5 Ways to Help Numbers Come Alive

Dr. Rebecca Klemm on episode 175 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Dr. Rebecca Klemm @numbersalive shares how to help numbers come alive for all ages. From toddler to teenager to Ph.D., Rebecca informs us about the building blocks that build math success.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam lets you create assessments with formats including multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and even handwritten numeric answers that can be read and scored by Aita – Gradecam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.Score assessments, generate reports, and transfer grades automatically. Work smarter instead of harder. Sign up for your 60-day free trial at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher

Listen Now

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

5 Ways to Help Numbers Come Alive

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e175

Vicki: So today we are talking with Dr. Rebecca Klemm, the “Numbers Lady” about five ways to help numbers come alive in our math classroom. So Rebecca, what’s our first way to help numbers come alive?

Tip #1: Notice numbers and shapes everywhere with students

Rebecca: First of all, math is everywhere and I like to use the numbers to tell the story of where they are in either shape, quantity, order, or name. So, you just look around the classroom.

And one of the things I love to use, cause you probably have windows or if you don’t something else…just look around and find where the numbers are and let the kids pick them out and maybe make a book of it.

So some of them will find shapes. If they’re looking for five, they’re gonna find a pentagon somewhere. If you’re looking at windows you get to decide what is a window, and that’s a really good place sometimes to do multiplication. Because you see them in pairs and you have the horizontal and vertical.

But use that for a great introduction a lot of time in could be whatever size windows you have and you decide what a window is. Or you look at the colors of the shoes, you look at whatever is around the classroom and relate geometry, order, name, and quantity in all the different ways that we encounter numbers.

Pick up the clock, look at the calendar for seven days of the week, or if they figure it out. And let them make a little list and book of the things they find. They can draw them or you take pictures. And it’s a great homework. I like that kind of homework where you go home and you do the same activity with the people you live with. So you look around your environment, take pictures or draw examples of what you see and bring them back. You see that they’re everywhere in all those varieties.


Math Tip #1: Look for Math in the Classroom
Russian Classroom windows – Wikimedia Commons

Vicki: That is so important because of we want kids to relate math to the real world. Rebecca, what’s our second?

Tip #2: Combine Geometry and Arithmetic

Rebecca: The second is combine geometry with arithmetic. So often, we teach shapes with colors, I’ve seen everywhere on all kinds of posters and books.

And then there’s counting.

No, the counting and geometry should go together, and that’s one of the things that I put together in my Number Linx puzzle. That, in fact, teaches them together.

Using simple language: points instead of “vertices”

So you count the points or sometimes people like to call them vertices. But I’m a Ph.D. mathematician and I like to keep the language simple for learners. But let them count with the shapes that actually relate geometrically to the counting of the size or points.

I use a heart for two because it comes into a point at the top and at the bottom.

Math Tip #2: Combine Math and Geometry

Heart – Wikimedia Commons

I use a teardrop for one point and an oval for zero. So I like to relate geometry with counting rather than separately as it typically is done.

Vicki: And you know so many times kids will take algebra and then they go into geometry and they just feel like it’s two separate things. And really they are connected.

Rebecca: Very much so. And in fact, they were developed together.

Geometry is not proofs

And Geometry by the way, because I taught everything from elementary through Ph.D.

Geometry is not proofs. The Greeks did it as proofs because they didn’t have Algebra yet. Their language was beauty, their language was Geometry, there was no zero at the time. So the history concept is really an important part of what I do in teaching teachers about what math is. It’s rarely part of the curriculum for getting people ready to teach that subject.

Vicki: What’s our third?.

Tip #3: Use Units when you’re counting

Rebecca: Third is, use units when you are counting. Two plus three equals five, well let’s make it two dolls plus three dolls, let’s make it three socks plus four socks, make it something that’s relatable, leave the abstraction for later. And in fact, it brings the idea in also of sorting by color and size and shape.

So if it’s one of your shoes that may be different from one of my shoes.

So you can say, “Oh, this is a tennis shoe versus a different kind of shoe. But make them have units and it becomes real.

Vicki: That is excellent advice. Now, what grade level does abstraction come in?

When students can start understanding abstract numbers

Rebecca: Well, I think you can bring it in as you’re starting to get into second grade, third grade. Once they see the pattern of them. Once students begin to realize, and it depends on how sophisticated the students are. Some of them can at a later date, but if you actually start with units and they’ve had a strong pre-school and it’s all about units that’s fine. They may even need to start with the units for sure when they are in first grade.

But as they evolve after that and they’ve got the concept that you’re only adding when they’re same things. So what is it you’re trying to add, and it goes back to the windows.

What is a window? Before you add the windows, count how many windows there are, you need to decide what a window is. Is it one of the panes or is it the complete entire piece?

Vicki: And keeping it the same and understanding those units can even set us up for Algebra. Because we’re going to have those variables. I love how you’re building these building blocks, I think with the end in mind, aren’t you?

Rebecca: Yes, very much so. Because I am looking at what you’re going to be doing for math lifelong.

And getting you ready for creating new math things because the math we teach is not necessarily the math we’re going to need in the future.

It’s an evolving subject, it’s not static.

And I think that’s one of the things people don’t realize about math. It has evolved over the centuries and it is still evolving.

And one of the fun things I have there is that out of my creating a puzzle for young children goes into adults and now is a new conjecture in Geometry. It’s a new idea, that came out of trying to think about putting Geometry and Arithmetic together. I just wanted to put them together, I didn’t realize as I started making that in fact, it evolved into a new conjecture.

So that is a very interesting lesson for children to do. And to see that there are new ideas in math all the time.

Vicki: So what is our fourth idea?

Tip #4: Put subjects in the learner’s world

Rebecca: Put the subjects in the learners‘ world. If they like to make clothes, I’ve had a middle school Algebra teacher say, ”My children just don’t like the subject“. I said, ”You need to make it related to their world“.

So you say all the girls want to do is sew clothes and decorate their lockers. I said Fabulous! Think about all the math that is in there and the measurement. Everybody measures and everybody does arithmetic and some geometry in their entire life. And he said, but I don’t know anything about that. I said, Don’t worry.

They’ll teach you about what’s interesting to them, then you work with them on where the math is relevant to their interests. It flips it, don’t teach the stuff and then you’ll apply it. I did this when I taught university. What are you interested in as your subject. And let’s figure out what arithmetic, math, calculus, it didn’t matter what part of math it was, that’s relevant for your area of interest.

Vicki: Make it relatable. Okay, what’s our fifth?

