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4041 N. Central Ave., Ste. 1200
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TXTS 4 Teachers

Filtering by Tag: txts4teachers

Updating parents through social media. #yesplease

Marlys WeaverStoesz

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

Marlys WeaverStoesz

“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

Marlys WeaverStoesz

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/

Remembering Howard Gardner...The Father of Multiple Intelligence Theory

Marlys WeaverStoesz

In 1997, Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work on Multiple Intelligence
Theory created a sensation in education circles.  Those of us who were teaching in the late
1990’s and early 2000’s will recall a flurry of activity designed to create
instruction that honored our students’ multiple intelligences.  Fast-forward 20 years, where we now either take Gardner’s work for
granted or have never even heard of him.  
  Today, we take you to a quick quiz to discover your personal
“multi-intelligences.”  Be sure to follow
the hyperlinks to an interview with Gardner about his take on how his theory is
applicable to current educational issues.   https://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

In 1997, Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work on Multiple Intelligence Theory created a sensation in education circles.  Those of us who were teaching in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s will recall a flurry of activity designed to create instruction that honored our students’ multiple intelligences.

Fast-forward 20 years, where we now either take Gardner’s work for granted or have never even heard of him.  

Today, we take you to a quick quiz to discover your personal “multi-intelligences.”  Be sure to follow the hyperlinks to an interview with Gardner about his take on how his theory is applicable to current educational issues.

https://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

iCivics: Civics Studies Your Students  Will Love!

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Unfortunately, civics studies has a reputation among certain circles of students as being BORING!  

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are sharing a website that aims to deliver Cupid’s arrow to naysayers’ hearts!  Developed by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics provides a plethora of high-interest, interactive resources with the intent of developing students into well-informed citizens.

https://www.icivics.org/games?_ga=1.56034027.1768385642.1487013829

We especially loved the interactive games.  They are better than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses, in our opinion!

Accomplishments

Marlys WeaverStoesz

We are now 31 days into 2017.   It is a perfect time to think about what we have accomplished along side our students in the past 31 days!

On that note, enjoy the following quote to put accomplishment into perspective:

“The word accomplished is a relative term. We’re accomplished when the students and teacher both learn something.  As teachers, we can never achieve perfection, only strive to do our best and enjoy the journey. An accomplished educator is someone who learns to eat their lunch in six minutes.”

- Melinda, Abitz, Fifth Grade Teacher, Topeka, Kansas from The Best Advice Ever for Teachers (McGuire, C. & Abitz, D., 2001).

Today's Goal: Find DazzlingDifferentiated Texts Easily

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Today’s Goal: Find Dazzling Differentiated Texts Easily!

We all know the value of utilizing high-interest, authentic texts that are differentiated by students’ Lexile levels. Unfortunately, time is a teacher’s worst enemy, and our best intentions often are sacrificed to competing interests.

Today’s resource is a ready-made resource for the time vs. differentiated authentic text conundrum.

https://www.commonlit.org/texts

The above link takes you to Common Lit’s home page.  In addition to its thoughtful thematic organization with paired texts, teachers can search by both grade level and Lexile ranges.  Moreover, Common Lit recently added a “Guided Reading Mode” feature; the introductory video is well worth a few minutes of viewing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igpf3O6JeoE

Users are asked to register, which carries the benefit of regular updates featuring new material.

Happy lit hunting!

Three Easy Steps To Be Even More Awesome

Marlys WeaverStoesz

1.       Create a playlist titled “Best Day Ever.” Consider including the following songs: One Shot by Robin Thicke, No Roots by Alice Martin, and Shine by Asta. Play it loudly on the way to work. (But not so loud that you drown out talk radio in the cars beside you in traffic. That’s un-awesome.)

2.       Reduce the number of “selfies” you take by 50 percent. Increase the number of “besties” (photos you take with your friends) by 100 percent!

3.       Make the following cookie recipe and share them in the lounge/breakroom with a note that says, “So grateful to work with people like you.” Don’t sign it. http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49242/oreo-chip-cookies-recipe/

Multi-Grades One-Stop Shopping Lesson Plans for MLK Day

Marlys WeaverStoesz

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day fast upon us, we figured teachers of all grade levels would appreciate the following ready-to-go lesson plans for multiple grade bands.

K-2nd Grade – “Dr. King’s Dream” - https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/dr-kings-dream#sect-questions

3rd-5th Grades – “Let Freedom Ring: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/let-freedom-ring-life-legacy-martin-luther-king-jr#sect-activities

6th-8th Grades – “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence”

https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/martin-luther-king-jr-and-power-nonviolence#sect-extending

You might want to bookmark this website, too, as it is an amazing resource for humanities-based lesson plans.

New Year, New View:  Goal Setting With Students

Marlys WeaverStoesz

As teachers, we are accustomed to two “happy new years:” the academic new year and the calendar one.

