“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”


Try to keep these points in mind:

testing tipsYou’re in charge of your performance

Don’t forget that of the many factors that affect success on standardized tests, the one you can control the most is your teaching performance — regardless of the attitude of your students, their support at home or the role of the school administration. Will good teaching be the sole decider in your students’ success? No, but it will play a major role.

Focus on what you can influence

When issues are swirling and people are choosing sides, the best thing to do is to focus on what you can control. For a teacher, that means honing the quality of your instruction in the classroom, understanding of the curriculum and designing lessons that help students the most.  Try not to spend time spinning in circles over something that’s either beyond your control or hasn’t yet been firmly established.

Set a constructive, professional tone

Regardless of your feelings on the quality or necessity of testing, remember to keep a professional tone when discussing the tests. Your primary responsibility is to ensure the learning of your students, so don’t get caught up criticizing a test that has yet to be administered. Be judicious in your comments about the testing. Never involve students into the middle of these debates.

Deconstruct the test

There is nothing wrong with spending time teaching your students the best way to take the test. Breaking the test down into smaller pieces, practicing the computer-based interface and highlighting the important parts of the test are all reasonable uses of your time. Focusing too greatly on the test, shutting down instruction in other areas due to the upcoming tests, or sending home worksheet after worksheet isn’t a good use of your time. It’s OK to analyze, just don’t obsess.

Recognize the benefits

One point that many supporters of standardized tests bring up during these discussions is that formal “sit-down” tests are a part of life — most professions require formal tests of some sort, and the testing will become more frequent as jobs become more highly skilled and demanding. Putting the standardized-testing discussion in that context supports the idea of taking the test.

While the test plays a larger role in both the child’s school evaluation and the teacher’s overall performance, it is not a major player in the overall school experience of the student.

“The test will come and the test will go. Let’s focus on students.”

 

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Why is critical thinking important in a growth mindset class culture?

Daniel Willingham (2008), professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Virginia, shared the three types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions, and problem solving.  Everyday we reason, problem solve, and make decisions, but they do not always require critical thought.

Critical thinking is a process that must be infused with the content; it is not something that you can just check off a list once it is mastered. We want to start thinking about critical thinking as a process of strategies that can be applied to a myriad of situations rather then a set of skills. Providing students with opportunities to develop their cognitive abilities through critical experiences impacts the child's view and contributes to a growth mindset.

Chapter 4 describes a project that was conducted to improve critical thinking experiences in schools with high poverty and low achievement.

The project involved six Title 1 schools, a total of 53 classrooms in 2nd and 3rd grade and their teachers.  Professional development highlighted places where critical thinking processes were already embedded in their curriculum (Common Core State Standards). Professional development for the first year of the project focused on ways that teachers could build students' reasoning abilities.   The teachers learned instructional strategies that included deductive, analogical and quantitative reasoning, as well as concept attainment and concept formation strategies.

As part of  the project,  they introduced engaging nonverbal reasoning games into the classroom.  The games increased the level of challenge as the children made their way up through each level. The addition of the games demonstrated to both teachers and students that critical thinking is possible at all ability levels.

5 Strategies for Critical Thinking

 

Critical thinking and a growth mindset culture go hand in hand. We can expect students to embrace challenge only if we make it available to them on a consistent basis.

Chapter 5 will discuss how students can learn from failure.

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Thank you to teachers who submitted an essay for the Why I Teach Contest.

Why I Teach
by Jamie Watkins

  • I teach because I want to strengthen the minds of our youth.
  • I teach because I want to help shape the children for their future.
  • I teach because I love the children.
  • I teach because love to see the learning.
  • I teach because that is my purpose

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Why I teach
by Nathan McCleery

  • I teach because I love learning.
  • Learning is what gets me charged up and helping others learn is the next best thing.
  • I love the moment when something new blows my mind or shifts my consciousness.
  • I try to create those moments for my students and to celebrate the learning they are doing.
  • I would be thrilled to give them that same love of learning in their life.
Why I Teach
by Natalie Nielsen..

I teach because I love seeing the creativity within students.I love watching them take a prompt and give it life, whether in movement or on paper.

I love watching students take ownership of a project and seeing how proud they are when they get to share that project with others.

