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Education Learning Teaching

How Standards Can Help Teachers Communicate with Parents and Guardians

There are numerous stakeholders in a child's education: students, teachers, parents, administration, and the rest of the community.
There are numerous stakeholders in a child’s education: students, teachers, parents, guardians, administration, and the community-at-large.

Update: I intended, but didn’t, include guardians in the list of those who are stakeholders in a child’s education.  I apologize to the many wonderful people who care for children and hold titles other than parent, such as “Grandparent,” “Aunt,” “Uncle,” “Sister,” “Brother,” or “Foster Parent.”  Please know that I recognize the incredible contribution you make to children’s lives and regret the oversight.  I was so focused on my experiences with my son that I did not weave guardian into the post. 

Every parent is also a teacher and has at least one student: a child. During the formidable first years, the parent is the primary educator. The child looks to the parent first for guidance, learning how to walk, talk, eat, etc. This little person spends a great deal of time watching, experimenting, and mimicking until one day, the actions make sense.  Then, while Mom is cooking in the kitchen, she hears uncertain footsteps clopping on the floor and turns around to see the baby standing there, watching her.  Dad, beaming with pride, is standing behind the baby. (What a moment that was!)

Most parents start the process of relinquishing at least part of their educational responsibility when they enroll the child in school. The first time the little one walks into a classroom can be a painful and frightening moment for both, for a part of the relationship that is now changing drastically. The parent becomes a partner with a stranger who, although a professional educator, is still completely unknown. The child needs to acclimate to a new authority figure, a new routine, and a new space. Some do not go gently into that situation; others take to it like a duck upon water. I cried for some time after dropping my son off for his first day in Kindergarten, even though he had been in preschool for two years.  That first day made it official, in my mind: I had gone from primary teacher to secondary for at least 9 months of the year.  My son would now spend more waking hours with a caregiver other than me.  Like many parents, I also had to accept the fact that I would not know everything that was happening during that time.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

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Education Learning Teaching

The Moon Is Down, Day Three

Discussion

As students enter the classroom on Day Three, they would find a discussion prompt on the whiteboard:

What were you thinking yesterday while we read?  Be honest and share it with your neighbor.

After five minutes, I would open the floor so students could share their discussion.  In my classroom, I would like to encourage students to be honest and forthright about their thoughts and develop metacognitive strategies that, in the end, will tell them much about their learning styles, interests, and thought processes.  Therefore, I think this discussion question would be a good one.  I would allow for about 10 minutes of group talk.

I suspect we would hear answers such as:

  • I was bored and thinking about the party this weekend.
  • I was thinking that these characters are flat (or stupid, in for a lot of trouble soon, sad, etc.)
  • I was wondering what was going to happen next and feeling bad for the characters.
  • I could not follow what was happening and ended up zoning out.
  • I thought Steinbeck did a good job integrating character description with the story.
  • I could see certain characters, but not others.

After the discussion, in which we could offer one another advice or try to address any challenges, we would again read for about fifteen minutes and try to come up with questions.  I’ll live blog my questions after I finish reading like I did last time.

Finally, they would have homework, which would include reading to a certain page in the book on their own and generating two questions to discuss the next day.

07.20

At least | that’s what | he said | later | on shore
While I | washed my | feet of | gritty | wet sand.
My thoughts | swimming | back to | moments | before
When I | panicked,| not see | ing him | from land.

Yes, that will do nicely!

10.30

I watched | a buo| y with | gray hair | floating
In the | ocean,| no wor|ry in | his mind.
To God,| he di|rected | his face | gloating,
“A more | perfect | life you’ll | struggle | to find.”

I like that rewrite!

At least | that’s what | he said | later | that day

While I | washed my | feet of | gritty | wet sand.

My…

08.38

First, I have to say that this is really hard.  🙂

In the ocean, on his back he floated,
No worry in his mind, nor in his heart.
To God, he lifted his face and gloated,
“My life is perfect. We’ll never part.”

