Study skills. They’re part of the hidden curriculum, those strategies that students must learn in order to succeed. No high-stakes test I’ve ever seen measures “study skills” discretely. But they are the hallmark of high-achieving, confident students.
How do we teach such strategies? We can’t just plan a unit on study skills, and call it done.
Instead, teachers must develop a sharp approach to the learning that goes on in our classrooms. Ultimately, what matters most is what students can do independently. To get them there, we help them learn the content or skills but also make sure they can make the material their own; develop confidence; and take responsibility for studying and its outcomes.
In my middle school math classroom, I offer significant support at the start of the year when students are getting used to my style and curriculum. By the end of the year, I transfer preparatory responsibilities to my students (as much as is age-appropriate).
This course of action—a long-term plan carried out over the course of the school year—is transferable to different age groups and types of content. You’ll need to customize it for your students and classroom situations.
How will my district handle the implementation of science standards? How will they be integrated with the Common Core literacy and math standards? Will I have to figure it all out on my own? Those are big questions for thousands of American science teachers who are encountering the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Yes, it’s going to be hard work, but the NGSS show great promise, with their emphasis on what students are able to do. How do I know? I’m a practicing teacher who was part of a committee that vetted the standards as they were developed. I know what teachers need to do to get ready.
Want to spend class time wisely? Formative assessments can help. The trick: taking the time to analyze the data and put it to use. You can do this in any subject area, but we’ll start with an example from teaching math.
Let’s say my class is working on quadratic equations and we’re just beginning to learn how to find x-intercepts (remember it’s where a line crosses the x-axis).
In the past, I might have taught the lesson, worked sample problems on the board in class, and then assigned 3-5 problems for students to work on that evening.
Formative assessments change that model.
Mathematical discourse has been articulated as one of the Common Core Mathematical Practices: construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Sounds stuffy and maybe even intimidating, right?