Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
Photo courtesy of DiscoveryEducation.com

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather



Friday, June 20, 2014

Yes! Finally!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Got great books for this summer?

Well, I certainly have some suggestions for you!

The following books are all published by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. Happy reading!

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Upcoming and Recently Published Books


Jun
2014
 Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success
Coming Soon

Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success

by Regie Routman
Achieve dramatic academic improvement by entwining successful practices of literacy and leadership in your school.

 Learning From Coaching: How do I work with an instructional coach to grow as a teacher? (ASCD Arias)
Coming Soon

Learning From Coaching: How do I work with an instructional coach to grow as a teacher? (ASCD Arias)

by Nina Morel
Through working with a coach, teachers can find support as they think deeply about their work, set goals, and develop plans to meet those goals.


Jul
2014
 Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Assessment Strategies That Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn
Coming Soon

Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Assessment Strategies That Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn

by Myron Dueck
This book shows how to design an effective assessment system that accurately reflects student learning and motivates students to meet learning objectives.
This Editor's Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium, Select, and Institutional Plus members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in July 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on June 13, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 Total Literacy Techniques: Tools to Help Students Analyze Literature and Informational Texts
Coming Soon

Total Literacy Techniques: Tools to Help Students Analyze Literature and Informational Texts

by PĂ©rsida Himmele, William Himmele and Keely Potter
This book provides 3rd through 12th grade teachers with more than 50 tools and techniques for helping their students read independently and critically.
This Featured Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium and Select members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in July 2014 to those who chose this Featured Selection by the deadline of April 30, 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on June 13, when the mailing labels are compiled


May
2014
 Encouragement in the Classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused? (ASCD Arias)

Encouragement in the Classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused? (ASCD Arias)

by Joan Young
Explore practical ways to foster humor, mindfulness, resilience, curiosity, and gratitude for a positive classroom that engages students and enhances their learning.

 Handling Student Frustrations: How do I help students manage emotions in the classroom? (ASCD Arias)

Handling Student Frustrations: How do I help students manage emotions in the classroom? (ASCD Arias)

by Renate Caine and Carol McClintic
With grade-specific examples throughout, Handling Student Frustrations offers strategies that educators at all levels can immediately apply to foster classrooms where students can overcome stress to focus on learning.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition

by Carol Ann Tomlinson
The updated second edition of the best-selling classic explains differentiated instruction, provides proven instructional strategies, and illustrates how real teachers are applying differentiation principles and practices.
This Member Book mails to ASCD Premium members and is available as a download for Online Premium members in May 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on April 15, when the mailing labels are compiled.


Apr
2014
 Engineering Essentials for STEM Instruction: How Do I Infuse Real-world Problem Solving Into Science, Technology, and Math? (ASCD Arias)

Engineering Essentials for STEM Instruction: How Do I Infuse Real-world Problem Solving Into Science, Technology, and Math? (ASCD Arias)

by Pamela Truesdell
A straightforward look at how to begin addressing the "E" in STEM instruction in a way that's engaging, motivating, and linked to key content, standards, and 21st century skills.

 Learning in the Fast Lane: 8 Ways to Put ALL Students on the Road to Academic Success

Learning in the Fast Lane: 8 Ways to Put ALL Students on the Road to Academic Success

by Suzy Pepper Rollins
A seasoned educator presents eight high-impact instructional practices to close achievement gaps and get all students—whether struggling or excelling—in the academic fast lane.
This Editor's Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium, Select, and Institutional Plus members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in April 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on March 14, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China

West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China

by Leslie Grant, James Stronge, Xianxuan Xu, Patricia Popp, Yaling Sun and Catherine Little
The authors compare and contrast the practices, beliefs, and strategies of award-winning teachers in the United States and China.
This Featured Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium, and Select members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in April 2014 to those who chose this Featured Selection by the deadline of February 6, 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on March 14, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 Time to Teach: How do I get organized and work smarter? (ASCD Arias)

Time to Teach: How do I get organized and work smarter? (ASCD Arias)

by Jenny Edwards
This publication offers more than a dozen time management strategies for teachers.


Mar
2014
 Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students

Memory at Work in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Underachieving Students

by Francis Bailey and Ken Pransky
This book offers fresh insights into your students' learning difficulties and moves you to explore classroom practices that align with the functioning of memory and the ways students learn.

 Teaching the Core Skills of Listening and Speaking

Teaching the Core Skills of Listening and Speaking

by Erik Palmer
Erik Palmer presents an approach to teaching long-neglected but essential language arts that is aligned with the Common Core but focused on preparing K–12 students in all subject areas for 21st century communication inside and beyond the classroom.


