“Educators are in many respects like athletes. Not in terms of calories burned per paid hour on the job but in terms of emotional and psychic expenditure. The wear and tear on the total self is unsurpassed by any other demanding line of work.”—"Educators and the NBA" by Ron Isaac for Edwize
For these 15 minutes every week or two, the children have a chance to soak up Mr. Imwalle’s passion for writing. They see that creative writing requires hard work, revision and risk — a risk that their own teacher is willing to take. And they discover that contrary to the usual order of things, they have something to teach him.
“It really has gotten them excited about writing,” said Mr. Imwalle, 32, who lives in Oakland. “Seeing their teacher try to do it brings writing closer to home. It bridges the gap between published novels they see in the library and the idea that they come from a person and a process.”
You know, I’ve always been aware of the importance of letting your students see you read. However, I never considered the importance of letting them see you write — and to share what you write with them (besides writing you do to introduce a lesson or as a class). Interesting.
Teachers never have enough time. We have curriculum to cover, skills to teach, reports to write and meetings to attend. The demands are endless, both in and outside the classroom.
10 ways to save time, both in and out of the classroom.
I’m sure you there are hundreds more so please share yours.
1. Don’t talk about how little time you have.
Use the time to do some of the things you don’t have time for.
2. Reduce meeting time.
Only meet if you have to. Start on time or have something to do while you wait. Keep it brief. Stay on topic. Don’t get sidetracked.
3. Set the timer.
When you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, set the timer for 15 minutes and start. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done. Do this once a day and see what you can achieve. Try it with your students too.
4. Talk less in the classroom.
Establish routines. Use signals. Trust your students, everything doesn’t have to be controlled by you. Scaffold independent learning so that students can get on with it.
5. Collaborate on a Google doc.
You don’t need to email documents back and forth. You don’t need to meet with the people. You don’t even need to be in the same place. Work together on the one doc. Use different colours to show who said what. Use it with students too.
6. Use Twitter.
If you need a resource, a video, an article, a song or a tool… someone else has found it already. Ask for help on twitter. Help others in the same way. There’s on tap support 24 hours a day.
7. Have small group discussions.
Give every student an opportunity to speak without having a whole class discussion. Move between the groups. Have groups share with the class only what was most interesting or most contentious.
8. Set up a class blog.
It’s an easy way to learn with your students. They can respond to questions, comment on each other’s presentations and have discussions, without taking up class time.
9. Manage your emails.
Set up class and parent distribution groups. Organise folders in your inbox so that you can easily file things you might need later. Act quickly on emails and delete when done.
Acknowledge that you are human and can’t always do everything. Decide what is urgent and what can wait. Accept that you aren’t ready for some things and will get to them when you are.
And if you have any spare time, watch some of these!
PicLits.com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.
My students recently had to make post cards from magazine clippings to demonstrate the themes they found in Walk Two Moons (not for me, for their L.A. teacher). This would be an excellent technological alternative. The ideas I can think to use this for are just rolling out of me right now. How would you use it?
This site is presented by the Screen Actor’s Guild Foundation. It streams videos with SAG members reading children’s books. Some of the stories include Harry the Dirty Dog, To Be a Dog, Thank You Mr. Faulker, Stellaluna, A Bad Case of Stripes, The Polar Express, and Enemy Pie (Others are featured). Some of the SAG members are Al Gore, Haylie Duff, Betty White, and Amanda Bynes. Heck — I just might need a bedtime story tonight!
This is a complete list. CBBC provides excellent educational content for kids. Students can create a free account to access many neat games/interactives. No e-mail is required, only teacher or parent permission. This resource is one fun ride.
Screenshot of Beat the Boss, a game where students must design a product better than the boss can. Lots of trial and error…plenting of thinking going on here.
The CBBC websites are like a mix of PBS (educational) and Cartoon Network (great visuals). Check this one out!
Background:I work in a separate building than the main school. My first grade group is the group I have the most freedom with as far as what to plan. I see a small group of 6 kids, of which about 9 rotate in and out of. I also see them more than any other group. Most of the activities I plan for them are hands-on, fun, and help them build skills without even realizing it is school work.
J.:You just love coming and teaching the kids at this school, don't you, Miss PPT?
Larry Ferlazzo blogs about a new resource offering daily academic vocabulary units. He talks about the pros and cons of using this site; this is why I opted to link to his blog post instead of sharing the site here. Check it out, though, because it may be something you can use for your classroom (or adapt to your needs).
Holding kids accountable for their reading requires more than just a computer-based program like Accelerated Reader. Teachers should also think about using reading logs, journals, or portfolios to keep track of students’ reading progress.
