I'm going to turn your day UPSIDE DOWN!

How do we create the problem solvers our world demands? We shake it up and turn teaching on it's head.

Students learn more when we let them wrestle with a math problem before we teach them how to solve it.   -Cathy Seely, ASCD

Instead of I do, we do, you do, try:

          You tackle the problem you may not know how to solve yet.

          We talk together about your thinking and your work.

          I help you connect the class discussion to the goal of the lesson.

Are you ready to let that control go? If so, read more about Turning Teaching Upside Down.

 

And completely unrelated...

You cannot take care of a class full of students if you don't fill your bucket first. Go enjoy some of the events below with your friends and family. Happy fall!

25 biggest, upcoming top events in Phoenix

Where do rocks sleep?

Where do rocks sleep?

In bedrocks!

Can you believe that National Earth Science Week is already here? If it slipped off your calendar, I have a great way to get your students involved with a #neatrock activity with the Science Friday Science Club.

  It's so easy.

1) Take a picture of a neat rock you have found.

2) Post at #neatrock with any details you have about the rock.

3) A scientist from the American Geologists Institute will help you identify your rock and provide it's background.

Your students will be on pins and needles waiting to hear back from the scientists. It's such a great way to foster curiosity and learn something new.

Listen on Soundcloud to learn more about this opportunity and to help build a really cool online rock collection. 

Ideas Worth Spreading

You might have heard, even love, TED Talks, but did you know that TED does more than talks?

TEDed Lessons Worth Sharing is a FREE but totally priceless resource for teachers and students (searchable by content). The lessons are short, sweet, and to the point and even come with a comprehension quiz. You can use these resources to:

  • Springboard new content
  • Peak curiosity
  • Provide examples
  • Scaffold
  • Differentiate
  • the list goes on and on and on...

Each Lesson Comes in 4 parts:

  1. Watch
  2. Think
  3. Dig Deeper
  4. Discuss

If you have a couple more minutes, be blown away by an example video below. You'll love how clear, concise, short, and USABLE it is.

***Please leave us comments about how you like the content of TXTS 4 Teachers, or how you might use this resource in your classroom. We would love to hear from you.***

Got Bugs? Irradicate them with these tips...

"Nothing is certain but death and taxes," so says Ben Franklin. Well, in the classroom nothing is certain except FLU SEASON and the passing of the virus.

We all rely on students being in school so they can learn, but an empty seat is exactly what helps a class remain healthy.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has so many resources just for schools. With 100 flu-related child deaths a year and thousands hospitalized, we have to act. Here's how:

  • Get a flu shot early in the season
  • Stay home when sick (Yes, TEACHERS too even though you have to do sub plans)
  • Practice preventative measures like washing hands often, cover mouth to cough, etc.
  • Disinfect classroom surfaces including desks, door handles, sink fixtures, and water fountain
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For more information for schools, visit the CDC Website.

 

Since you're here...have you been on our STEM page lately? Click here to check out for the IMMEDIATE USE resources. No joke!

 

Striving for the perfect balance?

The Autumnal Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on September 22, 2017 at 1:02 PM MST.  The equinox nearly balances our day and night hours. 

How will your students mark this once in a year day?

Do your students use an Almanac or is that a foreign word? Thursday is a perfect time to visit The Old Farmer's Almanac website for information on the Autumnal Equinox.

https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-fall-autumnal-equinox

Whether you use this video stand-alone or in conjunction with The Old Farmer's Almanac, the model and explanation is a great way for learners to actually 'see' how this happens.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/equinoxes-sci

Fall into the season with things for you and your family. Check out this site for 11 ways you can engage your family in celebrating fall.

http://rhythmsofplay.com/11-ways-to-celebrate-the-fall-autumnal-equinox/


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What do parents want anyway?

Seven short years ago, less than 60% of parents carried a smartphone. Today, we are closing in on 95%. 5% are connected all the time with a smartwatch. But, the question remains, how do your students' parents want to hear from you?

Hubspot has conducted research on this topic and will send you a free report that outlines how parents want to be communicated with. Here's a teaser:

Sample from "Table 2: most effective digital communication tools by school type"

Texting

  • 61% in Elementary Schools
  • 57% in Middle Schools
  • 55% in High Schools

School/district Facebook

  • 45% in Elementary Schools
  • 41% in Middle Schools
  • 39% in High Schools

 

Today's freebies for digital communication

1. Remind - Finally, a way to end unread emails and endless paper flyers.

2. Class Dojo - A community building platform that reaches out to parents.

Walk This Way... Talk This Way!

The chances that you have, or will have, monolingual students in your class are pretty high. If you do have monolingual students, you know the value of modeling. Monolingual students benefit from:

  • Modeling a process — how to do something. 
  • Modeling a  product or performance —an exemplar that shows the end result of the completed task.

