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    The 5 Critical Categories of Rules

    In the responses to several of my previous posts, many comments focused on the debate of whether children need rules, or whether children are better off with free choice and have the ability to make correct decisions when free to do so. Summerhill by A.S. Neill is offered as a shining example of that school of thought. In a 1999 New York Times article “Summerhill Revisited,” Alan Riding posited why the results of Summerhill were not as glowing as A.S. Neill described in his landmark book.
    Choices and Limits
    I fully agree that children need choices, a lot more than they get now in their school experience. Children also need limits to frame their choices. In fact choices without limits and limits without choices are both doomed to denying children the opportunity of learning how to act responsibly. The extreme of each position is this:
    •Limits without choices: “Do what I say or else.”
    •Choices without limits: “Do whatever you want.”

    Neither of these options works in school, but when we combine the two, we have a symbiotic relationship that is designed to teach responsibility: “You cannot hit. But you can express anger. Here are three ways you can do it. Maybe you can add more.”
    Limits are Rules
    In school, we express limits as rules. A good rule is behavioral, clear and always enforced when broken. “Be respectful,” for example, is a terrible rule because it is a value, not a behavior. It is important to teach students to show respect, but it’s far too broad to enforce. It covers everything. “Raise your hand before you speak” is also not a good rule because it cannot always be enforced. Sometimes asking students to raise their hands is a bad idea. Hand raising works better as an expectation than as a rule.
    Regardless of whether a school is open and free or traditional, limits or rules are necessary to teach students responsibility. I have identified five areas that I call critical categories which are useful when deciding what rules you need. Because rules work best when students have a say in their selection, I prefer teaching students what these critical categories mean, and developing rules together.

    The categories are meant to be guidelines, not absolutes. Each category has its own focus. They add to the clarity of thought when considering the issues facing your school. Some issues, like those related to safety, cross categories between procedures (what to do if there is an intruder in the school) and social (keep your hands and feet to yourself). Worry less about trying to decide which is the best category for a rule and more about examining each category to see if it gives you ideas for making rules.

    Critical Categories
    1.Academic: These rules and expectations are related to learning, such as doing homework, class participation, cheating and interrupting others.
    Examples: •Do your own work.
    •Hand in all work on time.
    2.Social: These rules and expectations involve interactive issues such as fighting, put-downs, insubordination and the misuse of technology-related devices.
    Examples: •Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
    •Touch other students’ property only with permission.
    •Shut off all smart phones in class.
    3.Procedural: These rules and expectations are more important with younger children, but they apply to all. They include being on time, lining up, getting notes from and to home when necessary, dress codes (if your school has them) and behavior in common areas like the corridors, lunchroom and library. They also include safety procedures to inform students what to do when there is a dangerous situation in school.
    Examples: •Put your supplies away when you finish using them.
    •When you hear me warn you, go immediately into the safe area.

    4.Cultural: These rules and expectations are about the way we treat minority groups based on religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.
    Examples: •Do not offer food to a student who is fasting.
    •Do not insult another student’s religious clothing.
    5.Personal: These are rules and expectations that students create for themselves to help them be better students and to improve the way they treat others.
    Examples: •I will let others finish saying something before speaking myself.
    •I will do my homework without texting until it is finished.
    Personal rules can be divided into two groups: those that students share publically and those that are kept confidential. Teachers can use journals, sharing circles or the “Friday report activity” when students share with the class the progress they made in following one of their personal rules.
    All societies, whether free or not, need limits to protect the rights of the individuals who comprise that society. Schools, by the nature of their organization, goals and structure, require a different set of limits to be successful. The critical categories provide insight on the type of rules that are best for school environments.

    Reference:
    http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-critical-categories-of-rules-richard-curwin

    Dr. Richard Curwin’s Blog

     

    Categories: Uncategorized

    Asking Questions When Reading

    Grade Levels: 4 – 8
    Lesson Summary
    Generating questions plays a key role in the process of learning how to read, and then again in learning how to read better. There are so many question that students may have about the text that they encounter – questions about the author’s style or purpose, questions about new vocabulary, questions about what might happen, etc. Students need to first begin to feel comfortable asking questions, then learn to ask the vital questions that will direct their focus and clear up confusion.

