Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

The Ultimate Homework Task

July 11, 2018

 

Thank you Dr. Jessica Smock for being the inspiration behind my most daring and interesting homework idea yet.

I have never been a big fan of homework. If my school didn’t have a homework policy and I could be convinced that my students would use the extra time at home doing something more constructive than playing video games and binge watching Netflix series, I would be quite comfortable to excuse my students from having to submit weekly homework tasks.

But then I read an article that would allow me to give an anti-homework form of homework. The article written by Dr. Smock, entitled, “31 Things Your Kids Should be Doing Instead of Homework“, charts a series of activities from playing an instrument to hanging out with a grandparent that our kids could be doing in the place of homework. It also explains why these alternate activities are better for the child’s health and development. It’s a wonderful article.

After reading it, I immediately came up with a plan. What if I give 2 weeks for my students to complete and document all 31 tasks. For the tricky ones like learning to knit or volunteering at an animal shelter they could use their imagination and come up with alternatives which are true to the spirit of the ones listed.

My students loved the idea. I have never seen them so enthusiastic about homework. Every day for 2 weeks we had informal discussions about how many items each child had managed to document and how they cleverly negotiated some of the activities which were difficult for them to perform.

I can’t recommend this idea more highly.

 

Click on the link to read Stop Giving Kids Useless Homework

Click on the link to read Cats vs Homework. What Could Help Children More?

Click on the link to read New Graph Revealing How Much Time is Spent on Homework Around the World

Advertisements

Teach Math Like Its Never Been Taught Before

March 15, 2018

math-problem

When you begin teaching your 5th or 6th Grade Math class, you often start with a high dose of ego.

You tell yourself that you can easily set any struggling student right by carefully and clearly explaining the skills and processes involved.

And then reality sinks in. It’s clearly not as easy as that.

There is a reason why your struggling students have continued to struggle throughout their first 5 or so years of schooling. It’s not the strength of the teachers they’ve encountered, because chances are, there have been some extremely adept teachers who have used tried and true methods for helping those student bridge the ever widening gaps.

Many teachers have expressed a reluctance of teaching 5th sand 6th Grade Math due to the introduction of concepts and skills which many Primary teachers find difficult. In truth, the major test of a 5th or 6th Grade teacher is not the skills itself, but rather the challenge of helping students learn skills they haven’t been able to grasp from their talented and competent previous teachers.

In order to cut through, teachers are therefore required to change things up. To employ slightly different ways of teaching the same skill. The following are some adjustments that work for me.

  1. Integrate the Skill in a Game – Kids love winning and try to avoid losing at all cost. Game play provides an incentive for children to learn skills that they may have ordinarily have claimed was too difficult. Dice games are the best because it provides a randomness that allows weaker students to often prevail over stronger students. I am constantly blown away by how effective game play is to break through to kids who usually struggle with Math.
  2. Change the wording – The wording of Math is so scientific and technical. Does it have to be? Absolutely not. So change it up. Instead of numerator and denominator, I use top bunk and bottom bunk. It helps. It doesn’t mean I will never teach them the right terminology, it just means I am more focused on the skill that the wording which can often intimidate.
  3. Reinforce the Objectives of Math – There is a reason why Math was invented and kids need to know that to be able to relate to it. I tell my students Math was invented for 2 main purposes. Firstly, to save us time. So instead of having to add 7 +7 a total of 8 times, I can just apply the sum 7×8, which is much quicker and easier. And secondly, for fairness. When I am dividing a birthday cake, everyone wants an equal sized piece. It turns out that children deeply value fairness and relate to the idea of resorting to shortcuts. Why not then explain how the skill of the day fits into one or both of the above categories?
  4. Bite Sized Pieces – I can’t tell you how many students I have confronted in the upper years who weren’t able to read time from an analogue clock. The big mistake, as I eluded to earlier, is to think that a careful and patient demonstration of what the big and little hands tell us will work. Again, you can bet that plenty of highly competent teachers have tried without success. My strategy is to break up the skill into small, bite-sized pieces. I tell them to ignore the hour hand. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Just focus on the minute hand. The next step is to show them the function of the minute hand and not move on until they get it. Only then do I introduce the hour hand. The problem that I have found is that reading an analogue clock involves a level of multitasking which kids (boys especially) find very intimidating. Take it slowly. One skill at a time. They respond better to that.
  5. Use What They Know – Students tend to do much better with currency than decimals. This is quite ironic, as decimals and currency are essentially the same thing. I tell all my students who struggle with decimals to pretend that 0.75 for example, is 75 cents. It helps! Math professors would be irate if they found out I was doing this. They would remind me that students will become unstuck when they encounter a decimal like 0.751, which doesn’t work with the currency technique. So what! Once I have taught them through currency their confidence levels are so high, I have found they are quite receptive to learning the differences that exist between decimals and money.

