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Related:  Improving Instruction / Student Engagement

Six Ways to Successfully Build Relationships with Your Students By Rachael George It is all about relationships when it comes to education. This is probably something that you have heard a million times, but have you really stopped to think about the true effect relationships have on your students? Study after study has shown that a classroom teacher is the number one contributor to student achievement, even above the parent, peers, the entire school, or poverty. Here are some ways you can start building a solid foundation when it comes to relationships with your students. 1. For starters, you have to believe that you make an impact. 2. “Students these days!” Connect First as a Person In his recent book, Poor Student, Rich Teaching, Eric Jensen talks about the importance of connecting with your students. 4. If you want to keep students in school, you have to build the relationships and make learning personalized for them. 5. Students connect by talking to and interacting with one another. 6.

Questions Before Answers: What Drives a Great Lesson? Recently, I was looking through my bookshelves and discovered an entire shelf of instruction books that came with software I had previously purchased. Yes, there was a time when software was bought in stores, not downloaded. Upon closer examination of these instruction books, I noticed that many of them were for computers and software that I no longer use or even own. I realized that I did the same when I bought a new car -- with one exception. This pattern was and is true for every device I buy. The Need to Know Too many classrooms ignore this basic learning model. Lessons, units, and topics are more motivating when they begin with a question whose answer students want to know. There is a catch, though, in using questions to begin your lesson. Have you ever forgotten the name of a song and spent hours trying to remember it? 10 Questions That Motivate Learning Questions this powerful are hard to find. Middle school math: What does Martin Luther King have in common with algebra?

We Grow by Embracing Our Teaching Mistakes A MiddleWeb Blog What do you do when your lesson doesn’t go as planned? When do you chalk it up to circumstances – a lesson interrupted by an assembly or a schedule change, a technology failure, or simply a bad classroom dynamic that day? When do you just admit that the problem is you? These aren’t easy questions, and as a veteran teacher, I still struggle against the urge to just ignore a wobble and reinvent the wheel each year. The problem with that solution is that it stops me from ever reaching “mastery.” I’m trying to set cues for myself to be more reflective and examine whether the lackluster unit or lesson is due to bad pacing, lack of formative assessments to gauge student readiness, or failure to engage students. Let’s look a little closer The 1932 movie based on Connell’s story. I wouldn’t say that last year’s unit on “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell wasn’t successful. In other words, it wasn’t stellar, so it was a perfect candidate for some self-reflection. Image credit

How to Approach Your Teaching Like a Master Chef Listen to my interview with John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey, or read a full transcript here. Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 51:23 — 70.9MB) Subscribe: iTunes | Android | If you’ve been looking for a boost of inspiration lately, something to help you engage students deeply and make your teaching fun again, then I have just the book for you: The Classroom Chef, by Matt Vaudrey and John Stevens. Here’s the premise: If we want our lessons to have a long-lasting impact on our students, if we want to make our content really relevant, we need to design instruction the way a chef orchestrates a good meal, from appetizer all the way to dessert. In the book, Stevens and Vaudrey show us how they learned to do this in their math classes. The Classroom Chef: Sharpen Your Lessons,Season Your Classes, Make Math Meaningful by John Stevens & Matt Vaudrey This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Here’s a run-down of some of the book’s best ideas. Avoid Processed Food Hey!! Solicit Reviews

10 things students experience every day at school that we educators tend to forget about... So, just recently I was challenged by our middle school principal, Ty Crain. The challenge was simple... come be a student at the middle school for an entire day. This would mean starting the day at school at breakfast and following a schedule throughout the entire day just like any student would. The goal of this challenge is to experience what a student experiences and see the day-to-day operations of the middle school from an unbiased and different set of eyes. I accepted this challenge and have a new appreciation for what our students get to (have to) experience each and every day they are at school. Here are 10 things our students experience every day that I believe many of us educators tend to forget about... 1). 3).