    In this lesson, the teacher will read The Wall by Eve Bunting with the purpose of focusing on asking important questions. The students and the teacher will then categorize the questions according to the criteria for each.

    Materials
    When you read the story ahead of time, write any questions that pop into your head on post-it notes and have them available. Provide large pieces of paper and post-its for students, and locate enough copies of the book The Wall for partners. Provide a piece of paper for each group of four students.
    Prepare a piece of chart paper titled QUESTIONS with different columns of categories:
    Questions that are answered in the text
    Questions that I have to make an inference to answer
    Questions that are not important to understanding the story
    Questions that require research to answer
    Questions about the author’s style
    Questions that clear up confusion

    Objectives:
    Students will ask questions before, during, and after reading. Students will categorize important vs. interesting questions with a focus on important questions.
    Procedure
    1.Explain that good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to help them understand a story better. “Today, we’re going to focus on asking questions.”
    2.Present the book The Wall to the students and say, “I will read the title, and the back cover and look at the illustrations and think of as many questions as I can. These are the questions that I have before reading.” Read your prepared post-it notes to the students.
    3.Read the story to the children and think aloud, asking questions while reading. Stress that these are the questions you have during reading. Read your prepared post-it notes to the students.
    4.When you have finished reading the story, ask questions that pop into your head and stress that these are the questions that you have after reading. Read your prepared post-it notes to the students.

    5.Take your questions on post-its, think aloud, and categorize them in the appropriate column according to the type of question that you asked.
    6.The students partner-read and use post-its on pages where they have a question. Have partners narrow their questions down to two questions.
    7.Then have the partners share their questions with another paired group.
    8.The groups of four students choose one of their questions and write it on a larger piece of paper.
    9.Gather all students and have them share their questions.
    10.With help from the class, have students categorize their questions.
    11.Discuss the questions that are important vs. interesting, and have students focus on the important questions.

    http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/2007269/

    Categories: Uncategorized

    Using Scratch in the Classroom: Five Ideas

    Are your students interested in the “Maker Movement,” a growing community of DIY tech enthusiasts who are applying creative skills to create everything from robots to printers using free software and Web-based tools?
    MIT’s Scratch lets junior programmers and aspiring “makers” ages eight and up create video animations, games, interactive stories, digital instruments and more. Instead of requiring technical coding, the free Scratch tool uses color-coded bars that are placed in an interlocking command sequence. Currently, Scratch is available for Mac, Windows and Linux via the Scratch Web site.
    Scratch is great for all student levels, both beginner and advanced. Keep in mind, however, that the tool is best used by educators who have at least a basic programming background. This is especially true when fielding student questions or helping those who are struggling with project execution.
    The five fun classroom activities below are perfect for any tech-savvy teacher who’d like to encourage students to apply programming skills.
    Determine the story’s ending.
    Most younger students adore choose-your-own-adventure books. This activity brings that concept to the computer screen. Have students outline, write, design and animate their own adventures with multiple outcomes. They can even craft a game in which outcomes depend on positive character and good decision-making.

    http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/scratch-programming-classroom-activity-ideas.shtml

    Categories: Uncategorized

    Explore and Share Your Creative and Innovative Traits in the Classroom

    Dr.Emad Oddtallah (AdvancED Global Conference 2014)
    Do creativity and innovation have a place in the curriculum?
    A balanced-curriculum might be considered to include:
    – Communication / literacy in the mother tongue – Communication / literacy in the language of instruction of the school
    – Communication / literacy in foreign languages
    – The development of Mathematical, Science and Technology competences
    – Social, cultural and civic awareness and expression.
    – Developing an informed sense of self in place and time starts with local.
    – Developing global awareness.
    – Creative, artistic, enterprise
    – Physical education and sport Balance of activities as well as other subjects…

