I am not sure how much longer I can take the brutally cold weather. I consider myself a “hearty New Englander” but this February has been ridiculous. To come downstairs in the morning and see the thermostat read 49 degrees Fahrenheit is the epitome of depressing. Many educators, particularly those who teach in snowy environments, will confess that the month of February is frequently one of the most difficult months of the school year. Never-ending cold weather, darkness at 5 PM and “cabin fever” all contribute to the challenges of teaching and learning in February. What is a teacher to do? How about slowing down and taking some time to reflect on the things that really matter. In this week’s edition of the Friday 4, I offer up a few pieces that I have run across of late that have helped me to deal with the February blues. Remember, spring is just around the corner!
- Slowing Down to Learn: Mindful Pauses That Can Help Student Engagement is a piece from the Mind/Shift website that offers some concrete suggestions for ways to address the challenging topic of wait time in the classroom.
- Students Assessing Teachers: 10 Critical Questions is a piece from the Brilliant or Insane website that I found to be unique in its suggestions about how to utilize students in the assessment of teachers. I am always looking for ways to tap into the experiences of my students to improve my practice and will definitely incorporate a few of the questions from this piece in my end of term student survey.
- Learning from Failure: Inspirational Stories for Teachers is another piece from the Brilliant or Insane website that was posted this past week that helped me to remember that sometimes we learn the most from our failures in the classroom. We encourage our students to embrace failure but sometimes forget to take our own advice. Be sure to click on the links in this story to see the footage from the Oprah show referenced in the piece.
- 15 Surprising Discoveries About Learning is from the informED website and includes several good reminders about what really matters when it comes to teaching and learning.
I hope that you can use one or more of these pieces to help treat your case of the “February Blues” and remember what really matters during this the longest month of the year. Enjoy!
Tags:brain·feedback·friday 4·Friday four·learning·teaching
As any teacher will tell you, February can be one of the most difficult months of the school year, especially if you teach in New England and have to deal with the never-ending possibility of having your well-planned syllabus blown to smithereens by a snow day or 1-hour delay. As a result, I have found that February can be a great month to take some time to be more reflective about my teaching. I ran across several blog posts in the past week or so that allowed me to stop and ponder some of my practices and seriously reflect on my teaching that I thought you might find interesting as well.
I hope that you find one or more of these pieces as thought provoking as I did. Enjoy!
Tags:engagement·friday 4·Friday four·learning·teaching
Want to add a little “mind food” into your pre-Super Bowl snack lineup? Try a few of the delectable items on this week’s Friday 4 menu before hunkering down for your marathon session of watching TV commercials and an occasional pass of a partially deflated pigskin by local hero, Tom Brady.
- Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains is a nice review from the Mind/Shift website of a recent interview that appeared on NPR. I would encourage you to listen to the entire interview with Dr. Frances Jensen that can be found on the NPR site, but if kickoff is less than 38 minutes away, you may just have to settle for the recap at the Mind/Shift site.
- If you are looking for more learning and the brain stuff, here is another piece from the Mind/Shift website titled: What’s Going on Inside the Brain Of A Curious Child?
- On the pragmatic side, here is a piece that I found on the Faculty Focus website about How to Help Students Improve Their Note-Taking Skills. Some good advice not just for college students but for our students as well. How many of the activities do you employ?
- The final item this week is actually a series of pieces that all crossed my screen within a day or so that all speak to some of the issues I think a great deal about these days. If you would like to have a conversation about any or all of them, stop by the KCET and bring a friend!
Enjoy your weekend!
Tags:21st century learning·friday 4·Friday four·growth mindset·learning·neurobiology·professional development·teaching
The snow has just about stopped, at least for now, which means that I will soon have to pull on my boots and go out and shovel the driveway. I actually truly enjoy days like this, ones during which I balance a little aerobic exercise clearing the snow with time reading in front of a toasty fire in the fireplace. Sounds pretty good, huh?
If you are looking for something to read between shovelling sessions, I present this week’s Friday 4 for your consideration. I know it is not Friday, but it is close enough!
- I found this opinion piece Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others from last weekend’s NYT interesting as I thought about how I create collaborative groups in my classroom and contemplated ways in which I could better teach effective collaboration. My wife was certainly not surprised by the third characteristic of the smartest teams!
- On a somewhat related note, the following piece crossed my Twitter stream this past week and caught my eye so I clicked on the link and actually read it. Student Success Better Predicted By Personalities Than Intelligence; Why Being Smart Isn’t Enough
- Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb is a piece that appeared in the NYT recently that was written by one of my favorite authors and cognitive psychologists, Daniel Willingham. The piece addresses some common misconceptions about attention spans and electronic devices. The bottom line for me as a teacher is that I need to keep stepping up my game if I am going to capture and keep my students’ attention in class.
- After reading the Willingham piece in the NYT, I realized that I had not checked out his blog recently and decided to stroll over and see what I may have missed of late. Daniel’s latest post was a perfect piece for this week’s Friday 4: Five mini book reviews. Of the 5 books he reviewed, I had already read 2 of them but was intrigued by the last one on the list, so I ordered it from Amazon using my school-provided professional development debit card. Too easy! I may not be able to read the book today, but in 2 days thanks to Amazon Prime, I will have another book to add to between-shovelling sessions in front of the fireplace.
Tags:friday 4·Friday four·growth mindset·learning·professional development·technology
I am sitting in an afternoon session with our PRMT fellows down at UPENN and all of a sudden realized that it is Friday…where did the week go? I missed my Friday deadline last week and am determined not to miss another one! The past week has been a particularly busy one for all sorts of reasons and I have been leap-frogging from one meeting to another and feeling a bit disjointed. In this spirit, I present a Friday 4 with no real common thread or theme…sort of like my week. I hope that you find at least one of the pieces interesting and worth discussing with a colleague.
Tags:flipped classroom·friday 4·Friday four·motivation·professional development
Phew! As I sit down at 9:20 PM to craft this week’s Friday 4, I can finally put my feet up and breathe a heavy sigh of relief…I made it through the “gauntlet” that is known as the post Thanksgiving/pre winter break stretch of the academic calendar. The students have all scattered to the corners of the state and globe for vacation and the faculty holiday party is in the books. A perfect time to share some of this week’s finds with colleagues!
This time of year is replete with “Top 10″ lists and “Best of 2014″ posts and articles that afford me a chance to “find” some reads that I might have missed during the year. I actually look forward to these recap articles since during these next few weeks I actually have some time to get lost in reading without feeling that I am avoiding more pressing work. This week’s Friday 4 includes two such lists.
Enjoy the break!
Tags:21st century learning·friday 4·Friday four·learning·PD·professional development·teaching
Every educator’s pre-Thanksgiving day ritual should include some head-scratching, thought-provoking reading about the craft of teaching to counterbalance any exam correcting that may also be on the docket. It is my hope that this week’s Friday 4 can serve that purpose for you.
I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and that you find some time to peruse a few of this week’s items. Enjoy!
Tags:boarding school·differentiation·friday 4·Friday four·mobile technology