23+ Tips to Help Kids Organize by Learning Styles

Sponsored by Staples

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

As I organize my tenth grader for back-to-school, I’m realizing that we’re still missing some important items. One of my passions as an educator is helping non-traditional learners succeed in school. Whether they have a learning difference or ADD, I believe that if we work with kids, we can help all of them succeed.

This blog post is sponsored by Staples. All content and opinions are my own. I’m glad all of the products I mention here are in stock all year long at Staples because kids will need them to get organized.

deals at staples learning styles

Judith Kolberg’s Conquering Chronic Disorganization is one of my favorite books, but there are others that have also helped me come up with the following tips. And here’s an important point: while the items discussed here will help kids succeed all year long, your ongoing job is to be a consultant of sorts and help students know how to use them.

Let’s talk about learning styles and some organizational tips for each type of style. The thing we have to remember is that if a student LEARNS in a certain way, they should also ORGANIZE in a certain way. As I share these products, remember that you can pick them up from Staples — they always keep all of these things IN STOCK.

Also remember, that none of us is any “one” style. Whatever your thoughts on learning styles, using these methods can help anyone become better organized. (I use transparent folders myself and it helps me.)

An Essential Sense-Making Tip for kids: Theme the System

Come up with a theme for your child’s organization system. The problem with many children is that processes and procedures don’t make sense to them. They don’t bring papers home because they don’t know where to put papers to make sure they get home. And after Mom signs the paper at home, kids don’t know where to put them to make sure they get back to school.

You can help students succeed by theming how they’ll organize things like test review materials, homework, things that come home, things to return to the teacher, things for other students, etc. Then, for example, if your child loves football, consider the following system:

  • Test Review Items – A folder with a football goal on it (Their goal is to do their best.)
  • Homework Items – A folder with a football on it (Tests don’t happen as much, but they have to keep playing the game even if it isn’t time for a test.)
  • Take Home to Mom – A cheerleader folder
  • Return to Teacher – a coach folder
  • Things to Give to Other Students – A team folder
  • Planner – their playbook

Or, if your child loves to dance, you could have a system like this:

  • Test Review Items – recital folder
  • Homework Items – dance shoes
  • Take Home to Mom – audience
  • Return to Teacher – dance teacher
  • Things for Other Students – dance troupe
  • Planner – dance program

The key is to have visual reminders for each part of the planning system. Then, when you’re talking to a child who doesn’t really like homework, you can say, “Go get your playbook” or “Go get your dance program,” and you’ve got a positive anchor that they can understand. Use this system to organize their backpack as well.

My favorite way to make this system work is to purchase sticker paper. Then you put whatever images you want on sturdy notebooks, folders, and planners.

Other Tips to Help Every Student Succeed

  • Make sure they have a paper planner/calendar that fits their style. I recommend letting students pick one out. You can also purchase Happy Planner stickers to customize their planner and make it their own.
  • Color code their classes by coordinating supplies for each class. For example, cover the math book in a blue cover and get a blue binder. For literature, you could cover it in red and get a red binder and a small red plastic box for index cards. You get the idea! Then use that color to highlight the class on their schedule. For each class, they’re ready to grab and go based on color! (You could go one step further with a multicolored pen that lets students write on their calendar in the color of the class.)
  • A sturdy pencil bag can hold pens, markers, crayons, a small ruler, a calculator, and possibly their planner.
  • A jump drive / memory key is important for older students who need to take computer files with them.

Now, let’s dive into specific things for unique learning styles. Remember that many of us learn with a mix of these styles, so you may find ideas in several categories that work for students.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Learners

These are hands-on students who learn by doing. But the struggle is that often the notes and other traditional organizers may not work for them. First, remember that a clue to bodily-kinesthetic types is often their use of action verbs. Use this to their advantage.

Tip: Buy a Clipboard Box

Bodily-kinesthetic students may prefer clipboards to binders. I like clipboard boxes. Students can keep their planner, sticky notes and some pens inside. My tenth-grade son has a Saunders Redi-Rite Clipboard with Calculator, which is metal, but for safety, I recommend that younger kids have a plastic clipboard box.

Organize by learning style

Organize with a clipboard box. I’ve found that students that can’t keep up with a planner or papers, often succeed using this approach. Homework papers go inside the box. Their list can be clipped on the front.

Tip: Use Action Verb Sticky Notes

As a student is given a paper by a teacher, teach them to get out a sticky note and put the action on the note on the front of the paper. You can even color code it. Think action and types of activities, and file these papers inside the clipboard box if they need to be done later in the day.

For example, green sticky notes could be for homework with the message “Read this” or “Answer these questions.” Pink sticky notes could identify a destination, such as “Put in math binder” or “Give this to Mom.” Anything that needs to be handled this class period can be clipped on the front of the clipboard.

Tip: Sticky Note Organizing Center

Use the inside of the clipboard box or a folder to create areas for organizing tasks. For example, students can have sticky notes with action verbs for each thing that is to be done. Students can move their tasks between “now,” “tomorrow,” or a specific date. Just make sure that you use the super-sticky notes for this kind of organization system. Many bodily-kinesthetic and tactile learners love being able to move around their list and reorganize it without rewriting things.

Tip: Help Students Build Habits

These methods won’t work if students don’t go through their papers consistently, so help these kids build habits. For example, teach them to go through their papers and put them in the appropriate places at the beginning of study hall or when they go home. You can make a checklist on a sticky note that they check off each day.

Tip: Help Students Create Action Centers

Stock areas with supplies for taking certain kinds of action. For example, the math action center would have graph paper, rulers, and calculators. These items could live in a transparent envelope that they can grab when they’re ready to work on that subject. (A note here, I love the Staples Poly Envelopes and pick them up for me and my son.)

Group all items together by courses. For example, if they need index cards for vocabulary, include index cards and sharpie markers in their vocabulary action center.

Other Tips for Bodily-Kinesthetic Learners

  • Organize papers in three-ring binders (remember to color code).
  • Build in release strategies. Bodily-kinesthetic learners often need to get out their energy. If they can’t have wiggle stools or special ways to sit, make sure they have a stress ball or something to squeeze and let out that extra energy. (You could go for a fidget spinner if your school allows it, but check with them first.)
  • If your student just can’t use a planner, you could get Legos of different colors (matching the subject areas). With labels and FriXion erasable pens, students can write the homework for that subject on the colored lego. Erase the work as it is done and start over. This may sound kind of “out there,” but I’ve seen in work.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners like to learn by listening. Sometimes the written word can be a challenge for them. Work with students and their teachers to help auditory learners set up an auditory organization system.

rechargeable power bank

Power station. Students who need their smartphone to capture learning will drain the battery of their smartphone rapidly. Purchase a rechargeable power bank and cable to help a student’s phone stay charged up all day.

Tip: Keep a Running Recording of Assignments

Make sure students have a good pair of headphones (perhaps even with a mic included). Make a notebook page for the day in OneNote or Evernote. Let students record quick reminders throughout the day about what has to be done. When they get home, they can play it back to remember what they need to do. Share this system with teachers so that they can help auditory learners quickly record these verbal notes in a way that doesn’t disturb the class. You could even use a digital recorder.

Because using audio and video may drain the battery of a smart device, you definitely need a rechargeable power bank for whichever device these students are using.

Tip: Record Teacher Review Sessions

Auditory learners benefit from listening to teacher lectures and review sessions. Make sure they know how to record and organize these for later listening.

Tip: Learn How to Voice Type

While Dragon Naturally Speaking is the top of the line, students can use dictation on their smartphone devices. I often record on my phone and run it through the Dragon transcription service to have articles typed or me. Auditory learners often express themselves better by speaking, so learning to dictate papers versus writing them by hand may be a benefit.