What the Heck is Inquiry-Based Learning? Inquiry-based learning is more than asking a student what he or she wants to know. It’s about triggering curiosity. And activating a student’s curiosity is, I would argue, a far more important and complex goal than the objective of mere information delivery. Nevertheless, despite its complexity, inquiry-based learning can be somehow easier on teachers, too. True, it’s seemingly easier because it transfers some responsibilities from teachers to students, but it’s really easier because releasing authority engages students. Teachers who use inquiry-based learning combat the “dunno” -- a chronic problem in student engagement. Let’s face it, when you ask a student something like, “What do you want to know about _______?” In all honesty, however, what inquiry-based teachers do isn’t easy at all; it’s just hidden, and some people confuse the two. Learning Something New Triggering inquiry is about learning something new, and triggering curiosity is no small feat. Think about it. 1. 2. 3. 4.

4 Approaches to Building Positive Community in Any Classroom Building positive community starts with the first day of school -- actually, it starts beforehand. You can reach out to your students with a welcome letter to let them know how excited you are for them to be in your class and what appealing projects you plan to do over the coming year. Once they show up, students crave a sense of being a part of the community. Here are four groups of ideas to help them feel welcomed and comfortable. They are not one-shot deals. Rather, they benefit from frequent (i.e. almost daily) repetition, particularly during the first six weeks of school, and then regularly thereafter as ongoing reminders. Getting to Know You In small groups, have students answer one to three questions from those below -- or similar ones you create. What kind of music do you like? Take a Stand and Stand Too often, students can be classmates, but feel disconnected from one another. Stand up if you: Were born inside/outside the United States (In the north? Use students' names often.

Education Week I get frustrated when teachers are encouraged to make school "fun". Go ahead and debate me, but I think "fun" is a term better used for the playground than the classroom. Teachers who promise to make school fun are like parents who want to be friends with their children. Sure, I am all for fun (and friends), but in the appropriate context. Learning can and should be engaging, exciting, compelling, stimulating, satisfying, inspiring, imaginative and even pleasurable. Just to be clear, I want my students to enjoy school as much as any other teacher and I do not believe that teachers should try to convert every moment into a measurable learning opportunity. Let's admit it, learning is sometimes uncomfortable. Obviously, it is important to match challenge with support. Ultimately, when it comes to challenge, adults are no different from children. Photo taken by Clara Greisman

Encourage critical thinking by turning your class into a Socratic Seminar With so much talk about the Common Core standards and truly increasing our student’s argumentative powers and critical thinking skills, some teachers are starting to think critically themselves about how best to engage students in thoughtful debate and discussion around texts they need to analyze anyway. One method, called the Socratic seminar, challenges to students to formal discussions about a text based on open-ended questions. Throughout the exercise, students must alternately employ good listening, critical thinking, creativity, and rhetorical prowess. The Socratic style of discourse lends itself quite well to establishing critical thinkers due to the fact that Socrates believed that enabling students to think for themselves was more important than filling their heads with knowledge. Even if you’re new to the concept, it’s easy to get started. Select a text To start, consider engaging the class in a guided reading of a novel with compelling themes and issues. The questions The set up

Open Space Technology: Decision by Inclusion The first time I heard of Open Space Technology was in 2013 at the initial meeting of the Teacher Resistance and Action Network, a group of teachers and education practitioners who had gathered under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Poetter of Miami University to discuss how to teach responsibly in the age of high-stakes testing. My friend and mentor, Kevin Lydy, had invited me to attend what was billed as a non-conference. It was a life-changing experience, not only because of the great conversations that I had with fellow educators, but also because I learned about a technique that I'd never heard of before: Open Space Technology. Having now used OST at my school in staff meetings, in our strategic planning process, and even my own classroom, I have to agree with OpenSpaceWorld that "OST is a simple way to run productive meetings for five to 2,000+ people, and a powerful approach to leadership in any kind of organization." How OST Works Why Use OST?