Archive for the ‘Conferences’ category

Five Ways Teachers Increase Their Own Resiliency

March 25, 2014

Resilient teachers discover their own power to find meaning, solve complex problems, and make meaningful connections.  Meenoo Rami

Meenoo Rami, a teacher and author, shares five ways teachers increase their resiliency.Thrive Book

  • They find mentors;
  • They plug into relevant networks;
  • They find intellectual challenges in their work;
  • They align their values to their practice; and
  • They find ways to empower their students.

That last point, resilient teachers find ways to empower their students really connects to our work, the products we create for teachers. Rami stated, “Resilient teachers strive to leave their students more curious and courageous. They find ways to leverage their students’ interests, inquiries and investments and make relevant connections to the work being done in the classroom.” As we create units, read-alouds and read-alongs, and share specific strategies for discussion, character analysis, and conferencing, those are the things we focus on, helping teachers help students think critically, be curious and courageous, see connections, and engage in the work of learning.

Read more about teacher resiliency in Rami’s recent article, “How Today’s Teachers Develop Grit and Resiliency” or read her new book, Thrive. And, check out our products on Teachers Pay Teachers—Surviving to Thriving LjL.

 

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_ahead/2014/03/How_Teachers_Develop_Grit.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Thrive%20Meenoo%20Rami

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:surviving%20to%20thriving%20ljl

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Middle School Students Know the Teachers They Want and Need!

November 16, 2013

I think what good teachers do is be happy and enthusiastic when teaching.  7th Grade Student

Are always in a positive mood.  8th Grade Student

They are fair, respectful, kind, and honest.  6th Grade Student

Students know the kind of teachers they want and need.  We recently surveyed over 300 middle school students, both in fall and spring, resulting in 2700 plus comments.  From those comments we extracted words and phrases students used to describe the attributes of the teachers they want and need.

Words that Describe the Attributes of Teachers

Middle School Students Want and Need

Word Cloud

Thank you to all of those who attended our presentations at this year’s AMLE conference in Minneapolis—you were an awesome group!  Our handouts for the presentations are available at http://survivingtothriving.wordpress.com 

Click on Presentations, Workshops, and Conferences.

AMLE LjL 2013 1

tptWe continue to be guided by what students want from their teachers and their education–engaging instruction that is relevant and meaningful, and fun!  So as we develop products for our Teachers Pay Teachers store, we always keep students in mind, teachers, too!

Five Reasons Students Should Set Classroom Norms

November 5, 2013

Every child is entitled to “equitable access to positive learning experiences and potential academic success” (Chubbuck, 2010, p.198).

A community of learners is established by hearing student voices.  It is a deliberate process orchestrated by an effective teacher to ensure that every child has that access to powerful learning experiences and potential academic success.     –Linda L. Carpenter, Jennifer J. Fontanini, and Linda V. Neiman

When some of us hear the phrase, setting norms, we roll our eyes, because many of us have been in situations where setting norms was just an idle exercise.  But it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be. When students have a voice in generating their classroom norms, that exercise becomes meaningful and constructive.

Student-generated classroom norms

  1. create a positive learning environment for all students;
  2. create an operating system for procedures and communication;
  3. increase productivity and learning;
  4. provide means for conflict resolution; and
  5. ensure all students have access to what they need for academic success.

On November 8, we will be conducting a session at the Association for Middle Level Educators (AMLE) conference in Minneapolis entitled Orchestrating Student Voices to Create a Community of Learners.  We hope some of you will join us.

References

Carpenter, L. L., Fontanini, J. J., & Neiman, L. V. (2010). From surviving to thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom. Dayton, OH: Lorenz   Educational Press.

Chubbuck, S. M. (2010). Individual and structural orientations in socially just teaching: conceptualization, implementation, and collaborative effort.  Journal of Teacher Education, 61(3), 197-210.

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5 Things Middle School Students Want Their Teachers to Know

October 27, 2013

The quality of the relationships that students have in class with their peers and teachers is important to their success in school.  Bob Pletka

We recently completed a study that surveyed over 300 middle school students about their perception of effective instruction.  And, you know what?  Student comments regarding effective instruction connected to student readiness for learning, learning styles, and teacher and student relationships. Basically middle school student perception of effective instruction reflected those experiences with teachers and learning where teachers responded to students as individuals, attended to their learning needs, and created a classroom environment that facilitated community and learning.   Here’s just five things middle school students want their teachers to know.  Each item is followed by a quote from a middle school student.

5 Things Middle School Students Want Their Teachers to Know

  1. Make learning relevant to our lives. “Introduce how it will relate to anything else we’ve learned so far, or how it will help us in everyday life.”
  2. Start lessons with engaging activities. “Good teachers start teaching with a fun activity or brain teaser.  Good teachers start with a fun experiment or project.”
  3. Vary activities and include movement.  “The teacher teaches in different ways (audio, visual, and hands-on) which helps a lot.  We always get to get up and move around.”
  4. Plan less teacher talk and more student talk.  “Don’t lecture so much, find activities that make us talk but productive.”
  5. Be excited about teaching.  “I want teachers to be excited about being here and have a good time with their lessons.”

