July 30, 2015

My B2S Classroom Management Tip

Here's a simple but extremely useful tool for Classroom Management.  This handy book includes 30 picture cues that will prod the student(s) into action.  It will serve as a tool to help you talk less and teach more.  Instead of asking a student to “Stop”  ~  “Turn around!” ~ “Be quiet!” you can simply walk toward him/her and place the picture within their view.  Placing a cue card under the document camera is also helpful to remind all students of important  statements such as, “I need your best work.” ~ “It’s time to pack up.” ~ or “Get into your small groups.”  Take it with you, use it often, wear it out!  
                                   It will transform your management style.

                             Here's a few of the visual cues included in the product.
 Take a look at the preview to see the entire set of pictures.  Click here.

July 28, 2015

One of my Favorites

You can download the second set of Task Cards HERE.  These are part of a set of 45 Creative and Critical Thinking Strategies that you can collect and place on a ring as shown in a post below. Practice a few each week and by the time you have the full set, you will be a "whiz" at encouraging your students to think!

The "Answer App" is the first one in this set of cards.  It is one of my favorites. In the picture above you can see teachers in action practicing the strategy. First, we practiced a few examples such as "Abraham Lincoln is the answer.  What is the question?"  We have 8 - 10 different questions that related to the answer.  Next, I asked, "21 is the answer.  What is the question?"  Their questions were pretty funny with little relationship to math. (But that's what happens when teachers are rested up during the summer.)  Last, they were asked to write "an answer", similar to the two examples, on the top of a piece of paper and then fold it into a paper airplane.  When they were ready, we all stood up  to throw the airplane on the count of three.   Everyone picked up an airplane and wrote one question that related to the answer at the top.  We folded it back into an airplane and flew it again.  Everyone picked up one that they had not had previously and began to write a second question that related to the answer.   This continued until each answer had three different questions.  A few were willing to share out. It's a great way to get your students actively involved in vocabulary practice!

July 24, 2015

45 Thinking Strategies to Engage, Enrich, and Empower Your Students

These 45 task cards, with creative and critical thinking strategies, can be right at your fingertips as you plan your lessons or search for ways to enhance the learning process.  Each week, on Tuesday, I will offer a free download of four different task cards in alphabetical order.  These strategies are officially called "iDazzle Apps".  Students use the icon of each strategy to quickly recognize a specific application of thinking.  Each card explains "what" the strategy is, "why" it is important, and "how" to implement the strategy in your classroom.  The card also offers examples of how the strategy might be used in different topics or settings.  These 45 strategies have been tested in classrooms from K-12 and in all four core content areas.  Download your first four cards and the front and back covers here.

Experience the Struggle - Celebrate New Growth

In this activity, participants are asked to draw a path between two stars.  (A smaller one is drawn inside a larger one using Microsoft Word shapes.)  This would be extremely easy for most, except they are given a limitation which states they must look into the mirror image rather than the drawing itself.  One team member holds a piece of card stock to block the normal view while another one holds a mirror at just the right angle.  The "drawing" team member looks into the mirror and immediately realizes this is much more difficult than expected.  The struggle begins!  Engagement will thrive while team members want to try it over and over again.  In most cases, improvement is evident with each new attempt as the brain learns to compensate for the distorted view.  Try this out with your students, using mirrors from the dollar store.  They will immediately understand how it feels to struggle.  Teach them to love the struggle, because with patience, passion, and persistence comes a reason to celebrate new growth. 

July 21, 2015

Help Students Understand Your Goals for Differentiation

        One of my favorite activities in my gifted and talented workshops is to demonstrate the importance of differentiation.  I have the participants spread out in a wide line facing me.  I explain that I will be calling out specific skills or talents and they are to move along a continuum from their right (#1 weak skill) to their left  (#10 strong skill) with each talent I call - comparing themselves only to their peer group.  First, I start with "swimming".  Some teachers quickly move to the left, others head to the right, while many stay in the middle along the #4, #5, or #6 area.  I continue to call out skills or talents such as, playing volleyball, writing a newspaper article, speaking Spanish, cooking a gourmet meal, building an outdoor deck, and so forth.
         After watching teachers move along the continuum showing their strength in certain areas as well as weaknesses, I ask them to pretend they just signed up for my swimming class.  I explain, "While some of you are ready for the high dive, others still have a fear of the water".  If I ask my swimming students to get up on the high dive, some will be frightened and others excited.  If I ask the students to put their face in the water and blow bubbles, several would want to drop out of the class because they would be wasting their time.  The same holds true in our classrooms.  With this type of activity students will understand why the content, process, or product of our class work may look quite different at times.  Give this memorable moment a try!