Teacher Wellness Series – Part 2: Welcome to Winter Break!

Article by Tammy Metcalf
Welcome to Winter Break! In the first blog about teacher wellness, I introduced the phrase allostatic load and challenged you to create your own Teacher Self Appreciation Plan. So, first things first: how are you?
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Standards Based Grading

Article by Mike Ross

Ask any teacher, administrator, or parent about standards-based grading and you will likely get as many different responses as the number of people you ask. For some reason, standards based grading has a negative connotation. This could result from misguided attempts to implement this in a building or simply because some think standards-based grading can’t fit in a classroom already “crowded” with class discussions, cooperative learning, project based learning, or whatever the school’s new initiative is. Fortunately, this is not true. Standards based grading has a place in any classroom and can actually make the life of an educator much less stressful.
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Consistency When Implementing Change

Article by Katie Currens

When it comes time to implement change, more times than not it is met with great trepidation, sometimes even downright displeasure. So why is that? What has happened that causes us to bristle at the idea of change? Let’s explore the reasons and how we can change that feeling!
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Actual Careers in Sports

Article by Mike Ross

Ask any classroom of students what they want to be when they grow up and there will inevitably be several kids who say some type of professional athlete. The usual responses are baseball, basketball or football. Who doesn’t want to make a living playing a game and earning millions of dollars? Unfortunately, most kids do not realize how unlikely it is to become a professional athlete. Even if they do understand it is difficult, they do not have the ability to understand the extreme unlikeliness of this event. What does the phrase “one-in-a-million” really mean to an eight-year-old?
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What to do when technology gives you trouble

Article by Jenni Stadtmiller

It’s time. You have planned an amazing lesson for your students. They will be logging on to create their own worlds in Minecraft with scaled Egyptian pyramids or creating their own Prezi slideshows or making a screen-casting video of how to find true sources when researching. But the computers won’t turn on. Or they can’t get on the site. Or the microphone isn’t working.

What do you do when your technology won’t cooperate with you? And why does it always seem to happen?!
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Using Classroom Technology (for Non- Geeks!)

Article by Lori Cargile

Integrating technology into your classroom practice can be daunting for those who consider themselves not to be up-to-speed on the latest electronic gadgets, devices, and computers. Even if you still use a flip cell phone and haven’t touched an iPad a day in your life, there is technology that you can successfully use to reach your students.
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Questioning Strategies

Article by Sandi Sumerfield

If there were a “holy grail” of education, student engagement would be close to the top of the list. As teachers, we all want to create a community environment where students explore ideas in-depth, passionately consider all aspects of a topic, and listen with sincere interest to the ideas of others. An important foundation in establishing community is creating an environment where rich and engaging dialogue exists and a safe environment is established for all learners to openly explore possibilities they may not fully understand. Effective questioning strategies are a critical component in creating such an environment.
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What to Do When You Need Help

Article by Jessica Magee

Whether this is your first year of teaching or if you are a veteran, there comes a point during every school year where things are not going as planned. It’s normal to feel isolated and confused on where to go to get help. Sometimes you are the only one teaching a specific content, or you don’t have the same planning period as others that you feel can help you. Don’t feel helpless! You have options.
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Malleable Misconceptions

Article by Chad Huelsman

Everyday our students enter our classrooms with preconceived notions about knowledge and their abilities. It is imperative that we, as educational influencers, identify these preconceptions and take the proper measures to support students in advancing their learning. David Ausubel (1963), an American psychologist known for research work on “meaningful learning,” stated “the most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly.” Even though Ausubel’s insights into teaching and learning are critical to advance new knowledge, Audrey Sewell (2002) posits that our students’ prior knowledge can either be a “bridge” or “barrier” to new learning for them, especially when it comes to addressing student misconceptions.
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Noisy Classrooms and Student Discourse

Article by Kathleen Jones

Noise and lots of it. A cacophony of young voices speaking at once. It is a room full of 2nd grade math students; students who are oblivious to my presence and engaged in conversations with their peers. What, though, is all the chatter about? Recess? Video games? Gossip? Not even close. These students, sitting in groups of 2 and 3, are sharing their ideas about whether the sum of two odd numbers always produces an even or odd number. This topic, it turns out, was posed as a question by one of the students in the class. The teacher, in turn, instructed the class to discuss this in small groups. While viewed as an amazing environment to some, others might wonder what the big deal is all about. Moreover, why take up valuable time having students, especially this young, talk about math? Why not simply reveal the solution to them and move on? Why? Students’ creativity and inquisitiveness must be recognized and valued as a necessary tool for learning. We must foster nurturing classroom environments that are rich in collegiality and student discourse.
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