Teacher, It’s Cold Outside: Ideas for Relatable Science & Student Engagement

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

So much science to know (Teacher, it’s cold outside.)

Why icicles glisten and glow (Teacher, it’s cold outside.)

What matter makes up snow? (Your students will want to know.)

Why is winter so cold? (Teacher, you’ll freeze out there!)

Teacher, it’s cold outside.

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Students never seem to lose their sense of wonder when it comes to snow. The unexpected snow day, delayed start, or early dismissal has the potential to take student learning off the clear path you’ve carefully shoveled as schedules are rearranged and students are excited to play — no matter their age.

But play during the long, cold, and sometimes unpredictable months of winter doesn’t have to be limited to the outdoors.

What can you do in the classroom with students on short, cold, snowy, icy, and stormy days?

Create relevant learning experiences and increase student engagement!  

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How YA Novels Help Teachers Build Empathy

Tchers' Voice : Great ideas from passionate educators just like you

We walk through our classroom doors and want to relate to our students. We want to understand their challenges, thought processes, motivations, and fears.

But how do we develop empathy for our students who may struggle with challenges we never experienced?

How can we understand their reactions, fears, and priorities if their childhood or adolescence is so incredibly different from our own or the one we’re creating for our children?

Good teachers understand that practicing and growing empathy makes us great teachers.

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Winter Olympics: 5 Rings, 5 Events, 5 Engineering Challenges

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s…”  Olympics time!

~ Sanka Coffie, Cool Runnings

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The Olympics are full of amazing athletes, but what keeps people watching night after night are the stories.

For two weeks every four years, households around the world tune in to watch. We cheer on Apolo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, and Shawn White. We’re suddenly captivated by otherwise mundane tasks like sweeping (curling anyone?).

The stories of the athletes teach lessons of perseverance in which athletes train, and retrain, and retrain… until they reach their goal and the glory.

How can we provide students with analogous opportunities to embrace a process that leads them to overcome a challenge and improve upon a system?

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PodcastPodcastTch Talks 24: Inviting Curiosity and Socratic Questioning Into The Classroom

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What are the questions that your students carry inside of them but rarely ever discuss?

2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples wanted to find out. What started as a small idea or strategy to help students build empathy transformed into nearly 15 years of work helping children — and adults — voice the questions they carry inside them. On this episode of Tch Talks, Shanna talks about why it’s important for both students and teachers to “Think Like Socrates,” to allow students to take ownership of their own learning through authentic questions, and to leverage student questions as learning experiences that develop critical thinking.

For Shanna, curiosity is key, and allowing students to own their learning through creating questions is the most fundamental change a teacher can make in their teaching practice. Listen in to find out more.

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Tch Talks 23: School Startup to Curio: Redesigning Deeper Learning

Tch Talks

When teachers solve problems, they inspire their students to solve problems, too. How can teachers use their best strategies as a launching pad for deeper learning and professional growth? And how can curiosity, co-creation, and collaboration before a lesson idea is formed be a game-changer for classroom practice?

On this episode of Tch Talks, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, Instructional Specialist and Deeper Learning Coach for Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky and 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, joins us to talk about her work with School Startup. This pilot program is where three cohorts of Teacher-Founders are engaged in the design process to rethink and redesign deeper learning in their classrooms and professional learning communities.

She also shares her recent adventures as founder and CEO of Curio Learning, an app that helps teachers discover new ideas and curate them in a personalized way. The app also facilitates collaboration with other educators in order for them to grow as professionals and find the ways to best help their students.

Ashley believes that if every teacher woke up to the awesome influence he or she has, there would be a drastic overhaul of the system and that — bottom line — it takes a teacher to transform learning.

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10 Top-Notch Strategies in 12 Minutes: Student Participation

10 Top-Notch Strategies in 12 Minutes - Student participation

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.

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Six Smart Strategies in Six Minutes: Classroom Management

6 smart strategies in 6 minutes: Classroom Management

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.

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Tch Talks 22: Intention & Critical Creativity in the Classroom

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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.

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Hello Darkness: Light Bulb Moments for the Longest Nights of the Year

Hello Darkness - Light Bulb Moments for the Longest Nights of the Year

There are many teachers who serve as sources of inspiration in our lives, but the one that we hope to emulate most is undoubtedly Professor Albus Dumbledore, of JK. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

During this hectic holiday season, as the days are shrinking but the pile of grading is not, we cleave to his wise words:

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“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,

if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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As Gretchen Vierstra recently pointed out, teaching in December can be tough.

Many of us find ourselves at school before the sun makes its grand appearance and are still there long after it quits for the day.

What is it that’s causing the daylight hours to hasten by, providing us additional hours of darkness?

Is there a way to embrace the “Darkside” of the season, while still resisting the negative forces at work?

Whether you’re looking for ways to get students engaged with the darkness around us during this time of year or enamored with the bright lights of the season, here are some tips and tricks to use around the solstice to help students embrace phenomena and enjoy the holiday season.

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The Power of Student Voice in First-Person Commentaries

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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.

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