Other Tips for Auditory Learners:

  • Use timers and reminders.
  • Talk to yourself as you go through steps of a process.
  • Become a master at recording and quickly retrieving audio from your classes.

Visual Learners

“Out of sight, out of mind” applies to visual learners. They can sometimes forget all about an assignment if it isn’t written down. But also remember that being able to scan and see things quickly helps these students.

Visual organizing tips staples

Organize visually. Visual organizers often struggle with “out of sight, out of mind.” Keep supplies, items, and work materials organized so they can be seen. This Martha Stewart wall manager is a good example of visual organizing.

Tip: Organize Visually

These students may benefit from their homework station being organized visually on a wall. The Martha Stewart Wall Manager system is a great example of this style of organizing.

Tip: Use Transparent Folders

“Don’t conceal, reveal” is a tip from Judith Kolberg in her book Conquering Chronic Disorganization. Visual learners must be able to see things. So putting papers into a file folder is like hiding them from the student. For this reason, transparent file folders and envelopes can help students remember what they have to do.

Tip: Use Sheet Protectors or Clear Dividers

Sheet protectors and other clear items can be used to help students organize in a visual way so they can see the work that needs to be done. Try not to hide things. Sheet protectors are a great holder for commonly used forms, graph paper, and other items. The easier something is to scan and find, the happier a visual learner will be.

Tip: Clear Stackable Boxes

Scanning and finding can be challenging for visual students, so using clear, stackable boxes for supplies can help. Also, by grouping supplies for one class, you’ll make it faster for them to get their work together for class.

Organizing is an Ongoing Process

deals at staples learning styles

Whatever a student’s learning style, parents, and teachers can become “organizational consultants” by using these tips to help every child organize for learning. If you’re able to take a child shopping, sometimes they’ll find items they love to use. This helps. But realize that organizing oneself doesn’t come naturally. It takes time.

The biggest thing that I’ll ask is that if a child consistently doesn’t have homework or can’t bring papers home, and if you know that the support structures are in place, help the child find an organizing system that works for them. As a mother of three (and two with LD’s), I’ve turned organizing into a lifelong pursuit and challenge. The more a child is challenged to learn, the more they are naturally disorganized. But when you find what works, it makes all the difference in the world.

So get out there, stock up on some of these items, and see what works. And thanks to Staples, our sponsor of this series, you can find all of these products in stock throughout the year!

23+ Tips to help kids organize pinterest

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” 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.)ed

The post 23+ Tips to Help Kids Organize by Learning Styles 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/tips-organize-learning-styles/


GradeCam: The Teacher’s Friend for Assessment

A sponsored post by GradeCam

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Some think GradeCam is just the modern-day replacement for multiple-choice Scantron machines. I did. But I was wrong. This past week, I took a tour of GradeCam, and in this post, I’ll share with you the features of this system and how it can save you time as a teacher. It will also help you with both formative and summative assessments, and it will enter your grades into any electronic grade book directly from GradeCam. Let’s dive deeper.

GradeCam teacher assessment

This blog post is sponsored by GradeCam. All opinions are my own.

GradeCam free trial

1. Simple Assessments of All Kinds

First, let’s look at the ways you can use GradeCam for assessments.

  • Multiple Choice: This is just the beginning.
  • True False: You can see what this looks like below.

GradeCam true false assessment boxes

  • Handwritten Numeric Assignments: Yes! Students can write in a numeric answer. GradeCam has a new tool called AITA (artificial intelligence teaching assistant) that can grade numeric handwriting. Math teachers should be thrilled!
Handwritten numeric responses can be graded with AITA, GradeCam's Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.

Handwritten numeric responses can be graded with AITA, GradeCam’s Artificial Intelligence Teaching Assistant.

  • Number Grids: A numeric grid looks kind of like the grid that many of us have seen on the SAT. You can use this one, but in some cases, you might prefer the Handwritten Numeric (above).

GradeCam Numeric Grids

  • Rubrics: You can set up and fill in a rubric for student work, and then scan quickly to enter it into your grade book.
  • Rubrics With Capture Area: You can include a handwritten capture area within your rubric. Then you can view what students wrote and score it quickly (without paper) inside GradeCam.

GradeCam Rubric with capture area

  • Credit Assignments: This is a cool option. You can print out a small form and attach it to the front of a student’s journal, vocabulary or spelling book, or another item. This lets you quickly see if the student did the work. If you’re doing what I call a check grade (or what others call a credit assignment), just scan the code to enter the check or credit into the grade book.
Setting assessments is fast and easy with GradeCam.

Setting up assessments is fast and easy. There are many types of assessments in GradeCam including handwritten numeric.

2. Quick Data Feedback for Student Performance

Remember, teachers, that you don’t have to “grade” everything. Some student work can serve as formative assessment checkpoints to help you see how students are learning. You can use this data to adjust your teaching and better teach your students.

One of the advantages of GradeCam is the quick feedback that you get for your assessments. You can look at each item on the quiz or test and see where you need to re-teach or reinforce. First, you can look overall at the class. Then you can identify individual students who are struggling and need some extra help.

Item review makes it easy to see where your class is struggling. If you use several assessments during the class period to see how knowledge is forming in student minds, you can just check for learning. It isn’t necessary to record a grade in the gradebook. (In fact, I recommend that you shouldn’t feel tempted to record these grades even though GradeCam easily does it for you.) This can redirect your attention to teaching better and identifying which students need extra help.

3. Make Laminated Sheets for Student Use and Reuse

While you can print individual forms for student use and reuse, you can also just print a standard form and laminate it. Students can use a dry erase or Vis-a-vis marker to record their answers. After using the camera to enter the scores, they can wipe their forms and reuse them in the next class.

If students have any kind of book that you’re using for a check grade or credit assignment, print out the form and tape it on the front of the book for easy scoring. Make assessment simple.

While you can print off forms for individual assignments, consider creating a standard form and laminating copies for students. They can keep and reuse them quickly any time you assess. And remember, no matter how many questions you put on your standard form (and Gradecam can have up to 1,000), you don’t have to use them all.

GradeCam free trial

4. Remember the Value of Pre-Assessments

Many times, we review content that we’ve already presented to our students. They become bored when we cover “old” material that they know well. But the reason why we review is that some students might not know the material. You can free up class time and teach more efficiently when you pre-assess for prior knowledge.

Again, this is not a recorded grade, but it can help you better use your class time.

I also like the charts and graphs that you can quickly create in GradeCam to see what students are learning. You can link any question to state standards and see standards-based reports as well.

In this graphic,you can see pre-assessment data on a content area that helps the teacher understand the class knowledge overview.

5. Any Camera Works… But Practice First

You can use the camera on your Chromebook or laptop, mobile phone or tablet, or document camera. I do recommend setting up your device so that students can quickly position their item for scanning.

If you’re using a laptop, for example, it’s easier to hold the items in a stack and remove the front item for quick scanning. You might also want to have a white clipboard on a stand to cover the background. However, if you’re using a document camera or down-facing camera, laying an item down and then putting the next on top of it seems to work best.

Give students immediate feedback. Here’s what I love about inviting students to scan the document themselves — they get immediate feedback. Part of this, of course, is teaching them to clear the results before the next student scans his or her document. This is a fantastic way to quickly give feedback to students, which is why you want to make it easy for them to scan their own scoresheets. Set up a class procedure that will make it easy to do.

Experiment until you arrive at a system that works for both you and your students.