I like the first quatrain. Well, I should say that I like it enough to not change it yet.

On the beach, his children played in sand,
Castles they made, and buried mother’s feet.
She let them, scrunched her toes, feeling safe on land,
Comfortable in her beach seat.

Oh, that’s terrible. I just really like the bit about burying mother’s toes.

Mother heard a frightened, “Where is he?”
Her eyes opened wide.  Was he lost?
Kids laughed as he came from the sea,

As I sit here, with my pen, I wonder
Will I write well?  Will these words drag me under?

08.00

In the ocean, on his back he floated,
No worry in his mind, nor in his heart.
To God, he lifted his face and gloated,
“My life is perfect. We’ll never part.”

On the beach, his family played with sand,
Castles they made, and buried mother’s feet
She laughed, wiggled her toes, …
 

Then she saw her husband had disappeared…

As I sit here, with my pen, I wonder
Will I write well?  Will these words drag me under?

16.16

Great Feedback
What a wonderful gift I received today when I checked in on my professional development courses.

03.21

More on Consideration Number One

I simply found it fascinating that an educator would say that SBG and CBE do not reflect the real world.  I understand why the person said it.  If you don’t meet the goals set in the workplace, there are consequences.  If you don’t do the work you’re supposed to do, there are consequences.  As I said above, however, adults set these deadlines while collaborating on a project or task, and the goals are continuously revisited for validity.  The manager does not set a goal in a grade book and give you a zero if you don’t meet the goal.  Yes, you have to explain yourself if you don’t meet the goal, but if you can explain yourself well, the penalties are often slight or not imposed at all.

Which brings me to my next point: Communication feeds the heart and soul of any human organization, project-based or not.  [pullquote]Communication feeds the heart and soul of any human organization, project-based or not.[/pullquote]In this reformed version of grading, students and teachers work on communication and collaboration skills, two very important skills to have as one enters the workforce.  If done right, I believe the students will learn to acknowledge that goals and deadlines are important, but more importantly, they will learn to communicate with their teacher when they are struggling to meet them or believe the assignments are not going to help them achieve their goals.  I think that educators are misunderstanding a fundamental part of this learning process when they allow students to miss deadlines or not complete assignments at all.  That’s a misconception about the process that absolutely must be addressed.  Students are missing vital learning opportunities when they do not attempt an assignment simply because they know they will not be penalized.  When students and educators agree that the assignments are learning opportunities and that they should communicate about its effectiveness and collaborate to make changes if necessary, that is when true learning takes place.  That reflects what happens in the real world. 

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Blogging Education Teaching

#BSNMooc Post #5: The Great Gatsby in the Flipped Classroom

This blog post is an example of a lesson assignment I would give if I flipped my classroom while we studied The Great Gatsby.

After studying the lost generation and other cultural issues related to the novel, we would need to start reading.  I believe reading aloud in class is a good strategy and would want to do that in class.  However, chapter one of the novel is quite daunting, so I would prepare my students to conquer chapter one with an activity that combines reading with vocabulary attack strategies.

Their preparation activity would be to go through the following Prezi, so they would know what we were going to do in class over the next two or three days.  Please note that I converted my text to speech for the Prezi below because it is 4:54 AM and my family is sleeping as I write this post, so I could not record my voice without waking them.  Perhaps at some point I will replace the voice over, but do not have time at the moment.  There may be some pronunciation or cadence issues.

In class, we would follow this procedure.  The students would practice valuable skills (namely, deciphering words that are unknown to them within context) as they read (and re-read) chapter one.  The entire activity is authentic, in my opinion, as students will encounter unknown words throughout their lives and need to know that going to the dictionary is not always the best first step.

While they are working on vocabulary and comprehension, I would have many opportunities to assess the students through observation and discussion.  I could modify approaches based on the students’ needs by scaffolding the activity with teacher and peer support as necessary.

It would be a great experience, I think!

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