Tag Archives: K-12 teaching

+ Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes

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Every year, the Library of Congress provides the opportunity for K-12 educators to attend one of its Summer Teacher Institutes in Washington DC.

During the five-day Institutes, participants work with Library of Congress education specialists to learn the best practices for using primary sources in the K-12 classroom.  In addition, they  explore some of the millions of digitized primary sources available on the Library’s Web site.

After participating in the Summer Teacher Institutes, participants will

  • Know how to access primary sources from the Library of Congress
  • Become skilled at analyzing primary sources of different formats
  • Learn various teaching strategies for using primary sources in the classroom
  • Be able to successfully facilitate a primary source-based activity with students
  • Gain knowledge of how to use primary sources to enable student to become engaged, think critically and construct knowledge
  • Develop a Primary Source Activity Plan that will be implemented in the participant’s instructional setting

Here is the application link; deadline is February 4th, 2013: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/teacherinstitute/apply/index.php

Teachers and school librarians of all grade levels and curriculum areas are encouraged to apply.

Tuition and materials are provided at no cost to participants.  Breakfast and lunch are also provided.

Participants will provide their own own transportation to and from the Library of Congress in Washington DC and any required overnight accommodations.

Interested participants have the option of completing additional requirements (and paying a fee) to earn three graduate credits from George Mason University.


  • June 10-14
  • Jun 17-21
  • July 22=26
  • July 29-August 2
  • August 5-9

Information is provided by the Library of Congress at www.LOC.gov

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


+ Quickwrites Strengthen Think-Pair-Share Interaction

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From “Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding,” by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Sandi Everlove [ASCD]:

Chapter 3 offers a way to harness the think part of the “think-pair-share” activity.

In “think-pair-share” a child has to turn to a partner to share his thoughts.  But some kids find themselves paralyzed and silent.  They find it difficult even to think, much less put thoughts into words. 

Certain kids may not have grown up among adults who encourage spontaneous verbal expression.  A child benefits from oral give and take. 

It strengthens their ability to nimbly frame thoughts.  Such conversational give and take also builds a child’s confidence in his ability to offer opinions that are valued by others.   

Quickwrites Help Thinking Skills

Quickwrites are one of the instructional routines which the authors suggest will foster face-to-face interaction.

Quickwrites are brief writing events, typically one to five minutes in length.   They provide learners with time to collect their thoughts and formalize their ideas before they turn to talk with another student.

In addition, if a child has some writing to refer to, it can provide a bridge over the awkwardness that shy or reluctant students experience as they try to  get a conversation going.

For many students, the authors feel, quickwrites represent a starting point for a meaningful exchange of ideas.

Make it specific to your content:

  • How would you explain cell division to your younger brother? 

Or something more general.  For example

  • What’s the best thing you learned today?
  • What was confusing to you in today’s lesson?
  • What did you already know about this topic?
  • How did you help yourself learn today?
  • Crystal ball: What do you think you will learn tomorrow?
  • Yesterday’s news: What does a person who was absent yesterday need to know about the lesson?
  • Finish this thought: I was proud of myself today when I…
  • What are the five best habits to have to be successful in this class?
  • My goals for this week are…
  • In the next 60 seconds, write down all the words you think of when you hear about —-
  • When I read about —-, I was confused about —–

 The authors say quickwrites are great before, during or after a lesson.  And these brief writing interludes let students create a chain of evidence about their own thinking.

“Productive Group Work” Chapter Contents

Seven chapters include “Defining Productive Group Work,” “Using Positve Interdependence,” “Promoting Face to Face Interaction,” Ensuring Individual and Group Accountability,” “Building Interpersonal and Small-Group Processing,” “Getting Started: Questions and Answers.”

And there are several pages of resources as well as an index.

source: Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding, by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Sandi Everlove.  ASCD.  ISBN 978-1-4166-0883-7

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Teacher/Student Game: Competitive Behavior Management

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From TeachHUB! (www.teachhub.com), a classroom behavior strategy offered by Randi Saulter and Don Crawford, called the Teacher/Student Game.

Nearly all human behavior is based on reaction to consequences: touch a flame and jump back;  see a smile and give back a smile and learn to be friendly.

“Magic Ratio”

The authors tell us that psychologists, scientists, and education professionals have determined a “magic ratio” for affecting behavior in others, whether they are adults or children.

 By following a three-to-one (3:1) positive to negative interaction ratio, you ought to be able to ensure better behavior and long-term success in the classoom.

