Sunday, June 24, 2018

Links I Love 6/24

"In many ways this blog post is not for teachers. It’s for parents. It’s for me. Somehow in my mind I already have it locked down that my boys will go to college. But why is that the only way? Our ideas about our kids can be as damaging as our parenting flaws. Recently my eldest tried out soccer. He didn’t like it. I kept pushing him to get on the field. My pushing made him more and more upset. All of a sudden I thought, “why do I care if he plays soccer?” So we picked dandelions and went home. What I care about is that he learns to join something. It just seems like everyone is playing soccer and sometimes I want my kids to be just like everyone else so they may be insulated from pain, or doubt, or struggle."

"If we respond to our kids' misbehavior instead of reacting, we'll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It's not a sign of our failure as parents. It's normal."

"The moms see it as an investment, Mejia-Arauz says: Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he'll turn into the competent 7-year-old who still wants to help.
Research supports this hypothesis, says the University of New Hampshire's Andrew Coppens. "Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home," he says."

"Dear Reader,

If you are a young person — by young person I mean 19 and younger, though young-at-hearters aren't excluded. Nor are older people. Or old people. But I’m speaking primarily to young people. Anyway, if you are a young person, the following are 10 things I’ve been meaning to say to you:"

Links I Love 6/24 Math

"Curiosity about students’ mathematical thinking is at the heart of effective and joyful mathematics teaching. There are four channels via which we can gather information about student thinking: we can look at student work and products, we can observe and listen to students while they work and talk, we can confer with students about their thinking, and we can ask students to reflect on their own learning and share their self-assessments with us. We’ll explore how to open these four channels strategically, so we can gather better, richer, more interesting information about our students and their thinking, even when using curricular materials that don’t prioritize formative assessment."

"Routines – Routines are well-understood structures that encourage discourse, sensemaking, and equity in the classroom. A teacher may have many different types of routines in her toolbelt and utilizes them daily.
Lessons – Lessons include any activity that involves transmitting or practicing content knowledge. Lessons can vary from whole class lectures to hands-on manipulative activities.
Problems – Problems are complex tasks, not immediately solvable without further knowhow, research or decoding of the prompt. Problems can take anywhere from one class period to three or four class periods.
Projects – Projects apply mathematical knowhow to an in-depth, authentic experience. A project occurs over the course of two to four weeks. Ideally, projects are outward facing, community based, and/or personally relevant."

"It seems to me that the status quo almost works. If more schools had interventionists who could come in and focus on the needs of the unchallenged, that would be amazing. (Those specialists along with teachers and parents could then decide if a kid would be better off in a different math situation.)"

"While the intent of structuring classrooms according to ability may be to create a pace that is more manageable for students, more often expectations are lowered and the work is overscaffolded. Students learn best when there is a balance of struggle and support. It is important that all students are held to high expectations (the end goals are all the same right?) and that they have opportunities to problem solve through mistakes with guidance such as questioning from the teacher."

 "If you’re not a pre-k, kindergarten, or 1st-grade teacher, you need to find one and give them a hug after watching this video.  They do the work of an army and many times their work goes unnoticed. There’s so much happening in the early years of school, that without this progression of early number and counting, we’d all be out of a job.

Here’s the 5th installment in the Making Sense Series. If you’re looking for other progression videos you can find them here."

Links I Love 6/24 - Literacy

Revolutionary Reading: Reading to Change the World - slides from a presentation by Jess Lifshitz

#classroombookaday: Engaging Picture Book Read-Alouds That Support Community & Identity - slides from a presentation by Jillian Heise

"I think as teachers we all say and do things in the course of the day hoping it is in the best interest of our students. I am confident that all of the music teachers I had wanted what they thought was best for me. But they let me know over and over again that I was just not cut out to be a person who sings. Of course, we want students who can read, but we also want students who become lifelong readers. We want students who see themselves as readers and students who cannot imagine a full life without reading. We need to remember that in every single interaction we have with a child."

"In our zeal to be ever so helpful to our struggling readers, we may find ourselves falling into the trap of finding and pointing out the error to the child ourselves.  When the teacher finds the error the focus turns to fixing the error rather than promoting self-monitoring during reading.  Finding the error for the child and showing them how to fix the error will not help to improve the child’s ability to self-monitor.   THE CHILD NEEDS TO FIND THE ERROR!"