6. Practice the Transfer to Your Electronic Gradebook

Any teacher is eligible for a 60-day free trial of GradeCam Go! Plus. You can transfer grades to any electronic gradebook, but there are a few steps. You’ll have to open your gradebook and select the assignment and class. Then, after you click in the first student’s cell, you’ll tap F8. This will automatically transfer grades to the gradebook.

Now, for a great feature of GradeCam: Districts and schools that purchase a site license can work with GradeCam to set up SIS-sync for your school. This way, the gradebooks and students are entered and synchronize easily. This means little to no setup for your teachers.

Get started today with your free 60-day trial of GradeCam.

Now you can see why GradeCam is far more than multiple-choice. It’s a powerhouse assessment tool that can save teachers time — their most precious resource!

To help you learn more, here are links to some subject-specific tutorials for using Gradecam. Just click and download the PDF.

Enjoy learning and saving time with Gradecam!


The post GradeCam: The Teacher’s Friend for Assessment 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/gradecam-teacher-assessment/

5 Ideas for Technology Stations

Leslie Swanson-Anaya on episode 145 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Leslie Swanson-Anaya @InspiredLeslie elementary teacher of the year for Texas region 15 has ideas for awesome technology stations. These apps will work for all ages of students and subjects. Learn how she helps students learn and progress using technology.


Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam is a web-based tool that lets you customize assessments with multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and more. You can instantly scan and score answer sheets using ANY device with a camera. You can even transfer grades into any digital grade book with the touch of a button.

Save time and start your free trial today at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher. See how Gradecam can save you time and speed up your grading.

Explore Gradecam it will save you time

Listen Now


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

Five Ideas for Technology Stations

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e145
Friday, September 8, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re going to be talking with the author of #EduSnap17, Leslie Swanson Anaya @InspiredLeslie, about five ideas for technology stations.

So Leslie, what’s your first idea?

Idea #1: PBS Learning Media

Leslie: Well, my first idea – and one I have used in my classroom at the teacher-led station – is the interactive PBS LearningMedia. There are so many resources in there. Teachers, it’s so easy to log in, look at your grade level, your subject area, and pull up and interactive that you can actually use to augment the lesson.

Vicki: Oh, fun! Give me an example of one you’ve used that you thought was awesome.

The Cryptology using Algebraic Expressions Lesson

Leslie: The kids really loved the Cryptology one. We used it when we were solving equations. The students are given an equation, and they solve for the unknown variable. Then they have to match their answer to the country code to see where the criminals were coming from. They thought that was really fun!

Vicki: Oh, fun! And we forgot to mention that you’re actually an Elementary Teacher of the Year in Texas for Region 15, so these are elementary kids doing these really cool projects.

OK, what’s your second?

Idea #2: Flipgrid for a Collaborative Station

Leslie: My second one is Flipgrid. It’s a really amazing app for kids to collaborate with each other. At the collaborative station, I would set up a question that I ask the students. They would use their code to log onto the grid. Each one of them in the group can go ahead and give a response to that question and share the things that they created digitally as well.

Vicki: That’s such a fun tool, and we actually have an EdTech Tool Tuesday about that that I’ll link to in the Show Notes if you want to more about Flipgrid. This is one I’m going to be trying in the fall. It’s really cool.

OK, what’s next?

Idea #3: Nearpod

Leslie: Nearpod. It’s an AR/VR app, but it’s really neat because you can set it up as teacher-led, so I can actually control what they’re seeing from my device to their devices. They can also work together, pair up with a partner, to solve the problems and go through the different steps that I’m sending them. It’s a really amazing app, as well as I can also take them though different virtual tours.

Vicki: OK, so some people may not know what AR and VR stand for. We’ve talked about both of these, so I will include previous shows in the Show Notes. But explain just a little bit more about what these do.

Leslie: Augmented Reality just adds another layer to what you’re looking at. So for example, if I’m showing student gallons or pints, it will add a layer to actually compare – they can visually see — how much they’re looking at to compare it.

Vicki: Cool. And then how about the VR piece?

Leslie: The Virtual Reality takes them on a tour using their device or their Virtual Reality Glasses. They can actually be in another place and see inside of it. So if I took them to an aquarium, or another country, they can see different spots within that 360. They can actually turn around and see everything that’s in that space.

Vicki: What devices are your students using?

Leslie: We use both Chromebooks and iPads.

Vicki: Cool. OK, what’s your fourth one?

Idea #4: Google Expeditions

Leslie: My fourth one is Google Expeditions. I’m really passionate about this one because they have so many resources. It’s really important for especially my students who come from a low socioeconomic background. (They) haven’t had the experiences they need to connect new learning to. I use this one quite often to help create experiences so they know what we’re talking about. Especially with my ESL students and special ed as well. It helps give them a frame of reference.

Vicki: So give me an example of a Google Expedition you love.

Leslie: Well, I took my students on an expedition actually to an aquarium when we were learning about different careers and personal scinotes. We were exploring different areas or things that they might be interested in, so that they could then go look those up. They knew what career it was, what it entailed, and they could look up what kind of education they needed for that career, what the annual salaries were, and things like that.

Vicki: Cool. So we can kind immerse and help them travel and see the world without them having to leave the classroom.

OK, what else?

Leslie: It’s amazing.

Vicki: What’s your fifth?

Idea #5: LearnZillion

Leslie: My fifth one would definitely be LearnZillion. That’s also a really easy one to set up. You just set up an assignment, you give the kids the code, they can do it at their individual technology stations, and they log on. It’s also aligned with state standards so you know that the students are working on activities that are aligned to what they’re supposed to be learning as far as the content goes.

Vicki: Oh, there’s so many! Five fantastic ideas! Now you’ve got a lot more ideas in #EduSnap17, and we are going to a book giveaway. But let me ask you this, Leslie, how do you keep up with all the tools out there so that you know what to bring into your classroom?

Leslie: A lot of times I just have to do some research, look some things up and play with it. I did learn quite a bit from Jaime Donally, from AR/VR in EDU, and then all my PLNs that I connect with on Twitter have taught me so much. The best learning that I’ve had thus far was definitely at ISTE 17. It was amazing!

Vicki: Oh, wasn’t it so much fun? Educators, I just want to encourage you. Leslie is modeling for us — in some ways she may or may not know what I call it – but I call it, “Innovate like a turtle.” Taking 15 minutes, two to three times a week to learn something new ad to level up. And then when you go to conferences, just immerse in them and learn everything you can to bring back to your students. This whole idea of having tech stations and having these resources can really help our kids engage with the world, even when they can’t travel.

So, follow Leslie online and get out there and be remarkable! And I hope you can use one of these ideas.

Leslie: The really best thing about not necessarily knowing all of these apps and how to use them is (that) the kids are so forgiving, you learn together and you learn with them. It’s OK to have a faceplant every now and then because we learn from it, and we grow, and it’s just awesome.

Vicki: It is awesome. I’ve never heard anybody say it like that, Leslie. “It’s OK to have a faceplant.” I guess it is. I certainly have had my own faceplants, but I won’t say I enjoy it. (laughs)

Leslie: (laughs)

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

Leslie Swanson-Anaya received her undergraduate degree from Schreiner University in Kerrville, TX. She was a stay-at-home mother and foster mom for many years before pursuing her teacher certification credentials. After advocating for the educational needs of the children in her care, she felt a calling to pursue her teacher certification from Texas A&M- Commerce. Currently she is pursuing her M.Ed. for Concordia University Texas.

After serving as a special education teacher in Dallas ISD, Mansfield ISD, and Abilene ISD she found her teaching home in Brownwood ISD. Currently, she teaches sixth grade math at Coggin-Intermediate. As a strong proponent for student-centered instruction, she uses a blended learning model for her students using a strengths-based approach to differentiate for all student needs. Mrs. Swanson-Anaya believes in teaching the ‘whole child’, as evidenced by the strong relationships she has formed with her students, parents, colleagues, and school community.

