Showing posts from August, 2016

A Tale of Two Classrooms -- Kids Question

This is the fourth in a ten-part series based on the poster: A Tale of Two Classrooms.


Kids Question        The typical, tradition classroom has the teacher doing most of the talking.  The teacher asks questions, the teacher gives information (verbally), the teacher decides if the answers are correct or incorrect.  And the students do very little talking.  In the traditional classroom, student talk is for answering the teacher's questions and that's about it.

       But in the Learning Classroom, students do a lot of talking.  They ask questions.  They offer solutions and ideas.  They consider alternatives, shortcuts, more efficient pathways to learning.  There are lots of great benefits to student talk in the classroom.   Here's a list of ten such benefits:

Participation adds interestParticipation engages studentsParticipation provides the teacher feedbackParticipation provides the students feedbackParticipat…

A Tale of Two Classrooms -- Mistakes = Learning

This is the third in a ten-part series based on the poster: A Tale of Two Classrooms.


Mistakes = Learning        So here's a situation that happens everyday.  A teacher is teaching something new.  He or she asks a question and nobody responds.  Or maybe you're an adult and you go to a meeting of some sort and the presenter asks a question and nobody responds.  Why does this happen?  Why is this so common?

       Just like adults, students don't want to give the wrong the answer.  They don't want to offer a suggestion or an idea or a possible answer for fear that they may be wrong.  Wrong answers are viewed in a very negative way.  Wrong answers are bad.  Wrong answers are frowned upon.  So rather than risk embarrassment and possibly a scolding of some sort from the teacher, students (and adults) prefer to stay silent.

       Now imagine being in a class in which mistakes are viewed as great opportunities f…

A Tale of Two Classrooms - Teacher as Learner

This is the second in a ten-part series based on the poster: A Tale of Two Classrooms.


Teacher as Learner        Every teacher will tell you that they have learned so much more about the subject and content that they teach once they began teaching.  People have this belief that teachers know everything their is to know about their content.  While teachers may be considered "experts" about the content that they teach, it is probably impossible to actually know everything about a particular content.
       We now know that our best teachers are the people who are continually learning about there subject(s).  More importantly, our best teachers are continually learning about the best way to help their (many and diverse) students to learn.  The science of how students learn is a growing industry.  Brain science and cognitive science is constantly informing education about how students think and learn and retai…

A Tale of Two Classrooms

I saw this great graphic on Twitter today.

       Classroom A is the old, traditional classroom; and Classroom B is the way we (educators) want classrooms to be today.

       Of course, what I call "old" and "traditional", a lot of people would call "normal" and "expected".  It is the way school was when they were kids and it is perfectly OK with them now.  But today we know that that old system just didn't work for a lot of students--and it's not working for even more students today.

       If our goal is Learning, than we simply must conduct our classrooms in a way that facilitates learning.  We can't expect students to just sit and listen and learn everything.  We know now that that is not effective for most students.  I could write a blog post on everyone line in the Classroom B...maybe I will!

First Day of School

May 3 million teachers and 50 million students have a great First Day of School this year.  Our country is counting on you to do your best to teach and to learn and to be good people.  We need you; we value you; we love you.  You are our future, our hope, our promise.

The First Day of School

The first day of school is filled with excitement for students and teachers.  New clothes (maybe), sharp pencils, backpack, re-connecting with friends, searching for the new classroom, new teacher, making new friends, first day in the new grade.  Clean slate, new school year, ice-breaker/get-to-know-you activities, setting goals.  Of course, there's also the tentative side of the first day of school.  "Will I make friends?"  "Will the teacher be nice?"  "Can I do the work?"

       The first day of school is a whole lot of "new" all at once.  It's exciting, but it can be scary too.  In fact, the first day of school is like many "firsts" that students experience.  The first day in a new Social Studies chapter after a test.  The first day of the new marking period.  The first day after Christmas vacation.  The first day of the soccer season.  Students experience a lot of firsts and (just like many life events) the more you …

Do You Want to "Go" to College, or to "Graduate" from College?

Lots of people "go" to college.  But not a lot of people "graduate" from college.

       According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 36% of 25 - 29 year old people in the United States had a bachelor's degree in 2015.  This number represents approximately half of the people in this age group who began college at some point after their high school graduation.  Why are so many people able to graduate from high school and not able to graduate from college?

       A report from Complete College America provides some answers.  Part-time students rarely graduate.  While full-time students graduate at a (dismal) rate of 60.6% completing their 4-year program within 8 years; the equivalent statistic for part-time students is only 24.3%.  Another problem is students taking more credits that they need due to poor advice or odd policies that steer them to unnecessary and extra (unneeded) credits.  A bachelor degree should require just 120 credits, but…

Parent's Role in Improving Student Achievement

If you have a child in elementary, middle, or high school, then your main concern is helping your child to do well in school.  You have a person or persons in your household that is a member of the most important cliental in the educational community--the students.  And as a parent, you have influence over your children.  Your attitudes and actions toward school matter.

       We need your help!

       So here is my short list of the three top things that parents can do to help their children to do well in school.

Healthy relationships all around.   Help your child to make friends with classmates and to get to know the teacher or teachers.  You (the parent) should try to get to know your child's teacher(s) too.  Communication is the key to all healthy relationships.  So try to discover the best way to contact the teacher.  Make sure that your child knows that you have a relationship with the teacher and a way to make contact on an as-needed basis.  This shows that you care a…

What Is Your Hope?

I saw a great 3-minute video today from +Parkway Schools called What Is Your Hope.

       They place a chalkboard outside as the students walked into school on the first day of school.  The chalkboard had the question, "What is your hope?" written on it.  And the students wrote whatever came to their mind.  Here is the Facebook link:

       Their answers were simple and sweet and might make you cry.  They were human answers:

- that people will like me
- that I will make new friends
- that my teachers are nice
- that school will feel like home
- to be included
- to do well

       It's all about relationships.  Students want to feel valued and important.  They want their teachers to care about them as people.  They want to connect with other's in their classes.

       What do you hope?