We will be presenting more about our research and what middle school students know about effective instruction at the Association of Middle Level Educators Conference in Minneapolis, November 7-9, 2013.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 7, 9:45 AM

Here’s What Middle Level Students Think about Good Teaching
Linda Neiman, Linda L. Carpenter, Jennifer Fontanini
We surveyed middle school students to find out what are their thoughts about what good teaching is and what good teachers do. Their responses may surprise you and affirm what you already knew about effective teaching and student learning. Join us for discerning discussion about what middle level students are thinking about good teaching. Walk away with a sometimes humorous, always insightful look from the other side of teaching.

AMLE Conference Information

http://www.amle.org/annual/Home/tabid/138/Default.aspx

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Constructivism as a Learning Theory

March 21, 2013

QuoteBill 2nd Grade

A community of learners is established by hearing student voices.  It is a deliberate process orchestrated by an effective teacher to ensure that every child has that access to powerful learning experiences and potential academic success.

Linda Carpenter, Jennifer Fontanini, and Linda Neiman

This past weekend we attended the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) convention in Chicago (and yes, we saw the Chicago River dyed green!).  We were honored to present, “Orchestrating Student Voices to Build a Community of Learners” and this the above quote is how we ended our presentation.  We were pleased that our participants were engaged and enjoyed an interactive, constructivist presentation.

As we also volunteered to host other presentations, and in talking to conventioneers, one theme emerged—that although we talk about interactive, constructivist learning, most presentations were lecture mode—sit and get.  Constructivism isn’t a passing fad, constructivism is a learning theory that is supported by educational and cognitive neuroscience (See Constructivism as a Learning Theory) and it applies to all learners.  As my colleague, Linda Carpenter remarked at the beginning of our presentation, “Kids and adults like to have fun just like elementary students. Sometimes that means music and colored paper and even crayons.”

All in all, it was a wonderful conference, highlighted by Maya Angelou.  We were in the sixth row thanks to Tammy from Alabama, who guided and glided us through the process of getting awesome seats.  It was a privilege to be in the presence of someone like Maya Angelou.

In our work for Teachers Pay Teachers as well as the presentations and workshops we do, we intentionally plan that work around the principles of constructivism.  We learn more, deeper, and better, when we construct our own meanings within a context that provides a positive and safe learning environment and relevant content.  Effective teachers teach in ways that ensure that every child has access to powerful learning experiences and potential academic success.

Check out the products we are developing for Teachers Pay Teachers.  Each month we are adding more products that employ a constructivist, student-centered approach.  It’s not your average workbook pages anymore!  Kids deserve better!

Resources

Orchestrating Student Voices to Build Community (Click to download)

Constructivism as a Learning Theory (Click to Download)

Organizing for Conferences

February 15, 2013

Quotes of the Weekorganization_quotes

It’s not too early to get organized for conferences, like spring, they will be here before we know it.  When I was serving as a learning specialist with the task of converting a junior high to a middle school, I encountered student-led conferences.  Like we all do when we encounter something new and appealing, we learn everything we can about it, which is just what I did.  After the principal had given me the assignment to implement student-led conferences for the midterm of the fall semester, I knew I had to develop a plan to help teachers, students, and parents get ready for something new.  Before I even read the teacher evaluations, I knew that we had accomplished something worthwhile and almost magical for students and their families.  The response from teachers, parents, and students was overwhelmingly positive.

“Student-led conferences represent a highly effective way to communicate directly and authentically with parents.  When students direct the reporting process, information is communicated in a form everyone can understand and use.  Reviewing the portfolio during the conference becomes a learning experience for everyone involved.  As such, student-led conferences are an especially important part of the comprehensive reporting system” (Guskey & Bailey, 2001, pp. 190-199).48624870947801276_nttUHrJd_b

If you’re ready to try something new for conferences, we highly recommend student-led conferences and with that thought in mind, we have created two guides to implementing student-led conferences for middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8) and intermediate schools (grades 4, 5, and 6). The key word in this product is COMPLETE, it truly is a Complete Guide to Planning and Implementing Student-Led Conferences in Your Middle School or Elementary School and it is really just three steps:  Plan, Practice, Perform.  There are over 20 reproducible pages to facilitate the implementation of Student-Led Conferences in the fall and spring semesters.  The forms that are included are easily adapted to your school.  There are student ice-breaker activities designed for conference night as well as portfolio checklists, content specific reflections and follow-up evaluation forms for teachers, students, and parents.   If your school is not ready to move to Student-Led Conferences, the information included in this packet can be used by a grade level team or individual teacher.  It’s a system that was successfully implemented in a large middle school in an urban area with awesome results.  And, the bottom line is that Student-Led Conferences are good for students!

Guskey, T. R. & Bailey, J. M. (2001). Developing grading and reporting systems for student learning.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

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