Her professional interests focus on leveraging edtech resources, combined with solid pedagogy for student benefit. Ms. Swanson’s current projects, fueled by a passion to make a positive impact and inspire students to strive for the same, include creating blended learning experiences that incorporate student collaboration, to foster a growth and innovation mindset. Her practices will be featured in the upcoming EduMatch publication, as a contributing author, EduSanp17: A Snapshot in Education. In addition, she serves as a panelist for PBS Teachers’ Advisory Group, and is a Learning Ambassador of Atomic Learning. Finally, she was recently honored with Elementary Teacher of the Year for her contributions to the learning community in Brownwood ISD.

Blog: leslieswanson-anaya.com

Twitter: @inspiredleslie

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.)

The post 5 Ideas for Technology Stations 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/e145/

How to Be a Better Instructional Coach

Jamey Everett in episode 144 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Jamey Everett shares tips on being a better instructional coach based on her wildly popular ISTE 2017 session. We can build trust, be helpful, and help teachers improve learning but it takes lots of work and trust.

BYTE Cards.001.jpeg

Today’s Sponsor: GradeCam is a web-based tool that lets you customize assessments with multiple choice, true/false, number grids, rubrics, and more. You can instantly scan and score answer sheets using ANY device with a camera. You can even transfer grades into any digital grade book with the touch of a button.

Save time and start your free trial today at gradecam.com/coolcatteacher. See how Gradecam can save you time and speed up your grading.

Explore Gradecam it will save you time

Listen Now


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

How to Be a Better Instructional Coach

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e144
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Jamey Everett @jeverettPT about making instructional coaching better.

Now, I found out about Jamey by following the #ISTE (hashtag) when I was at ISTE. And so many people were talking about this session.

Why do we need to change the dynamic between instructional coaches and teachers?

Vicki: So, Jamey, you want to change the approach or dynamic between instructional coaches and teachers. What’s the current dynamic, and how do you want to change it?

Jamey: Well, you know, I’ve been doing this for about five years, and I feel like there’s still such a disconnect between technology coaches and what we’re trying to do – and what teachers are trying to do in their classroom. Sometimes I just feel like really what ends up happening is – teachers AVOID me!

And I’ve heard the same stories from other coaches. They don’t want to know the “new thing.” And if you do try to make some recommendations, or give some advice, it ends up creating an awkward situation that no partnership, no collegial partnership should ever feel.

So, I really want to see coaches and teachers working together in an equitable partnership, and one where the coach truly is supporting the needs of the teacher. And it’s because the coach has created a situation where the teacher can be vulnerable, and say, “What’s working in your classroom, and what’s not?”

And then together, they work to solve that problem.

How do we improve the relationship between technology coaches and teachers?

Vicki: So, how do we change this dynamic? I mean, I’ve lived it, too. You know, you try to help, but then teachers are busy, or maybe they don’t know they need help or don’t want any help, you know? They just want to be left to do their job, because they’re busy, right?

Jamey: Right. Right. They’re very busy. And they don’t have a lot of (sometimes physical or even mental/emotional) energy to spend on you, the coach.

Step 1: Deeply understand the teacher’s problem

So, the first place Jen Euell and I say is you have to start with listening. And that is where the design thinking comes into this process. You cannot begin to solve a teacher’s problem until you deeply understand what that problem really is. And there’s no better way than to sit down and listen. You ask questions that get the teacher to reflect more and feel more open about sharing with you. What’s going on in their classroom? What’s working? What’s not working? And from there, the partnership begins to evolve.

Step 2: Work with those who want to be coached

Vicki: What if the teacher feels like they don’t have a problem they need to solve? Everything’s OK.

Jamey: Then you move on. Not everybody wants to be coached. And that is fine. But they will, someday, because I think that word will spread that you are an ally.

There will come a day when they feel comfortable saying, “You know what? I do think I want to try something different in my classroom. Can we sit down, and can I tell you about what I want to try?”

Vicki: You know, my philosophy is that I work with the willing. I mean, I spent too many years trying to help people who didn’t want it. And you can’t push somebody up a ladder. They’ve got to want to climb it, you know?

Jamey: Yep, they’ve got to want to climb it. You just can’t force it.

Vicki: Oh, but that’s so hard because that’s your job. You’re the instructional coach, and the principal wants you to help every teacher become better and use these tools. And what do you say to your principal, when you’re like, “Ummmm… Well, I’m helping so-and-so.” And they’re like, “Well, I need you to help so-and-so.” And that other one, they don’t want you.

Step 3: Talk about the instructional experiences, not the technologies

Jamey: If there is a culture of instructional coaching at a school, I would say that likely won’t happen. I think this is new for technology coaches to be more of an instructional role, to be able to say to a teacher, You know, I don’t want to talk to you about a new app, or how to make your device work. We want to talk about the instructional experiences in your classroom.” That’s a new realm for a lot of teachers and tech coaches.

Step 4: Make working with you a safe place

Jamey: I think really what we have to remember as tech coaches is that we’re not here to change people. We’re not here to make people do things differently. We’re here to create a culture that allows for change.

And so just by the nature of coaching, where people feel like they want to be coached – not coaching when they don’t want to be coached – you’re creating a safe place for people to try new things and do that when they’re ready.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made with instructional coaching?

Vicki: What do you think the biggest mistake is that you made in the earlier years of instructional coaching, that you just make you cringe now?

Mistake Prevention Tip #1: Make sure the timing is right for your help

Jamey: As a technology coach, yeah, just swooping in and saying, “Oh my gosh. I have this great new app that I think you should try.” Or… There were too many times when I stepped in when it was not expected, when it was not wanted. I think, in my particular situation… (sighs)… it just was not expected. And I think it felt very judged. I think the teachers felt judged and evaluated.

Mistake Prevention Tip #2: Keep coaching confidential

There’s also this – the thing about coaching is it has to be completely confidential. That’s one of those things that I think that principals and heads of schools need to understand. I can confirm or deny whether I am coaching someone. But I won’t share with you the nature of the coaching or the relationship. Because that’s between us.

Vicki: Mmmm. I like that. I like that, and I think that that helps build trust, doesn’t it?

Elena Aguilar’s books helped Jamey become a better coach

Jamey: It does. It does. And all of this – I would highly recommend that folks check out any workshops of books by Elena Aguilar. She writes all about instructional coaching, and The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Communities‎ is one of her books. To me, when I was most frustrated with my position, a friend of mine recommended those books to me. They were therapeutic. It completely changed the way I thought about my role and how to approach other people – and where THEY really were. And how I could better appreciate what they needed at that moment.

Vicki: I so feel this. I’ve these books. Don’t so many of us instructional coaches – because that’s part of the role I play at my school – don’t we want to just be helpful, and doesn’t it hurt when we know we can help but we’re not wanted?

What so many educators want: to make a difference

Jamey: Yep. It really does! And people sometimes say to me, “Thank you, Jamey, for all that you do,” But I always say, it’s not thanks that I’m looking for. I just want to know that what I did was TRULY helpful. Truly meaningful. You don’t need to thank me. Just tell me I made a difference.

Vicki: Now you also use these little coaching cards, at the end. I want to understand what they are, and how they work, because we’re almost out of time, and I think it’s a really powerful tool.

Jamey’s Coaching Cards

Jamey: Sure. It is. So, the idea is that the ISTE standards can be really overwhelming for teachers. There are a lot of them, and the last thing a coach should do is just hand the ISTE standards to a teacher and say, “Here! Choose some.” They don’t really have time to figure out what they mean, they don’t have time to go find the tools for those particular standards.

