When Columbia Elementary teachers Karen Jump and Lauren Hester heard the challenge to lift their students’ spirits every Friday, they soon came up with a brainstorm. “We made posters with inspiring messages,” writes Jump, “then sent out an email to the school asking for teachers and staff members who wanted to participate. Each Friday morning, we stand outside, welcoming students to school.” Simple? Yes. Impactful? Very!
The ABPC Blog
How can educators better engage students so they see the relevance in what they’re learning – and the learning sticks? Cognitive scientist and former classroom teacher Lindsay Portnoy argues that Design Thinking strategies (found in engineering, software development and many other fields) are a big part of the answer. Cathy Gassenheimer reviews Portnoy’s new book.
Emily Strickland, ABPC’s Program Coordinator, has just finished a fascinating read recommended by the Next Big Idea Book Club, You Look Like A Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place. Author and research engineer Janelle Shane both entertains us and makes us think more deeply about how we influence the budding intelligences around us.
In a world overwhelmed with information, traditional models of fact-based teaching fail to engage our students or prepare them for the 21st century’s unique challenges. The elementary and secondary editions of Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding challenge educators to dig deep, push our thinking, and learn why and how concept-based teaching offers the best solution, writes Cathy Gassenheimer.
In this day of specialization, it may seem counterintuitive to learn that some of the most successful people – across a span of professions – are generalists in many areas and were slower to specialize in just one during their formative years. Cathy Gassenheimer believes this is a valuable insight for educators, as she explains in her review of a new book by David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
At Brookwood Forest Elementary School, writes Principal Nathan Pitner, “We are developing a process of engaging students enough to foster their ownership of their learning and growth.” Such a belief and practice, he says, “elevates school from something to be endured to a tool that models the very growth it promotes.”
All Learning Is Social and Emotional – that’s the message shared in a new ASCD book by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith, and the theme of this year’s Powerful Conversations Network professional learning. Ana Rosales, Instructional Partner at Athens Middle School, shares how this deep dive into SEL has already inspired the AMS faculty to make SEL skill-building a top priority in their school.
Wherever you teach, the stress, demands and expectations can take an emotional and physical toll. At Lakewood Primary in Phenix City, Principal Sarah Kimmel and her leadership team recognized the need to support and encourage faculty and staff throughout the year to help alleviate these pressures. Using the motivational book The Energy Bus, they are well on their way to “turning negative energy into positive achievement.”
Learning should not be a mystery to students. John Hattie’s research shows that changes in practice to produce “teacher clarity” can have a huge impact on student success. A recent book from Corwin, Clarity for Learning, provides a roadmap for teachers and schools interested in engaging their students more deeply by making sure they understand what’s going on. Cathy Gassenheimer provides a helpful summary!
The achievement gap between children who read or are read to, and children who are not, is well documented and widely discussed, writes Assistant Principal Jill Edwards. Some schools may view the gap as outside their control, but not Harlan Elementary in Florence City (AL), where educators are using a variety of “combat strategies,” including the newly launched video collection of Goodnight, Harlan bedtime stories.