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).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teaching Students to Listen

Have you seen the SLANT model?  It's a series of tips to help students learn to listen.  

Sit up
Lean forward
Act attentive using varied facial expressions
Nod when the person pauses, and
Track the speaker maintaining intermittent eye contact.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Adapting the K-W-L

Probably the most common method of identifying students’ prior knowledge that I see in classrooms today is a KWL chart. During a KWL activity, you ask the students what they already know about a topic (K) or what they think they know about it. Next, you ask what they want to know (W). Then, you teach the lesson and ask them what they learned (L).  You can also add an H—How Can We Learn This to create a K-W-H-L organizer.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Motivating Students

Remember the formula for motivating students:  
Value plus Success equals Motivation

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Moving to a New Position? Bring Your Own Shoes!

New Position? Bring Your Own Shoes

Summer is just around the corner, and in our profession, summer is the time when changes in position happen. As an administrator, you may be accepting a promotion. You may be making a lateral move to your ideal location. You will certainly be hiring others.

In many cases, the shoes being filled will be large ones. How will you approach your new position if the shoes being vacated are large? How will you coach the teacher you hire who is replacing a “legend”?

I am reminded of how a particular pastor handled this sort of situation. He is someone I had known some 15 years ago when he was first starting his ministry. Over the years, his career blossomed, and he found himself appointed to lead the largest church of that denomination in the United States. His parishioners included George and Barbara Bush. Furthermore, he was following a very popular predecessor. How would he fill such gigantic shoes?

This church's website included links to past sermons, and so I listened with great interest to the first sermon the new pastor delivered to his new congregation. What would he say? How would he begin to follow someone as respected and beloved as his predecessor? How would he, an outsider, begin to lead this large congregation? That sermon would answer my questions.

Bringing Your Own Shoes
The sermon began with the new minister acknowledging the congregation’s attachment to the former pastor. He went on to point out the importance of that person's ministry in his own life. Then, he began to relay advice offered in a phone call, a call from an older and very wise minister.

“Let me give you the most helpful advice I received... Someone said to me, ‘Don’t worry about trying to fill anyone’s shoes, because you need to bring your own.’" The new minister followed by asking his congregation, "If I can, let me ask you to let me bring my own."

Seven years have passed since that first sermon. In short, the church has flourished under the leadership which began that day.

This summer sees new leadership in schools, school systems, bands, athletic teams, and classrooms all across our country. Many of us have been in those positions. We were perhaps uneasy about how we would handle the transition and how well those we lead would accept us. Others who are in the process of making transitions will come to us for advice. The transition is made more difficult when the shoes to fill are big ones. The advice
 given to this minister may be good advice for us as well.

About to fill some big shoes? Don't try. Instead, bring your

A special thank you to Dr. Frank Buck for this guest post.  He regularly blogs about getting organized.  He is also the author of Get Organized!  Time Management for School Leaders and Organization Made Easy!  Tools for Today's Teachers

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make It the Summer to Remember

Make It the Summer to Remember

The final bell will soon sound. You will say the goodbyes to your students and your colleagues. The hallways will be empty. Summer will be here!

Your routine will change. Yes, you will still be busy. But what will you be busy about? For most teachers, summer provides the largest block of discretionary time you will have all year.

Those three months will go by like a flash, and the bell will sound again. You may be one of those teachers whose opening writing assignment for the students is the one entitled, “What I did during my summer vacation.”

What about you? If you were writing that essay a few months from now, what would it say? Will you acquire a new skill? Will you replace a bad habit with a better one?
Think back on your summers as a child. Which ones were the memorable ones for you?
…The summer you learned to swim?
…The summer you learned to ski?
…The summer you learned a musical instrument?
…The summer you took that great trip?
You have the opportunity to make this summer one of the memorable ones, but only if you plan it. Otherwise, the days quickly fill with the trivial. August will be here, and you will have little to show for it.

Make It Count
Are you ready to build some more memories? Are you ready to make your summer count?

Take out a blank sheet of paper and writing your own, “What I did during my summer vacation” letter. Write it as if August is already here. Having your story on paper is the beginning.

Now make it happen! Brainstorm the steps that will get you from where you are to where you want to be. Trap those steps with pencil and paper as you go. Make them as specific and clear as possible. Put the steps in whatever paper or digital planner drives your day, so that making progress on your goal is integrated into all else you do.

Hang on to your letter. Re-read it weekly throughout the summer. With the letter as your compass and your paper or digital planner as your roadmap, you can make it happen.

This could be the summer to remember. It’s up to you. What are you waiting for?

A special thank you to Dr. Frank Buck for this guest post.  He regularly blogs about getting organized.  He is also the author of Get Organized!  Time Management for School Leaders and Organization Made Easy!  Tools for Today's Teachers.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Checking for Understanding

It’s important to determine what a student actually understands about a concept prior to instruction.  Pat Vining, a math teacher, uses a simple activity to check her students’ prior knowledge of the concept and to clear up any misunderstandings students may have about the topic. First, she gives students three minutes to answer a short true/false questionnaire. Next, in pairs, students compare responses and use the textbook to check their answers. Each set of partners must rewrite any false statements so that they are true. She ends with a whole-class discussion to ensure understanding.