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Links I Love 5/19/18

Two of my favorite presentations from ShadowCon 2018 - notes about each presentation are from Dan Meyer's blog post.

 Andrew Gael reveals the potency of our presumptions about student competence, and how students often live up and down to those presumptions. What we believe about student competence affects how we work with those students, which affects their opportunities to develop competence.
ShadowCon 2018 - Andrew Gael from Shadow Con on Vimeo.

Javier Garcia contrasts the ways we talk about students (as though they're incomplete, fallible) and mathematics (as though it's complete, infallible) and made a case that teachers should reverse those two descriptions.
ShadowCon 2018 - Javier Garcia from Shadow Con on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Links I Love 5/5/18

Planning for Growth in Teaching
"When we are able to see setbacks as a natural part of learning and living, look at them honestly, and come away with some valuable feedback about what to try differently next time, then we live as teachers who constantly grow and develop and constantly improve."

Engaging Children with Ellin Keene and Tom Newkirk - Podcast or Written Transcript of the Podcast

"Can you think back to when you were last fully engaged in something? So consumed that you lost all track of time and your surroundings? As Ellin Keene writes, “when engaged, we enter into a state of wideawakeness that is almost blissful.” She says this feeling is intoxicating. How can our students find this deep engagement on their own? In her newest book, Engaging Children, Ellin Keene explores that very idea. She examines the conditions that lead to engagement and how we can promote student-driven engagement."

The Low Kids and The High Kids

"And sometimes, being in this work means we develop some short-cut ways of describing the complexity of what we see in front of us. It's normal and natural as humans to look for patterns in our experience and categorize things. If we didn't our brains would be on overload all the time. We need these ways of explaining the world. But sometimes, these short-cut terms we come to use to describe our teaching world need to be examined. We need to take a step back and make sure that we aren't doing harm by labeling things and putting kids into categories they can't escape. We need to use that kind teacher heart as a lens to examine what short cuts our brains have made for us."

Resources for Elementary Math Teachers

A Google doc with a wide variety of resources for elementary math teachers.

Random Photos and Screenshots of Tweets

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Links I Love 4/15/18

Kristi Mraz on Being the Change

"What is Social Comprehension, and Do Little Kids Need it?
Sara defines social comprehension as developing “skills and habits to help us comprehend social issues and participate in relevant, transparent conversations.” She points out that this skill is learned, and to me, that means we need to be teaching it from the first day of school in kindergarten. It is more than just having the skills of conversation. Though that is certainly part of it, it is also normalizing difficult conversations and studying the impact of our actions on others so that we may learn better and do better. Little kids are more than capable of talking about big issues when we approach it in a way that feels appropriate and connected to their lives. It will be messy and clumsy at the start, but what isn’t?"

Embracing Student-Generated Questions in the Classroom 

"The research on student-generated questioning is compelling; questioning pushes students forward in making meaning of information. Students in inquiry-based classrooms demonstrate higher test scores. Brain scans reveal that when learners’ curiosity is piqued by questions, the parts of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and memory undergo an increase in activity. Questioning generation improves students’ reading comprehension and promotes positives attitudes about reading and literacy."

Parent-Tested, Expert-Recommended Advice for When Your Child Isn't Reading Yet 

"Don’t judge. This is the cardinal rule, and the one I break all the time. So your child isn’t reading in first grade. So what? You can start labeling or comparing, or you can accept the situation as it is, and work with it."

“What you cannot imagine, you cannot do”

Now imagine Astronauts on the Space Station reading stories to the children of Earth as the world rotates below.
Imagine no more…it’s Story Time from Space!

A Few of My Favourite Blog Posts - to Read...or Inspire Writing

"I was asked the other day by another professional to share some blog posts that have inspired me.  She was curious about starting up her own blog and wanted to read through a few different writers’ works to get some inspiration.  To be honest, there are so many great educators posting wonderful blog posts that it is difficult to narrow it down.  Here is my attempt at creating a list of some of my favourite blog posts from the past few years.  Find one you haven’t read and take a look."