By the time your students have reached 5th Grade, they already have a sense for whether they like a subject and whether they are proficient at it. It’s so hard to turn the unconfident and unenthusiastic learners around.

But don’t give up. Just do it differently.

 

Click on the link to read A Maths Quiz That Manages to be Racist and Sexist

Click on the link to read Introducing the 5-Year-Old Math Genius (Video)

Click on the link to read Parents Struggle with Modern Day Math Questions

Click on the link to read Teachers Deserve Blame for Maths Disaster

Why Teaching High School is a Career Mistake

January 3, 2018

 

If you are considering a career in teaching, and you’re weighing up between Primary and High School, I strongly urge you to choose Primary school.

The following are my reasons why:

 

1. Debunking the Myth – Most High School teachers say they chose the upper years because they felt the older kids would provide them with a greater level of sophistication, and the communication would therefore be more interesting and thoughtful. The implication with this theory is that the younger kids are babies and their teachers have to dumb everything down. This is patently false. I am constantly blown away by my students. They have great ideas, engage in wonderfully rich conversations and don’t require that condescending sing-song “baby talk” rubbish that a lot of teachers unsuccessfully employ.

2. Primary Teachers are Not Dumb – “You only chose Primary Teaching because your literacy and numeracy levels don’t extend past 6th Grade.” High School teachers seem to proffer this view, and sometimes they are right. But for the most part, Primary teachers chose to teach younger children after careful consideration.

3. Consistency –   One grade, all day for the entire year. That is the formula for success. Whilst a high school teacher tends to have multiple classes on their books, a Primary Teacher usually has one class that they can nurture and concentrate on. This makes progress much easier and gives the teacher enormous prominence in a student’s life.

4. They Can Change – The trick with teaching is to influence your students to make good decisions before the bad habits have been set in concrete. The problem with High School teachers is that it is often too late to change their students’ skill levels and attitude issues. They are already too far behind or too resistant to change.  Primary school students are far more malleable. You can turn them around and be the catalyst for improved results educationally, socially and behaviourally.

5. More Variety – High School teachers are forced to select one or two subjects only. That’s it for them. This can be get quite dry and after a few years, can become extremely repetitious. Primary School teachers teach everything. In a given day I can be teaching Maths, English, Science, Geography, History and Art. All with the same students! This variety is a wonderful thing for teachers who care more about helping children than what subject they are most attached to.

6. Laughter – The best classrooms are filled with laughter. High School classrooms with laughter often owes its amusement to a negative trigger such as sarcasm or teasing. Students are more likely to laugh at a teacher that with her at High School level. At Primary School level, good, clean, innocent humor is a must! The students always seem up for it and it can do wonders for both class and teacher.

 

So, my advice to all prospective High School teachers is to quickly make the switch before it’s too late.

 

Click on the link to read Funny Things Students Do and Say

Click on the link to read Dumb Politicians Shouldn’t be Calling Teachers “Dumb”

Click on the link to read The Courageous Valedictorian

Click on the link to read Meet the School They Call “Stinky School”

Teachers Want to be Liked

August 24, 2017

 

In the quest to gain control of their class and appear impenetrable teachers can seem cold and somewhat removed.

In reality, this is far from who they really are.

Teachers are vulnerable, caring and want nothing more than to help their students achieve in every aspect of their lives.

Deep down we desperately want our students to like us.

 

 

Click on the link to read What are We Doing to Protect Our Teachers?

Click on the link to read The Gift of Teaching and the Other Gifts that Come With It

Click on the link to read Add Years to Prison Sentences for Hitting a Teacher

Click on the link to read Teachers Want to Be Liked (Video)

Click on the link to read The Epidemic that is Teacher Bullying

Teacher Does Lesson Plans While Giving Birth

May 3, 2017

I dislike lesson plans immensely. I understand the value of it, yet it remains one of my least favourite aspects of the job. This teacher wins the medal for completing hers at a time when most would have it as the last thing on their mind:

 

Any woman who gives birth deserves a medal, all the chocolate in the world and a whole heap of praise, but a mother from Texas has truly proved that she’s superwoman – by doing her lesson planning while in labor.

Jennifer Pope, who gave birth to a baby girl last month, is the internet’s new favourite person after a picture of her working hard in the hospital ward was uploaded to social media. Photographer Andrea McDonald caught the candid picture of Pope working from her bed, which she then uploaded to Facebook. She captioned the snap:

“No, she is not doing her taxes. Those papers would be her lesson plans her husband is about to go drop off with her sub in the parking lot.