How It Works

Set up the game before start of class.  The teacher draws a “score card” somewhere prominent — on a white board, blackboard, paper — so it is visible to students and easily accessible.   The teacher will be awarding points to the class or himself frequently.

At the beginning of the class, the teacher explains the Teacher/Student Game and reviews rules and expectations.   (It’s a good idea to introduce children to the game at the beginning of the school year.  As the year goes on, review the rules.)

Teacher says

We’re going to play a game, me against you.  I think I can win because I’m really smart and I win this game A LOT!  Here is how it works.  You get points for getting things right, and for following the rules which are everyone responding, everyone keeping their eyes on the lesson, everyone waiting their turn to talk [insert your specific expectations].  But I get points whenever someone forgets the rules or makes a mistake!

I bet I’m going to win.  I’m really good at this game.

Right away, you are naming your expectations; children straighten up and pay careful attention.  Immediately give their team a point, acting disappointed. 

Say something like

You guys have your eyes on me so well, that I have to give you a point.  You’re already ahead!  But I know you’re going to forget the rules and then I’ll win…

Children immediately enjoy their lead in the game.  They feel proud of their accomplishment.

Ham it up a bit; act REALLY disappointed.  The children try harder to beat you.

Immediately give your students points for meeting all of your expectations — before they have a chance to forget.  Give them points for answering correctly, keeping their eyes on the lesson, taking turns.  Tell them what they did to earn their points.

Gosh!  I’m going to have to give you another point because everyone is paying attention.  Darn!  You’re ahead, but I’m going to catch up soon.

Be Obnoxious! 

 Give yourself a point energetically, obnoxiously and gleefully whenever even one child needs a question repeated, doesn’t have her eyes on the book, interrupts you or talks to a neighbor. 

When you give yourself the point (on this VERY public chart) tell everyone

YEA! I get a point because someone talked out of turn!  I KNEW I was going to win…

Be obnoxiously cheerful about getting a point.  Make sure you are so annoying that they really want to beat you.  If you do this right, they will hate letting you have even one point; they’ll be motivated to monitor their own behavior closely.

Many teachers are reluctant to give themselves points.  They ignore minor misbehaviors, afraid to discourage the kids. 

But the teacher should catch EVERY infraction and take every point possible.  That way you enforce high standards and make children adhere to their most excellent behavior.

The way to keep the students encouraged is to be vigilant in catching them being good. 

Keep the ratio of positives up.  Catch them being good at least three times as often as you have to give yourself a point.

It isn’t easy.  Focus hard to catch students answering correctly, demonstrating attention, tracking in their books, looking at the teacher, answering quickly when called on.

Make your positive statements brief and exciting; clearly identify both the behavior and the student.

This is not for young students only.  If you spotlight your competitive side and really appear to be tough, even high school kids will get into it. 

You always lose the game, but you win in the classroom.

source: www.teachhub.com , article by Randi Saulter and Don Crawford.  TeachHUB! is a free daily, one-stop shop for resources, top recommendations + bargains for teachers by teachers.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Boost Academics With Rap?

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In Colorado, a pilot program called “Rap to Roots” has debuted this month, according to Colleen O’Connor in the Denver Post.  It has been successful in cities like Chicago and Cleveland.

These after-school series are sponsored by Swallow Hill Music Association and  (in Colorado) also by Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives.  It teaches kids to use rap’s rhythms, rhymes and even its history to boost their academics.

Math is not 13-year-old Koran Ray’s best subject, but he has figured out a trick to help him master the multiplication tables: he raps them.  He also says “I can rap about social studies, language, even Shakespeare.”

He then launches into a quick one that he learned from a video about Shakespeare being a mellow fellow who wrote “Othello.”

Koran has learned from a music producer how to change a rapper’s voice.  It makes him think of his science lessons involving variables: “when you change the variables of things like speed, voice and tone.”

Rap to Roots is the brainchild of Michael Schenkelberg, Swallow Hill’s music school director.  He created it because public schools, especially those in inner city locations, were losing their arts programs.

He was working in Chicago and Cleveland at the time, so he started there.  When organizers tracked students’ progress over four years, they discovered those in the program “did significantly better in standardized testing, attention spans in the classroom, and some improved their writing skills,” says Schenkelberg.

He moved to Denver, and wanted to duplicate the program.  Reverend Leon Kelly, director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, loved the idea.  He agreed to a pilot program at a school where he runs an after-school program.

Twelve-year-old Khalia Davenport would love to keep going next year.  She likes how teachers in the program — all local musicians — “tell us we should stay in school because school is like a big rap, if you put it all together, like math and accounting and stuff.”

