|With a growing body of research showing that teachers are the most important determinant of student achievement, new and more rigorous teacher evaluation systems and policies have been implemented across the country. At the same time, many educators feel they lack the right resources and support needed to meet the demands of today’s classrooms and heightened learning standards.
In order for professional development to work, leaders must address high-yield instructional strategies aligned to the specific needs of their staff in a positive, supportive and collaborative environment.
No one would ever expect a golfer to improve his score by taking away half of his clubs, so how can anyone expect a teacher to do more with less support? While there’s certainly no lack of professional learning programs and resources available, most unfortunately prove to be inadequate and ineffective at stimulating real growth.
Multiple studies have confirmed in the last several years that the quality of support a teacher receives is directly correlated to his or her effectiveness in the classroom. But this doesn’t simply refer to one event in time. Rather, it’s about the larger plan and support system consistently in place for educators and
If back to school night has one lesson for me. It’s that parents of elementary students are looking for someone to talk to about iPads, phones, tablets, and how their kids are using them. I’m lucky enough to work in an amazing school with a great approach to technology education. Last night at back-to-school night I got to share with the kindergarten through second-grade parents why we do technology the way we do. In my short talk about 10 minutes, I was able to discuss what kinds of things we do in Technology class and the goals we have.
As I was preparing to present to the parents, I created a small slide deck, grabbed a robot, and headed over to the elementary school. When I got there, my first-grade team asked me, “where’s the puppet?” I laughed because I got so wrapped up and prep I’ve forgotten a very important part of who I am in the classroom. So I went back to my office, grabbed my orange friend, and we headed over to back-to-school night.
In my short presentation, I described the work I do as creating a high-engagement high-challenge environment for
A common thread in conversations about how difficult academic writing can be is the persistent feeling of not being ready to write. Or not being good enough to write. While academics and PhD students might not call this writer’s block, they talk a lot about procrastination and perfectionism. They list displacement activities – checking email, Facebook, references, doing the laundry, cleaning the room, mowing the grass, watching it grow – and they know that all of these involve not writing.
It’s a recognised problem. In his book Understanding Writing Block, Keith Hjortshoj says: “Writing blocks are most common among advanced undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, and other professional writers who are not supposed to need help with writing and do not need the kinds of writing instruction offered in the typical composition class.”
But why is writer’s block so common among academics? Is talking about procrastination just denying the need for help or instruction? Academics and PhD students are supposed to know all they need to know, aren’t they?
Would a request for help be seen as a critical weakness? Or is writer’s block caused by writing-related anxiety?
Patty Berganza is a chatty 16-year-old with a mouthful of braces, a thick mane of black hair, and a lightning-fast brain. The last of these left her so bored at her previous Los Angeles high school that she racked up more than 49 unexcused absences in one year and earned a reputation as a slacker. She never thought about college, because nobody ever talked about it. Indeed, she says of her previous high school, “I don’t think my teachers even knew my name.” In many ways, Patty represents countless students who graduate at abysmal rates but who have the capacity to do infinitely better. Unlike others, she found a new school that has helped her tap that capacity.
￼One learning model at Tennenbaum asks students to work together in groups of four. Pictured (left to right) are Cesar Uribe, Yvonne Arenas, Damon Siah, and Joshua Franco. (All photography/Shawn Jones)
Where Patty once routinely slumped at the back of the classroom, she now perches front and center, attentive and engaged. She has flown ahead of her peers in math, and earned an overall grade-point average of 3.28, and talks hopefully about applying to the University of California, Berkeley. What is remarkable is that
Writing for academic journals is highly competitive. Even if you overcome the first hurdle and generate a valuable idea or piece of research – how do you then sum it up in a way that will capture the interest of reviewers?
There’s no simple formula for getting published – editors’ expectations can vary both between and within subject areas. But there are some challenges that will confront all academic writers regardless of their discipline. How should you respond to reviewer feedback? Is there a correct way to structure a paper? And should you always bother revising and resubmitting? We asked journal editors from a range of backgrounds for their tips on getting published.
The writing stage
1) Focus on a story that progresses logically, rather than chronologically
Take some time before even writing your paper to think about the logic of the presentation. When writing, focus on a story that progresses logically, rather than the chronological order of the experiments that you did.
