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).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving for our Students?

As you think about Thanksgiving this week, take a moment to reflect.  What are you thankful for about your teaching?  Are you thankful that a new idea you tried worked for some of your students?  Are you thankful that you took a few extra minutes to help a particular student?  Next, what makes you thankful about your students?  Try to think of one thing you are thankful for with each one of them.  Hard?  Maybe.  But worth it?  Absolutely!  Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

High Expectations

How high are your expectations for your students?

Monday, November 17, 2014

21 Ideas to Improve Student Motivation

I'm working on my latest book, Motivating Struggling Learners: Ten Ways to Build Success.  As I'm completing my research, I'm running by some great resources.  Here's one:

21 Simple Ideas To Improve Student Motivation
The best lessons, books, and materials in the world won’t get students excited about learning and willing to work hard if they’re not motivated. Motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is a key factor in the success of students at all stages of their education, and teachers can play a pivotal role in providing and encouraging that motivation in their students. Of course that’s much easier said than done, as all students are motivated differently and it takes time and a lot of effort to learn to get a classroom full of kids enthusiastic about learning, working hard, and pushing themselves to excel.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Diversity: Tolerance or Celebration?

Have you read my November article over at teachers.net?  I talk about diversity, and compare it to my grandmother's quilt.  

In education, we spend a lot of time labeling our students, don’t we? We use gender, ethnicity, test scores, and family income level, just to name a few categories. But rather than using this knowledge to build up students, too often we use it to tear them down. Although we live in a world that is more diverse than ever, many times, we don’t deal with it well.

For the rest, click here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Effective Vocabulary Strategies

My November/December newsletter is out today and our topic is effective vocabulary strategies.  If you're not receiving it, just sign up here or with the link on the right.  It's a quick, five minute read with teaching strategies, resources, and a section for principals and school leaders.  I'll be resending it again every couple of days to make sure everyone gets it.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

High Expectations for All Students

One of my challenges as a teacher was having high expectations for each and every student.  I started the year off with them, but it was a struggle to keep it up.  For example, when Jared continually missed his homework, and couldn't answer questions correctly, I began to ask him easier questions.  My expectations slipped--I thought he couldn't answer the "harder" questions, and rather than scaffold him through to the answer, I just gave him something easier to do.  I realized I thought I was helping him succeed, but in reality I wasn't holding him to high expectations.  Now, I wonder how often I underestimated my students.

I ran across this blog post, and found it to be a thoughtful examination of the issue of high expectations.  Clearly, the issue is personal to the teacher, and he honestly reflects on the challenge of his expectations for his students.  It is worth a three minute read.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

PAIRing with Parents Can Improve Student Learning

Here's my latest article over at MiddleWeb--and the ideas apply K-12!  

Would you like to improve your relationship with parents and families? Teachers benefit when learning is reinforced and supported from home. Let’s discuss how to PAIR with parents to improve student learning. (I’ll be using the word parents, but consider it all inclusive with families.)

Click here for the rest of the article.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Video: Increasing Complexity in the Classroom

Muriel Ortiz, a teacher in Mesquite, Texas, shared this video with me.  Her school is doing a book study on Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word.  Her group was responsible for teaching the chapter on Increasing Complexity, and they created this short (1 1/2 minute) video to introduce the chapter.  I
was very honored when she shared it with me.  Enjoy!