Classroom Solutions > 25 posts categorized "Research"

My Reflections on the Education Nation Teacher Town Hall

Town Hall PhotoEvery year just before our December vacation, my school’s entire faculty takes a celebratory “field trip” to Rockefeller Center. We skate around the iconic rink and then feast at a nearby restaurant. Over dinner, we discuss our successes and challenges from the first semester and our goals for the second semester. I always leave with a deep appreciation for my creative, dedicated colleagues and a renewed enthusiasm for our profession. 

This past Sunday, I visited the Rockefeller Center skating rink for another gathering of passionate educators, this time foregoing ice skates and a winter coat. Instead, I joined several hundred teachers in a tent for NBC’s Teacher Town Hall, the kickoff event for their weeklong Education Nation initiative. So many interesting ideas were explored during the two-hour freewheeling conversation, and I left just as inspired as I am after my school's December outing. Read on for my thoughts on just a few of the ideas we covered.

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Motivating the Unmotivated: Tough Kid Tools That Really Work

Toolbox At some point in your teaching career you will have a "tough kid" in your classroom. You may even have several at the same time. These students send you home exhausted, often in tears, and raise doubts about your career choice. The tough kid changes the dynamic and mood of the room in an instant, and you may find yourself wondering what to expect from minute to minute. The tough kid may come to you with a prior history, with warnings from your colleagues, and with a cornucopia of labels such as "at-risk," "difficult," "attention deficit disorded," or even "lazy." How do you deal with tough kids, and what can you do to restore order to your classroom? Read on for the top five ways to motivate the seemingly unmotivated. 

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Ten Years Later: Remembering September 11th With an Oral History Project

Scholasticsept11postOn the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way to work in Springfield, Illinois.  Many people remember where they were and what they were doing when terrorists attacked our country 10 years ago this year. My current students, however, may have a difficult time remembering as freshman students were 4 to 5 years old when this significant event changed the course of history. Since I often refer to 9/11 when discussing various pieces of literature, I wanted my students to have a firm understanding of the event, and so created the Remembering September 11th lesson. This lesson is broken into three phases: class discussion, group research, and individual project.

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Three Tech Tools to Collect and Analyze Student Interest Data

ToolsOur classroom and teaching strategies must be student focused. Maintaining a positive teacher and student relationship is very important.  According to Jim Burke in his book The Teacher's Essential Guide Series: Classroom Management, "the student-teacher relationship is the cornerstone of an engaging, successful classroom."  To build relationships with my students, I first need to know them. Talking with them in the hallways and at lunch is a start, but I need to know what they enjoy and what their strengths and weaknesses are in the classroom. Using "icebreaker" activities gives me some perspective on their personality, but doesn't tell me if a student enjoys reading or knows how to use various technologies. I have used paper and pencil surveys, but it is very time consuming to collect and analyze the data. However, I have found three time saving tech tools to collect and analyze student interest data.

 

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Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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One Look Back — Two Steps Forward

F81935817Where did the year go? It seems as though I was staring at a sea of unfamiliar faces just yesterday. In a few weeks, I'll be sending them on to 7th grade. Before sending them off, I take a few moments to have them reflect on the year. What was their favorite unit? What was the most important thing they learned? How could I make their learning experiences better? Then I collaborate with colleagues for about an hour, comparing notes, celebrating our successes, and discussing areas to target.

As hectic as these last few weeks are, it is important to take time to reflect on the year and create personal and professional goals while everything is fresh in your mind.   

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Tommydickson.

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Common Core State Standards

MBlow0510_iStock000012975998_tortoisehareThroughout my career, I have done extensive research on world folklore. Aesop, the father of fables, has blessed us with an infamous fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” cautioning against hurrying to reach a goal and suggesting that the slow and steady will win the race. I cling to the wisdom of this fable as we begin our journey toward educational reform. 

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

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Simple and Impressive Planet Art

Vasicek Final PlanetMy art skills were arrested at about the 4th grade level: My students can attest to that! So, when I was able to produce a pretty impressive planet scene in under 15 minutes, I was very proud of myself. When I told my students that I used spray paint to do it, they were impressed as well.

 

 

 

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State Assessments: Multiple-Choice Strategies & Activities

041911iStock_000005780399StndTestFormSometimes I question whether my students are taking a multiple-choice test or a multiple-guess test. By the time the 6th graders get to me, they have had three years of state testing. I worry about the blasé attitudes preteens sometime develop because they have "been there, done that." So how do we motivate our students and prepare them for high-stakes testing? Below are a few reading comprehension strategies and review activities that help our students succeed on the state tests.

Photo copyright Ryan Balderas/iStockphoto.

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Adventures With Books: One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies
Join my class as we turn the book One Tiny Turtle into a unit of fun and exciting learning experiences. This lyrical and informative look at the elusive and endangered loggerhead turtle is sure to delight young nature lovers.

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Explore Childhood Themes With a Kevin Henkes Author Study

Kevin Henkes Author StudyTo strengthen my students as readers and writers, I had them take to the Reader's Chair and the Author's Chair to share their responses to a study on Kevin Henkes, who writes and illustrates books about lovable mouse characters who express common childhood feelings, fears, and fantasies. After evaluating his writing style and comparing the characters, settings, and themes of four of his books, my students showed off their own reading, writing, artistic, and critical-thinking skills.