And, I love that teaching keeps me young, since my students 'have my back' when it comes to music and style-ha ha 🙂

 why I teach
https://www.festisite.com

http://www.wordclouds.com

Why I Teach
by Emma Cisneros

I am a teacher because I know I have a great impact on who my students become. I know that some of my students have rough home lives where they don't get the love and support they need. They are in desperate need of someone who will love them, care about them, listen to them, push them, and yes-- even discipline them.

There are some days where I might be the only person that holds that student accountable, that talks to them about their behavior, that challenges them to become better. I can be that person for them- through my example, and through the discussions I have with them. I can help them see how important it is to be kind, to have ambition, to persevere, to be honest, and to pick themselves up and try again.
Full text

Why I Teach
by Jacquelynn Fabiszak

Last week was a good week. It boosted my mentality about teaching as I was handed letter after letter. Letters that students had written just for me.

They expressed how much they loved my class and how much they loved me as a teacher."This is it," I thought, "this is what I do it for." To be loved and adored? No, but to create a place where learning can happen because a student feels welcomed, respected, special and loved.

I love these students, they love me back and in return we learn things together. They inspire me, make me chuckle, show me kindness and most importantly remind me why it's all worth it!   Full text

 

Why I teach

Why I Teach

Why I Teach
by Rebecca Stone

Friends are the spice in life. They are there for you when you need them, and they are there for you when you don’t even know you need them. This is why I started to teach.

My friend told me about an open position that I 100% qualified for. She knew my background with kids and coaching, and knew it was the right fit. She also knew it was the right time in my life for a change.

Why do I still teach, 18 months after starting this? The students! I’m so blessed to teach a subject the students WANT to learn.

My goals are to have fun with them every day, to add a bright spot in their otherwise “normal” day. We have the flexibility with our vast curriculum to do this; we get to play with goniometers, theraband, and wrap up fake injuries.  Full text

 

Why I Teach
by Kristy Hernandez

  • So, why do I teach?  That’s easy... I teach because someone once taught me.
  • I teach because I have been chosen as one of the lucky ones to make a difference in the lives of children.I teach to help, encourage, and inspire other teachers.
  • I teach because it is fun and it makes me happy!
  • I teach because the long hours and sleepless nights are worth it when one student draws me a picture, writes me a note, gives me a hug, or brings me a souvenir from their vacation.

Full text

Why I teach

Why I Teach Why I Teach
by Jodi White

I teach for a variety of reasons,
Like watching the children learn through all the seasons!

I work with an amazing, caring, dedicated team,
Who never seem to run out of steam!

The hallways are filled with laughter and fun,
Especially when winter snow days are finally done!

The office staff fills many a role,
They always take time to mend any hole.

The parents and PTA give us a helping hand,
Without their support we couldn’t stand.

There are days when being a teacher can be hard,
But the benefits out weigh those days by far.

I teach because each day is different, challenging, and new,
I love watching the children love learning like I do!

Teaching children is a calling from above,
It has made my life meaningful- and filled with love!


 

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owl holding heart Teachers online share the joys of teaching. It is those small moments with students that give us JOY!

“I teach because if I make the difference in the life of one little boy or girl, I have made an impact on the world.”

“I teach because when I teach I learn…and I LOVE to LEARN.”

“Each day I not only live, but I love, laugh, and learn. This is why I teach.”

"As a teacher I can relate to the Love and Joy of teaching students!"

Contest Rules:

  • Write a paragraph about why you teach.
  • Share the Joy and Love of teaching students!
  • Include your name, school and grade level.
  • Email your entry to: patricia.bennett@jordandistrict.org
  • Contest ends March 1, 2017
  • Winners’ paragraphs will be posted with permission on the Mentor teacher website.
  • Prizes will be presented to the Winners
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The mindset of a teacher contributes greatly to his or her ability to see the needs of students.  It you view a child through a deficit lens, the  child will not be given opportunities to grow.   Deficit thinking is making assumptions about a child's ability based on perceived deficits such as race, income status, or English language acquisition.

What is your definition of  " Differentiation?".  Ask several of you colleagues and you will likely get five different responses.

Differentiation
the way a teacher responds to a student's needs so that each  student is challenged at the appropriate level

What instructional structures are in place to guarantee a responsive learning environment in your classroom?

Step 1: Preview and Pre-assess- find out what students know about a particular skill, or concept, or topic planning for instruction. Previewing provides an opportunity for students to activate background knowledge and previous learning prior to a pre-assessment so that results will be a better reflection of what they understand. This should take 5 minutes or less. Pre-assessment respects a student's time and prior knowledge. Front-ed differentiation allows for teachers to provide an opportunity for students to accelerate within the content topic at the beginning of the learning sequence.

