Archive for the ‘Constructivism’ category

Learning Stations and Cranberries

November 10, 2016

cranberriesLearning stations engage students in active learning. “Learning stations can be used for myriad purposes—to teach concepts, integrate subject matter, build interest, and allow for inquiry—the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the teacher and the supplies available” (Jarrett, 2010, p. 56).

Learning stations are designated areas in a classroom, hallway, cafeteria, or community room where students complete tasks. Everything the student needs is available at each station, which could include handouts, activity sheets, experiments, photographs, videos, music, artwork, food, cranberries, etc. There are step-by-step directions at each station. Students move from station to station individually, in pairs, or small groups. The number of stations can vary as well as the time estimated at each station for students to complete the station task. And, students can work at their own pace.

Learning stations work for all grade levels. Consider inviting parents, older students, or preservice teachers to help with setting up stations, guiding students through stations, or even be part of a station, giving interviews, clarifying instructions, doing demonstrations. For example, a parent helper might serve samples of cranberry juice at a tasting station.

Check out Crazy for Cranberries Cross-Curricular Learning Center Activities to use as a template for developing and setting up learning stations in your own classroom. It’s a great example of the types of stations you might set up as well as what you need for each station. It’s a delicious example of using learning stations!

Crazy for Cranberries Cross-Curricular Learning Center Activities includes

  • 19 page-teacher guide
  • Materials and picture guides for each center
  • Answer key for student journal
  • Optional QR codes or print resources
  • 14-page student journal
  • 11 center signs for each learning station

Jarrett, O. (January 2010). Inventive learning stations. Science and Children 47.5: 56-69.

Visit our Teachers Pay Store and look at the products we have available–you just might find something perfect for you and your students.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

The One and Only Ivan

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Surviving to Thriving TPT

HOMEWORK: Show What You Know

July 25, 2016

I like a teacher who gives something to take home to think about besides homework.human-face-with-flower

Lily Tomlin

If you have looked at the research about homework, it generally does not support a connection between time spent on homework and grades (Kohn, 2012). The challenge for teachers is the expectation of homework from both families and students, but not all homework is created equal. Homework is appropriate for preparing, checking for understanding, practicing, rehearsing, and/or processing including analyzing, evaluating, and/or reflecting (Vatterott, 2009).

Meaningful homework assignments should:

  • allow for student choice and personalization;
  • provide opportunities for students to share things about themselves;
  • tap into emotions, feeling, and/or opinions; and
  • be aesthetically pleasing (Vatterott, 2007).

Meaningful homework assignments should engage students and be fun to do. We have compiled various homework assignments that can be easily adapted to a variety of subjects for intermediate and upper level grades. And, there is a list of alternative homework assignment ideas. Check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Homework: Show What You Know includes:

  • Name Lists
  • Rounding Up: Adjectives
  • Rounding Up: Adverbs
  • Survey. Note. Conclude! Homework Assignment
  • Using Graphic Organizers to Show What You Know
  • 8 Alternatives to Traditional Homework Assignments with Mini-Activity Slips
  • Teacher Bookmarks with Homework Quotes (Something to share with colleagues and start a conversation about homework.

References

Kohn, A. (November 25, 2012). Homework:  New research suggests it may be an unnecessary evil. Huffpost.

Vatterott, C. (2007). Becoming a middle level teacher:  Student-focused teaching of early adolescents.  New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Vatterott, C. (2009). Rethinking homework:  Best practice that support diverse needs. Alexandria, VA:  ASCD.

Unique Approach to Teaching Esperanza Rising

June 14, 2016

Esperanza Rising

As many teachers know, novelty catches students’ attention. Once you have students’ attention, readiness for learning increases. This was our thinking in creating enrichment activities for Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Food plays an important role in this novel, literally and figuratively. Enrichment Activities for Chapter Foods are designed to increase students’ connection to the novel through food. There are two or more activities for each chapter. Activities are connected to the food in the chapter title and/or foods mentioned in the chapter. Each lesson plan also includes Chapter Connections, which help students think about the significance of the foods in each chapter and find connections of those foods to their own lives. There are suggestions for preparing food for student sampling and additional resources connected to the various foods. The food activities are fun and may introduce students to new foods or honor the foods of their families.

Product Contents:

  • 14 Individual Lesson Plans (1 per chapter)
  • 1 Culminating Activity: Chat Stations Activity
  • 1 Chat Sheet
  • 7 Chat Stations Questions Mini-Posters
  • 12 Food Cards for Forming Student Pairs, Trios, and Quads
  • Permission Letter to Parents/Guardians
  • Common Core Standards and Best Practice Connected to this Novel Study
  • 1 PowerPoint with 58 Slides

For more resources and ideas, check out our Pinterest Board.

