Tagged “Problem Solving”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

How to Create Independent Thinkers

Alina Davis

Post written by Alina Davis, an ESOL K–8 resource teacher in Orlando, Fla., 2010 ASCD Emerging Leader, and regular contributor to ASCD's Inservice blog. Connect with Davis on the ASCD EDge® social network.

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).

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Paula Mirk

Does Your School Have Integrity?

A few years ago, the Institute for Global Ethics collaborated with the National Association of Independent Schools to examine what exemplary schools were doing to balance attention to academic rigor with attention to the ethical behavior of high school students. A common thread among these selected schools was a collegial collaboration aimed at making adults feel safe, engaged, and inspired at work. (No surprise to learn that this "rubbed off" on students who were also invited to "take an active part in the school improvement process.")

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Steven Weber

Five Dysfunctions of a Professional Learning Community

What Is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

"The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it." —Rick DuFour, Bob Eaker, and Becky DuFour (2007)

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Klea Scharberg

Ask Dr. Judy Willis Webinar: How Can I Help My Students Remember What I Teach?

Join renowned author, neurologist, and teacher Judy Willis for an exciting free webinar on strategies to increase how effectively your students can store and recall content.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 3:00 p.m. ET
Register now!

The key to forming new memories and storing information is the brain's practice and experience recognizing and constructing patterns. The best glue to promote the consolidation of new information into short-term memory is activation of prior knowledge. In this interactive webinar you will take a journey through the brain and learn proven Neuro-LOGICAL strategies for building patterning skills, activating prior knowledge, and more.

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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.

Andrew Miller

Project-Based Service Learning

Project-based learning (PBL) by nature lends itself to authenticity and real-world relevancy. All well-designed projects connect learning to an authentic task, but some can really run with it. This is where project-based service learning comes in, where PBL is used to not only create authenticity, but also fulfill a community service and need.

I have a long term partnership with EagleRidge High School in Klamath Falls, Ore. PBL is becoming one of its core identities as the school moves forward. On a recent visit, teachers were collaborating to build a PBL project for a Community Studies course.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

How to Work Interventions into Classroom Lessons

Post submitted by SmartBrief education editor Amy Dominello

The gap in vocabulary, reading, and comprehension starts long before children arrive at school. Children are often not learning the words they need to at home, and that makes reading teachers out of educators at all levels, said educator and author Jim Grant during a session at the ASCD Annual Conference.

That's become especially important in math, where more word problems are now part of the curriculum and tests, he said.

Fitting interventions for struggling students into everyday teaching doesn't have to be hard, Grant said. He offered classroom-tested, time-saving tips and strategies that allow educators to administer high-quality interventions in the classroom for students from poor backgrounds.

Among some of the strategies he shared for both reading and math:

  • Make cold calls in the classroom, but don't give students the ability to opt out of answering. Call on another student, and then loop back to that first student to make sure they picked up the answer.
  • Use mind maps to help students organize their thoughts for crucial words. These include a definition in the student's own words, a drawing, and antonyms and synonyms.
  • Make time during sustained silent reading to work with struggling students while other students are reading on their own.
  • Create a checklist for students to edit their work that has them check for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
  • Borrow heavily from the Singapore Math teaching method, which emphasizes number bonds and immerses children in numbers. He highlighted activities common to Singapore Math that include having students take photos that show a certain number of objects, human number lines, math scavenger hunts, and visual aids.
  • Don't make students go through an entire worksheet before checking for understanding. Giving students five questions can let you know whether they've understood a concept or if they need more help.
  • Give students multiple opportunities to show proficiency by returning worksheets for students to fix the problems that weren't correct.
  • Before students come up to your desk, encourage them to find the answers on the posters in the room so they don't always rely on you.

For more information, visit Grant's website.

Andrew Miller

Building Student Capacity in the Middle Grades

Project-based learning (PBL) is being embraced by schools nationally and across grade levels. Educators know that each grade level comes with its challenges as students are in a variety of developmental levels and abilities. However, through practicing 21st century skills in a PBL environment, students can build their social, emotional, and cognitive capacity. 