Feb
2014
 How Teachers Can Turn Data into Action

How Teachers Can Turn Data into Action

by Daniel R. Venables
With easy-to-use templates and teacher-friendly protocols, this book provides a systematic process for translating data into classroom practice in cycles of two to nine weeks.
This Member Book mails to ASCD Premium members and is available as a download for Online Premium members in February 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on January 15, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 Engaging Minds in Social Studies Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in Social Studies Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

by James A. Erekson, Michael F. Opitz and Michael P. Ford
Tomorrow's world-class citizens are in our schools today. Explore these unique research-based ideas to bring learning and joy into your social studies classroom.

 Managing 21st Century Classrooms: How Do I Avoid Ineffective Classroom Management Practices? (ASCD Arias)

Managing 21st Century Classrooms: How Do I Avoid Ineffective Classroom Management Practices? (ASCD Arias)

by Jane Bluestein
Education expert Jane Bluestein identifies seven outdated classroom management practices and recommends effective, alternative strategies that take into account how students learn today.

 Engaging Minds in Science and Math Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in Science and Math Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

by Eric Brunsell, Michelle A. Fleming, Michael F. Opitz and Michael P. Ford
This book is brimming with ideas and activities that are aligned with standards and high expectations to engage and motivate all learners in STEM classrooms.


Jan
2014
 Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most

Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most

by Jeffrey Benson
This book uses real-life examples to show how educators can marshal empathy and patience to support the learning of students who challenge us in many ways.
This Editor's Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium, Select, and Institutional Plus members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in January 2014; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on December 13, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 Engaging Minds in the Classroom: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in the Classroom: The Surprising Power of Joy

by Michael F. Opitz and Michael P. Ford
Learn how to use research-based practices in your classroom that can truly engage students and help them be joyful, confident learners.

 Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy

by Mary Jo Fresch, Michael F. Opitz and Michael P. Ford
College and career readiness standards demand reading, writing, and speaking proficiency from students. Learn research-based strategies that engage students in all facets of English Language Arts.

 Vocab Rehab: How Do I Teach Vocabulary Effectively with Limited Time? (ASCD Arias)

Vocab Rehab: How Do I Teach Vocabulary Effectively with Limited Time? (ASCD Arias)

by Marilee Sprenger
A collection of engaging 10-minute strategies for teaching content vocabulary across content areas.

 Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School

Five Levers to Improve Learning: How to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School

by Tony Frontier and James Rickabaugh
Unlock the potential for lasting improvements in teaching and learning by understanding how five critical "levers" work to move your efforts in the right direction.
This Featured Selection Member Book mails to ASCD Premium and Select members and is available as a download for Online Premium and Select members in January 2014 to those who chose this Featured Selection by the deadline of November 8, 2013; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on December 13, when the mailing labels are compiled


Dec
2013
 Affirmative Classroom Management: How Do I Develop Effective Rules and Consequences in My School? (ASCD Arias)

Affirmative Classroom Management: How Do I Develop Effective Rules and Consequences in My School? (ASCD Arias)

by Richard L. Curwin
This publication offers clear and positive strategies that empower teachers and administrators to develop effective rules and consequences.

 Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility, 2nd Edition

Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility, 2nd Edition

by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
In the updated 2nd edition of this ASCD best-seller, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey dig deeper into the hows and whys of the gradual release of responsibility instructional framework, an approach that helps students develop into engaged, self-directed learners. Along with tips and tools for classroom implementation, you’ll find new examples and lesson advice aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
This Member Book mails to ASCD Premium members and is available as a download for Online Premium members in December 2013; to receive it as a member benefit, your membership in these categories must be active on November 15, when the mailing labels are compiled.

 Self-Regulated Learning for Academic Success: How Do I Help Students Manage Their Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions? (ASCD Arias)

Self-Regulated Learning for Academic Success: How Do I Help Students Manage Their Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions? (ASCD Arias)

by Carrie Germeroth and Crystal Day-Hess
Specific instructional strategies to help teachers at all grade levels foster self-regulation—the critical fourth "R" of education that students need in order to set and achieve academic goals and interact appropriately in the classroom.

 Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work? (ASCD Arias)

Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work? (ASCD Arias)

by Michael Fisher
Strategies and resources for using technology to teach students 21st century skills.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Learning by creating...and doing!

I've always been a huge proponent of students learning by doing.

How can we expect them to fully discover new possibilities and attain new levels of knowledge by being passive learners and recipients of information? The more kids are doing the work, the more they learn.

As a graduate student at Harvard, I learned a lot about this philosophy, especially when it came to the importance of students having wonderings about what they were learning. Kids need to be encouraged to ask questions, seek multiple solutions, and explore creative ways of solving real-world dilemmas and problems. Such skills will only better prepare them for the demands of ever-evolving careers and jobs in the 21st century.

