Tagged “Motivation”

Klea Scharberg

Improve Student Learning Through Teacher Effectiveness

Virtually every study that has examined the role of the classroom teacher in the process of educating students has come to the same conclusion: an effective teacher enhances student learning more than any other aspect of schooling that can be controlled by the school.

But that doesn't mean blaming teachers for low test scores. Starting tomorrow, ASCD's Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning focuses on how schools can support teacher effectiveness in a balanced way that addresses all of the factors research indicates improve student learning. Follow the conference learning online with Conference Daily and join the conversation on Twitter through the #ascdfc11 hashtag.

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Thom Markham

Why the Whole Child Needs a Coach

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.

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Professional Learning Communities

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.

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Klea Scharberg

Linking Family Engagement Activities to Learning

"Successful Schools: Families Matter," from the Center for the Improvement of Student Learning, highlights promising family and community partnership practices from one district (featuring Whole Child Podcast guest Trise Moore) and two schools from Washington State.

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Klea Scharberg

Inclusion: What Do the Kids Think?

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Inclusion: A Necessity for Fully Engaged Students

Project UNIFY

The following blog post was written by a unified pair of youth leaders who participate in local and national youth engagement and activation conferences to enhance their communication, leadership, and advocacy skills. These youth continue to collaborate and motivate other youth to become active in our pathway toward social justice for all. The post is republished with permission and was originally featured on the Special Olympics Project UNIFY blog.

Looking at the aspects that create schools where students are able to express their ideas, engage in meaningful leadership opportunities, and develop a collaborative relationship with the staff to address the needs of both students and teachers is challenging, yet important. One word that is indirectly included in each of those aspects is inclusion. Inclusion can be defined in many ways, each catering to a certain situation. However, there are common characteristics that we can define as being inclusive: students of all abilities, religions, genders, and races are offered equitable opportunities for academic, social, and physical growth; students perceive their peers as valued individuals with unique assets to the school community; and everyone is included in the school's student body, regardless of popularity, athletic ability, or academic achievement.

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Paula Mirk

Ethics: A Great Teaching Connector for All Learners

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.

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Sean Slade

The Rhetorical Appearance of Toughness?

In-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, long-term suspension, suspension for minor infractions, lack of counseling, adoption of zero-tolerance policies: are these just the rhetorical appearance of toughness instead of what is actually tough to do?

And for what end? To be a deterrent for others? Well if that's the case, it ain't working.

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Klea Scharberg

Listen to Your Students

Students want to be successful in school. If you take the time to listen to your students, they will tell you what academic supports they need.

"It's about listening to students," writes Allyson E. Kemp in "ELLs: The Grace of Being Heard." Through her experiences as a secondary English language learning facilitator, Kemp was able to recognize individual students' needs, unify the class through self-direction, and nurture the growth of a positive academic identity. Try asking your students the following questions and then reflect on how well the lessons are meeting their needs.

Questions for Students

  • What's your goal for today?
  • What academic work do you need to complete this week?
  • What are your academic priorities?
  • What priorities outside school do you have?
  • How will you manage your time to successfully accomplish your goals and meet deadlines?
  • What resources do you need?
  • If you don't know, whom will you ask?
  • How will you know when something is complete?
  • What did you learn?
  • If you didn't meet your goals—why not?
  • What can you do differently next time?

Questions for Teachers

  • How are the students making sense of the work?
  • Do I notice patterns when students get stuck?
  • Are all students engaged in their work?
  • What resources do the students use outside the classroom?
  • What are the students' plans after high school?
  • What minilessons do I want to teach on the basis of what I'm learning about my students?

"When we plan instruction to meet students where they are," writes Kemp, "students feel empowered—not only because we've listened to them, but also because they see evidence of these conversations in how we teach them."

How do you listen to your students?

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Learning in Every Learning Style

Jane A. G. Kise

What if teachers could help each student get a sense of his or her individual learning style, in terms of that student's preferred way to process information and seek energy? Imagine how much better we could support and engage each child!

Education consultant Jane A. G. Kise's article in the summer online issue of Educational Leadership discusses how to differentiate instruction in a math class. In this guest blog post, Kise describes a differentiated lesson on poetry. Her article includes a checklist teachers can use to help gauge each child's learning style.

As I work with teachers, we often teach students about their Jungian learning styles so they can better advocate for their needs. One teaching team decided to go further, creating a poetry lesson to help students understand every style.

The teachers and I created four stations, one for each learning style, collaborating to ensure that each station was engaging yet rigorous and presented a clear learning goal, so that students wouldn't judge stations as "easy/hard" or "fun/boring."

  • At the "Let Me Master It" station (learners with the introversion/sensing style), students received clear directions and examples so they could create haiga, illustrated haiku poems.
  • At the "Let Me Do Something" station (extraversion/sensing style), learners worked in groups to plan and perform a recitation.
  • At the "Let Me Think" station (introversion/intuition style), each student chose from several independent activities involving reading or writing poetry.
  • At the "Let Me Brainstorm" station (extraversion/intuition), they collaborated to write a parody of a nursery rhyme.

Then the students journaled about their experiences at each station. I watched one teacher debrief the lesson. She asked all of the students to move to the station they liked the most. Students grouped by every station. The teacher commented, "Look around. If you aren't excited about something we're doing in class, chances are that one of your friends is loving it. My promise is we'll change up what we do so you'll all learn in your own style during part of our time together."

Then she asked them to move to the station where they learned the most. A majority of the students shifted stations. "Aaaah," the teacher said, "so sometimes when you're really having to work at something, you're learning more? Let's all remember that, too."

Students then brainstormed times when their school work requires them to learn in each style. For the "Let Me Master It" style, students identified gathering foundational knowledge and tools for each content area. For "Let Me Do Something," it was science labs, band, using maps, and a robotics class. For "Let Me Think," independent reading and writing; and for the "Let Me Brainstorm" style, the style was tapped through collaborative teamwork and group discussions.

Learning styles aren't meant to set limits on what students can do, but instead to help students realize what comes naturally, what activities are a stretch, and when to seek extra support so they can succeed. The path to success lies in thinking, This activity is hard because it's not in my comfortable style, but I can ask my teacher for strategies, rather than thinking, This is too hard for me.

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