“As that T-shirt says, “Be an activist, be a teacher.” We might head off to work with more joy and positive feeling if we think of ourselves as organizers. Teaching, after all, is not only community service, it is a project of social change. We don’t go to work to blithely reproduce the inequities that exist in our society. We want students to learn, not just the ropes of the game and the gatekeepers, but their own power, their own capacity. We want them to have the creativity and imagination to know that another world is possible; we want them to have the skills to make it so. If you were organizing Mississippi sharecroppers in the ’60s or Flint auto workers in the ’30s, you would not be waiting for someone in power to say you’re great. You would expect to be insulted and vilified. But you do the work because you know it’s right. We teachers do this job because we are change agents. A lot of people jaw about social change and activism but teachers do the work every day. Like an organizer, you are fighting for broader goals, ones tied to the doors you open for this student, the progress you make on that project.”—Rick Ayers, “Letter to a Young Teacher” (via informate)
Read Part 3 - What Vocabulary Instruction Should Look Like
I am going to include my reference list below. However I will not cite each tip or activity because they can be find in several of the articles, I have learned about them in class, and read about them in several books. Therefore, they exceed the three sources needed for it to be general resources. These are solely tips and ideas without using technology. Technology and vocabulary will make up the final part of this series.
General ideas and tips
teach words that have recently been added to the dictionary
during read alouds stop to talk about words and explain what they mean in context
encourage students to ask about words that they are not familiar with
Teach context clues: read to the end of the sentence or paragraph, return to word using context, use captions, charts, graphs and footnotes to aid understanding
use think alouds to teach how to use context to determine word meaning
offer opportunities to use new words
use wait time when asking questions
when a student speaks, expand on their language
model rich language
use vocabulary words in conversations with students
provide multiple exposures to words
explicitly teach new vocabulary by teaching meaning and word structure
ask students to make connections from new vocabulary to known words
have students creatively peer teach new words before new chapters or units
since many students cannot understand the definitions in dictionaries, this is not a strategy to use alone
Ask students to develop a list of words that are not currently in the dictionary that they believe should be added. Have them make entries for the words that could appear in a dictionary.
Have students rewrite paragraphs using synonyms
Have students peer edit classmates’ work and make suggestions about stronger vocabulary that could be used
have students write paired sentences (using 2 or more vocabulary words)
have students compare and contrast two words
practice learning words 3-dimensionally - prepare a definition, a sentence, a drawing, and a real object for each word
Play find that word - have students find the unit’s words in books, conversations, articles, and television to share with the class
Semantic Impressions / Story Impressions As a class or in a group, provide vocabulary words in the order they appear in the text. Have students write a story using the words in the same order.
Word Expert Cards can be used to peer teach vocabulary words. Students make a greeting card that shows a drawing and the word on the front of the card. Inside they provide the page number the word is found in the text, the sentence it is used in the text, the part of speech, the definition in their own words, and their own sentence using the word. These cards are then used to teach other students in their class or group the word.
Anything Goes - Used to review vocabulary. Students are asked questions about a specific word (ie: can you give me the two meanings of this word, what is the difference between this word and another, can you use this word in a sentence, etc.)
Connect Two - Words are presented in two columns, students choose one word in each column to compare and contrast (including morphology, part of speech, and meaning). This can be done orally or done with a double bubble graphic organizer.
I am a conservative husband, belong to the Tea Party and I voted for John Kasich. I have been married to a Cleveland teacher for almost 14 years and my vote let her down.
For letting people tease you about having the summer off and not asking them to thank you for the tough days ahead that begin in early August. I know for a fact you work more hours in those 10 months than many people do in 12. All those hours are earned.
For complaining that my Sunday is limited with you because you must work.
For making you think you have to ask permission to buy a student socks, gloves and hats.
For not understanding that you walk through a metal detector for work.
For leaving dirty dishes in the sink [when you awoke] for your 4 a.m. work session. I should know you have to prepare.
For thinking you took advantage of the taxpayers. Our governor continues to live off the taxpayer dole, not you.
For counting the time and money you spend to buy school supplies.
For not saying “thank you” enough for making the world and me better.
Whenever I am in meetings with parents to discuss accommodations and student progress, a lot of acronyms are thrown around. I do my best to interject and explain what the letters stand for, because many teachers and administrators throw them around and assume the parents are following. The meetings as a whole can be stressful and intimidating for parents. It is important to recognize these feelings, and make sure the parents are not excluded from the conversation. Therefore, I present for both new teachers, teachers outside of special education (that may not be familiar with these terms), and parents — Education Alphabet Soup. (Note: Not all of these are specific to special education.)
504: Portion of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities
504 Plan: An individual plan for a special needs student that is not as detailed as a Individual Education Plan (for example, I get migraines. I had a 504 plan that allowed me to have 2 copies of text books, allowed me to take tests in a separate classroom if I wanted, and allowed me to go to the nurse without questions being asked by my teachers)
ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
ADM - Average Daily Membership: The number of days a student is in school divided by the number of days in the school year.
