"We know September is one of the busiest times of the year for you, so we'll make this fast! We figure it will take you 45 seconds to scan this email, but it may yield a year's worth of good ideas to help you and your students. Have a great "back-to-school"!"
A panel of judges ruled in favor of the University of Missouri System in an appeals case Tuesday, determining that course syllabi are exempted from Missouri’s open records law because they are ultimately the intellectual property of faculty members.
Mel Riddile's insight:
The University of Missouri is a public university. Does this ruling apply to K-12 teachers?
Research is verifying what many teachers know: Well-designed digital games in the classroom increase student engagement, learning and retention. They improve students’ on-task time and even their social and emotional well-being. The benefits are especially significant when high-quality games are integrated into a curriculum over multiple lessons. So how can we put this knowledge to use as our new school year begins?
With the share of white students falling and Latino students rising, school suspension and expulsion figures in the United States risk hitting new highs, unless more districts tackle their discipline policies head on....
Education Week reports on the continuing trend in teacher ratings across the country. Both Hawaii and Delaware data show an overwhelming majority of teachers meeting standards. "As in many other states, among them Michigan, Florida, and Indiana, only a small fraction of teachers are getting low ratings."
Questions posed by the author"
To what extent is the evaluation process shaped by the norms at work in each school?
In other words, are principals reluctant to issue low ratings because of the likelihood that it could affect morale and working relationships"
Does the shortage of teachers in fields like special education impact the ratings?
Mel Riddile's insight:
New, higher college and career-ready standards have significantly raised expectations regarding what all students should know and be able to do. Heightened expectations for student achievement raises the bar for teachers. Principals in the know understand that we must build the capacity of teachers to deliver these new standards. For example, few secondary teachers have been trained to effectively integrate literacy--purposeful reading, writing, and discussion--into their content areas. Yet, under the new standards, literacy is a "shared responsibility" across all content areas.
It is unethical to rate teachers on skills that we know they don't have...yet. Until the new standards and expectations are firmly entrenched in the culture of schools, principals must be builders of capacity, not inspectors of processes.
New teachers have an opportunity to create a classroom where students feel secure, valued & successful. Veteran Cheryl Mizerny shares ideas that work for her.
"As teachers begin this school year, their thoughts undoubtedly turn to the classroom climate they want to establish and maintain. One question that I am often asked (especially by newer teachers) is what kind of classroom management program I use. My answer is that I don’t.
What I prefer instead is to develop a classroom that does not require a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs. No checkmarks on the board, no list of consequences, no rewards. Just engaged, productive, friendly students."
The idea seems simple enough: Identify the best teachers and reward them. Pinpoint the worst and fire them. That’s been a linchpin of the Obama administration’s education agenda from the start. But now the administration’s initiative is in disarray, with states scaling back, slowing down and, in some cases, putting off tough decisions...
Education data crunchers are seeking an alternative to the current yardstick—the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price school meals.
"Students' socioeconomic status "is the one thing we are the worst at capturing, and it might be the single most important variable for us as academics, as teachers, as clinicians," said Ramani Durvasula, an associate psychology professor at California State University, Los Angeles, in a lecture on poverty at the American Psychological Association meeting in Washington this month."
Mel Riddile's insight:
"as poor students get older and become less inclined to eat in the school cafeteria."
"high schools applying for federal Title I grants often must use data from feeder schools to help prove their poverty rates, because older students are more reluctant to sign up for meals."
On a recent school visit, I was discussing student engagement with a group of school leaders when a member of the group offered the following observation: "I think teachers are reluctant to turn the class over to a guided activity because they are concerned about classroom management."
Teachers cannot teach if they cannot manage classroom behavior. They know that and we know that. Unless we build teacher capacity to engage students in guided group activities, they will be reluctant to "stop talking" because they are afraid they will lose control. In other words, teachers must be taught what to do when they stop talking and students are working.
Remember, the brain that does the work does the learning. If we expect to dramatically increase the amount of student work and simultaneously decrease the amount of teacher talk, we must build the capacity of teachers to check for understanding and facilitate group processes while keeping all the students on-task.
