Sunday, March 30, 2014

How full is your bucket? ... (58)

Chapter 1: Negativity kills

- How do you respond to negativity?  What strategies do you employ to keep negativity out of your life?

- Do you ever find yourself being overly negative?  Do people view you as a positive or negative influence?      

Chapter 2: Positivity, negativity, productivity

- “It’s true that most of our negative experiences will not kill us, yet they can slowly but surely erode our well-being and productivity.” Pg. 15

- How often do you receive recognition and praise?  How did you feel afterward?  Do you deserve recognition and praise for doing your job?

- How do we prevent overly negative people from spreading their negativity?  

- “It is possible for just one or two people to poison an entire workplace.” Pg. 25 - Do you believe this?  As a member of an organization, do you feel comfortable giving one or two people that much power?  

Chapter 3: Every moment matters

- Remember a time when you got good news, praise, or recognition that filled your bucket…how long did it take before a negative person emptied your bucket?   

- As educators, do we focus on the strengths or weaknesses of our students?  Do you agree with Rath’s belief that we should concentrate on what people do well, rather than what they do not do well?

- “Positivity must be grounded in reality.” Pg. 45 - Is it possible to give too much praise?  Do we ever give insincere/artificial praise?  Is there a difference between insincere/artificial praise… and lying to avoid confrontation or hurting one’s feelings?

Chapter 4: Tom’s story: An overflowing bucket?

- Is being born a negative person a valid excuse when emptying the buckets of others?  If our natural disposition is to be negative, can we change?

- “I was able to strive for greatness in my area of natural talent.” Pg. 55 - Do we help our students find situations and circumstances where we know they will be successful and excel?

- Do the people you spend a majority of your time with help to fill your bucket?  

Chapter 5: Making it personal

- “Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific, and deserved.” Pg. 62 - How can we make sure we provide individualized, specific, and deserved recognition for all of our students?

- “The recognition & praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.” Pg. 66

- How would Rath respond to a teacher of the month award?  Are these awards effectively recognizing and praising teachers in an individualized, specific, and deserving manner?

“You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people to get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

Chapter 6: Five strategies for increasing positive emotions

1. Prevent bucket dipping: Ask yourself…am I adding to or taking from the bucket?   

2. Shine a light on what is right: Do you concentrate on success or failure (strengths or weaknesses)?

3. Make best friends: Friends help add to and build up your bucket.

4. Give unexpectedly: Small unexpected bucket fillers can have a huge impact.

5. Reverse the golden rule: Put the needs of others before yours…take care of their bucket, and they will take care of yours.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

10 thoughts on grading and assessment... (57)

1). 'Teachers don't need grades or reporting forms to teach well. Further, students don't need them to learn.' via @tguskey

2). 'If you trust the validity and accuracy of your test/assessment, then you shouldn't have any problem with redos for full credit.' via @rickwormeli

3). 'Don't leave students out of the grading process. Involve students - they can - and should - play key roles in assessment and grading that promote achievement.' via @kenoc7
4). 'Nothing of consequence would be lost by getting rid of timed tests. Few tasks in life - and very few tasks in scholarship - actually depend on being able to read passages or solve math problems rapidly.' via @howard_gardner_

5). No studies support the use of low grades or marks as punishments. Instead of prompting greater effort, low grades more often cause students to withdraw from learning.' via @tguskey

6). 'A kid who says school sucks and just give me an 'F' does not have the necessary maturity level to be in charge of making his/her own educational decisions.' via @rickwormeli

7). 'Averaging falls far short of providing an accurate description of what students have learned. . . . If the purpose of grading and reporting is to provide an accurate description of what students have learned, then averaging must be considered inadequate and inappropriate.' via @tguskey

8). 'When we refuse to accept an assignment late and give a zero instead, we undermine our content and say it has no value.' via @rickwormeli

9). 'Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment; use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real level of achievement or use 'I' for Incomplete or Insufficient evidence.' via @kenoc7

10). 'If a kid never does any of the work you assign but does wonderfully well on your assessments, then it's time to evaluate the work you assign and the types of assessments you use.' via @rickwormeli

Monday, March 17, 2014

10 questions to ask yourself before giving an assessment... (56)

