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Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts

Academic Summer Games! A Celebration of Learning!

This is our last full week of school, and we'll be celebrating learning by having Academic Summer Games!

 
Academic Summer Games! I love to keep the kids busy by adding a little bit of friendly competition at the end of the school year. This post gives plenty of fun ideas on how to do this!

 
My goals:
  1. Have fun!
  2. Give the kids a taste of what the Olympics are like!
  3. Give the children some experience with some of the different countries all over the world.
  4. Review skills from the year!
  5. Liven up these last few dreary days!
  6. Promote teamwork and positive feelings.
  7. Promote individual self esteem
  8. Grab an opportunity for some Project Based Learning.
  9. Did I mention having fun?
Of course, the real Olympics start in August and will be over before we come back to school in the fall.  But I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, and rather passionate about Social Studies as well. What better way to learn about different countries from all over the world?

Here's my plan:
  1. Form 5 groups of 4.  Those students will choose a country to represent, design a banner to represent that country, make a flag for that country, and pick a color to wear on the days of "competition".
  2. We'll start with a "parade of athletes" around the school.  Each "country" will carry its banner and flag, and will proudly display their colors.  
  3. Then we'll hold a number of "events".  I'm thinking a few scoot games, like these, perhaps a "read-a-thon", brainstorming contests (How many nouns can you think of in 60 seconds?), math facts contests, a S.T.E.M. project (something to do with water that can be done outside!), physical contests (How many jumping jacks can you do in 60 seconds?)
  4. After each ceremony, hold a "medal ceremony" for the winners.  I'm thinking some events will be group events, and some will be individual events. Yes, I actually own a CD of national anthems, so I'll play the one that goes with the country they represent, while they display their flag/ banner.
  5. If necessary, I'll come up with my own events, to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be a winner. (Most people wearing purple?)
  6. Send them home with smiling faces and stories to tell.
Brain research tells us that emotions play a big role in memory. Contests and competition get the blood pumping! Brain research also tells us that the social part of learning is essential. This will include quite a bit of movement, music, artwork, and opportunities for everyone on every team to show their strengths. According to brain research, this will touch on many important points.  

Here are some books with Olympics themes: (Each image is a link to Amazon for more information.)
                                                   
What do you think?  Have you ever done anything like this?  Do you have any ideas for "educational contests"?  Any ideas for organizing it all?

I'm looking forward to your input!



For more ideas and details of my Academic Olympics, as well as a freebie, see THIS POST.






Five Reasons NOT to Reward Students

Many teachers love to reward their students for doing a good job on their classwork. 
 
Five Reasons NOT to Reward Students - Rewarding students MAY do more harm than good. Here are some reasons.
 


I have mixed feelings about this, and here are some reason why.



Rewards can make behavior and work habits worse in the long run. Simple rewards can certainly motivate children to work harder, but once the reward is gone, the motivation stops. Behaviors and work habits go downhill fast once the children have been rewarded. "Why should I read if I'm not earning a prize?"



Rewards cost money. Teachers don't have a lot of money. 



Rewards give the wrong impression. Good behavior is what's expected. Giving rewards makes good behavior an extra effort worth of a prize. It's almost like turning good behavior into a job, with a paycheck as the prize. 



Rewards lead to entitlement. Children develop a sense of entitlement for simply doing what is expected. Unfortunately, this leads to adults who feel entitled simply for showing up at work. 


Learning is its own reward. Students need to be developing a sense of pride in what they do. That is the true reward! Feeling good about working hard for something is a wonderful feeling! Taking pride in a project done well, or a successful test is a prize within itself. 

Despite all these reasons, I won't say that rewards should never be used. There are some children that need that extra motivation in order to be successful. Some children have behavioral challenges or educational challenges that make school very hard. In these cases, rewards should be used carefully.

Five Reasons NOT to Reward Students - Rewarding students MAY do more harm than good. Here are some reasons.

I Won Big in Vegas!

I won big in Vegas! No, not THAT way, but I did spend $6.00 to come home with this:
Yes, that says 24 cents. I could have cashed it in, but I thought the voucher was a much more entertaining souvenir!

So the gold I came back with wasn't cash, it was far more valuable. It was knowledge!

Honestly, many of these things I knew, but this was reinforced by my 4 days in Vegas with teachers!

The Golden Nuggets from Vegas:

1. Collaboration! There is strength in numbers. When teachers (or anyone) share ideas and work together, supporting each others efforts, everyone wins! This concept was truly evident this week. I saw  many cases of teachers giving "shout outs" suggestions, advice, and encouragement to other teachers, and it warms my heart. I've never been much of a competitive person. I'd much prefer that we all get along and work together, which I've always found to work best!

