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5 Values You Should Teach Your Child by Age Five

March 3, 2015

Value #1: Honesty
Help Kids Find a Way To Tell the Truth.
The best way to encourage truthfulness in your child is to be a truthful person yourself.

Value #2: Justice
Insist That Children Make Amends

Value #3: Determination
Encourage Them To Take on a Challenge

Value #4: Consideration
Teach Them To Think about Others’ Feelings

Value #5: Love
Be Generous with Your Affection

10 ways to get students respect

March 2, 2015


1. Respect your students.

Don’t talk down to students. Model mutual respect. Don’t have double standards. Give what you’d like to get back. Know every child’s story and treat each as an individual. Cater for different learning preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

2. Have a class agreement, not top-down rules.

Ask what helps them learn and what hinders learning. Use that as a basis for establishing an essential agreement as to how the class will run and what behaviours will be evident. Have everyone sign it. Put it up on the wall. Refer to it constantly.

3. Be part of the learning community.

Don’t be the boss of learning. Encourage kids to take ownership of their learning. Be an inquirer too. Don’t pretend to know all the answers. Learn with and from your students. Divide your groups in a variety of random ways, so that everyone learns to work with different people.

4. Acknowledge their physical needs.

Allow students to drink water and even to eat if they hungry. Don’t try and control when they go to the toilet. (If your classes are engaging, they will only go when they need to.) Provide opportunities for standing up and moving around during learning.

5. Be fair and reasonable.

Don’t show favoritism. Expect everyone to stick to the agreement. Don’t allow put-downs between students. Accept legitimate excuses and even some that might not be. If the homework comes a day late because they had something else to do, it’s not the end of the world.

6. Have a sense of humour.

Laugh with your students but never at them. Laugh at yourself. Show firm disapproval if they laugh at each other. Don’t take school too seriously. Take learning seriously. But make learning fun too.

7. Provide a secure learning space.

Provide opportunities for risk-taking in learning. Create a safe environment where learners don’t fear failure. Be supportive of creative thinking and new ways of doing things. Make every student feel validated.

8. Be sincere.

Talk to students in a normal tone, irrespective of their age. Students see through adults who aren’t sincere very quickly. Don’t pretend. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Show that you care… but only if you do. (If you don’t, why are you a teacher?)

9. Be human.

Acknowledge when you’re in the wrong. Apologise when you make a mistake. Admit you’re impatient because you’re tired today.

10. Let go.

Don’t be in charge of every situation. Ask yourself ‘Is it important?‘ before you react. Don’t make all the decisions. Provide opportunities for choice. Show that you value initiative above compliance.

How Student Centered Is Your Classroom?

February 28, 2015

Use these questions to reflect on the learning environment you design for students:

  • In what ways do students feel respected, feel valued, and feel part of the whole group?
  • In what ways do students have ownership of the classroom? Do they ever make decisions about resources, environment, or use of time? When? How often?
  • Do they have ownership in their learning? Do they have choices and options for projects, assignments, and partners for group work?
  • When are students comfortable with expressing who they are and their thoughts and ideas? When are they not?
  • When do you inquire about the needs of your students? How often do you do this? How often do you check for group understanding and adjust the instruction accordingly?
  • How are desks arranged? Are students facing each other? Do they have multiple opportunities each week to share with fellow classmates, and to share with a variety of classmates?
  • As the instructor, what is my “air time” each class session? How much direct instruction is there? How might I change some of that directing teaching to facilitating?

Teacher Retirement Poems – A Lasting Legacy Imprinting Forever

February 27, 2015

Teacher, role model, mentor  and friend
Ever present you have touched the lives of so many.
Always encouraging, always dignified and always a presence,
Challenging us all to reach higher and to strive further …
Honoring the ideal to work hard and play straight.
Endless hours preparing, supporting,  motivating,  guiding
You, the  catalyst  for so many young people actualizing their dreams!

Remember you ? We always will.
Emulating your example – a goal worth  aspiring to.
And so today we say goodbye and thank you …

In the years that lie ahead …
Recall us fondly,
Embrace the exciting challenges that await you,
Make the most of each day – a lesson you taught so well to so many.

Finally, embrace the knowledge that you,
 have left a lasting legacy,
you have shaped and molded brilliant minds,
you have guided  compassionate  souls and generous spirits …
All of whom will create the cornerstones of the tomorrows still to come.

7 Leadership Skills Fostered in Arts Education

February 25, 2015

Here are seven ways that working in the arts can give students the skills to become great leaders:

1. Creativity

While this might appear to be the most obvious skill, we should remind ourselves that creativity is not just about expression and aesthetics, but also about problem solving. While other disciplines encourage creative solutions to solving problems, the arts seek to find solutions beyond our consensual understanding of the problem, pushing against the margins of what might be provable. Artists are pioneers of inventing and testing out new ideas and sensibilities. This quality makes for ideal leadership.