Tip #5: Don’t tell learners they can’t do something

Rebecca: And the fifth is don’t tell learners they can’t do something. I have an article that went out this March that is the story of a little boy whose teacher told them you can’t subtract three from two. It’s called from Toy Trucks to Trade because it turns into a teaching lesson. I asked him what do you think it would mean?

And he talked about how he has three trucks and his other friend had two. They get together, they have five trucks, notice the units are their trucks. But he wanted to borrow his three trucks and leave him two – he owes me a truck. And I said, “that’s precisely where it came from.” So it’s a teachable moment, ask them why they have a question, and not tell them it can’t be done. I know we all as teachers have good days and bad days but let them ask and tell you what they think it means. And then you can mentor them from that.

How to be an amazing math teacher

Vicki: So Rebecca as we finish up, could you give us a thirty-secondpep talkk for math teachers about how to be amazing math teachers?

Rebecca: Well, I think the first thing is really – work with the children, learners of all ages. Cause I’ve done university and PhD students also, it’s the same.

I put it stories for young children where the numbers are trying to match up their meaning. They’re wandering the world like children are, like we all are for our whole life, we’re trying to figure out what we’re here for and what we’re up to.

So I have the numbers doing that and making it fun and engaging.

They have to see that it is relevant to their world. And if they see that, they’re off and running very fast. Textbooks and worksheets are too often just abstract.

You do need repetition but if you put units on them and if you count the wheels they you can say are they all the same kind of wheels?

So you get into sorting and counting by putting them together in groups. Then the arithmetic makes sense to the things they are interested in and off they go.

Vicki: Well, we got some great advice from Dr. Rebecca Klemm, the Numbers Lady, about how to make numbers come alive in our classroom. And you know what, it relates to every subject we teach. Because it’s all about helping things relate to a student’s world, so that it means something. And that my friends is remarkable!

Bio as submitted


Dr. Rebecca Klemm, also known as The Numbers Lady, is an accomplished mathematician, statistician, world traveler, and teacher. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Statistics, she has specialized in explaining mathematical concepts via everyday language.

After running her own research firm for many years, she founded NumbersAlive! (http://www.numbersalive.org) to share her love of numbers with kids. Dr. Klemm has received numerous awards for her NumbersAlive!® apps, books, puzzles, and games which make math meaningful for all ages.

Blog: http://www.numbersalive.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/numbersalive

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Ways to Help Numbers Come Alive appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e175/

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Helping Students Find Passion and Purpose: Barbara Bray

Barbara Bray on episode 174 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Barbara Bray talks about personalizing learning in the classroom. She teaches us strategies and helps us think about how to make our classrooms better. (Note: There were so many great quotes in this show, I’ve made some graphics for you to share. Enjoy!)

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam lets you create assessments with formats including multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and even handwritten numeric answers that can be read and scored by Aita – Gradecam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant. Score assessments, generate reports and transfer grades automatically.

Work smarter instead of harder. Sign up for your 60-day free trial at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher

Listen Now

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Helping Students Find Passion and Purpose: Barbara Bray

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e174
From Audio File: 174 Barbara Bray

Vicki: So today we are talking with Barbara Bray about finding our passion and purpose. Now we’ll put it in the show notes Barbara has her own podcast,“Conversations on Learning“ and I want you to check that out.So Barbara, we as educators, you know, sometimes it easy to kind of go, Why am I doing this?

How do we find our passion and purpose again?

What happens when you wake up one day and realize you need to find your passion and purpose again?

Barbara: Well, teaching is hard and teachers aren’t valued. And we have to figure out a way, or they have to figure out a way to find that passion again because as soon as you start expressing what you love, something happens. The kids get excited because you are modeling that passion for them. And when I see teachers do that it’s so exciting.

What if you’re scripted?

Vicki: Well, what happens when a teacher says I’m scripted, I can’t put my passion into the classroom.

Barbara: Well, I do a lot of coaching and I work with different organizations and districts where what we need to do is figure out, is that really going the way that’s going to help your kids? And so, I’m actually working in Georgia. So there is a coaching group where they go in the classroom and they work with the teacher to see where the gaps are. And see what’s going on, why can’t they go off the script.

Barbara: Sometimes teachers need a little nudge or need someone to model it for them. Kids need you to go off the script.

Vicki: So this is just so tough. If I was scripted, I couldn’t teach. I just wouldn’t do it. Because me and a script, we just wouldn’t go together. I kinda write my own but I just talk to lots of teachers who said, ”Vicki, I would love to do what you do, but nobody will let me“. And I guess, how do we either help them break out of the straight jacket or feel some empowerment, even within a script, where they can bring their passion and purpose?

How to connect and go off script safely

Barbara: I think what you do is when…if you really want to go and try something, take one lesson. Just one lesson. And look at a way you can give your kids some voice. And sometimes the way to do that is to open the conversations with them. And tell them that a little bit about why you are doing that and your own experiences, so they see you are vulnerable but you also had to learn in different ways. And sometimes, if we just stick to the script we don’t take the time to build those relationships. Sometimes you need one on one supports.

When you’ve lost your purpose

Vicki: Ok so we talked a little bit about passion. How about those teachers who say, ”This is not the same profession I got into, I don’t know if I have a purpose.“

Barbara: Well I think it’s time to find the purpose. Because, if you’re going to school and you are going through the motions – the kids know it too. So we have to figure out what we can do to bring the passion back so we can find or discover your purpose. If your purpose, most teachers go into make a difference in a child’s life. So how can we do that? And sometimes, a way to do that is to stop, take some time, and to really breath and rethink what you’re doing with your life. And so this is more competent coaching that takes you into your personal life and your professional life. I call it personal professional learning. How can you tie what you love with what you do?

Vicki: I love that. You know sometimes, I even have to remember and reflect. Because it is so easy to look at today that you forget that special things do happen when you bring your best and your passion.

Building relationships matters

Barbara: And kids want to know you and get to know you. It’s about those relationships. If outside of school you’re a rock climber and you’re taking risks and the kids don’t know that. What if you bring that in and just tell about what you do in your life? And then get them to talk about what they do and what they’re excited about. The conversations change in the classroom, it’s just not rote, following the script. It’s starting to be some fun. It’s just about those relationships.

Why do we lose our passion and purpose in the classroom?

Vicki: So Barbara what do you think the mistake is that teachers make that causes us teachers to lose our passion and purpose?

