Strategy of the Week

Establishing Hallway Procedures

Establishing Hallway Procedures

It’s one of the most basic school activities—and if executed correctly, it can help students and teachers save instructional time and maintain their focus on learning. Some simple hallway procedures can help a class more easily transition between locations.

There’s no single “correct” hallway procedure, but if the routine is going to be effective and enduring, it must be taught and reinforced just like any other knowledge and skill. A 30-minute lesson plan on hallway procedures is offered by Lewiston Public Schools in Lewiston, Maine.

Watch how these teachers in Texas establish hallway procedures

This week, Edivate highlights a short video featuring elementary classes in Houston, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. As you watch, you’ll notice that while different classes may use different techniques in establishing hallway procedures, the same general principles apply. This video includes a downloadable study guide and written transcript.

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How Furniture Affects A Classroom Learning Environment

Can the Right Furniture Improve Classroom Learning?

Since the 1600s, classroom seating has been static—arranged in rows for the benefit and convenience of the teacher. For many students (particularly those with a lot of energy), sitting still for an extended period isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s punishment.

An active learning classroom solves this problem with dynamic, movement-based seating that promotes concentration, increases student engagement (or participation), and empowers greater learning.

The positive effect is even greater when students are involved in selecting, procuring, and establishing rules for using their active seating.

See an active learning classroom in action

This week’s Edivate video spotlights the first fully active learning classroom in South Carolina. It features a classroom equipped with mobile seating, built-in exercise equipment, and desks of varying heights. Watch the video to see how the teacher furnished and implemented an active learning classroom, as well as the positive effect it’s had on her students. You can also download the study guide for additional insights and links to related resources on classroom management.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.

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Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations

First Things First: Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations

Most educators understand that the first week or two of school will set the stage for the rest of the year. That’s why it’s critical during this early period to give adequate attention to helping students establish classroom routines and expectations.

When children understand the routines and expectations early on, teachers can spend more time teaching and less time focused on managing their classroom.

There are plenty of things to remember when establishing expectations with your class. Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran educator, a comprehensive checklist can be invaluable, such as this one at nea.org [ http://www.nea.org/tools/determine-classroom-procedures-before-school-starts.html].

Three Keys to Setting Expectations

Regardless of what procedures and expectations you have for your new classes, applying three key elements will help your students remember them.

  • State expectations clearly and frequently
  • Have expectations posted in the learning space
  • Classroom expectations should align with school-wide expectations

Doing this will not only result in fewer student infractions, but also empower your students to monitor their own behavior, freeing you up for additional valuable instruction time.

This week’s video on Edivate demonstrates how some teachers in Detroit, Michigan, set expectations for their students at the beginning of the school year. Watch the video, then download the study guide for summaries, reflection questions, and links to additional classroom management resources.

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Three Steps to Teaching Students Active Listening Skills

Three Steps to Teaching Students Active Listening Skills

One of the most important things that students can learn isn’t typically taught in a textbook. Yet it’s a skill that will serve them not just throughout the school year, but for their entire lives.

That skill is listening.

The vital role of listening in learning isn’t just common sense. Even standards-based curricula stress its importance. So how do we go about teaching and promoting listening in the classroom?

Rebecca Alber at Edutopia.com lists five strategies for encouraging students to listen. It’s definitely worth a read.

Three Steps for Actively Listening

Edivate offers an entire classroom series on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which includes a unit on listening skills. In this week’s featured video, we watch educators at Beaumont Unified School District in Beaumont, California, teach their students three basic steps to active listening:

  • Look at the person talking.
  • Wait until he or she is done before they speak.
  • Respond with words or gestures that show they heard what the speaker said.

Watch the video (it’s under three minutes) to see how these teachers are implementing active listening in their classrooms. You can also download the study guide for additional insights and resources for using PBIS in your own classroom.

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Classroom Tech: 3rd Grade Reading Via Video Chat

Classroom Tech: 3rd Grade Reading Via Skype

It seems like every day we hear about the innovative ways teachers are using technology to facilitate classroom learning and collaboration. These practices were beyond the reach of many schools just a few years ago.

In some cases, entire classrooms are sharing and collaborating with other classes around the country using video chat applications such as Skype. This is one aim of STEM education: connecting students with their local and global communities through the use of technology.

Take, for example, Ms. Robin Farnsworth’s 3rd grade class at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City, Utah. Through Skype, Ms. Farnsworth’s students read A Bad Case of the Stripes to another class and then listen as the other class reads their storybook, The Book with No Pictures.

This simple 30-minute activity provides an engaging, meaningful context for the students to practice reading fluency and comprehension. It also addresses two state standards:

  • Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding
  • Use telecommunications to communicate with others

Watch this lesson in action above to see how Ms. Farnsworth facilitates these classroom readings and subsequent discussions. You can also download the lesson guidebook for additional insights, as well as step-by-step instructions for creating this activity in your own classroom.

The guidebook also provides links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.

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How To Give The Ultimate STEM Lesson

What does a truly comprehensive STEM lesson look like?

Cross-curricular activities can increase the relevance and engagement of STEM lessons.

