February is a hectic month…we know. Not only is it Black History Month, there’s also Valentine’s Day, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (only recognized in certain states), Washington’s Birthday, and President’s Day!
If you need a little help cramming it all in, keep your powdered wigs and stovepipe hats on! We’re here to help by sharing 10 of our favorite Lincoln and Washington-inspired projects with you.
Maybe you’re looking to satisfy your students’ sweet tooth. No problem, we’ve got three recipes—fruit cookies, Shrewsbury cakes and strawberry punch—that are not only delicious, but happen to be forefather favorites.
We’ll also help your students dress for the occasion by offering instructions for creating their own stovepipe hat, powdered wig and other Lincoln and Washington-inspired projects.
Before we officially shift our gaze towards 2013, we thought we’d celebrate the New Year by compiling some of Marygrove College’s most popular resources of 2012.
Now you can take them with you and access them whenever and wherever you are! Inside our Best of 2012 you’ll find:
- 10 things you should know for the first day of school
- Ways to reinvent elementary geometry and make it fun
- Literacy tools that nurture independent reading
- Ways to teach grammar…without teaching grammar
- Classroom management tips
- Simple and practical ways to enhance your curriculum with free technology
These are only a few of the resources you’ll find inside our Best of 2012—and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to browse our blog and resource library as well!
On behalf of Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching program, we want to wish you a healthy and successful New Year.
-The MAT Team
We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But in the case of bucket-filling, a positive reinforcement program that works well in classrooms, the Golden Rule should be revised to “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them,” in other words, treat people the way that they want to be treated, or treat them in ways that are valuable to them.
You’re probably thinking, How in the world can I treat 23 students individually and personally at any given time? Hold on! Essentially, all we are asking you to do is know your students. The more you know about what makes your students tick, the better able you will be to “fill their buckets. “
Dr. Donald O. Clifton’s book How Full is Your Bucket asserts that often it is what we recognize in others that actually helps them shape their identities and future accomplishments. Constantly referring to a child as funny, or shy, or outgoing can reinforce what that child thinks of him or herself. Teachers have the access and unique power—every day— to tell a child that he is a good writer, or a capable scientist, or an excellent athlete. These often unintentional individual recognitions, for better or worse, plant the seeds that can affect decision-making down the line. So make sure the seeds you plant are always for the better. (No pressure!)
The book outlines some key questions we’ve adapted for students to find out the best ways to fill their buckets:
1.By what name do you like to be called? Nickname?
2.What are your hot buttons—hobbies or interests you like to talk about a lot?
3.What makes you feel great when you’ve achieved something special?
●Receiving a certificate with your name on it?
●Note from teacher?
●Note from Mom, Dad or Grandparent?
●Announcement to the whole school over the PA system from the principal?
●Pizza for the whole class?
These insights can help teachers decide the best ways to fill their students’ buckets, to make recognition individual and meaningful whenever possible. Before long, you will see positive results in your classroom and you will have fostered a much more cooperative classroom climate.
Clifton reminds us that we all face a choice every single moment of every single day. We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. The choices we make can profoundly influence our relationships, our health and our ability to be productive in the classroom or on the job. He cites a Gallup poll that estimates there are “…more than 22 million workers in the United States alone who are extremely negative or "actively disengaged." This rampant negativity is not only disheartening, it's expensive: It costs the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone.”
Let’s do our part by starting early and modeling for our students what positive behavior looks like and even sounds like. Before long, they will understand what it feels like to be a positive, productive person, and it can make all the difference in the world to your classroom community.
Begin the New Year on a positive note! Download our Guide to Successful Bucket-Filler Techniques and let your imagination be your guide on how to best introduce this concept to your students.
You made it through to the holidays! Congratulations. Use your time off to relax and reflect on the things that you’d like to change when you return. But by all means don’t worry—that pesky behavior problem you’ve been dealing with in your classroom over the last six weeks does not need to persist into the New Year.
