Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Art of Multitasking

When I was growing up, I remember my mother always talking about someone who was a “jack of all trades but a master of none.” She would then tell me that this person was always dabbling into many different tasks at the same time but never really doing a good job with completing any of them well. I also remember my parents instilling in me the idea of “if you are going to do a job, then do the job the best that you can.”

In reading “The Myth of Multitasking,” Nancy K. Napier shares,

“Rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds). It’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time, it can sap our energy.”

I know when I’m hiking and I’m going up a steep hill, it is easier for me to go up slowly but steadily than to stop and start every few minutes. I think multitasking affects me the same way.

When I’m cleaning the house, I used to work in one room, and then whenever I found something in the wrong place, I would stop and take it to where it belonged. I thought this was multitasking but it was more like spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. This caused me to feel very frustrated and tired. Cleaning a room took twice as long. Then I decided that I would put all the misplaced items in one spot and concentrate on the room I was working in. I finished the task more easily and quickly. Then I was able to gather the misplaced items and put them where they belonged. I felt happier when I was done because I accomplished what I intended to do.

When I am working on something and I get distracted or interrupted, I find myself having to take the time to refocus on the task I was doing.

When someone tells me that they can multitask, I know that means that they aren’t accomplishing one of the things very well and it will take them twice as long to finish all of the tasks they are trying to do.

In fact, some of my students become so overwhelmed when they try to multitask that they shut down and nothing gets done.

One way to fight the war on multitasking is to have my students make a list of what needs to be done. Then prioritize the list in order of what needs to be done first. Then tackle each task one at a time. I believe they will find more success with this process than multitasking.

How do you feel about multitasking? Please share.

Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Teach Someone Else

When I was a little girl, I remember my mother getting me to read aloud to her. She would say she wanted to hear the story but was too busy to read it. So, I helped her by reading my stories to her.

When I learned something new, she always was so interested in what I learned and asked me to teach her what I learned. I really believed, as a little girl, that I was teaching my mother something new. I was so excited.

Now as a teacher, I look back and see the many ways that my parents reinforced my new learning.

I thought about how I could do the same things in my classroom.

Math is an easy subject for teaching someone else. Once a student learns a new skill, have them take turns teaching a partner.

I think peer tutoring is a great way to reinforce skills. If I have someone who understands the new concept, I can let them help someone else who is struggling. Sometimes it is easier to understand their peers than their teacher.

Another way is to have a student get up and teach a new skill. I would have my students decide what they want to teach the class and then plan out their lesson. I would have them write out the steps and practice it first. I’ve had students teach how to use chopsticks, how to make chicken salad, how to make pudding, and even how to skateboard. The “teachers” were excited to be sharing their lessons and the learners were excited to learn something new from their peers.

Another good activity would be making a video on different ways to act. Many of my students with autism have difficulties with social interactions. They might have trouble having a conversation, meeting someone new, asking for help, acting appropriately when upset and many other social interactions. It would be helpful for others to make a video that the student can watch and learn how to act appropriately.

By teaching someone else, skills are reinforced and retained for the future.

What other things do you think students can teach someone else? Please share.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Benefits of Chunks

I believe it is better to teach in small chunks than a huge big piece.

If I expect my students to learn the big picture, they have to remember a lot of different pieces all at one time. When I’m learning something new, it is hard to learn all the pieces at once and then be able to put them all together.

I have played the accordion since I was four years old. I was given a piece of music and thought that I would never be able to play it. I was so overwhelmed and intimidated by the piece. I remember my teacher breaking a huge piece into smaller pieces for me. I just had to learn and practice one part during the week before my next lesson. As I mastered each part, I was given an additional new part to add onto the part that I already knew. Eventually, I was able to play the whole piece easily and I felt so proud of myself.

I want to teach my students how to achieve their goals in the same way that my accordion teacher taught me to play new songs.

I like to look at the big picture as the long-term goal for my student. Then I want to break it down into smaller pieces or chunks for my student to learn. This way, the student can learn and master one piece at a time. Learning is easier and the student usually succeeds in mastering the smaller piece.

With each little step that is mastered successfully, learning the next step is a little easier and less scary. Once the student learns all the small steps, it is easier to put it all together and create a bigger piece.

The important thing that I need to find, like a good detective. is how to teach the small step in a way that works for the individual student. Each student learns differently so one size does NOT fit all. By teaching to the student’s learning style, the student will be more successful with the learning.

How do you feel about teaching n small chunks? Please share.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Monday, February 22, 2021

Adding Yet to Your Sentence

In A simple missing word from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“And along the way, “Yet” turns “can’t” into “haven’t.””

It is too easy to think we can’t do something. Many of my students quickly tell me why they can’t do something. They immediately have the mindset that they are not capable of doing something. I think it is the easy way out.

If we really want to do something, we need to add the word “yet” to the end of our sentences.

By putting the word yet at the end, it changes my mindset that anything is possible if I want to pursue it. I might learn how to do something and then decide that I don’t want to continue practicing it but I can learn how to do anything if I put my mind to it.

I don’t know how to quilt…yet.

I don’t’ know how to fix a screen…yet.

When I teach a new skill, I need to have my students put their thoughts in a sentence and add the word yet to the end.

I think this gives the learner hope. It says the learner is capable and can achieve the goal eventually.

I might learn how to do something and then decide that I don’t want to continue practicing it but I can learn how to do anything if I put my mind to it.

By putting the word yet at the end, it changes my mindset that anything is possible if I want to pursue it.

Photo by John Benitez on Unsplash

Friday, February 19, 2021

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 2/19/21

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels: E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Same But Different Math – “Same But Different is a powerful routine for use in math classrooms. The activity of same but different is an activity where two things are compared, calling attention to both how they are the same and how they are different.” (L:G;SA:M)

Would You Rather Math – “Asking students to choose a path and justify it with math” (L:G;SA:M)

Visible Learning Meta – “Through the Visible LearningTM research, John Hattie has identified more than 250 factors that influence student achievement. He then set about calculating a score or “effect size” for each, according to its bearing on student achievement. The average effect size of these 250 factors was 0.4, a marker that can be shown to represents an (average) year’s growth per year of schooling for a student. Any factor that has an effect size above 0.4 has an even greater positive effect on student learning.” (L:T;SA:A)

GameStormEdu – “GameStormEDU is a way of thinking - how could I take an idea, a lesson, or a concept, and turn it into an experience for others? How can I turn it into a game?” (L:T;SA:A)

Pick Your Plate – “Travel around the world with Plato to learn about building healthy meals. Eat avocado toast in Australia, baobab fruit in Benin, and sautéed reindeer in Finland! Yum! Pick your favorite plates for morning, midday, and evening meals. Be sure to meet your daily nutritional needs while not going over your budget! Pick Your Plate! A Global Guide to Nutrition is an educational nutrition game that will help teach students about building healthy meals while using nutritional guidelines from countries around the world!” (L:E,M;SA:S,SS)

Original photo by Pat Hensley