A good model is:

  • Explicitly constructed—it uses intentionally, concrete examples and/or visual images.
  • Free of distractions—there isn’t any extraneous information or verbiage.
  • Labeled with precise academic vocabulary for each step or part.

Tips for Using Exit Tickets

Exit tickets are a quick, easy, and great strategy to check for understanding and plan for next steps. The following are some things to keep in mind when using exit tickets:

Begin with the end in mind. Ensure your questions are precise enough for students to give you the information you need. Write questions that assess understanding, apply the concept, or demonstrate the concept.

Keep it brief. Exit tickets are intended to challenge your students while providing you feedback for planning. They should be able to be completed in under five minutes.

Examine the tickets carefully. Sort tickets into groups based on what you need to know. For example: students that understand the content, students that don’t understand the content, and students that you are unsure about. However you organize the data, make sure that it gives you an overall picture of your classroom.


Sample Exit Tickets (Fisher & Frey, 2004):

  • Write one thing you learned today.
  • Discuss how today's lesson could be used in the real world.
  •  I didn't understand…
  • Write one question you have about today's lesson.
  • Did you enjoy working in small groups today?
  •  I would like to learn more about…
  • Please explain more about…
  • The thing that surprised me the most today was…
  • I wish…

For more on Exit Tickets, watch this video.

5 Things To Do The First Few Weeks Of School

You are back in front of the classroom and ready to rock the 2017-2018 school year! You most certainly have gone over your classroom procedures. But if things aren't clicking along as you had hoped, it's not too late to set yourself up for the best year ever. Legendary teachers, Linda Kardamis and Viki Davis, chatted about this very thing on the Cool Cat Teacher podcast. Here are some takeaways: 

1. Spend more time on procedures than you think you should. You don't teach division, grammar, or the scientific method once and move on. The same goes for procedures. If your students don't master your procedures in the first few weeks of school, it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

2. Task analyze every procedure. We can't take for granted that students know how to successfully complete a procedure. "Pass your papers to the front of the room," can be done many ways. Be specific and teach each step.

3. Don't let the little things go. Note the student actions you find yourself redirecting over and over. Those are areas where a procedure may need to be taught.

4. Be a mentor, not a buddy. It's important that students like you (see Kids Don't Learn from People they Don't Like). However, students can like you without you being their friend. Students like mentors that are "both kind and firm, personable but not a pushover, understanding, kind, compassionate, and who deal with issues."

5. Prep for procedure violations. A lot of emphasis is put on prepping for lessons. But we must also be prepared for when kids break a procedure. Think about it ahead of time. "What will I do when a student runs through the classroom when the bell rings?" Being prepared keeps us from under or over reacting.

Adapted from, "5 Mistakes Teachers Make the First Week of School With Linda Kardamis." - The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast, by Viki Davis

Follow Linda Kardamins @LindaKardamis

Follow Viki Davis @coolcatteacher

3 Tools That Facilitate Authentic Engagement

Teachers constantly nurture the relationship between motivation and engagement. Knowing how to design learning experiences using strategies that build learner self-direction and ownership of learning sets great teachers and great lessons apart. There are many tools that can support the facilitation of authentic engagement where students are not just compliant, but can see a connection between the assigned task and the results. The following three are just a few of them:

Padlet - www.padlet.com

Padlet empowers collaboration across distances without much set up. Think of Padlet as an electronic Post-it note wall. The difference is, the Post-it notes can be text, images, and videos. Check out an example of how two teachers in two different classrooms use Padlet to facilitate student-to-student interactions. 

Socrative - www.socrative.com

Socrative enables students to use any internet-connected device with a web browser to become a student response system. Socrative empowers the teacher to receive real-time data about what students are thinking and understanding. See a classroom example here. 

PowToon - www.powtoon.com

PowToon is an engaging, easy to use publishing tool. It allows students to tell animated stories quickly and easily without a lot of knowledge about video production. See a classroom example here.

5 Levels of Authentic Student Work

When considering creating authentic learning experiences for students, think about the following five levels of authenticity:

  • Level One: Student produced a product that is not relevant to objective.
  • Level Two: Student produced a product is relevant to objective only.
  • Level Three: Student produced a product that has value inside the classroom.
  • Level Four: Student produced a product that has hypothetical value outside the classroom.
  • Level Five: Student produced a product that has value outside the classroom.

The higher the level, the more authentic the work.

Technology is the fuel...use it wisely!

