Blogs on Teaching Strategies

Blogs on Teaching StrategiesRSS
Lisa Michelle DabbsFebruary 14, 2014

"Read along with me: the best is yet to be." - Lisa Dabbs (adapted from Robert Browning)

When I first became a teacher, I was excited to begin sharing the love of reading with my students. I grew up loving to read and couldn't wait to open up the children's literary book club pick that my Dad had on monthly order for me.

The time I spent with books transformed my life and sparked my imagination. I wanted to create a similar experience for my students, but I found that it was sometimes a challenge due to their home life circumstances. In the end, though, it was well worth the effort.

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Matt DavisFebruary 13, 2014

The importance of early literacy cannot be understated. Countless studies have shown that students who start reading earlier are better prepared for the academic road ahead. Not to mention, early readers are much more likely to become lifelong readers.

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Heather Wolpert-GawronFebruary 7, 2014

In Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury writes that the grandma's kitchen was warm, exciting, and full of "organized chaos." I like to think that my classroom environment is also like that. Well, at least it's a positive spin on the piles of books, the stacks of papers and the uneven bulletin boards that define my middle school classroom.

But when teaching study skills and organization, it's vital that I model a more perfect world. One of the ways that I help my students -- and myself -- to organize our assignments is to create checklists.

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Petra ClaflinJanuary 24, 2014

For many of us who are intimidated by the idea of "rigor" and exactly what it means to make our lessons more rigorous, thinking about it as a routine can make it more real and doable for us. Because to really raise rigor and push our students, it's not about anything more that we can teach them, it's about setting up the right environment for them to think critically and engage in analysis and problem solving. Discussion is one fail-safe way to do this, no matter the content area. Our math teacher leaders have really been pushing discussion as a key to rigor. Here are some ways to set up a strong discussion routine in your class.

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Rebecca AlberJanuary 24, 2014

What's the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, "Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wednesday." Yikes -- no safety net, no parachute, no scaffolding -- just left blowing in the wind.

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Ben JohnsonJanuary 23, 2014

Eighty percent of what we do as learning engineers is ask questions. Because this is such a big part of what we do to inspire learning, we should do it really well! I began thinking about the research I have done that says that we have a long way to go before we can say that we ask questions really well, and then I thought of the wild hogs in Texas. There are millions of them. They are definitely not endangered and are frankly on the nuisance list. What if the way we ask questions was as tenacious, energetic and prolific as the wild hogs?

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Joe HirschJanuary 16, 2014

I recently began to use a certain four-letter word in my classroom. The kind of word that most teachers wouldn't dare say, not unless they wanted to raise eyebrows among colleagues, supervisors and parents. But I use it freely. And loudly. Now my students say it, too -- when they struggle with a worksheet, strike out on the ball field, fumble with the final strokes of an art project. Some of them have even taught the four-letter word to younger siblings at home.

"Grit." A four-letter word that every teacher and student should know and use.

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Heidi A. OlingerJanuary 15, 2014

A Hunger for Recognition

Greg was among my toughest students in a tough year of teaching high school. Physically he attended class, but academically he was missing. He was a freshman invested in his image with older students he deemed cool, and academic achievement was not a group value. He was disruptive and disengaged. But Greg began to care about school the day that study hall rules changed and he could not leave the classroom -- not even to buy snacks. He quickly became hungry and morose, and, already the enemy, I was doubly so for enforcing the rule. Before me was a hungry boy, so I emptied my briefcase of every snack I had: a soft apple, a Power Bar, Dum Dums. I put these in a pile on his desk and said that was what I had.

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Dr. Richard CurwinJanuary 13, 2014

A sense of wonder and the need to predict -- these are two of the qualities that enrich all of us. We wonder about big things (is there life on other planets?), smaller things (if I write to a friend that I've had a falling out with, will I get an answer?), and smaller yet (what will happen if I marinate my chicken in beer?). Not only is it fun to predict, but prediction is also a strong part of being safe (if the pot recently boiled, I should probably grab it by the insulated handle). The lure of prediction can be easily seen in fantasy football, which has almost replaced the actual games in energy and excitement for many fans.

These two qualities, wonder and prediction, can form the basis of making lessons motivating and full of learning.

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Andrew MillerJanuary 7, 2014

The word "grit" suggests toughness and determination. The question is how do we get students to value struggle, failure and perseverance in our classrooms? ASCD recently published Thomas Hoerr's short but great book on this subject, Fostering Grit. The subtitle "How do I prepare my students for the real world?" reflects the fact that our students will encounter challenging work and problems to solve. If this is the case, our classrooms should mirror that process and prepare our students to be successful in meeting these challenges. You might consider this a critical 21st century skill, which means that we need to scaffold the related skills we're teaching our students.

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