So, what we came up with are the BYTE cards, which means Build Your Technology Experience. There is an ISTE standard for students on every single card. On the back is a bit of an explanation about that standard with some tools that would help a teacher achieve that particular standard.

Once a coaching conversation is done, the coach would then say to a teacher, “I’ve heard what you said, and I really think that these three particular ISTE standards are what you’re looking for. Take a look at these cards. Tell me what you think. Does this really resonate with you? Am I on the right path?”

And then from there, you work with the teacher to just develop a learning experience based on those specific ISTE standards, not all of them. It makes it much more manageable, more “bite” sized for a teacher, and it’s much less overwhelming and (more) empowering. They know those cards are just for them.

Vicki: That’s awesome. You’ve given us so many ideas, Jamey, to make instructional coaching better. I’ve been taking notes.

Instructional coaches and teachers, there’s so much of teaching in this, for all of us. All of you teachers want to be helpful. But instructional coaching has its own unique challenges, and I so feel the struggle and the frustration and the “upsetness” that many of us feel. There has to be a better way. I totally agree with Jamey. There has to be a better way. We’ve got to step up our game, and perhaps try a different way of being “helpful” that is more coaching and more empowering (with) a lot more trust.

Jamey: Yep.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted

As a technology integrator and instructional coach, Jamey takes a highly personalized approach when designing learning experiences with teachers. Her goal is to understand the teacher’s instructional aspirations and frustrations, then support the teacher in exploring new learning objectives that are specifically tailored to her or his needs.

Her passion for problem-based, real-world learning has grown out of 14 years in education, as a fifth-grade teacher, an academic technology specialist, and an advocate for design thinking in the classroom.

In her spare time, Jamey loves gardening, taking care of her four chickens and playing with her chocolate Labrador. She lives in Indianapolis with her spouse and two kiddos.

Blog: www.learningredesigned.com


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.)

The post How to Be a Better Instructional Coach 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/e144/

Safely Involve Students in Social Media and More Student Voice Tips

Heather Callihan in episode 143 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Heather Callihan’s @hcallihan students help with their Facebook and Twitter using some technology tools. Students can have a voice and you can safely let them help your school share the story. Heather teaches us how.

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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

Safely Involve Students in Social Media and More Ways to Give Students a Voice

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e143
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Heather Callihan @hcallihan from Nebraska about helping kids find their voice in some very practical ways.

How do you help kids find their voice?

So, Heather, how do you help kids find their voice?

Heather: Well, Vicki, I have a passion for digital citizenship and student voice integrated in there. I think one of the things that I try to promote with teachers with administrators, and people within our district and our state is, “How do you allow (this), and what are you doing in your schools to put student voice out there?

So, we have, obviously — across the United States and the world — we’ve got this push for social media and schools sharing their story. I feel like a lot of the stories are shared by administrators or teachers that have access to the accounts. I feel very strongly about sharing stories, but student voices as well.

So, what can we do to get our student voice integrated into those school accounts, like our school Twitter, school Facebook, Instagram? Our students are in the classroom. They’re in the trenches. They are at the activities. They’re at the athletic events. And so, anytime they can post to Twitter or post to Facebook is a good opportunity for them to share the story.

Integrating that into your district accounts or your school-specific social media accounts is an awesome way to share that story. I think districts strive to share their story, but I think there’s just so much power in the student voice.

What tools help us let kids have input into the school social media accounts?

Vicki: How do we do that? I work with our school Facebook page. If a kid posts something on Facebook, usually, of course, it’s private. But if I turn around and re-share that on the school Facebook page, then haven’t I just compromised their privacy? How can we do this without having privacy worries?

Heather: One of the things that we have incorporated (is that) we are currently piloting a tool called Class Intercom. This tool empowers students to be digital leaders, but it also makes the social media easy for schools. Basically, what it does is connect your school social media to the account and allows students access to that portal, where they can create the posts. So they’re actually creating the post for your school account, but as a teacher, I’m the coach.

I coach them through that authentic digital citizenship “opportunity,” I guess you could say, where I get a notification that says that a student posted this, or this picture and this 40-character Tweet. I can hit “Submit” or I can add a comment, change some things. It gives those authentic teaching opportunities – not just for digital citizenship but for simple things like grammatical errors, or anything that would normally come up as far as grammar and sentence structure.

So that’s one of the things we’re doing. We’re using it as a way to share our story through student voice, but also this year we would like to incorporate it into an internship opportunity. We see the push for the marketing positions out there, and they deal with a lot more social media than they used to, and so that is the future of marketing, per se. It’s an authentic way to coach them through those opportunities. We’re kind of at the beginning stages of it, but it’s an awesome opportunity to do that.

How do you give students credit for their work?

Vicki: Is there some kind of notation on the post that’s been written of the student that wrote it?

Heather: No, we haven’t. If they want to, they can, if they want to reference their own personal Twitter account. A lot of times what students will do with that tweet from the Class Intercom portal is they’ll just retweet it on their account, and maybe quote the tweet and say something like that.

Or as a Tech Coach myself, I might retweet something and say we’ve got some student voice coming from our #ginwvikings Twitter account. Thanks to so-and-so, and maybe reference them. Sometimes it can come from a class or an activity, so we might reference the sponsor or the coach or something like that.

Vicki: Wow, you’re blowing my mind! So, our kids can help us with our biggest headache, sometimes – social media — through Class Intercom. Is it free?

Heather: No, it’s not free. There’s a little bit of a cost. But check it out.

Helping students develop their voice through digital portfolios

Vicki: Yeah, we’ll put that in the Show Notes. OK, so how else do you help your kids have authentic student voice?

Heather: One of the other things that we had done was incorporated some digital portfolios. I’m a big fan of having kids create those portfolios, and share exactly what they’re doing in the classroom, or share the great things that are happening.

So, Go Ennounce is also a tool that we’re using, where students are creating a digital portfolio, sharing their accomplishments, and sharing their awards, short little video clips – they can do that. Then when it comes time to do scholarships or when they’re applying to a college, they have a one-stop shop of something to share with employers, coaches, colleges. But it gives that one-stop shop of something to have.

Each teacher has a different platform of something that they’re using to have students curate content or curate things, whether it’s a paper or a blog or whatever they’re doing. We really work to make some seamless, integrated opportunities for students so that when they are seniors or even juniors, and they’re applying for those jobs or things, they have something to share.

So, Go Ennounce is another platform that we are using for that. That’s again, high school students.

Vicki: So, I have my students build a personal website. They’re including those on their college applications. And it’s making a difference!

Go Ennounce – does that let the kids’ content be shared publicly?

Heather: No, it’s actually private. What the students do is have control over where they can share it.

So, if I was going to work with you, Vicki, and I’m a student, I would share that. It would say, “Heather Callihan has invited Vicki Davis to view her Go Ennounce portfolio.”

When the time comes, if I decide that’s not the route I’m going, I can take that privilege away from you. I can send you the invite to look at the portfolio, but I can also revoke it. So students are sharing it with teachers, so then again, it creates those authentic opportunities for students to build their online presence.

The importance of building a positive digital presence

Heather: I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but we know how important it is for students to build that online presence in a positive way. And so as teachers we work to model it, but I feel like there’s so much preaching. You should or shouldn’t do this and this and this – But any time that we can provide that opportunity to show them and coach them as they build a portfolio, or as they build their online presence, it’s key.

Fear of involving students and how to overcome that fear

Vicki: So, Heather, as we finish up, we have time for one more idea, or one more encouragement to teachers to help students find their authentic voice. What is yours?