Recently, as many kids were scribbling away at lyrics, a small group of student sat at a laptop learningto produce their first CD.

A local artist, Azma Holiday, worked with the students on expressing their feeling through music.  “They were on fire,” he said.  “I got a kick out of that.  I got to see their juices flowing and hear what they had to say and what was going on upstairs.”

Jontrail Taylor’s rhymes include a statement about school.  “I got to go to college to get my education/ So I can be in a situation/ That’s better than the federation.”

Teachers in Chicago and Cleveland helped design the rap classes to meet their curriculum needs.   So, for example, they covered migrations of African-Americans from the south and learned that rap’s roots go back about 3,000 years — to Afro-Cuban and West African rhythms — which connected to geography lessons.

They increased their technological know-how by using laptops to record their own CDs.

They also work on English skills. Says Schenkelberg,

They learn  about similes, different poetic devices, and then they take a familiar rap song and see how it uses these literary devices.  They learn about different poets through time and learn to rap a Shakespearean piece.

The goal, he says, is to spark kids’ interest in their own education through a passion rooted in their generation. 

So many kids are just trying to make it, to be heard.  If that’s a dream that will continue to motivate kids to learn, then what you need to do is at least give them a chance.

sole source: Colleen O’Connor’s article in the Denver Post on 5/11/09.  www.denverpost.com

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Building Background Knowledge: Working Memory

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As reported in Robert J Marzano’s book “Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement,” academic background knowledge affects  “school learning.”  Furthermore, studies have shown its relation to occupation and status in life.

We acquire background knowledge through the interaction of two factors: the ability to process and store information and the number and frequency of our academically oriented experiences.

Storage of  information is about memory.

There are three functions of memory: sensory memory, permanent memory, and working memory.

For many years, it was commonly thought that there were two different types of memory: short-term and long-term.  But that long-held distinction has been replaced with a theory that there is only one type of memory with three different functions, writes Marzano.

While sensory memory feeds into working memory, so does permanent memory.  But all memories must be effectively processed in working memory before they can be lodged in permanent memory.  What are these three kinds of memory?

  • Sensory Memory — a non-linguistic, very temporary repository for information from our senses.  It is capable of storing more or less complete records of what has been encountered, but only for brief periods of time.  If not encoded before it decays, it is lost; much of what is recorded results in no permanent record.
  •  Permanent Memory — contains information which has been stored in such a way that it is available to us; it is the repository of our background knowledge, both academic and nonacademic.  Interestingly, this information is frequently activated without our awareness: memory “packets” in permanent memory are activated by any related item in working memory.
  • Working Memory — a repository of data from sensory memory (where it is held only briefly) or data from permanent memory (where it resides lastingly), or from both.  The amount of time data can reside in working memory has no theoretical limit: it lasts as long as we focus conscious attention on it.  To this extent, it might be considered the “seat of consciousness.”  It is the quality and type of processing that occurs in working memory that determines whether that information makes it to permanent memory.

Exactly what is it that dictates whether information makes it into permanent memory? 

At least three interacting dynamics of working-memory processing are needed. 

1.      Strength  — The strength of the “memory trace.”   And this strength increases with repeated practice.  It’s about frequency.  In educational terms: the more times a student processes information, the more likely a student will be to remember it. 

Nutall (1995) found (minimally) four exposures — with no more than two days between — were required for most students to adequately integrate information into permanent memory (background knowledge).  LD students, of course, can need more exposures. 

2.     Depth — Deep processing of information is about adding detail to our understanding of the information.  For example, “Camping trip last week.” What were some of its defining characteristics? The more you can mention, the deeper your understanding.

3.     Elaboration — Elaboration deals with the variety of associations we make with the information.  It’s related to “depth,” but where deep processing means going into more and more detail (my camping trip meant sleeping outside, smelling the pine needles, cooking over a fire), “elaboration” means making new and varied connections to it (my camping trip is sort of like sleepovers and trips to grandma’s house).


Information must make it into permanent memory to become part of our background knowledge.

The quality of the processing in working memory is what matters.  It either enhances or inhibits the likelihood that information will reach permanent memory.

Effective processing of information in working memory depends on particular critical activities:  1) information must be processed multiple times; 2) detail must be added; 3) associations must be made with other information.

So any program that wants to enhance academic background knowledge ought to present the target information in a way that permits these things to happen.

source: Robert J Marzano’s “Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement: Research on What Works in Schools,” pub. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  ISBN 0-87120-972-1 (paper).

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com