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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Here is a great article. Take a minute and think about how our assumptions drive us...another area of thinking we need to teach students. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

How teachers can tackle unconscious beliefs
Teachers need to acknowledge their mental models -- assumptions about people that unconsciously affect behavior -- to make education equitable for all students, transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes in this blog post. She outlines a six-step process to shift this mindset. Edutopia.org/Teacher Leadership blog (4/15)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Collaboration -- problem solving together - increases learning in this research study. Take a look and see what you think. Could it be the process models meta-cognition? Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief


Study: Sharing iPads may enhance learning

Customers Queue As Apple Launch The iPad In The UK
(Dan Kitwood)
IPads can have a positive effect on academic performance and it may increase when students share a device, a recent study found. Data show students who shared an iPad scored 28% higher on end-of-year literacy tests, compared with a 24% improvement among students who used the devices on their own. Time.com (4/13)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This text appears simplistic at first, but is powerful, offering many insights on the strategies many of our students lack - and do not develop throughout their school career. I strongly urge teachers of all ages read it and consider how the lack of language and social interaction has impacts the child's ability to develop meta-cogntion. I believe we can teach the basic foundation needed to develop the meta-cognitive strategies. I am beginning to wonder if we can teach academic meta-cognition if the student has not developed the foundation. That is our challenge. Please comment and share your ideas.

Social Emotional Learning and Literacy are the topics covered in this text. It is excellent. I am including it here because Buckley has developed a strong strand of meta-cognition in the text.  "The emotional component is the meta-cognitive work the children do, including developing self-awareness skills that enable them to choose their actions wisely.  It may be taking three deep breaths to calm down before speaking or it may be allowing a friend to take the first cupcake."  The solution Buckley poses can benefit all students at any level.


As I have visited schools across the country, I have seen an epidemic of students who seriously lack a spoken vocabulary and the knowledge of how to communicate.  This book, written by a veteran teacher, Mary Ann Buckley, from Bailey School in Northern Virginia addresses these issues in a thoughtful, doable way.

Here is some of the research she uses as a theoretical basis for the book.

These first quotes deal with oral language.


"Although there is no official definition of school readiness, many studies have found that traits such as controlling impulses, handling transitions, and cooperating with peers are strong predictors of academic success in later years."
Buckley, Mary Anne (2014-12-28). Sharing the Blue Crayon: How to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Literacy Learning (Kindle Locations 136-138). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition.


"Betty Hart and Todd Risley (1995) found that by age four, children from high-income families were exposed to thirty million more words than children from families on welfare. In follow-up studies, Hart and Risley revealed that the family exchanges had a significant bearing on children’s performance in school, particularly in language development and reading comprehension."
Buckley, Mary Anne (2014-12-28). Sharing the Blue Crayon: How to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Literacy Learning (Kindle Locations 140-142). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition.


"Think of the impact that pattern would have on your daily teaching—being reprimanded two times before hearing praise! The comparison to our professional lives gives me a better understanding of why some of my students don’t ask questions directly and don’t let me know when they are confused. It may be that they have not yet learned how to question and it may also be that they have been reprimanded for questioning. How many of us would remain silent if we expected harshness instead of clarity in response to our questions?"

Buckley, Mary Anne (2014-12-28). Sharing the Blue Crayon: How to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Literacy Learning (Kindle Locations 145-149). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition


So I have been thinking that we might want to start our schools earlier and focus on language - much like they do in many European schools... or have some experience educators come up with an assessment to be used on students to help us target those who need help with vocabulary.  What do you think?




Buckley also quotes the following from Vygotzky and uses it as rational for the social and emotional piece of solution - a friendship circle.  

 
 
"Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and John Dewey all established that the most successful learning is social in nature. According to Vygotsky, 'Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological)' 
(1978, 57). Dewey added, 'I believe that we violate the child’s nature and render difficult the best ethical results, by introducing the child too abruptly to a number of special studies , of reading, writing, geography, etc., out of relation to this social life. I believe, therefore, that the true centre of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities'(1897, 10)."
Buckley, Mary Anne (2014-12-28). Sharing the Blue Crayon: How to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Literacy Learning (Kindle Locations 78-84). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition.
From these viewpoints, Buckley has formulated what she calls Friendship Circles for her K classroom.  She has found them very successful for preparing students for school and melding social, emotional and literacy readiness.
“ Teaching students to manage change is one of the most important parts of our job as educators in the primary grades. You probably won’t find that task written in state or national standards and curriculum guides or hear the topic discussed in the faculty lounge at staff meetings, yet it is as vital to learning as reading and writing.
Children who do not learn how to self-regulate their behaviors to respond appropriately to others’ needs and demands and to navigate the slippery slope of transitions will likely fall behind in school and struggle throughout their lives. We must carefully cultivate their social and emotional intelligence just as we prime their academic growth.
In Friendship Workshop I address those social and emotional behaviors by connecting what I see my students doing and saying during independent work times with my insights about their developmental needs. I create a path to learning using their lives and emotions. Our conversations and discussions during Friendship Workshop help us reach academic standards; they don’t pull us away from those goals. By understanding one another— orally and socially at first, then using those community-building exchanges to strengthen the skills of reading and writing— we experience the joys of communicating, understanding, and connecting to one another."
Buckley, Mary Anne (2014-12-28). Sharing the Blue Crayon: How to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Literacy Learning (Kindle Locations 175-179). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition.
I highly recommend this book.  It has some great ideas that can be expanded to upper level grades as well.  
 




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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Focus Walls in Real Classrooms

Research on meta-cognition has been slowly creeping into U.S. education.  Recently when I visited classrooms in Altamont, Tennessee, I observed the use of focus walls. 

This is a relatively new idea for most U.S. teachers.  Unlike the traditional review of the schedule for the ELA period, instruction for the day is framed with an essential question and several areas of focus.  Each day, the focus wall is reviewed along with what the teacher and students have learned so far.  This should take about 10 minutes and allows for teachers and students to clarify their learning so far (untangle misconceptions) as well as create a mind set of focus for the learning coming up in the ELA lesson.  Note:  many schools are using this in all subjects.

Here is an example from a second grade classroom.  Notice this is for a unit.  It has an essential question and posts the texts students will study to answer that question.

The teacher also has a list of high frequency words, phonics, fluency, comprehension strategies, target vocabulary, grammar, writing, vocabulary strategies, and spelling. 

The teacher models the connections among these areas as each one is introduced on the appropriate day, using think alouds.  This provides students - with the connections among the different content areas that will boost their comprehension of their learning process...in other words why we are learning what we are learning in the way we are learning it...AKA meta-cognition. 

Teachers are impressed with the results they are getting from students.  They are talking about how students are seeing the connections between the different areas and are able to retain the information and apply it to other areas.  It seems so simple, yet how many of us take the time to do this?

Remember, the focus wall is for a unit.  The parts that are reviewed on a daily basis relate to the lesson on that day. 

It helps if you think of the focus wall as a graphic organizer that shows your students the connections between the subject matters that represent the thinking they will be using to answer the essential question. 

Here are some more examples of how other teachers have organized their focus walls.







Choose a format that works for your students.

The essential question is key.

For those of you teaching higher grades with several divisions of students, think about using pocket charts for each division that can easily be changed or ... if you are lucky enough to have an interactive white board ... create the focus walls on the computer and project them for the appropriate division.

You will find this simple procedure will help your students comprehend the learning process guiding your instruction and will enhance their understanding and success.

Good luck!!