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I Love to Read! Surefire Ways to Create Lifelong Book Lovers

I Love to Read Month February is “I Love to Read Month,” the perfect time to assess if your students do, in fact, love to read. Are they captivated by good stories? Does reading fill them with excitement and enthusiasm? Do they play with the sounds of language in a literature-rich environment that promotes active learning through highly engaging activities? If the answer to any of these questions is no (and even if it’s yes!), it may be time to arm yourself with a repertoire of techniques guaranteed to get every child in your class saying “I love to read!”

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Danger on the Internet: A Lesson in Critical Thinking

Internet Danger SalvatoreArguments on Jerry Springer, cat fights on Jersey Shore, WWE wrestling — the line between reality and manufactured entertainment is forever being blurred. My momma always said, Don't believe everything you read. Don't believe everything you see. These phrases are more true today than ever before. With all the recent technological advancements, it is increasingly difficult to tell the real from the fake. We must arm our students with critical-thinking skills so they can separate the fact from the fiction and use the Internet safely.

Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono.

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Educating Teens About Drugs — The National Institute on Drug Abuse

DSC01340Drug and alcohol abuse continues to plague teenagers, and parents and teachers are often at a loss about how to handle this important issue. I grew up in the '70s, when there was a great deal of glorification of drug use in the media and very little information about the dark, dangerous side of drug use and addiction. With the advent of the information age, however, there are plenty of resources to help educate and inform students about the dangers of drug use.

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Why You Should Become a National Board Certified Teacher

DSC01296Teachers understand that being a lifelong learner is a core responsibility of their profession. Professional development opportunities abound for teachers, some of it very good and some of it, well, not so good. Of all the professional development activities that I have taken part in during my sixteen-year teaching career, the most powerful, rewarding, and informative one was applying for and receiving National Board Teacher Certification (NBTC). It was also the most difficult and challenging one, but in the end, the process greatly informed my practice, and I truly believe it made me a better teacher.

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Heroes

MLK speech pic In California, studying famous people and heroes is a 2nd grade social studies standard. In my class, we begin our studies with Martin Luther King, Jr., and then move on to President Lincoln and President Washington.

After watching short videos and reading nonfiction books, we create projects together in class. Then, having learned about each of these men, we compare them and discuss why they are considered heroes. We also talk about the difference between a hero and someone who is merely famous.

Read on to learn more about our unit on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and heroes.

 

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Martin Luther King Jr. and Common: I Have a Dream

DSC01278Today is Martin Luther King Day, and beyond the fact that they get a day off from school, I'm wondering if my students know much about the man who worked so hard to advance freedom in this country.

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Axis of Hope

Axis of Hope Double Circl I recently attended a New England Association of Schools and Colleges conference. The luncheon keynote speaker was a man named Carl Hobert, who is the founder and director of an organization called Axis of Hope. I was riveted by Mr. Hobert's address, in which he discussed how Axis of Hope works with adolescents to help them develop an understanding of alternative, nonviolent approaches to resolving complex conflicts locally, nationally, and internationally. I knew right away that this was something that would be powerful in my own school. Read on to find out what happened when we held an Axis of Hope workshop at Revere High School.

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The Skinny (or the Non-Fat) on Nonfiction

NonfictionMost of the reading and writing we do in life is nonfiction. Informational text helps us live, work, learn, and communicate with society. Facts and data come in an infinite variety of forms, yet most classroom libraries mainly feature fictional storybooks. Surprisingly, students actually enjoy them as much as, or even more than, fiction. Fiction is enjoyable, and can be inspirational and informative, but the ability to decode, comprehend, and analyze knowledge is all of that and one other thing — necessary.

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College Readiness — The Real Deal

 DSC00833 
What is it that makes high school students successful in college? How can high school teachers truly make sure their students are college ready?

 

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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom

Photo 2 For some of us, the end of the year is imminent! After state testing you may have more time and need some relief from the pressures of going over test taking strategies and test prep packets. What do we do with ourselves? Start a project of course! Now is a perfect time to allow students time for inquiry and research into a subject that you may have touched upon earlier in the year. This also may feel like it's a good time for your students to learn more about the history or natural history of the the area in which you live.

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School Culture: Impact on Teacher Motivation

  IMG_2017Have you ever attended a professional development seminar or workshop and found yourself nodding your head as you listened to the speaker point out truth after truth of things that you have seen throughout the educational field? A few weeks ago, I experienced just that as Dr. Anthony Muhammad helped me to better understand why school culture can often be so frustrating for motivated teachers. To sum up one of his key points, technical changes such as scheduling, after school programs, and intervention classes cannot truly impact a school if it has a self-defeating culture. When I say school culture, I'm not talking so much about what goes on with students. I'm talking more about us, the staff.

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Linking Non-Fiction Works to Blog Posts

 
StaceyClass With the end of the school year quickly approaching, I would like to link some non-fiction literature to a few blog posts from earlier in the year. It makes sense to use good books to support some of the lesson ideas and strategies presented in these posts. The titles I have selected are all available from the Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard, and are currently in stock.

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The Dynamic Duo: Test Prep and Dramatic Productions

School 2008-2009 315
Before getting knee-deep in standardized testing, I spend time with students reviewing critical state standards and benchmarks that will be tested in the coming weeks. I try to vary the method of delivery for these reviews; however, one of the most entertaining for everyone is the incorporation of student-created productions.

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Utilizing Web Cams for Classroom Instruction


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The “millennials” that sit in our classrooms each day, bring with them a unique and exciting skill set, mastery and command of technology. Utilizing web cams to enhance and enrich content is a free and exciting opportunity that teachers can share with students. Not only does it give students resources that are directly related to concepts being taught, but it also provides data in real time.

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.