction. You’ll see them trying new strategies, fine tuning old ones, and reflecting on student learning to hone their craft.

Read more

Looking For Math Resources? Kristin Gray Has A Pinterest Board For You

At any given time, my computer has at least ten open tabs in my Google Chrome web browser. Not because I’m using all those pages at once necessarily, but because if I close some of them it takes me too much time to find them again.

So when Teaching Channel asked me if I’d be interested in guest curating a Pinterest board, I took it as an opportunity to put all my favorite online resources in one place. I brainstormed my most trusted math routines, places where I connect and learn with others, resources I use in professional development, and classroom resources I simply cannot live without.

Read more

Calling All Science Teachers: Join The Tch NextGen Squad!


Interested in learning more about the Next Generation Science Standards while engaging with colleagues from across the nation? Then join the Tch NextGen Squad!

As states adopt the NGSS and work toward implementation, Teaching Channel is committed to working alongside teachers to understand how the standards will shift instruction. As part of this work, we’re offering an online program for teachers from NGSS states to network with other teachers from NGSS states, engage in learning activities to interpret the standards, and use video to evaluate and refine practice.

Read more

Teaching With Grace, Learning With Dignity

We’ve all been there — a momentary, frustrated reaction to a student that’s more curt, less kind, and more gruff than it ought to be. Its roots are embedded somewhere in our lack of sleep, or a floundering lesson, or unforgiving piles of paperwork. And it’s a reaction immediately regretted, but unable to be undone.

We’re flawed human beings. So are our students. The work is challenging for everyone, so these moments happen.

I’ve learned how that moment can irreversibly color a student’s experience in our classrooms, like food coloring staining a glass of water. For children — too often bearing burdens of anxiety, a challenging home life, or the common self-doubts of adolescence — the last thing they need is for a teacher to be an adversary in their learning. Yet, I still occasionally make these mistakes. But I’ve also made the choice to be intentional in limiting and countering them. I’ve made the choice to focus on teaching with grace, so that students can learn with dignity.

Read more

Should Cursive Be Saved?

Recently, I asked one of my students if I could use his reading notebook so that another student could copy some missing notes. The student with the reading notebook writes in cursive. I didn’t think this was an issue because I knew his notes were very neatly written and easily copied.

Not so. Why? Because the student who needed the notes could not read cursive. Oh my, I thought. When did this shift happen?

Read more

5 Tips To Help Develop Conceptual Understanding In Math

As a teacher of mathematics who focuses on inquiry-based instruction, I often get asked how I go about developing my students’ conceptual understanding. Early in my teaching career, I became very good at teaching procedures through direct instruction.

As my teaching methods have evolved, especially since embedding the math practices in every lesson, I’ve pushed myself to use inquiry-based tasks and hands-on manipulatives with my students as a way to help them develop their conceptual understanding. Yet there are still topics (such as solving inequalities with a negative coefficient) where I feel unprepared to teach in this way.

I recently got a sneak peak of Leah Alcala’s new video, Concept First, Notation Last. While Leah is probably best known on Teaching Channel for her My Favorite No and Highlighting Mistakes strategy videos, this new example of practice is a chance for us to see how Leah helps her students develop conceptual understanding in math. After watching, I felt as if some of my own questions on the topic had been answered.

Read more

TED-Ed Innovative Educator: Fostering Global Innovation

A new year for me means reflecting on the previous year and looking forward to what’s ahead.

As I reflect, I think about an incredible opportunity that came my way. I was invited to apply to the TED-Ed Innovative Educator Program — a program started by TED-Ed, the education initiative of TEDTalks. The TED-Ed Innovative Educator Program is a year-long professional development experience that brings together educators from around the globe to discuss topics related to innovation in education.

Read more

Vulnerability = Online Teacher Leadership

Tch Laureate Team

This is part of Crystal Morey’s Getting Better Together work. Crystal and all the Teaching Channel Laureates are going public with their practice and seeking support in getting better from colleagues and the Tch community.

After finishing the 11-week book study Making Number Talks Matter in late December, I began reflecting on the experience of helping to co-construct and co-facilitate #MNTMTch.

Getting Better TogetherMy “normal” teaching day has seven periods with roughly 135 students. I rarely talk to other teachers — beyond a Friday afternoon collaborative session — and my experience with teacher leadership is still in its infancy.

As fellow Teaching Channel Laureate Kristin Gray and I planned the book study, I was nervous to go public with my practice via social media, which was one of the channels we’d use for interacting with participants. In the first place, I literally joined Twitter three months before the book study began and felt a little late to the party! Would I be able to lead with such a small following in an online space?

Read more

Start Teaching Through an Inquiry Stance

Making in SchoolsThis is the third in a six-part series titled Making in Schools.

“Better learning will not come from finding better ways for the teacher to instruct, but from giving the learner better opportunities to construct.” — Seymour Papert

student centered learning board

If student agency and empowerment is at the core of maker-centered learning, then the role of the teacher is to create an environment that supports students to construct their own meaning. To do this, teachers need to cultivate our own inquiry stance to support student-centered learning.

An inquiry stance is our underlying approach to teaching; it favors questions over directions, student voice over teacher voice, and process over outcome. It’s about thoughtful structure, intentionally choosing where students explore openly, and where there are limits and scaffolds. This doesn’t mean, however, that students have complete autonomy as the teacher sits back and watches.

Read more

#TchLIVE: Growth Mindset

In the last couple of years, the topic of growth mindset has been buzzing about in my district and, it seems, everywhere else. Much of the professional development offered in my district as well as the professional development I’ve sought, has at least touched upon the issue of student mindsets. Carol Dweck, the pioneer in the field, has explained the importance of having a growth mindset. But the burning question is: How do we teach that to our students, all of them?

I’ve been giving some thought to the ways in which my mindset is fixed about certain things, yet malleable regarding others. How do I work with my struggling students to increase their perseverance and improve the effectiveness of their effort? How do I let students know that I will never give up on them, even if they themselves give up? How do I teach my high-achieving students that when something is hard, that doesn’t mean you’re not good at it, it just means that you haven’t figured it out yet? These are my questions and my challenges.

Read more