From the Center for Christian Urban Educators

April 10, 2018

Useful links, thoughts and quotes for school leaders and teachers curated from the web by Harriet Potoka, Director of Center for Christian Urban Educators.

TECH TALK: Mystery Science

This fantastic collection of “open and go” lessons is a K-5 science teacher’s dream come true. Each lesson begins with a two-minute video that introduces a “mystery” to students, followed by discussion questions. Students then engage in a hands-on activity (using supplies that are easy to get, like plastic cups and straws) to explore the concepts that will help them solve the mystery. Downloadable handouts and other materials complete the lesson. Some free school memberships still available.

TEACHERS: 10 Things Every Teacher Should Say More Often

Realizing the impact of words on teaching and learning, in this blog post David Geurin shares his thoughts on what teachers should be saying more, i.e. “I believe in you.”

TEACHERS: Executive Functioning Skills Explained

Executive functioning skills are getting a lot of attention in education. Executive functions are essentially the building blocks for completing all tasks in life (in school and beyond). Neuropsychologists and educational researchers continue to try and identify the specific executive functioning skills in separate categories so that they can be better understood. This helps teachers introduce these skills to their students while setting up strategies for success in our classrooms. This post includes a short summary of the 10 skills that have been identified,

TEACHERS: What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices Teachers Should Abandon

Most teachers would agree there is a need for more instructional time with students. This is not surprising since expectations for students have increased dramatically, but actual class time with students has not. Teachers can mitigate this problem by carefully analyzing their use of class time, looking for what Beth Brinkerhoff and Alysia Roehrig call “time wasters.” To help teachers analyze and maximize use of instructional time, this article lists five common literacy practices that research suggests are not optimal use of instructional time

TEACHERS: The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies

When teachers use class discussion as a teaching strategies it often means the teacher does most of the talking and throws out a couple of questions that a few students answer. Instead of a discussion it is ultimately a conversation between the teacher and a handful of extroverted students. In this article Jennifer Gonzales shares 15 formats for structuring class discussions to make them more engaging, more organized, more equitable and more academically challenging.

TEACHERS: Are Students Doing Projects or Learning Through Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is not just doing projects, it’s students learning through the work of a project. In quality PBL the deeper connections and learning are established through the inquiry process as students make meaning out of an authentic challenge. By starting them at ‘create’ on Bloom’s Taxonomy, teachers can then help students uncover the ‘remember’ and ‘understand’ pieces and grow those things as they analyze, apply, and evaluate. Use these four questions when planning project-based learning.

TEACHERS: Helping Students Move Beyond “I Can’t Do This"

When learners are given hands-on tasks such as those common to maker education, STEM, and STEAM, they sometimes struggle with their completion. Struggles are good. Struggles with authentic tasks mimics real life so much more than completing those types of tasks and assessments done at most schools. Often when facing such tasks that get a little too difficult (but ultimately are manageable) students respond with “I can’t do this!” Check out these ideas for helping student move beyond “I can’t do this.”

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TEACHERS: Exploring the Benefit Mindset

Acceptance and affinity are especially important in the classroom, where each student’s social and emotional development directly impacts their academic achievement. Feelings of community and collaboration make learning meaningful for all, and this sense of shared significance is at the heart of a concept called benefit mindset. It is “a purpose-driven mindset that is redefining success from being the best in the world, to being the best for the world.” Here are four ways teachers can inspire their students to act in ways that are an asset to themselves, to others, and to our planet.

TEACHERS: Supercharge Your Classroom in Five Steps

Education researcher John Hattie’s ground-breaking research about the factors that influence student achievement gives teachers much to think about in terms of their habits and practices. It helps teachers prioritize initiatives, counteract negative influences, and get rid of practices that show little evidence of improving learning outcomes. Combining Visible Learning with conceptual understanding will give any classroom wings. Watch students take flight with these five steps!
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PARENTS: How To Talk with Kids About Terrible Things

Children who are not directly involved but hear about school shootings may struggle with feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty. Here is a primer for parents and teachers put together by NPR with help from the National Association of School Psychologists and Melissa Reeves, a former NASP president and co-author of its PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention curriculum that provides suggestions on how to converse with children about such events.

