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TXTS 4 Teachers

Filtering by Tag: routines and procedures

5 Things To Do The First Few Weeks Of School

Laurie King

You are back in front of the classroom and ready to rock the new 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. 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

Academic Dialogue: Beyond the Basics

Marlys WeaverStoesz

The idea of structured, academic dialogue has received great attention in recent years.

This attention is well-deserved; Stanford University professor Dr. Jeff Zweirs provides clear justification for increasing academic dialogue as “the process of learning is actually a social venture, and interactions such as conversations (and specifically academic conversations) [help] students to enhance and broaden their comprehension of a specific topic profoundly and in a meaningful way” (Zweirs, 2014).  Yet, Dr. Zweirs’ research found most classroom academic conversations are dominated by teachers, robbing students of the rich opportunity to actively engage in a learning dialogue with their peers.  Armed with this knowledge, teachers have made a concerted effort to increase structured student-to-student conversations. As a result, students are now talking to each other much more often than in the past.

“Peanut butter and jelly partners” are probably familiar to most teachers, especially those teaching elementary-aged students.  It is an accessible strategy for creating “think-pair-share” partner groups to ensure equal participation and individual accountability.  The danger, however, is sometimes these sharing opportunities are merely a recitation of facts or lower-level comprehension.

Without a doubt, structures are a necessary foundation for academic conversations that foster deep and extended learning.  We are going to take this base even further this month as we share various resources to deepen teachers’ academic conversation toolkit.

To get us started, here are Dr. Zweirs’ “Think-Pair-Share Tips.”

In Think-Pair-Shares, students should:

Think about the possible responses and how best to say them in connected sentences (They can write them down, too, but shouldn’t read them when talking)

Interact face to face (face each other)

Take turns talking

Listen to remember, connect, and compare to what the partner says.

Give evidence from the book, discussions, or own life.

Ask clarifying questions to know more   (Do you mean that…? Why do you think that? Where does it say that? Did you get that from a random website? Tell me more about…)

Zweirs, J. (2014). Academic language literacy: tools & resources. Retrieved from and–resources.html