Posted tagged ‘Critical thinking’

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!

 

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.

Protecting Children in a Complex Society

January 18, 2013

Quote of the Week:  All children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on this most complex world.         Deborah Meier

For those of you who are familiar with the Hunger Games, you will remember it certainly wasn’t a society that protected its children.  Thinking about our own society, how well do we protect our children—not just physically but their emotional and mental wellbeing?  Today, adults are debating gun control and the Second Amendment, which should be debated.  As those conversations are occurring, adults are not always cognizant that there are children listening and watching.  They’re watching television images of teachers learning how to use guns and how to defend themselves.  They’re watching movies and programs about terrorism, horrific crimes, and violence.  They overhear media, regardless of parental advisories that what follows may not be suitable for children, and it’s out there before it’s possible to click a program off.  There is little to no separation between what is appropriate for children and what is geared for adult listening and watching.  To what extent are we, as a society, willing to protect children from losing their innocence about life sooner than they should?

Perhaps reading and discussing books like The Hunger Games give adults opportunities to prepare children for the darker side of society.  If we’re not willing to redefine individual freedom—where does one’s freedom and rights begin and end, then we need to give children the critical thinking skills they need to navigate the very complex society in which we live.

As we continue to develop lesson plans for The Hunger Games, we are attempting to provide students with opportunities to develop and use critical thinking skills to have those meaningful discussions that just may help them understand the world in which we all live.

The Hunger Games Character Analysis Lesson Plan  is a free download on our Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Check it out!

hunger games character analysishttp://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Hunger-Games-Character-Analysis-Lesson-Plan


Uma Krishnaswami

Writer, Author of Books for Young Readers

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