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From Ian Byrd’s Website:  www.byrdseed.com/tickling-curosity/ 

Ian Byrd’s website has some interesting articles on questioning. In the article link above, he uses the students’ curiosity to teach them how to create questions. This technique could be taught as early as third grade and would work well in middle and high school.

Ian Bryd states, “School is often, quite strangely, not a place where students feel comfortable being curious. But you can change that with a determined and consistent effort…by intentionally promoting curiosity as a classroom habit.”

In his first step he uses a binder titled ‘The Book of Unanswered Questions’.  He wants his students to be actively curious, make them aware that they don’t know everything, and understand that some answers are findable and some are not. Ian goes on to explain that if you just say, “Write your questions in this book,” it’s dead in the water. Like anything complex, we’ve got to scaffold it through modeling and structured participation.

Scaffolding is his next step. He starts by demonstrating curiosity by bringing in an image, video, song, or object that is interesting, yet creates authentic questions.

He uses questions like; How long….., What else……, I wonder….., Why do you think…..  Next he gives students a chance to ask questions and then directs them to the ‘Book of Unanswered Questions’. The book is about questions that he wants them to find out on their own and share the next day in class. At the beginning of this process he expects that one student will come the next day with the answer. Ian suggests that the teacher spends a few minutes on this daily.

Step three is connecting the ‘The Book of Unanswered Questions’ to your curriculum: social studies, science, literacy, and even math, etc. Eventually, everyday his students write an unanswered question and put it in the book.

His last step in using the ‘Book of Unanswered Questions’  is to help students to ponder which questions have answers and which ones need more pondering.

Check out Ian Bryd’s website!  www.byrdseed.com   His ideas on teaching students to ask interesting questions are engaging and impactful!

 

 

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From Ian Byrd’s Website:  www.byrdseed.com

http://www.byrdseed.com/to-differentiate-lower-floors-and-raise-ceilings/

Ian Byrd writes interesting articles on teaching children.  His website has numerous, helpful ideas on differentiating instruction. In the article link above, he clarifies that a low floor is an easy task and a high floor is a difficult task. Byrd compares it to Tic Tac Toe and Chess. He states, “We want tasks with low floors so many students can get started easily…The ceiling is the potential room for a task to grow…. One is easy to master and the other one you could play for a lifetime and still learn more.” Byrd goes on to say that a skilled teacher can lower a floor on any task. A teacher does this through modeling, guided practice, scaffolding, feedback, and proximity.

Ian Byrd believes that it should be the teacher’s goal to develop tasks that all students can get started with, but that also scale up for students who are ready for more: Differentiation! Start with your highest-ability students first, then figure out how to get everyone else started.

Assigning students more is not the best way to differentiate.  More math problems for an advanced student in Math is ‘busy work’! Byrd reminds us that it is really hard to raise the ceiling on a worksheet, but it’s easy to lower the floor on a research project!

Check out Ian Byrd’s website.  His ideas on differentiating instruction for students are extremely useful.

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Although the best way to adapt a lesson for your students who are less proficient at mastering material quickly is to respond to them as individuals, sometimes you may find that several students are experiencing difficulties. In the following list, you will find some ways to adapt lessons so that all of your students can be successful.

  • Vary the learning modalities in a lesson that will make it easier for all students to learn and use their preferred learning styles.
  • Provide more examples, models, and demonstrations.
  • Build on students’ prior knowledge.
  • Build students’ self-confidence by encouraging their efforts as well as their achievements.
  • Allow students to work with peers in mixed-ability groups.
  • Supply students with support materials such as word banks, graphic organizers,  technology practice, and outlines.
  • Give more time to complete an assignment.

Helping struggling students in a variety of ways will guide them on the road to success and make your classroom a fun and interesting learning environment for everyone.

Adapted from The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist: A Quick Reference for Classroom Success by Julia G. Thompson

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Why should teachers have students practice routines? If you have ever had the chance to observe kindergarten, especially at the beginning of the year, you may see a lot of repetition of directions. Kindergarten teachers know that their students need to  practice basic skills a lot: sitting in their seats, moving to the carpet, raising their hands to talk, sharpening pencils, lining up... you name it. Kindergarten teachers are pros at establishing routines.

Routines should be established and built in all levels of teaching. It is important for teachers to set these expectations and practice them with their students, even with older grades and students in secondary schools.

In this TED Talk, How To Use A Paper Towel, Joe Smith teaches adults how to help the environment by using paper towels more effectively. Watch the video and see what techniques he uses to help his audience remember the directions.

When we give directions, we should try to follow these basic ideas:

  1. Get the student's attention and make sure you have it!
  2. Give clear, positive directions with high expectations.
  3. Limit the number of directions and steps to the directions. 
  4. Vary the way directions are given (teacher modeled, student modeled, using phrases like, "When I say go...", students repeating directions). 
  5. Be consistent and follow through.
  6. Give students time to process.
  7. Repeat directions if needed.

If you find you are struggling to have students follow directions or they struggle to do routine tasks, try using some of these ideas to help your students remember the routines and procedures for your classroom. It is never to late to polish up routines and procedures to help students be successful!

 

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2010

Doug Lemov calls his strategies techniques. He believes that a technique is an action, the more you practice the better you get.  “My task has not been to invent the tools but to describe how others use them and what makes them work. This has meant putting the names on the techniques in the interest of helping to create a common vocabulary with which to analyze and discuss the classroom.”

Chapter 2 describes seven techniques. Three of them are; Begin with the End, Shortest Path, and draw the Map.

The technique, ‘Begin with the End’, or as we promote in JSD (JPAS indicator 25), “What will my students understand today?” (page 58), specifically tells students what they should know by the end of the lesson.

