Showing posts from April, 2016

What's Wrong With That?

Analyze. Higher-level thinking. Rigor. We hear it! We hear it again! Every article, training, and, yes, faculty meeting. AND YES, it is quite simple to get to. Just ask...

What's Wrong With That?
When students are given the "bad" examples, they often find it quite fun to pick it apart - to analyze. They enjoy taking the role of judge, of expert. They try to out-smart the teacher, the author, or another thinker. By asking what's wrong with that, teachers require students to think of the nuances in a concept or skill. Embedded in the question is the process of breaking something apart and comparing each part to the ideal.
For example, take the reading teacher trying to teach students the complex skill of summarizing. She very quickly gets the students to analyze when she: Teaches the underlying concepts: problem, solution, main events...Prompts students to talk about these concepts and develop understanding.Gives one good example, so students can refine their understanding…

Social Studies Lessons

I'm working on a new series of products for elementary Social Studies. With excitement, but also with hesitation. The excitement because the unit is called "Heroes and Change" for 3rd-5th grade students. It's been really fun trying to find just the right questions and just the right information to present these incredible biographies: Rosa Parks, Louis Pasteur, Todd Beamer, and Bill Gates. These historical and contemporary figures each are special in their own ways. And each have truly impacted our culture and the way we live. However...

...The hesitation. The concern that no one will use these products. When talking to colleagues, you and I have heard it, probably thought it once or twice. Concerns. The reasons why we can't go into depth in social studies, or the reasons why we have to make it "cutesy" and avoid tough topics.

"Parents don't want their kids learning about civil rights, civil disobedience, or's too touchy."&qu…

Academic Vocabulary

After a quick pause, the 4th grade teacher realized she kept saying the words paraphrase, summarize, and retell, but she had never taught the students these academic words. So she put the summarizing lesson on pause, created a quick three-way foldable, and said let's talk about these words.

Two or three questions into asking students what they knew about these words, and she realized - they don't know these terms. Most students thought paraphrase meant a definition. Others misconceived summarize to be the same as a retell. This was a goldmine...and the students needed this 5 minutes of direct vocabulary instruction in order to understand the rest of the real lesson.

Are you teaching academic vocabulary each week? Reviewing these words periodically to deepen student understanding? 

Team Tom Waters tweeted today:
#academicvocabulary . 5 minutes of time every other day, can yield huge dividends. #teaching — Tom Waters (@teamtomwaters1) April 25, 2016
The conversation isn't new. Bu…

Harriet Tubman on the Twenty Dollar Bill

Harriet Tubman. A hero. A true American!

What a great decision for American currency. I can't think of anyone more deserving than Harriet Tubman for the $20 bill! 

In honor, Team Tom has drawing conclusion task cards for grades 3-5 dedicated to the Harriet Tubman story on .

7 Things to Remember about Feedback

Looking through some pins, and I found some tip on effective feedback.

Good reminders about instructional feedback...for me at least. They are:

Focused on effort towards goals...not evaluationWhen the environment is such that mistakes are can be used by students. Feedback from students can be better to improve instruction than feedback to students.A grade? everything after the number can be forgotten...use feedback elsewhere.During the learning...that's when feedback is important.Most feedback is from students' peers - and that feedback is usually wrong.Without a clear learning target, feedback is just perceived as bossiness.

First impressions

I know the first impression is the most important. The first post is supposed to really count, right? Well, the way I see it, there are no readers on the first. Plus, it's the digital age, so why can always delete and re-post. So let's keep it short and sweet. 

I'm super glad you've stumbled on Tom Waters' little blog. Here's what I promise. A steady flow of ideas. Plenty of resources. A few instructional strategy topics. Teaching, curriculum, school improvement, learning, and all things related to the most awesome, the most fabulous, and the most critical professional in the world - EDUCATION.

So, let's connect as educators, innovators, thinkers, and humans. Welcome.

See you again soon,
Tom Waters.