Barbara: I don’t think it’s the teachers. I think it’s the system. I think that we’ve been taught to follow orders or to be compliant ourselves. And the system is changing all over because we have to. The problem is that we are kinda caught into that compliance mode because we’re scared, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. So we have to look at the ability to build relationships with administrators who hopefully give us a little bit leeway, so we can take those risks and not feel that we are going to get in trouble.

Vicki: Well you know, this is a hard topic, Barbara. Because I think most teachers want to be passionate and want to have a purpose. We do. It’s just so easy to like…ants are a little thing here in the South but you get a whole bunch of bites and you just go running. And I don’t think it’s a big, huge attack of a dragon.I think it’s a thousand tiny ant bites sometimes that get teachers to forget.

Barbara: Well, maybe we need to…how do I … That’s an interesting metaphor. I don’t know if I want to bite that or….

Vicki: Go bite back – go for it

How to regain your purpose

Barbara: Well, I mean the idea of how do you eat an elephant, it’s a bite at a time. If you look at things really big you’ll never be able to tackle it. But if you take one little lesson or one activity and give the kids voice. Move the chairs around, try to figure out some other strategies so you can just kind of test the waters. And all of a sudden, if it doesn’t work you can ask the kids, what would work, what would you like to do differently? Get them involved more so there is voice in it. It really changes the whole culture in the classroom. And I think that’s a problem unless they experience it they don’t know.

Vicki: Yes, you know I think there’s power in rebooting and saying, Ok we are rebooting the classroom, even alpha, and beta testing. Saying, hey kids we’re gonna test something new today. I mean, doesn’t that just spark something?

Ask the students

Barbara: Oh yeah, especially if you ask them. I mean, no one has ever asked them. How do you like to learn? What would you like to learn today? Hey, let’s take everything off the walls. What if we start all over? And you help me design the classroom? Wow. I did that in a 6th-grade classroom in Oakland. The kids every day they said what if we want to change it more often and I said go for it. I mean it’s amazing what the kids want to do if you give them the opportunity. And they own it.

Yes, yes. Like, let’s do this together, this is not me doing everything and you sitting here. Learning is not a passive activity.

Barbara: And all the research shows that. And we know that. But we can’t let go because we are supposed to cover instead of uncover the learning. And I want them to figure out if they can just open up and uncover some of those gems that are inside and even go outside. Look at learning in a different way. Just try one or two activities. Something maybe you love.

Vicki: So give us a thirty-second pep talk about finding our passion and purpose.

How to find your passion and purpose again

Barbara: “Go with your strengths to find your passions so you discover your purpose“ and that was a quote I wrote almost fifteen years ago. It kinda goes with this a little bit. And when I wrote it, there was a principal in Ohio that said,“Could I put this on my gym wall?“ So it’s up on a gym wall somewhere in Ohio.

Vicki: So teachers, we need to find our passion and purpose. And you know to be fair, I’ve asked Barbara some hard questions. That’s just because you guys are asking me hard questions. And I feel those questions, but she’s totally right.

Take everything off the walls and reboot your classroom.

Let the kids be involved.

Talk to them about how they want to learn.

Try little things.

You don’t have to do huge big things.

But also, open yourself up and talk about your passions and what you’re doing on the weekend. Sometimes it really…believe it or not, it was a while before I talked to my students about what I did on Twitter and what I did outside the classroom. They think it’s kinda cool. And you’ve got some cool things too, so let’s really bring our passion and purpose back. And it starts with us bringing our passion and purpose as educators.

Bio as submitted


Barbara Bray is a creative learning strategist, author, writer, speaker, instructional designer, and coach who connects people and ideas around transforming education. She uses the design thinking process to facilitate moving to a culture of learning and redesigning learner-centered environments. Barbara is the co-author of Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize Learning and co-founded Personalize Learning, LLC with Kathleen McClaskey. She is also the founder/owner of My eCoach (my-ecoach.com) that is based on a coaching platform for educators, and on her website Rethinking Learning (barbarabray.net), Barbara blogs and hosts her new podcast series Conversations on Learning with educators and change agents from around the world.

Blog:https://barbarabray.net/blog/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/bbray27

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Helping Students Find Passion and Purpose: Barbara Bray appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e174/

ILAC Experience Store: Your Experience Matters!

New campus, new store, new ILAC. In July of this year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Today, let’s discover our newest project to increase students’ happiness: The ILAC Experience Store. Located at ILAC’s Cumberland Building in Toronto, consider it the place where your journey through Canada begins.


Laura at Experience Store explaining activities to students

Laura Dal Fabbro, Social Event Leader at ILAC. She explained her activities to ILAC students.

Mateus and Erika, ILAC students from Slovakia, are living the Canadian experience!  With smartphones in their hands and smiles on their faces, they share their favourite photos of their trip to New York with Laura, their event leader:

Look at how nice and crowded it was“, Erika brags.

I have been there three times, I love it. I am happy you tried guys“, Laura says.

This is the perfect scenario defining the Experience Store, trying and sharing.

Matheus beams: “I love ILAC’s activities; I have been to the Sunset Canoeing, The CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and Ripley’s Aquarium. The event leaders brought us to amazing places.” ILAC’s staff plans out local social events for students all across the city at the ILAC Experience Store.

ILAC Experience Store: A personalized service

ILAC Students and Event Leader enjoying a sunset canoeing activity

Aneta Kratka (on the left), Social Events Leader at ILAC, leading the Sunset Canoe activity with ILAC students.

Laura explains: “Students do not come to ILAC only to learn English. They want to live the whole Canadian experience! It’s more than studying; it’s an opportunity to meet people and make new friends“. She tries to get to know each student better so she can suggest activities that will be close to their interests. She enjoys her job and feels great at ILAC. She is not the only one:

I love working here. I can meet new people and be a part of their Canadian Experience. I try my best to exceed their expectations by creating an unforgettable trip for them!” Event leader, Aneta, chimes in. Rafael and Tae Lim, the masculine side of the team, completely agree with their co-workers.

Marina Serozini, the Social Events Manager at ILAC, shares her colleagues’ love for their work: ILAC wants to be that school that is raising the level of everything. I think the service of creating an opportunity for great experiences outside the classroom for students has always been important to us.

Marina and her team are proud to have a place where they can connect with students; answer any questions and most importantly, help build memories that will last a lifetime.

A fast service

You will also find a concierge-style ‘express’ counter where you can buy your textbooks and activities. This is a place where everyone is welcome. No matter where you’re from or what your interests are, the Experience Store provides an inclusive space for everyone to explore opportunities that bring their experience to the next level and see what Canada and ILAC have to offer!  What a beautiful place to practice your English!

