Sunday, May 29, 2016

Battling the Poverty Brains in Our Classrooms - 2

EFFECT SIZE...0.72 & 0.87....WOW!! 

  Relationships Matter

    This is not new information.  We all have heard it, do it, and want it.  OR have we?  Relationships, according to Eric Jensen have a whopping 0.72 effect size as average for all students. For secondary students, the effect size is 0.87.  Kindergarten teachers, the relationships you build with male students especially were correlated to their academic success through middle school!! Feeling a bit of pressure.  Chapter three of Poor Students, Rich teachers states that students from low-income families can perform equal to their higher-income classmates with teachers who are strong in instruction and emotional supports.   Another study discussed in the same portion demonstrates how IQ is effected by classroom relationships.  IT DOES MATTER!
    I consider myself a relationship building teacher, but if it is THAT important, maybe, just maybe, I should take time to reflect on my practice. 

    Using student names....
        How do you learn your student's names?  
                       How long does it take you to learn their names?
                                          How often do you use their names after you have learned them?
               +Use name tags not only for you, but it is important for the specialists to learn and use the                     student names.  They may need more time with name tags. 
               +Link name games to lessons - alliteration, rhyming, setting...Students state their name or a                classmates using the concept that you are teaching.  EX: "I am Katie and I live in a small                      green house. "

    Get to know you activities... 
            What activities do you use to learn more about your students?
                        When do you use these and for how long?  (10 min. for first 10 days, once a week                                  throughout the year)
              +Personal timelines, pennants, posters (throughout the year)
              + Passion Projects (a couple times per year)
              +Interest and learning surveys (start of year)
              +ebook about self (want to try)
              +Favorite book/author talks (throughout the year)

     Sharing your story/life...
             What is a story you share about you at their age do you use?
                        When do you feel comfortable telling personal stories about your life? 

            +Play ask the teacher 20 questions (I play this the first or second day and each student gets to                ask one question.)      
            + 2 truths and a lie (start of year or later)
            +Power Point:
                         pictures of family, picture of me at their age,  favorite music, hobbies, my pets, map                              of all the places I've lived, Sonic Tea (my obsession), favorites...      
             ***Many of these ideas can then be expanded by the students doing the same activity to                            share with the class.                        

I would love to hear your ideas!!!
Next post will be about building relationships amongst students. :) 


Friday, May 27, 2016

Battling the Poverty Brains in our Classrooms - 1


    Lets change pity to empathy.  Pity allows teachers to not hold high expectations and make excuses instead of changing our tactics towards how to assist the students to be all they can be.
    First, lets recognize that bad things happen to everyone.  We can choose to sit and stew in it or pick ourselves up and do something to change it.  The difference is that students in poverty may not have the skills needed to cope or change it on their own.  Chapter 6 of Poor Students, Rich Teachers by Eric Jensen discusses this.  Students living in poverty have less gray matter, smaller white matter, and a hippocampus with reduced volume. That all equals...the brain needs help to overcome the effects of poverty. Teachers who show empathy demonstrate support.  Supportive relationships actually heal the hippocampus.

How do we show empathy or develop supportive relationships?

1. Make caring explicit.  Some students can not read body language.
        *Seek understanding by listening and talking less
       Try: Two 4 Ten - choose two students who need that relationship building.  Give them each two          minutes for ten days.  Repeat...make it a daily habit.  If you work in a team where several                    teachers see the same students, talk about who is going to be the "Two 4 Ten" teacher for those            who need it.
       Try: Three 4 Thirty - Find out 3 things about each student beyond their name within the first 30          days of school.

2. Connect outside of school.
        Try: Show up to ball games, skate park, concert...

3. Connect at the end.
      Try:  Connect at the end.  Watch how students leave your room.  Do they need a quick chat time?       Do you have a period near the end of the day that is set up for quiet or homework time?  Could           you use that time to quietly take 5 minutes to talk to a student.  Acknowledge what their body             language is saying and ask them if they are okay?

Moments matter...let's make most of them.

What is this "Effect Size" researchers throw around?

