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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Communication Strategy: ClassDojo!

Article by Dora Daniels

Who wants to spend a lot of time on the phone or sending tons of parent emails during their plan time or after school? Is there a way to get around this and still have open communication with parents? The answer is yes. It is ClassDojo!
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High School Teachers Need Love, Too!

Article by Anne Allen
As I stand outside my 1st grade daughter’s classroom with a mason jar collecting single flowers from her classmates, I think about how different this is from the high school scene. “Big kids” from the older grades stop by to give the teacher a quick hug before heading off to the 3rd or 4th grade and I wonder if these teachers know how lucky they are. As a high school teacher, I can tell you the teacher appreciation jealousy is real.
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Inspiration, The Podcast: Debatability

Do you want to breathe new life into your classrooms? Check out our free podcast on “Debatability” from our “Inspiration” series (embedded below). If you want to learn more, click here to sign up for our new PD scheduled on January 26, 2017. Administrators and teachers will not only learn new strategies and examples for infusing classrooms with inspirational traits, they will also leave with one of our new teaching guidebooks, Inspiration: Breathing New Life into Classrooms (included in registration fee), designed to help teachers (and schools) transform their practice.
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Inspiration, The Podcast: Curiosity

Do you want to breathe new life into your classrooms? Check out our free podcast on “Curiosity” from our “Inspiration” series (embedded below). If you want to learn more, click here to sign up for our new PD scheduled on January 26, 2017. Administrators and teachers will not only learn new strategies and examples for infusing classrooms with inspirational traits, they will also leave with one of our new teaching guidebooks, Inspiration: Breathing New Life into Classrooms (included in registration fee), designed to help teachers (and schools) transform their practice.
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Emotional Connections, One Bite At A Time

According to a recent blog post by the New York Times, the brain is not wired to think deeply about things about which it does not care. In other words, when our students say they don’t care about what we teach, or they don’t think they’ll “use” our content areas in the so-called “real world,” they may actually be expressing something that cuts to the heart of how our minds work: in order to learn deeply, we need an emotional attachment to the content we study.
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Student manipulatives and novelty

One of the teachers I work with found that her students were not responding to a graphic organizer for Claims-Evidence-Reasoning. The organizer was designed on a regular sheet of paper, and for all intents and purposes it felt a bit like a traditional “worksheet.” Though I think there is a significant difference between graphic organizers and worksheets, I fear even the association can be anathema to learning. That at least seemed to be the case for this teacher’s class. Her solution, a fold-able that was as simple as it was elegant, reminded me about the power of novelty in aiding student learning.
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New Favorite Tech: ThingLink

Photo courtesy of here.


We live in an age where there is no shortage of online tech for teachers to use in their classrooms – but, sometimes, I stumble across something that strikes me as truly remarkable. Enter ThingLink.
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Angels and Superheroes

CUES-Cast, Season 1, Episode 4: Interview with Jack Jose and Krista Taylor from Gamble Montessori High School about “Angels and Superheroes,” a website for “Compassionate Educators in an Era of Standardized Testing and Evaluation.”
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Menus: Providing Choice in the Classroom Increases Engagement

Article by Jennifer Stadtmiller

Keeping students engaged in a lesson is a great challenge for many teachers. According to Marzano in his book, The Highly Engaged Classroom, “If students are not engaged, there is little, if any, chance that they will learn what is being addressed in class. … Student engagement happens as a result of a teacher’s careful planning and execution of specific strategies.”
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