Tag Archives: instructional strategies

If These Walls Could Talk: Maximize Your Classroom’s Instructional Potential! (Part 1)

On Friday, November 13 my good friend Joe Zlatnik of Basehor-Linwood Middle School and I had the honor of presenting at the NCSS national conference in New Orleans.  In addition to taking every possible opportunity to eat Cajun food, we spoke with a group of about 40 teachers from across the country about strategies we have used to utilize our physical classroom wall space for instructional purposes

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I am a firm believer in trying to give conference attendees as many practical ideas as possible during a session and this year we offered up four activities I have attempted at both Tonganoxie and Gardner Edgerton high schools.  What follows is Part One of this presentation, with parts two through four soon to come.

Strategy  I: If These Walls Could Talk: The Aurasma Concept Review

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(Please note that I am in no way connected with the Aurasma app, it is simply something that was shown to me by a media specialist that I thought was cool!)

A common problem that all teachers face is the reality that there are many students who need assistance and only one teacher to go around.  Worse yet, how often do students need a refresher on a topic they are studying without anyone to ask other than the almighty Google?  The Aurasma app provides an innovative way for kids with smartphones to receive that refresher from the teacher him or herself in the comfort of their own home.

Continue reading If These Walls Could Talk: Maximize Your Classroom’s Instructional Potential! (Part 1)

Stop! In the Name of…Writing?

stoplight2In an effort to improve the writing skills of my students and better prepare them for the Kansas Writing Assessment, the Multidisciplinary Performance Task, I have begun implementing the Stoplight Writing strategy.  I attempted to use this strategy in my classroom last year, but as a last ditch effort before the test rather than a regular activity the students experienced throughout the entire school year.

This year however, my students are writing every unit using stoplight writing, and the dramatic difference in the finished products from last year to this year are extraordinary.  Last year I feared that my 7th grade students didn’t know how to write a complete sentence, this year I am finding that my expectations for the students are too low and every unit I raise the standards for their finished work. Continue reading Stop! In the Name of…Writing?

Reading as professional development and capitalism vs. democracy

Welcome to Scott Peavey, high school US and World history teacher at Gardner Edgerton. Scott will be writing regular posts as the newest KCSS board member.

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As social studies teachers we constantly are finding little tidbits of information in our everyday “civilian” lives that create that special spark.  I consider that spark to be the feeling of creativity and insight that educators get whenever they identify an opportunity to cultivate a teachable moment in their classroom.  The source materials for these sparks are diverse; anything from reading the news to watching my one-year old son race across the living room floor.  Over the last week I felt that spark as I was undergoing the most cost-efficient social studies professional development there is . . . reading.

triumphI recently began H.W. Brand’s book American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900.  Last school year was my first formally teaching 11th grade US History and I quickly found that the Gilded Age and the rise of the industrialists was a weak point in my content arsenal.  My goal in reading this book Continue reading Reading as professional development and capitalism vs. democracy

7 triggers that guarantee student engagement

fascinate1Okay . . . guarantee is a strong word.

Encourage might be better, maybe stimulate. Jump start?

But it doesn’t really matter what word we decide on.

I think using some of the ideas that Sally Hogshead pushes can help increase the chances for grabbing and keeping the attention of our kids.

Sally wrote a book called Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation that came out several years ago. What she talks about in the book are the powerful strategies that are used to influence thinking and decision making. Fascinate is targeted at marketers and ad folks but the ideas seem to be exactly what stressed-out teachers are looking for.

Economists have always said that to get people to do something, you have to provide incentives.

So . . . imagine a middle school teacher trying to elicit engagement and excitement about the Compromise of 1850 with 13 year-olds. What to do? Sally has some suggestions . . . seven to be exact. She calls them triggers. A trigger is “a deeply-rooted means of arousing intense interest.”

Sally says it just a matter of picking, choosing and combining the right triggers and your kids will be eating out of your hand.

So what do these triggers look like? Continue reading 7 triggers that guarantee student engagement

Trading Cards, ReadWriteThink, and the Common Core

trading card 1We’ve always asked our kids to read. Informational text. Primary sources. Non-fiction. Fiction. Poetry. We’ve always asked our kids to write. Summaries. Research. Reviews. Reaction papers.

At least, that’s been the theory. Good social studies and history instruction has always included these things but I think that sometimes we can forget how critical reading and writing skills are to what we do. The Common Core, for better or worse, has been a good reminder for us. We need to have our kids read, write, and communicate much more.

The problem for many of us?

Uh . . . what does that look like again?

Continue reading Trading Cards, ReadWriteThink, and the Common Core