For students and teachers, the month of November is a time of transition. The fall term is winding down which, for many of us, means that our students are preparing for exams and we are all eagerly looking forward to a well-deserved break that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday. To celebrate the end of fall, this week’s edition of the Friday Four features 2 items that all teachers can use with their students to help them be more reflective about the past term and to best prepare for any upcoming exams. With the prospect of a bit of down time on the horizon, I have also included 2 items for you to ponder over the mini break; one is a podcast interview with Elizabeth Green, the author of “Building a Better Teacher”, and the other is a call for proposals for an upcoming CAIS event.
- Prompts to Help Students Reflect on How They Approach Learning is a piece that comes from the Faculty Focus website. The article provides many good prompts that can be used with students as they finish up the fall term to encourage them to be more metacognitive about their own learning.
- Making it stick is a podcast of an interview with one of the authors of the book “Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”. Students would be well served to employ several of the techniques mentioned in the podcast as they prepare for their upcoming final exams, and we should be sharing these tips with them.
- What teachers need is another podcast from American RadioWorks that features Elizabeth Green. You will recognize Green from the New Yorker article that I included in last week’s Friday Four.
- The CAIS (Connecticut Association of Independent Schools) is holding the annual “Teachers Helping Teachers” workshop on January 29 and is now accepting proposals. This workshop is a popular event every year and is a wonderful opportunity to learn something new or to share something with fellow colleagues. I encourage you to take a look at the sessions that were offered in January 2014 and submit a proposal for a session for this year.
Not surprisingly given my role at Loomis Chaffee, I see and read a large number of articles, blog posts and books on the subject of professional development. I have a somewhat random mix of items this week that all have the theme of professional development running through them. I encourage you to read the pieces and then take the more important next step, namely, to take charge of your own professional development and commit to doing something that will foster your own grow as an educator.
Enjoy. As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback…good and bad!
Looking to add some new tools to your teaching toolbox? This week’s Friday 4 will highlight a few relatively new technology related tools that are fairly easy to learn and use that have the potential to significantly change the teaching and learning that is going on in and out of your classroom. I encourage you to take the plunge and try using one or more of these tools in your classroom in the next couple of weeks.
- Socrative is a web-based student response system that is similar to “clickers” in functionality that can be used on a computer, a tablet or a smart-phone. “Through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualization, teachers can gauge the whole class’ current level of understanding.” A Complete Guide for Teachers on How to Use Socrative is a great place to start if you have never seen or used Socrative.
- If you are a user of Google forms in class, there was some big news recently having to do with the release of new add-ons for Google forms that add some really neat functionality to forms. If you are a user of Google forms, check out this post from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website that describes a few of the add-ons that educators will find useful.
- Ever wish you could easily create an interactive multimedia collage for a topic you are teaching, or better yet, have your students demonstrate their understanding by creating a dynamic presentation? Well, now you can! Check out this post from the Free Technology for Teachers website that is run by Richard Byrne @rmbyrne.
- My personal favorite new tool that I have added to my teaching toolbox has to be Edpuzzle (@EDpuzzle). With Edpuzzle, you can take any video (your own or one from YouTube or several other sites) and make it your lesson by trimming it, annotating it or embedding questions that the student have to answer right into the video. As a flipped classroom teacher, it has been awesome to be able to add questions that allow the students to check for their own understanding right into the videos at the exact moment that I want. Here is a wonderful blog post by a fellow teacher that explain how to get started. Even if you do not use a flipped classroom, this tool could turn some of the videos you like to show into richer lessons.
I have been pleasantly surprised and pleased with all of the neurobiology related pieces that have hit my radar screen of late. The research, much of which has existed for quite some time now, is finally making it into the mainstream discussions about teaching and learning. My hope is that people will not only read the articles and ponder their implications; but more importantly, they will actively think about how they can change or modify what they are actually doing in the classroom in order to incorporate some of the things we now know about how students learn.
