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).

Friday, February 28, 2014

Seven Things to Appreciate About Teachers

A great article about the wonderful things you do!

Teaching isn’t just something you do, it’s a way of being that 

encompasses a whole bundle of knowledge and skills 

developed over time. Designing, assessing, planning, 

practicing, experimenting, integrating, reflecting, leading, 

managing, supporting, growing… the list goes on!

For more, click here.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rubric for Effective Group Work

Monday, we talked about students' self-assessments of their group work.  You may also want to use a rubric to teach them about effective group work, as well as help you to assess their work.  Here's a great one (in PDF and you have permission to copy it) on my website--just scroll down to find the file.  And remember, group work is the topic of this month's e-newsletter.  If you haven't signed up, you can do so using the link to the right!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Self-Assessment of Group Work

Do you use group activities for your students?  How effectively do they self-asses their work?  Here's a simple set of SELF questions you can use to help. 
S-Did I help solve the problem or complete the assignment?
E-Did I engage with other members in a positive way?
L-What did I learn from working with others?
F-Did I follow through on my role, as well as helping others?

This is one of over 200 tools in my newest book, Rigor in Your Classroom:  A Toolkit for Teachers, due out in April.  Keep watching for more information. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ten Ways to Appreciate a Teacher

Hopefully, someone appreciates you in one of these ways, but it's a great list for encouraging other teachers.  If you're a principal, perhaps this will spark some ideas for you!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Six Steps for Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Have you looked at Robert Marzano's Six Steps of Vocabulary Instruction (2004)?  They are a valuable tool to help you "step up" your teaching.

1.    Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
2.    Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
3.    Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.
4.    Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
5.    Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.

6.                 6. Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Did you know that effective vocabulary instruction pays off across all subject areas?  Here's an infographic of effective strategies for vocabulary instruction.  It includes strategies such as front loading vocabulary, using graphic organizers (if you haven't used the Frayer model, you're missing out) and using read-alouds to expose students to vocabulary.  The last one is a particular key, no matter what
subject you teach.  Choose a book, poem, story, or non-fiction, informational article that is at or above grade level and read it to students.
By exposing them to more difficult language,
you can make a difference.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Effective Group Work

My latest newsletter is out!  The topic--effective group work.  The format of the newsletter is a main column (which in this case includes a self-assessment for students), a "Tips for Teachers" and a "Principals' Corner".  It's a quick and easy read with practical ideas you can use tomorrow.  If you didn't receive it, sign up here; I resend it daily to those updated names.  Have a great day, and if you are in the snowy weather, stay safe!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leadership with a Focused Vision

I've been working with the LIFT Project at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools lately.  I had the privilege of joining them for their retreat Sunday and yesterday.  It was amazing to listen to leaders plan for turnaround.  I was struck by their intense focus.  As one principal said, we need to look at our choices through the lens of: Does it make a difference?  Will it impact our student learning?  What a great set of questions to ask for our choices.  Too often, we are running so fast, we don't slow down enough to ask those questions, and that's when we lose our focus.  What choice are you making today?  Does it make a difference?  Will it impact your student learning?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why One Family Appreciates Teachers

I ran across this a couple of weeks ago and thought it was great. It's a letter to teachers and staff at a school from one family. It begins:

I dropped this letter off with a plate of cookies in the staff lounge today at my kids' school. Admittedly, it's the very least I could do to show my appreciation, but I really hope that educators everywhere realize that even if they don't hear it every day, or every week, they are deeply, deeply appreciated by the parents whose children they educate.

To read the remainder of the letter, click here.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rigor and the Common Core

Here's a brief article I wrote for the wonderful folks over at teachers.net--Rigor and the Common Core State Standards:  Just the Beginning.  

Rigor is one of the most discussed topics in education today, especially given the emphasis through the Common Core State Standards.  However, many teachers assume that because the Common Core Standards are rigorous there is no need to consider any additional aspects of rigor.  Yes, the standards are rigorous, but unless we implement them with rigorous instructional strategies, we will not achieve a rigorous classroom.  

For the rest of the article, click here.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Grit and Rigor

Did you read this article about grit and resilience from Middleweb?  Middleweb is a great resource--for more than middle school teachers.  This article is a thorough description of the topics, including a piece on rigor, as well as some of the concerns about grit for students from poverty.  

Whether you call it grit, resilience or perseverance, it’s a behavior that will serve students well in the Common Core classroom and beyond. What may divide participants in the “gritty resolve” debate is just how educators should help students go about developing it. This new MiddleWeb Resource Roundup looks at the growth of grit awareness and at current evaluations of what is most likely to increase kids’ determination to learn the hard stuff.

For more, click here.