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Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding. What strategy can double student learning gains? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment, defined by Bill Younglove as "the frequent, interactive checking of student progress and understanding in order to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately. " Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. Meanwhile, teachers can improve the effectiveness of their instruction, re-teaching if necessary.

"When the cook tastes the soup," writes Robert E. 13 Common Sayings to Avoid. When I was a new teacher in middle school several centuries ago, I occasionally said things to students that I later regretted.

13 Common Sayings to Avoid

In the last few years, I have witnessed or heard teachers say additional regretful things to students. Recently I asked students in my graduate courses (all practicing teachers) if they ever told their students anything they regret. After hearing these regrets and talking with children about what teachers said that bothered them, I compiled a list of things that never should be said. I've narrowed my list to 13 representative items. Some of these are related to control issues, others to motivation, and still more to management. Motivating the Unmotivated. Here's an all-too-common scenario: A group of elementary or middle school students are unruly, disrespectful and underperforming academically and socially in the classroom.

Motivating the Unmotivated

They do not appreciate the value of education. The teacher, despite good intentions and passion, is viewed as an adversarial or irrelevant authority figure. 4 Powerful Mindsets for Turning Stress Into a Positive Force. In a 2015 survey of 31,342 teachers, 73 percent said they often felt stressed.

4 Powerful Mindsets for Turning Stress Into a Positive Force

Only 3 percent said stress was rare—and frankly, I’m wondering if they filled in the wrong bubble. While 89 percent had been highly enthusiastic about teaching when they started, only 15 percent felt the same way at the time of the survey. With statistics like these, it’s easy to wonder: If stress is the norm, is burnout inevitable? 5 Strategies to Deepen Student Collaboration. Most of us who teach believe in the power of collaboration and frequently engage our students in collaborative activities. But how many times have we put students in groups only to watch them interact with their laptops instead of each other? Or pursue their own individual goals instead of consult with one another?

Or complain about a lazy teammate? Promoting real collaboration is hard to do well—and it doesn’t just happen on its own. Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices. When presented with new material, standards, and complicated topics, we need to be focused and calm as we approach our assignments.

Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices

We can use brain breaks and focused-attention practices to positively impact our emotional states and learning. They refocus our neural circuitry with either stimulating or quieting practices that generate increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, where problem solving and emotional regulation occur. Brain Breaks. How Emotions Affect Learning, Behaviors, and Relationships. Design Thinking and the Deskless Classroom. Back-to-school conjures images of desks in neat rows, and the smells of crayons and glue.

Design Thinking and the Deskless Classroom

Teachers work hard to make warm, inviting learning spaces for students, but let's take a step back. What does a desk represent? Imagine a classroom that looked less like a traditional classroom and more like an artist's studio. 6 Opening and Closing Routines for New Teachers. Routines and consistency matter greatly and are necessary for creating a smooth learning environment in your classroom.

6 Opening and Closing Routines for New Teachers

Routines help with creating community, checking for understanding, and managing the classroom. I'm going to share three opening routines and three closing routines that you can start using in your next class. Building Community With Attendance Questions. Taking attendance is usually a five-minute task at the start of a class period, but in my classroom, it can sometimes take much longer.

Building Community With Attendance Questions

On rare occasions, taking attendance can take up an entire class period. This happened recently when, for 75 minutes, students listened respectfully to each other. No one snuck a peek at phone messages. No one left the room for a washroom break. Not a single student looked bored. All I did was take attendance. Stretching Our Minds It's been decades since I stumbled upon the power of what I call the attendance question. The most important characteristic of my attendance questions is that there are no "right" answers. 5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners.

The humble question is an indispensable tool: the spade that helps us dig for truth, or the flashlight that illuminates surrounding darkness.

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners

Questioning helps us learn, explore the unknown, and adapt to change. That makes it a most precious “app” today, in a world where everything is changing and so much is unknown. And yet, we don’t seem to value questioning as much as we should. For the most part, in our workplaces as well as our classrooms, it is the answers we reward -- while the questions are barely tolerated. To change that is easier said than done. How to Encourage Questioning 1. Asking a question can be a scary step into the void. 2. This is a tough one. 3. Part of the appeal of “questions-only” exercises is that there’s an element of play involved, as in: Can you turn that answer/statement into a question? Strategies for Reaching Quiet, Disengaged, Struggling, and Troublemaking Students. As a new high school history teacher, reaching a diverse array of learners posed my biggest challenge.

Strategies for Reaching Quiet, Disengaged, Struggling, and Troublemaking Students

Well into my third year on the job, I neither fully understood nor appreciated the unique strengths and challenges that my pupils brought with them. Now, after nine years in the classroom and learning from numerous failures, I still don't claim to have mastered the art of teaching or connecting with every kind of student, but I do have some thoughts on how to avoid my rookie mistakes. Brains in Pain Cannot Learn! Educators want nothing more than for our students to feel successful and excited to learn, and to understand the importance of their education. We want our students' attention and respect to match our own.

I believe that most if not all of our students desire the same, but walking through our classroom doors are beautifully complex youth who are neurobiologically wired to feel before thinking. Carrying In Educators and students are carrying in much more than backpacks, car keys, conversations, partially-completed homework, and outward laughter. Buried deep in the brain's limbic system is an emotional switching station called the amygdala, and it is here that our human survival and emotional messages are subconsciously prioritized and learned. Positive Brains Are Smarter Brains. Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S.

Positive Brains Are Smarter Brains

Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. Explicit instruction to guide students toward taking charge of their outlook on academic endeavors can lead to a more positive -- and ultimately more productive -- approach to learning. Applying metacognition to both the emotional and cognitive aspects of learning can help students steer their minds to make steady gains in developing their knowledge and skills. In a previous post, we explored the gains that are possible when students adopt an attitude of practical optimism as they learn.

Creating a Classroom Culture of Laughter. In the age of technology, when students use online databases for home research and when Khan Academy tutorials personalize learning, why does the 21st-century student come to school? They come to see their friends. They come for the community. They come to be part of a classroom culture that motivates them to stick with the online tutorial and write that last paragraph in an essay. For my first seven years of teaching, I spent the first week discussing class norms, dutifully posting group expectations on the wall, and asking that students sign an agreement to follow them in an effort to "determine class culture. " 10 Fun-Filled Formative Assessment Ideas.