Surviving to Thriving LjL: Pinterest Board on Esperanza Rising

Here’s a list of some of our collaborative work:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Son by Lois Lowry
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

 

5 Books Anyone Concerned about Education Should Read

January 26, 2014

American education is at a crossroads. There are two paths in front of us: One in which we destroy our strengths in order to “catch up” with others in test scores and one in which we build on our strengths so we can keep the lead in innovation and creativity. Yong Zhao

Anyone interested in a different perspective on PK-12 education and learning might find the following five books fascinating reading. These books will showcase a variety of perspectives that may challenge or change the way you currently perceive educational practices as well as the way in which you perceive learning in general. Any one of these books would make an excellent choice for a study group or book club.

 Catching Up ZhaoCatching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization by Yong Zhao

The above quote is from the introduction and best describes the importance of what Zhao is advocating in his book.  Zhao challenges readers to consider the criticism of schools, which he thinks is misleading and misinformed, while taking into account the impact of globalization on the economic and social landscape. Ultimately, Zhao advocates for leaders to take five actions to ensure a world-class education for American students—actions that are realistic and doable.

Armstrong Best SchoolsThe Best Schools: How Human Development Should Inform Educational Practice by Thomas Armstrong

Armstrong makes a strong case for changing the way we talk about education, moving away from academic achievement discourse toward human development discourse. He argues for developmentally appropriate practices that emphasize play for early childhood learning, theme and project-based learning for elementary students, active learning that focuses on social, emotional and metacognitive needs of middle school students, and mentoring, apprenticeships, and cooperative education for high school students.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink

Both Zhao and Pink use the words innovation and creativity. According to Pink, the 18th century was the Agriculture Age (farmers), the 19th century, the Industrial Age (factory workers), the 20th century, the Information Age (knowledge workers), and the 21st century, the Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers). In order to maintain our lead in innovation and creativity, Pink advocates that we need to complement our L-Directed reasoning (L for left-brain functions) by mastering six essential R-Directed aptitudes (R for right-brain functions).

Those six high-concept, high-touch senses are:

1. Not just function but also DESIGN.Pink Whole New Mind

2. Not just argument but also STORY.

3. Not just focus but also SYMPHONY.

4. Not just logic but also EMPATHY

5. Not just seriousness but also PLAY.

6. Not just accumulation but also MEANING

The rest of the book defines and describes these six senses with a variety of activities to develop and refine those senses—of which many are fun and easily adapted to the classroom.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

For anyone who teaches any age student, this book is a must-read. Pink supports his theory of motivation with numerous research studies and anecdotes. While it isn’t a surprise that humans are intrinsically motivated, Pink addresses rewards in the following list:

CARROTS AND STICKS: The Seven Deadly FlawsPink Drive

1. They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.

2. They can diminish performance.

3. They can crush creativity.

4. They can crowd out good behavior.

5. They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior.

6. They can become addictive.

7. They can foster short-term thinking.

 Those who have read Alfie Kohn will appreciate the support that Pink provides for Kohn’s ideas about punishments and rewards.  Included is a list of 15 books for further reading.

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Of all the books listed, this is the one that will definitely challenge your belief that you see yourself and the world as they really are, but in reality, we’re all missing a lot. The topic is intriguing, the writing is witty, and the answer to why we all see the same situation in different ways becomes more apparent. And for those of us who believe in intuition, this book may change all that. We may want to rethink how we teach and how we keep our students attentive.invisible gorilla

Our goal is to incorporate many of the concepts in these books into the teacher materials we create.  Check out the books and check out our teacher materials at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:surviving+to+thriving+ljl

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Why Read Son?

August 21, 2013

Fear dims when you learn things.     Lois Lowry, Son

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Why read Son by Lois Lowry, the long awaited fourth book in the series:  The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger?  Mostly because it is a good read and because it brings up critical issues that deserve further attention and discussion. Middle and high school students need critical issues to discuss if they are going to develop critical thinking skills.  And, while it is the fourth book in a series, Son stands alone.  It will definitely entice readers who haven’t read the first three books in the series to read them.

Son is an excellent candidate for a read aloud and/or a unit.  As a unit, there are many opportunities for cross curriculum activities.  Check out our Read Aloud for Son and our Son by Lois Lowry Unit Plan.  Both the read aloud guide and unit employ multiple delivery modalities, facilitate students’ cognitive thinking skills, and use a constructivist approach to teaching and learning.  Both are student centered and ready to implement. son1

Resources

Read Aloud Guide for Son by Lois Lowry

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Son-by-Lois-Lowry-Read-Aloud-Guide-798379

Son by Lois Lowry Unit Plan

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Son-by-Lois-Lowry-Unit-Plan-821288

Lois Lowry Website

http://www.loislowry.com/index.php?option=com_djcatalog2&view=items&cid=4:the-quartet&cid=4:the-quartet&Itemid=185

Book Trailer for Son

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfOchuB4hwM&feature=youtu.be

 Conversation with Lois Lowry–Son

http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=aNf_pwgBeOQ

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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)


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