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The ABPC Blog

Helping Our Students Apply Prior Knowledge to New Situations

“Some students do not use their capacity for making connections, a uniquely human capacity. They approach every situation as if it is the first time they ever saw such a problem or task.” When Cathy Gassenheimer came across this article by Art Costa and Bena Kallick recently, she was hooked. So much so that she asked them for permission to post it here. In this short piece, the Habits of Mind authors and advocates share insights and practical tips to help students access and apply prior knowledge to current learning.

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Making Writing Fun and Easy: Using Generative Sentences

During a Zoom chat with Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey about their book This Is Balanced Literacy, Cathy was intrigued by the generative sentence strategy they shared. “It’s flexible and stretchable ( think ‘silly putty’) and can be used from first grade through high school. And its deceptive simplicity makes it a useful tool for teaching writing face-to-face and online!”

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Happy Holidays! Here Are a Few Little Gifts from Us You Might Have Missed

Happy Holidays! You deserve all the rest and relaxation that comes with the winter break. I hope that’s happening for you! We know how busy you’ve been, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you missed a few of these posts from the past few months. Please don’t feel obligated to read them, but if you find yourself a little restless – as educators often do before the ‘restart’ – maybe you’ll find an idea or bit of inspiration. See you soon!

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Our Students Can’t Wait: SEL Teaching Tools and Processes for Anytime, Anywhere

It’s rare that we really push ourselves to learn a new skill without an immediate need for it, writes Stoney Beavers. “We work hardest on something when the necessity is squarely in front of us.” Right now that urgent necessity is effective support for students’ social and emotional learning. “The tire is flat,” he says, and a new book from Corwin has tools we need to integrate SEL into virtual, blended, or in-person environments.

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SEL: New Lessons I’m Learning about How the Brain Really Works

Many educators have found the “upstairs, downstairs” analogy of how the human brain functions helpful in working with social-emotional learning. In her own life, writes Cathy Gassenheimer, the concept has been useful in keeping her grounded and focused in stressful times. New brain research is now challenging the idea of the “three-part brain,” with one part dedicated to survival behavior. Is it time to abandon the “upstairs” idea?

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Assistant Principal: One Aha and Two Truths I’ve Learned about School Leadership

For the past several years Enterprise City AP DeAnna Miller has been on a leadership journey. “I’ve read countless books about leadership, scoured online reading material, watched videos, joined Facebook groups and Twitter chats, all with one goal in mind – to be a ‘good’ leader.” During her journey, Miller has discovered “one profound a-ha and two recurring truths” which she believes will help her be both a lead learner and a lead teacher.

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Let’s All Give Extra Thanks to Our Alabama Teachers This Week

As we look across Alabama today and see the personal sacrifices so many teachers are making as they work to help students reach their full potential, it’s important to underscore how critical their work is. Research shows that access to a high quality teacher is the most important variable in student learning. Teachers deserve our thanks and appreciation. The next time you see a teacher, writes Cathy Gassenheimer, thank them for ALL they do.

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Register Now! Join Dr. Doug Reeves Online This Saturday for the 3rd Alabama Conference on Grading and Assessment for Learning

Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Alabama Conference on Grading and Assessment for Learning, taking place online this Saturday – November 7 – with national assessment-for-learning expert Dr. Douglas Reeves as the keynote speaker. REGISTER NOW and read a personal message from Dr. Reeves. We’ve also included links to more details about the conference. We hope you’ll join us for this deep dive into how we grade and assess our students.

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The Dawning of a Radical Idea: Most People, Deep Down, Are Helpful and Kind

Social historian Rutger Bregman suggests that “if we believe most people are decent and kind, everything changes.” In his new book Humankind, he explores contemporary research on evolutionary history and concludes that human success is rooted in our ability to team up and care for each other. Cathy Gassenheimer sees the same pattern in this year’s KLN study book Coherent School Leadership and in the response of Alabama educators to the pandemic.

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