When a teacher uses technology to enhance the instructional elements he or she does the best, that instruction will improve student learning. Technology is the fuel to your instructional fire. It can accelerate your instructional strategies. It can take your strong teaching to the next level. But if a teacher uses technology to teach the instructional elements he or she struggles with, student learning can actually suffer. Again, technology is the fuel. It accelerates the areas where you struggle in ways that can actually be destructive. When supporting your instruction with technology, focus on your strongest areas.

When a teacher uses technology to enhance the instructional elements he or she does the best, that instruction will improve student learning. Technology is the fuel to your instructional fire. It can accelerate your instructional strategies. It can take your strong teaching to the next level.

But if a teacher uses technology to teach the instructional elements he or she struggles with, student learning can actually suffer. Again, technology is the fuel. It accelerates the areas where you struggle in ways that can actually be destructive.

When supporting your instruction with technology, focus on your strongest areas.

Technology in the Classroom

When using technology in the classroom, there are generally three ways you can use it: 1. To teach the technology. “Today we are going to learn how to use Excel to create graphs.” 2. To teach content that can be taught without the technology. “Use Power Point to give a presentation about the Solar System.” 3. To teach content in ways not possible without the use of technology. “Download solar data for the past five years and describe one pattern you observe from 2000-2017.” https://www.helioviewer.org Although all levels of technology use are valuable, but deeper and longer-lasting learning comes from number three.

When using technology in the classroom, there are generally three ways you can use it:

1. To teach the technology.
“Today we are going to learn how to use Excel to create graphs.”

2. To teach content that can be taught without the technology.
“Use Power Point to give a presentation about the Solar System.”

3. To teach content in ways not possible without the use of technology.
“Download solar data for the past five years and describe one pattern you observe from 2000-2017.” https://www.helioviewer.org

Although all levels of technology use are valuable, but deeper and longer-lasting learning comes from number three.

Updating parents through social media. #yesplease

Every savvy educator is deeply aware of how important it is to partner with parents.  Indeed, most schools include the goal of strengthening the home-school connection in their school improvement plans.  

Yet, as always, time is a precious commodity for teachers – and parents – and the best intentions to connect - are often tepidly met.

What if you could have your students’ parents “follow” on a social media platform similar to Twitter?  Such apps exist!  One of the more promising ones is BonFyre.  Read all about BonFyre and other apps to enhance the home-school connection at the following link:

http://www.teachhub.com/educational-apps-4-keeping-parents-loop

"Marinate" Your Thinking

“Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers …” – Paulo Freire In a go-go academic world focused on the “correct” answer, it is easy to overlook the power of reflection. Students of all ages, from pre-schoolders to adults, benefit from the quiet think time coupled with either written or verbal reflection. Such “marinating” allows students to better integrate their learner. The following Edutopia blog post by Joshua Block explores the importance of reflection in depth. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/let-it-marinate-reflection-closing-joshua-block We are including the list of reflective prompts from the post for those who simply wish some quick ideas for prompting reflection: ·       Share one thing you learned. ·       Share a question for future investigation. ·       Respond with a word. ·       What worked? What didn’t work? ·       What is one part of your work that you are proud of? ·       How would you do this differently next time? Block, Joshua. “Let It Marinate: The Importance of Reflection and Closing." Edutopia. N.p.,  20 May 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

“Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers …” – Paulo Freire

In a go-go academic world focused on the “correct” answer, it is easy to overlook the power of reflection. Students of all ages, from pre-schoolders to adults, benefit from the quiet think time coupled with either written or verbal reflection. Such “marinating” allows students to better integrate their learner.

The following Edutopia blog post by Joshua Block explores the importance of reflection in depth.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/let-it-marinate-reflection-closing-joshua-block

We are including the list of reflective prompts from the post for those who simply wish some quick ideas for prompting reflection:

·       Share one thing you learned.

·       Share a question for future investigation.

·       Respond with a word.

·       What worked? What didn’t work?

·       What is one part of your work that you are proud of?

·       How would you do this differently next time?

Block, Joshua. “Let It Marinate: The Importance of Reflection and Closing." Edutopia. N.p.,  20 May 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

Differentiated Instruction Made Easier

Every conscientious teacher works towards differentiating instruction in myriad ways, ranging from honoring students’ current reading levels to integrating high-interest, cross-curricular texts while providing an element of choice of topics.

Since this noble endeavor is also quite time-consuming, we are fortunate to have websites such as NewsELA just a browser search away!  Similar to CommonLit.org, NewsELA offers “text sets” of thematically linked readings and supporting materials.  NewsELA, however, focuses on current events.  

Check out this month’s offerings related to Women’s History Month.  The link below will take you to an article featuring the women from the Oscar nominated film, Hidden Figures.  It’s a nice piece of cross-curricular reading, too!

https://newsela.com/articles/black-women-nasa-history/id/21629/