Reading is a must!
When it comes to applicable cross-curricular skills, reading is at the top of the list. Beyond the walls of the school, reading is an absolute necessity for leading a healthy and productive life. While reading and literacy are regularly represented as ELA skills, they permeate every discipline in an important way.
Literacy simply defines the ability to read and write.As content specialists, much of our time is spent trying to make students literate in our area of expertise. Many of us are presenting daily tasks that require students to write about the content area. Math uses practice exercises that require one to read an expression and follow a series of written steps to solve the equation. Thus, a student must be able to read and write using math specific language; this is math literacy. Science is based on research and a desire to investigate the world around us. This research is published and built upon through decades and centuries. Students read and engage in experiments that will prove or disprove a hypothesis; then, students will reflect upon their findings using science terminology. Once again, this is literacy.
The same arguments can be made for every subject area in the building and this is why it is important to consider how teachers are implementing opportunities to read in every content area.
Creating a Meaningful class reading experience
Many classes use current events as a basic reading assignment. Maybe it is time to think about how we can make them more meaningful to students. Reciprocal Teaching is a tried and true group reading strategy to ensure students are reading for understanding and depth.
Teaching these skills can give you A 2:1 effect
It is very possible that a student could define their assigned role and be unable to facilitate the role correctly in this practice. Before you complete a full reciprocal teaching exercise, I would advise the teacher to complete at least one reading through each of the four lenses. In other words, take a class reading and practice summarizing as a group. For the next reading, everyone in the class is going to play the role of the questioner and progress through the reading sections with that mindset. In theory, that would prepare your class to attempt a reciprocal teaching reading for the fifth in class reading.
Why does this matter? Research concludes that Reciprocal Teaching can have a 2:1 effect on student achievement. That is reason enough to try for me. As always, the iCoaches are here to help if you want to learn more about this or other literacy strategies. Email icoachMK@mhrd.org to set up an appointment!
sleep and student performance
Topics of student health continue to come up in meetings, articles, and other discussions for both teachers and administrators. As we continue the dialogue, I would like to share an article I read this week pertaining to sleep and adolescent performance in school.
The school schedule is, and has been, fighting the internal clock of adolescents for decades. As the article below explains, a teen has a natural desire to stay up later and sleep into the morning. Our school start time of 7:30am is 20-30 minutes earlier than the national average and an hour earlier than researchers recommend school to start for students at this age. The NPR article highlights a fairly small study with some telling results. In short, pushing the school day back one hour was a large task for the adult leadership of the school district, but it has led to positive outcomes in attendance, performance, and most importantly, student health. The article it is definitely worth a read.
Considerations for teachers
While modifying the school schedule is not within our mandate, we do have power over the daily structure of our classes. If students are short-slept and not biologically awake at 7:30, it would be smart of us to structure the first half hour to 45 minutes of the block 1 class differently. Beginning with lecture-based direct instruction or homework review might be counterproductive if our population is not altogether ready for that at 7:30. Perhaps we should consider periodically infusing the following structures or strategies to get block 1 started off on the right foot.
In-School Flipped Classroom: Flipping the classroom has been a buzzword for awhile now, but maybe it doesn't need to happen at home. With the wealth of online videos, articles, and other tutorial materials, a 10-15 minute flipped model to start the day might get you closer to that standard 8am start time and prep the learner for the day's instruction.
Self-Assessment and Peer Review: These strategies have proven to statistically improve achievement for learners. By beginning the block with a student assessment of performance, we can refocus the learners to the content and skills that we were building last block. A think-pair-share is a great class starter already; add the assessment piece to get the learners engaged in the revision process at the beginning of class.
Class Discussion: A well-structured class discussion provides a 2 to 1 effect on student achievement. Students might be slow to get started early in the morning, so providing prompts, topics, or videos could be useful.
Facilitate and Provide Feedback: In a more standard class schedule, the teacher may check homework or begin the class by diving right into content. If we take 10-15 minutes at the beginning of class to review, reflect, discuss, assess, and provide feedback to our students, we will have a higher chance of activating prior knowledge, which is very important to the learning process. While the ability to grade and provide feedback for every student's homework is not necessarily feasible, we can zero in on those we know need our input and support. A two-minute conversation with formative feedback about a performance task is engaging for students and should be utilized whenever possible, especially at the beginning of the class.