Deborah Sweet, editor of Cell Stem Cell and publishing director at Cell Press
2) Don’t try to write and edit at the same time
Open a file on the PC and put in all your headings and sub-headings and then fill in under
1) Have a strategy, make a plan
Why do you want to write for journals? What is your purpose? Are you writing for research assessment? Or to make a difference? Are you writing to have an impact factor or to have an impact? Do you want to develop a profile in a specific area? Will this determine which journals you write for? Have you taken their impact factors into account?
Have you researched other researchers in your field – where have they published recently? Which group or conversation can you see yourself joining? Some people write the paper first and then look for a ‘home’ for it, but since everything in your article – content, focus, structure, style – will be shaped for a specific journal, save yourself time by deciding on your target journal and work out how to write in a way that suits that journal.
Having a writing strategy means making sure you have both external drivers – such as scoring points in research assessment or climbing the promotion ladder – and internal drivers – which means working out why writing for academic journals matters to you. This will help you maintain the motivation you’ll need to write and publish
THE THREE P’S
Most successful grant writers give the same advice: begin your search for a grant with a project, a plan — and permission. “If you’re planning to apply for a major grant,” Smith noted, “be sure you have the support of your principal or superintendent. Many grants for more than a few thousand dollars require a senior officer’s signature to agree to implement the grant within the school system.” In addition, school districts are limited in the number of state and federal grants for which they can apply. If you’re applying for a government grant, you’ll need permission — whatever the amount.
Before you even start the funding process, however, you need a project. “The most important thing is to have a project in mind and then search for a grant to fund the project,” Smith said. “Many people do the opposite; they hear about a grant and then try to find a project to fit it. The writing is much harder when you don’t have a clear plan in mind and know exactly what you want to do before beginning applying for a grant.”
As soon as you have a project in mind and permission to implement it, formulate your
You’re a training manager at a mid- to large-sized organization that’s recently lost its competitive edge. You know part of the problem is employee training. The staff is overworked and uninterested in missing “valuable” work time sitting in another workshop or training event. You know what you should be doing, but how can you convince management? You recognize that investing in training and development is necessary if your organization wants to retain employees and secure its position as an industry leader, but inevitably you know the m-word will be mentioned. METRICS. How do you plan on measuring the effectiveness of your new and improved (and costly) training program?
Mindflash has recently released a new analytics tool for online training. The cloud-based software, powered by GoodData, will provide trainers with insightful information such as material comprehension and course satisfaction. By arming oneself with this data, trainers can better gauge student needs and tailor the course while training is happening, not afterward. Reports can be easily generated as they are needed.
Mindflash offers its employee and customer training solutions to more than 1,000 clients via an online platform. One of those clients is Efinancial, a life insurance company. We spoke with Andy Wiggins, Retail Sales
In September 2005 the decision to ban cell phones in New York City public schools was enacted. At the time policy makers saw cell phones as nothing more than a distraction and tool for academic dishonesty while parents viewed these devices as a lifeline to their children.
The “No Cell Phones” rule was strictly enforced with the help of the New York City Police Department, which was enlisted to conduct random sweeps, complete with metal detectors, and to confiscate technology from kids, many of whom were reduced to tears. There were educators on both sides of the issue. Some were relieved by the policy but others not only trusted their students to behave responsibly, but also understood that cell phones could serve as powerful learning tools. My friend and thought-leader, Marc Prensky was outspoken on the issue, explaining in his presentations and writing, “What Can You Learn from A Cell Phone? Almost Anything!”
In his blog, Weblogg-ed, my friend and mentor Will Richardson shares some important lessons students learned as a result of the ban.
“First, the cell phone ban teaches students they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are. Second, the tools
We all know adding meaningful interactivity into eLearning courses allows learners to participate in the learning process, thus creating an enhanced learning environment. But building interactivities can be challenging if you don’t have the right resources, time, or money. In general, there are two ways to build interactions: 1) use a skill-based team, or 2) use a rapid interactivity builder with your authoring tool. Each method has tradeoffs and what you choose depends largely on the type of training you are developing and how important interactivity is in your course.
