Saturday, June 18, 2016

Poverty Brains in the Classroom - Final post

Eric Jensen's books go into so much more detail than I have provided in these posts.  If these have sparked any interest, please take time to read his books.  As a classroom teacher, I found his new one, Poor Students, Rich Teachering, especially helpful.

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This is an area that I personally excel.  It simply comes naturally to me.  So, as I started this chapter I was simply reading it to complete the book.  Yes, many of his thoughts were not new to me and probably many of you as Marzano's research and books along with Anita Archer are widely respected.  However, I still found new bits of information.  If classroom management or engagement are a growth area for you, I highly suggest looking into this last chapter of  Poor Students, Rich Teachering.  

(#1 & 2 are part of reciprocal teaching.  It has 0.74 effect size. This is an area I want to grow as a teacher.)

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1. Creating a quiz...I do have my students create tests/quizzes and use them as a grade.  This activity will be added to that arsenal of tools.  Partners work together and each student creates 3 questions.  They share their questions and eliminate one from each persons list.  Then each partner set, finds another partner set.  They exchange questions.  I may change the way it is done a bit by  having the partners only eliminate one question giving them 5 as a set.  If it is used as a test then I would probably have them find another set to exchange with as well for a total of 10 questions.  Yes, they may end up with repeated questions.  I don't worry about that.  
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2. Clarifying Content...This is something as teachers I believe we do but just not regularly enough.  Or at least this teacher doesn't.   Ask questions such as: Can you rephrase that in your own words? What questions does this reading bring to your mind?  How would you explain that to someone else?  In my classroom, I could see this working into my students journals.  At the start of the year, I would have them write out to one of these for various passages/content. Each time write, then discuss it with a partner or group.  Finally take a few answers as whole class.  After several of these types of questions have been used, I would start giving them the choice for which they want to write an answer.  (I have been doing some GenX research and choice IS KEY!!)
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3. Rituals...Chapter 22 goes into rituals and routines. It states that rituals: solve recurring problems, include all students, easy to do, predictable, end with a positive emotional state.  (Note: procedures may meet some of these criteria but do not meet all.)  Examples are callbacks and celebrations.  I have several of both of these, but this year found the celebrations lagging than my norm.  What off the wall, unique celebrations do you do?  

I wish I would have read the epilogue first! It really digs into reflective practice through questioning.  
It also provides a nicely put together checklist to use.  


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Vision and the Poverty Brain in the Classroom

What is your vision of your classroom?
What vision did you have of your future life when you were a child or teen?
Who helped you achieve your dreams?  What did they do?

Vision is our expectations of our own future.  It brings people hope and satisfaction to work towards something.  The gutsy goals we discussed earlier, is all part of developing a vision.

   **Set goals with steps to accomplish them.
   **Help students refine dreams by learning how to think about the end result.  Where do they want to be later in life.
   **Playing music in the classroom that encourages thoughts of making it.  Ideas: Rocky Theme, Unbelievable.
   **Teach envisioning strategies dealing with self talk and how to see what it takes to be what or where they want to be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Voice and Poverty Brains in the Classroom

Students need a voice in their classroom.  It provides validation.

    **Affirm and gently express the differences between fact and opinion.
    **Teach them how to advocate for themselves.
    **Encourage students to take risks by speaking up appropriately for what means something to them such as taking on a school or community issue.
     **Allowing them to express their identity and culture.

What are ways you give your students voice in the classroom?


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Classroom Weather Report

What's the climate in your classroom?

Chapters 14 through 18 of Eric Jensen's Poor Student, Rich Teacher is all about secrets to a rich classroom climate mindset.  The previous blogs about the poverty brain in our classrooms all intertwine to create a sunny classroom climate.  Affirmation, relevancy, engagement, and relationships all develop this mindset.  Teachers who create a climate that enriches the brain for not only those in poverty, but all of their students do so intentionally.


