Friday, June 26, 2009

Similarities & Differences Part 1

In Classroom Instruction That Works (that is, real strategies for real learning) Robert Marzano's research shows that identifying similarities and differences is one of the most powerful thinking strategies we can teach. Helping students compare, classify, create metaphors and similies, and use analogies can boost student achievement up to 45 percentile points.

Tired of the ubiquitous Venn Diagram? Try these tech sites for a few fresh ideas:

1. Out on a Lim by Janice Lim, Michigan edtech expert
2. Analogix, an interactive site for older students
3. Similes and Metaphors on BrainPop (intermediate grades)


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Take-out & Take-aways

It has been 20 years for me now. 20 years in public education. I can't believe it! Seems like just yesterday when, as a nervous 22 year old, I walked through the doors of Holly Hill Elementary to inquire about my first teaching job.

Weird things have happened along the way, such as critical school levies, bus strikes, new standards and programs, large class sizes, cutbacks and changes in administration, to name a few. Every so often, however, and in the most unexpected ways, I'm reminded of what matters most: the child.

Tonight I visited my local Mexican restaurant to pick up some chips & salsa. While waiting I noticed a small sign behind the counter. It read:

"What is a customer?

A customer is the most important person to pass through these doors.

Not an interruption to our work, but the purpose of it.

Without the customer, there is not a purpose for us."

Let's change "customer" to "child" and do a rethink.

"What is a child?

A child is the most important person to pass through these doors.

Not an interruption to our work, but the purpose of it.

Without the child, there is not a purpose for us."

So...tonight I got some tasty take-out, along with a delicious take-away.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A PLAYful Idea

I'm watching the Tony Awards tonight. Now here's a novel idea. Actually it's a PLAYful idea. For this summer's reading I going to read...some plays. Here's a terrific article I read this morning about the joys of READING drama. I love to watch the playwrightt's words come alive on stage. So I haven't read drama since I taught ninth grade English (Romeo & Juliet, anyone?).

But Dwight Garner inspired me to try reading some drama again. He says, "To encounter plays on paper is to encounter them in their platonic form. You’re glued to the playwright’s words, not sitting in Row K jostling for an armrest. While reading, you can submit more perfectly to the author’s spell and, what’s more, you are your own casting director." Convinced! I'm off to order Yasmina Reza's Tony Award winner God of Carnage.