How to Build Interactions
The traditional, skill-based approach
Traditionally, companies have used the skill-based, team approach to build complex, custom eLearning scenarios. A skill-based team consists of an instructional designer, a graphic artist, and a programmer/ developer who all work together to create eLearning courses and interactions. Let’s look at an example of how the team approach is applied when building a course with interactive animations.
An organization needs a new course to teach employees the importance of security. The instructional designer designs the course; the team then comes together and identifies content areas where they would like to build some interactivity. The instructional designer wants a series of simulated situations with
Veteran and new teachers alike recognize the fact that if their students are not engaged and fully participating in the learning process then it is highly unlikely that they will comprehend what is being taught and demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives for the lesson. Engaging every student has been a perennial challenge for educators. However, research in this area has revealed much about how teachers can design learning experiences that interest students and maintain their engagement.
This substantive engagement in the learning process drives them to become invested in evaluating and reflecting upon their academic growth. Students need to be engaged in rigorous assignments and mentally committed to their assignments. Lessons must move beyond rote learning and superficial understanding to the development of higher order thinking skills and application of knowledge to new and novel situations.
10 Ways to Increase Student Engagement:
- Create an emotionally safe classroom
Emotionally safe classroom settings encourage respectful interactions where children feel they can express themselves without fear. Failure is a normal part of the learning curve and does not mean that a child who experiences it is actually a failure. Children who feel that they are in an emotionally safe classroom feel free to explore, debate,
I’ve written about a range of habits related to learning, but one I have not yet covered is concentration – perhaps because I find it among the hardest of habits to truly master.
I’m as apt as anybody to have my working memory hijacked by the temptations of multi-tasking,
….or simply to become distracted by the shiny new learning objects that I encounter on a daily basis,
…or to start writing about one thing and find myself wandering to other topics as new thoughts occur to me,
…or….uh, right – concentration. Here are some of the approaches to it that I find helpful:
1. Be conscious and intentional
I keep coming back to “consciousness” as the cornerstone of most effective learning habits. Before you are likely to be successful at concentrating you have to make a clear, conscious decision to focus your attention. Sounds simple enough, but more often than not we move from one experience to the next without any real consciousness, and certainly without a decision to concentrate.
2. Set clear goals – and victories
I’ve lamented my own lack of goal setting before. To concentrate effectively, it really helps to have specific outcomes in mind. Break down longer term goals – like mastering a new
Focusing on oral language, reading aloud, and language play puts young children on the track to literacy.
The challenges of preschool are growing. To help us meet those challenges, especially in the world of language and literacy learning, we can turn to such trusted voices as Dr. Catherine Snow of Harvard University. She reminds us that the best way to grow language and literacy skills in young children is through “activities that are integrated across different developmental areas.” Focusing on the following three essentials, instead of structured sit down lessons, flashcard drills, and worksheets, will keep you (and your children) on the right track.
Begin with a foundation of oral language development. Conversations are a powerhouse for learning. Carefully guided, conversations can impact children’s vocabulary, help them learn patience and empathy, and progress toward unlocking the alphabetic code. They can expand thinking and knowledge. Conversation stimulates core brain cells, which later become a foundation for the more complex connections needed to read.
- Carve out time each day for interesting, extended conversations using lots of different (and complex) words. Carefully place objects in centers to spark such discussions.
- Use talk to help young children explore and understand their world. Encourage the inquisitive.
Taking measures to improve academic performance and outcome starts with improving the behavior of students in the classroom. Although it can seem challenging, teachers play a large role in creating an environment that encourages learning, improve student behavior and create better academic performance at every level of education. Teachers can accomplish amazing feats when the appropriate strategies are implemented to improve the behavior in the classroom.
Relationship between behavior and academic performance
The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, a teaching and training organization for professional educators, cites numerous studies on its website that suggest students with poor classroom behavior often struggle with academic skills.
Behavior academic outcomes refer to the changes that student actions can have on the ability to maintain good performance in the classroom. As behavior academic outcomes relate to negative situations and poor actions by students, the classroom environment becomes less positive and teachers can struggle to provide the best education to the entire class. Positive changes to the behavior of students can improve the academic outcomes at any grade level.
When it comes to motivational strategies that can help students maintain better behavior, offering rewards is a useful tool. According to SuccessfulSchools.org, teachers can impact student motivation and make improvements