ENGAGE, EQUIP, & EMPOWER: Teaching about Elizabeth Blackwell

elizabeth-blackwell-3Looking for an interesting topic to discuss next week in class? How about teaching students about the first woman to ever graduate from medical school “way back when” on January 23rd of 1849?

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a M.D. degree from an American medical school. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and colleagues founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Read more about this amazing woman here.

One easy way to engage students in a lesson about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell is to watch a quick intro video about her. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell — Weston Woods

You can also find a read aloud of Scholastic’s book here: Tami Reads “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell” By: Tanya Lee Stone

For K-3 students, engage them in meaningful, thoughtful discussions about courage and self-confidence. You can tie the discussion to a read aloud of Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Students can discuss how both the character and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell displayed courage and self-confidence. Empower students by having them write about Dr. Blackwell and how they can apply her example to their own lives!

Click here to see lesson plan ideas!

For 4th – 6th grade here is a link to a TpT resource about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

Happy Teaching!

 

 

Advertisements

Education Class: Multi-Sensory Magic

MS.pngUsing multi-sensory instructional techniques is not new. We have done it for years. Think about the song “I’m a Little Teapot.” I can always remember that song because I can still do the motions with it. That is multi-sensory instruction!

My son is dyslexic. For the past 2 years, he has received multi-sensory language instruction therapy. When he was in the 7th grade, he only read at a 2.4 grade-level equivalency. He is now a 9th grader. In December of 2017, his grade-level reading equivalency was 8.3!!! This multi-sensory, systematic approach is the ONLY thing that has worked for him. I am incorporating more and more of this instructional approach into my own work with struggling readers.

“Multisensory teaching isn’t just limited to reading and listening. Instead, it tries to use all of the senses. Every lesson won’t use all of a child’s senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing and movement). But in most multisensory lessons, students engage with the material in more than one way.” -understood.org

Read More Here: Multisensory Instruction: What You Need to Know

How about multi-sensory in physical education to teach other content areas? Take a look at my colleague’s approach to teaching Skeletal Anatomy to PreK students!

Multi-Sensory Instruction in PreK with Coach Chris Tolbert

Happy Teaching! Go make some Multi-Sensory Magic!

 

 

It is New Year’s Eve, cuddle up with the 3Rs!

breakTeachers need the 3Rs on New Year’s Eve. I don’t mean reading, writing, etc. I mean REST, REFLECT, and REJUVENATE! Teaching is the most draining, yet most rewarding career in the world. I am struggling with some learning of my own. . . learning to take care of myself.  This is hard for most of us because we spend our time taking care of everyone else.

I updated this blog quite frequently when I was in the classroom full time. The past year and a half, I have served as the reading specialist at my school. My blogging has suffered because (again) I have been too busy with everything else to take time for myself. If you are the same, I hope you will follow my blog this year. I will share what we are doing in our classrooms at school and what I am learning in the greatest classroom of all. . .LIFE!

So cuddle up today with the 3Rs!

These items help you look cute when cuddling. . . Click here for a SALE on C.C. Beanies!

PS: Yes, it is New Year’s Eve. No, I will not go out and party because every day is a party in this house!

Engage! Writing Workshops with Rick Shelton

hoggles
Hoggle’s Christmas by Rick Shelton

Peanut butter and jelly . . .

Grits and eggs . . .

RC and a moon pie . . .

Certain things in this life are meant to be enjoyed together. Two of those are reading and writing.

My past few blog posts have focused on student engagement. Writing is an excellent engagement strategy. Students WILL write when the writing is authentic and purposeful. Writing will strengthen their reading skills. The more reading your students do, the better writers they will become. Reading and writing were meant to be taught together. When America forgot that important fact, I simply do not know. I do know that it is high time we have our students writing again!

Allow them to write about what is important to them. Teach them to write about what interests them. Model for them how to SHOW and not just TELL with their words. When we teach them to write by giving them opportunities to write in meaningful ways, they will know how to write when it is time to begin essays, analyzing complex informational text, and citing text evidence. We expect them to pick up a pencil in the third grade and eloquently compare or contrast two complex text passages when they have never even written two complete sentences. We must model writing for them and model it early on!

I have always believed this. This week, our staff was treated to a series of writing workshops led by author, Rick Shelton. It was amazing! His workshop has awakened our little school to the many authentic and purposeful writing opportunities we can provide for our students.

If you are interested in having Rick Shelton at your school, here is his link:

Rick Shelton’s Writing Workshops

 

 

 

Engage! Hook ’em!

hookEvery fisherman needs the right hook to get that big catch. Every good writer knows that they need a hook to grab the readers attention and keep them reading.

Every instructional lesson needs a hook! Effective teachers “hook” their students at the beginning of each lesson. The “hook” engages students and motivates them to remain actively engaged in learning.

Why would you even begin without a hook when it has been proven to be essential?

Student engagement has been found to be the key to preventing dropout (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horsey, 1997). They don’t dropout because they:

  • earn higher grades,
  • perform better on tests,
  • report a greater sense of belonging,
  • can set and meet personal goals,
  • persist on tasks,
  • expect success, and
  • value educational outcomes (Christenson et al., 2008; National Research Council, 2004).

