Editor’s Note: Hear more about this program from Executive Director Basma Rayess in our #anewkindofPD podcast episode found on iTunes and Stitcher.
Michael had suffered for years as the result of his mother’s alcoholism. A teacher encouraged Michael to participate in a program where students could write about their experiences with violence. Michael wrote a powerful poem describing the disappointment, anger, and fear he felt with the situation, but he had no intention of having his mother read it. However, he needed a parental signature so he showed it to his mother with great trepidation. When she read it, she was silent, but something tremendous happened. The poem helped his mother make a commitment to get sober and she has been so ever since.
I’m a big fan of science notebooks for students. My students use notebooks to develop Cornell Notes from content material, record and analyze lab data, and create “interactive notebook” elements like foldables, flashcards, and puzzles.
I’m NOT a big fan of the lengthy process that ensues when attempting to assess student notebooks. What I find most frustrating is collecting notebooks to see what students are thinking. As a high school teacher with multiple sections of students, trying to carry home hundreds of notebooks isn’t only logistically difficult, it’s time-consuming and inefficient.
Last Wednesday morning, before the school doors opened for our middle and high school students, Mr. David, our principal at Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists in New York City, announced over the loudspeaker that we’d have a short faculty meeting in the library. A few of my colleagues and I had already gathered in a classroom, hugging one another, checking in, and reflecting on the results of the previous night’s election.
We weren’t sure how we’d talk to our students about the results and were seeking ideas from one another. When our principal’s announcement came over the loudspeaker, I was relieved. I wanted to come together with my peers to process and talk about what we’d just experienced as a nation.
This entry is the fourth post in the series #TchWellness.
As part of Teaching Channel’s #TchWellness series, I’m connecting with a series of authors who are helping me — and you — understand issues impacting teachers. Our first, Nan Russell, author of Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation, recently sat down with me for an interview. Her work, not limited to education, explores how trust is developed and sustained.
As students walk into school every fall, I focus on routines and procedures emphasizing classroom management. I have students repeatedly practice these expectations to effectively maintain a safe and engaging classroom. However, over the past few years, in addition to focusing on routines and procedures, I’ve become increasingly interested in the intentional and sustained engagement of students in critical conversations and curious thinking practices. Once students are engaged in the core of my content area, procedures make more sense and become embedded in the learning foundation already established.
The following strategies represent 5 ideas that will help to create engagement while also focusing on a sense of community in your classroom.
Regardless of context, we’d all likely agree that facilitating student collaboration isn’t an easy task. And if we’re being fully transparent, we can confess that sometimes it’s downright painful! Somewhere along the secondary grades, we tend to lose sight of explicitly teaching students skills such as collaboration, and rather expect students to simply be able to successfully work in a group together.
With limited time, support, and resources available to develop our craft in regards to student collaboration, it’s easy to focus on other demands and hope that students will organically develop these skills. If this resonates with you and sounds like something you need support with, I’d like to invite you to sign up for one of the 50 open seats in a new learning experience starting on November 10th, with an online launch at noon Pacific/3 PM Eastern. Over five weeks, we’ll work together to try strategies for increasing student collaboration in the classroom, concluding our journey on December 15th.
Editor’s note: The links in this blog will download the materials Mr. Colley is referring to in the text; the first a Powerpoint file, the next two are Word docs.
See Matt’s Video on Teaching Channel: Encouraging Students to Take Action
One of the first skills I focus on in my classroom is academic discussion.
I believe identifying, studying, and building academic discussion skills is a vital first step toward building community in the classroom and laying the groundwork for powerful action projects later in the year. In order for students to work with each other and the larger community, they have to be comfortable sharing their ideas and, most importantly, building new knowledge together. The lesson outlined in this post focuses on introducing discussion skills and takes about one class period. I practice academic discussion multiple times each unit.
Transitions can be both exciting and marked by uncertainty. As a science coordinator and classroom coach, I’m learning about NGSS K-12 transition as I go. I’m sure the same is true for many of you. After reading “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” by National Research Council (NRC) and spending some time with state education leaders, I quickly learned, with respect to the NGSS transition, “There will not be a significant shift in WHAT students learn, but in HOW they learn.” With this in mind, I’m seeking resources that might reveal the most efficient way to embed the NRC grade band endpoints as a foundation, coupled with dedicated professional development on the 3-D Learning vision.
I came to writing books for kids through a very peculiar path. My journey began when my son discovered Minecraft.
According to Common Sense Media, “Minecraft is an open-ended, exploration- and creation-focused environment. Players can create items and buildings from scratch using materials they harvest from the world around them.” My son was very eager to be a part of this new phenomenon. In fact, if you asked him, he’d tell you he had to have it or he was going to die!
My wife and I put up a good fight, but our son was relentless. We ultimately caved and bought him the game. We were surprised and quite pleased with what he did with this new digital power. He built incredible structures, created cities and castles of glass, and floating giants. We’d never seen him so creative or engaged. It was fantastic.