Visit us at Cumberland Terrace, 1129 Bay Street, 2nd Floor (ILAC Cumberland Building) for a new experience.

Written by Marine Gas

The post ILAC Experience Store: Your Experience Matters! appeared first on ILAC.

from Blog – ILAC http://www.ilac.com/ilac-experience-store/

A Teenage Bullying Story

Sarah Beeghley on episode 173 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Sarah Beeghley @the-geeky_girl has been called by a US Senator to tell her story as part of anti-bullying legislation. Hear her story or triumph and advice to teachers.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam lets you create assessments with formats including multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and even handwritten numeric answers that can be read and scored by Aita – Gradecam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.Score assessments, generate reports, and transfer grades automatically. Work smarter instead of harder. Sign up for your 60-day free trial at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher

Listen Now

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

A Teenage Bullying Story

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e173
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vicki: Today we are talking to Sarah Beeghley about her battle against cyberbullying. And I do have to give a shout out to my good friend, Jim Beeghley, who works with my website and does so many amazing things to help the Cool Cat Teacher blog behind the scenes. But Sarah, I’ve interviewed you before, and we’ll certainly link to that. But tell us your most recent news about your work with Senator Casey.

Speaking about Anti-Bullying

Sarah: So, Senator Casey of Pennsylvania, is proposing an anti-bullying law. And I found out on Facebook actually, so I gave his office a call, saying like I’m supporting him, I’ve been bullied and cyber bullied before. And I get a call, last Monday saying that they want to use my stories and possibly use them for going to Congress and just all over Facebook and all over the internet.

Vicki: So, if you got called to Congress today, what would be the first story, if you only had one story to tell.

Sarah: If I could only tell one story, it would definitely be the story of when I was bullied and cyberbullied in middle school. This girl who I thought was my best friend, started calling me names behind my back. And next thing I know, it’s going online. And thankfully my parents got on my emails at that point, but she had posted a quiz. And this quiz had questions that were mainly directed towards me and all of them were really offensive and hurtful towards me and my integrity. And we had talked to the parents, and the parents didn’t really do anything. And then, we got the school involved because it didn’t stop, it continued. Name-calling online and name-calling when we were at school too. And she got three days of in school suspension and then she had to sit out for the basketball playoffs. That’s about her punishment.

We are Survivors, not Victims

Vicki: You know, it’s tough, and I know from being picked on. There were times, you know we didn’t really take about bullying back when I was in..that age. But it was very hurtful. There were times people would say things like,” You bring this on yourself. This is your fault.” Don’t you feel like that is still the case, sometimes people blame the person who is being bullied?

Sarah: I definitely feel as though that happens, but especially online. Because of what people post online, but it doesn’t always have to fall back on them, on the victim. It is the people who are bullying the victim that are the ones who are kind of putting it on the victim because they’re figuring out the worst.

Vicki: And I have a word that I would love for you to start using so…back when we had three tornados hit Camilla my hometown. And we were really struggling, and there were so many people impacted. We used the word tornado victims. And one of the people came in the psychologist and said,” Stop calling them victims. They’re tornado survivors.” Because that is…I think of empowerment. I’m not a victim. You’re not a victim. We have stood up for ourselves, and we have said this is just not something that is okay to do. Do you feel like you are a survivor or do you feel like you are still in victim mood and feel helpless?

Sarah: I definitely feel as though I am a survivor because I know how to get over situations. Different situations that don’t even involve bullying or cyberbullying, because of what I went through.

What mistakes did teachers make in Sarah’s situation?

Vicki: What are the mistakes that teachers make? That you can think of that teachers make when dealing with similar situations?

Sarah: The biggest one was that girls will be girls, and boys will be boys. And then turn the other cheek and don’t care. I didn’t have anybody to turn to. And I’m in college now and I’m going to be a teacher. One of the biggest things I’m gonna do for my future students is I want to be there for them. Because nobody was ever there for me. Like somebody could be going through this and they just need to have someone there for them.

Vicki: But honestly, your parents were there for you, and my parents were there for me. So, fortunately, we had parents. But we have to remember that not everybody has somebody. So, you think that if they had just listened and realized that you were serious.

Sarah: Yes. Things would have been….like punishments would have been a lot different but they didn’t realize that.

Vicki: But do you think punishments really help?

Sarah: I mean, the punishment that was given to the girl…like the worst part of my story…didn’t help her at all because she continued to do it. But now, at least in Pennsylvania, cyberbullying is a misdemeanor of the third degree. People can actually go to jail for it. And I read somewhere recently that the cyberbullying rates have dropped because of that law.

Research-based methods that work

Vicki: This is just a hard thing. So, Sarah, I’ll interject this here. The Olweus method of dealing with bullying, which is really empowering bystanders, is really the only research-based anti bullying method that I’ve seen. I’ve kinda been through that, but even then it basically teaches you that the best thing and the only thing that works is empowering bystanders. That’s so hard Sarah, don’t you think?

Sarah: Oh, it’s so hard because I know for a fact that my friends didn’t want to stand up or say anything because they were friends with the girl. And it’s almost like the bystanders have to pick and choose, and if they pick the wrong side they’re going to be called a snitch.

Vicki: Get called a snitch or feel like they’re next.

Sarah: Yeah.

Vicki: Being bullied is a very lonely thing. I just remember in my case, I lost all my friends, I had two and a fella in our class had a skiing party and he invited everybody but me. Those two friends went to him and said, “Oh, you need to invite Vicki” and said, “Well you can choose. You can either come to the party or be Vicki’s friend” and they chose the party. But I will tell you, I used to tell the good Lord I wouldn’t thank Him for it, but now I thank Him for it every day because it’s being used for great good. Even talking to you and understanding, you know, because Sarah, you will never forget, will you?

Sarah: No, because after this entire situation I’ve learned to trust in the Lord. I’ve learned to just be a bigger person. I’ve learned how to overcome different situations from the skills I’ve gained through being bullied.

Vicki: So, Sarah, how do you think about the fact that you may end up in Congress about this? Does that scare you?

Sarah: It scares me a little bit, but like I’m so excited. Because somebody is actually taking initiative for it. And it’s not just the state of Pennsylvania either. It’s across the United States.

Vicki: People care. So you find that really encouraging.

Sarah: Yes. Like I’m sitting here and I’m so excited.