PARENTS: How To Help Your Child in Sport

Parents can have a big impact on how children think and feel before, during and after they compete in sport activities; so what does the research suggest are the most useful things parents can say and do? To find out read this blog post.

PARENTS: Teach Kids When They Are Ready

Many parents feel undue pressure for their young children to master academic skills. Before they even start formal schooling, the measuring stick is out, comparing one child to another. And academic benchmarks are being pushed earlier and earlier, based on the mistaken assumption that starting earlier means that kids will do better later. We now teach reading to 5-year-olds even though evidence shows it’s more efficient to teach them to read at age 7, and that any advantage gained by kids who learn to read early washes out later in childhood. Read more here.

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LEADERS: 3 Ways School Leaders Can Build Student Engagement

School leaders have a responsibility to ensure that all students are engaged in learning and the school’s culture. For this to take place, school leaders must be intentional in their approach and leadership. Student engagement doesn’t come naturally; it’s something that one must plan for and implement.

LEADERS: 4 Ways School Administrators Can Discover Their Unique Leadership Style

Each administrator has his own unique personality traits. So as can be expected, some leadership models will appeal more to some administrators than others. The natural differences in personality among various leaders lead to preferences that run below the leader’s awareness. What often happens due to these personality traits is that a leader develops judgments, and responds to his or her environment by focusing on certain leadership aspects more than others. Read more here.


LEADERS: The 10 Things You’ll Always Find in Ideal Learning Environments

You know when you experience ideal learning environments simply by looking around you. Learning is collaborative and harmonious, and the work is challenging in a way that sparks interest and excitement. As a result, teachers and students are happy and focused. Terry Heick from TeachThought talks about them at length in the article The Characteristics Of A Highly Effective Learning Environment. They are summarized here.

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Visible Learning Into Action

This book is the next chapter in the evolving Visible Learning story, making John Hattie’s groundbreaking research concrete by showing how diverse schools have successfully brought the research into practical implementation. Features include 15 case studies from around the world, study guide questions, and annotated endnotes linked to online resources.

10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success

John Hattie’s landmark Visible Learning research concluded that one of the most important influences of student achievement is how teachers think about learning and their own role. In Ten Mindframes for Visible Learning, John Hattie and Klaus Zierer define the ten mindframes that teachers need to adopt in order to maximize student success.
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Data-Informed Learning and Student Data Privacy: 10 Tips for Teachers

its learning - Wednesday, April 11, 1:00 PM EDT

Three Questions Every Teacher Should Ask About Edtech

edWeb - Thursday, April 12, 4:00 pm, EDT

NGSS-designed Amplify Science for grades K-8

Lawrence Hall of Science - Thursday, April 12, 3:00 PM EDT

Minimizing Summer Slide Through a Collective Impact Model

edWeb - Monday, April 16, 4:00 pm, EDT

Amplifying Student Voice with Technology

edWeb - Tuesday, April 17, 4:00 pm EDT

Inclusion is More Than “Just Being In”

edWeb - Wednesday, April 18, 3:00 pm EDT

What Happens When Teachers Talk Less and Students Talk more in the Mathematics Classroom?

Education Week - Wednesday, April 18, 2:00 PM EDT

Leading with Data: One District's Journey to Student Success

edWeb - Thursday, April 19, 3:00 PM EDT

End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy: Create Safe, Caring, Inclusive Learning Climates

edWeb - Monday, April 23, 2:00 PM EDT

Classroom Management Mistakes That Undermine Your Authority

edWeb - Tuesday, April 24, 5:00 PM EDT

From Labs to Lifelong Learners: Visible Learning in the Science Classroom

Corwin - Thursday, April 26, 4:00 pm, EDT

Unlocking Opportunities Through Family Literacy

edWeb - Wednesday, April 25, 3:00 PM EDT

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.