In a session at ASCD's Fall Conference in October, former teacher and leader in the brain-based–learning movement Eric Jensen shared three dozen classroom-tested and highly practical strategies you can use immediately to get sustainable engagement for the whole child in every class. Discover how to involve even a discouraged, hostile, or apathetic student. Each research-based strategy is role-modeled, highly adaptable, and debriefed for instant application at your school.
Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Carole Hayward
Adora Svitak, ASCD's youngest member at 14 years old, became involved in classroom teaching when her first book was published when she was 7. As a current high school student, Svitak has a truly unique perspective on both sides of the classroom.
At a general session at ASCD's Fall Conference in October 2011, Svitak began by talking about her class schedule, which involves four online classes and two traditional classes taught at a brick-and-mortar school. She showed her tablet device that contains everything she needs for her online classes and her traditional binder, which is bulging with papers from her face-to-face classes.
Join renowned author, neurologist, and teacher Judy Willis for an exciting free webinar on long-term memory strategies.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 3:00 p.m. eastern time Register now!
Once information gets through the brain filters and becomes working memory, it needs further processing to become long-term memory. Strategies of mental manipulation are needed to develop neural circuits of long-term memories. This webinar will connect the up-to-date memory research from neuroscience, including discoveries about neuroplasticity and pruning, with classroom instruction strategies to promote accurate, durable, and efficiently retrievable long-term memory.
Even a topic as conceptual as ethics can become a kinesthetic experience to help students get out of their seats and get the brain-blood flowing. Your students will thank you for thinking of ways to make learning fun and active, such as frequently using patterns of small- and large-group activity and asking students to scribe on flip charts, whiteboards, or smartboards (try to never be the only one standing!).
Signal to your students that you want to meet their needs and encourage their authentic input by asking them to come up with a more physical or active way to carry out an activity they've done before. This provides review and deepening understanding of concepts while innovating and building knowledge ... and having fun.
Do you have habits? How about your students? I am sure you can think of a few habits you'd like to break. But are there a few you wish would develop? Although we can't make our students think, we can teach them how to be skillful, creative, and strategic in their thinking. We do this by helping them develop Habits of Mind (free webinar).
Coaching is popular these days, as evidenced by a recent article in The New Yorker (October 3, 2011) describing how a neurosurgeon decides to extend coaching into the operating room and improve his skills in unhooking a damaged thyroid from the grasp of surrounding tissue. Athletes also get coached, in just about everything. So do executives and those needing better life skills. And teachers increasingly receive coaching on structuring lessons and pacing their instruction.
A successful learner is a child who enters school emotionally and physically healthy, feels safe and is ready to learn, is connected to the school and the community, and has access to challenging and engaging academic programs. A successful learner is prepared for further education, work, and civic life. When schools implement this whole child approach to education, they make healthy development, student learning, and academic achievement cornerstones of comprehensive, systematic, and collaborative school improvement.
So, we need to talk. The adults at the school need to talk about how students are learning and what and how teachers are teaching. Effective professional learning communities (PLCs) provide opportunities for adults to learn and think together.
Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.
In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and..." not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.
"Lifelong learners" is at best a description of a healthy, dynamic culture; at worst, an overused cliché running rampant through school mission statements and professional resumes. It's one of those statements that folks use all the time, but no one really defines or assesses in a meaningful way (here we go with my word snobbery again!). So let's take it on. And this time, let's turn the lens on the grown-ups and figure out what and how they're learning these days.
The study of ethics requires asking "What is right?" and "What is good?" In one form or another, most children ask these questions of themselves and their surroundings on a regular basis. As they mature into adolescents, justice issues—especially those that affect them—become a prominent part of this questioning process. For this reason, we consider ethics a great teaching opportunity.
We want our schools to be dynamic and exciting places where student learning takes front and center stage. We want to reduce the dropout and failure rate among students. We want to support students in exploring deeper understandings that can build the academic confidence that will help them succeed in school and life. We want to be better teachers.
Authors Persida and William Himmele believe that when you give students the opportunity to demonstrate higher-order thinking and to learn through individual processing followed by interaction, they will surprise you. Himmeles' new book, Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner, presents dozens of ways to engage your students in active learning and allow them to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge and understanding. Each technique has step-by-step instructions and suggestions for how to adapt it to specific contexts and content areas.
Read excerpts from the book and join the discussion on ASCD EDge, a free social networking community for educators, linking teachers, administrators, authors, and experts online. The community currently has 27,000+ members.