Vicki: Well, you know, I’ll be following you because we have a backchannel, we connect all the time. Teachers, I just want you to hear Sarah’s view because this is a view from a student whose feelings are still pretty raw in feeling all of this. There are things that are being done. Take it seriously. It’s not boys will be boys or girls will be girls. And I will just tell you this. Just know that it’s a lonely thing. We used to call it being picked on. When you’re being picked on, it’s a lonely path even if you have your parents on your side. It’s hard. I cried everyday for five years. I don’t wish that on anybody. No child deserves that. None.

Bio as submitted


Sarah Beeghley, a college sophomore, has experienced cyberbullying her entire life. Now she is advocating for it in many different ways.

Blog: http://www.thegeekygirl.net/

Twitter: @the-geeky_girl

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post A Teenage Bullying Story appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e173/

K-6 Educational Music Videos: Selecting the Right Videos for Learning

Joanna and Matt Pace on episode 172 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Joanna and Matt Pace write videos on a popular YouTube channel, Hopscotch. Joanna is an elementary teacher and Matt is a songwriter from Las Vegas. Their 7 Continents song has almost 300K views. Today they talk about what makes a great learning video and how to select good videos on YouTube for K-6 students.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam lets you create assessments with formats including multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and even handwritten numeric answers that can be read and scored by Aita – Gradecam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.Score assessments, generate reports, and transfer grades automatically. Work smarter instead of harder. Sign up for your 60-day free trial at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

K-6 Educational Music Videos: Selecting the Right Videos for Learning

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e172
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vicki: Today we are talking to Joanna and Matt Pace. So this is really a unique couple – they have a great YouTube channel for K-6 – lots of free resources. Now Joanna, you are a 2nd-grade teacher. And I’m guessing that part of this is your desire to help kids remember. How do we help kids that age remember things?

How do we help kids remember?

Joanna: Well, that’s a great question. I think that most kids learn in different ways. And in my classroom, we try a lot of different things. And some of those include movement and repetition. Music is a great way to take both of those – as they are repeating things over and over and attitude. So, for different kids, some are more powerful than others, but we have noticed (at least in our classroom and my experience with my team members) music helps almost all kids to learn and remember things.

How did you get started?

Vicki: So, what happened Joanna? Did you go home and say, “Write me some music, Matt because you’re the composer?” What happened?

Joanna: That’s exactly what happened! I will look online, I look in stories to see what I can find to help teach concepts that my students are struggling with. And at the end of the day, sometimes I really can’t find things that meet our needs. So, I say, “Matt, you’re awesome at writing a song! Can you please take your skills and make up for what I lack in teaching sometimes?”

Vicki: So, Matt, I was looking at your Continent song. And we’ll post that in the show notes. You’ve got over a hundred thousand people who have seen that particular one. How do you write an engaging song about the continents?

How they wrote the 7 Continent Song

Matt: Well, that one we started off just talking about the key points – what we wanted the kids to get out of the song. And so after we had figured all of that out, then I had to work my songwriter magic to make it rhyme, to make it have an appealing melody. One of the big aspects of a song that we want to keep, is keeping it really short. Because then you can repeat it and then you can remember it. The longer you go the less attention you have because and so trying to say that idea in as concise a way as you possibly can and still make it melodic and singable and rememberable.

Vicki: Matt, are you surprised with the response you are getting to your videos?

Matt: On one side, yes. I didn’t expect our third song that we released on YouTube to have that much of a response. But on the other side, we had seen lots of videos on YouTube that have .. were about similar subjects. Similar type things that were song animation that had so many views. We didn’t know why they had that many views. So people must have been in need of that content. No matter how high or low the quality of the video was, they were getting millions of views. So we figured, if we put something out there that is good quality, that’s educationally sound as well as musically sound then hopefully we’ll get the same response.

Vicki: Yes, because you know YouTube has a lot of great resources. But some things are just are being viewed that are not being made by educators, and I guess that’s the difference. You’ve kind of got a partnership of music and education. So Joanna, what’s the response of your own students to this music, knowing that you are involved?

Joanna: They love the fact that they can put a name to the music. But on the other hand they will beg to listen to it over and over again. They always ask for Mr. Pace to write them another song. Can Mr. Pace write us a song about this? So, it’s fun to see they are understanding the way that they are learning. And that they appreciate music as a learning tool.

Thoughts on memorization

Vicki: Does it bother you that we have so much memorization? I guess that just has to be part of it in the elementary grades?

Joanna: It’s a great question. There’s a lot of different parts going into learning. We hope with all memorization that students have a conceptual understanding before memorization takes place. For example, addition facts. We want them to understand what 1 + 2 means before they memorize it. But at a certain point, as they get further along in their academic careers, or their academic experience, we want automaticity so they can apply those concepts to 2 and 3 and 4 digit addition, subtraction, and eventually multiplication. So, I don’t know that every subject matter needs a song. But I certainly feel like it helps, especially with those students that are on the fringes. That maybe don’t have the same parental support or maybe struggle with some learning disabilities, or autism, or other social disabilities. So I feel like music has a place in the classroom and it is definitely underutilized.

How do we pick effective videos to help kids learn?

Vicki: But not all music is going to be educational or worthwhile. So, either of you can answer this question. When educators are selecting videos for their classrooms, do you think there is a common mistake that educators make when they pick those videos and maybe it doesn’t have the results they want?

Joanna: I would definitely say in my experience, because of the level of desperation and low-funding for educators a lot of times they will go with the cheapest option, not necessarily the best option. And sometimes, at least in our experiences, if we do our research before creating a song, we will – we’ll see a song that repeats the same melody over and over again, but with different lyrics. Which kind of waters down the effectiveness, because the kids get confused on what goes where. If they hear the same melody with different lyrics, I guess it is either…I don’t know if Matt could better explain that. But it definitely confuses them.

Vicki: Well, and Matt, aren’t there some copyright issues with what some people are posting because they are actually not original. You’re making original music, right?

Matt: Well, it depends on the song they are using. We’re going to try to do most of ours original music. One we have done so far was to an old tune that’s now in the public domain. So, people can use that tune however they want for commercial or noncommercial purposes. And that’s totally fine. It just depends on how long the song is. Or how long it’s been since the song was published or how long since the song’s author has died. A lot of the tunes use old folk tunes, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”, things like that. That’s totally fair game to use a melody for a learning song. Hopefully it is used well.

What mistakes do people make when writing videos for kids to learn?

Vicki: So Matt, a lot of educators are getting into writing music for learning. Do you think there is a common mistake that educators may make as they are creating music for learning?

