March 21, 2018

MATH

Focus Headline of the Week:  Everyone is a math person! 

Perseverance in Math!

Best Practice of the Week – Building Mathematical Stamina

“It’s a lot like running a marathon. The runners who make it to the finish line are the ones who persist in showing up for practices and trainings, learn to anticipate slumps and pace themselves, engage in positive self-talk during tough times, take steps to effectively prevent and treat injuries, and adjust expectations to fit reality – even if “finishing” means having to crawl the last mile.

Like a runner who has not trained to run longer distances, learners can’t persist in their learning if they haven’t developed the stamina they need to keep going when things get tough. Teaching persistence depends on first developing student stamina as a way of conditioning learners to handle sustained effort.”  – Scientific Learning

How to Teach Persistence

Jan 14, 2014 by Norene Wiesen

One of our main goals as educators should be teaching students persistence in the classroom, since it’s an important part of setting up learners to succeed. Students who have mastered persistence are able to work through challenges, deal constructively with failures and adversity, and achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

It’s a lot like running a marathon. The runners who make it to the finish line are the ones who persist in showing up for practices and trainings, learn to anticipate slumps and pace themselves, engage in positive self-talk during tough times, take steps to effectively prevent and treat injuries, and adjust expectations to fit reality – even if “finishing” means having to crawl the last mile.

Like a runner who has not trained to run longer distances, learners can’t persist in their learning if they haven’t developed the stamina they need to keep going when things get tough. Teaching persistence depends on first developing student stamina as a way of conditioning learners to handle sustained effort.

To help learners build stamina and persistence, it’s important to create the right learning environment:

Help Learners Develop a Growth Mindset

Learners need to know that they have the ability to grow and change, and that effort is the key. Praise them when they focus their efforts toward specific, clearly defined goals. When you say things like, “Those extra 10 minutes of reading each day are paying off – you are decoding unfamiliar words much more easily now,” you help learners make the connection between effort and achievement. The goal is for learners to become intrinsically motivated to engage in effortful learning now and in the future.

Push a Little Bit – and Know When Enough is Enough

Sometimes learners just need a little bit of encouragement to get past a hurdle. A few supportive words, like, “Think of how good you will feel when you finish those last two addition problems and you know you did the whole worksheet all by yourself!” can make all the difference. On the other hand, a learner may need to know that it’s okay to take a break and come back to a particular task when he’s feeling less frustrated. In that case, it’s important that the learner really does come back and complete the work to get the experience that he truly can “do more” when he persists.

Model Persistence

Most learners love to hear personal stories from their teachers. Telling your learners about your weekend plumbing project that didn’t go as planned – and how you got through it and completed it – is a great way to help learners see that everyone feels like giving up sometimes. It also models for them how to overcome those feelings and reach a goal – without coming off as preachy.

Teach Positive Self-Talk

Some learners need a lot of help knowing what to say to themselves to stay motivated. If a learner’s typical internal dialogue consists of statements like, “This is too hard,” or “I don’t know how to do this,” it may come as a revelation to discover that there are other options. Giving learners specific wording, like, “I know I can do this if I keep at it,” or, “If I’m really stuck I can ask a friend or my teacher for help,” can begin to change the way they think and act when faced with a challenge.

Expect More

Let learners know that you have high expectations and that you have confidence that each and every one of them can meet those expectations. Be sure they have access to the tools they need to be successful, and that they know how to use them.

Make the Most of Technology

Online tools like the Fast ForWord program can help learners make the connection between effort and achievement. The Fast ForWord program gradually builds learner stamina for enduring increasing degrees of cognitive load. The exercises develop reading and language skills at the same time as they boost memory, attention, processing, and sequencing ability. It gives learners immediate feedback on their performance and automatically adjusts the difficulty level for just the right degree of challenge. Fun reward animations help learners see when they have achieved a goal to help them stay motivated.

Call Out the Brain

It’s never too early – or too late – to teach your students about how the brain learns. Introduce the concept of brain plasticity– the idea that the brain changes in response to how it’s used – as a way of reinforcing the idea that learning is achieved through focused, sustained effort. Help them understand that every brain is capable of making dramatic changes and leaps in learning.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Students learn persistence in the same way that they learn sight words or multiplication tables – through repetition. Strategies like modeling persistence, connecting effort to achievement, and pushing students to do a little more than they think they can aren’t a one-time deal. But when repeated over time, the cumulative effect will likely be increased stamina, improved persistence, and intrinsic motivation for ever greater learning.

 

ELA

Focus Headline of the Week:  We must collect and use daily data to drive our coaching and use of time.

Being Responsive to Student Data!

Best Practice of the Week – How can you spiral in skills students need without cutting into instruction?

 

Sight Word of the Day: Post a sight word outside your door. Each morning, or in between transitions, ask students to read the word before entering the classroom.*

*This can also be modified to be an inference of the day. Post a riddle and ask students to solve it before entering!

Character Trait Charades: Forgo the dance party brain break. Instead place a slips of paper with an individual character trait into a cup or bowl. Have students pull out a word and act out the trait for the class. This not only builds student vocabulary, but helps them to get more nuanced in their understandings of characters.*

*This can be utilized with character feelings as well!

Lunch Ticket: On your way to lunch hold up a word with a prefix or suffix. Students have the walk to lunch to think of a definition of the word. Call on one student to define the word for the group. If they can do it correctly that student gets to skip the line and head to the front! This gives students quick practice with morphological roots.*

*This can also be modified to help support and review parts of speech (“Is this a noun? verb? How do you know?”)

 

Resources of the Week – Check out these teacher texts to give you ideas, resources, and strategies to support your students’ reading needs!

 

Writers Workshop:

The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

“You can think of the goals as the what, “writes Jen, “and the strategies as the how.” From composing with pictures all the way to conventions and beyond, you’ll have just-right teaching, just in time. With Jen’s help you’ll develop the ability to give students step-by-step strategies for writing with skill and craft and coach writers using prompts aligned to a strategy. She even offers suggestions for stocking your writing center, planning units of study, celebrating student writing, and keeping records.

 

Word Study:

Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys by Isabel L. Beck and Mark E. Beck

This bestselling book provides indispensable tools and strategies for explicit, systematic phonics instruction in K-3. Teachers learn effective ways to build students’ decoding skills by teaching letter-sound relationships, blending, word building, multisyllabic decoding, fluency, and more. The volume is packed with engaging classroom activities, many specific examples, and research-based explanations. More than 30 reproducible forms and word lists are included in the appendices.

 

Reader’s Workshop:

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.