Heather: I think in education we need to not be afraid of… I think the “F” word gets in the way. The Fear word gets in the way. We’re afraid of what students are going to post, and what students are going to do. We just need to empower them and provide those opportunities, because fear isn’t going to get us anywhere. It’s not going to help the students learn.

Just like in any sport, we coach our kids through the activity, we coach them in their technique so the digital citizenship or creating that online presence isn’t any different. I just think that online presence is so important. As teachers, administrators, school officials, we just need to continue to provide those coaching opportunities in whatever way, and however it looks.

Vicki: Now we’ve gotten so many fantastic ideas to help students find their voice. What I love about these is that these are very practical ideas.

Heather, you have told me about two new things I’ve never heard about before, so you know, we all learn when we talk to each other about what’s happening in different places.

I am going to be checking out Class Intercom and Go Announce. Two cool new tools. We will actually put links to them in the Show Notes and in the transcript.

So get out there and be remarkable. Let’s let our kids help us with social media for a change.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted for Heather Callihan

I am a Technology Integration Specialist for Northwest Public Schools in Grand Island, Ne. Our district is 1:1 at the high school and we have several iPads and Chromebooks that our K-8 students utilize daily. I am the current NETA Board President Elect.(@YourNETA), Common Sense Graphite Certified Educator, a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Educator and a GoEnnounce Digital Image Champion. I have a passion for integrating technology in education.

I believe learning needs to be visible and students need to master skills involving Collaboration, Creation, Communication and Critical Thinking. With seamless integration of technology, students have multiple opportunities to experience this and become well-rounded learners in the 21st century.

I believe in sharing your story and maintaining a positive online presence. I have a passion for digital citizenship and sharing with students and adults. I love learning and opportunities to do so. I am always up for connecting, collaborating and sharing with others.

Blog: callihanscache.com

Twitter: @hcallihan

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.)

The post Safely Involve Students in Social Media and More Student Voice Tips 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/e143/

How to Help Children Recover from the Trauma of a Storm

Interview with Dr. Steven Berkowitz in a special #10MT episode

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Dr. Steven Berkowitz is a child trauma psychologist.  I reached out to him last week and ask if he’d take the time to help all of you out there helping children cope with the aftermath of Harvey. And now with Irma barreling down on Florida and an unknown path for Jose, it looks like storm season is really a hard one for many of us. (He has previously talked about helping children deal with the emotions of terrorism.)

helping kids recover storm trauma

In this special episode, we’re running over our usual ten minutes and this episode is different from others. Kip and I met last week to determine what we could do to help. We want all of you out there who are hurting to know that you are not alone. I hope this will be a resource that helps many of you. (Thank you to everyone on the #10MT team who helped turn this show around so quickly. Our hearts and prayers are with our friends who are hurting.)


Some ways to help:

recovery after a storm psychology (1)

Enhanced Transcript

Helping Kids Recover from the Trauma of a Storm

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/trauma
From Audio File: SPECIAL-EPISODE-HARVEY-Steven-Berkowitz
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Dr. Steven Berkowitz. He is the Director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery and someone that I’ve turned to quite a few times in my podcasting career when we need to talk to kids about trauma. Today we’re going to talk about helping kids cope with the trauma of a storm.

Where do we start?

So, Steven, there are so many people who are struggling with what has happened with Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and there are even kids that are watching this. Today we’re really going to focus on those kids that are dealing with what’s going on right now. Where do we even start with this sort of trauma?

Steven: Ahhh… It’s hard to know, isn’t it? I think the first thing that we have to recognize is that it’s really safety and security that comes first. Nobody is going be able to feel secure until they’re in a situation where there’s some sense that there’s going to a routine, regularity, and they know what the future holds – which of course is really, really hard in this situation.

The importance of re-establishing routines quickly

Vicki: And some people say, “Let’s just let them recover, and then the school will just start whenever,” but aren’t there some cases of when you do want to try to get them back on a routine and you do want to get them back in school?

Steven: Absolutely. And it’s really important that kids are back in school, and parents are back at work. The dilemma, of course, is how to do that. In this case, the devastation is so profound – and how long it’s going to take to actually recover is anyone’s guess.

And so the question really is, “How do we actually energize and help people who have been displaced – and may be displaced for a while – get into situations, get into communities that can be supportive so they can return to (a maybe displaced) but somewhat regular situations and lives?”

I mean, we learned a lot from Katrina. And one of the things that I think we really learned is that having people sit around, not do anything, in camps or something like that is really devastating for their well-being.

So, the crucial thing is to get people back to work and kids back to school. And whether that’s working the recovery, with a hammer and nail, or going to school somewhere in trailers that are convenient and safe – absolutely crucial.

Finding a new normal after the storm

Vicki: It’s just so hard. And isn’t there a case for a “new normal” because one thing that I found with the floods of ’94 that we had here in south Georgia was that – you know, you get rescued, you get out of the home that’s flooded — but somehow children expect that they’re going to be able to go back, and everything is going to be just like it was. And when it isn’t, they have a hard time coping.

Steven: I think that’s not only true of kids, I think that’s true of everybody. I think younger kids, of course, don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand the reality. And there is absolutely a new normal… and it’s really, really crucial that in whatever developmental phase your child is in if you’re really subjected to this devastation, is to help explain what’s going on and what the reality is, and what the future holds to the best of your knowledge.

Nothing will be the same for these people. As you know, in these situations the people who are most likely to be impacted in a negative way are those that don’t have the resources. So if you have family in Atlanta, and you can fly to Atlanta and be supported by your family, that makes a big difference. If you are the families in Houston, you have nowhere to go.

What do you say to children?

Vicki: So what kind of things do you say to your children? You said try to get them back into a routine as soon as you can. Talk to them about the new normal and the new reality. What other kinds of things do parents and teachers need to talk to kids about?

Steven: Well, be very honest about how everybody’s feeling, and what they’re concerned about, and not with tears and upset, but with, “You know, I’m worried too. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Our job is going to be to take care of you, and we will do the best we can. And the whole country is here to help you. That’s what we’re going to work on. But we’re going to have to do this all together.”

I think that one of the most important things for any kid – and any adult – is to get active. Do not just sit around and wait for things to happen.

Mistakes that people make during times of recovery

Vicki: So besides being inactive and not getting back to work and getting yourself busy, are there any other big mistakes that parents and caregivers make with children in trauma?

Steven: Well, one of the things that we all want to do is say, “It’s going to be OK.” Act as if it’s going to be OK. And when that’s just not true, it’s not good for anybody. And it’s not good for kids.

So, it’s really important to be as authentic as possible with them. Again, they don’t have to know every detail, maybe just be supportive. But it’s important to let them know what is going on and what the concerns are.

Also, to be very clear that “This is a major, major deal. It’s not a game. It’s real. And you need to be able to be part of our plan to support each other and to move ahead.”

So, the idea that they’re not involved – somehow, “You don’t have to worry about anything,” – that’s just not fair, and it’s not accurate.

Everything is NOT going to be OK, and that’s fine to say, “It’s going to be different. Yes, we need you actively involved with us to move forward as a family.”

How do we get help for the fears of families?

Vicki: How about dealing with the fear? As you know, many families kind of have a stigma with seeing a psychologist. And – they really NEED to – this is trauma. If somebody has a broken arm, they go to the doctor. But if someone has a broken heart or a broken mind, ummmm… Many times people don’t get help, and the children are the ones who suffer. So, how do we get help for their fears, and for the fears in the adults?

Steven: Well, I think again… we have learned a great deal since Katrina, Sandy… and hopefully, with the federal government’s support, we have very good programs and models in place now, where with crisis counseling there’s several very well done guides and books and training that have been done.