2. Work With Good People! The above picture is a great example of what I mean by "Good People"! The person on the right is Paul Edelman, the man who created Teachers Pay Teachers. He gave the Keynote address at the Teachers Pay Teachers conference and made it clear he has gone out of his way to hire "good people". He clearly has, and there's no question that he is one himself! (I showed him a picture of my lovely daughter, whose college career is a reality because of TpT! We had a great conversation!)
On the left is Deanna Jump, the #1 seller of Teachers Pay Teachers. I'm lucky to have met Deanna at last year's get together, and was sitting right up front for her part of the Keynote address. She told her story, and it was clear to all that she is a good person! She's humble, genuine, and down to earth. I met many people over the last few days that met that description! 

3. Take Risks! Yep, I always knew that taking risks is important, but I was way out of my comfort zone for a lot of this week. I'm basically an introvert, and I'm often shy, especially around people I don't know well. Wednesday night was the blogger meet up. There were several hundred teachers, all talking at once, most of whom I'd never met. My natural instinct is to run away when it comes to large groups, but I bit the bullet and started chatting and circulating! I'm so glad I did! I talked to people that I've "known" for years online through blogs and facebook, but I finally met them face to face! There were others I wasn't familiar with, and I'm glad that has changed! I forced myself to go right up to strangers, introduce myself, ask them about themselves, and pushed myself to keep circulating. I'm so glad I did!


4. Have something Memorable! Despite Rachel Lynette's suggestion to keep profile pictures "professional", I'm glad I have used the picture I have, which is far from professional looking! (Rachel DID give her disclaimer: "If something is working for you, keep doing it!) I've used my silly pose as my profile picture for a while, and more people recognized my picture than remembered my name or my logo. That taught me I needed to keep using this picture, because I want to be remembered! I suspected this was the case, so I made nametags with that picture on it, and wore them most of the time in Vegas! 
I have to admit, that silly picture represents me as a teacher. I'm pretty animated, energetic, and fun. I've even been known to tap dance on a table to hold the kids' attention!
I also made a point to include my maiden name on my nametag, since I chat with many teachers on facebook, and that's the name I use. Most people are visual, so even if they can't remember it, they'd recognize it!

5. The Best Form of Professional Development is Talking to Other Teachers! I doubt there are any teachers who don't agree with this one! I went to 4 valuable sessions sponsored by Teachers Pay Teachers on Friday. I learned a lot from those sessions. I can honestly say I learned even more from the times I got together with other teachers. We had the blogger get together on Wednesday (which I met a lot of people, but actual conversations were tough because it was crowded and LOUD!) We had the Happy Hour on Friday, plus, many of us got together for meals and activities. We had some amazing conversations at these get togethers. Topics included our classrooms,  Whole Brain Teaching, blogging, facebook, TpT ideas, Instagram, and even a few non-teaching ideas, such as weddings, divorces, our children, and the men in our lives! Honestly, those get togethers are the times I'll remember the most, and were the most valuable to me professionally.


6. Leave Room for Swag! What you see in the above right picture is only part of what I brought home with me! Yes, I somehow managed to get that suitcase closed, but it was a real struggle! My roommate, Heather from HoJo's Teaching Adventures managed to have a good chuckle while I sat on my bag and struggled to zip it!

7. There's No Place Like Home! I've always felt the best part of any trip is coming home. I had 4 fabulous days in Vegas with hundreds of AMAZING teachers, but it sure was good to be home! Even though it's all over, no one can ever take those memories away from me.  

One more piece of advice: if you're like me and find it impossible to sleep on a plane, don't take the "red eye". At some point I may get enough rest and start feeling human again, but I don't think that will be this week!

Quick, Easy, and Honest Feedback!

Brain research tells us that honest feedback is essential in order for learning to happen. Common sense also tells us that children need to know if they're on track.
 
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
 

I make a point to give honest feedback whenever I can.


On written work, I use 4 highlighters: red (or pink), yellow, green, and purple.
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Here's how it works:

 
If I highlight the child's name in green, that means they're doing just what's expected, they're right on track!

If the child's name is highlighted in yellow, that means he's on track, but needs to be careful about something. (I usually write a little note to let them know.)

If the child's name is highlighted in red (or pink), that means stop! There's a problem here. (We usually have a little conversation.)

But there's one more: if a child's name is highlighted in purple, that means his work is above and beyond expectations. Purple represents royalty, so I'll often bow to these children! 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

For most papers, like homework, the only mark I make is the highlight at the top of the paper. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific skill, and make a note and highlight about that topic or skill. In the spelling papers below, I focused on the correct formation of the lower case m.
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
Then, of course, I'll find a little something spectacular that a child has done, and I'll make a point to make a purple star right on that part of the paper. 

I often hold up these papers for the children to see. The next day, many children are doing the same thing on their papers. It's amazing how happy it makes the children to get a little positive attention!

On the paper below, I've made purple stars for children showing their work in math. 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Well, there you go! It's easy to remember. It cuts back on my correcting time AND it gives the children the honest feedback they need! 
 