AYP - Adequate Yearly Progress: This term is used in regard to the school report cards and are part of the requirements from No Child Left Behind. It refers to the progress of different groups of students through standardized testing. In order to meet AYP, the progress of these student groups must go up at a certain rate.
DD - Developmentally Delayed
D/HH - Deaf or Hard of Hearing
ED: Emotional Disturbance / Disturbed: (I hate this term it makes my students sound much worse than they are). Category in special education for students with behavior disorders.
ELL - English Language Learner: A student whose first language is not English.
ESEA - Most commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind (name change occurred when it was reauthorized in 2002)
ESL - English as a Second Language: Sometimes this refers to an ELL student, but often refers to the program that provides specialized instruction to help students learn English as well as the curriculum
ETR - Evaluation Team Report
FAE - Free and Appropriate Education
FRL- Free and Reduced Lunch: Students qualify for free lunch or reduced priced lunch based on their parents’ financial status.
IDEA- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Federal legislation that requires that students with disabilities are provided with a free and appropriate education that allows them full access to the curriculum. It emphasizes special education, accommodations, and planning for the future.
IEP - Individual Education Plan: Plan written by the IEP team (consisting of general education teacher, special education teacher, parents, student (depending on age), administrator, and possibly other people such as speech pathologist, school psychologist, etc.) It describes student’s strengths and weaknesses, and includes data collected on the student. The plan includes measurable academic and behavior goals, how they will be measured, how the student will work on the goals at school (ie: where? when?), when the student’s progress will be reported, special services, accommodations, and what category of special education the student qualifies under.
LEA - Local Education Authority: Refers to the local school district or system
LD - Learning Disabled or Disability
LRE - Least Restrictive Environment: Placement that is appropriate for a student that is able to meet their needs and provide access to the curriculum
MD - Multiple Disabilities
MFE- Multi-factory Evaluation: Collection of data on a student (performance tests, speech and OT screenings, parent and teacher surveys, hearing and vision tests, IQ tests etc.) used to determine if the student has a disability and whether the disability interferes with the student’s ability to access the general curriculum. If the disability interferes with the student’s learning, he or she will qualify for and an IEP.
NAEP - National Assessment of Educational Progress: - The national report card which assesses the achievement of elementary and secondary students in various content areas. Provides data on student by state.
NCLB - No Child Left Behind: (often pronounced Nickel-bee) determines federal role in education and requires that all students be proficient in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year.
ODD: Oppositional Defiance Disorder
OHI- Other Health Impairment: Category of special education for disabilities that do not fall under any of the other categories. It is the category used for students with ADD/HD.
PDD-NOS - Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: a condition on the Autism spectrum where the child exhibits some, but not all, of the classic symptoms of Autism. Usually, they are identified (or at least the traits are seen by) the age of 3-4.
PI - Physically Impaired
RTI - Response to Intervention: Tiered program that identifies students at risk early by collecting data, provides interventions to support student, and uses progress monitoring in the hopes that the student will not need to be referred to special education services. Interventions begin in the regular classroom, then small groups, and then on an individual basis.
SBE - State Board of Education
SIP - School Improvement Plan: Plan that is in effect for no more than 3 years that outlines how funds will be used and how the school will work to boost student achievement scores.
This site offers free intervention ideas. I think particularly helpful are the different Tools listed on the side of the page. They can help assess reading fluency, writing skills, math skills, behavior, and more. All of this is an important process in Special Ed and RTI programs. Also helpful are the intervention lessons that you can find under the tabs “Academic Resources” and “Behavior Resources.”
I would really recommend any new teachers book mark this site and use it, and anyone else whose grasping at straws about how to meet the needs of their struggling students.
This tool allows you to create video playlists and embed them on a website. It supports videos from a variety of different sites. This might be helpful if you are showing students various video clips on one topic.
The U.S. Department of Education last week officially put out word that it’s accepting applications for $189 million in grants for a new literacy initiative. Forty-six states have been working on statewide literacy plans for children ages zero to grade 12 in anticipation of pursuing one of the competitive grants under the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program. (Those states received a share of $10 million from the department to get started.)
The grant announcement comes as most federal aid for literacy at the Education Department—including for Striving Readers—was wiped out as part of a stopgap spending bill enacted earlier this month. Here’s my big-picture story on what’s going on there.
A little confused? Well, the $189 million is actually money Congress appropriated in fiscal 2010 but the Education Department has still not obligated. (Some observers have complained that the agency has dragged its feet in moving forward with the new program.) For the moment, that money is still intact. The cuts enacted earlier this month are for fiscal 2011, which began in October.
