If you know me well, you know that my passion is helping students to take responsibility for their own learning. This starts with students setting daily learning goals and monitoring their own progress.
A Title 1 school in New Jersey recently asked me to share ideas with parents of second grade children who are receiving reading interventions. As this was my first Zoom with parents and their children, I didn't know what to expect. Would parents show up? Would they turn on cameras? Would they participate? Well, I'm happy to report the answers were "Yes, Yes, and Yes!!!"
When I began my teaching career in 1991, guided reading was a new practice that was being introduced in schools across the country. The focus of the guided reading groups was to help students develop metacognitive strategies they needed to process a text on their instructional reading level. In these groups, the teacher provided necessary scaffolds. It was up to the teacher to decide the type of scaffold the student might need. For example, a student might not have background knowledge related to the events or topic of the text. The teacher would then provide some background information to support comprehension.
Are we stressed out? Every time I turn on the news, a new wave of fear and anxiety wash over me. We were forced into a "new normal" in our lives and schools. Many of our children are going through a lot of stressful situations and this impacts on their learning.
This new normal demands that we pay special attention to getting rid of the "bad" stress and creating "good stress" in learning situations.
Games help our learners develop skill proficiency. A good game will challenge thinking and require the player to strategize. Here are a few of my favorite games for children learning phonics AND for older students who haven't developed their encoding and decoding proficiency.
Big Word Meltdown-The goal of this game is to make as many words as you can using only the letters in the big word. Choose a word that contains 9-15 letters. I like to choose science, social studies, or holiday words. Challenge your students to create small words using only the letters from the big word. The person or team who makes the most words wins.
According to Robert J. Marzano in Understanding Rigor in the Classroom, “knowledge that has been proceduralized can be turned into worked examples” (Marzano, Understanding Rigor in the Classroom).
A worked example, as explained by Hattie’s research with Visible Learning, is “a problem statement with step-by-step guidelines for finding the solution. Worked examples enable students to focus on discrete problem-solving tasks, rather than attempting to hold each of the steps in their working memory while solving a complex problem.” (Hattie, Metax). Marzano says, “the cognitive analysis process of comparing can enhance the rigor with which students execute procedural knowledge.” (Marzano, Understanding Rigor in the Classroom).
I was talking with four 2nd grade teachers last week who are very worried about how they are going to send their students to 3rd grade reading and writing "on level." Given that during first grade, the students went into lockdown for the entire fourth quarter of the year and then with the challenges of keeping kids safe this year, these teachers were feeling very defeated. They wanted to know what I thought is possible for their students with the forty days left in the year.
First, we accept what we can't control and then, with laser-like intention, we focus on strategies that have the best chance for impacting student literacy growth.
Here are 4 strategies for helping students accelerate literacy growth during the last weeks of school.
During Tier 2, the goal is to provide teaching and time for students to master grade level standards. Many times, students are missing necessary prerequisite knowledge and skills. We gather assessment data, plan how we will assess growth and mastery, and then provide multiple learning opportunities for students who need time to master the critical grade level learning goals. We follow up with a post assessment to determine the learning and effectiveness of the intervention.
The tech tool Padlet might be a great fit for silent discussions. Padlet is an online bulletin board that can be used in many different ways. It is free to sign up; however, you can only make three Padlets before you need to upgrade to a monthly or yearly subscription. Teachers can get a 30-day free trial before upgrading to the monthly or annual plan.I definitely think it's worth the monthly subscription. I use it to streamline communications with learners.
By Randi Anderson
Summer is a great time to connect with your kids through playing games. Games are a brain changer! Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken, gives us insight into why games are powerful. She says that games are an escape from reality and challenges motivate us.
As you create learning experiences for your students, here is a list of reading and writing resources to use for ELAR learning in the secondary classroom.
Written by Randi Anderson
I've always been a sucker for a good theme. Every March, there is always buzz around the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Educators can tap into that buzz and use it in the classroom to get students motivated.
Ideas for Using March Madness in Your Classroom:
Written by Randi Anderson
Throughout the past year I've spent extensive time talking, collaborating, and brainstorming ideas all focused on classroom discussions circles. The research around discussion circles is astounding for student growth. In fact, classroom discussion has an effect size of .82 which translates to a TWO YEAR gain in student achievement. See Hattie's Effect size chart for reference.
Written by Ashley Taplin
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a conference by Steve and Michelle Ventura focused on growing our teams through data, strategies, and teacher clarity. We dove into Visible Learning research, founded by John Hattie, which synthesized instructional influences and ranked their effect size on learning. Hattie found that .4 was the average effect size of a year’s growth and thus, the strategies that are identified as .4 or higher can have an even greater impact on student learning.
