Classroom Meetings Eight Building Blocks for Success

Classroom Meetings Eight Building Blocks for Success

Classroom meetings have been around for a long time—as you can tell by this video above!

So the question is: how relevant are they in today’s schools?

Educational approaches come and go, especially those associated with the “traditional” model. Which strategies stand both the test of time and the shift from schooling in an industrial-based to a knowledge-based economy?

As more teachers and schools create increasingly personalized, learner-centered environments, the need for student self-management and responsibility increases. Can a classroom democratized by choice and voice regarding curriculum, pacing, and even workspaces be governed by a teacher-centric approach?

Classroom meetings may well be more relevant today than when this video was filmed. (Anyone want to try guessing the year?)

Apart from its entertainment value and throwback to 4:3 aspect ratio, the video outlines eight “building blocks” of effective class meetings. If you’ve never done a class meeting before, the end of the school year might be the perfect opportunity to take half an hour and give one a try. More information can be found in the guidebook to this segment.

Teach us: What old-school, tried-and-true learning do you stand by? Let us know by commenting.

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Learning Through Music, Rhythm, Rhyme, & Rap

Learning Through Music, Rhythm, Rhyme, & Rap

This week’s strategy wraps up Music In Our Schools month! For our final thoughts, we are featuring strategies outlined by Marcia Tate in her book, Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites: 20 Instructional Strategies That Engage the Brain. Her 11th strategy focuses on using music, rhythm, rhyme, and rap strategically in the classroom to promote student engagement and learning.

Tune in to Edivate’s exclusive video featuring Ms. Tate discussing principles for using music strategically below.

Teaching in Action

This video segment, Music, Rhythm, Rhyme, and Rap, features Marcia Tate as she describes strategies for using music to meaningfully engage students in the classroom.

Purchase Marcia Tate’s book with over 300 classroom activities exclusively through Edivate, here.

These resources are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources available only on Edivate.

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What’s A Flipped Classroom—And Is It Right For Your Students?

Trending Now: Flipped Classrooms

There’s a buzzword that’s been popping up in educational discussions throughout the past few years—“flipped classroom.” What is it? Is it worth all of the attention it’s received, or is it just another trend soon to be replaced by more forward thinking concepts?

According to David Curlette, a math teacher at Dulth High School in Duluth, Georgia, his flipped classroom has resulted in accelerated learning and increased student interest.

“The first time I built a flipped classroom was about three years ago in my Trigonometry class,” says Curlette. “And the students were immediately addicted…So just that drive from the students showed me, ‘Hey, this is something that’s going to work and it’s something the students want.’”

What’s a flipped classroom?

A flipped classroom is essentially a class in which the students learn new material outside of class. Then, having learned the material, they bring that knowledge into class to discuss it, analyze it, and engage in hands-on application.

The material is provided in either written or video format, and the students can absorb the lessons at their own pace. In the case of Mr. Curlette, creating videos for his students has proven to be particularly effective.

“I build my videos on the SMART Board,” says Curlette. “I hit a record button, and as I write, it will record my voice at the same time as writing. I’ll save those and post them on YouTube and then I embed them to my website [].”

Mr. Curlette then reinforces that knowledge through classroom activities.

What makes a flipped classroom successful?

According to Cynthia J. Brame, Assistant Director at the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University, there are four key elements to a successful flipped classroom model.

  1. Provide an opportunity for students to gain first exposure prior to class.
  2. Provide an incentive for students to prepare for class.
  3. Provide a mechanism to assess student understanding.
  4. Provide in-class activities that focus on higher level cognitive activities.

Get more detail about these elements of flipped classroom success at the Center for Teaching.

See the Flipped Classroom in action

This week’s content on Edivate features a video in which David Curlette demonstrates his flipped classroom model. The content also includes a downloadable guidebook that provides additional insights into using tech in the classroom and links to further resources about implementing a flipped classroom in your own school.

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Third Grade Math Lesson: Learning About the Attributes of Shapes

Third Grade Math Lesson: Learning About the Attributes of Shapes

Here’s a simple math lesson for third graders. When the lesson is complete, your students should understand that shapes have different and shared attributes, including number of sides and number of angles—a requirement of a standards-focused curriculum.

Shape Attributes Lesson in Five Steps

  1. Begin with a class discussion to review shape attributes (size, shape, number of sides, and number of angles).
  2. Divide your class into groups of three or four and give each group a set of shapes with varying sides and angles. Ask each group to select an attribute (shape, number of sides, or number of angles) and sort the shapes according to that attribute. (All shapes with three sides go in this pile; all shapes with four go in that pile, etc.)
  3. Once students have sorted all of their shapes, allow each group to present and explain their work to the class.
  4. Reassemble the class. Invite the students to watch as you sort a set of shapes and guess what attribute you are using to separate and sort the shapes. This activity can be repeated.
  5. Introduce/review vocabulary terms for the next geometry lesson (triangle, square, rectangle, pentagon, hexagon, etc.).

At the end of this lesson, you can assess your students’ understanding by having them complete an exit ticket at the end of class. To complete the ticket, they will select and circle one quadrilateral from a variety of shapes. Then they must give the name of the quadrilateral and explain how it differs from the other quadrilaterals on the exit ticket. Learn more about exit tickets here.

See the Lesson in Action

You can watch this lesson on Edivate to see students in Ms. Lisa Mahanna’s 3rd grade class at Marc Kahre Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, learn about the attributes of shapes. You’ll see how Ms. Mahanna directs her students to sort shapes according to one attribute.

This content also includes a more detailed lesson plan as well as links to additional lesson resources.

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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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Helping Students with Autism Pair Learning with Positive Reinforcement

Helping  students with autism pair learning with positive reinforcement

It can be a source of seemingly endless frustration when a child with autism reacts negatively to their teachers and teaching environments. When a child associates learning with unenjoyable, tedious, or unpleasant activities, the simple presence of a teacher or learning materials can lead to difficult behavior. Conversely, children with autism who pair teaching and learning with fun, preferred activities come to understand that learning and being around others can be rewarding and valuable.

In this video, the first of a 3-part series, you will discover:

  • Why many children with autism dislike teachers and teaching environments.
  • ​Three benefits of pairing yourself with positive reinforcement.
  • ​The steps involved in becoming a conditioned reinforcer.

See the lesson in action

Watch this video segment above and listen to Thomas M. Caffrey, M.Ed., BCBA, as he shares examples of children with autism—both those who react negatively to their teacher and environment, and those who enjoy the interaction and see value in the learning experience.

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The Six-Step Formula for Making Successful Changes to Your Classroom

The Six-Step Formula for Making Successful Changes to Your Classroom

Many teachers feel that if they don’t start the school year with a clearly defined approach to classroom management, they’re doomed for the rest of the year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any time you want or need to make changes to your classroom management plan, you can (and probably should). One of the best times of the year to implement these changes is at the beginning of the New Year when students get back from the holiday break.

However, making mid-year changes to your classroom system can present a few challenges that you should be aware of. To begin with, it may take longer than expected to know if the changes are working. Previous procedures or policies have to be unlearned and replaced by new ones. Also, when you introduce a change to your class, you may experience a lull after the first couple days as the newness of the change starts to wear off and student resistance begins to increase. In fact, the point at which a new classroom management system is most likely to create chaos is typically three to four days after implementation.

To be safe, you should give any significant policy changes two weeks of trial before deciding whether they are working. Over that time period, be sure to consistently reinforce new policies or procedures. Remember, it will take time for you to adjust to change and even more time for your students to make the shift.

The following formula, taken from Rick Smith’s second edition of Conscious Classroom Management, outlines six best practices that can help any change go more smoothly and be more effective.

  1. Make a list of changes that you want to see, put them in order of priority, and number each.
  2. Make sure that number one is doable. If it’s too complicated, break it up into smaller steps and assign each a number.
  3. Start implementing your list, always working on the highest priority items first.
  4. Begin with your favorite class (for secondary teachers) or your favorite hour of the day (for elementary teachers). These represent the class that’s most forgiving or the time of day when students are most calm and relaxed.
  5. After the change starts working, introduce it to the rest of your classes or the rest of the day.
  6. Once the change is solid in all classes or throughout the day, start the process over with the next number in your prioritized list.