I certainly have changed quite a few things in my own classroom as a result of all that I have learned about how students learn from the current and not so current research. Change is uncomfortable, but if we are to best serve our students, we have to willing to question and rethink everything we do as new information and research becomes available.
So, here are just a few of the brain-related items that I came across this week. I encourage you to read them and then engage in a discussion about one or more of the pieces with a colleague or two.
The beginning of the fall term is by far the best part of the school year as far as I am concerned. The school year is still fresh and full of optimistic anticipation of transformative learning and “AHA!” moments. The students are not too tired yet, they come to class with their homework completed and they are eager to engage in the lesson for the day. I love September!
I did not post a Friday 4 last week as I was rolling out an ambitious Professional Learning Plan with the faculty at The Loomis Chaffee School and got busy with that. If you are interested in the plan, you can see the document here. I would love to hear any feedback you might have on the plan or suggestions for additional items that could be added that you do at your school.
This week’s interesting finds:
Enjoy and have a wonderful end to your September!
As much as I like the energy that comes with the craziness of the opening of school, I must admit that I am glad the the opening of school is over and that we are now getting into the “routine” of the school year. There is comfort in routine and predictability…at least as much as can be expected when working with adolescents! This week’s Friday 4 is a mix of items that all deal in one way or another with the work that happens each and every day in our classrooms and the impact teachers can and do have on students.
- The death of the classroom as we know it is a story that appeared on CNBC recently. The piece includes some short video clips and covers a wide range of ways in which the “traditional classroom” is changing.
- 10 Recommendations for Improving Group Work is a piece that appeared on the Faculty Focus Website this week. “Students, like the rest of us, aren’t born knowing how to work well in a group. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be taught and learned. Teacher design and management of group work on projects can do much to ensure that the lessons students learn about working with others are the ones that will serve them well the next time they work in groups.”
- The gifts of a teacher is a nice essay passed along to me from Eric LaForest (@Eric_LaForest) that explores the immeasurable and intangible gifts that excellent teachers pass along to their students.
- Four Ways to Spot a Great Teacher is an essay that appeared on the Wall Street Journal website. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments section or send them to me on twitter. (@smacclintic)
Labor day is a distant memory. The blur of the opening faculty meetings can best described as being, well…”blurry.” The student leaders and pre-season athletes are arriving in waves, crashing on the shores of the Island that is known as Loomis Chaffee. I can count on one hand the number of days before the first day of classes. For all intents and purposes, that means that the 2014-2015 school year if actually under way.
This week’s Friday 4 is somewhat of a smorgasbord of items that have come my way via several different sources.
- Our opening day of faculty meetings featured a presentation from our Head of School, Sheila Culbert (@SCulbertLC), who shared a list of books, articles and videos that had inspired her talk. She has shared that list which can be found here if you are interested.
- Our second day of faculty meetings featured a wonderful presentation from Dr. Abigail Baird (@AbigailBaird), Associate Professor of Psychology at Vassar, about the teenage brain. At one point in the day, I was reminded about an article that appeared in National Geographic about the teenage brain that Dr. Baird was quoted in.
- A colleague passed along a link to an article published in The Atlantic Magazine “How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson” that is a collection of crowd-sourced resources that classroom teachers might find useful.
- The following blog post from Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) came across my twitter feed today and captured my attention given the recent discussions we have been having at my school about access to upper level courses in our curriculum. Uri Treisman’s Magnificent Speech On Equity, Race, And The Opportunity To Learn.
- BONUS: A good reminder to all classroom teachers that despite our best efforts, sometimes we can not plan for Those Magical and Mysterious Learning Moments.
Enjoy and have a wonderful beginning to your school year!
As we make our final preparations to welcome a new crop of students into our classrooms, I would like to begin the year by sharing a few of the items that I curated over the summer.
- Making It Stick. A new book rethinks the hard distinction many teachers make between ‘memorizing’ and ‘thinking’ is an article that was actually published in April on the Chronicle of Higher Education website. I ran across the article after having already found and read the book Make it Stick that is the subject of the article. If you are intrigued by the article, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the book.
