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You'll find practical classroom strategies and tips from real educators, as well as lesson ideas, personal stories, and innovative approaches to improving your teaching practice. If you have any thoughts or comments about these blogs, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Cal JoyMay 23, 2011

Cal Joy is Edutopia's Director of Web Development and resident pancake breakfast maker extraordinaire. She spent a weekend in LA to attend the 826 reading, and had this to report.

Baking a book takes time. 826LA intern Neekta Khorsand has worked with Los Angeles student, Brian Young and his forty-three fellow student authors on location at Dorsey High for several months. Their delicious creation is From the Couch to the Kitchen: A Book to Indulge In. 826ers believe in meeting students where they are academically, providing one-on-one attention, and understanding students' individual learning histories. Differentiated instruction focuses on each student, getting the right ingredients needed to nurture their skills. Approaching all learners the same academically doesn't work. 826 writing programs focus on where students are in their learning process. Using individually prepared instruction, 826LA takes a custom approach connecting each student's skill level to an appropriate assignment.

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Steve PehaMay 23, 2011

Editor's Note: Steve Peha is the President of Teaching That Makes Sense, an education consultancy based in Carrboro, NC. He writes regularly on education policy on The National Journal Education Experts Blog. His work has also been featured in The Washington Post, DropoutNation, EdNews, and The Carborro Citizen. He is the author of three books on teaching: Be a Writer, Be a Better Writer, and Reading Allowed.

Grammar instruction is making a comeback but in all the wrong ways. The purpose of learning grammar is to produce well-formed sentences. But mastering the Latinate content of traditional grammar instruction has little to do with achieving this goal.

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Elena AguilarMay 20, 2011

My last post was also about instructional coaching and I started it off by stating that in order for instructional coaching to work, the conditions must be right. A reader asked, in the comments, what exactly are those conditions and how do you know if they're right?

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Rosemary OwensMay 19, 2011

Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Rosemary Owens, assistant principal for curriculum at Freedom High School and Tampa FL.

 

Tampa's Freedom High School was transformed by a student-led initiative beginning in the summer of 2009. A rising senior, Blake O'Connor, and I had the privilege of attending the Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF) on a scholarship from the Bezos Family Foundation. The AIF is an annual gathering of big thinkers from all areas of society, from the arts to science to religion, culture, economics, and politics. Each year, the festival challenges participants to tackle some of the more pressing issues of our times, and figure out ways to replicate solutions.   

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Belia Mayeno SaavedraMay 18, 2011

Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Belia Mayeno Saavedra, a Community Action Program Coordinator for Youth Radio in Oakland CA.

Please also note that this post examines both student and Internet vernacular. If you are uncomfortable with this type of language, you may wish to read something else. This post first appeared as Sh*t My Students Write and Its Flaws on Turnstyle.

Sh*t My Students Write and Dumb $#!% My Students Say are new meme-sites poking fun at the fumbles and goofs of students. Classroom quotes and essay excerpts are posted by teachers and take the basic meme formula from Sh*t My Dad Says and other quick-and-dirty quotables. But at a time when schools across the country are suffering severe budget cuts, and students enter institutions with increasingly limited resources, what are these sites bringing to the conversation about education?

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Michelle HlubinkaMay 17, 2011

Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Michelle Hlubinka, the Education Director for Maker Faire and Make magazine.

Maker Faire is a combination DIY festival and project showcase, sponsored by Make magazine, where "makers" of all ages convene to show off a spectacular array of projects that combine science, art, performance, creative reuse, and technology in varying degrees. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of educators are getting involved in these events which are currently held in the Bay Area, Detroit and New York. There are also many independently organized Mini-Maker Faires around the country. Maker Faire Bay Area is this weekend, May 21 - 22nd.

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Gaetan PappalardoMay 16, 2011

Updated 01/2014

So, I'm sitting in a workshop on vocabulary development listening to a bunch of research as to why kids lack the language to effectively comprehend and communicate. The largest factor (found by this specific research) that determines a child's vocabulary cache is . . . (Drum roll) . . . In-home communication between adult and child using rich language. No talking, no vocabulary -- makes sense, right? The more you hear it, the more likely you're going to use it, the more you're going to "own" it. It's the purest form of contextual usage. It's life. This makes total sense to me. As a teacher, writer, and father of a three-year-old, I'm always exposing my son to strong, healthy vocabulary. It's not rocket science; it just takes some extra effort to recognize those special times to work on vocabulary (I'm not using the term "teachable moment" here because working on vocabulary really shouldn't seem like a formal lesson; it should be as natural as a friendly conversation).

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When we talk about teaching, we are never just talking about a profession, but a passion. Unfortunately, while dodging the bullets of criticism and shielding ourselves behind the mediocrity of the standardization movement, we have found our eagerness to teach being chipped away. Educator Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach challenges us to rediscover our own passion for teaching by helping our students become passionate seekers of knowledge and understanding.

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Larry FerlazzoMay 12, 2011

Editor's Note: Larry Ferlazzo teaches English at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He writes a popular blog for teachers and is the author of three books. He also supports a blog that shares ideas and resources to improve the school-parent relationship. This post first appeared on edweek.com

This article is adapted from Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers to Classroom Challenges by Larry Ferlazzo, just published by Eye on Education.

A teacher thinks: State testing is done, the weather is getting nicer, and we are all getting spring fever. There are six or seven weeks left of school and students are easily distracted. It's even hard for me to stay focused. I don't just want to "coast." What can I do?

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