“Also, next week is Teacher Appreciation Week here in Texas. Spoil them rotten because even in labor, they care. No lie, she gave birth less than an hour later.

“This post is about showing the dedication of a teacher (I was one myself for many years). Seriously, be kind or scroll down.”

Pope, who has worked as a teacher for over 10 years and has three older children, told Huffington Post that she wants her picture to inspire other women to know that they can be parents and have careers.

“Being a working mom is hard ― like really hard,” said Pope. “But, it’s also so rewarding and fulfilling. I can’t imagine myself in any other profession.”

She added that she hopes the picture will help illustrate teachers’ dedication to their job and their students: “To many ― perhaps all ― of us, this is so much more than a job. It’s an all-encompassing passion.”

 

Click on the link to read The Letter that Brought a Teacher to Tears

Click on the link to read Students Care About Caring Teachers

Click on the link to read The Inspiring Things Teachers Often Do for Their Students

Click on the link to read Teacher Pens Moving Letter to Autistic Student

Click on the link to read Music Teacher Makes History at the Superbowl

The Death of a Student

April 18, 2017

 

I suppose it happens to nearly all teachers at some point and tonight it has happened to me.

At approximately 7pm I got an email to notify me that a student I had taught 2 years ago had passed away.

I am grief stricken. He was only 12 years old!

Words fail me. I had a great connection with this child. I felt I understood him like no other teacher.

And now he’s gone and it will take me a while to get over it.

They tell you not to get emotionally involved but it is absolutely impossible.

Especially with students like him.

Rest in Peace!

 

Click on the link to read Explaining the Paris Tragedy to Young Children

Click on the link to read Some Kids Are So Brave! (Video)

Click on the link to read Guess What This Map Represents

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

Funny Things Students Do and Say

July 13, 2016

1895

Below is a list of 21 anecdotes shared by teachers on Reddit (courtesy of people.com):

 

1. “I was having a conversation with my manager, and my second grade student comes out of the classroom and says very seriously… ‘Can I poop?'”

2. “I was with a student, waiting late after a rehearsal. The kid called home: ‘Hey, can you tell mom to pick me up? Oh, she’s in the shower … what about dad? He’s in the shower too….?’ Then he turned to me and said, ‘It’s going to be awhile, Mr. M.'”

3. “A student was mad at me because I made him redo a math test, so he walked over to the classroom door. When I told him I would need to call the office if he left the room without permission, he proceeded to slam his own leg in the door about five times. Then he looked at me and said, ‘Now my leg hurts and I’m going to tell everyone it was your fault.'”

4. “I had a student who had extreme test anxiety. Every time we went to take a test he would throw up. After vomiting he would be fine, but he had to spew everywhere first for stress reduction or something. I would seat him next to the bathroom and provide a bucket. Now this worked on normal days, but during our state testing, he would not be able to go to the restroom unless I first called an administrator to escort him. On the big testing day, we practiced breathing techniques. I had a handy vomit bucket for him, and we were ready to go. After ten minutes, he sure enough looked like he was going to be sick. Except he forgot about the bucket. He vomited and then tried to hold it in his mouth. He shoved his puke back in his mouth, swallowed and smiled at me and gave me a thumbs-up. Horrified, yet simultaneously holding back laughter, I gave him wipes and a bunch of mints. The kid did great on the test in the end.”

5. “My classroom carpet had the alphabet border around the edges. One of my pre-school students, Demetrius, likes to sit on the letter D because it’s the first letter of his name. One day, Zaria sits on the letter D. Demetrius gets in her face and yells, ‘Zaria! Get off my D!’ I lost it.”

6. “One kid who didn’t have that much money wanted to make personalized bookmarks for the rest of the class. Because his family didn’t have much money, he decided to look around his dad’s work place to find something he could use. In the trash can there were a bunch of long strips of cardboard. The only thing was the cardboard came from cigarette cartons because his dad worked at a liquor store. So on one side there was a kid’s name and cute pictures, and on the other was blatant advertising for Marlboro, Pall Mall, Camel, you name it. It was so hard to not laugh when he came up to me and excitedly showed them. This was my first time working in a classroom, and I had no idea what to do. The teacher ended up having me take them to the supply room and laminate them with construction paper covering the other side. We told the kid it would help them last longer. His bookmarks were every one’s favorite gift.”

7. “A student walking down the hallway had his Darth Vader mask confiscated by the principal. The kid replied the right way. He dropped to his knees and did the most perfect Vader ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!’ The principal looked at me as the hall burst into laughter.”