You’ve probably tried every behavior modification trick in the book, yet your classroom culture seems unaffected. There may be one or two “repeat offenders” who always seem to command your energy, and the classroom as a whole usually suffers. Right? Time to grab a bucket.
If you have never tried bucket-filling, you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to transform your classroom into a cohesive, caring team. There’s a great book, Have you filled a bucket today? by Carol McCloud that is simply written and quite effectively introduces the concept to children. To begin your bucket-filling program, read the story aloud to your class. Then, perhaps a week or two later, ask a student to read it again. This only takes a precious few minutes, and can be easily incorporated into your morning meeting. In fact, re-reading it is a great way to reinforce the basic concept.
Bucket-filling is all about recognizing the good things our students do, rather than focusing on negative behaviors. The beauty of bucket-filling is teachers can choose to do a little or a lot, depending on the unique needs of the classroom. Our free download from teachers, for teachers, offers lots of tips on how to implement an effective program that gets results.
But first, let’s back up and take a look at how bucket-filling first emerged on the scene. We can trace its roots back to the 1950s, when Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a psychology professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln became increasingly aware that the field of psychology at that time was based almost entirely on the study of what’s wrong with people. Clifton published a book with Tom Raft in 2004, How Full is Your Bucket? based on many decades of research about how human behavior can change dramatically when the positive is emphasized over the negative.
Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Well, if it were easy, we’d all be humming “High Hopes” as we go to work each day—“Just what makes that little old ant…Think he'll move that rubber tree plant…” The point is, positive feelings and attitudes need to be practiced, and honed. It is learned behavior, and can be habit-forming, not unlike remembering to take an umbrella when it rains. (And who hasn’t forgotten to do that from time to time?)
Clifton and Rath’s book was a New York Times Bestseller and workplaces soon began initiating bucket filler programs. Clifton found that people’s lives are shaped by interactions with others, and most of the time, we interpret them as either positive or negative. Carol McCloud realized its application for the elementary classroom, and the rest is history. McCloud lectures across the country on the virtues of bucket-filling, and she continues to publish on the subject.
The bucket and dipper metaphors are easy for children to understand, and Clifton’s research maintains that we each have an invisible bucket and dipper within us. When we use our dipper to fill other people’s buckets— by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions— we are also filling our own. Download our Guide to Successful Bucket-Filler Techniques and use your creativity to find unique ways to infuse this concept into your classroom community.
The holidays are as exciting as they are hectic—especially when you’re a teacher. Not only do you have to plan out celebrations for your family, you’ve also got a classroom (or classrooms) full of students to think about!
If you’re running behind this year, or simply looking for a few new holiday crafts to supplement the tried and true, look no further: We put together a FREE downloadable guide that contains 10 of our favorite cheap, quick and easy holiday craft ideas. Feel free to take it with you and share it with your friends and colleagues!
Inside you’ll find holiday crafts like:
· Reindeer puzzle piece ornaments
· Pine cone snowmen
· Gumdrop Trees
· Candy cane reindeer
· Hershey Kiss mice
· Handprint menorahs and more!
On behalf of Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching program, we would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season.
Why do our students come to school? Yes, yes, of course because they have to, but why else? Is it because of you? Is it because of the mind-bending textbooks?
If you asked Michael Kahn (see his article, “The Seminar”) these questions, he’d tell you that there’s nothing intrinsically special about us or the textbooks.
No, what makes coming to school “worth it” is the collaborative learning experience—or in his words, the “opportunity to engage in a fantastic dialogue, trialogue, multilogue with a fantastically varied assortment of consciousnesses.” Indeed, the teacher facilitates and instructs and the books are the springboard from which conversations and teachable moments are launched. But Kahn believes classrooms become magical because of the relationships we nurture and the conversations we have.
To enhance or reinvent your students’ collaborative learning experience and use technology to do it, we thought we’d offer 5 apps to get you started!