Although the calendar new year marks the mid-point of the academic year, it is still a golden opportunity to take stock of our progress and to either re-commit or establish new goals.  Why not have our students do the same?

The following link takes you to a blog post, “Tch Tips:  Four Ways to Practice Goal Setting With Students.”

https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/12/30/tch-tips-goal-setting/?utm_source=newsletter20161231/

The article is chock full of useful tips and handy hyperlinks to additional resources, including videos.  Don’t worry if you don’t have time to go down the resource rabbit hole right now.  We will feature a few of them in the next few weeks!

Happy New Year!

Learning Menu: Science

Marlys WeaverStoesz

In keeping with our menu theme, today’s video is called “Edible Cells:  Science is Yummy!” Although the video is not specifically an example of a learning menu for science, it is a great strategy for reinforcing plant cell parts.  We also provide some ideas of how to adapt the lesson to be centered or learning menu-based below.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/sixth-grade-biology-lesson

As you enjoy this video, you might consider:

·       How might using an “edible” product be used to reinforce other scientific concepts?

·       You might also consider adapting the lesson to become a learning menu in the following ways:  

o   Set-up the lesson as an inquiry, center-based lesson as opposed to direct instruction, as was featured in the video.

o   Provide a few “appetizer” activities related to previewing the nonfiction pieces at the beginning of the lesson.

o   Require students to choose and complete a “main course” activity, such as completing a graphic organizer detailing cell parts.

o   Provide students with different “dessert” options, with the “edible cells” being one choice. Or, the “edible cells” could be the only dessert option as sufficient reward for completing the rest of the work!

Furthermore, reading materials may be differentiated by reading levels and interests as well scaffolded graphic organizers.

Scrumptious science in action!   

Professional Collaboration on the Web

Marlys WeaverStoesz

“Whenever you have people who can focus on the same thing at the same time, then amazing things happen between people.  And that is what education is all about.”  - Jana Dean, Teacher.

Thus far in our professional collaboration series, we have primarily thought of the concept in terms of onsite collaboration.  But what if a teacher does not have a grade level or content area peer in his or her school?

The beauty of the Internet is we now have the potential to collaborate with professionals across the country.  The following link takes you to the “Tchers’ Voice” blog, which is rich in professional dialogue.  This post, in particular, discusses the Illustrative Mathematics program and the potential to virtually work with teachers all over the country.  For those of you who teach math, this is an incredible opportunity to view and provide feedback to lesson plans and to otherwise find collegial support in implementing the Mathematical Standards.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/10/21/illustrative-mathematics-collaborate/

You might want to take a look at the various links on this post as it contains an array of resources.   We will look at professional collaboration and the ELA standards later this week.

Learning Menu: Social Studies

Marlys WeaverStoesz

As promised, today we pivot from math learning menus to social studies with a healthy helping of English language arts integration.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/differentiating-instruction-strategy

Similar to the math learning menu introduction, today’s video features learning menu strategies organized around a three-course meal analogy.  In the featured 7th grade social studies class, the teacher offers the following “courses:”

Appetizers – A choice of activities requiring students to demonstrate comprehension of key details.

Entrées – A choice of activities wherein students demonstrate an ability to trace the development of central ideas and draw deeper inferences from the text.

Dessert – A choice of activities to challenge students to analyze and synthesize information from the text.

In addition to the video, you will notice a link to a Word document of the learning menu options showcased in the video.  The link is directly below the reflection questions to the right of the video player.

Thursday’s content du jour is science strategies!  We hope you find today’s dish delectable!

Learning Menu: Math, Using Technology

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Our daily special is using technology as a math menu selection!

When used effectively, technology provides an ideal platform for math menu activities.  Although not explicitly showcasing “math menu” choices, today’s video certainly answers Marilyn Burns’ “The Big Three” questions, most especially how to keep students meaningfully engaged while working with students who need intensive teacher instruction.

Mr. Pronovost, the teacher in today’s video, models and explains how using two math games allows him to provide differentiated opportunities for students who finish individual practice early while he works with small groups who need additional scaffolding.

As a bonus, he also describes how he was able to secure both hardware and software in order to provide a well-rounded math program.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/differentiating-in-math

Today concludes our look at math menu strategies; we will turn our attention to language arts, social studies, and science learning menu strategies next week.   

Learning Menu: Math

Marlys WeaverStoesz

In her article, “Using Math Menus,” Burns shares the underlying benefits and specific math menu items to strategically tackle “The Big Three” burning teacher questions (Burns, 2016, p. 40).

What do I do with students who finish their math assignments more quickly?

How can I free up time to work with students who need extra help?

How can I differentiate experiences to support struggling learners while also meeting the needs of students who require additional challenges

Here is one such menu item, entitled “The Game of Pathways.” We have summarized the strategy below, but we invite you to visit Marilyn Burns’ blog for in-depth directions at http://marilynburnsmathblog.com/wordpress/the-game-of-pathways/

Create 4X5 game board grids.