Also, to further confuse you, even though President Barack Obama signed the stopgap spending bill, Senate Democrats have already signaled their intention to try to restore most of the Striving Readers aid for the current fiscal year. Whether they will succeed remains to be seen.
However, the $189 million is apparently still in jeopardy. That’s because a larger fiscal 2011 budget plan passed in February by the Republican-controlled House would go back and retroactively strip away that $189 million. After all, as I noted, the Education Department has yet to obligate it in the form of grants to states. Some observers suggest the Obama administration itself may have opened the door for this step. Last summer, the White House agreed to sacrifice $50 million of the original $250 million in fiscal 2010 for Striving Readers to help pay for an education-jobs package.
Even more confused? Simply put, future funding for Striving Readers is in question. And so is the $189 million in grants the Education Department just announced.
(Click to continue reading)
Just trying to figure this all out gives me a headache.
As TFA alum who did not leave the classroom after my two year stint, I didn’t have any illusions about what I was walking into – that attending this summit would be an adventure. I would hear things that made me angry. The education reform conversation would champion charter schools. Conversations would likely be one-sided. My stomach would churn when the likes of Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein grabbed the microphone. TFA would self-promote, self-congratulate and try to “inspire” us all. I knew all of this before I left for D.C. yet I was still shocked by what I saw and heard.
What our children need most is consistency—at home and in school. TFA places teachers in schools that often already struggle with turnover and desperately need educators who will stick. Could teachers trained for only 5 weeks be in the best position to help our neediest children? Of course the majority of one’s learning as a teacher comes from the experience of being in the classroom, but it takes more than two years to truly fine-tune the craft. Wasn’t it naïve of TFA to claim its teachers would revolutionize these schools? In my mind, TFA had many shortcomings, but my fellow corps members did appear to have pure and honest intentions and a real desire to contribute something positive.
expected the charter presence to be strong and forceful at the summit, but, by the end of the day, it felt like the only force. How did other public school teachers feel about this? Did they leave feeling left out? Offended, like me? Did they leave with bags full of charter gear and brochures, contemplating a move from public to charter?
The story of the public school educator was generally missing. Randi Weingarten was present but hardly painted public school educators and their unions in a good light. One session showcased public school educators who had dedicated themselves to the classroom above and beyond their two-year commitments. But overall the conversations presented were one-sided, slanted and misleading. No one spoke about the need for public schools to be empowered to innovate. No one acknowledged the inherent problems of a privatized system. No one spoke about the incessant attacks on teachers. No one spoke of the other factors that impact student learning. No one spoke of the things (lack of resources, high class sizes, lack of support, the over-focus on test scores, etc.) that truly stand in the way of our public schools succeeding.
A couple of speakers pointed out that charter schools do not educate all children, but this wasn’t discussed at length nor was it brought forth as a serious concern. While I could not attend every session offered, the line-ups for nearly all panels included charter school leaders, teachers or promoters with little or no dissenting voices. (Ten public school educators were listed in the summit program’s list of over 100 speakers.)
In addition to their over-representation on summit panels, charter schools were busy promoting themselves all day. They handed out buttons, stickers, bags, necklaces, water bottles, and even sunglasses, all emblazoned with their logos. Achievement First tagged the sidewalks around the conference center with its emblem. KIPP placed logoed chocolate squares on all of the 11,000 seats before the day’s closing plenary session. Easels held posters advertising meet-and-greets with charter school operators. Fancy brochures promoting the joys of working in a charter school were in all of our “gift bags.” Many charter school employees walked around wearing branded shirts and jackets. Forget NIKE and Adidas, NOBLE and KIPP were the big names in fashion this weekend. Charter education was a product at the summit. It was wrapped, packaged and pushed in our faces. Why is this self-promotion necessary? Is their teacher turnover so high that they are left with no other choice than to push their brand so desperately? Or was it simply an “I’m better than you” contest to see who could outdo the other? My public school doesn’t even have money to buy crayons or copy paper, much less make our own chocolate squares.
This was written by a TFA alumn who is still teaching. He outlines a lot of my feelings about TFA. I believe TFA-ers are well-intentioned and want to help close the achievement gap. However, I feel TFA does not give new teachers enough training before sending them into some of the hardest classrooms of our nation. I’d much rather see TFA work WITH the current public schools to create change than promote charter schools. There’s just far too much room in charter schools for inexperience leaders to mishandle funds and in a lot of cases the temptation to pocket some money has been too tempting (I’m speaking in experience in this case, as the administration of the charter school over-paid themselves by thousands of dollars, which I only learned at the end of at the end of my teaching stint there. I also learned it is not all that uncommon).
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”—Roald Dahl (via prettybooks)