Matt: Well, there are a lot of things that go into writing a song, and especially with such a specific purpose as we’re trying to do. I think one it has to be fun for the kids. If they are going to be engaged, if they’re going to want to use that as part of their learning it has to be a fun song. And the other thing, as I mentioned, concise, short and sweet, and obviously you want it to be correct.

Joanna: We also noticed some are just terrible to listen to. So having some quality in there doesn’t hurt.

Vicki: Well, we’ve gotten so many great tips. I know you want to check the show notes and you definitely want to check their [YouTube] channel, because they have lots more to come in this collaboration because it’s important to select the right videos for learning. I’m so excited, Joanna and Matt, to see you working together because I think that when educators and musicians collaborate that we are going to continue to see an increase in the quality of the videos we are using in our classrooms.

Matt: Absolutely

Bio as submitted


Joanna grew up as a military child overseas mainly in Europe. She studied Elementary and Early Childhood Education at BYU, and this will be her fifth year teaching. She married Matthew Pace, a songwriter from Las Vegas, in 2010. They love working together on various projects, including raising their baby boy whom they adopted last year.

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgM7EYFFz_dba0OIZs5L9kg

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post K-6 Educational Music Videos: Selecting the Right Videos for Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/k-6-educational-music-videos-selecting-right-videos-learning/

Tips for a Purpose-Full Education #MotivationMonday

Dr. Amy Fast on episode 171 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Vice Principal Dr. Amy Fast helps schools how to move their mission from the letterhead to what people do every day. A must-listen for school leaders. Dr. Amy Fast, the author of It’s the Mission, Not the Mandates, talks about how to regain the purpose of education in schools.

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam lets you create assessments with formats including multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and even handwritten numeric answers that can be read and scored by Aita – Gradecam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.Score assessments, generate reports, and transfer grades automatically. Work smarter instead of harder. Sign up for your 60-day free trial at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Purpose-Full Education #MotivationMonday

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e172

From Audio File: 172 Amy Fast @fastcranny

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Dr. Amy Fast @fastcranny, the author of It’s the Mission, Not the Mandates.

Now Amy, this is tough for so many educators, because we have so many mandates coming down, right?

Amy: Correct.

How do we focus on the mission of our school?

Vicki: So how do we focus on the mission, when we feel overwhelmed by all the mandates?

Amy: That’s a good question. I think that it’s certainly something that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds, because mandates are kind of – like you said, in the forefront of our work on the daily basis.

But one of the things that I’m really passionate about is that if we’re not really clear about what our end goal is in public education, then we’re going to be spinning our wheels for the most part.

We only have so much time that we can do things in, and so much manpower and motivation to do those with. If we’re not really clear about how to get the biggest bang for our buck in every second of everyday, then we’re not doing right by our students, and we’re not doing right by society ultimately.

A Leader’s Responsibility in the School

For me, I think that A) it’s a leader’s responsibility to be mission oriented and not be so focused on the initiatives and the mandates that are rolled out in their districts and their states. But B) to be really clear about what their school and their district in there in this field of public education is all about, and to use that to make sure that their staff is on the same page and excited about what they’re doing every day… and knows pretty clearly what they need to do for students so that students can be as successful as possible.

Vicki: Now, Amy, you’re not just a thought leader, sitting in an office. You’re actually an assistant principal in Oregon.

Amy: Yeah!

3 ways to make a mission more than a statement

Vicki: So how do you reinforce this with your staff? How do you help them focus and stay on mission? And what do you say your school’s mission is?

Amy: We just came up with a mission statement this year. We have a relatively new team across the board. Three new administrators out of four – “new-ish” I should say, in their roles – and a lot of new hires, and a lot of veteran teachers who are ready for a chance to revitalize their purpose and revitalize the school.

We have this committee called Innovation Council. On that team, we determined the mission statement alongside students and parents and other staff members.

Our mission is “Ignite purpose. Pursue passion. Rise to your worth.”

That kind of encompasses what we’re all about. I think that even for me it’s hard to keep that in the forefront of my day-to-day work, but there’s a few things that we do to keep that mission alive.

Mission statement action item #1: Make sure every group purposefully pursues the mission

One is to not just have it live on letterhead, but to really make sure that all the programs and practices in our school fall under the umbrella of that mission and are really purposeful in realizing that mission. Otherwise, why are we doing them?

Mission statement action item #2: Rethink school meetings that don’t help the purpose

(Two) is making sure that if our meetings and our work with students doesn’t reflect that mission, then we rethink whether those meetings are purposeful or not.

I do something that’s called “Fast Facts.” You know, my last names is Fast, so…

Vicki: (laughs) I got that!

Amy: I send out weekly emails that are mission-oriented. They kind of get to you. I always tell people that “Mindset is more important than Skillset in what we do as educators.”

I’ve seen that to be true in my work with students and staff. These Fast Facts are really geared toward making sure that staff remember how hard the work is that they do and that they also remember that that work is valued.

I think that it’s really easy to feel demoralized as an educator. When you’re reminded constantly of the mission and of our value, I think that can keep your battery charged enough to do the really important work.

Also, I think that one of the big mistakes that we make as educators is not keeping our students in the know of the work that we’re trying to do. I talked on a few podcasts about our student survey that we’re really proud of.

Twice a year we use a Google Form to survey our students about how hopeful that are, and how much they feel like they’re significant in the school, and even have them reflect on their soft skills like teamwork and perseverance and those sorts of things.

Everytime we do these surveys and every time we have an assembly, we remind students of what we’re all about and how proud we are of them and the work that they’re doing and the achievement that they’re had thus far.

If we’re not taking the time to let them know the strides that they’re making toward that mission, and they’re the ones that are doing the real work, then we’re never going to realize that mission.

Mission statement action item #3: Make sure students own it

I think that:

  1. Keeping it in the forefront of our work as administrators, and
  2. Making sure that our staff see that it’s a living thing and not just something that lives on letterhead, and
  3. Making sure that students own it.

Those are probably the most important pieces of making a mission more than just a statement. It’s something that actually inspires you on a daily basis.

Make sure schools are full of purpose or purpose-full

Vicki: So, Amy, you said a word that I love. “Purposeful.”

But I like to spell it “Purpose-full.”

Amy: (agrees)

Vicki: Everything we do should be full of purpose.

As we’re thinking about motivating ourselves to be more, do you think that there’s anything that schools unknowingly do that are “Purpose-less,” or take away from your purpose?

