Every teacher strives for an active classroom buzzing with engaged and eager students. However, even the most experienced teachers face days when it seems like they’re the only one talking and the students have simply tuned out. Or, perhaps your students are so engaged and so eager to participate that you’re having a tough time making sure that all student voices are heard.
Silence can bring even the best lesson to a screeching halt and the hand that never seems to go down is certainly a challenge. But whatever the reason behind your participation woes, if you have 12 minutes, we have 10 top-notch strategies you can learn today and try out tomorrow to boost active learning and student participation for all students in your classroom.
Managing a classroom is never easy — even for the most seasoned and experienced educators. Even more, every class of students is different, and a great strategy that works with one group may not necessarily work with the next. That’s why it’s smart to build a toolbox full of strategies so you can change up your routine to find out what works for the students you’re teaching right now.
If you have six minutes, we have six strategies you can learn today and try tomorrow for a more focused and well-managed classroom.
What is Critical Creativity?
To Dan Ryder and Amy Burval, critical creativity is “students using creative expression to demonstrate deeper thinking and the nuances of understanding content.” It’s a portmanteau of sorts, which has the potential to turn ideas into action and push your students toward deeper learning and meaningful understanding.
Dan and Amy believe that, “When students make connections, transform knowledge, and articulate the reasons behind their creative choices, learning becomes more sticky, meaningful, and authentic.” Articulation of creative reasoning is key, because as students learn the power of explanation, rationale, and intentionality, they shift from passive pupils along for the ride to active drivers of their own learning. And the best part of this shift is that it occurs in the midst of purposeful play.
On this episode of Tch Talks, Dan Ryder, Education Director of the Success and Innovation Center at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine, joins us to talk about his and Amy’s new book, Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, and how a little rigorous whimsy can help you transform learning in your classroom right now.
It’s easy to have an opinion these days. But getting someone to see the world from your point of view — that takes a little more skill.
Enter the first-person commentary.
From newspaper op-eds to radio perspectives, there’s a growing market for content grounded in one person’s individual lived experience. Done well, commentaries can inform, persuade, and build empathy — making them powerful tools for civic engagement and fostering deeper community conversation.
This lesson on commentary writing comes to you from Youth Radio, an award-winning national network of next-generation storytellers.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Well, sort of.
Teaching in December can be tricky and sometimes downright difficult. You may find yourself digging deeper and deeper into your bag of tricks. You may need something fresh to keep you and your students on track. You may simply need a break.
You can survive and even thrive in December! Here are four tips to get you through the holiday season.
“I’m an exhibitionist of student learning”
– Public Presentations of Learning Stimulate Deeper Learning
I loved being a teacher and relished in the futuristic vision of myself.
I’d sport salt and pepper grey hair like my Grandma Lu, thoughtfully sip my decaf coffee from my Wonder Woman traveler mug, and still execute perfectly timed dance moves through lessons, discussions, and projects for the enjoyment of my students. I always knew that if I ever left the classroom it would have to be for something important, and I couldn’t think of anything more important than positively impacting the lives of young people. Then I learned about a career opportunity that would allow me to do just that, but on a national scale, and I was all in.
I was asked to Co-Direct the Share Your Learning Campaign, a national initiative that aims to empower 300,000 teachers to shape the path for five million students to publicly present their learning to an audience beyond the classroom by the year 2020, and I said, “Yes.”
Although I had strong reservations about leaving the security of my classroom and the mutual love and respect of “my babies,” aka my students, I was eager to be a part of a nationwide transformation of student learning.
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?
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“High school students hate history. When they list their favorite subjects, history always comes in last. They consider it “the most irrelevant” of 21 school subjects, not applicable to life today. “Borr-r-ring” is the adjective they apply to it. When they can, they avoid it, even though most students get higher grades in history than in math, science, or English. Even when they are forced to take history, they repress it, so every year or two another study decries what our 17-year-olds don’t know… “
And so begins James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
The study of society and our collective past is important. It helps us understand ourselves, how we got to the present, and the world around us. It’s interesting that, as a society, we show a great interest in our culture and history. Whether it be historical novels and nonfiction, games, television programs, feature films, museum exhibits, or Broadway shows, American audiences — young and old — are fascinated with the “story of us.”
Yet our students sleep through the classes that present it.
Students may be the experts when it comes to the world of Minecraft, but teachers are the experts in curriculum design.
Teachers can use what they know best to design engaging, real-world experiences within Minecraft that are aligned with curriculum and standards and focused on a learning goal. Students can use the tools within Minecraft to show evidence of their learning, document their progress, share their achievements, reflect, and learn through hands-on experiences. What’s more, students love Minecraft and are excited to craft!
Dr. Amy Tong joins Tch Talks to discuss how we can create tangible learning outcomes for and with students through Minecraft.
Attention getters, do nows, morning meetings, hugs, and high fives. These are often the ways teachers start their days. By now, you probably have your routines in place for how you start your day or class period. But sometimes it’s good to mix it up. Or maybe you’re looking for an exciting entrance to a specific lesson plan. Just like writers, teachers often need a hook!
Whether you’re mixing it up or just curious about what other teachers do, check out these five videos to see five different ways teachers start their lessons.