8. “I was teaching English to a class of primary school Thai kids. I was teaching them plurals by showing them a slideshow of cartoon monsters (‘It has three eyes’, ‘It has four legs,’ etc) and getting them to tell me how many limbs each monster had. One little kid, five-years-old, got really into it, and on one monster shoots his hand in the air and comes out with: ‘It has one….ANUS!’ I was speechless for a second so he jumped up on his chair, backwards, bends over and starts pointing to his butt shouting, ‘NO TEACHER! ANUS! IT’S ANUS!'”

9. “Female science teacher here. I was about two weeks into my first job. Another student dropped a pen by accident, so I picked it up. I stood up to find one of the biggest boys in the class (about 14-years-old) standing right next to me. He got even closer, and said, ‘Good girl.’ I was kind of shocked, so just said, ‘Excuse me?’ and he replied with the creepiest ever top-to-toe survey of my body, a leer and then asked, ‘Would you rather be a bad girl?’ My whole body just recoiled.”

10. “When reading Hamlet with the class, after Ophelia’s line about Hamlet, ‘To speak of horrors – he comes before me,’ a kid said, ‘Hamlet, get it together, man.’ I cracked up. The other kids didn’t get it luckily.”

11. “My grandma was a kindergarten teacher for a long time and has some funny stories. Once a quiet kid randomly came up to her and said, ‘Mrs. H, Jimmy said the f––– word.'”

12. “I teach undergrad courses. I caught a student that had plagiarized a few paragraphs in one of her papers. I asked her to stay after lecture and sat her down, asking if she had plagiarized her paper. Her eyes got huge, she welled up and then she said, ‘I did! I’m so sorry! I was so tired and had so much work and my roommate told me to do it and said you would never find out.’ Then with the most serious expression she whispered,  ‘And, I know now she’s the devil!’ I did not laugh even though I really wanted to.”

13. “One time a kid twisted another kids nipple as he raised his hand to answer a question.”

14. “There were fish tanks in our high school biology lab. A student pulled some brightly colored fish gravel out, dried it off, gave it to two of the ‘popular girls’ and told them it was pop rocks. They tried to eat it, which obviously didn’t go well, so they, of course, loudly complained to the teacher. When the teacher got involved the instigator said, ‘Everyone knows we’re not allowed to eat in the biology lab, so it’s really their own fault for breaking the rules.'”

15. “My friend’s wife is a high school music teacher, and once when she went into class and to get set up, she sees this kid take his trombone and place it between his legs and slid the slide out going, ‘Look, I got a tromboner.'”

16. “Half way through Animal Farm, a student says, ‘Wait a minute. This book has talking animals in it!?'”

17. “I had a kid in my music history class say ‘Queen Dildo’ instead of ‘Queen Dido’ for the whole first act of the play we were reading in class.”

18. “I showed my students a picture of the Titanic on its end beside the Eiffel Tower to give an idea of scale. A student asked how they got the big boat to balance while they took the photo.”

19. “A student called me ‘Mom’ recently. I’m a male with a giant beard.”

20. “A nursing student that my roommate was dating asked me if eggs (like chicken eggs that you eat for breakfast) were considered a fruit or vegetable.”

21. “A student once asked me what I did for a living.”

Teachers Want to Be Liked (Video)

February 14, 2016

 

Teachers are not paid to be liked, and sometimes it’s better for the students when they’re not, but it makes the job so much more satisfying when your students care about you. This video above shows what a little recognition can do to a teacher.

 

Click on the link to read The Epidemic that is Teacher Bullying

Click on the link to read Teachers Need to Fight Hate With Love

Click on the link to read People Find the Stabbing of a Teacher Funny

Click on the link to read Imagine if Teachers Were Treated Like Sporting Stars

The Epidemic that is Teacher Bullying

December 21, 2015

 

 

Some will watch the teacher in the video above and think that he looks soft, weak and defeated. I think he handled the situation brilliantly.

Forget about classroom management gurus and 6 step strategies for classroom control, when a student decides that he detests you enough to blow cigar smoke in your face, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The kid in this video is likely to get in a world of trouble. But if I were the principal, I wouldn’t stop there. I would happily punish the entire class for their laughter and encouragement. Shame on them!

 

Click on the link to read Teachers Need to Fight Hate With Love

Click on the link to read People Find the Stabbing of a Teacher Funny

Click on the link to read Imagine if Teachers Were Treated Like Sporting Stars

Click on the link to read Exercise Tips for Busy Teachers

The Making of a Great Teacher

October 20, 2015

Embedded image permalink

 

Love this list!

 

 

Click on the link to read The Perfect Teacher According to Students

Click on the link to read How to Praise Students Properly

Click on the link to read Tips for Teachers of ESL Students

Click on the link to read Look What This Teacher Did To His Students’ Doodles


%d bloggers like this: