From the Center for Christian Urban Educators

January 10, 2019

Useful links, thoughts and quotes for school leaders and teachers curated from the web by Harriet Potoka, Director of the Center for Christian Urban Educators.
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TEACHERS: The PBL Playbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Actually Doing Project-Based Learning

The PBL Playbook is available at no cost to teachers interested in Project Based Learning. The text is built around practical advice for PBL implementation, showing it at work in the author's own classroom and those of colleagues.The PBL Playbook is for you if:
  • You are a teacher ready to move towards an authentic learning experience for your students.
  • You are a superintendent, district administrator, or principal who is leading a school through project-based learning.
  • You are a coach, staff developer, or teacher leader that wants to help guide colleagues into PBL with a game plan that works.

TEACHERS: How To Get Kids To Pay Attention

Attention is a tricky beast. Unlike some brain processes, say vision or the ability to detect faces, there's not one key region in the brain that controls our ability to focus on one task and disregard distractions. Many studies have shown that when teachers foster autonomy, it stimulates kids' motivation to learn, tackle challenges and pay attention. Read this article to find out how to motivate kids, the Maya way.

TEACHERS: How Empowering Girls to Confront Conflict and Buck Perfection Helps Their Well-Being

According to a nation survey, a growing percentage of girls feel pressure to please everyone in their lives. Simone Marean, CEO of Girls Leadership, says it’s crucial that adults start helping young girls to engage in productive conflict, acknowledge and grow from mistakes,develop emotional intelligence and take responsibility for the role they each play in social situations.
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TEACHERS: 5 Strategies to Demystify the Learning Process for Struggling Students

Barbara Oakley is a self-described “former math flunky” who “retooled” her brain -- and who has since made it her life’s work to help others learn how to learn by explaining some key principles from modern neuroscience. She is an engineering professor, author of A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science and Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential. In the article she breaks down a few key principles that teachers can use in the classroom and share with students to help them demystify the learning process.

TEACHERS: When Students Lead Parent Conferences

Revising the traditional parent-teacher conference to student-led conferences allows middle school students to develop leadership and organizational skills. Students prepare for the conference, lead the discussion with their parents, and set goals for the remainder of the school year. Parents are notified that the conference will be student-led, with staff available to assist and answer questions.

TEACHERS: The Benefits of Cultivating Curiosity in Kids

Neuroscience is starting to explain the power of curiosity. When students are hungry for answers, their brain activity changes in ways that help them retain new information. A study of 6,200 children found that elevated curiosity was linked to higher math and literacy skills among kindergarteners. How can teachers promote curiosity?

PARENTS: How to Prepare for a Parent Teacher Conference

Parent teacher conferences provide an opportunity for parents to talk with their child’s teachers face to face, understand exactly what’s happening at school, and advocate for your child. It’s important to be prepared, and there are several steps parents can take to ensure the conference is productive.

PARENTS: If You Want To Accelerate Brain Development In Children, Teach Them Music

Music is medicine. Music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills, according to initial results of a five-year study by USC neuroscientists.

PARENTS: The Perils Of Pushing Kids Too Hard, And How Parents Can Learn To Back Off

Most parents have bought into the idea that they're supposed to push their kids to achieve. When their kids encounter obstacles, their parents push [them] to overcome them. But pushing too hard can backfire. Read the impact on students of attending high performance schools and dealing with the high expectations of their parents.

LEADERS: High Quality Instructional Materials Matter

A number of research summaries over the last few years have brought attention to the impact that high-quality instructional materials have on student learning. The U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, which produces summaries of rigorous research, has identified a number of effective curricula with large effect sizes on students’ reading, math, and science learning. Studies of educationally top performing countries across the globe indicate that one of the very few characteristics they share is a high-quality, contentrich curriculum. Read the full report here.

LEADERS: How to Design a School That Prioritizes Kindness and Caring

Carrollwood Day is one of 70 schools around the country who have partnered with Harvard’s Making Caring Common project to make compassion an expectation of their students. “It’s less a curriculum than attending to little things,” said Richard Weissbourd, who heads the university effort. Simple changes can have an outsized effect. Read how the program was implemented and what impact it had on students at Carrollwood Day.

LEADERS: Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Decorations

What teachers put on their classroom walls can affect students’ ability to learn. Heavily decorated classrooms can bombard students with too much visual information, interfering with their memory and ability to focus. A group of researchers wrote that as a rule of thumb, 20 to 50 percent of the available wall space in classrooms should be kept clear.

LEADERS: Parents Are Partners; We Must Empower Them

Parent involvement and support from home—or the lack thereof—is a consistent conversation at schools across the country and across the world.

Here are a few “truths” that we have accepted:

  • Almost all parents are doing the best they can.
  • Almost all parents are doing what they think they should be doing and what they know to do.
  • If we want parents to do differently and do more, we need to take the lead on communicating the important elements of a more powerful partnership; as is so often the case, we are the answer we’ve been waiting for.

Here are ideas how schools can and should empower parents.

LEADERS: How to Deal with Criticism When you Have Thin Skin

Nobody likes being criticized, but learning to accept criticism is a critical skill for success. If received appropriately, criticism can help you grow and develop your skills and abilities. Fear of the sting of negative feedback can hold you back from reaching your potential. But while some people seem to let criticism roll off their back, others have thinner skin and seem to crumble at negative feedback. Here’s how to develop thicker skin so you can learn to use criticism to your advantage.

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UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

This book by Dr. Michele Borba has been hailed as a must-read for parents and educators. In it Dr. Borba explains what parents and educators MUST do to combat the growing empathy crisis among children today—including a 9-step empathy-building program with tips to guide kids from birth through college, and beyond. Dr. Michele Borba indicates that the Selfie Syndrome is dangerous. First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve.
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Get Your Classroom Thinking! Deeper Learning Strategies for Any Classroom, Grades 6–12

ASCD - Tuesday, January 15. 3:00 PM EST

Arguing from Evidence in the Connected Classroom

edWeb - Tuesday, January 15, 5:00 PM EST

Data Access Is Easier Than Ever: Is That a Good Thing?

edWeb - Wednesday, January 16, 3:00 PM EST

Developing a Fundable and Sustainable STEM Program

edWeb - Wednesday, January 16, 4:00 PM EST

The Wonderful World of Words: Help Struggling Readers Connect with the World of Words and Reading

edWeb - Thursday, January 17, 2:00 PM EST

Preventing Suspensions and Expulsions

edWeb - Tuesday, January 22, 3:00 PM EST

STEM for Little Sprouts

edWeb - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 @ 6:00 PM EST

Leading Transformational Learning Through Making

edWeb - Wednesday, January 23, 5:00 PM EST

Fractions in the Real World: Time and Money

edWeb - Wednesday, January 23, 4:00 PM EST

Preparing Students with the Technology Skills They Need for High School

edWeb - Thursday, January 24, 4:00 PM EST

Music-Making Experiences in the Early Childhood Inclusion Classroom

edWeb - Friday, January 25, 2:0 PM EST

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Center for Christian Urban Educators

The Center for Christian Urban Educators seeks to encourage, equip, and empower Christian educators as they impact the lives of the children entrusted to their educational care.