Although Black History Month provides a great opportunity for students to explore black history, it's important that teachers "reinforce that 'black history' is American history," writes Pat Russo in Dos and Don'ts of Teaching Black History Month. Keeping that in mind, in February, teachers can dig deeper into the history, provide students context, and connect the past to the present.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and he has spent a lot of time thinking about how to inspire both. He has some ideas about how we can inspire our students by helping them find their hidden strengths and passions.
For schools, what is our pearl of great price? Last week, I had the opportunity to learn at the feet of a great man, Jeffrey R. Holland. He was the president of BYU while I attended there, so I also feel some sort of connection. Actually, I was translating from English to Spanish for about a thousand people in the audience. And even though I was busy translating, a few things stuck in my mind during the process; I suppose you could call that learning.
Teachers: How often do you think something like, When I was a kid, I always did what my teachers told me to do and never questioned their authority, or I hated silent reading, or I loved learning about ancient Greece/making dioramas/participating in science fair? And do these reflections surface when you're making decisions about what to do in your classroom around instruction, management, or curriculum?
The idea of New Year's Resolutions is very appealing but their success rate is low. Cognitive psychologists know why: Resolutions tend to be too big (like losing 20 pounds), too vague (like getting more sleep), very hard to control (like having less stress), or something the person is ambivalent about (like becoming a healthier eater).
It is time that teachers and administrators realize that public education has reached a dam in the river. We have gone about as far as we can go with isolated instruction and learning. While it may have served the purpose for the older generations, it does not meet the deeper learning needs of students today and tomorrow. Deeper learning can be accelerated by consolidating teacher efforts and combining relevant contents, in effect, opening new spillways of knowledge.
Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing is a compelling and seminal work on the practicalities of teaching writing to high school English students from New Hampshire teacher and literacy/instructional coach Penny Kittle. You can also watch the speech she gave when that book earned her the 2009 NCTE Britton Award. I've used the book and accompanying DVD for three years now, and my English education pre-service teachers have called the unequivocally helpful text "warm, inspiring and intelligent," "100 % heart," and hailed the author as "a writer's teacher of writing."
What's ideal when it comes to collaboration in our classrooms? Here's one coveted scenario: several children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level task, discussing, possibly debating an issue, making shared decisions, and designing a product that demonstrates all this deeper learning.
I know that, in my project-based learning classroom, students did presentations all the time for a variety of purposes. One of the key components of a PBL project is the 21st-century skill of presentation or communication. We know that this presentation can take on any number of shapes, from something formal to a podcast or even a poster session. I always struggled with getting quality presentations from my students. I used a variety of teaching techniques and examples, but there is one that I know can really help improve presentation skills: Ignite!
After a morning Discipline With Dignity training, the high school principal and I walked to the cafeteria to eat lunch. He said, "I love your session, but it's not practical." I responded with my view that it was practical because it works -- but it’s just not easy.