First lets look at the differences and connections between culture and climate.  CULTURE is what we do and establishes or predicts behaviors.  It is the behaviors and character of the class.  CLIMATE is the how we feel or mood.    The climate effects the culture.    Therefore, us as teachers can create the mood (climate) and ultimately develop the culture we desire.  The mindset we need to impact (0.80 effect size) our students is one that focusses on what students need to succeed.  Must believe that your class is a place from growth and that you will do everything in your power to help your students reach those gutsy goals.  It also includes acceptance of mistakes.  Not only acceptance but embracing them! do we create this climate??
       *Set expectations/classroom norms
       * Create goals/discuss dreams
       *Allow for student voice and vision to be heard (chapter 15)
       *Foster academic optimism (chapter 16)

In the next two posts, I will go into more detail about voice, vision and optimism.

Questions for us to ponder....
      How do you set up your classroom expectations?  How does the school set it's norms?
         What do you do that creates the climate of your classroom?  Greet kids each day, smile....
            What is one step this coming year you can take to improve the climate within your classroom?


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Praise Video

I just found a video while reading a blog that I thought fits right into the discussion of feedback/praise as discussed in my blog today.

The blog I found this on is Laura Chandler's Corkboard Connections,

20 Tips for Motivating Gifted Kids to THINK!

Click above if you would like to read what others are saying about how they use praise as feedback. 

Achievement Mindset

Achievement Mindset

How do we develop a drive, motivation, or foster effort for learning in our students?

Too be honest, this would have been the largest issue I faced this past year.  A class full of students who simply put little to no effort into their work.  
(Note: This portion is going to be extremely simpified.  Each of these items has its own full chapter in the  Poor Student, Rich Teacher book by Eric Jensen.)

1. Offer choice...A good start but effect size is only 0.48

2. Teacher mindset about who can and cannot achieve has a greater impact than IQ, socioeconomic status, or reading ability.  WOW! Take time to reflect on that.  WE HAVE GREAT POWER to MOTIVATE! (Chpt 10 discusses our modeling of high achievement thinking)

3. Providing high true relevancy to learning

4. Effective feedback = effect size .65 (chpt 11) We all know the 3 positives to 1 negative.  Plus, the use of specific tasks not just the general, "Well done." phrasing.   Interesting parts of this chapter was that formative assessment that is used as a learning tool for the students has an effect size of 0.90.  Using statements such as... "I like the way you used ____strategy on that problem."  Even to go further and ask why or how they chose that strategy reinforces the positive use of their learning.  Mentioning to students when you see them using a positive attitude going into a new concept, gives them strength as well.

5. GUTSY GOALS - get ready....1.44 effect size!!  (Chpt 9) The kicker is starting from day 1 of the new school year and setting what may seem like a unattainable goal in conjunction with very attainable small bites (steps).  This will be my Proffessional Goal again this year as I did not get to where I want to be with it last year.  In fact, I went backwards a bit from what I had done in the past.

How do you use goals within your classroom?  Which one of these can you improve upon or already do well?  

Lets change lives through providing students with all they need so they can't help but achieve!!


Cartoon to Share

How can we remove or at least lessen the block that keeps several of our students from being able to "see" what we are tying to teach them?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Battling the Poverty Brain in the Classroom - 3

 Student Relationships 

   If you were a fly on my classroom wall, you would see desks in groups, students working together throughout the day.  Beyond cooperative groups the students sit on the floor 1-2 times per day. Reminder: I teach upper elementary.  While on the floor they talk with various partners depending on the color or shape (Sit Spots) on which they are sitting.  Several times a week, student mix up by roaming the room and when the music stops or I say, "freeze" they find the closest person. Paired students share their learning.  

    Cooperative groups have a 0.59 effect size. Groups of 4 increases effect size to 0.69 It is worth the effort to take the time to teach students how to work together. Kids need time to talk and feel like they belong.  This is especially important as peers become their focus in mid-elementary.  Plan for these students to have time to build friendships and accountability for each other.  

    Probably the one activity I have seen cooperative groups thrive upon is the test autopsy.  A test autopsy is simply taking time after a test to work through the assessment as a group.  The entire group is responsible for assisting each other figure out answers. There are several strategies for completing autopsies.  Find one that fits your style of teaching. 

   What ways do you encourage students to build relationships within your classroom?