Meaningfully engaging students solves a large number of the “issues” currently debated in education. We must make the material matter. We must enable students to make connections between the literature and life. We must make math mean money! LOL! It’s true!

The most important type of engagement is cognitive engagement. This type of engagement is students’ belief that schoolwork is relevant to real life and their future. Congnitive engagement is about setting SMART goals, using effective strategies, and being truly motivated to learn. Students who are cognitively engaged feel that they can succeed. Most importantly, students who are cognitevly engaged WANT to succeed!

The next few blog posts will focus on strategies for student engagement.

Click here for image: engage

References
Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Horsey, C. S. (1997). From first grade forward: Early foundations of high school dropout. Sociology of Education, 70(2), 87-107.
Christenson, S. L., Reschly, A. L., Appleton, J. J., Berman-Young, S., Spanjers, D. M., & Varro, P. (2008). Best practices in fostering student engagement. In A. Thomas and J. Grimes (Eds.), Best  practices in school psychology V (pp. 1099–1119). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.
National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. (2004). Engaging schools: Fostering high school students’ motivation to learn. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

 

Engage! Engage! Engage!

20140210_112759
Active engagement is essential to student success.

I believe there are three key words that are essential to educating our students: engage, equip, and empower. These three words are just the components; they must be joined together with real “work”. Reading about engagement strategies does no good unless we put the research to work! Through this blog we will analyze these 3Es and give tips on how to make them work in our classrooms.

Engage! Engage! Engage!

Just this week, I met with the 3rd grade staff at my school. We discussed the changes we have implemented this year. A veteran teacher spoke of the difference in student engagement this year as compared to years in the past. She believes that the strategies we have put in place to intentionally engage our students is the #1 key to the success her students are having. I agree that this one component is essential for today’s students.

So, what are we doing to engage our students?

We will get to that in our follow-up posts. First, I want to share a link with you about this topic from one of my favorite resources, Edutopia.

Golden Rules for Student Engagement

eee

New Year’s Words & A New Voice

eee“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot

It is 2017. It is time for new words and a new voice.

Have you noticed how educators latch on to “buzz words” as if those words will be a magic solution for the numerous issues we face in our quest to create a better educational system for America’s future?

I have. I have also noticed that we often use the “buzz words” but fail to put in the “basic work”. There I said it. Go ahead stone me. It is  true.

We often want to quote the latest buzz words we heard at a conference, but we don’t actually want to commit to making those words work. Why? I don’t have the answer for that. Maybe we don’t believe the buzz. Maybe we don’t want to put in the work. Maybe we are tired, stressed, and tired of our profession being disrespected.

This year, I commit to the work not just the words.

I believe there are three key words that are essential to educating our students: engage, equip, and empower. These three words are just the components; they must be joined together with work.

Join me in the next few months as I look at each of these “words” and  the real “work” that will facilitate student growth and academic achievement.

In 2017, will you be a new voice?

 

 

Gaga for Google!

gaga“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie

My new role as the ARI Reading Specialist at my school requires team planning with all 5 of our third grade teachers. The third grade is an important focus group this year. Every leader “Begins With the End in Mind.” Our end in mind this year is to improve third grade ACT Aspire scores by at least 10%. This is our third grade team vision and our organizational objective. We are using Google Drive to enable us to team plan in our quest to attain uncommon results! I have gone gaga  for Google!

What does Google Drive enable us to do?

Google Drive allows us to design lesson plans and then share with other team members. Each lesson plan is designed using our DES Universal Planning and Curriculum Guide. This guide is the basic lesson plan for each reading lesson. Once the Google Doc is shared, team members can make modifications to meet the specific learning needs of their unique classes.

One of our areas of focus this year is to improve student mastery of the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas standards. I am able to create specific materials to supplement our reading program and share these resources will all of our teachers with just one click.

I could go on and on about the many uses of Google Drive. I even use it to create presentations for data meetings and professional development sessions. If you are not using Google Drive, check it out. It is a great resources for educators!

Click here to read a great Blog about using Google Drive!

Back to Blog

girlreading“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I believe that I was in the fifth grade the very first time that I escaped from reality into the world of that secret English garden. When I allow my mind to wander there, I can still inhale the scent of flora and early morning fog. My ears still perk up at the sound of a small bird chirping a happy tune. My heart always hopes that it is Robin, the symbolic gatekeeper. Like Mary, I am enchanted by Robin’s merry tune and the prospect of revealing the garden’s hidden secret.

“Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.” –The Secret Garden

My love of escaping into a novel was nurtured by the many wonderful educators who blessed me with the gift of knowledge. Their influence no doubt played an important role in my decision to become an educator. I feel alive in a classroom. When I teach, I know that I am doing exactly what God designed me to do.

Knowing all of that, it might seem odd that I made the decision to come out of the classroom and step into the role of reading specialist. I have not made a blog post this school year because I have been adjusting to me new role. I am pleased to announce that I love it.

I will begin to blog about my experience in this new role, share resources that I find or designed, and share victories that I encounter on this journey. I thank God and Tallapoosa County Schools for giving me this opportunity.