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Showing posts from June, 2016

Summarizing: A Powerful Thinking Strategy

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Summarize what you read. Typical reading task, right? Yes. But it is so much more than that! Summarizing is a powerful thinking strategy that spread all academic areas and even work-related life skills. It is the ability to make decisions about information in efficient ways. More than ever, summarizing is a needed skill for the information age! Here are three ways that summarizing can benefit every classroom. A Skill for Learning Summarizing involves thinking about information. To summarize, we must rethink and reprocess what we've experienced. If we're reading, we must pause and retell what we read. Then we have to decide what was important about the text. These decisions are paraphrased into our own words and then logically ordered into a summary. That's complex! It's a skill that promotes learning. Maybe more importantly, it's a skill that increases our ability to learn...much like exercise. How can summarizing be used in a variety of settings?
In a science clas…

Four Types of Scaffolding for Learning Challenges

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Challenge is the spark of learning. Failure is inherent in the process. Failure can also destroy the process. The educator's role then is to present challenges, gauge the support needed, and then provide the right amount of scaffolding. Here are four ways to scaffold challenges, so learning occurs.
Challenge is the Spark of Learning.Learning theorists and psychologists from Bruner and Piaget to Gardner and Gagne speak of various forms of cognitive dissonance (take it for a quick Google). Simply, challenges. We're not going any further into the annals of research or psychology. They all say varying degrees of confusion, questions, and problems form the basis of motivation for learning. Challenges give us two options: learn or walk away. 
The educator's role then is to provide students with challenges. These come in the form of questions, problems, projects, or tasks. The difficulty is to match the degree of challenge to each students' readiness. That's a topic for a…

Letting Go of Perfect: Embrace Growth

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Perfection is an intimidating aim. Daunting, overwhelming, impossible. Letting go of perfect allows us to embrace growth. Growth and learning require the acknowledgment of imperfection. As long as perfection is the ideal, learning will always be slowed. Learning is slowed by the contrast between current reality and idealistic perfection. Instead of aiming for perfection, target high levels of growth. Instead of making perfect an endpoint, strive for never ending upward potential. Never reachable, but always able to celebrate. Beat previous rates of growth. Set goals for new levels of growth. This is learning at its best. So while perfection is found around us, it will never quite be within us. Let go. Embrace growth.
Here are other posts where growth is an achievable aim of education: Involvement is key to organizational growthFear of failure will destroy professional learningHow data dashboards can promote growth in schools

5 Ways Commitment Improves Schools

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Everyone is tired of pendulum swings. We are tired of the fleeting success that accompanies the non-strategic abandonment of great ideas for other great ideas. We cannot inch our way to improvement by constantly redefining our organizations. In business, that's called quarterly hype - no real earnings. At some point, schools and districts must define who they are and commit. Commitment creates lasting success (read this post about how involvement creates commitment). Here are nine ways commitment improves schools. Commitment requires educational leaders to involve staff and community members to help shape the decision-making process, not just the decisions. When the process fits the people, solutions come quite naturally. Commitment allows shared experience, rather than isolated expertise. Leaders facilitate the systems for improvement. They don't provide the magic bullets. At the campus level, teachers are not merely sought after for input or opinions about an initiative. Thi…

How Twitter Can Change Your Career: 10K tweets ago

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Stephanie Frosch , an educator, was in a mall chatting with friends. They were telling her to get on Twitter. "What a waste of time," she thought. Now 10k tweets later, she wants you to know you're missing out on an incredible opportunity. I concur. Here's her post...

PIRATE of Possibilities : 10K tweets ago, I was in a mall food court, reluctantly being preached to about the limitless possibilities and professional value...(click above to read the whole story).Benefits of Starting Twitter this WeekWhile Twitter has been here for over 5 years, educators are really starting to gain ground on this network.Hashtag chats (such as #ASCDL2L, #satchat, and #edchat) give locations for ongoing discussions around questions and topics. Just use the search function and type in one of the hashtags, you'll see.Follow some great organizations such as @edutopia, @SchoolLeadNow, @ASCD, or @MarzanoResearch.Then follow a few great authors like @FredEnde or @ToddWhitaker. Interact wi…

Buy-In is Cheap: Involvement Creates Lasting Success

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Educational leaders tout the benefits of getting staff buy-in. What is the value of buy-in? Teachers really don't want to be sold. Educational leaders aren't really wanting to sell, but that is what buy-in is. Buy-in is cheap - we need commitment. The difference is immense.
Involvement Rather Than Buy-In Buy-in is motivation from a fleeting experience. It is given from a speech, meeting, or a new idea. Buy-in dies off after time. Buy-in is subtle manipulation. It's being sold on an idea or a tactic to improve student performance in some sort of way. We need real commitment. And commitment comes from one source, involvement.

Involvement benefits: Students, who know when the adults in their lives are really committed to them.Teachers, who only want perform at their best, without inconsistent pendulum shifts.Principals, who seek to provide the best instructional climate for teachers and students. (Here's a post with 5 simple steps for principals to improve campus climate)C…

6 Time Wasters in the Reading Classroom

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We don't have time. Biggest educational complaint! Right? Yes. What about instructional strategies that don't work? They also squander time, time that we don't have. Here's the quick list of strategies that can be replaced with more effective and time efficient practices:


Calendar Time 15-20 minutes wasted >>> replace with weekly or monthly review of the month, day, etc... Use the fresh morning for more critical word study, place value, or writing skills.Word List and Look it Up in the Dictionary 5-15 minutes wasted >>> Long-term memory doesn't encode dictionary definitions well. Replace looking up words with more meaningful vocabulary instruction such as concept mapping, using context clues, and student talk.Prizes for Reading (untold minutes) >>> Prizes encourage for sure...but for students who struggle, they don't teach reading and many times punish. That means it undermines motivation. Instead, create reading goals, learning goals…

5 Steps to take this summer to improve Campus Culture and Climate

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Principals, you know that fear of failure has a killing effect on the campus culture. It will starve the instructional climate, infuse teams with intimidation and distrust, and stop innovation in its tracks. Here's the post where I've listed the effects that fear of failure has on teachers and administrators. Now, let's tackle the fear of failure and provide solutions to campus culture. Here are five simple steps you can take this summer to drastically change the culture and climate of your campus.

Ask QuestionsSynthesize the InformationGive FeedbackInvite ChangeDo ItStep One: Ask Questions Now that the teachers can breathe, can relax, and live without the intensity of 30 students and minute by minute pressures, let's talk to them. More importantly, let's listen. Here are two questions that will give you valuable information: What are two things that went really well this year at our school? Two things that helped you or your students perform well?Off the top of your…