- Four Key Questions about Grading is a piece that appeared on the Faculty Focus website that offers a summary of a longer article that appeared in the summer edition of the Cell Biology Education – Life Sciences Education journal. Given the centrality of grading in education, the article is certainly relevant for most all teachers and their work with students.
- Giving Student Feedback: 20 Tips To Do It Right is a piece that was actually posted in the summer of 2013 that came across my Twitter stream this August. Good reminders about the purpose and value of giving feedback as we begin the school year.
- The Five Habits of Creative Teachers is an article that appeared on Education Week website in August that caught my eye. I was particularly intrigued by the link at the end of the article to join in on a free canvas course on the topic starting in October. I signed up and hope that a few of you might join me.
Enjoy the beginning of your school year!
The end of the school year routine always includes a laundry list of items that never seems to get shorter no matter how many items I cross off the list. On my list this week was the crafting of a Friday 4 since I have skipped the last couple of Fridays and felt that I “owed” it to my colleagues who have shared items with me over the past few weeks. So, here is a VERY random collection of items to ponder if you are looking for ways to procrastinate when you should be correcting that last set of papers or writing teacher comments.
- “Who Gets to Graduate?” is a thought provoking piece that appeared in the NYT Magazine recently that addresses the issues of equity and access to education.
- 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools is a blog post that I ran across that challenges some of the long-standing entities that exist in secondary schools. How does your school match up using this lens?
- The Art of Asking Questions is a piece that recently appeared on the Faculty Focus website that includes several good suggestions for classroom teachers. While the school year is nearly over, it is always a good time to reflect on the practices we employ and how we might be able to add some new tolls to our arsenal.
- Not a news flash to most I imagine but… Poll: Prestigious Colleges Won’t Make You Happier In Life Or Work
- Need some more convincing that “clickers” are a powerful tool to use in the classroom? Do students learn by talking to each other? is a recent post from Stephanie Chasteen (@sciencegeekgirl) that reviews some of the recent research on the use of clickers and peer instruction in the classroom.
- Looking for some more FREE summer PD? Why not join the newly formed #TABSchat summer book club for an online discussion of several education related books this summer. Here is a link to the flyer introducing the first book of the summer.
I guess I should stop at 6 items in this edition of the Friday 4…enjoy!
Moms: Our First Real Teachers
It would be difficult for most of us to deny that the first “teacher” we all had was our own mom. Who was there when we learned how to tie our shoes? Who taught us to believe in ourselves? Who taught us to always say please and thank you? Mom of course…and maybe Dad if you were lucky. So while Teacher Appreciation Week is technically over today, if you are lucky enough to still have your own mom around, I encourage you to extend the sentiment and be sure to pay a special tribute to your first “teacher” this Sunday – Mother’s Day. Personally, I think it is a perfect juxtaposition of the two celebrations.
This week’s Friday 4 includes two pieces to get you thinking a tad and a couple of resources for those of you looking for some online options for ongoing professional development in the summer.
- Bringing the Locker Room Into the Classroom is a piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education that was passed along by a colleague who happens to be both a teacher and a coach. I have always thought of coaching and teaching as one and the same and liked the collaborative project that is described in the article.
Response: ‘The Grading System We Need to Have’ is a blog piece from Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) that appeared on the Education Week Teacher site. Larry is a well-known teacher, author and presence online who is definitely one you should follow on Twitter.
Are you an AP teacher looking for resources, ideas or fellow AP teachers to collaborate with beyond your own school? The AP Teacher Community is a great place to start. The summer is a great time to connect with colleagues from around the country and share ideas.
- The Teaching Channel is another rich online resource and network of educators. The site describes itself as: “Teaching Channel is a video showcase—on the Internet and TV—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s schools. We have a rapidly growing community of registered members who trade ideas and share inspiration from each other.”