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Posts tagged ‘instructional strategies’

Don’t be a dog person

I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place: Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #2: Don’t be that guy. You know . . . that guy. The Trivia Crack guy.

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

——-

I used to be that guy. The Trivia Crack guy. It was all I knew.

Lecture. Have kids outline the lecture. Grade the notes, hoping for just about any sort of organizational structure. Quizzes along the way. Maybe a worksheet. Throw in a map to color. Test at the end of the chapter.

Most of my own history instruction followed this pattern. And I was great at this sort of stuff. 105 Kansas counties? No problem. When did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address? Yup. I got that. Causes of World War One? MAIN acronym. Boom.

And if you’re old enough to remember the analog Trivia Crack version called Trivia Pursuit, you’re gonna have to trust me – I owned that game. Seriously. Steve Schmidt and I were unbeatable.

(Don’t know about Trivia Crack? Stay away. Stay far, far away.)

So when I became a teacher?

I followed the same pattern. Lecture. (Though I did make an allowance for my middle schoolers by putting my notes on the overhead. And yes. It was the kind that had a roll of plastic that I cranked to bring up more of my carefully crafted outline.) Quiz. Worksheet. Test.

Because I thought that was what good teaching looked like.

But the longer I taught like that, the more confused I got. A few of my kids did great. Straight As. Most did average at best. And the rest? Read more

Top Ten Posts of 2015 #5: Thought Bubbles on Photos

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten posts of 2015. Enjoy the reruns. See you in January!

——-

Several of us were talking a few days ago about different ways to design hook activities that would engage kids while also encourage writing skills.

My favorite is to use thought bubbles on paintings or photos. Thought Bubbles ask kids to imagine what the people in the image are thinking.

Start by finding a photo or painting depicting an event, idea or group of people that helps introduce your content. I used the famous Emmanuel Leutze painting of Washington crossing the Delaware as my starting point. Read more

Bill of Rights Day 2015

Okay . . . admit it. How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day?

Come on, it’s okay.

Yes, I see those hands.

I first ran across Bill of Rights Day a few years ago. I consider myself a person who keeps up with this sort of thing but I had no idea. Back in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. So it’s been around a while.

And we probably need to make a bigger deal out of this than we are. Civic literacy and understanding of the nuance embedded in the first 10 Amendments seems a bit low right about now.

FDR observed in 1941 that

It is especially fitting that this anniversary should be remembered and observed by those institutions of a democratic people which owe their very existence to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. (These institutions) . . . sicken and disappear whenever, in any country, these rights are curtailed or withdrawn.

In a recent presidential proclamation, President Obama wrote: Read more

Going beyond the Exit Card: 10 easy to use reflection strategies

We get it. Having some sort of closure activity as part of the learning process is important. Teachers use this sort of immediate information to measure student understanding, monitor student questions, and collect feedback on instruction. For students, closure activities serve as a content review at the end of a daily lesson and enhance their meta-cognitive skills.

But we’ve all been there. You and your kids get so hooked into an activity or lesson that you lose track of time. You look up and there’s a minute left of class. Students are throwing their stuff in backpacks, the bell rings, and off they go without a chance to think about their thinking. Or worse, we fail to intentionally plan for any sort of reflection or meta-cognition to happen.

And while we understand at the intellectual level that we need to have some sort of closure after and during learning, it can be too easy to blow it off if we’re busy or if you’ve done the Exit Card thing just too many times.

So what are some alternatives to the Exit Card? Give these a try. Feel free to adapt as needed. Read more

Don’t be that guy. You know . . . that guy. The Trivia Crack guy.

I used to be that guy. The Trivia Crack guy. It was all I knew.

Lecture. Have kids outline the lecture. Grade the notes, hoping for just about any sort of organizational structure. Quizzes along the way. Maybe a worksheet. Throw in a map to color. Test at the end of the chapter.

Most of my own history instruction followed this pattern. And I was great at this sort of stuff. 105 Kansas counties? No problem. When did Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address? Yup. I got that. Causes of World War One? MAIN acronym. Boom.

And if you’re old enough to remember the analog Trivia Crack version called Trivia Pursuit, you’re gonna have to trust me – I owned that game. Seriously. Steve Schmidt and I were unbeatable.

(Don’t know about Trivia Crack? Stay away. Stay far, far away.)

So when I became a teacher? Read more

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