So, the key piece is really through outreach in these situations. [It’s about] going to where people are, supporting them, helping them recognize what their reactions are, and engaging them in that particular situation. A lot of this can be done in outreach, with people who are well supervised but don’t necessarily have the degrees. And most people still recover.

The key piece in these situations in the crisis counseling program is to really identify those people who are really struggling, and help get the help they need. So, I think it really is about outreach. You can imagine, when you’re devastated – you lost your home, you may have lost family or friends (or not know where they are). The last thing on your mind is thinking about getting therapy.

Vicki: (agrees)

Steven: So, that’s why the outreach, the group support, all of that – is a way to engage families and kids. There are shelters that do that routinely. Hopefully, when things get a little bit more stable, that kind of approach can take place. These shelters are going to be in operation for a long time.

A message to schools dealing with the aftermath of a storm

Vicki: (agrees) So, what’s your message to schools?

Steven: (Whew!) Heh. Yeah. It’s a really important and complicated question. What happens when you get students that are coming from the Houston area into your school or Louisiana or Oklahoma? It is really a complex environment. You have devastated kids and families. So, schools as often is the case, now have to take on multiple important roles. One of the most important roles is NOT thinking that education and learning are the primary practice. It really is about integrating and supporting these new kids into this new culture and climate of a new school and new community.

For those temporary schools, it’s going to be a similar kind of thing because these are probably a large group of people who have never had any experience with one another. It’s rebuilding from the get-go.

And so, really supporting just normal functioning and development. I’m not saying, “Don’t teach.” I’m just saying, “That’s not the primary function at this point.”

Vicki: (agrees) Just getting them back. It’s such an important – I mean we need to be having these conversations. I mean, don’t some people just deal with this sort of thing by, “Oh, let’s just pretend like everything’s normal.”

Steven: That’s what we hope, right? If we just keep going and put our heads down, everything will go away. All the problems will disappear. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” Right?

Again, that’s very common and very understandable. And by the way, if you can do it, go for it! It’s great! If you can make that work. It’s very hard. And particularly in situations like this, the trauma is not the storm. It’s not the moment. It’s going to be ongoing for months for many people – if not longer.

As the losses pile up, there’s also this kind of your ability to deal with eroding, with all of the challenges that come up.

Having empathy for those dealing with the stress of the storm

Vicki: Yeah, because sometimes, you know… OK, if it’s one thing. OK, it’s one thing. If it’s two things, it’s two things. I mean, some people lose their temper at getting stuck in traffic. But this isn’t traffic. I mean, this is your home and your insurance and your health maybe have problems. Or your school. Or your job. I mean, it’s every single thing in their whole life. And that is really hard for most people to comprehend.

You know, my Facebook feed is full of some people who’ve lost everything, and other people who are whining because somebody took their coffee at Starbucks. And it’s just a totally different level of problem.

Steven: Absolutely. We can’t judge people at all for their concerns, and context is really important. But if you think about your normal everyday stresses that get to you, this is beyond most of our imaginations. Right now, in an odd way, while it’s really in the midst of the crisis, it’s almost easier to manage. It’s when – I think the analogy I often use is – when a family member passes, there’s so much support, and you’re busy, and you almost don’t have time to think about your feelings.

And it’s really about a week or two weeks later, where it really hits. This is the kind of thing that – once the floodwaters recede, it’s going to really hit. It’s really just crucial, the connectedness and the community that’s going to help kids in particular ride this out.

Do people come out stronger?

Vicki: Yeah. Steven, you’ve given us so much to think about. Could you leave us all on an up note? Could you tell us, you know… Is there hope? Are there things, you know… Do you see people working through these and coming out stronger?

Steven: Absolutely. I think the hope is… Really, what we have seen are the amazing number of people that have responded in whatever way they can, whether it’s physically, or with money or food. That is where the hope is, coming together supporting and helping people who have been impacted so strongly. And that just makes us better. That makes everybody better. One way to think about it is that this is a huge crisis. There’s so much opportunity to come together in these crisis situations.

Vicki: And that’s what we need to do. We’ll include in the Shownotes some schools that are trying to adopt schools in Houston, there are principals who are connecting. There are ways to connect. And it helps all of us to be connected and be there for each other, because – you know, it’s somebody in Houston today. It’ll be you tomorrow. It was me yesterday. I mean we were dealing with the tornadoes and the winds here in south Georgia just back in January. We still have people recovering. But when we’re there for each other, it really does give us hope, doesn’t it?

Steven: Absolutely. Community is so important. We are social beings, and it helps the victims and the survivors, and it also helps the people who are helping.

Vicki: So educators, thank you for listening to this special episode of the “Ten Minute Teacher.” Again, we decided to go longer than ten minutes because this is an important topic that we needed to discuss. I hope that it’ll be something that you can share, and really help those [in need]. And if you’re listening, and you are impacted by Harvey or any other disaster – You are important. You are cared about. There are many of us who love you very much and are praying for you. And you are not alone.

Bio as Submitted

Steven Berkowitz, M.D is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, which provides evidence-based practices for traumatized youth.

In addition, he is the Medical Director of the new Integrated Care Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Healthy Minds Healthy Kids.

The post How to Help Children Recover from the Trauma of a Storm 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/trauma/

7 Ways to Incorporate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Into the Classroom

A post sponsored by TeacherVision

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Social emotional learning is a hot topic these days. Some states are trying to write SEL into their state standards. Truly, when many of us read about emotional intelligence many years ago, we started discussing social emotional learning. Simply put, SEL is about helping our students develop the emotional awareness, thinking, and behavior to be successful.

social emotional learning in the classroom

This blog post is sponsored by TeacherVision. All opinions are my own. Download their Math Spinner lesson plan to see how their system works.

If a child knows everything about history but can’t walk down the hall without hitting or insulting someone, clearly we haven’t educated that child. Likewise, we see children who get along with everyone but struggle to read or do math. We need to teach both academic and personal skills.

Responding to the proliferation of conversations about social emotional learning, I’d like to offer a few simple steps to help schools put SEL into their classrooms. In my opinion, some things that are classified as SEL seem to be suspect, while other things, like metacognition and adaptability, are what we need to teach.

Exactly What Is Social Emotional Learning?

First, let’s define social emotional learning. According to the book Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say?:

“We define SEL as the process through which children enhance their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving to achieve important life tasks.

Those competent in SEL are able to recognize and manage their emotions, establish healthy relationships, set positive goals, meet personal and social needs, and make responsible and ethical decisions” (Elias et al., 1997; Payton et al., 2000).*

Wow! That sounds like a lot. However, if we think about it, growth mindset, metacognitive behaviors, and interpersonal skills are all things we’ve been using in schools for some time. Let’s break this down and look at some ideas for integrating SEL in the classroom.

1. Identify What SEL Means at Your School

Because the research talks about multi-age consistency and how SEL should be integrated across all areas of a school (including extracurricular), I’m convinced that it’s vital to understand and agree upon what SEL means at your school.

TeacherVision (this post’s sponsor) brings SEL into their lessons with the FutureFit framework. It could be a good starting point. But whatever you decide, it’s important to have conversations about which SEL topics your school will discuss and reinforce throughout your system. Whether it’s growth mindset, kindness, adaptability, or creativity, you can go many directions with this.

One word of caution, however — not everything labeled SEL is necessarily something that you may choose to tackle. While reading about the research and work on SEL, I was filled with concern at some topics that arose. For example, so many children don’t have adults in their lives to help them answer the hard questions:

  • “Why am I here?”
  • “How do I handle death?”
  • “What about suffering?”

These are just a few of the questions that young people ask about life. And certainly, some SEL advocates argue that these are topics for teachers in schools to discuss with kids.