Amy: All the time, unfortunately. This is probably the impetus for my book. I had this nagging feeling for fifteen years — when I was in the classroom or as an instructional coach — that what we’re spending the most time on isn’t necessarily the most purposeful for students and in turn for society.

We’re really doing this so that students can be happy and successful someday and so that we can live in a better world. When you zoom out at the 30,000 foot range, that’s why we’re here. The unfortunate reality in education is that what gets tested is also what gets taught. Not that what we test is wrong, but it’s limited.

I always say that there was this popular phrase for a long time that was “having a laser-like focus” in education. That’s important because without that focus then you’re all over the place. But at the same time, that laser-like focus can become tunnel vision if we’re not careful.

I think that one of the things that I care a lot about is making sure that what we focus on reflects our greatest purpose.

School is not just here for academic reasons

This is a statement that ruffles a few feathers, and this is probably where my niche is in this field, but I’m not sure that the purpose of education is solely academic.

The research that I did when I was writing my book was all about, “What is it that changes the trajectory of a society? What is it that changes the trajectory of an individual?”

If that’s 90% academic, then great. We’re on the right track as public educators.

But if it’s not, then we need to be really careful, because if what we’re testing is what gets taught, and we’re solely testing academic measures and that’s actually not what leads societies and individuals to be successful, then we’re going to be going down the wrong path.

3 Fold purpose of schools

1 – Academics

I have this conceptual framework in my book, and it’s something that I share sometimes on Twitter. It’s a triple Venn diagram, and academic achievement is only one sphere or circle in that.

2 – Foundational Skills

The (second one is) those foundational skills, those soft skills people talk about like perseverance and teamwork and creativity. Those are seeming intangible, but actually are pretty measurable qualities.

3 – Intrinsic Drive

The other circle, the third circle, is intrinsic drive, and that’s the piece that I talk about that we’re missing a lot.

When you look at things that are integral to individuals’ and society’s success, it’s really that piece about students

  • getting super passionate about what they’re doing,
  • feeling like they have something to contribute to society, and
  • feeling like they matter and matter in a unique way and not just a way that’s a number on a data point somewhere on a chart, somewhere in a school.

You’re actually an individual that people are seeing, you’re cared about, and you’re known.

For me, if we’re going to be purposeful about our work, then we need to be purposeful about what it is that’s really going to make a difference in education for students.

It’s not solely academic.

If I am pushing any agenda, that’s the agenda I’m pushing.

How to improve student performance

Vicki: Give us a 30-second pep talk about focusing on what will actually improve the trajectory of kids.

Amy: Well, I don’t know if it’s a pep talk…

But I’m all about multiple measures. I’m not about moving backwards in education and not measuring at all, just making kids “feel good.”

I think that we can’t do things the way that they’ve been done in the past. That hasn’t been proven to be as beneficial as we’d like them to be.

Let me give you a little caveat here, because I think that we’re really hard on the field of education. A lot of things we’ve done have come to fruition in society and actually made a positive impact. We’re not quick enough to give credit where credit is due.

But, that being said, it’ really important to have holistic measures. We are too quick to dismiss that because it seems impossible. But we forget that a really easy measure is asking students. We can measure a student’s motivation level and intrinsic drive. We can measure their soft skills with their own self-assessment or rubrics that teachers have. And we can certainly measure their academic achievement which we’re already doing.

So what I would like to see happen is to have these holistic measures that allow schools to capture not only how their students are doing academically, but also

  • how they’re feeling and if they’re able to think creatively,
  • have a global perspective,
  • have solid oral and written communication,
  • be good leaders,
  • be good at teamwork and digital literacy,
  • be flexible.

All of those things that are shown to actually be more important than technical or academic skills in the workforce. I think that we should put equal weight on those things. Then we’ll get an accurate reflection of what our schools are doing. Once we start looking at those things, schools will start paying more attention to those things. By virtue of paying more attention to them, students will in turn rise to their worth.

Vicki: OK educators. So, let’s get out there and let’s have a more purposeful education in our classrooms and in our schools.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted


Dr. Amy Fast is an assistant principal at McMinnville High School in McMinnville, Oregon. She is the author of It’s the Mission, Not the Mandates and is a rising thought leader in the field of education. Her focus is on public school policy and practice that ignites students’ passions and inspires them to pursue their purpose–both at the national socio-political level and at the grassroots school building level.

Social Media: @fastcranny

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Tips for a Purpose-Full Education #MotivationMonday appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e171/

5 Ways to Add Morning Meetings to Special Ed Classrooms

Dr. Felicia Durden on episode 170 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Dr. Felicia Durden shares methods behind having a powerful morning meeting in special education classrooms. From routine to celebrations, we talk about how to start the day well in special education classrooms.

Today’s Sponsor: WriQ from Texthelp is a new FREE Add-on for Google Docs that helps teachers easily assess student writing and track progress over time by automatically scoring students’ spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. It also incorporates rubrics so teachers can provide meaningful, qualitative feedback to encourage the writing journey.
This handy free Google Docs add-on tracks things like: time spent writing, spelling-grammar-and punctuation error rates and pulls it into a clear graphical view in your teacher dashboard. To learn more about Wriq go to www.texthelp.com/wriq

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

5 Ways to Add Morning Meetings to Special Ed Classrooms

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e170 Felicia Durden @drdrdn
Friday, October 13, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Dr. Felicia Durden @drdrdn, author of Morning Meetings for Special Ed Classrooms: 101 Fun Ideas, Creative Activities, and Adaptable Techniques.

Today we’re going to hit on five ideas.

So Felicia, give us our first idea for adding Morning Meetings to the Special Ed Classroom.

Step 1: Set up Your Room for Morning Meetings

Felicia: Hi! Well, one of the first ways that I want to begin by having the Morning Meetings in the Special Education Classroom is to set up your room. Setting up and determining what that space is going to look like is so pivotal to having a Morning Meeting.

In most classrooms, it’s a set area in the classroom – maybe on the carpet, or in an area that’s open where you can bring chairs. But the first thing to even start with the Morning Meeting is to determine where that specified place is going to be that your kids are going to meet with you.

That Morning Meeting area has to be a place where the teacher has prominence so the kids can see you. But you might also be sharing big books or having writing, so you need the space to be open enough where the kids can not only see you, but see the materials that you ‘re presenting as well.

So the first step is to really assess your classroom area and determine where you’re going to hold that Morning Meeting.

Step 2: Think About How You’ll Build Community and Set Expectations

Vicki: Awesome. What’s your second idea?

Felicia: The second thing is that when you do the Morning Meeting, one of the important things to think about is how you’re going to build community.