This week’s strategy features students in Ms. Monica Marsing’s 6th grade class tracking food waste in their school cafeteria in order to create solutions for reducing the waste and reusing the rest as compost.

This lesson is exceptionally appropriate because it hits on so many concepts: statistics, problem solving, ecosystems, resource management, and more. In short, the lesson covers every aspect of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

This lesson is also standards based, addressing the following standards:

  • Use ratios to explore and solve real-world problems.
  • Find the mean of a data set, describe overall patterns, and identify deviations from the overall pattern.
  • Analyze and interpret data.

Watch the video to see how Ms. Marsing executes this lesson, then download the lesson guidebook for everything you need to adapt this lesson in your own classroom. The guidebook also links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.

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How to Make Professional Development a Priority

Making the Most of Professional Development Dollars
Podcast: Making the Most of Professional Development Dollars

A school district’s greatest monetary investment is in its people, with teachers and support staff receiving up to 80% of the budget. It would seem common sense to focus a good portion of any additional resources on nurturing and developing these educators. Unfortunately, when budgets are trimmed, professional development is often one of the first expenses to be cut.

According to Robert Avossa, Ed.D., this is one of the worst things a district can do. Dr. Avossa was superintendent of the 96,000-student Fulton County School System, Georgia’s fourth largest school district. Dr. Avossa came to Fulton in June 2011, and in this short time, his leadership has led to unprecedented growth in the district’s graduation rate and an increased focus on college and career readiness.

Dr. Avossa attributes the district’s success in part to a focus on professional development delivered through technology that makes it individualized, flexible, and trackable.

Listen as Dr. Avossa talks about professional development and the steps he’s taken to achieve success at Fulton in this podcast presented by Jackstreet and AASA.

Listen to the Podcast

 

Implementing an Effective Cycle of Continuous Improvement

Implementing an Effective Cycle of Continuous Improvement

Any school district that wants to realize consistent year-over-year improvements in teacher effectiveness (and, indirectly, student achievement) must have a system in place to assess, evaluate, and develop teaching in the classroom. Many schools that have adopted this approach call it a Cycle of Continuous Improvement.

Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, uses the Cycle of Continuous Improvement to help their educators learn how to better serve their students. The cycle includes the following steps:

  1. Analyze baseline data
  2. Observe teaching in the classroom, focusing on one or more objective
  3. Share observations with teachers, discussing:
    • Strengths
    • Areas for improvement
    • Action steps
  4. Share the feedback with instructional coaches so they can help implement the recommendations
  5. Engage teachers with targeted professional learning activities
  6. Observe again to gather data and evaluate level of improvement

Clark County School District has seen great success using the Cycle of Continuous Improvement, and doing so with the help of Edivate, the professional learning resource from School Improvement Network. Watch this week’s video and learn more about how they did it.

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How Mentoring Can Help in Your School

Helping Beginning Teachers to Thrive

When asked why they began teaching, educators often describe the magic of helping students learn, grow, and explore as their reason.  

Then the realities of the classroom hit, and the magic disappears as teachers struggle with discipline issues and other challenging circumstances.

The result? Beginning teachers frequently seek out a “better” school, looking for a classroom that’s closer to their concept of ideal. 

For Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Salem, Oregon, this created problems: both the lost investment in training and development, as well as a sense of transience among students who value consistency and security at school.

But Salem-Keizer was able to reverse this trend, retaining beginning teachers and developing them into the outstanding professionals they aspired to be. In short, they helped these teachers rekindle the magic of teaching.

And they did it with mentors.

Watch the Salem-Keizer story and see how mentoring might help in your own schools

Over a short period of time, Salem-Keizer went from 57% teacher retention to 98% retention. Not only that, but their beginning teachers found that they wanted to stay, even in the district’s most challenging schools.

Karen Spiegel, Mentor Program Coordinator for Salem-Keizer Public Schools, detailed the district’s successful mentoring program at the 2014 School Improvement Innovation Summit in Salt Lake City. In this video segment, Ms. Spiegel shares her expertise on creating a culture where beginning teachers thrive.

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Simple Tips for Engaging with Disruptive Students

Practical Classroom Strategies You Can Use Today

As an instructional leader, you do your best to stay current with the latest pedagogical shifts in order to share them with your faculty. But sometimes what your teachers really want are practical, actionable techniques that simply work.

In this week’s featured video on Edivate, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

The video features Rick Smith, classroom management expert and co-author of the bestselling book, Conscious Classroom Management (now available as a LumiBook).

In the video, Rick explains that when we change our assumptions about “disruptive” children, our new mindset can help us quickly learn to improve our interaction with them and engage with them in meaningful ways.

See simple, research-proven techniques that can influence not only individual students’ behavior but a school’s entire culture.

Among other things, Rick discusses:

  • Using photos to model exemplary classroom behavior
  • Changing volume, tone, and posture to better address classroom disruptions
  • How to engage with—and transform—the students you struggle with most

Watch the video. Learn the techniques.

The 20-minute video is taken from the 2014 School Improvement Innovation Summit, and highlights a few of the techniques found in Rick Smith’s Conscious Classroom Management LumiBook.

This video comes with a downloadable the transcript.

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