2. Risk Taking

If we expect our students to be truly creative and seek out those new ideas and sensibilities, we must encourage and reward taking risks. One of the most rewarding outcomes of teaching students in the arts is that it gives them the ability and the confidence to do things that are new and unorthodox. Peer pressure doesn’t go away when one becomes an adult. Great leaders, when necessary, will go against the mainstream in terms of thinking, and take the chances of having their ideas and actions ridiculed or criticized.

The arts attract students who are often marginalized because they have already experienced the challenge of being rejected or shunned. They have gone through the storm and have less fear about being different and embracing new ideas.

3. Learning to Be Yourself

One of the great challenges of being a leader is, as the saying goes, “It’s lonely at the top.” Students who are nurtured through the arts must ultimately turn inward and know themselves, face their demons, and ultimately discover their own potential. While we celebrate collaboration and group effort, those approaches are more successful if each person in the collaboration has gone through the solitary process of self-reflection and gaining self-knowledge.

It is easier to make a decision that might not be popular if leaders are willing to take risks and stand on their own and this is often the very definition of an artist.

4. Understanding the Power of Myth and Symbols

In art classes, we encourage students to work with icons, shapes, and archetypes, giving them the ability to understand how these images affect human culture. Great leaders have an understanding of how myths and symbols shape our understanding of a complex idea or sensibility that is hard to otherwise express.

This ability to tap into myth and symbology is always powerful and often poetic and beautiful as Martin Luther King, Jr. showed us. Artists, poets, and musicians have a strong sense of what moves and shapes us, and being able to tap into this can be powerful for student leaders to learn and master.

5. Observational Skills

Great leaders have the ability to be aware of moods, attitudes, and the world around them. In arts education, we encourage our students to be keen observers. Also, it’s often the case that students who are drawn to the arts are introverted yet also skilled observers. It is imperative for teachers to nurture this gift of observation and further develop it in students when necessary. We must also be able to identify, develop, and productively channel the role of the quiet influencer that our most observant students often play.

6. Project Planning

Project planning is the most pragmatic of the skills taught in arts education. Students are encouraged to consider and commit to projects that might not see fruition until weeks or sometimes months later. In addition to utilizing strategies such as backward design, goal setting, and implementing an effective process, project-planning skills develop character and fortitude in our students who know that they are in it for the long haul.

7. Collaboration and Appropriation

While no other discipline prizes originality more than the arts, our discipline knows that referencing and emulating those who have mastered their craft is part of the learning process. Learning from those who came before you also lends itself to learning and working with those around you. The idea of plagiarism or “copying” becomes less an issue, and students learn that what separates “I” from “you” is blurred if not illusory. This ability to see oneself in others, to learn and work with others, is key to understanding leadership and a skill that we should continue to encourage and build upon in our classrooms.

What lies in the heart of a great teacher?

February 20, 2015

You are kind: a great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents and those around her/him. It truly changes the environment in the classroom and school. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for and loved.

You are compassionate: Teaching is a very humanistic profession, and compassion is the utmost feeling of understanding, and showing others you are concerned about them. A compassionate teacher models that characteristic to the students with her/his actions, and as a result students will be more open to understanding the world around them.

You are empathetic: Empathy is such an important trait to have and to try to develop in ourselves and our students. Being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective can have such a powerful impact on our decisions and actions.

You are positive: Being a positive person, is not an easy task. Being a positive teacher is even harder when we’re always met with problems with very limited solutions. However, staying positive when it’s tough can have such a tremendous positive impact on the students and everyone around us. Looking on the bright side always seems to help make things better.

You are a builder: A great teacher bridges gaps and builds relationships, friendships, and a community. Teachers always look to make things better and improve things in and outside of the classroom. Building a community is something a great teacher seeks to do in the classroom and extends that to the entire school and its community.

You inspire: Everyone looks at a great teacher and they want to be a better teacher, they want to be a better student, even better, they want to be a better person. A great teacher uncovers hidden treasures, possibilities and magic right before everyone’s eyes.

5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students

February 18, 2015

Many would agree that for inquiry to be alive and well in a classroom that, amongst other things, the teacher needs to be expert at asking strategic questions, and not only asking well-designed ones, but ones that will also lead students to questions of their own.

#1. What do you think?
This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.

#2. Why do you think that?
After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.

#3. How do you know this?
When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they’ve experienced, read, and have seen.

#4. Can you tell me more?
This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.

#5. What questions do you still have?
This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.

In addition to routinely and relentlessly asking your students questions, be sure to provide time for them to think. What’s best here, three seconds, five, or seven? Depending on their age, the depth of the material, and their comfort level, this think time will vary. Just push yourself to stay silent and wait for those hands to go up.

Also be sure to vary your tone so it genuinely sounds like a question and not a statement. When we say something in a declarative way, it is often with one tone and flat sounding. On the other hand, there is a lilt in our voice when we are inquiring and questioning.

To help student feel more comfortable and confident with answering questions and asking ones of their own, you can use this method: Ask a question, pause, and then invite students to “turn and talk” with a neighbor first before sharing out with the whole group. This allows all to have their voices heard and also gives them a chance to practice their responses before sharing in front of the whole class.