The 5 Practices Framework: Explicit Planning vs. Explicit Teaching

"Trust me, I get it. The word “explicit” has developed a cringe-worthy connotation among peers in the math community. In the past, if I were asked to paint a picture of a math teacher engaging in “explicit” teaching, I would have painted either a teacher standing up at the front of the room, telling students how to solve a problem, or a teacher crouched down next to a struggling student, “correcting” the way the student approached the problem because they were taking the “long way there.”

Promoting Productive Struggle in Math 

"Math hooks changed the feel in class right away. There was confusion, conversation, wonder mixed with frustration, some magical revelations, and lots and lots of rigorous thinking. This was all exactly what I was looking for."

What is a Number String?

"A number string is a set of related math problems, crafted to support students to construct big ideas about mathematics and build their own strategies (Fosnot & Dolk, 2002)."

Using Math Routines to Build Number Sense in First Grade

"Every time we do this routine, I find students building on one another’s ideas, challenging themselves, and getting excited about the different ways they can represent a number. I hear cheers and gasps as other students share their answers. This routine not only builds an understanding of how numbers are composed and decomposed, but it is also an engaging way for students to dive deeper into the meaning of numbers, which sets the foundation for future mathematical experiences. The conversations this routine spurs surprise me time and time again."

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Links I Love 3/31/18

I am dusting off this old blog so that I will have a place to gather, store and share some of the great posts and articles I run across online. I won't be writing a summary for each article but instead I will be pulling out a favorite quote from the article to give you a taste of what the whole article might be like. There are so many thoughtful educators out there and I learn so much from them every day.

Close Listening and a Kids-First Approach to Our Day to Day Interactions
by Kristine Mraz 

"Putting kids first does not mean that there is no expectation or difficulty in classrooms. It means that how we respond is different. In our actions, in our words, and in our conversational moves we demonstrate that we care for and value the children in our care, that we center on their needs, and support their growth. "

Non-Math Essentials for Math Learning
by Margie Pearse

"A teacher who loves teaching math will get students excited to learn math. Step into a classroom led by a passionate math teacher and you’ll notice students at the edge of their seats anticipating his or her next move, ready to take on any math challenge, and willing to take risks. When math is taught with enthusiasm, students begin to see learning in a different light, approaching each problem with interest. Passion sets the stage for engagement to happen in math. Brains are awakened by emotion, offering students a way to make stronger mathematical connections."

"Islands of Certainty" - Learning Sight Words 
by Katie Keier 

"This reminds us of the importance of making sure that everything we do is in the service of meaning. We can’t simply teach kids lists of words to memorize or put these words on flash cards. We have to focus on teaching these words in meaningful text and show our readers how these known words can be “islands of certainty.” We have to help our readers and writers see how to make these words theirs, and how they can use that knowledge in their reading and writing. "

Beyond Dojos and Card Charts
by Sarah  Caban 

"As math educators, we talk all the time about how important it is to get students to ask questions, justify their thinking, and critique the reasoning of others.  If we really want to make this happen, I think we need to pay attention to the mirrors we hold up for our students.  If we use extrinsic rewards and punishments are we building agency or promoting complacency?"

Making Space: Entering Lessons Mindfully
by Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins

"In classrooms, we all pay great attention to the physical space. We are conscientious about classroom clutter. We are intentional about room design, furniture placement, and color, particularly in these early days of a new school year. But, more important than the things we place and arrange in the classroom is the space around the people and the objects—the emptiness that is actually something. Similarly, creating space, or making room for nothingness, between lessons, by taking a few deep breaths as you cross over the threshold of a lesson, will affect your quality of life as well as the quality of student learning."

The Work of Finding Empathy
by various Heinemann authors

"One of the most enriching—and challenging—aspects of being an educator is that we must live what we teach in order to teach it well. To teach reading effectively, we must be readers ourselves. To teach writing well, we must write. To build an inclusive school community, we must look inward and examine how we work to see the humanity in others when words or actions differ from our own identity positions."

When Pushing Boundaries in Math Education, Where Can Teachers Turn for Help and Comaraderie?
by Kristen Rae Lapore 

"As an educator, how do you overcome the shortcomings of social media and network with other innovative teachers beyond the Internet?"