Step 2: Curriculum Compacting- was originally developed by Joseph Renzulli and Linda Smith.  This  instructional strategy streamlines grade-level curriculum by eliminating content that students have previously learned.  Compacting buys time for students to go deeper and wider into the content and /or accelerate to above-grade level indicators. The pre-assessment plays a major role in determining students who would benefit from curriculum compacting.  Look for other behaviors in the classroom that may give you a clue that a student needs to be moved into a deeper understanding of the concepts.

  • show great interest or motivation in the area of study
  • finishes work early and accurately
  • expresses interest in in pursuing advanced topics
  • create their own diversions in class( filling their time with less productive behaviors)

Step 3: Flexible Grouping-maintaining flexible small groups across content areas is an essential component of a differentiated, growth mind set class culture.  Evidence of grouping should be found in an any content area and at any grade level.  It may not be an everyday occurrence at the secondary level, but it should be an important component of the class structure and used routinely.

Step 4: Management- having clear expectations are the single most important aspect of managing multiple groups in the classroom.  Carol Ann Tomlinson, author of How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms, suggests the use of anchor activities.  These anchors should enrich the learning of the content being studied.  They are similar to centers but are typically available for the duration of a unit of study, a quarter or semester.

Step 5 Acceleration and Enrichment- Every child deserves to learn every day. A growth mindset on the part of the teacher and the student is necessary.

Acceleration
moving faster through the content, allowing students who have already mastered content or who master content quickly to move into above-grade level content
                                                Enrichment
learning with greater depth and breadth;going deep and wide into the content

Whether acceleration/an or enrichment occur, it is important to look carefully at instructional experiences to make sure they are laden with opportunities to think critically.

Step 6 Formative Assessment-formative assessment, or checking for understanding, is  non-negotiable in a responsive, growth mindset classroom.  It is a reflective tool for a teacher to keep groups fluid and flexible. Formative assessment improves teaching and learning, and it allows growth for all students.

Step 7 Summative Assessment-the assessment must match the learning that has taken place for each group or, in some cases, an individual student. Grades should be based on mastery of the content that was tailored to the student.

Mindsets in the Classroom

Provide opportunities for students to be challenged from the beginning. Be responsive to their needs and the potential of all they can accomplish. With practice, effort, motivation, and yes a growth mindset, differentiated, responsive instruction  can become the heart of instruction. Responding to the needs of all learners is a responsibility that we all have as educators.

The next chapter in Mindsets in the Classroom, will look at why critical thinking is so important in a growth mindset class culture.

 

 

 

 

 

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I DO, WE DO, YOU DO, YALL DO

Many times as teachers we want to get to the student practice too quickly. We know the powerful influence a teacher can be on his or her students. Make a GREAT impact with the Gradual Release Model in your instruction this month.

  1. "I Do It" - teachers are deliberate in demonstrating exactly how to complete a task, skill or strategy
  2. "We Do It" - challenge and support the students, clarifying understanding, ask questions that take then to the next level
  3. "Ya'll Do It"-  one more step that deepens understanding- before you do it, have students pair, and practice with a partner
  4. "You Do It"- independent practice
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This week we will begin reviewing  Chapter 2 in Mindsets in the Classroom, by Marcy Cay Ricci.   The focus in this chapter is to give ideas and to set goals as a grade level team, an entire staff, or school system to find out how to build a growth mindset culture.

  • Step 1: Reflect and Pre-assess
    • Share your beliefs about intelligences. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
      • Our intelligence is one of our fundamental traits.
      • We can all learn new things, but we cannot really change how smart we are.
  • Step 2: Educate Staff About the Malleability of the Brain
    • Share research about  developed intelligence.
      • Do we, as a society, believe in or demonstrate a growth mindset? Why or why not?
      • In what areas, personal or professional, do you have a fixed mindset? Why?
  • Step 3: Educate Staff About Praise for Students
    • When adults praise for what a student "is", instead of what a student "does", then they attribute their accomplishment to a fixed trait they were born with.
  • Step 4 : Educate Teachers About the Brainbrain-muscle
    • Connections to prior knowledge and experiences
    • The more connections made during a learning experience, the more physical changes occur in the brain by developing and strengthening neural paths.
  • Step 5: Teach Students About the Brain
    • Students realize that intelligence is not about a fixed number, a grade on a paper, or a report card. Intelligence is something that grows as you use it and languishes if you don't.
  • Step 6: Educate Parents
    • Reflect on the way they speak to their kids.
      • Establish Look-Fors: Look for teacher and student growth mindset behaviors
      • Utilize PLC

The Final Step: Monitor, Evaluate, and Review School Protocols

Next month we will look at Chapter 3: Why is Differentiated Responsive Classroom Important to a Growth Mindset Culture?