Most teachers make the big mistake of spending too much time with a few individuals and while they are "fixing" those few students, the rest of the class gets off-task. It does not take long for teachers to figure out that this is not working and they revert back to their comfort zone and a teacher-centered style of instruction.
Furthermore, the natural tendency to "fix" struggling students actually has the unintended consequence of creating "dependent" students, who quickly learn that, if they wait until the teacher stops talking to raise their hand, the teacher will come over and do their work for them. So, not only are were losing control of the class, but we are creating dependent learners who will not even attempt to complete the assignment because they know the teacher will bail them out.
Years of implementing a school wide instructional framework taught me that our teachers had to have a strategy for keeping students on-task and engaged while they circulated through the room. Fred Jones’s Praise, Prompt, and Leave (PPL) strategy is one that we found particularly useful for strengthening student engagement.
Keys to Implementation of PPL
We asked teachers to:
Begin the year using groups of two (collaborative pairs), which were easier to manage and easier to keep on-task.
Chunk the lesson or task into smaller segments.
Keep the outcome in mind. The goal was not to fix students, but rather to ensure that they were on-task and that the students demonstrated understanding of the task at hand.
Don't let too many students get to far off course! When needed stop the group activity and re-teach a key point. The only way the teacher knows whether students are off course is to circulate throughout the classroom checking for understanding.
Motion creates emotion. An effective teacher moved around the classroom with ease and did not get stuck instructing one or two students.
Every 10-12 minutes of group activity refocus the students and point out any key concepts or share your observations.
Follow a simple three step process:
Praise - Point out where the student is and what the student has done so far.
Prompt - Tell the student what to do next and that you will be back to check on them.
Leave - Spend as little time with each student as possible. The goal is to check on the understanding of all students not to re-teach a few students.
What if we could build willpower and self-control in our students? As Roy Baumeister discusses in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, one strategy to use in building willpower and self-control is to provide students with options, choices, or in this case contingencies also referred to as if x then y options.
If I run two miles then I can do ___ later today.
If I diet all week, then I can have one "cheat day."
Teachers can build willpower and self-control by using Preferred Activity Time (PAT) or contingencies with students. If we finish this activity, then we can do ____.
They key point is that the students are always learning. This is not about games for the sake of games. Learning is fun!
Our teachers got a lot of mileage from Learn Star, which uses a direct response system which allows students to answer teacher-designed or a predesigned set of questions. Our hardest to reach students loved PAT.
This is a link to the Tools for Teaching PAT Bank, which features an ever growing bank of games and activities to be used in Responsibility Training's Preferred Activity Time (PAT).
Any lesson/curriculum can quickly become a PAT by making it a team game. In addition to the activities below, any game show format used on TV will work.
"Our sixth graders favorite PAT is jeopardy played with their world history vocabulary words. They complained when their PAT time was postponed because of a field trip! 'Can't we take the field trip another day, today is PAT time.'"
- Lynn Layman of Greathouse Elementary, Midland, TX
One company and its algorithms are changing the way America's schools handle classroom ethics.
"Hammer Or A Scalpel
For Schroeder, the software is a scalpel. She asks her students to use Turnitin on rough drafts, so they can learn from their mistakes. No penalty. No trip to the dean's office.
But Emma Zaballos, a senior at American University, says she had a professor who used Turnitin like a hammer against suspected plagiarists. He made a point of telling her class stories of past offenders he had reported to the academic board and worked to have expelled."
Hundreds of students walked out of class at Jefferson High School on Monday morning, holding a sit-in to protest a host of issues at the South Los Angeles campus -- among them a scheduling snafu that has extended into the third week of school.
Poor students don’t just need teachers. They need social workers.
"policy makers usually treat dropout rates and chronic absenteeism as “school” problems, while issues like housing and mental health are “social” problems with a different set of solutions."
The key is to put dedicated social-service specialists in every low-performing, high-poverty school, whether they are employed by the school district or another organization. This specialist must be trained in the delivery of community services, with continued funding contingent on improvement in indicators like attendance and dropout rates.
DESPITE THE harmful effects of sleep loss on adolescents, many school districts maintain cock-crow start times for high school students. Reasons for the status quo run the gamut from “it’s always been this way” to “it’s too hard to change.” But a national organization of doctors who treat children is weighing in on what it calls a public health issue.