Effect Size Explained

We hear about effect size all the time.  I don't know about you, but I didn't completely understand the numbers.  Eric Jensen's  Poor Students, Rich Teachers (ch 2) explains effect size. Ah-ha!! 

0.00 or less = negative effect
0.00 - 0.20 = Negligible or unclear effects
0.21 - 0.40 = small/moderate effects
0.41 - 0.60 = moderate to strong effects --> 0.50 is 1 years worth of growth
0.61 - 2.00 = extremely positive effects --> 1.00 is 1 is 2 years worth of growth;1.50 is 3 years growth

As you look at strategies that provide effect size take into account that students coming from poverty have academic gaps and usually need more than a years worth of growth.  It can be accomplished if we focus our efforts by using what researchers have found to be the most beneficial tactics.  

Don't simply keep adding to what you do.  
Take a good look at your overflowing toolbox...
now let it go (singing...) and put in what works.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Poverty...what does differentiation have to do with it?

As I stated in my last post, I am current involved with an independent study.  I am primarily using various Eric Jensen books.  Eric Jensen is one of the gurus of taking brain research and applying it to teaching strategies.  As a former teacher, he gets that we need to understand our students but also need strategies.

Why am I studying this?

Last year, I had several children who were in poverty or close to poverty levels.  Behaviors were rampant in my room....disregard for authority to the point where a discussion with another staff member ensued about how they as 5th graders were smarter than any adult.  So why should we listen to them.  When the staff member interjected after 17 minutes of this "talk" that adults have wisdom that comes from experience.  At this point, the 6-8 students leading this "discussion," turned on her. They accused her of being a liar. "You said we could always say whatever they wanted without her judging. See adults are all liars." That is an example of the attitudes of some but not all of my students.  Motivation was LOW even with all my best engagement strategies.  Self doubt, anger and control issues were norm in my room....the list could go on.  Even with all of that, I cared deeply for these kiddos! However, felt unprepared for what they needed.  Hence, my independent study to give my belt a few more tools. 

Why do you need to know this?

Poverty is all around us.  Teachers therefore need to stop making excuses like "well its the home life," or "they will always just have issues."  WAKE UP!! In Eric Jensen's book Poor Students, Rich Teachers, he spends two chapters helping us see the URGENCY of this social issue.  "Percentage wise we have about the same number of poor as in 1964." (ch.1, pg 3) I will not bore you with all the numbers but lets just say...I was surprised!! Then with a quick question, I found that my district is at 64% Free Reduced/42% free lunch status.  I am NOT in a urban setting.  This is Nebraska.
     "So, what? Other than they are in my classroom, what does it mean to me?" You may be asking yourself. Well, first off, they are in your classroom! Secondly, when poverty increases then tax base decreases.  Who/what pays your salary?  Jensen goes into all of this much deeper.  Not convinced, read the first two chapters of the book mentioned in the paragraph above.  

      We need to understand how poverty effects the brain and hear the GREAT news: 


We have the power to improve this issue.  

So, lets do it! 

The forthcoming blogs will be insights on how to make tweaks to your teaching in order to change the future.  I plan to share which strategies I am going to implement and hope to have a "book study" style conversation about those and other strategies that we can use.  This is just another way to differentiate for what students need.  Meeting them at their step and giving them the tools to climb the steps of academics. 

COME JOIN ME....LETS CONQUER THE WORLD of POVERTY one classroom at a time!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way!!


It has been longer than I thought!! 

Well, one of my goals for the summer is to get back to my blog.  It barely got started and then I neglected it for my teenagers. NO REGRETS! Obviously, it was not the time in my life to take on this endeavor.
WELL...Last child graduated two weeks ago!! Amen!
    Sitting in my luxurious large and deep soaker tub!!!

I plan to continue my Bites posts when it get closer to start of year.  This way they are timely.

For June, I am going to be involved in an independent study of Teaching with the Poverty Brain in Mind and other Eric Jensen books.  I am a fan of Eric Jensen and hope to get to his summer conference one day.  At this time, reading his books will have to do.  I plan to share my insights, synthesis, and open up the discussion about strategies.

I am super EXCITED about this study as I know it will be beneficial from day one of the next school day.