Hybrid Learning Stations: Learning stations get students up and moving through a variety of tasks and learning groups. I like utilizing this early in the day because sometimes students just need to get the blood moving a bit. Creating a Hybrid Stations Agenda requires preparation, but the teacher gets to facilitate learning in a more individualized manner when students are progressing through the block in smaller groups or pods.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Drive all provide unique collaborative tools, but sometimes sharing and editing the permissions of documents can be confusing. When it comes to sharing documents securely, it is important to understand the different permissions you are granting to others.
It is important to be sure that you are only providing editing rights when necessary. When you share a document and hand editing rights to another user, you are handing over a large share of rights for someone to make use of the information contained in the document. In addition to editing the document, editors can also add other users and share/print the document. In many classroom settings this is not a problem, but if you are handling sensitive information or only seeking input on a file, I would share a file with View or Comment rights instead of full editing rights.
The PDF below provides detailed instructions for maintaining and securing digital rights within the Google Education Suite. Please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
As the video below outlines, teachers can search for these materials by book, genre, grade level, literary device, text set, and theme. CommonLit also offers read aloud mode, guided reading questions, annotation tools, and free in-site translation to Spanish features to assist ELL students and teachers. These tools are clearly applicable for English and Social Studies teachers, but I quickly found full sets of Spanish texts, health topics, and readings for Science and Technology courses.
Building DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP is important!
The internet has grown into an incredible resource catalog for teachers and students, but as the internet continues to grow and develop, so does the need to train young learners how to navigate the digital world safely and securely.
Created by Google, Be Internet Awesome is a digital citizenship platform and curriculum. This program is designed to help build responsible young users of the internet and provides some terrific resources for teachers and parents.
"To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence."
This digital curriculum contains over 60 pages of activities, educator notes, student goals, scenarios, and discussion topics. It is available for free download HERE. The website also contains an interactive platform/puzzle game called Interland. This game uses puzzles to teach skills and thought processes that should be employed when using the internet safely. I only got to play a few levels, but I was rather impressed with the game. It was far beyond a simple internet game.
If you are interested in learning more ways to integrate digital safety into your curriculum, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Whether you are looking for balanced sources, examples of literary bias, or opportunities to bring real-world topics into your classroom, Allsides.com is a unique platform to get the discussion going.
If you are you looking for a way to supplement your instruction with video content, you may want to consider adding ED Puzzle to your technology toolbox. Many teachers at MHRD are already using ED Puzzle with regularity because it is a simple way to distribute video content, put your own twist on it, and collect formative assessment from the students.
The best part of the platform is you can use existing videos from Youtube, Khan Academy, Ted Talks, and a wealth of other content platforms. This saves time and allows us to make use of the great content that is already out there. The platform also allows a teacher to interject formative quiz questions, voice overs, and audio notes, which allows the teacher to add their own clarification or directions within an existing video.
Edpuzzle continues to evolve and add new content libraries each school year. Even if you have used it in the past, I would encourage you to look at incredible amount of content teachers have created over the past few years. Like Kahoot, you can search, reuse, and modify the existing work of your peers to fit your classroom.
Easy Video Integration
Free Content Library
Publishes Directly to Google Classroom
As educators, we strive to improve our educational practices each school year, but there are a number of ways we can positively impact a student's life beyond our subject area content.
The following articles highlight a major obstacle that will face many of our students for years to come. The rising cost of college in this country has the potential to impact students for 10-30 years following the graduation from a four-year degree program. With college debt increasing by the year, this is a real problem facing 18 year-old kids of all demographics. As students are weighing their options beyond high school, I would like to challenge you to consider how you could address this major teenage issue within your classroom this school year.
The Atlantic - Why Is College So Expensive in America?
NPR - How The Cost of College Went From Affordable to Sky-High
Subject Area Topics to Consider:
Health - How does carrying high debt through life impact stress?
English - The Atlantic presents a huge case for why college is so expensive. This non-fiction text could lead to a great discussion and provide opportunities to practice annotation strategies, mathematic and data analysis within scholarly writing, or a simple study of cause and effect.
VPA - Can we make that fine and performing arts degree pay off in the end?
Social Studies classes could use this NPR article to talk about the GI Bill and how the tax base played a key role in subsidizing a higher education for "The Greatest Generation."
Math - Through the collection of data from all over the world, a class could be investigating the true value of a collegiate education in America. The question being, "Is it really worth the price we are paying?"
This topic is relevant and real for our population. Many of our students are worried and stressing over getting into college. In reality, most colleges need their tuition money and we should do our best to steer their attention to selecting an appropriate and sustainable education path. One where educational value, cost, and economic outcome are more important than the size of the new residence hall.
The iCoach MK workshop blog catalogs all of our workshop materials and new resources in one location.