The Shortest Path is about taking the shortest path to your goal or in JSD one method is I/We/You. “Use what the data tell you works best, but when in doubt rely on proven direct, trustworthy methods…. criterion is the mastery of the objective and what gets you there best and fastest” (page 65).

Draw the map is about effective planning of student participation during a lesson. This includes the arrangement of student desks, interactions with students during the lesson and positive student participation. In JSD this technique on the JPAS is called Engagement. “It might be that a teacher wants students facing each other only for some lessons…interaction for only a part of a lesson…without structuring the classroom so that some students always have their backs to the teacher” (pages 67-68).

 

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Lemov – 2010

Teach Like a Champion

People, in general, sometimes think that managing students comes naturally to teachers. That opinion can change for the better or worse when parents volunteer in their child’s classroom. When teachers teach like a champion, they garner love and respect from their students and parents. As Jordan District mentors, we want to encourage all teachers to learn how to teach like a “champion.”

Our district motto is “Every Child, Every Day!”

Several times this year we will post ideas from the book, Teach Like a Champion, 2010 by Doug Lemov, that provides educators with ideas on how to improve their management skills.

The first chapter begins with teaching strategies (techniques) that set high academic expectations. The techniques in this chapter include No Opt Out, Right is Right, Stretch It, Format Matters, and Without Apology.

“No Opt Out” teaches students that their teacher cares enough to help them learn the right answer and that saying “I don’t know” doesn’t give them a pass to not learn what the answer is.

Doug Lemov reflects on advice he received from his mentor, “When you want them to follow your directions, stand still. If you’re walking around passing out papers, it looks like the directions are no more important than all of the other things you’re doing. Show that your directions matter. Stand still. They’ll respond.”  This is an example of “Format Matters”.

 

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Some thoughts about the first days of school:

  • 1st day of school will make or break a teacher
  • Effective teachers manage the classroom more than discipline the classroom
  •  Establish a well-managed classroom
    • Students deeply involved with their work
    • Students know expectations
    • Students are generally successful
    • Little wasted time, confusion, or disruptions
    • Climate of class is task-oriented but relaxed and pleasant
    • You as the teacher will be happier
  • Main problem in classroom is lack of procedures & routines
    • Explain, rehearse, reinforce
    • Effective teachers spend time rehearsing routines
  • Design a Successful Start
    • Have room ready--be at the door and smile
    • You have assigned seats—Project on screen
    • 1st assignment on the board—short, interesting, easy
    • Have students start work immediately
    • If student enters room inappropriately, have the student return to door and enter again appropriately
    • Learn students’ names
  • Plan Routines and Procedures
    • Have room ready
    • You are at the door
    • You have assigned seats—Project on screen
    • 1st assignment on the board—short, interesting, easy
    • Students start work immediately
    • If student enters room inappropriate, have student return to door and enter again appropriately
  • Classroom Management Plan
    • 3-5 measurable, specific, positive rules
    • Examples: a compliance rule, a preparation rule, a talking rule, a classroom behavior rule
    • Plan appropriate rewards; have a hierarchy of consequences
  • Be Professional 
  • Adhere to contract hours
  • Dress professionally
  • Computer belongs to school; do not use inappropriately
  • Start Student Learning on Day One
    • Make sure students understand this is a learning environment   
    • Go through routines, rules, and procedures
    • Go over “I Can” statement (objective) every day
  • Curriculum Map/Lesson Plan
  • Develop a yearlong curriculum map based on core standards
  • Develop lesson plans that navigate through the class and reflect on map                    
  • Take Care of Yourself
  • Take care of your heath; better to prevent than to treat
  • Know how to call for a substitute
  • Develop an emergency substitute plan and leave on desk every night
  • A happy teacher smiles more and makes better choices

 

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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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Executive functioning skills allow a student to control impulses and emotions, be flexible, plan and organize.  These skills are needed for learning and day-to-day behavior. The term" executive functioning" has become a buzz word in schools and psychology offices.  It begins to show up in students in the elementary and can affect them into adulthood. Executive functions are a diverse, but related and overlapping, set of skills.  Listed below are some abilities that are covered under the umbrella term of  executive functioning.

•  Inhibition

•  Shift

•  Emotional Control

•  Initiation

•  Working Memory

•  Planning /Organization

•  Organization of Materials

•  Self-Monitoring

Additional Resources and strategies:

http://specialed.jordandistrict.org/files/All-Exec-Function-TIA-B.pdf

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/prioritizing-a-critical-executive-function-judy-willis

http://www.ldonline.org/article/24880/

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One challenge of instructional coaching is to help teachers move from an academic understanding toward a practical and real-world implementation of best instructional practices. This challenge is complicated by at least two factors.

The first of these is context. In order to make feedback most meaningful to the teacher, it should be given within the context of his or her own classroom. Doing so increases the immediacy and relevance of the feedback as well as the likelihood that the feedback will lead to improvement of practice.  Perhaps the best way to give contextualized feedback about classroom instruction is through virtual coaching.  This is done by video recording a classroom activity and having a coach provide feedback through written comments.  If the comments are time-stamped, the level of specificity of the feedback increases.

The second factor is time.  The goal should be to decrease the time intervening between when the practice occurs and the feedback is given.  It would be best if coaching could occur in real-time.  This is similar to what a coach of a basketball team might do.  It is not uncommon for a coach to give instructions from the sideline.  In a similar way, an instructional coach can give instructions to the teacher in real-time from the sideline.  Of course, the obstacle to doing this is to not create a distraction to learning.

In the video produced by The Teaching Channel, they discuss ways to make these ideas take shape in the classroom.  With the potential benefits of improved classroom instruction, it might be worthwhile for instructional coaches to give these strategies a try.

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