     
    What is it that we can use in our classrooms to enhance teaching and learning?
    Creativity is possible in every discipline and should be promoted throughout the whole of education [Ken Robinson, 2011]. Learning to learn [including digital / information literacy] should be infused in all disciplines not a separate course Curriculum Coherence: The whole should be more than the sum of its parts.
    Visible Learning: Excellence in Education: When teachers see learning through the eyes of the student. When students see themselves as their own teachers.
    Teachers are among the most powerful influences in learning. Active and guided instruction is much more effective than unguided and facilitative instruction. Teachers need to:
    – be directive, influential, caring and actively engaged in the passion of teaching and learning
    – construct meaningful experiences in the light of what each student is thinking.
    – have proficient knowledge and understanding of their subject to provide meaningful and appropriate feedback
    – know the learning intention and success criteria of each lesson and how well they are attaining these and where to go next
    – teach for transfer…relating and extending ideas
    – create a learning environment where error is welcomed as a learning opportunity
    “The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” Seymour Papert.
    A word from the Minister for Education, Singapore: “Ultimately, education is not what we do to our children. Rather, it is what we do with them, and for them, to bring out the best in each of them, so that they grow up to embrace the best of the human spirit – to strive to be better, to build deeper wells of character, and to contribute to society.” (Mr Heng Swee Keat, Ministry of Education Work Plan Seminar, September 2013.
    21st Century skills

     
    Ways of thinking
    1. Creativity & innovation
    2. Critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making
    3. Learning to learn, metacognition

     
    Ways of working
    4. Communication
    5. Collaboration (teamwork)

     
    Tools for working
    6. Information literacy
    7. ICT literacy

     
    Living in the world

    8. Citizenship – local & global
    9. Life & career
    10. Personal & social responsibility

     
    Motivated Teachers:
    – Motivated teachers know the skills on the future and prepare students to become long life learners.
    – Motivated teachers think about their responsibility to encourage learning and do what they can to make sure that happens. They don’t think that learning is only about remembering rules, or answering questions correctly, or filling in the gaps, or getting a good mark in the test. They understand that a strong motivational flow in their classroom produces results.
    – Motivated teachers integrate, align and connect to real life situations.
    – Motivated teachers are keen to learn & develop and they want other teachers to feel the same way because it’s good when teachers are learning and developing. They enjoy what they do and don’t see it as just a ‘job’. To the motivated teacher, teaching is a career; it is a profession rather than a Job and they do what they can to be good at what they do.
    – Motivated teachers try out new things with their students that they have found out about from interaction with other teachers. They look at what is current in education and look at how they can incorporate new ideas and new ways of teaching into their teaching without losing the integrity of what learning is about. They aren’t afraid to try things in their classrooms that might not work because if you don’t try, you’ll never know
    – Motivated teachers are interested in their students and want their students to be motivated so they do things in the classroom that will nurture that kind of philosophy. They talk to their students about why they are trying something new and what the perceived benefits will be to their learning so that their students develop an interest and a responsibility for their own learning.
    – Motivated teachers teach more than just the syllabus. They know that the individuals in their classroom all learn in different ways and that different things will motivate them. They know that beyond what has to be learned, there are different ways to learn these things and strive to give their students opportunities to learn in the way they want to.
    – Motivated teachers enjoy their career and this makes them better at it, which means that, for most of the time, real learning goes on, which is varied in content and relevant to the students and incorporates a rich variety of material, methods and instruction.

     
    What can I do to motivate my class?
    General Strategies:
    – Capitalize on students’ existing needs.
    – Make students active participants in learning.
    – Ask students to analyze what makes their class more or less “motivating.”
    – Incorporate Instructional Behaviors That Motivate Students
    – Hold high but realistic expectations for your students.
    – Help students set achievable goals for themselves.
    – Tell students what they need to do in order to succeed in your class.
    – Strengthen students’ self-motivation.
    – Be enthusiastic about your subject.
    Structuring the Course to Motivate Students, increase creativity and innovation:
    – Create a welcoming environment.
    – Modeling: Share your thinking with students; explain how you create or combine ideas.
    – Communicating expectations: Let students know that creative ideas are expected and welcome
    – Reinforcement: Applaud creative thinking, even (or especially) when an idea does not succeed
    – Work from students’ strengths and interests.
    – When possible, let students have some say in choosing what will be studied.
    – Increase the difficulty of the material as the semester progresses.
    – Vary your teaching methods.
    – Choice of the right tools for the pedagogical task matched with the proper assessment task
    – Exploration of how resources are managed and how interactions are facilitated
    – A rethinking of learning activities to ensure a match between discipline, pedagogy and technologies that the teacher has chosen to create the learning task.
    – AND The opportunity for learners to design and demonstrate their understanding
    – Emphasize mastery and learning instead of grades.
    – Motivate Students by Responding to Their Work
    – Give students feedback as quickly as possible.
    – Reward success.
    – Introduce students to the good work done by their peers.
    – Be specific when giving feedback.
    – Avoid demeaning comments.
    Literacies of a participative digital age include:
    1. Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
    2. Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
    3. Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
    4. Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
    5. Rapid task shifting — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
    6. Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
    7. Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
    8. Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
    9. Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities 10. Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
    10. Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
    11. Location awareness — the ability to use the new digital awareness of current and required positions

