When In Rome…A Journey of Backwards Design and Integrated Instruction

romeYou’re planning a trip to Rome, with the end goal of ordering in Italian a local wine for your date at a restaurant you biked to without a map.

How would you plan to meet this goal?

Would you rather memorize a phrasebook one week, read blogs on intercultural dating the next, trace Google maps the third, then consult a sommelier? OR, would you rather build and integrate these skills in context while traveling through the Italian countryside?

How do your students learn best? How do we best prepare them to perform at a high level to be college and career ready? Is it more effective to learn and apply skills in isolation, or integrate them in meaningful instruction? In either case, we need to plan with the end in mind. Read more

6 Steps to Coming Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor Your Next NGSS Unit

Transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards’ way of constructivist teaching may seem a daunting task initially, but it is highly worthwhile! In this blog, we’ll share with you some easy ways to get started.

NGSS shifts the focus from science classrooms as environments where students learn about science ideas to places where students explore, examine, and use science ideas to explain how and why phenomena occur (Reiser, 2013). If you pique student curiosity they will be driven to want to learn more (Krajcik &  Mamlok-Naaman, 2006). It follows that one of the most important components in making this transition to NGSS is planning your units around a big question tied to a puzzling phenomenon.

phenomenon definition pic

Though the transition to NGSS and phenomenon-driven instruction may be challenging, there are small initial changes you can make that will provide large positive outcomes with regard to student motivation and depth of thinking. As you go through this blog, keep in mind how everything is geared toward introducing a real life context before throwing in the underlying scientific content.

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Here’s a Keeper: 5 Reasons Why You Should Connect with Facing History

"Teaching Mockingbird" is one of the myriad resources available for free from Facing History.

“Teaching Mockingbird” is one of the resources available for from the nonprofit Facing History.

When you consider all of the educational programs, techniques and strategies you’ve accumulated, which are flashy trends and which are keepers?

In a recent interview, I asked a candidate that same question. Later on the drive home, I found myself still reflecting on the question and considering all of the keepers that I recommend to teachers years after I first learned about them.

So what’s your keeper? As I continue to reflect on that question, the work of the international education nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves rises high on my list of essential resources for social studies teachers in all grade levels.  Here are five reasons why. Read more