The Educating for Democracy Deep Dive is a collaboration between Teaching Channel and the Civic Engagement Research Group
Our Democracy is Precarious
In a 2017 national survey, just 20 percent of Americans said they trusted the government to do what’s right for them always or most of the time, and only about one third of young adults said they’re optimistic about the nation’s future. When a government that aims to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, is only trusted by 20 percent of the people, something is significantly wrong.
What’s more? Disengagement from, and frustration with, the divisive nature of politics appears to be intensifying. In fact, a poll of teens in 2016 showed that most believe they’re living in a divided America, with four out of five teenagers saying that Americans are greatly divided on their most important values.
We believe that educators have a significant role to play in responding to these challenges.
Education for democracy can prepare our youth to learn about, engage with, and respond to complex civic and political issues in informed and effective ways.
I recently spent some time working with third graders on motion stations.
As I watched them work, I was thinking about the transfer of energy and the unlimited possibilities for helping students understand this concept.
I started seeing energy everywhere I looked: watching a toy car move down a ramp, a pendulum swinging, and even balls bouncing. My brain was focused on moving energy and imagining the possibilities.
I was thinking about energy transfer even as I was helping students to grapple with questions of weight or height and mass, such as, “How does the height of the ramp affect the distance an object will travel?” or “How does the weight of the object affect the distance an object will travel?” The fact that I continued to return to this idea made me realize the importance of engaging our students with this phenomena… but how?
How might we engage students with the transfer of energy in the classroom in a fun and fascinating way right now?
Most of us realize the importance of a warm-up to get our bodies and minds ready, whether we’re talking about exercising, singing, or learning. But what about the cool down? How you close a lesson is just as important as how you open it. Yet all too often, we run out of time. Or, we look at the clock, see our students are still working hard, and think to ourselves, why interrupt their flow? But there are proven benefits to taking even just one minute to wrap up a lesson.
In those last moments, you and your students have a chance to check for understanding, reflect on what you’ve learned, tie up loose ends, or make sure everyone is ready for the next part of the day. You could even just take a moment to breathe! If you’re looking for new ideas on how to wrap up your next lesson, here are five things you can try.
Managing a class isn’t easy! Before you can teach content, you need to create a positive learning environment (check out our Class Culture Deep Dive for tips on how to do that). Building culture is a long process, one that eventually makes management easier. But what do you do when you need your class to calm down and focus? Or how do you deal with a student who is outright defiant?
I love the beginning of the school year because my classroom is a blank slate. A new start gives me a chance to take all the learning I experienced over the summer and put it to use. Some of my time this summer was spent learning with a group of teachers in the state of Iowa around the concept of coherence and phenomena-driven lessons.
National leaders in NGSS curriculum development, implementation, and training shared with the us immersion lessons that demonstrated how phenomena are used to generate student questions, which are then used to guide the learning in the unit.
Thank you to everyone who joined us as we discussed Teaching Channel’s new Deep Dives.
Did you have time to explore these new collections of great resources, curated by experts, on a wide range of topics important to teachers? If not, dive back in, explore, and interact with the Teacher Leader in each space. And come back often because new resources will be added as the collections are updated.
If you have questions, reach out. And remember to follow the Tchers you connected with in the chat so we can continue the conversation and get better together!
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Science is important for students to learn. No, actually, science is crucial for everyone to understand the world and how we interact with it. Teaching Channel, alongside many educators, is working hard to communicate strategies and resources to improve science instruction and allow deeper understanding and broader access for all students.
August Webinar with Teaching Channel, WGBH, and PBS LearningMedia
Last month, PBS LearningMedia, WGBH, and Teaching Channel partnered to co-host a webinar on Engineering and the Design Process: Real-World Classroom Resources. The interactive, hour-long event provided an opportunity for classroom practitioners to converse with our combined team of classroom educators and curriculum experts.
Wow! What a turn out! Over 800 registrants AND we maxed out the webinar platform!
This year, as part of my professional growth plan, I’m delighted to facilitate a virtual professional learning community via Twitter chat to delve more deeply into growth mindset. Growth mindset is the theory that intelligence, talent, and ability are fluid and can be developed with effective effort over time. This is in opposition to the theory that intelligence, ability, and talent are fixed — you either have them or you don’t. This work is important to me because I believe that all students can learn, and part of my challenge as an educator is helping my students to believe that as well.
I love how my desks, tables, calendar, and plan book look at the beginning of the school year. They’re clean, organized, and every year I try to convince myself that I’m going to keep them that way all year long. That fantasy probably lasts all of about two weeks, when the crazy rush of the school year kicks in full throttle. While I wouldn’t trade that crazy busy whirlwind for anything, I still long for continued organization in my life throughout the school year. Even searching for resources feels like a never-ending scavenger hunt that sends me in so many directions.