Archive for the ‘Middle School’ category

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.

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

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

AMLE             logo71.jpg


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