I recently read an article that speaks to the importance of students doing the work and creating from the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. I hope you find it meaningful as well!

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June 2014 | Volume 56 | Number 6

If You Build It: Tinkering with the Maker Mind-Set

By Sarah McKibben
 
"Making" provides an accessible pathway to discovery and skill development that schools can integrate with minimal expense.
 
In his father's used auto parts store in east Los Angeles, Calif., 9-year-old Caine Monroy spent a summer building an elaborate arcade out of cardboard boxes. He bought toys to give out as prizes and manually shuffled tickets through slots when players scored points. He didn't have any customers, though, until a filmmaker showed up one day to buy a door handle for his car.

That chance meeting eventually inspired a short film, led to a flash mob of paying customers, and resulted in a new scholarship fund and national cardboard construction challenge. Caine's story started with "making"—and it was shared at the 2013 Maker Faire, the Maker Movement's flagship event.

Community and Collaboration

 
So what exactly is making? Steve Davee, director of education and communications for the Maker Education Initiative, describes making as a "celebration of creativity in all forms." It's a DIY, hands-on movement that is taking hold in communities across the country, rousing a growing network of innovators to come together in the name of creativity.

Making establishes a sense of community from producing something "shareable," says Gary Stager, coauthor of Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. It's about "making real things that matter, with a real potential audience."

Although making has been around forever, Stager says the Maker Movement has been reinvigorated by the ability to make actual objects, not just models, with computers; the ability to add intelligence and inter-activity to everyday objects; and the increased agency over technological complexity possible through computer programming.

Educators are also taking note of the skills making can hone. "Making promotes collaboration; agency; problem-solving; and a sense of exploration, tinkering, and wondering," says Davee. "There may be a lot of whimsy and playing around with things, but you're actually building the skills that will allow you to solve real-world problems."

Making leads to deeper thinking, says Stephanie Grimes, director of curriculum at the Digital Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit makerspace that serves Baltimore's youth. "In school, a lot of our students are used to waiting for the answer to be given to them, and they have found that this is a valid strategy [that] works. [But] making is all about problem-solving! When your LED doesn't light up because you have a faulty connection in your circuit, you need to figure out why—and the instructor may not know."

Creating a Makerspace

Encouraged by the benefits of making, schools are finding ways to integrate hands-on learning without overhauling the environment. There's a common misconception that makerspaces require thousands of dollars' worth of equipment: 3D printers, laser cutters, a modern fleet of manufacturing tools. Although high-tech makerspaces and Fab Labs—a more prescriptive model developed by MIT—are appearing in schools, experts say making is surprisingly accessible.

"In its simplest form, a makerspace already exists in every classroom," says Davee. "It's table space, it's time, it's materials that you already have on hand."

Grimes identifies three types of makerspaces: a makerspace in a box, a pop-up (modular) space, and a dedicated space. A makerspace in a box is a kit of basic materials that teachers can assemble to introduce making to students. Grimes says it's "a great way to wade into the practice" because it doesn't cost much or require a lot of commitment. She suggests that teachers who are more confident with making get colleagues on board with the concept by providing them with a kit and leading mini-maker sessions with ideas for activities.

A pop-up (modular) space contains a more robust set of materials and equipment that can be brought out during a making activity. Grimes says this could take the form of a "makerspace on a cart" that travels among classrooms.

When starting out, Davee recommends choosing materials with low barriers to entry—art supplies, fabric, cardboard, wood, sewing kits, hand tools, recycled goods, and so on—then slowly phasing in other materials such as inexpensive construction sets or microcontrollers. Even just having old electronics on hand for students to take apart and tinker with can provide an invaluable learning experience, he says.

Jumping right in with more complicated materials and equipment, on the other hand, could backfire. Davee has seen plenty of administrators purchase 3D printers only to have them collect dust in a corner. "If a tool always requires a teacher [or administrator] to be the bottleneck, then you're never going to have its most effective use." Davee advises schools to turn equipment over to students, empowering them to take ownership of the setup and maintenance.

Student stewardship of materials can be especially helpful in sustaining a dedicated makerspace, which could be a permanent fixture in the back of a classroom or one that takes over an entire room in a school. In this scenario, materials and equipment should be readily available for students—and possibly even the community—to use.

From Rust Belt to Innovation Hub

Located just south of Pittsburgh, Pa., the Elizabeth Forward School District has devoted an entire wing of its middle school to making. The rural district, which serves mostly low-income students, dropped the "industrial model of learning" for a more hands-on, cross-disciplinary approach.

