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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.
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.
Being a new teacher is extremely exciting and completely exhausting. So let me start by shouting this loud and clear:
We are here to help you!
Because we know that starting your teaching career can be all consuming, we’ve created our New Teacher Deep Dive just for you.
One of the hidden treasures of NGSS is the incorporation of coherence and phenomena-driven lessons. These strategies are not found in the standards themselves, but in the EQuIP rubric in the NGSS resource library.
A coherent lesson is a lesson that fits into a broader storyline. Coherent lessons flow together like a story, where each lesson connects to the previous one and the story progresses as students work through the unit. This storylining provides students a reason to progress through the unit and gives meaning to each of the lessons within.
The EQuIP rubric not only provides a process for evaluating a lesson’s alignment to the standards and three dimensional learning, but also allows a reviewer to look for how these components work together to make sense of phenomena. The reviewer then looks for evidence that the lessons have coherence.
The life of an instructional coach is a balancing act. On the one hand, you are still a teacher. You still plan lessons, they’re just called agendas. You still assess the effectiveness of your instruction, but now refer to the process as follow-up professional development sessions. On the other hand, you are a part of the instructional leadership team with the assistant principals and principal of the school. You have “crossed over” to the other side, to use teacher parlance.
This straddling of two perspectives can help you craft initiatives for great teaching that work for both teachers and the instructional leadership team. The beauty of this duality is that it allows teachers and leaders to work together to determine what the initiatives will be. The improvement of teaching is best realized when teachers are involved in the conversation, rather than summoned to the table. Here are four ways I’ve worked with teachers and administrators to create room for teacher voice and collaboration:
This school year, I’ve been on a journey to put my students at the center of our learning. That means finding ways to make the learning meaningful to my students as people — that is, personalized. And it means being responsive to their needs as learners — in other words, customized.
Most of my efforts to meet this call have meant developing completely new units, and that’s been exhausting and won’t scale for teachers with multiple preps or those seeking life-balance. Moving into the fourth quarter of this school year, I sought support. I sat down with colleagues to learn how to work toward these ends from our existing curriculum for 10th grade English. The unit from which we worked had two summative assessments: a literary analysis essay on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and a multimedia presentation based on a social issue.
Implementation of NGSS can seem like a daunting task. The focus is no longer content standards, but rather an interlocking system of content, engineering and design strategies, and cross cutting concepts — a 3D approach.
Content learning occurs when students design experiments, create models, and design solutions around authentic tasks and engaging phenomena. These phenomena can be grouped under common themes, or cross cutting concepts, which unite all discipline areas, such as cause and effect, structure and function, and patterns.
Standards-based teaching has directed instruction for so long that a wide variety of quality, engaging labs and activities have been developed to help students better understand the content. Does NGSS implementation mean we need to abandon these well-thought-out lessons? Does it mean we, as teachers, need to rewrite everything we’ve worked so hard on in order to make our teaching more 3D?
The answer is no!
Last week we debuted our back-to-school backpack, with notebooks full of great ideas for the start of the school year. We asked you to share your favorite classroom setup resources and were thrilled with your responses. Before we get into this week’s topic (the all-important lesson planning!), I want to point out some of the great resources that were added to last week’s open Google Doc.
As kids plan for back to school, they (and their families) often think about backpacks. Do I need a new one, or is my old one just fine? How big should it be? How will I make it my own?
For kids going to school for the very first time, getting a backpack is a rite of passage. When you’re ready for your own backpack, you’re ready for your own adventures. You can bring the things you need, and take home what you created and collected throughout the day. While what’s on the outside of a backpack is often about personal style, it’s really about the things students carry inside them, especially the things that are meant for their eyes only. Maybe it’s a secret journal, a book to read in the quiet moments between classes, the small stuffed animal tucked inside an inner compartment just in case it’s needed. And, backpacks often carry brand new supplies that get students excited to go back to school after summer break.
Welcome to Teaching Channel’s very own Back-To-School Backpack. We’ve filled it with four fresh notebooks on subjects we know are important to think about at the start of the school year. While brand new notebooks with blank pages are exciting, it’s also comforting to have some starter ideas. Each notebook contains carefully selected links to related Teaching Channel content that can support you in the back-to-school journey.