Because the middle grades are a paradigm shift for most students, middle-grades teachers are presented with an exciting opportunity to engage 21st century learners, but they also need to keep in mind that these students need unique scaffolding.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Eight Tips to Engage Your Students

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge

"We cannot use the excuse 'I've always done it this way,'" said speaker Laura Erlauer Myrah.

In the ASCD Annual Conference session "Instructional Tips to Tell Teachers," Laura Erlauer Myrah provided eight tips for educators and teachers to engage their students and allow them to remember concepts taught in class. The eight tips cover categories such as the body and brain, movement, emotional environment, collaboration, relevant learning, enriched environment, and Net Generation learners.

In the first category, "body and brain," Erlauer Myrah referred to research that supported children needing oxygen and water so that their brains would not become dehydrated. She suggested that teachers open windows in the classroom, have plants in class, allow students to carry water bottles, and educate parents about the need for students to get adequate sleep.

But students need more than proper sleep, hydration, and oxygen to remain engaged in the material. Erlauer Myrah offered a tip on how to make a lesson that students can be engaged in. She provided research from Sheryl Feinstein, "Handling Specific Problems in Classroom Management" in The Praeger Handbook of Learning and the Brain (2006), as the basis for her tip on how to change the lesson plan to accommodate how the brain works: You should capture your students' attention in the beginning of a lesson. For example, when you begin class, instead of using the first 10 minutes to take attendance or review daily tasks, use that time to teach the most important concepts. This is the time that students are most engaged, according to Erlauer Myrah. For the next few minutes, allow the students to "pair and share" what they have learned with one another. Then, use the next seven minutes of prime time to teach some more concepts.

The four main takeaway points that teachers should want for their students are: know the concept, want to know more about the concept, know what was learned, and know how students can use and apply the concept.

A 1st grade teacher from Southern California enjoyed the session and felt that she could use the tips for her students.

"What I really enjoyed about the session were the practical tips given," said Lisa Taylor.

Another member of the audience was also inspired by Erlauer Myrah's tips.

"I loved the session. It was inspirational, motivating, practical, and respectful of the hardships and challenges within the education world," said Marcia Richards after she had finished dancing a two-step to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration." She also has hope that teachers will "continue to make a difference in children's lives."

This session suggested that in the 21st century, teachers should embrace the changes that are happening in the world and allow them to be available to the students. The old ways of teaching are of value, but if the students aren't engaged and learning anything beyond the classroom, they will not be prepared to thrive in this new world.

Tips that can be used in the classroom:

1. Body and Brain

  • Open windows.
  • Have plants in classrooms.
  • Allow your students to have water bottles.
  • Educate parents and students regarding the need for adequate sleep.

2. Movement

  • Ask your students to stand instead of raising their hands.
  • Questions around the room
  • Clapping rhythms
  • New location for important material

3. Emotional Environment

  • Make every student feel unique and secure.
  • Meet and greet.
  • Give recognition.
  • Listen and show interest.
  • Expect respect from all.
  • Relationships transcend everything.
  • Emotions and memory

4. Collaboration

  • Collaborative learning/projects
  • Pair and share (tell students to talk to classmates and practice answers)
  • Connections with other levels
  • Connections with community

5. Relevant Learning

  • Make the relevance obvious to students.
  • Make it interesting and fun through your delivery.
  • Experience learning.

6. Enriched Environment

  • Challenging problem solving
  • Physical classroom
  • Play music during tests or writing.
  • Use of music: a. Primer; b. Carrier; c. Arousal/Mood

7. Assessment and Feedback

  • Know it well.
  • Remember it always.
  • Use it readily.

8. Net Generation Learners

  • Youth don't see working, learning, collaborating, and having fun as separate experiences.
  • They believe in, and want, these experiences occurring simultaneously in school and in future careers.
  • This generation wants to problem solve and innovate.


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