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Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing

As a blogger, I know the power of the audience. It's you readers out there that make me want to blog, and make me want to make quality blog posts! Don't our children need this same sense of audience to motivate their writing? I think so!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!


Here are some ideas for celebrating the children's writing:


Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
1. Share in Class! Have one child read his/ her story to the class. The class is expected to listen and ask questions that "prove they were listening." This works well when the child is "mid-story" in order to get ideas on where to go from this point.

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
2. Small Group Shares! Have children work in groups of 2 or three to share their stories as above.

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
3. Share Your Best Sentence!  I like this one because there's usually enough time for each child to share one sentence. If the children know it's coming, that helps motivate the children to work on the quality of their sentences.

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
4.  Share With Someone Else in the Building! There are lots of adults in an elementary school who would be thrilled to "play along" with this one! It's a great motivator to promise a child that he can read his story to the custodian, or the secretary, or the cafeteria workers. It's a win-win!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
5. Share With Another Class! Plan to get together with another class in your own grade, or another grade to pair the children up for a big share! There are advantages to each age group: older, younger, or peers!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
6. Skype! - Do you have a class with whom you Skype?  What a great opportunity for children to share their writing! 

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
7. Write Letters! See THIS BLOG POST for the benefits of letter writing and a freebie!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
8. Bulletin Boards!  Post the children's writing on the wall for others to see!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
9. Class Books and Newspapers! These will be read by classmates (and parents) over and over!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
10. Publish! It's amazing how special it makes a story when it's typed up and a fancy cover is put on it. I allow students to take out each others' published books for Independent Reading time. It gets really interesting when we're talking about Author's purpose... the author is sitting right there in the classroom!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
11. Have an "Author's Tea"! Invite parents, grandparents, and administrators, and give the children an opportunity to read one of their stories to the group. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it. It's a great opportunity for a party, and a great opportunity to motivate your young writers with a live audience!

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!
12. Have a Class Blog!  I have to admit, I've never done this, but I'm planning to start a class blog very soon!  Imagine the thrill to see your own written work displayed on the internet!  Wait... I know what that's like, and that's why I can't wait to give my students the opportunity to do the same!  

Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing: Here are 12 ways to help the children WANT to write. All of them are FREE and most are low maintenance!

If you have a blog for your class, or know of one, I'd love some input! I have loads of questions and concerns, so I'm looking for examples and mentors in the Class Blog department!

Ten Brain Based Learning Strategies

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I'm absolutely fascinated by the brain, and am particularly fascinated by the research that's been done to prove the best learning strategies. 
Research on the brain helps us know what helps children remember, and what doesn't. Here are 10 successful strategies for the classroom.


There's some great stuff out there! I read about the brain and learning daily, and just can't get enough. I've taught a few workshops about it, too. Even though I'm a second grade teacher, this stuff applies to all learners, from newborn babies to adult learners.

1.  Talking!  Research has taught us that learners don't learn much from sitting and listening. Sure, they need to listen a bit, but they need the opportunity to talk! The talking internalizes what they've learned. In my classroom, I'll give the children a few tidbits of information, then they have "turn and talk" time, where they discuss what they've learned. They love this, and it works!

2.  Emotions rule!  If you think about the strong memories you have from your past, I'll bet they are closely related to strong emotional experiences, both positive or negative: your wedding, your child being born, a death... strong emotions. This works with children, too! Hopefully, your teaching won't bring out too many negative emotions, but there are ways to get to the positive ones! Kids love games. Some children are very competitive, and thrive on that stuff! Getting up in front of their classmates brings out plenty of emotions. Of course, different kids feel different things, so just be careful about playing with the emotions of children.  What works for one might traumatize another. (Yikes, don't want to go there!)



3.  Visuals!  Vision is the strongest of the senses. Talking alone isn't enough. Make sure the children have plenty to look at in addition to what you say. Use posters, drawings, videos, pictures, and even some guided imagery with the children to help them learn. 



4.  Chunking! The typical attention span is the child's age plus or minus a couple of minutes. That means that many of my second graders can't attend past 5 minutes. Again, proof that typical "lecture" type teaching just doesn't work. That means they need a chunk of information, then an opportunity to process that in some way. Here's where "turn and talk" works, as well as an opportunity to write, draw, or even move. 