"We didn't want kids to build 30 bird houses and 30 clocks that look exactly the same," says assistant superintendent Todd Keruskin.

With a vision of a fully integrated curriculum—and $30,000 in grants—the district brought its art, com-puter science, and technical education classrooms into a collaborative, cutting-edge learning space. In September 2013, the "Dream Factory" debuted in the Elizabeth Forward Middle School, equipped with all the technology you would expect from a modern Fab Lab.

The program builds foundational skills in the 6th and 7th grades in areas such as coding, engineering, robotics, animation, and 3D modeling so that students can have free rein to build what they want in the 8th grade.

Dream Factory teachers have three periods of common planning time each week to align learning objectives and develop projects. In a class favorite, students get to create their own chocolate bars, from concept to final product. Over the course of two weeks, and in a variety of classes, they use software to design a plastic mold and print it using a 3D printer, make chocolate to pour into the mold, create a logo for the wrapper, design a business card and website, and produce a 30-second commercial to market the bar.

Although initial funding for the Dream Factory was secured through grants, superintendent Bart Rocco plans to "reallocate staff and monetary resources" to sustain the program, and he recommends that other districts do the same.

"We need to create environments where kids are going to be able to build, create, produce, and learn code," he asserts. "Creating a space like this will help our children be prepared to meet the [demands of the] job workforce in the coming years."

Testing the Waters

The district often gets ideas, resources, and training from outside partners, including California University of Pennsylvania, the Sprout Fund, and the MAKESHOP at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. "We've sent educators to candy companies, plastic companies, gaming and design companies, and universities," says Rocco. A partnership with Carnegie Mellon also energized the transformation.

Without those relationships, "we would have still thought of white walls and desks in a row," says Keruskin.

"Forming a partnership with even one community organization—like a community makerspace—is a great [way] for schools to validate some of their ideas and presumptions before committing to a full-blown makerspace of their own," notes Grimes.

Hosting "family nights" to get parents involved or launching after-school clubs or lunchtime maker sessions can also pique an interest in making. Some schools are even integrating a "Genius Hour" into the school week. Based on Google's philosophy that 20 percent of an employee's time should be spent pursuing their own passions, Genius Hour provides a dedicated time (perhaps one hour or class period each week) for students to work on projects independently.

A Shift in Thinking

To be truly successful within a school context, making demands a high level of trust in students' abilities and choices. "Youth really flourish when granted autonomy in crafting their making experiences," says Grimes. "We trust in them to make the decisions that are best for them and don't push them to do anything they don't want to."

Letting students take the wheel, however, doesn't mean teachers don't have a role. "Great things are possible when the teacher gets out of the way, but even greater possibilities exist when the teacher is knowledgeable and has experience they can call upon to help a kid solve a tough problem, connect with an expert, or toss in a well-timed obstacle that will cause the student to encounter a powerful idea at just the right teachable moment," explains Stager.

Because making is a discovery-oriented process, prescribing a curriculum can be tricky. In fact, Davee considers making to be the "anticurriculum" because "the nature of making is such that standards, for example, will naturally emerge [from the process of] construction."

There are many ways to achieve a high-quality classroom experience, and making could fit within most approaches, according to Davee. "Making could be entirely inquiry-based, or it could be lecture-based with time for exploration."

"Making is a mind-set, not an outcome," Grimes emphasizes. "If you build a making curriculum and at the end everyone has created the same project using the same tools and guidelines, that's not making."

According to Stager, assessment should be just as organic as making itself. For instance, the design of a project can demonstrate content knowledge, and relating the design to an audience can develop writing, speaking, and other presentation skills. "One could imagine … the understanding of physics involved in building a structure, [or the] understanding of history in their cardboard Trojan horse."

Supporting Wonder

Embracing the Maker Movement and integrating its core concepts into schools requires a deep commitment to giving students' natural curiosity and inventiveness a stage on which to shine. If schools can support the kind of whimsy and wonder that's exemplified by kids like Caine, there will be no limits to what students can make.

For the Elizabeth Forward district, the transition to a more authentic, hands-on learning environment has "really recharged and changed the culture of our schools," says Rocco.

"We need to stop forcing kids to make PowerPoint presentations on topics they don't care about, for audiences they will never encounter," remarks Stager. "Kids have a story to tell. They should act, write, sing, dance, film those stories, and learn to write the sort of scientific, technical, and persuasive [pieces] that nearly every career demands."

More Online

Project Ideas, Videos, and Other Resources

Are you motivated to start making in your classroom? Visit www.ascd.org/ed0614maker for links to project ideas, informational videos, makerspace handbooks, and more.
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ooooh, testing....

Ridiculous? I think so!!