5 Apps to Boost Collaborative Learning
Corkboard Me. If Google Calendar and Pinterest had a child, the result would be Corkboard Me. It's a pragmatic way to keep everyone on the same page in terms of who is doing what and when. Students can create "post it notes," keep track of the project's timeline and leave messages to each other on an online cork board. Nobody has the excuse they didn't get a message or didn't know what they were supposed to do because it's all on the group's cork board.
Sync.in. Once the students are ready to work, Sync.in is a one-stop-shop where students can work on the same document, at the same time, in real time. Different colored highlights are assigned to each student. It eliminates the need for cutting/pasting, or attaching documents back and forth, with different versions of the same thing floating out in cyberspace. Students can check out previous histories and collaborators can chat in real time while the document is being created. These are just a few of the perks of using Sync.in.
MixedInk. Similar to Sync.in, MixedInk is another collaborative learning platform that allows students to work on one document at the same time. This one’s quite user-friendly and more geared toward teacher/student/classroom learning. Perks include the ability for students to give a star-rating to certain ideas, passages, or versions of the document so they can decide as a group which one should be the final product. It's completely free and can be as professional, creative, or fun as the collaborators want to make it.
LiveBinders. Email, Facebook, Twitter, and texting can all be used to send information to individuals or groups. You can embed URLs on a website or blog. But after enough links/sites come your way, it can be hard to keep track of them. LiveBinders created a way to organize resources and information in one location - which is put together like a traditional 3-Ring binder using tabs and sub-tabs. Ideas:
- Teachers can embed a LiveBinder link on their website which houses PowerPoint lectures, YouTube Videos, and recommended websites for student/parent viewing.
- Parents can use it to keep track of safe websites for their kids, or to help them find online resources for their student's project.
- Collaborative learning groups can use LiveBinder to keep all of their group project resources and information in one organized place.
Realtime Board. This online app combines the best features from multiple apps. It's a collaborative, creative, organizational Realtime Board, based on the idea of a whiteboard, which allows groups to create presentations, infographics, papers and more. It's a little more high-tech so older students will benefit the most from this one. One of the bonuses is that when a document is pinned to the board, you can still work within it - scrolling between pages, or editing it, and then save the changes back to the original file on your computer.
Students, of course, aren’t the only ones who benefit from collaborative learning. We were lucky enough to stumble upon a recent Education Week article featuring Keith Pomeroy, an Ohio-based director of technology, who exposed us to collaborative-learning websites like Edmodo and Schoology. If you’re ever looking for lesson-plan ideas or new resources, we recommend that you check both of these sites out!
It’s almost back-to-school
time; the first day of school
will be upon us whether we’re ready or not. Back-to-school jitters
are normal for new and veteran teachers alike. But if you are just starting out in the profession, or are assigned to a new building, there are several things you should know before the bell rings. Sometimes even the most obvious information can be overlooked. Being prepared will help you start out the year on a confident note. It’s just good classroom management
Before you report to class, you should know:
1.Your school hours, bell times, and when you are expected to report to work.
2. Your classroom and curriculum duties and responsibilities.
3. Any additional duties/responsibilities assigned to you such as bus, hall and lunch duties.
4. The district's and/or school's policies on:
Referrals to special programs
E-mail and Internet usage
Fire drills and lockdowns
5. How to handle a sick day, personal leave day or an emergency for you.
6. Who to contact in case of a classroom or school emergency.
7. When faculty, team or other regular meetings are held.
8. Where and how to get classroom supplies.
9. How to best communicate with parents, telephone, e-mail etc.
10. What day Open House is scheduled for, and what the policy or procedure is for it.
You can probably knock off most of these by perusing your district’s website. Set aside a few minutes each day to make some phone calls or send some e-mails to make sure you have all of the answers you need.
While you’re floating on your raft in the pool, you might want to collect your thoughts about your overall classroom management style this year. Mrs. Feinman from Houston has some excellent classroom management ideas that she implements right off the bat, on the first day of school.
