Archive for the ‘Learning’ 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.

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Help a Colleague

March 30, 2015

Eight_o_clockTime is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.   Carl Sandburg

The response to help a colleague may very well be connected to time: There’s barely enough time for the things I have to do—there’s just no time to be collegial. The scarcity of time is often a systemic problem, however, some teachers seem to find that time because they know that the return is energizing. Ben Johnson’s fourth step in avoiding teacher burnout in his article, 10 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout, is to help another teacher. He shares some excellent ways to do just that by responding to a blog or starting your own blog; mentoring another teacher; or taking an active role in your professional organization. Here’s 7 more ways to help a colleague:

  1. Share a lesson, unit, or resources for a topic with teachers who teach the same grade level or content area.
  2. Organize a grade level meeting or content area meeting to plan an end of the semester/year activity and ask everyone to bring an activity or resource to the meeting to share.
  3. Share a journal article with a summary of the article and some practical applications attached to the article.
  4. Designate a bulletin board or bookshelf in the teachers’ lounge for teachers to share resources, activities, books, lessons, etc.
  5. Follow a blog (see suggestions under Resources).
  6. Join your professional organization and share the resources from your membership.
  7. Check in with a first-year teacher in your building.  The conversation will benefit both of you.

While demands on time don’t always allow for teachers to collaborate with colleagues, when you do collaborate, the effort and end result is always worth it. My partners in Surviving to Thriving LjL have collaborated together on many projects—books, curricular materials, presentations, and workshops. For example, we are currently working on a unit and discussion/activity guide for Animal Farm. Jennifer just finished the unit. Next, I go through the unit, editing, deleting, adding, and then sending it back to Jennifer. She makes her adjustments, then it goes to Linda, who formats it expertly and uploads it to Teachers Pay Teachers. When we wrote two books on classroom management (Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom), we sat at Linda’s dining room table and wrote as a team—that was an amazing process. Collaboration benefits all those involved in the collaboration process and often benefits students the most.

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014).  10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Blogs to Check Out

Teach Thought

Middle Web

Hack Learning

Grant Wiggins

From Surviving to Thriving

Thriving LjL

Surviving to Thriving TPT

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 by Katherine Applegate

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Learn Something New

March 23, 2015

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.  Barbara Sher

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There is something about doing or learning something new that is invigorating. Sharing that experience with your students is another way to avoid teacher burnout according to Ben Johnson, in his article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Johnson suggests sharing a new book you are reading with your students or learning about how the brain learns and sharing that. Here are five things to consider connected to doing and/or learning something new.

  1. Go to a large bookstore and browse through their magazines. Choose a magazine you probably would never even look at, let alone buy. Buy it and page through it; look for connections to your own life and/or work.
  2. Read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink—lots of ideas and suggestions about looking at life differently.
  3. Choose a genre of music with which you have little or no experience. Share some of this music with your students and get their opinions about it.
  4. Try a new recipe every weekend and report back to your students what you tried and whether or not you liked it.
  5. Learn to do magic tricks. Share your magical ability with your students—but no disappearance acts for you or them.

One of the things I did when I was working on a master’s degree in literacy is to share new things I learned about literacy and new learning strategies with my high school students. I would tell my students that I am trying out this new learning strategy with them and after we use it, I want their opinions about how well it worked for them. This was stumbling into magic—students took the new strategy very seriously and then shared their critiques. It was awesome!

I also discovered that students love to learn about their brains and how they learn. There are so many reliable resources online connected to the brain and learning. Recently I pinned an infographic on Movement and Learning that summarizes the benefits of movement in the classroom. As for adding more movement to your classroom, again there are many resources available including brain breaks that are fun and still serve the purpose.

As my colleagues and I create teacher materials for Teachers Pay Teachers, we always include activities that get students up and moving. Check out our store, Surviving to Thriving LjL on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here’s a list of the novels for which we have developed curriculum materials.

Movement and Learning Infographic

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 by Katherine Applegate

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014).  10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.


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