The secret to this approach lies in its focus. Teachers are so busy that making wholesale changes can seem overwhelming or intimidating. Instead, implement change one step at a time. Remember that you are like a scientist and your classroom is like a miniature lab. By starting small, you have more control over the experiment and are more likely to follow through and have success.

If you’re looking for an excellent resource on classroom management ideas and best practices, check out Rick Smith’s new edition of Conscious Classroom Management by clicking here.

Establishing Expectations in an Elementary School Classroom

An effective classroom management plan includes setting high expectations for students. When students learn clear and simple expectations, they can feel confident that their actions are setting them on the path for success.

Here are three essential elements for establishing expectations:

  • State expectations clearly and frequently
  • Post expectations prominently
  • Align classroom expectations with school-wide expectations

Benefits include:

  • Fewer student infractions
  • Empowerment and accountability for students to monitor their own behavior

You can watch a video on Edivate (formerly known as PD 360) to see more about establishing expectations from the first day of school. This video also comes with additional resources that show how to establish classroom procedures and expectations.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.

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Four Strategies to Support Student-Centered Learning


Student-centered learning looks different in every school, because individual students have individual learning needs. At the Manchester School of Technology (MST) in Manchester, New Hampshire, educators are focusing on students by supporting competency-based learning.

The Manchester School of Technology’s competency-based learning model embeds rigorous academic standards into career and technical education courses, allowing students to demonstrate knowledge in a way that means something to them.

Stephen Koziatek, design communication instructor at MST, gives four important student-centered learning strategies for educators to remember:

  • Provide meaningful learning opportunities for students
  • Allow students to explore
  • Help students to think beyond a textbook
  • Allow students to develop a positive outlook on themselves that they’re capable of

Learn more about student-centered learning strategies at Manchester Schools of Technology by viewing video segments in the Student-Centered Learning program on PD 360.

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Personalization and Pathways for Student Success


The second of six drivers of student success highlighted in the LumiBook, Global Education Study: Six Drivers of Student Success is “personalization and pathways for student success.”

High-performing school systems expect all students to achieve; there is not a significant academic achievement gap. This success stems from developing coherent and accessible pathways for all students.

High-performing school systems establish academically and vocationally connected pathways beginning in the early learning years that include:

  1. A focus on the well-being of individual children that provides for childcare, health care, and preschool
  2. An accessible transition gateway from elementary to secondary to postsecondary education
  3. Core competencies and educational programs relevant to students’ personal and career interests that meet the needs of the overall economy

All essential components within and between the pathways are aligned with one another and provide feedback to all stakeholders throughout the system.

Learn more about the LumiBook, Global Education Study: Six Drivers of Student Success when you log in to PD 360 and search within your LumiBook bookshelf (if you have a PD 360 license, you automatically receive this LumiBook). If you don’t have a PD 360 license, click here to sign up for your free copy of the LumiBook.

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Teaching with Math Tasks: Systems of Equations


“There’s a lot of research that tells us that if you start with a mathematical task first, then students develop conceptual understanding before they start using the set procedures,” explains David Smith, Elementary Mathematics Specialist for the Utah State Office of Education.

Carrie Bala, a math teacher from Wasatch High School in Heber, Utah, uses math tasks to guide her students in creating and solving a system of equations to determine movie ticket prices. The lesson begins by giving the students a table to work from that includes the following data:

  • The number of children that came to a theater
  • The number of adults that came to a theater
  • The total money that was generated at the cash register at the movie theater
  • A date range of seven days

The objective of the lesson is for the students to practice the skills they already have solving systems and for them to try and prove that regardless of the system, by using the properties of equality, the solution won’t change.

Learn more about building student-centered learning communities by viewing video segments in the Teaching with Math Tasks program on PD 360.

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