A big part of classroom management is establishing an attractive, organized classroom. Could your decorations use a makeover? When it comes to classroom decoration, we found two teachers who really hit it out of the park. First grade teacher Mrs. Tabb displays her ideas in her blog, How I Decorated my Classroom for Under 25 bucks! Her beautiful ideas will inspire you.
And as always, we can’t help but brag about our own master teacher, Christina Bainbridge who has been busy this summer preparing for her new classroom in a new school. It’s hard to believe that she could top last year’s classroom, but she did it.
It is so important to create an engaging and colorful learning environment for students of all ages. It is definitely worth the time you put in. So don’t wait until September!
Need some more classroom management ideas to chew on while you’re basking in the summer sun? Download our free guide to get you thinking creatively about how to make the most of your class time to reach every single student, every single day!
If you have ever instructed a child to read, chances are your methods have been influenced in one way or another by researcher, author Tim Rasinski, Ph.D., a literacy education professor at Kent State University and leading expert in reading education. He has published a variety of valuable materials for elementary and middle grades on reading fluency, word study, and reaching struggling readers. Dr. Rasinski has edited and co-authored a variety of texts and curriculum programs centered on reading education. Throughout his prolific career, he has authored over 150 articles in an array of publications. He is a guru you should get to know!
Dr. Tim Rasinski's work is focused on several key areas:
- Reading Fluency There is a plethora of research explaining the connection between reading fluency and proficiency in reading comprehension. Rasinski's work aims to inform teachers about the effects of fluency instruction on students at all grade levels, not just in the early elementary years. He encourages teachers to model fluent reading for students, expect students to practice the repeated reading of specific passages, and provide embedded fluency support in students' independent reading. His work also supports teachers in determining and acquiring appropriate instructional materials for fluency practice such as scripts, poems, passages, and leveled texts.
- Vocabulary and Word Study Vocabulary development is one of the five core principles of quality reading instruction, yet teachers often struggle with finding engaging and effective ways to teach vocabulary. Rasinski's work helps teachers ensure that students acquire a vocabulary that will support their reading development and overall comprehension. He encourages teachers to employ both direct and indirect instruction to teach new vocabulary. Engaging direct instruction techniques include categorizing and classifying, concept maps, word derivations and histories, and cloze (fill-in-the-blank) activities.
- Reaching Struggling Readers Rasinski's work into understanding the struggling reader can help teachers analyze a student's reading behaviors and identify appropriate instructional methods for areas of need. He helps teachers focus on the “big picture of reading instruction” while understanding specific instructional strategies for improved word recognition, vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension.
There are a variety of resources available for teachers to learn more about Tim Rasinski's work in reading education including, but certainly not limited to:
Dr. Rasinski began his career as an elementary and middle school classroom and Title I teacher. He has served as president of the College Reading Association as well as on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association. He was elected to the International Reading Hall of Fame in 2010.
Boost your students’ reading comprehension with the resources mentioned above and download our Best Practices Guide to Reading Comprehension. Put a refreshing spin on a traditional strategy!
Fourth grade is a transition year for many students. Fourth graders are expected to read to learn instead of learning to read. They have mastered basic math facts and concepts and now must weave together these skills to solve increasingly sophisticated math problems. Fourth grade students' abilities to read and comprehend non-fiction texts are put to the test as the content areas increase in difficulty. In addition, projects become more complex and expectations rise for cooperative learning.
It is important for K-3 teachers to understand what is expected of fourth grade students in order to help them prepare for this crucial year. Ask your administrator to help you set up collaborative time with your fourth grade colleagues for up-to-date, key input. You can be an effective ally by passing along highly prepared students!