Word Find

February 16, 2015

In this early reading activity, your child will place letter markers on a grid to make words appear out of the jumble.

What You Need:

Paper plate
Dark marker
Construction paper in four colors

What You Do:

1. Before you get your young reader involved, pick out three easy words that he knows already. It’s important that these words include a variety of letters. We used “away,” “here,” and “jump.” The instructions will be written using these three words.

2. On the paper plate, trace the nickel to make a grid of 5 rows with 5 columns.

3. Use the nickel to trace circles on the construction paper. You’ll need to draw four circles on one color of construction paper for “away,” four on the second color for “here,” and four on the third color for “jump.”
Trace 13 circles on the last color. These are for the remaining spaces in the grid.

4. Cut out all of the circles.

5. On the bottom row of the grid, write “jump.” Letter four matching markers J, U, M and P.

6. Repeat step 4 for “here” and “away.”

7. Fill in the remaining spaces in the grid. Be careful not to use any of the letters in your three sight words. As you fill in the “extra” spaces, make corresponding markers.

8.Call your child in to play. As he lays the markers on the grid, the words will emerge from the background.

Make additional grids and have your child work through the set to hone his letter and word recognition skills. You can also make larger grids with even more words if he wants an even greater challenge.

Rock the Alphabet

February 14, 2015

Alphabet Rocks

Collect 26 rocks and paint each one with a letter of the alphabet for your very own alphabet rock collection. This activity offers an educational double whammy: As your kid paints each letter on a rock, he’ll practice letter formation and work his fine motor skills, and once they’re done and dry he’ll practice learning the letters and their sounds as you turn the rocks into a letter learning game.

What You Need:

  • 26 rocks
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes (small and medium)
  • Water and a container for washing rocks

What You Do:

  • Start by going on a rock hunt. While you supervise, invite your child to search the yard, neighborhood, local park, nearby creek or stream for rocks of a manageable size that he can easily lift and move around.
  • Wash any dirt particles clinging to the rocks by soaking them in water and rinsing them. Let the rocks dry.
  • Now for the painting! Help him paint one letter of the alphabet on each rock so he has one rock for each letter by the time he’s done. Encourage him to use a wide variety of different colors to make a vibrant collection. If he’s unsure of how to paint any of the letters, have him practice on a scrap sheet of paper before painting on the rocks.
  • As he paints each letter, have him say its name and the sound(s) it makes. Can he think of a word that starts with that letter?
  • Once all the rocks are painted, place them aside to dry.
  • When the rocks are dry, use them to “label” objects in and around the house. For example, take an apple from the fruit basket and set the “A” rock beside it to show him that “A” is for “apple.” Repeat for the other letters; once he gets the hang of the activity, encourage him to find objects on his own.

Use your cool new collection again and again until your young learner has mastered the alphabet and letter sounds. Mix up the rocks and then challenge him to put them back in order, or work with the rocks to spell simple sight words.

Spelling Words!

February 10, 2015

In second grade, spelling gets quite demanding, as kids start to have weekly lists that get longer and more complicated than ever before. Here is a great game that breaks up flashcard tedium, gets your child moving, and practices those reading and spelling words at the same time. Another advantage to this activity is that it can be played either inside or out!

What You Need:

  • Masking tape(indoor)or sidewalk chalk (outdoor)
  • Marker
  • Large index cards
  • Manila envelope to hold cards
  • 1” cube block or similar object

What You Do:

  1. If you would like to play outside, simply make a hopscotch grid on your sidewalk or driveway. For indoor play, use masking tape on the floor. Make the squares about 10” on each side. Make a numeral in each box using either the chalk or the tape.
  2. Use a marker to write a spelling word or other reading/vocabulary words that she’s been practicing either at home or school on the index cards. (These words can be color or number words, easy to read sight words or short vowel words such as cat, dog, sun, etc. These choices are obviously dependent upon your child’s reading level or ability.
  3. Place the cards in a manilla envelope for storage. Place a 1” block or similar object in the envelope as well. This block/object will be used to throw on the hopscotch grid when playing the game.

Game Directions:

  1. You may play the game with a partner or she may play alone with your assistance. One person will play hopscotch with the block and the other will hold the cards for the first player to read/spell.
  2. Play the game as you would regular hopscotch. Begin the game by trying to throw the block into the first box. Hop on one foot into each of the hopscotch boxes, skipping over the box with the block in it. On the way back, your partner/parent will show/read you a reading/spelling word card. You must either read or spell the word on that card before you can pick up the block.
  3. If you miss the word, you lose your turn and must switch places with your partner.  If you read/spell the word correctly, pick up the block and hop back to the beginning of the hopscotch grid.
  4. Take another turn, throwing the block into box number 2 or the next box.  The first player to throw the block into each box, jump through the grid and read/spell the word cards correctly is the winner. If she is playing alone and you are showing her the cards, she is the winner when she has completed the hopscotch grid and read/spelled all words correctly.

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