Morning Meeting is a really special time that you want to make sure that kids feel safe. They’re coming into the room, and you want to build that time when the kids can express themselves. So building community is your second step. Think about how you’re going to teach the rules for Morning Meeting. What are the expectations? That’s a part of community building, because it helps to make that area safe and secure – and really, I like to use the word “sacred.”

You want that Morning Meeting area to be sacred. So you need to think about, “What are my rules and expectations going to be, so that kids know exactly what the expectations are?”

Vicki: And it does make them feel safe to have routines and to know what to expect. It just does create a community of safety, and that kind of starts with structure, doesn’t it?

Felicia: It really does, especially for kids with special needs. Often, part of their IEP goals are social skills. Many have difficulties with connecting with others, and if they don’t feel safe and secure it’s really a challenge. Having that structure and routine, beginning the day that way, sets them off to a good start.

Step 3: Think about Social Development

Vicki: Excellent. OK, what’s your third?

Felicia: My third thing is that you want to think about social development. Think about ways to have the kids take turns. How are they going to alert you that they have a question? Are they going to raise their hand? What are you going to do in that Morning Meeting time to help them with their social development?

Again, this book was written for special education students, but it can be for any student. All kids need to learn how to be good listeners, how to take turns, how to ask questions.

So your third thing to think about in setting up that Morning Meeting time is what social development skills can you hone in on and really focus on during your Morning Meeting.

An example of teaching social development in morning meetings

Vicki: Could you give me one quick example, so we can all understand?

Felicia: Sure. One example would be that possibly the kids are going to have to listen to other kids share their ideas on the carpet. So one of those social skills that you’ll want to teach kids is how to listen when someone is speaking.

You can model that so perfectly during Morning Meetings. As you’re sitting there, you could have kids come up and model it. So have one child ask the question, and then you’re overdramatic and overemphasizing, but you show them what listening looks like and sounds like.

So what I like to do is in the Morning Meeting, it’s a time for kids… They’re feeling safe. It’s a welcoming time… Let’s model and show what proper behavior looks like and how we can develop social skills.

Vicki: And it’s so important when you see that listener recognize it, because sometimes we just focus on inappropriate behavior. We need to hold up the heroes who are doing the correct behavior.

Felicia: Yeah. Right.

Step 4: Think about Content Areas to Include in Morning Meetings

Vicki: OK, what’s the fourth?

Felicia: The fourth thing is to think about content areas that you want to emphasize when you’re in your Morning Meeting.

I think it’s one of the best ways to pre-teach reading skills, mathematical skills, that you’re going to be touching on.

I always used my Morning Meetings when I was a teacher as a way to do read-alouds with kids. Let’s say we’re focusing on character development. I would use my Morning Meeting to pre-teach something that we’re going to teach later on in the day.

Again, we’re writing this book for kids with special needs, and many of them need that pre-teaching so that they’re successful once you get to the lesson itself.

So, my fourth tip is to think about what academic skills you want to hone in on and pre-teach during a Morning Meeting.

Vicki: That’s great advice for all of us. We call it “frontloading” now in some of the techniques I’ve seen. That’s great!

Step 5: Think About Ways to Celebrate During Morning Meetings

What’s our fifth?

Felicia: Our fifth, I think, is my favorite. Think about ways to celebrate during your Morning Meeting.

We have kids who come in with so many cultural experiences, from so many different areas. And we really want to celebrate that difference, and what we have in common.

So think about, “What little gimmicks am I going to have during my Morning Meetings to celebrate?”

We know we’re going to celebrate birthdays.

But how about using the Morning Meetings to celebrate academic success? Let’s say someone is really doing well with a skill that you’ve taught. Using that Morning Meeting as a way as a community as a way to celebrate really helps make this Morning Meeting special.

And it really just ties into one of my first tips – building community. When you build that community, you celebrate together, you talk together about next steps.

So that’s an important part of the Morning Meetings.

Making celebrations appropriate to student preferences

Vicki: Now let’s say you have some kids on the autism spectrum in that Morning Meeting.

You know, some children really struggle with being the center of attention. Are there ways to celebrate without putting the spotlight on them?

Felicia: Absolutely. Sometimes you have to talk to those children and find out, “Can I celebrate you aloud?” Sometimes they don’t want you to, and maybe you can just talk about it in general.

I’ve also seen that maybe they want a buddy to share for them. But that’s a great point. You want to be respectful to the kids and how comfortable they are with that.

We have a lot of students at our campus who are on the autism spectrum. One of the things we work on with them is getting that socialization out there. What we find is that maybe at first they don’t want to celebrate, but as they begin to feel more comfortable and you have that respect and rapport that you’ve built in there with that social development that you’ve taught, they’re going to be more apt to want to be celebrated.

Vicki: That’s true. Every child is precious and different. You’re not recommending cookie cutter responses. You’re recommending customizing to the individual child as you have these Morning Meetings, aren’t you?

Felicia: Right. You have to differentiate.

That’s really one of the key things in the book. There’s not one way.

I have things in there also for gifted students. We have them as well, and sometimes they have difficulty with socialization and being celebrated.

So this is all about differentiation, There is not a cookie cutter, one-way-fits-all, but making it work for that classroom and each individual student in there.

Vicki: So, teachers… Here’s another remarkable idea.

Let’s take a look at Morning Meetings for Special Ed Classrooms – but really all classrooms.

This could be a technique or a strategy that you could use.

Check out the book, Morning Meetings for Special Ed Classrooms: 101 Fun Ideas, Creative Activities, and Adaptable Techniques.

We’ll include a link in the Shownotes.

Thanks for being with us, Felicia!

Felicia: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted


Dr. Felicia Durden is an accomplished Educator with over twenty years experience in Education. She holds her Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature. Dr. Durden has taught grades K-12, served as an Assistant Director of Reading and Writing and currently serves as Principal in a large Urban School District in Arizona.

She has taught English Composition at the College level as an adjunct instructor for over 5 years. Dr. Durden has a passion for assisting student growth in reading and writing. Dr. Durden is the author of “Morning Meetings for Special Ed Classrooms: 101 Fun Ideas, Creative Activities, and Adaptable Techniques“, “The everything parent’s guide to Common Core ELA, grades K-5 : understand the new English standards to help your child learn and succeed” and the upcoming “Visible Learning Day by Day: Hands-On Teaching Tools Proven to Increase Student Achievement” which will be released in February 2018.

Blog: http://www.balancededucator.com/

Twitter: @drdrdn

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

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