1). What's the point and purpose of the assessment?
2). Is this a preventative check-up (formative) type assessment or an autopsy (summative) type assessment?
3). Did your students have any voice and input into the assessment design and/or assessment process?
4). Are you able to assess more than one learning objective/goal with this assessment or is the assessment isolated to one specific learning objective/goal?
5). Is the assessment aligned to what you are currently teaching in a format similar to the way you've been conducting your instruction?
6). Will you provide multiple assessment formats for students to demonstrate their mastery/skills in a way of their choosing or will there be just one format? 
7). Does the assessment have a learning component to it that supplements the current learning objectives and goals?
8). Does the assessment allow for students to self-assess and track their overall understanding of the content/skills?
9). Are there a wide-range of questions at varying degrees of difficulty? What is the ratio of level 1 basic recall questions to level 4 higher order thinking questions?
10). Will you allow redos of this assessment? If not, please refer back to your answers in questions 1 and 2. Does this affect your decision not to allow redos?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ensuring the Union R-XI education stands out... (55)

Take one of your learning objectives and/or goals and ask your students to align it with a real-world problem or concern. Allow and encourage your students to take something they know about and care about in the world, and provide them the opportunity to help make it better. Give learning context and relevance...

Speaking of relevance... who determines in your classroom what is 'relevant?' Each student in your class has a unique and different set of life experiences, so how are we recognizing and honoring their interests. Also, as these interests change, what's relevant also changes...
If we are limiting learning to just the four walls of a classroom, then that is equivalent to buying a Lamborghini and saying you are only going to drive it in your driveway... #globalconnectedness

If we eliminated the traditional titles of 'student' and 'teacher' and replaced both with 'learner,' how would the atmosphere and culture in your classroom change?

Fast forward 5 years down the line... imagine if your former students were asked about their experience in your class. If they were asked what is one thing they did in your class that positively impacted and positively affected the world, would they have something to say?

How often are kids in your class given the opportunity to develop and work on strong and thoughtful questions. In other words, what is the ratio in your class of kids answering questions vs. kids asking questions leading to answers? The best answers come from the best questions...

Speaking of ratio... what is the ratio of consumption vs. creation in your class? How much do your students consume vs. how much do they create...?

Lastly, what makes the learning experience in your classroom standout? What makes the learning culture in your classroom unique and personalized to the needs of your students? What makes a Union R-XI graduate stand out from other HS graduates?

What is the Union R-XI difference...?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The 5 pillars of reading instruction... (54)

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”   Victor Hugo

1. Phonemic Awareness:

Definition: The ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words.
Current research indicates phonemic awareness is the strongest predictor of reading success, even at the high school level. Training in phoneme identification, manipulation, and substitution is essential for early grades and is indispensable in deterring dyslexic tendencies. The basic fundamentals employed can easily be applied to older students.
Phonemic awareness, not intelligence, best predicts reading success.

2. Phonics:

Definition: Instruction in the ability to draw relationships between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language. This teaches students to use these relationships to read and write words.

3. Fluency:

Definition: Instruction in the ability to read text accurately and quickly, either silently or orally.
Neuroscientists are learning more about how fluency is developed. Fluent reading is established after the individual reads the word at least four times, using accurate phonologic processing (slow, accurate sounding out). Fluency is built word by word and entirely dependent on repeated, accurate, sounding out of the specific word. Fluency is not established by "memorizing" what words look like but rather by developing correct neural-phonologic models of the word. We now know fluency is not the apparent visual recognition of an entire word but rather the retrieval of the exact neural model created by proper repeated phonologic processing.

4. Vocabulary:

Definition: Instruction in the words necessary for effective communication.
A knowledge of word meaning helps with decoding and also improves reading comprehension.

5. Comprehension:

Definition: Instruction in the ability to understand, to remember, and to communicate meaning from what is read.
Comprehension is accomplished only when the student has moved past the word level and has a strong vocabulary. If decoding is not an automatic process, comprehension will suffer 
Reading isn't always loved by all students, so try giving them choice in what they read. When kids are interested in what they read, they might just be excited about reading rather than resenting having to read something they aren't interested in...

Remember, just because it's your favorite book, doesn't make it their favorite book...

Also, how are we promoting reading in our schools? What if we had a sign outside our door with the last book we read, as well as the current book we are reading. What message does that send to our students?