The following are some basic expectations for fourth grade students that can help you as you plan:
- The ability to read and comprehend both fiction and non-fiction texts. While teachers hope that all students are at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade, this might not always be the case. Regardless of reading level, students can learn comprehension strategies to be able to better navigate both fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Mastery of math facts and the basic ability to work with large whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Students spent their primary grades focused on basic math facts, skills, and concepts. In fourth grade, as academic expectations become more difficult and skills more sophisticated, students must be able to integrate these previously learned concepts to solve math problems. Fourth grade students should also understand and be able to work with the basic concepts of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.
- Understanding of how science, social studies, and health concepts connect to prior knowledge. The real power behind content area learning is for students to understand the connections to their own life experiences and prior understandings. For example, students should be able to connect historical events learned in Social Studies to their own community.
- Responsibility for independent classroom work. Fourth grade students may be faced with more traditional instructional methods which often require a higher level of independence. Teachers often require students to complete larger assignments independently with an ability to attend to a specific task for a longer period of time.
- Completion of larger, more complex projects. More complex book reports, research projects, and class presentations are common in fourth grade. Whether they are completed in class or at home, students should be able to work independently on these large projects.
Referencing your state's academic standards for fourth grade is an excellent way to understand exactly what is expected. Additionally, the Common Core Standards is another resource for understanding the academic expectations in fourth grade.
Help prepare your students for the rigors of fourth grade by reviewing this quick guide on Cooperative Learning with Social Cohesion, and give it a try in your classroom, today!
“Summer Slide,” or the loss of skill over a prolonged time away from regular, routine learning is very common among struggling readers. Parents of struggling readers can help their children maintain their skills by exercising the strategy of paired reading over summer break.
Paired reading is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who struggle with fluency, and is perfect for summer reading at home. Share this blog with your parents before school ends, or send home a note with simple step-by-step pointers for them to follow. They’ll thank you for it.
It is generally recommended that parents read with their children for at least five minutes per day. Paired reading can be used with any book, taking turns reading by sentence, paragraph, page or chapter. For best results, have the child select the reading material, or parents may select age-appropriate books with topics that interest their children—whichever works. The point is to read on a regular basis.
We’ve adapted what Researcher and Literacy Expert Dr. Tim Rasinski recommends from Teacher Created Materials Publishing, a website full of great resources for teachers:
Practice what you preach.
•Both you and your child read the words out loud together. Read at the child’s speed. You are modeling good reading for your child.
•For young readers, as you read together, read every word. To make sure your child is looking at the words, one of you points to the word you are reading with a finger or card. It’s best if your child does the pointing.
•When a word is read incorrectly, you say the word correctly, and then have your child immediately repeat the word.
•Show interest in the book your child has chosen. Talk about the pictures. Talk about what’s in the book as you go through it. It is best if you talk at the end of a page or section, or your child might lose track of the story. Ask what things might happen next. Listen to your child – don’t do all the talking.
Make the Time.
•Try very hard to do Paired Reading every day for 5 minutes. If your child wants to read longer, a total of 15 minutes is long enough.
•Select a time that is good for both you and your child. Don’t make him do Paired Reading when he really wants to do something else.
•For days when you are not available, train someone else to be a substitute. Grandparents, older brothers and sisters, aunts, and baby-sitters can be excellent reading role models, too.
Choose a Quiet Place.
•Find a room with no distracting sounds. Children are easily sidetracked by noise. Turn off the T.V.
•Find a place that is private. No one else should be in the room. Many families find this a great opportunity for one parent or grandparent to spend time with just one child.
•Find a place that is comfortable so both of you can concentrate on the story without having to shift around. This will help to associate warm and snuggly feelings with reading.
When to Encourage Reading Alone.
•When you are reading together, allow your child to read alone when he feels confident and wants to. Agree on a way for him/her to signal you to stop reading along. This could be a knock, squeeze, or tap with the elbow. (Saying “be quiet” or similar words might make your child lose track of the meaning of the story.) When signaled, you immediately stop reading aloud and feel glad that your child wants to be an independent reader!
It’s never too late in the year to try something new. For more interesting ways to engage readers, download our Best Practices Guide for Reading Comprehension, today!