Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Student Motivation

Have you seen Larry Ferlazzo's blog post?  It's part three of a series, and the bottom portion is my perspective on student motivation.  Take a look!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Costa's House of Questioning

Costa and Kallick (2008), authors of Learning and Leading With Habits of Mind, provide a different model for questioning. It is a three-level, user-friendly, practical story house to describe the levels of questioning. I’ve observed this model used in several AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination, www.avid .org) classrooms, and it is effective for both students and teachers.

Costa’s House of Questions

Level one (lowest)—gather information

Complete, identify, recite, define, list, select, describe, observe.
Level Two (middle)—process information

Compare, contrast, classify, sort, distinguish, explain, infer, analyze.

Level three (highest)—apply information

Evaluate, generalize, imagine, judge, predict, speculate, if/then, hypothesize, forecast.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I Believe About the Power of Teachers

I believe in the power of teachers. But I have found that some teachers fall into the trap of looking for the latest “magic pill” to deal with the ever-increasing challenges we face in teaching today’s students. The pressure to find an immediate solution to prove that our students are learn- ing—according to a test score—outweighs our focus on long-term growth.

My experiences have taught me an important lesson. Teachers are always the key to
effective instruction. It’s not the textbook or the latest program on the market. In classrooms in which all students learn—regardless of gender, ethnicity, poverty level, or background—teachers do two things. First, they care about their students. The old saying is true. Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

But caring alone isn’t enough. You also must connect with your students in ways that will help them learn. The best teachers use a set of core instructional strategies to positively influence the learning of their students. They don’t jump from bandwagon to bandwagon; they do the things that work. Today, think about your instruction.  And remember, you are the one who makes a difference.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Five Keys to Teaching

Five things I've learned about teaching:

1.  Students don't care about learning unless you care about them.
2.  What you teach is important; how you teach it is more so.
3.  Students are motivated, just not necessarily about what you want them to be motivated about.
4.  It is possible to help students build intrinsic motivation, including effort.
5.  You make a difference; whether it's positive or negative is up to you.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Variety in the Classroom

My newest email newsletter on Variety in the Classroom comes out today.  Sign up with the link on the right!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Videos for Students

While I'm recommending resources, check out WatchKnowLearn, a site of videos for K-12 students.  There are videos for all grade levels and subject areas, including ones linked to the Common Core.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Great Resource for Principals

Have you visited Connected Principals?  It's full of resources on every topic related to schools and leadership.

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Inspiring Quote

"You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." - Anonymous

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Diamante Poems

A great way to help students engage with learning is diamante poems. And although it may seem to be a language arts activity, it can be used across the curriculum to describe concepts or vocabulary words.     ReadWriteThink (a fabulous resource for literacy) provides an interactive tool along with an explanation:

Because diamante poems follow a specific format that uses nouns on the first and last lines, adjectives on the second and fourth lines, and gerunds in the third and fifth lines, this tool has numerous word-study applications. The tool provides definitions of the different parts of speech students use in composing the poems, reinforcing the connection between word study and writing. It also includes prompts to write and revise poems, thus reinforcing elements of the writing process. Students can save their draft diamante poems to revise later, and save and print their finished diamante poems.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Pitfalls of Grading

Here's a great article over at the Huffington Post about the pitfalls of grading.  The point about how grades undermine intrinsic motivation is especially pertinent.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Teachers Make a Difference

 "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child." -- Forest Witcraft