Complete the grid with “numbers that are products of two of the factors below the grid.”

Students play in pairs on the same board.

The goal is for each student to “X off” connected “pathways” of squares from one side of the grid to the other.

Player One chooses two factors and puts an “X” in the square with the product of the two factors.

Player Two changes one of the factors previously used and then puts an “X” on the product of the new two factors.

Players continue to change a factor from their opponent’s previous move.

The first player to finish a pathway wins the game.

Burns, M. (October 2016). Using math menus: giving students a menu of activities to choose from helps differentiate instruction and engage all learners. Educational Leadership, 74 (2), 40.

The Big Three: 3 questions all teachers ask

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Welcome to December!  We have a delicious month of TXT4 Teachers planned: Magnificent Learning Menus!

In her article, “Using Math Menus,” Marilyn Burns identifies three questions most frequently asked by teachers:

What do I do with students who finish their math assignments more quickly?

How can I free up time to work with students who need extra help?

How can I differentiate experiences to support struggling learners while also meeting the needs of students who require additional challenges?

Burns calls these questions “The Big Three.”  (Burns, 2016, p. 40). Of course, replace “math” from question 1 with “reading,” “writing,” “science,” “art,” or the other content areas, and the question remains the same.  

In an effort to address “the Big Three,” we will provide one content specific “menu” strategy throughout the month.  We begin with math menu items, and we will share ELA, science, and social studies strategies as the month progresses.

To give you a “taste” of what is to come, take a look at this short video introducing the Math Menus.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/independence-in-learning

Bon appetit!

Burns, M. (October 2016). Using math menus: giving students a menu of activities to choose from helps differentiate instruction and engage all learners. Educational Leadership, 74 (2), 40.

No such thing as a "flop"

Marlys WeaverStoesz

We have all been there.  You have spent hours pouring over your standards, sifting through ideas on Pinterest, to get 15 minutes into a lesson and realize your students aren’t, shall we say, impressed.  Crickets are chirping.  Or, utter confusion ensues. What do you do?

Even the most seasoned veterans experience a “flop” every now and then.  Today, we provide three tips to turn the flop into an opportunity.

Acknowledge it.  Tell students you see they are confused or not engaged, and you are going to change gears a bit.

Determine what’s up.  Using the think-pair-share strategy or quick write, ask students to articulate what they are finding confusing or difficult.

Some quick open-ended questions are:

Tell me in your own words what you understand about                                _____________.

What are you finding confusing?

What do you think you need to help you understand?

3. Switch it up.   Instead of whole group, teacher-centered instruction that relies heavily on language, have students act out directions or allow           them to perform a non-verbal representation of the concept, such as a         drawing or play-dough sculpture.

Finally, and most importantly, use the feedback gained from students to reflect on what was the cause of the “flop,” how you put on your Super Teacher cape to save the day, and what you can do to prevent future flops.  Then take a deep breath, and know you’re not alone.

Words to Inspire

Marlys WeaverStoesz

Since this week is short, and sometimes inspiring or reflective words are their own special category of professional development, we are sharing an excerpt of an E.E. Cummings’ poem.

This poem reflects the one quality all teachers share: we are first learners, then teachers; knowing this truth, the act of teaching deepens our learning.   Cummings’ poetry is particularly wonderful with its intentionally opaque images, leaving the reader a chance to contemplate its meaning on multiple levels.*

We hope this poem provides a few moments of such contemplation, and we wish you a week full of gratitude and bounty.

You Shall Above All Things

you shall above all things be glad and young.

For if you’re young, whatever life you wear

it will become you; and if you are glad

whatever’s living will yourself become.

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing

than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

                                                                       - E.E. Cummings

*For those of you not familiar with Cummings, he took great liberty with punctuation, capitalization and syntax.  We have maintained his usage in this excerpt but have used standard usage for the poem’s title and the author’s name.

Professional Collaboration: Reaping the Benefits

Marlys WeaverStoesz

“Teachers have a million things to do every day, and if we did not share the work, we would have three times as much work than we have right now.”

Every classroom teacher, whether new to the profession or a 30-year veteran, will identify with these words, spoken by Barbara McCoy, a featured teacher in today’s chapter of our professional collaboration series.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/power-of-teacher-collaboration

This short video highlights how two veteran science teachers successfully collaborate.  Although their school provides a common prep period in order to facilitate their work, many teachers have found time to work together outside of the school day in order to reap the benefits of collaboration.

In addition to working together, both teachers speak to the reciprocal benefit of hosting a student teacher.  As you watch the video, consider:

How does collaboration with a colleague, whether formally or informally, ultimately “lighten the load” of teaching?

How does mentoring a novice teacher enhance the practice of a veteran teacher?

How can engaging in intentional conversations about one’s teaching serve as a means of reflection and, ultimately, improved professional practice?