Graphic organizers have helped many students grasp vocabulary for years. The most effective uses of graphic organizers require students to use vocabulary, often through engagement with text, peers, and teachers in multiple ways. In other words, it won’t do for students to simply “complete” a graphic organizer. Rather, they must use the organizer to explore the concept or vocabulary term under consideration.
With the onset of global access to digital information, the emphasis on rote memorization and frontal lectures in the classroom are a thing of the past — or at least they should be. We need to be mindful of the changing landscape of the global economy and create a new educational model that reflects this new reality.
In early December, I asked my 22-year-old daughter to come into school and help me file papers into student folders. After a few hours at the back table, she looked up at me and said, “Wow, you’ve really fallen apart. How’d you let this happen? I don’t ever remember you being this disorganized before.” Gotta love a daughter who tells it like it is!
Clare's mother always used to tell her, "It's not what you say that is the problem, it's how you say it!" This same thought rings through our heads as we talk with teachers, administrators and coaches about assessment. Most of the time, the problem is not what assessments are being used; it is how these assessments are being used. Assessment is not an end, but rather a means to end. What is learned in the process of assessing students is every bit as important as the final outcome of the assessment. Here are some ideas to help make the most of the assessments you are using.
I-Charts offer a planned framework for examining critical questions by integrating what is already known or thought about the topic with additional information found in several sources. On a given topic, students will have several questions to explore. These are found at the top of each individual column.
The rows are for recording, in summary form, the information you think you already know and the key ideas pulled from several different sources of information. The final row gives you a chance to pull together the ideas into a general summary. It's at this time you'll also try to resolve competing ideas found in the separate sources or, even better, develop new questions to explore based on any conflicting or incomplete information.
Warm-up activities, curriculum extensions, skill builders, literacy games, substitute lessons, or just for fun: this collection of reusable activity sheets in PDF is one-stop shopping for all of these purposes and more. Each idea below can be used with any day's edition of The New York Times. Where necessary, an activity includes separate directions to the teacher, though most are self-explanatory enough to be handed directly to students.
Read a news article from today’s New York Times and identify four different points of view from the
article in the four boxes below. Point of view could be directly stated in the article (through a quotation) or you
could figure out a possible point of view based on information in the article. For example, if the article reports
recent election results but only quotes the winning candidate, you could infer that the losing candidate and his
or her constituents would represent additional points of view about the election. At the bottom of this sheet,
summarize two of the four points of view in more detail.
As citizens in a democracy, you’ll be confronted with policy questions. Is a
tax proposal a good idea? Should you vote for a particular ballot
initiative? Government policies can profoundly affect our nation and
your life. In a democracy, you have a say on government policies
and proposed policies. It’s important that you take a critical look at
them. Use the following GRADE tests to evaluate a policy:
We should be using all of those evidence analysis tools with our kids. They can be especially helpful for training elementary and middle school students to gather and organize evidence while solving authentic problems. And for high school kids without a strong background in historical thinking skills, the tools provided by the LOC, NARA, and SHEG are incredibly useful to guide thinking.
Everyone tells stories: journalists, politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs. Conveying information in a coherent and compelling way is vital to success in the real world, and it’s our job as educators to prepare our students to share their ideas in effective ways. The emphasis is on empowering students to create authentic products that they can share with others beyond the classroom walls.<br />
Those advocating for teacher leadership roles often face daunting obstacles: lack of funding or trust, resistance to power-sharing or change and the inability of others to see beyond what currently exists. With tight budgets and a traditional hierarchy of leadership, how can teachers build authentic leadership positions within their schools and districts? How can they gain agency within the system, without relinquishing their important work with students in the classroom? These continue to be my burning questions.
Ninety percent of students at Hobgood Elementary in Murfreesboro, Tenn., come from low-income households. Most of the school's teachers don't. And that's a challenge, says principal Tammy Garrett.<br /><br />"If you only know middle-class families, you may not understand at times why they don't have their homework or why they're tired," Garrett says.<br /><br />When she became principal four years ago, Garrett decided to get her teachers out of their classrooms — and comfort zones — for an afternoon. Once a year, just before school starts, they board a pair of yellow buses and head for the neighborhoods and apartment complexes where Hobgood students live.
Issues related to the use of challenging texts span across the disciplines. Many groups<br />associated with the National Center for Literacy Education and from across the 30+ stakeholder organizations are wrestling with varied aspects of student success with complex texts. While some strategies and questions are appropriate for any discipline, other strategies and questions will be discipline specific. Regardless, we have much to learn from one another.
The Common Core State Standards emphasize the importance of students being exposed to and understanding texts of increasing complexity as they progress through grade levels. Often, though, it’s difficult to find an accurate way to measure texts. Lexile and readability scores use features like sentence length and word frequency that are not always accurate measures. For example, the classic novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is considered to be at a lexile level for a third grader. As educators, we know to use our better judgement because the themes and topics are nowhere near appropriate for that grade level.
Teachers are feeling emotionally rested, professionally rejuvenated, and prepared for another school year. Despite all this excitement, however, with all the work involved in decorating the classroom and preparing the first several weeks' lessons, it can be tempting to pull out the previous year's outline for a Back-to-School Night presentation. While teachers agree about the value of welcoming parents to their children's new classroom, this event can also feel like one more hoop to jump through. With innovation and technology such a vital part of our profession, why not bring both of those elements to bear this year for the goal of engaging and connecting with your students' families? A technology-fueled reboot might be just what's needed to reinvigorate this important evening, and here are three suggestions to make it happen.
Until recently, the options for first-rate training for teachers were fairly limited. Teachers filed into seats in whatever college happened to be closest to home, regardless of the quality of its programs. Online courses were often regarded as degree mills with low standards. One-size-fits-all training given by consultants or school administrators was often mocked. “Professional development” seemed an empty phrase.
When you think of Greek and Latin roots, you think high student engagement, right? No? Yep, me neither. However, year after year I have conversations with other teachers both in my district and elsewhere about the vocabulary deficit and the dramatic impact it is having on literacy across the board.