5.  Movement! Combining movement with the learning almost guarantees stronger learning. Here are some ideas: Counting by tens while doing jumping jacks, touch three desks while naming the three states of matter, and this one, from a blog post I wrote in the fall.



6.  Shake it up!  If you do exactly the same thing, exactly the same way, it becomes boring and the brain tunes out. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about sticking with a routine, but once in a while you need to shake it up! Have a backwards day, turning the whole schedule around (within reason, of course!)  change the seating arrangement, do one part of the day completely different. We need this in our own lives, too, don't we?



7.  The brain needs oxygen! They say 20% of all the oxygen used in the body is used by the brain. That means we need to get the kids up out of their seats regularly and moving!  I particularly enjoy the Brain Gym exercises. I recommend the book, but there are also plenty of Youtube videos on brain gym that will model the exercises for you and tell how they help learning! Of course, there's nothing better than old fashioned jumping jacks or running in place. And the kids love it!



8.  Make connections! We talk about connections in books a lot, but connections are important for the brain. It can't hold random information, it needs to connect to something else that's already there. Did you ever hear a kid say, "I remember that because I know...." You can make connections through your own experience and stories. I often talk about my daughter, my cat, or some other thing they know of to make something else come true. 


9. Feedback is essential! Practice doesn't make anything better unless the practice is accurate. Students need to hear they are on the right track. I use a color code to let the children know if they are on track, which I described in this blog post from September. It works pretty well for motivation, as well.



10.  Music is magical! Tell the truth, how many of you know all the words to a television commercial?  People my age know all the words to the Gilligan's Island Theme Song and the Brady Bunch Theme Song.  Did we work hard to learn those?  Nope, never even tried!  Because they were put to music, we learned them.  There are many studies on music and learning. One way I use music is that I often play "happy music" first thing in the morning. That way the children enter feeling good. Now this brings us back to #2 emotions!


These are some books I recommend if you're interested in Brain Based Learning:   


                        

       

      

Research on the brain helps us know what helps children remember, and what doesn't. Here are 10 successful strategies for the classroom.

Finding the Carrot

I've taught many grades.  I've had a lot of students.  I've had my share of challenging students.  As different as they all are, I've found one thing in common.  They all want something. 

Some children only want to be noticed.  Luckily, there are many students who want to do the right thing.  Some want to have fun.  Some want to do nothing.  Some want to antagonize their teacher.  In many ways teaching is all about finding that thing they want.  It's about finding that thing that will motivate them.  It's about finding the carrot to dangle.

I really learned this lesson many years ago when I was a young teacher who would do anything for some work experience to get me closer to a real job.  Although most of my training and experience was in the early childhood years, I took a job teaching Language Arts in a summer school program with 8th graders.  I was so very much out of my league, but it didn't take me long to figure out what these kids wanted.  They wanted to pass my class so they could move onto High School.

It was a shock for the boys.  (Yes, it was a group of 8 boys.)  Everyone was taller than I was, and they were certainly tough kids.  They thought all they had to do was show up for the class.  They were quite shocked to find out that they actually had to do work and participate in class!  But I frequently reminded them that they were expected to do the work I gave them, and reluctantly, they did it.  After a while they softened a little and almost started to enjoy themselves. 

The second graders I've had these past few years have been somewhat easier to please.  The thing that works for most of them:  beanie babies!  I have a huge collection of them, and if someone does something well, they get to keep a beanie on their desk for the rest of the day. 

It all started a few years back in a moment of desperation.  I had several beanies around the room as decorations.  The class was restless that day, and I was searching for someone who was doing things right and a way to reward that student.  Finally I found a kid who was focused and working, so I grabbed one of the beanies and plopped it on the student's desk.  That child was so thrilled, that I managed to find a few others who "got the hint" and started to work, so I put beanies on their desks, too.  It was such a hit that I kept it going and it still goes on today.

Sure, the kids want to play with the beanies.  I often remind them, if they play with it, they lose it.  ("It's not a toy, it's a tool to remind you to be good.")  And I have to take them every so often to the laundromat for their "bath".  But it's been a hit.

Who wouldn't want an adorable little beanie on their desk to keep them company?
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