Why wait for a formal workshop environment to start improving your teaching craft, when there are so many opportunities to build your network and learn new skills on your own? We've compiled a list of the best resources for do-it-yourself PD to get you started.
When you ask parents what they want for their kids, what’s usually the most common reply? They want their children to be happy. Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents: …the well-being of children is more important to adults than just about anything el...
We know that engagement is the key to learning, but we also know that many of our students are bored with the curriculum and activities being offered in classrooms. To battle this problem, much focus and attention has been placed on getting students to be "on-task." Indeed, the link between on-task behavior and student achievement is strong. However, just as a worker at a company can be busy without being productive, a student can be on-task without actually being engaged in the learning. True, long-lasting learning comes not merely as a result of being on-task, but being deeply engaged in meaningful, relevant, and important tasks. We see examples of on-task but disengaged behavior every day: students mindlessly copying notes from a screen, listening to a lecture but daydreaming about what to do after school, robotically completing a worksheet. Some students, particularly older ones, have become masters at what Bishop and Pflaum (2005) refer to as "pretend-attend." They've mastered the ability to look busy, focused, and on-task, but in reality they are disengaged in the actual learning. So, how do we ramp up both on-task behavior and real, meaningful engagement for our students? Here are seven easy ways to increase the likelihood that students are both engaged and on-task: Teach students about the process of focus, attention, and engagement. Tell them about how the brain works and help them to recognize the characteristics of real engagement. When designing objectives, lessons, and activities, consider the task students are being asked to complete. Is the task, behavior, or activity one that is relevant, interactive, and meaningful, or is it primarily designed to keep kids busy and quiet? Ask your students about their perspectives, ideas, and experiences. What do they find engaging, real, and meaningful? Create authentic reasons for learning activities. Connect the objectives, activities, and tasks to those things that are interesting and related to student experiences. Provide choice in the way students learn information and express their knowledge. Incorporate positive emotions including curiosity, humor, age-appropriate controversy, and inconsequential competition. (Inconsequential competition is described by Marzano  as competition in the spirit of fun with no rewards, punishments or anything of "consequence" attached.) Allow for creativity and multisensory stimulation (think art, drama, role play, and movement). Have you noticed that on-task does not always mean engaged? How do you achieve both? Post submitted by Bryan Harris, director of professional development for the Casa Grande Elementary School District in Arizona. He is the author of Battling Boredom, published by Eye On Education. More information can be found at http://www.bryan-harris.com/.
We all want to come up with the next great idea. Whether you are an artist trying to craft a beautiful painting or a business person trying to come up with the next great company, we all chase great ideas. Steven Johnson explores the question, "Where do good ideas come from?"
In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.
Last June, I wrote Seven Ways to Go From On-Task to Engaged, which turned out to be one of the most popular topics of the year. In it I spoke about the possibility that students could technically be on-task but cognitively and emotionally unengaged in the actual learning. For decades, much discussion and research in education circles focused on the role of time on-task and its relationship to attention and learning (Karweit, 1983; Prater, 1992). While time on task is important, as is focus and attention, true engagement in learning involves more than external behaviors as measured by time on-task. True engagement involves the mind, the body, and the soul. As educators, we realize that not all on-task time is productive time. John Hattie, in his research synthesis Visible Learning points out that increasing time on task is pointless if the tasks themselves are not productive. Those who call for longer school days and longer school years might be wise to increase the focus on getting students engaged and productive. After all, asking students to spend more time being bored or disengaged isn't likely going to have a positive effect. Because not all tasks or assignments are equal in their ability to effectively engage students, educators should have a variety of strategies and approaches available when they work with students. So, here are seven more ways to go from on-task to engaged: Ask questions that don't have right or wrong answers. Seek student opinions, allow argumentation, encourage persuasion, and teach students how to disagree and debate in a positive way. Strike a balance between praise and feedback. Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design points out that praise, "Keeps me in the game, but doesn't help me get any better." While praise may encourage effort, specific feedback is necessary in order to truly learn and grow. Encourage self reflection and the creation of personalized goals. Teach students to track and evaluate their own learning. Some of the most valuable and long-lasting learning comes from the personal insights and "ah-hahs" we discover when learning about ourselves. Increase physical movement. Movement has a positive effect on learning and student achievement. Physical movement wakes up the brain by increasing blood flow, increasing certain neurotransmitters that have an impact on memory, and generally helps students be more alert. Increase the use of celebrations. Bobbi DePorter and her co-authors of Quantum Teaching point out that, "If it's worth learning, it's worth celebrating." Classrooms should be places where there is joy, celebration, and happiness because learning is fun. Stress process over product. Some of our most disengaged and bored students care little about grades, points, or other "motivators" we tend to use in school. Instead of focusing on the outcome of the work (which is typically a grade), focus on the process of learning, the experiences students will have, and the personal connections they can make to ideas and content. Take a risk. Every day, we ask students to stretch themselves to be better, smarter, or more insightful. In essence, we ask them to take a risk and try things that may not be comfortable. Likewise, as educators, we should also be taking risks, trying out new approaches, and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone. When students see us modeling those same behaviors and attitudes, it can have a tremendous impact. How do you know if students are not only on-task but engaged? What strategies to you recommend? Post submitted by Bryan Harris, director of professional development for the Casa Grande Elementary School District in Arizona. He is the author of Battling Boredom, published by Eye On Education. More information can be found at http://www.bryan-harris.com.