Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why Sharing is Essential for Educators

David Geurin makes some great points in this recent Blog Post

8 Ways Sharing Is Essential For Educators

1. It inspires new ideas. When you share something from your classroom with another educator, it might spark a conversation that leads to something new for their classroom. Ideas always build on other ideas, and they get better as we get more input and various perspectives. It's the power of collaboration.

2. It creates a culture of learning and continuous improvement. What you choose to share with others reveals a lot about what you value. By talking about student learning and how to make it better, you are helping support a culture of improvement and keeping the focus on the bottom line, better learning for students.

3. It builds self-efficacy. Sharing good things that are happening is encouraging to self and others. We all want to feel like we have the ability to do our jobs well and make a difference. When you focus on the positive, it gives you a greater sense you can impact your work for the better.

4. Success breeds success. When something is working well, share it. It can give others the confidence and inspiration to replicate what you are doing or build on it. 

5. Sharing pushes your own thinking. When you share with others, you inherently think differently about the idea. It causes you to reflect and consider the audience and what might be important to them. Reflection is extremely important for taking your thinking deeper. We tend to reflect more on things that we are thinking of sharing with others.

6. Taking risks can encourage others to take risks. When you try a new idea in your classroom or do something innovative, there is an element of risk. By sharing this experience with others, they might gain the confidence or inspiration to step out of their comfort zone to try something new. 

7. You might enjoy your work more. I think when teachers share the positive things happening in their classrooms, they feel validated for what they do. Everyone needs to feel noticed and appreciated in their work. It's more likely for this to happen if you reveal some of the neat things that are happening in your classroom.

8. It's too good not to share. When students do something amazing, it's just a shame for it not to be shared outside the classroom. So many things get noticed in our culture that aren't positive. We need to do our part to amplify the best things in the classroom.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck has written much about growth mindsets and grit. In the following Edutopia blog post she writes about some of the misconceptions that educators have recently shown about growth mindsets.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Teachers as Lead Learners

I've been a huge fan of the thought of teachers and administrators being "lead learners". In this post, "Educators as Lead Learners", Jackie Gerstein does a great job of describing the importance of being intentional about how we learn with our students.

She discusses the idea of learning being an "iterative process". I completely agree with this and it made me think of our own Inquiry Process.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Science Instruction in Three Dimensions

Joe Krajcik, a professor of science education, associate dean for research in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. He is also co-director of the Center for Highly Interactive Classrooms, Curriculum, and Computing in Education at the University of Michigan advises educators to think of lesson development as building a balanced meal. In an NSTA blog, he writes:
“I like to apply the analogy of preparing a really great meal to three-dimensional learning. I originally got this idea from Ted Willard from NSTA. I love to cook, so I’ve tried to expand on this analogy.
Think of knowing how to do various techniques in the kitchen like kneading bread, cutting tomatoes, beating an egg, frying or roasting, and so forth as the practices. You could know how to do all of these and still not be able to prepare a really good meal.
Now, think of picking out really good ingredients for the meal. You want to pick out a high-quality piece of fish or poultry or excellent pasta for the meal. These are your core ideas. A disciplinary core idea is essential to explaining a number of phenomena. Your main ingredient is essential to the meal. But just as the DCI works with practices to make sense of phenomena and design solutions, you need to know how to cook that main ingredient.
But something is still missing. The meal tastes bland. What is missing? To make a really good meal, we need to use spices and herbs [crosscutting concepts] to enhance the flavor of the main ingredients. Similarly, to really make sense of phenomena and to design solutions all three dimensions are necessary.
To make a really wonderful meal, good main ingredients are necessary, but you need to know how to use various techniques to prepare them, and you must have the spices and herbs to enhance the flavors. All three work and blend together to make a great meal. Similarly, to foster three-dimensional learning where all learners can make sense of phenomena and design solutions, all three dimensions need to work and blend together.”
Teachers can gain greater understanding of the Framework by reading the overview produced by NSTA. Chapter nine of the Framework provides a detail description of the integration of the three dimensions.
Chapter 9 - Integration of the Three Dimensions

From Maine DOE

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Great article about ways to summarize a lesson and the value of doing so.
Read: 22 Powerful Closure Activities for suggestions. I'd be happy to try one with you when I'm in your class.  Jenny

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Making Connections with Students

Aaron Hogan wrote a thoughtful blog post, "Who's in the Gaps". In this post he challenges teachers to look at their class lists and be able to name one thing they know about each student outside of school - making a list of those that you do not know anything about.

As you identify these interests you can make a plan to engage with these students and make connections. These connections will help you plan lessons that will address those students needs.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Increasing Interactions with Students through Questions.

What is so Important About Asking Questions?

In the article Michael P. Clough references the below figure.

"Penick et al. (1996) suggested a questioning strategy particularly suited to science teaching in that it emphasizes students' prior experiences and using these experiences to build relationships, apply knowledge, and create explanations (Figure 1)."

Click on the image to enlarge.