From the Center for Christian Urban Educators

May 2, 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: Moving From Feedback to Feedforward

When teachers give feedback to their students, or when co-workers or administrators give feedback to teachers, the focus is on the past. “People can’t control what they can’t change, and we can’t change the past,” says Hirsch. “And that happens to be the focus of most of the feedback that we give or receive.” When teachers or administrators give feedforward, instead of rating and judging a person’s performance in the past, the focus is on their development in the future. Learn more here or read Hirsch’s book, The Feedback Fix.

TEACHERS: Are Your Creating Confident Students?

One approach to great teaching is facilitation: decentering yourself. Standing to the side, out of the students’ way, and moving to more of facilitative role of teaching. And one critical ingredient in such an approach is student confident and self-efficacy. Here are six signs that you are creating confident students.

TEACHERS: Seven Myths Keeping Teachers from Implementing Creative Projects

When college students are asked about their most memorable learning experience as a student their answers, inevitably, involves a creative project. These were the moments when learning stuck and often it was when students fell in love with the subject. Read about what students learn when doing creative projects and the myths that keep teachers from implementing them.
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TEACHERS: Activities That Prime the Brain for Learning

Brain breaks and focused attention practices help students feel relaxed and alert and ready to learn. Brain breaks create a state of relaxed alertness, while focused attention practices help students slow down and focus on a stimulus, enhancing their executive functions of sustained attention and emotional regulation. Use these practices with your students to prime their brains for attention and a state of relaxed alertness.

TEACHERS: Study Explores Educational Potential of Minecraft

Minecraft is one of the most popular video games of all time, with more than150 million copies sold. Minecraft Education Edition was released in the fall of 2016 and this version has been rapidly catching on at schools. Does the educational potential of this video game warrant it’s use in schools?

TEACHERS: To Boost Learning, Just Add Movement

Using movement to enhance learning is effective from preschool all the way through college. In this blog post or podcast, learn what the research says about movement-based learning and explore six different ways to add movement to classroom instruction.

TEACHERS: 8 Ways to Help Older Kids Develop a Sense of Imagination

Researcher Wendy Ostroff, author of Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms, is a student of imagination and curiosity. She believes many schools are set up in such a way as to wring out kids’ natural imaginativeness. Because imaginative thinking hones creativity and improves students’ social and emotional skills, it’s something that teachers and schools should fold into their planning. Ostroff has identified several strategies teachers can adopt to encourage older students to activate their dormant imaginations.

TEACHERS: Free Financial Literacy Curriculum and Plans

By the time students reach middle school, they’ve already developed the capacity to understand complex economic concepts and make financial judgments. However, most students don’t receive the personal finance education needed to navigate the modern financial world.

FutureSmart, powered by The MassMutual Foundation, empowers students to effectively manage their finances, make sound decisions, and become stewards of their financial future through interactive exercises and real-life scenarios.

TEACHERS: What Teachers Need to Know About Students With ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

What is oppositional defiant disorder? Get the facts and find out how to help students with this behavioral disorder in this comprehensive article.

TEACHERS: Improving Student-Led Discussions

While they have many benefits, student-led discussions often create unintended consequences that inhibit their effectiveness. Fortunately, there are solutions that can enable students to take ownership of academic conversations and facilitate discussions across classroom settings. This post addresses four common problems with student-led conversations along with solutions for each one.
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PARENTS: How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood

Today’s “snowplow parents” keep their children’s futures obstacle free - even when it means crossing ethical and legal boundaries. By not allowing their children to encounter failure, the children fail to acquire crucial life skills such as learning to solve problems, take risks and overcome frustration. Snowplowing has gone so far that many young people are in crisis.

PARENTS: 5 Technology Rules Every Parent Must Follow

Sonia Bokhari was an 8th grader when she joined the world of social media for the first time. She was excited to jump on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms her friends were already on. What she discovered made her feel betrayed. Upon setting up her profile, she quickly found out her mom and sister had been posting about her for her entire life. Right before her young teenage eyes, were pictures of her that made her feel awkward and even a little violated. Here are five simple ideas to consider when using smart devices.

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PARENTS: Three Ways to Relieve Teen Anxiety

The rise in anxiety, depression and panic attacks in students today should give every one pause. It is astoundingly high. It is a reality that crosses all demographics, urban, suburban and rural; and among adolescents who are college bound and among those who are not. Teens from different ethnicities and genders are all experiencing the issues associated with angst. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2015, some three million teens, ages 12-17, had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. More than two million report experiencing depression that impairs their daily functioning. Here are three suggestions for how parents can address this problem.

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LEADERS: The Ultimate Productivity Hack is Saying No

The ultimate productivity hack is saying no. Not doing something will always be faster than doing it. Do yo find yourself agreeing to many requests, not because you want to do them, but because you don't want to be seen as rude, arrogant, or unhelpful. Read this post to consider the difference between yes and no, the power of no and and how you can upgrade your no.

LEADERS: Aiming for Discipline Instead of Punishment

There are many perspectives on the topic of discipline in classrooms and schools, and this post explores the idea of using brain-aligned discipline with students who have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

LEADERS: Cardus’ Cofounder Ray Pennings on Schooling & Spiritual Development

There is research available to suggest that the American Christian school sector plays a positive role in the spiritual formation of its students. For example, the 2018 Cardus report Walking the Path: The Religious Lives of Young Adults in North America found that attending an evangelical Christian school had a measurable effect on graduates that is distinct from the influence of family, socioeconomic background or church life. Discover the three key ways in which graduates of Protestant Evangelical high schools were different from public school grads and what should be done with this information.

LEADERS: How Noise Affect Classroom Learning

Noise in classrooms can harm students' speech acquisition, cognition and learning ability, writes Arline Bronzaft, a professor at Lehman College, City University of New York. Bronzaft asserts that more should be done to abate noise that affects students' learning, both inside and outside of schools. While it is generally accepted that noise can impede a child’s speech acquisition, cognition and learning ability, have you done all yo can to lower the decibel level in classrooms?

LEADERS: 4 Ways Schools Help or Hinder Gifted Students

While educators may agree that academically advanced children should be given work at their speed and level, both to nurture their talents and prevent them from becoming bored and disruptive in class there is little agreement on how to academically support these students.
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LEADERS: The Case for Reining in Overconfidence

Overconfidence strikes all of us at some time. Leaders can avoid the overconfidence trap by surrounding themselves with people who will give them honest feedback and being willing to question their own assumptions, says John Baldoni in this blog post and video. "Overconfidence may be part of management today but savvy managers are those who keep it in check," he says.
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The Executive Function Guidebook

Teaching executive function skills in classrooms doesn’t have to be difficult. This unique guidebook—designed with busy teachers in mind—introduces a flexible seven-step model that incorporates Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and the use of metacognition. Features include:

  • Descriptions of each skill and its impact on learning
  • Examples of instructional steps to assist students as they set goals and work to achieve success.
  • Strategies coded by competency and age/grade level
  • Authentic snapshots and “think about” sections
  • Templates for personalized goal-setting, data collection, and success plans
  • Accompanying strategy cards

Whether you teach kindergarten, high school, or anything in between, teachers can make executive function training part of their teaching. And as students’ proficiencies improve, their confidence and capability will increase—setting the stage for their success in school and in life.

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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.