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).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Using Writing Activities to Bond with Your Students

My newest article in Middleweb is up:

One of the most important factors in student achievement is a positive connection with the teacher. You probably already know how important it is to build that relationship early in the school year. An easy way to bond with kids is through writing. Let’s take a look at two specific activities that help you get to know your new students.
For the rest, click here!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tips to Increase Rigor in Your Classroom

Here's Five Quick (2 minutes) Tips to Incorporating RIGOR in your classroom:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Creating an Inviting Classroom

My newest E-Newsletter is out!  It's on how to create an inviting classroom climate.  Click here to sign up and I'll send it to you!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teachers Make A Difference

Imagine an instance when you were 100% excited about making a difference for kids, the moment you were most enthusiastic about being a teacher. It might be right now, or it may have been a while since you felt that way. Remember the time you totally believed you would change your students’ lives? Take a sheet of paper and cut out a heart (yes, red paper would be nice). That was your heart for teaching at that moment. And now, I want you to think about what has happened since then:
    !You read the fiftieth news story about how overpaid teachers are. (Go ahead, rip off a piece of the heart and throw it on the floor. That’s how it felt, right?)
    !You poured your heart and soul into the student everyone said was a lost cause, only to have the parents come to school and berate you for not doing enough. (Rip off another piece.)
    !A teacher told you it was nice that you had all these ideas about helping kids but that it’s really all about the test scores. (Rrrrrrrrip!)
    !Extra duties and paperwork seem to fill all the extra times. (Rip!)
    !You were told that you can’t take the kids on a field trip because it wasn’t “instructional.” (Rip.)
           How much of your heart is left? You may feel like you need a heart transplant. I had periods of time when I felt disheartened, particularly at the end of my first year of teaching. I also had days when I started the morning full of energy and passion and excitement, but by 10 a.m. the problems dragged me down. There were days when it seemed like it didn’t really matter if I tried, put forth extra effort, did a really great activity instead of a worksheet, or tried for the hundredth time to reach that student. I tried to make a difference, but Roger still got in a fight. I did everything possible, but Brittany still didn’t bring her homework. I communicated with parents, but they still said it was my fault that their child wasn’t learning. You probably also have days when you ask, “Is it worth the effort? Am I making a difference?” Let me assure you, you do make a difference. However, one of the most difficult aspects of being a teacher is that we sometimes don’t see the results of our efforts. It’s like planting an apple tree in your backyard, and discovering you are moving away at the end of the year. Full growth won’t be evident until after you are gone. You dug the hole, planted the tree, watered it, added fertilizer and some TLC, but because it takes 3 to 5 years for an apple tree to grow to full height, someone else will enjoy the apples. Teaching is exactly like that. You invest lots of time, energy, and passion today, but you have to trust that the fruits of your labor will flourish some- time in the future. You do the work and you trust there is a benefit in the future. It’s important that every single day, you keep the faith. Your kids watch you; they read your moods; and they notice what you wear, what you say, and even sometimes what you think! And every single day, every single moment, remember, “On your worst day, you are still someone’s best hope.” You are still their teacher. You—and you alone—are the key to someone learning today.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Starting the New Year with a Vision

Welcome back to school--although that's belated for some of you!  This is the time of year I start blogging regularly, but we'll do a bit of a change this year.  I'll be blogging on Mondays and Thursdays, partly because I'll be writing regular columns for Middleweb and Teachers.net.  I'll be sure to link to those, so you can see them.  Also, I am writing my regular newsletter which comes out 8 times a year, and I'll always post when it comes out.  If you aren't a subscriber, click the button on the right to sign up.  Now, to kick off your year, I'd like to share a story (5 minutes) from my teaching--how did I deal with standardized testing and having a vision for my students?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great Resource for STEM

Have you seen STEM magazine?  It's a wonderful resource and worth checking out!
Their mission?

Every teacher is a S.T.E.M. teacher.
"Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics....the foundation of industry and commerce in America.

S.T.E.M. Magazine is not a curriculum, but rather a resource of awareness that exists to provide clarity on the subject of how we already incorporate S.T.E.M. into every class, how to encourage the creative process and cultivate curiosity in both the teacher and student. In addition, S.T.E.M. Magazine strives to encourage educators about the urgent need for this inclusion in light of their responsibility to equip students fully for their careers.

Preparation for those careers begins this year in schools across the country. The responsibility and privilege for inspiring our children in that direction rests squarely on the shoulders of our educators.

Teaching is an incredibly challenging responsibility, therefore equipping and supporting our teachers in a variety of aspects is critical to teacher retention, motivation and attitude that directly effect student learning, inspiration and preparation for the careers ahead.

The future of American economics rests on the success of our S.T.E.M. education efforts in schools across the nation. The foundations laid in elementary and middle school are critical to interest levels, proficiency and test scores of high school students preparing to enter the work force.
Wayne Carley