Thursday, June 27, 2019

High-Leverage Practice 4: Assessment

I am going to discuss High-Leverage Practices as mentioned on the CEC website organized around four aspects of practice. I hope you will join in the conversation!

“HLP4 - Use multiple sources of information to develop a comprehensive understanding of a student’s strengths and needs.”

I was never very good at taking tests. I would have test anxiety and even though I knew the material I would do terrible on tests. I know that many of my students feel the same way. This is a good reason to use multiple sources to understand my student’s strengths and needs.

Many of my students might not be able to express themselves well enough in writing to show their understanding of the material. Even though they might understand the major concepts, they may not be able to show you this in the written word.

Others might be able to regurgitate facts and figures but that doesn’t really show their understanding of the material. It just shows their ability to memorize things even if they don’t understand the major concepts.

I like to give several options for students to choose from in order to show their understanding of the material I teach. This is important to share these options at the beginning of the lesson so students can be thinking about them as they work through the material.

Some students might like making something with their hands while others might enjoy creating a song or dance to show their understanding. Others might like to act out an important scene. There are so many creative ways to assess a student’s understanding of the material!

I like to allow the students to choose several options so they can do something that interests them as well as focusing on something that they feel is a strength for them. This also helps them be more self-aware of their abilities and interests. Students also enjoy feeling like they have some control over their learning.

What ways do you assess your students? Please share.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

High-Leverage Practice 3: Collaborate

I am going to discuss High-Leverage Practices as mentioned on the CEC website organized around four aspects of practice. I hope you will join in the conversation!

HLP3 -  Collaborate with families to support student learning and secure needed services.”

Working with families is an important step to ensuring student success.

I start out the year by contacting all of the families within the first 2 days of school. I introduce myself, share some basics, and give them my contact phone number. If teachers do not want to give their personal phone number, they can always use a Google Voice number or other free online options. This helps open the lines of communication between us.

I also want to impress on the family that their input is important. We need to work as a team in order to help the student and that it is our teamwork that will help the student succeed.

I ask the family what strategies they use at home that might work in the classroom. Having consistent strategies may help the student at school. If I find a strategy that works at school, I let the family know what I’m doing and how it helps the student.

I try to call the family on a regular basis. Usually, during the first quarter, I call every other week. I like to brag about their child, and this is a good time to do this. If I do have a problem, they are usually more receptive and less defensive because I’ve called so often with good news. After the first quarter, I might call once a month if all is going well but if I see the student needing more positive reinforcement, I may call more often.

Sometimes if I think the student needs a positive boost or does something especially successful, I will make a special call to the parent right in front of the student. The students love this, and it helps others work harder for their own special phone call.

How do you collaborate with families? Please share.

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

High-Leverage Practice 2: Collaborate

I am going to discuss High-Leverage Practices as mentioned on the CEC website organized around four aspects of practice. I hope you will join in the conversation!

“HLP2- Organize and facilitate effective meetings with professionals and families.”

One of the scariest things I had to do as a new teacher was to set up and facilitate a meeting with other professionals and families. Luckily, I had an interim principal (filling in for my principal who was on medical leave) who was a great role model and ran my first meeting for me. I took lots of notes on the procedure and who she handled the meeting. Many years later, when I began teaching preservice teachers, I tried to do the same thing. We had mock meetings so they could feel comfortable when the real situation occurred. Then I started coming up with a “recipe” of sorts on how to facilitate the meeting.

Of course, the district has specific procedures on the invitation paperwork, who to invite, and deadlines to follow. Once everyone is invited, the date and time set, it is time to figure out what to do next.

I also ask someone to take minutes of the meeting while I run the meeting. These minutes are official notes about our meeting, and I ask everyone to sign them at the end of the meeting.

Agenda: Before we meet, I like to come up with an agenda to follow during the meeting. This helps keep everyone on track during the meeting and helps it go smoothly. I usually make contact with the parents before the meeting to see if there are any issues, they would like to address during the meeting so I can add it to the agenda.

Greeting and Introductions – After everyone is seated, I like to introduce myself if necessary and then ask everyone around the room to introduce themselves and state their positions.

Meeting Agenda – I review the agenda and then ask everyone if they have anything to add to the agenda. I also make it clear that we will not meet more than 1 hour and if it goes longer, we will need to reconvene so that we can cover all the items on the agenda.

Review IEP goals – I always like to review the goals and tell how the student is progressing.

Other professionals – I ask that the other professionals if they have anything they would like to add.

Issues – If there are any issues, we go over each one of them. I like to address the issues from the parents first in case we run out of time. I want them to feel that their issues are important to us and that we will address them.

Closing – I like to review what we covered during the meeting and will ask the person taking notes to read aloud the minutes. I ask if anyone has anything they would like to add to the minutes. If everyone is agreed with what was read or added, everyone signs the minutes.

Thank you – I thank everyone for attending the meeting.

Do you facilitate meetings? What would you add to the list? Please share.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Monday, June 24, 2019

It’s a Small World

“It turns out that the pool/river/tub that we live in is far smaller than it seems. The culture of the place we work, the vibe of the community where we live. It’s all more connected than we realize.”

This reminds me of the “six degrees of separation” theory where “all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. As a result, a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.”

Years ago, I was on a Caribbean cruise and happened to meet this lady on the deck who looked familiar. She happened to be a parent of one of my students!

When we were in China years ago, a man called out to my husband in the lobby of the hotel. We found out that he lived in our town and recognized us.

While in Italy, we were on a public bus talking to another couple visiting Italy. They didn’t live in our state but they happened to know our friends who lived in our town.

So, when we have a problem with someone, it is good to remember that we may somehow be connected to them through friends and family. I try to take the high road when necessary and bite my tongue when I want to respond in a nasty way. It never hurts to remember that I respect myself and I don’t need to lower myself to their level.

My mother always told me not to burn my bridges in order to keep opportunities open. So, by controlling my emotions and my words, I am keeping opportunities open.

This is an important skill to teach my students. There are many times you want to say the things you shouldn’t but think of the future? Will I someday cross paths with this person again? Could he/she possibly interview me for a job? Could this person end up being my boss one day? Could this person be related to a close friend that I have? There are thousands of possibilities of how you may end up being connected to this person!

Have you met people who were somehow connected to someone you know? Please share.

Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

Friday, June 21, 2019

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 6/21/19

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

D-Day Journeys – “This Story Map, produced by the Veterans History Project (VHP), explores the stories of four men who arrived in Normandy on June 6, 1944: Preston Earl Bagent, a combat engineer; Robert "Bob" Harlan Horr, a glider pilot; Edward Duncan Cameron, a rifleman; and John William "Bill" Boehne, III, a sailor.” (L:M, H;SA:SS)

ClickBait – “Test your wits with a set of hypothetical health studies and find out just how good you are at spotting clickbait.” (L:G;SA:A)

I Know It – “Engage your elementary students with interactive math practice.” (L:E;SA:M)

Persuasion Map – “The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate. Students begin by determining their goal or thesis. They then identify three reasons to support their argument, and three facts or examples to validate each reason. The map graphic in the upper right-hand corner allows students to move around the map, instead of having to work in a linear fashion. The finished map can be saved, e-mailed, or printed.” (L:G;SA:LA)

Alphabet Organizer – “Engage students and build phonemic awareness by using Alphabet Organizer in the classroom. Students create an alphabet book or alphabet chart with words for each letter of the alphabet. Or choose just one word per letter and upload an image to help early readers make a visual connection between the word and the beginning letter.”  (L:G;SA:A )

Original photo by Pat Hensley