It’s Monday morning and many students have arrived at school feeling tired or even stressed after a weekend of busyness. Some students move slowly to prepare for the day, while others put their heads down, ready to go back to sleep. In the worst case scenario, some students may have experienced trauma-filled weekends and their brains are still in fight or flight. So do they feel like learning? Probably not. Do students have a choice about whether they feel like learning?
As an educator, one of our universal goals is to teach our students to have metacognitive strategies. Here are some ideas to get kids thinking about their thinking.
The art of conversation is a life skill that must be taught to students. This past month, I worked with intervention educators on reading and writing strategies for high school students.
I'm so excited to share a new book just out on using student teaming to increase the learning. In the book The Power of Student Teams, by Michael Toth and David Sousa, you will explore collaborative learning and crosswalk this strategy with SEL learning, 21st Century Skills, Habits of Mind, and more.
Looking for some easy ways to have students reflect on their first week of school? We have you covered!
Have you heard the song High Hopes by Panic at the Disco? This is 5 year old Whitten's favorite song right now. He begs for it to play on repeat. I am so glad he did, because after listening to it, it became my theme song to kick off the year! The message is ageless and the vocabulary is amazing. Students will be surprised when their teacher plays this song the first week of school!
At the end of each content block, students need an opportunity to reflect on their learning for the day.This is a great opportunity for students to validate their efforts and learning, while also giving teachers an opportunity to formatively assess who hit the target and who needs more practice time.
Graffiti walls are simple to do, but can illustrate complex thinking. I ran across an article entitled "20 Ways to Teach With Graffiti Walls" on Twitter. The ideas in the blog go so well with my goal of making learning visible! Using words and/or graphics, student can share thinking and see their classmates' perspectives. This could be in a station, a center, or to start or finish class.
Effective learning communities do not rely on just one person to do everything. When citizens work together in teams to accomplish goals and share the work load, everyone benefits!
In the first weeks of school, we establish the learning community culture. We want to establish student-centered classrooms starting on day one. Everyone will need a learning job that requires thinking. We've created six roles that incorporate listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Spring is a great time of year to have students dive into interesting topics and share their knowledge and expertise. Ask students to identify topics they know a lot about and have them write down any questions they might have about the topic. You can use these questions (and their answers!) to create shared "expert journals" in your classroom. In one second grade class, we brainstormed the topics using an alphaboxes chart and created expert journals from there.
How can we get all our students to share their thinking? When setting up for pair shares, students should always know ahead of time who their share partner will be. They should have a title or designation to help them know who will talk and who will listen. Each time students are going to pair share, direct specific students to start the conversation. For example, say "Partner A: explain why you think the character..." Give students a short amount of time to explain and then say something like "Partner B: Do you agree or disagree with A? Is there evidence in the text to support your thinking?"
One of my favorite classroom questions is asking students to spell love, and then eliciting "T- I- M- E." I love this idea that we express our love and caring for one another by spending time together. I think this is so true, even at school. Struggling students often don't feel connected while at school. Once a student thinks they aren't liked or don't belong, it becomes difficult for them to engage in productive group activities and accept feedback meant to move them forward.
What is Your Goal?
In 2019, I'm all about being intentional in my instruction. Since we never have enough time, my goal is to only spend time on what is most likely going to move readers, writers, and mathematicians forward. I am going to audit every minute of class time to make sure we don't spend time on things that aren't likely to make much difference. Unfortunately, basals and textbooks are full of this kind of fluff.
Using the success criteria, teachers can closely monitor learning and provide timely feedback about each students' progress or lack there of. The goal is to watch for students to demonstrate the success criteria. If they aren't able to demonstrate the daily learning target, then we must think about what is keeping them from doing so and take action quickly. Is there a gap or misconception that needs to be addressed in order to move students forward?
Tier one classroom instruction is always about learning grade level standards. But what about the kids that aren't quite there yet? How do we scaffold them up to achieve those standards? Here are a few ways to make accommodations that get kids where they need to be.
Read Across America Day is fast approaching! RAD is on March 2nd each year in celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday! This year, invite parents to join in the fun!
Language comes before literacy. Young learners need to listen, look, talk and question. Try our Questions and Answers activity during your morning circle time to get students producing language with increasing ease and accuracy.
Social media has become a necessity more than a luxury these days. We find out breaking news, friend’s life events, and tons of new information daily. From Facebook to Instagram, social media floods the world. So why not use this to the educator’s advantage?