Public schools gear up for new standards | standards, victorville, gear – Victorville Daily Press

“This is going to be my restaurant,” the fifth-grader said proudly, without breaking her focus. “All my tables are different shapes.”

Ulloa, who attends Eagle Ranch Elementary in Victorville, created detailed plans for a pizza restaurant, which was just one of many group assignments that she and her peers have been tasked with doing in their GATE class.

According to Eagle Ranch Principal Peter Livingston, the school has started to implement the Common Core State Standards, an instruction method designed to teach students to develop higher-level thinking skills, especially in English, language arts and math. Livingston said that group-work is one of the trademarks of the new Common Core standards.

via Public schools gear up for new standards | standards, victorville, gear – Victorville Daily Press.

Tip for Improving a Professional Teacher Evaluation

Professional evaluations for teachers can produce stress. However, focusing on the criteria for evaluation can alleviate much of that while also aiding professional growth toward becoming a more accomplished teacher. In this article I share a simple tip.

Teacher evaluations can produce stress. However, focusing on the criteria on teacher evaluations forms can alleviate much of that while aiding professional growth toward becoming a more accomplished teacher. In this article I share a simple tip. Throughout the teaching year, good teachers create and innovate daily to produce results in their students. The federal and state governments set goals for us and we strive to meet those goals, and hopefully exceed them. Unfortunately, during the time of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the goal was, and I am being 100% frank here, to have EVERY child in America score proficient on the same standardized test given each year. I never agreed with this goal for education but I have always striven to make it happen. Now that Obama and Arne Duncan are in office, I understand they are out to revise NCLB rules and expectations. That may be a good thing, time will tell. I can say the most trivial of teaching materials made a world of difference in my evaluation: a plastic desktop cover. Continue reading “Tip for Improving a Professional Teacher Evaluation”

Some Things About Teaching That Will Never Change

IMGP2724Common Core is the latest change that has teachers and families scurrying to absorb. Yes, it is the law of the law these days, the trend as well. Still, why get bent out of shape over something that is new and eventually, passing. The core standards of California are gone now, as an example. I internalized them along with teachers in the huge state I live in. We made progress toward goals and then they took the goals away. Any time there is change it causes stress. Technology is another thing that is causing millions of teachers to stress. This can, in turn, reduce the effectiveness of a teacher. Do you want to do that to your students? The reality is, rather than focus on the changing landscape of education, you can keep your feet securely planted. There are some things about teaching that will never change.

avstationAsk yourself, “What do I do with my students throughout the year that always works?” One thing I do is an incentive program using trophies. No matter what Common Core steers us toward, we can go there with recognition and my trophy program in hand. I feel stability in that. I have some examples I use with candy, no I do not give my students candy, that help explain fractions. I will still use those. I teach kids to write through the graphic organizer of a hamburger. It works in a stellar way! I see growth in writing when I use this method. It will most assuredly be compatible with Common Core. Instead of letting fear take over and reduce your effectiveness as a teacher, remember you are still there to light torches. Those kids will not remember the standards framework you used to teach them, they will remember how comfortable you were as you took them through the often uncomfortable process of learning. Don’t focus on the new things coming down the pike for teachers, focus on the things you know that work. I feel confident in saying, those things will never change. Common Core and technology will work better for you when you’re professional, self-assured, and confident.

My One Minute Mystery and Teaching Genre

Most kids learn by seeing and they seem to be crying out “show me” when it comes to the abstract concepts. Today I wrote a quick mystery for my kids.

phone2Teaching elementary students the writing and reading genres can be a real challenge especially when the genre is abstract like “mysteries.” It’s difficult to explain exactly what a mystery is and a good, short example of one can help immeasurably. Most kids learn by seeing and they seem to be crying out “show me” when it comes to the abstract concepts. Today I wrote a quick mystery for my kids. about writing on the bathroom wall. It was by no means intriguing or excellent. The students banded together to figure it out and in the end they reasoned it was a student to blame.

I then showed them the “twist” that it was really a bad substitute teacher who was the culprit. We had a lot of fun playing with the story. I asked tons of questions and in the end they knew what a mystery was. This genre is a California standard. You might see what you can come up with as a 1 minute mystery. Remember that kids of this generation see things on tv more than they read so a visual type of story you can tell them will be worth a lot more than a lecture.

Satisfaction as Merit Pay

There has been a lot of talk about “merit pay” for teachers. I’m not here to debate the idea but I can tell you it has existed for years. I know because I have received it. You might wonder just how much I got. Well, it hasn’t been monetary. I hope this post is a bit more colorful than bragging about incentive money. For me, merit pay comes through watching kids “get it.” Let me elaborate. This is my audio visual desk where I do most of my teaching from. I also use a Mobi to travel around the classroom and control the laptop as well as the LCD projector remotely. These are all great tools but without a lesson plan strategy like EDI and a daily plan of what I plan to teach and assess, the fancy gadgets mean nothing. Continue reading “Satisfaction as Merit Pay”

Back to School Night: Ten Positives

  One tradition of school I really like is Back to School Night. It’s a time for parents to come in and see how the teacher runs things. It’s a time for the families to start a connection with the school and the teacher. With non traditional activities running wild in education, this is one tradition worth keeping. Here are ten positives:

  1. Parents see the classroom as their kids do.
  2. Teachers get to hang out informally with parents and their students’ siblings.
  3. It’s a reminder to teachers that their walls are a gallery to be presented.
  4. Kids get to show their parents their space (desk, table …)
  5. Principals get to address a large set of parents.
  6. Families are made a priority by the school.
  7. Treats.
  8. Extra curricular booths can get exposure.
  9. Teachers get insight into the home life of their students.
  10. Teachers get to address their students’ families.

Steering Kids Back to the Flow – Connecting to Jobs

paycheck-love-logo.jpgDistractions are the enemy of the teacher. Even an innocuous airplane outside of class can unravel all the learning done in one sitting. Kids are generally lured away from the flow of a lesson by distractions large or small. The point to remember is that you need to be able to steer the back into the flow of the lesson. There are several ways to do this and every teacher has to see what fits for their style as well as the needs of their class. Continue reading “Steering Kids Back to the Flow – Connecting to Jobs”

Puppet Communication

Puppet Communication in Upper ElementaryCommunication should be of the utmost importance to a teacher. She/he should consider all tools at her/his disposal to get the point across to kids. All the planning and research in the world can’t be used unless the teacher knows how to communicate it to students. Direct communication like speaking to a class or one-to-one has it’s place of course as probably the most important and effective mode of transporting knowledge from teacher to student. Still, indirect or implicit communication can have a stronger impact in select situations. For example, when teaching social rules of the classroom, a skit or puppet show may be more effective than a lecture. The stuents can see themselves and their peers in the puppet and not feel self-conscious or defensive about the content. Sometimes, even having the kids make brown bag puppets or other type and then allowing them to speak through the puppet.

Continue reading “Puppet Communication”