I hope you find this bright idea helpful!


Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!


The Importance of Failure

Today's post is something to think about. 
It's not a cute strategy or a brilliant organizational idea. 
It's just a little something teachers and parents need to think about.
 
The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!
 
Yes, that says failure, and it's an important part of learning!

Sometimes children just need to go beyond their comfort zone.
 
Sometimes, it's important for children to fail.

I know what you're thinking...

Isn't it easier to help them along, so they can succeed?
 
What about their self esteem? They'll have loads of failures through life, just like we have: disappointing grades, failed friendships, sports disappointments, college rejections, career failures, and the dreaded failed romance. People that they have loved will die. 
 
 Experiencing failure actually helps the children develop coping skills, resilience, and even creative thinking! 
 
By learning from their mistakes, they actually build self esteem! Knowing how to cope with little failures will help them cope with the bigger failures that come later in life.

I have a little story from my parenting experience that I share with parents of my students:

When my daughter was little, I took her ice skating. I'd always loved ice skating, so I'd hoped she'd be successful. She and I stepped out onto the ice holding hands, and we started to skate! She was doing great. There were a couple of times she started to lose her balance, but I was right there to help her, and she got back to skating right away.


After a while, I'll bet you can guess what happened... she stopped trying to stay up on her own.

Then I realized what I needed to do... I needed to let her fall. I let go of her hand and let her go on her own. (It wasn't easy to let go, but I knew it was necessary!)

She fell a few times. She was fine, of course, but that was when she really figured it all out. She started skating, and I learned a valuable lesson.

Kids need failure in order to learn. 


She never would have learned to skate if I kept catching her every time she fell.

Sometimes it's easier on us to do things for our children, like tie their shoes, pack their bags, or make their lunches. But just remember:
 
 
 
There are many famous people who have experienced various degrees of failure. Here are some people who brushed it off, then had great success: J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Mozart, and Walt Disney.

It's not so easy for us, but it's also not easy for the kids. Do you have children in your classroom who are afraid to answer questions because they fear being wrong?

Do you have children who are afraid to complete work because they're not sure they'll get the right answer?

Do you have students who cheat when they play games because they're afraid of losing?

We need to get these kids past that fear of failure!


How can we do that?


1. by making them feel safe.
2. by making them feel confident.
3. by praising their efforts.
4. by continuing to encourage them.
5. by being a role model: let them see you make mistakes and model appropriate ways to cope with failure.


The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!

Yes, praise their efforts. I often thank my students for making mistakes.

It might sound like this: "Thanks for pointing that out. You just made us all smarter!"

One last story about my daughter:

She's a perfectionist, and takes pride in her good grades. When she was in 8th grade, she got a C in Algebra. My comment? "Good! Now you know you won't die."

Seriously, it relieved a lot of stress for her. And she turned out to be fine. Plus, it motivated her to work harder in Algebra, and she ended up on the Math Honor Society in High School!

There are loads of studies on the benefits of failure, and how it can be successful. 
 
Give it a google!

I have this poster hanging in my classroom. I refer to it often.

The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!


If you look back on your life, can you think of a time where a failure motivated you?

Don't our children deserve that?


The Importance of Failure - It's a sticky subject, but failure is an important part of learning. See why!



What Do They Really Remember?

Years after they leave your class, what do your students remember?

What do they really remember? This post explores my Day 100 tradition and discusses why the children remember it years later.

One of the things my kids always remember is when we go from class to class, singing Day 100 songs.

Yesterday was Day 100 in our school, and we carried on my little tradition. Many of the teachers look forward to our visits every year, and it's a real treat to go into the other classrooms in the school. (We NEVER go into each others' rooms, it's such a treat!)

What do they really remember? This post explores my Day 100 tradition and discusses why the children remember it years later.

Today at Morning Meeting, I asked my class to share how they truly felt about singing in front of all the different classes. I was thrilled with their honesty. Some said they felt nervous, excited, scared, embarrassed, or shy. When I asked each child, "But did you like it?" Every single child nodded an enthusiastic, "Yes!" 

What do they really remember? This post explores my Day 100 tradition and discusses why the children remember it years later.

I could tell most of the children absolutely loved it.  There were a couple of kids that I knew singing just wasn't their "thing", but I was hoping it would be a positive experience.  They said they loved it!

As someone who is fascinated by how the brain works, I find myself pondering what it is about this experience that puts it permanently into the memory. Here's my theory:
  •  Singing in front of other classes uses strong emotions, which are directly connected to the memory.  
  • It's something they never have done before. Novelty is directly connected to the memory.
  • It's music!  Music is amazing when it come to the brain.
  • It involves social interaction. Again, connections with memory and learning.

What do your students remember about your class?



What do they really remember? This post explores my Day 100 tradition and discusses why the children remember it years later.

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