My struggle with asking these important questions about human existence is that such thinking can and should be greatly impacted by parents, religious affiliation, and other people of influence in children’s lives. As teachers, how successfully can we transcend the bias of our own personal belief systems? It is often the temptation of schools to prepackage “easy answers” when, in reality, some things in life have no easy answers.

So, with this caution in mind, the vital first step is understanding the traits and topics that will become part of your SEL framework. The answer for a religious school may be quite different from that of a public school, for example. I’m not sure that one size fits all. But please don’t let this deter you from talking SEL, because I believe every school needs to tackle this topic.

(In my opinion, FutureFit stays away from this sensitive area and may be a good start for some of you. I’ve included their graphic below.

Future Fit SEL Framework Teachervision

FutureFit is the framework from TeacherVision, the sponsor of this post. I’ve included it as it is an example of a system using an SEL framework.


Social emotional learning Tip #2

2. Identify Disconnected Students in Your School

Before you can educate, you’ve got to relate. So wherever you are in your SEL conversation, here’s something you can do right now. There are kids walking halls who lack a relationship with anyone at your school. How do you find these students and help build connections with them?

Principal Nancy Blair has a genius idea. Halfway through the year, she gave her team five minutes to

“…list the names of all the students that they knew; not only ones they were currently teaching, but any students whose names they knew. And we compiled a list.

“And then we found all the children that nobody in the building, 60-some teachers, nobody mentioned. And then talked about why does this happen? How can this happen? And what do we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen?

“We over time have continued that kind of practice to make sure that every child has some kind of positive contact with people, that somebody really knows them. We take the time to build relationships with children through teambuilding activities and just conversation.”

So, after you’ve given some time for teachers and students to get to know one another, take time to identify the disconnected students. Then, actively plan to connect these students to help them build healthy relationships with a teacher or staff members. Be intentional about it.

We can talk about SEL all we want to, but without a relationship with teachers, it’s difficult to help kids “establish healthy relationships.” Building these connections is an important starting point.

3. Understand That SEL Should Be a Continuous Effort

social emotional learning tip 3 (1)Helping students ”recognize and manage emotions” starts with helping them identify those emotions and express them privately to their teachers. Here are several examples of how teachers and administrators are helping students by making a continuous effort to incorporate SEL into their classrooms.

Mood surveys. When students walk into Jennie Magiera’s classroom, she has them complete a mood survey in Google Forms. She says that it helps her relate better to her students.

Private feedback. Teacher Kyle Schwartz asks her students, “What do you wish your teacher knew?” and sees powerful results and relationships.

Catch students doing great things and amplify it. Great teachers and administrators notice what is happening and build on those experiences. For example, at Will Parker’s school, the teachers noticed that girls were posting positive Post-it notes in the girls’ bathroom. So they nurtured the kindness, and it grew. When they shared what was happening on the school Facebook page, the story went viral. Kindness became part of their culture, because teachers noticed what was happening and administrators amplified the experience.


Create teachable moments. But perhaps the greatest example of noticing comes from Principal Tim Hadley. A young man came to school with his head shaved in honor of his grandfather who was fighting cancer. After students began making fun of the young man, Tim decided to act. In a public assembly with the whole school watching, Principal Hadley shaved his head. He says,Tim Hadley shaves his head

“I think I walked away really truly understanding for the first time how deep and how connected we really are and how much we really need each other — from students all the way to staff. We all have a battle that we’re all facing, and we all need support in that. And in the end, we only have each other.”

As teachers and administrators relate and look for teachable moments, we can make social emotional learning part of everything we do. Often, problems are the canvas upon which we paint the most powerful life-learning lessons.

We can talk all day, but seeing adults live their lives well creates unforgettable memories that students will recall until they are in a rocking chair at old age.

4. Integrate SEL Into Core Curriculum

social emotional learning tip 4This recommendation is one of the more difficult for some teachers who use books and activities that focus on content without incorporating SEL.

For example, Carol McLaughlin, a second grade teacher in Alabama, initiated a project with the Birmingham zoo. Her students researched animals who they didn’t see at the zoo and worked with zoo officials to recommend animals that kids would like. As part of the process, they had to discuss habitat and why some animals would not thrive in Alabama’s hot environment.

Helping kids understand that the needs of animals should be considered is a step toward building empathy, even though they were studying habitats. As teachers, we must work to integrate social and emotional learning into our core subjects.

Today’s sponsor, TeacherVision, lets you find supplementary lessons, activities, and projects that use SEL as part of teaching traditional content. They wanted me to write about SEL to help educate teachers on why it is important to use SEL in lessons. Try them out.

5. Teach SEL When Using Technology

social emotional learning tip 5Recently Dr. Michelle Zimmerman gave four examples of how SEL can be used in relation to technology.

Interestingly, she has been finding that face-to-face social skills do not translate to social skills while using technology. She says,

“But there are studies that have been showing up that [indicate that] even if you’ve gotten kids to be able to dialogue and converse in person and work through some of those differences, that same dialogue doesn’t work the same when it’s over a technological device.

“So, one of the most important things that I noticed is – teachers [need to] really intentionally use those as positive examples and find those students who are effectively using technology to build others up and then model it themselves.”

So remember that if students in your school are able to give peer feedback, you’ll also have to teach and reteach effective social and emotional skills when empowering peer feedback online. For example, your third graders might do a great job giving face-to-face feedback on essays. However, when they start giving feedback online in Seesaw (an online portfolio tool), you’ll have to model and teach how to interact effectively.

Teachers are often surprised that, although they’ve taught kindness in the face-to-face classroom, students forget it when online. That’s because they need to see and understand what kindness looks like in online spaces. This takes modeling. In both our face-to-face classrooms (the bricks) and online classrooms (the clicks), we must intentionally show what each SEL category looks like.

6. Enable Hands-On Learning and Service Projects

Some schools make time for “intercessory” projects or “minimesters.” They’ll set aside a week twice a year for special interdisciplinary projects. This is an excellent time to incorporate social emotional learning into the mix.

For example, at my school, we have done something that we call the Flint River Project. For one week, we split into teams and study the local Flint River. Literature teams write about the river. History teams research, document, and write about the history. My team of student filmmakers bring together comprehensive films about each of the projects. This hands-on project helps our students appreciate the local river while also helping us teach conservation and healthy relationships between students in multi-age teams.

7. Partner With Families and Communities

social emotional learning tip 7In the end, SEL is a team effort. All of the adults in a child’s life help shape that child’s ability to cope with emotions, behave in ways that help him or her succeed, and interact with others. The more closely we can work together to help children learn these skills, the more successful children will become. Creating partnerships is one way to do this.

For example, teacher Pauline Roberts created the sciracy project for her fifth graders. They merged science and literacy to become community consultants on sustainability practices. Students went into the community and worked with a variety of businesses.

Angela Maiers promotes the Choose2Matter movement, which helps kids do work that matters in the community and around the world.

And we cannot deny that students will have questions about things like death, suffering, and tragedy (especially when disaster strikes). When this happens, we must be in close communication with parents, youth workers, religious leaders, and those who can help children cope. When we partner and have healthy relationships around children, we show children that it can be done.

Social Emotional Learning Is Important

But in the end, education is not just about facts and content. We want children to be successful, and success isn’t built upon knowledge alone. It also grows from life skills, emotional and physical health, and our ability to interrelate successfully. We are a world full of people who need knowledge about how to work together for a brighter future — and only some of that knowledge can be found in books.

Better social emotional learning in schools will take all of us. Hopefully, discussing these seven areas will give you a start.



* Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? (The Series on Social Emotional Learning) (Kindle Locations 250-253). Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” 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.)

The post 7 Ways to Incorporate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Into the Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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