     
    6 skills necessary to succeed in future labor markets …
    1. Focus on mastery
    2. Tech-lingual
    3. Systems thinker
    4. Constructivist mindset
    5. Collaboration skills
    6. Lifelong learner

     
    Opportunities
    – Engagement with problems through the manipulation of spatial artifacts.
    – A different set of conceptual tools may be applied by students to solve these problems.
    – More flexibility for student-generated narratives.
    – Opportunities for links to the ‘real’ world and for collaboration.
    Challenges
    – Learning the construction tools. – May require different approaches for students of different ages.
    – Aligning the learning outcomes to the problems/activities. – Need to reconsider the types of activities within the constraints of the technology platform.

     
    References
    – Hattie. J [2009] Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement Routledge. Oxford UK.
    – Mr Heng Swee Keat, Ministry of Education Work Plan Seminar, September 2013
    – Cambridge School Conference –Singapore 2013
    – AdvanED Conference – Dubai 2012

    Categories: Uncategorized

    What Is Accreditation?

    Quote

    Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education. But such definitions, though accurate, are incomplete.

    While accreditation is a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating an institution’s organizational effectiveness, it is far more than that. Today accreditation examines the whole institution—the programs, the cultural context, the community of stakeholders—to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.

    For many, accreditation is both a significant achievement pronouncing an institution’s quality of education, as well as a remarkably enriching process for the institutions recognizing the tremendous competitive and performance gains it affords. Sadly, some schools approach accreditation as a necessary imposition that they must endure to secure the seal of accreditation, and the quicker they satisfy the requirements, the sooner they can return their attention to running their institutions. But it is those schools and school systems that see the untapped transformative power in the process of accreditation that are able to build true capacity to improve student learning and make continuous school improvement a distinctive reality.

    It is the process of accreditation that yields the greatest continuing return for institutions. When approached properly, the internal self-assessment an institution conducts against a set of research-based quality standards can produce a wealth of galvanizing insights. Honest self-evaluation is unparalleled in its ability to uncover and bring into sharp focus special challenges for an institution that may not have been fully understood. The external review is the hallmark of the accreditation process, and like the internal self-assessment, it energizes and equips the leadership and stakeholders of an institution or school system to tackle those areas that may be thwarting desired performance levels.

    Accreditation is a force-multiplier. The process is a catalyst for transformative excellence, and AdvancED’s accreditation process is designed on a standards-based framework to feed continuous improvement and transform education on a global scale. Education providers of all types around the world use AdvancED Accreditation.
    •Elementary, Middle and Secondary Schools
    •School Districts/Systems
    •Postsecondary Schools
    •Educational Corporations
    •Digital Learning Institutions
    •Educational Service Agencies
    •Pre-K Institutions
    Accreditation is inextricably linked to institution and educational system improvement. The accreditation process asks institutions and systems to critically evaluate their vision, strategies, priorities, leadership, and programs and resources. The process of earning and maintaining accreditation provides institutions and educational systems with clear and compelling direction for implementing changes to move toward excellence
    AdvancED Standards for Quality
    Standard 1: Purpose and Direction

    Standard 2: Governance and Leadership

    Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning

    Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems

    Standard 5: Using Results for Continuous Improvement

    http://www.advanc-ed.org/what-accreditation

    Categories: Uncategorized