 

 

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Depth of Knowledge, DOKs, are an important part of student achievement. They are especially useful in understanding content that is nationally tested: math, reading and science. They help both teachers and students to understand content at a deeper level. Most students’ depth of knowledge is at a level one. A DOK level 1 is surface level comprehension that is simply recall and reproduction.

teacher-student-thinking

Teachers can begin by asking Questions to differentiate, classify, make inferences, and check conceptual understanding. This will help students to explain relationships, sorts, and classifications.

Next teachers can provide examples and non-examples to build conceptual understanding. Students will be able to make comparisons, and distinguish example/non-example, relevant-irrelevant, and fact-opinion.

Teachers should use Graphic Organizers to show relationships or organizational schemes. This will help students to compile and organize information which creates a deeper understanding of knowledge.
Matching readers with texts is something that elementary teachers already do and that secondary teachers should think about. This strategy helps students to gradually increase their reading ability and helps them to navigate complex texts.

The “Think aloud” teacher strategy allows students to explore possible options and connections. It also explains the steps that are needed to complete a task.

Examples of Tasks

  • Math: Solving routine, multistep math word problems, interprets simple graphs and tables, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem
  • Reading: Creating a timeline, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem or answer a question
  • Science: Making observations, organizing data, using models, interprets simple graphs and tables, retrieves information and uses it to solve a problem or answer a question
  • Writing: Creating a caption, paragraph, summary, a survey and using models
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MINDSETS IN THE CLASSROOM

When students believe that dedication and hard work can change their performance in school, they grow to become resilient, successful students.  As educators of Jordan School District we want to make sure that we have a growth mindset and believe in “ Every Child, Every Day”.mindset-in-the-classroom

Each month we will post ideas from the book , Mindsets in the Classroom, 2013 by Marcy Cay Ricci, that provides educators with ideas for ways to build a growth mindset school culture, wherein students are challenged to change their thinking about their  abilities and potentials.

Chapter 1 begins by supporting the idea that intelligence is malleable.  Dr. Carol Dweck, in her 2006 book , Mindset, The Psychology of Success  describes a belief system that learners with a growth mindset believe that  they can learn just about anything. It might take more time and effort, but they will get it.  An educator with a growth mindset believes that with effort and hard work from the learner, all students can demonstrate significant growth and all students deserve opportunities for challenges.

Growth Mindset Fixed Mindset
A belief system that suggests that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning

A belief system that suggests a person has a predetermined amount of intelligence, skills or talents

 

Do you believe that intelligence is something you are born with? Do you believe that it cannot be changed?

 Dweck presents the idea that students in a fixed mindset is problematic at both ends of the continuum. For those students who struggle or do not perceive themselves as smart, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy.  Because they don’t really believe they can be successful and will often give up and not put forth the effort.  For those students who are advanced learners become consumed by “looking smart” at all costs. They may have coasted through school without really putting forth much effort, yet they are often praised for their  good grades and strong skills. Often students with a fixed mindset will start avoiding situations where they may fail;they can become” risk adverse” or blames outside forces when failure occurs.

Please check back next month and we will look at Chapter 2, "What are some ways to begin building a growth mindset culture"

 

 

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We all teach, lead and learn under different Mindframes. They envelop our personal lives as well as into our professional conversations. John Hattie and Peter Dewitt have written about the Mindframes our students need for learning. Those Mindframes are equally as important for teachers and school leaders as well.

Check out the video below to see more about these Mindframes.

Hattie's Mindframes (now there are 10)

  1. I am an evaluator
  2. I am a change agent
  3. I talk about learning and not about teaching
  4. I see assessment as feedback to me
  5. I engage in dialogue and not monologue
  6. I enjoy challenge
  7. I engage in positive relationships
  8. I use the language of learning
  9. I see learning as hard work
  10. I collaborate

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