Entries Tagged as 'Teaching Tips'

African Safari Animals Coloring Pages

Here’s a link to a website with PDFs of animals you can learn about, print out, and color by Jan Brett.

Nelson Mandela Quote & Writing Tip

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Adding “Do you agree with the following statement,” to the beginning of axioms such as this is a good way to create sample essay topics if you’re taking or helping someone practice for the SAT, GRE, or other test with a writing component.

Listening passively to Mozart

doesn’t make you smarter.  There are, however, things you can do actively to stimulate cognitive development. According to this article, joining a drama class or other social activity, or learning  a musical instrument has more effect on development than simply listening to Mozart.

And as far as I know, listening to Mozart while doing those other things never hurt anyone.

Signs of Dyslexia

The signs of dyslexia go beyond abilities of decoding symbols. The International Dyslexia Association covers some of the other common problems people with dyslexia encounter including memorizing number facts, learning a foreign language, and correctly doing math operations.  Check out their website for signs of dyslexia among adults, very young children, and older children.

They also have a frequently asked questions page if you are interested in learning more.

Seth Godin and Romanticizing Education

If we were tasked with teaching our future the same set of shared values and if every student valued them in the same way, then it would be a piece of cake.

But, we’re not.  In the heterogeneous society in which we live, where cultural values vastly differ in even one classroom let alone from district to district, addressing each student’s unique background is essential for their success.  For example, the value of how money is made, shared, and spent might vary from family to family;  the scientific method, while awesome, has the potential to negate some personal religious beliefs.

These contradictions can be confusing for a young person who, developmentally, is still only wired to see the world in terms of right or wrong.  If one student places more value on what is taught in the curriculum (My way is right according to this system), it puts the student who comes from a culture that doesn’t value what is taught in the curriculum at a disadvantage (My way, that my parents have taught me, is wrong according to this system).  Enter identity crisis.

That said, I don’t disagree with Seth Godin’s post titled What’s High School For?  I just think it may be a little romanticized.  It’s certainly necessary to maintain hope and to endeavor towards this business-centric utopia.  But let’s at least begin the endeavor with a list of values that considers the students’ background and interests.  Or, better yet, as a starting point, let’s use the students’ lists.

From Seth’s blog:

  • How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
  • The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
  • How to read critically.
  • The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
  • An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
  • How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
  • Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
  • Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
  • An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
  • Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

Link to Webinar: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better

If you’re looking for something to do with your time off this winter break, this webinar is, well, educational…

Question: How can you squeeze more English practice into 2 minutes?

Answer:  Make lists!

If you’re a student, and your teacher has been telling you that you need to practice more, or you need to work on your vocabulary (you know who you are!), make a list!  This will help you with classification as well as vocabulary growth. Do you need to go to the grocery store?  Make a list!  Would you like to learn what’s going on in your neighborhood this weekend?  Make a list!

Teachers, if you have an additional 2 minutes in class, it’s easy to have students divide into partners that compete to write the longest list.  It helps students organize their thinking for classification essays, builds their vocabulary, and adds a little friendly competition to make the class a little more challenging.

Click here for the link that describes one version of this activity.

Connecting in a Bilingual Class

The content in the video How do you support second-language learners in the classroom highlights some of the more important, and very easy, things that can be done to create an additive bilingual environment.

Sometimes, the easiest thing I can do with my students is ask them to share a word or phrase with me from their language, which I then try to say.  Whether they laugh at my most earnest attempts or sympathize with my errors, the result is usually an instant trust, and from there, they will learn.

Tip for Tuesday: Use the News

Some ideas on how to use news articles in lessons are:

  • reading aloud
  • contrasting phonemes
  • listen and repeat
  • vocabulary development
  • current events
  • dictation
  • information gap stories
  • finish the stories/making predictions
  • the beginning of a debate
  • following up on stories throughout a term
(re-posted, updated content from the original on Nov. 4, 2009)

Main Idea of a Paragraph Video

If you’re not sharing these Learning Upgrade videos with your late elementary to middle school students, I recommend doing so.  They’re very straightforward and explain the most important concepts in reading comprehension. This one is about the main idea and the overall organization patterns of a paragraph.

Here’s how I use the video:

  • I send it to a student a couple of days before we meet.
  • We watch it during our session and talk about the topic.
  • They have an assignment which is aided through viewing the video again.

The best part is the feedback I’ve heard from students when they watch the video, “Oh, this is cool!”