Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daily Assignment #71: Legacy

A dear friend, and colleague, (Jane), asked me what I wanted my legacy to teaching to be when I retired.  I believe it is the hope of all teachers that something taught, or done through the years, impacts a student, or colleague, in away that the spirit of the lesson/experience carries on years after we have left the profession.  However, for me, I couldn't figure out what that was.

After watching this video, by Sir Ken Robinson, I realized what I would like to be my legacy.  I want people to say that, "Linda taught the total child."  When I reflect on my 34 years of teaching, I recognize that I not only taught the core content areas, but I included ceramics, orienteering, recorders, ballroom dancing, dramatizations, plays, knitting, singing, art and things I can't even remember.  Please know, I did not do this alone, parents and volunteers supported my classroom on a regular basis.  An amazing parent,(Barb), volunteered to teach orienteering for many years, as did a parent, (Lucia), who taught ceramics, and a group of mothers, who came in once a week, to teach knitting, to mention a few.  So, you see, it does take a village.

I hope by watching this video you will become, if not already, more cognizant of how you integrate music, art, physical movement, or whatever else you can do, to tap into a child's interest, strengths, and most importantly, the creative part of their brain.

This video is 19 minutes long.  It is well worth your time.  It is humorous, while making an important point.  So, please take the time to watch.
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On another note, this will be last blog until August 21st.  Please make sure you rejoin this site at that time.  I am planning to experiment with new ways to share strategies with you beginning in August.
Having said that, as you start planning for next year, I hope you will use this site as a reference.

Now, go and have a wonderful, relaxing and well deserved summer vacation.  Remember to use sunblock, laugh, do something kind each day and smile.  You are an amazing person because you are a teacher and you do make a difference!!!

Please continue to share this link with colleagues and friends.
Become a "Follower" so you will know when the new blogs are added.
Thank you for your support AND
Best Effort,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daily Assignment #70: 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Teachers

As the end of the school years nears, I would like to share with you some inspirational/motivational pieces I have found beginning with 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Teachers by Linc. Fisch.

  1. Highly effective teachers care. They care about their students, their work, and themselves. They treat others with dignity; they respect others' integrity. They give high priority to benefiting others. They affirm others' strengths and beings; it's a kind of love.
  2. Highly effective teachers share. They share their knowledge, insights, and viewpoints with others. Their willingness to share is a way of life for them. They don't withhold information for personal gain.
  3. Highly effective teachers learn. They continually seek truth and meaning. They seek to discover new ideas and insights. They reflect on their experiences and incorporate the learning into their lives. They are willing to upgrade their skills. They continue growing and developing throughout their lives.
  4. Highly effective teachers create. They are willing to try the new and untested, to take risks for worthy educational outcomes. Anything worth doing is worth failing at. They are not discouraged by an occasional failure; they reframe the error as an opportunity to do better as a result of the experience.
  5. Highly effective teachers believe. They have faith in students. They trust students and are willing to grant them freedom and responsibility. They hold high expectations for their students, as well as for themselves.
  6. Highly effective teachers dream. They have a vision of success. They are driven by an image of excellence, the best that their innate abilities allow. They always seek to improve, never being content with just "gettingby" in teaching or in any other endeavor.
  7. Highly effective teachers enjoy. Teaching is not just employment to them; it is their Work. They throw themselves into it with vigor. They gain major satisfaction and joy from it. And that joy often infects their students.
I hope this inspires you and reaffirms all the hard work that you do.

Please share this link with colleagues and friends. 
If you haven't already, consider becoming a "Follower".
Best Effort,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daily Assignment #69: Best Effort

Several Followers have emailed and have asked why I close with "Best Effort."  I have learned, and believe, that everything we do is based on the effort we put into it.  If we, and our students, want to learn and be successful we must put in our best effort.  Best effort includes time, practice, focus, effective strategies, resourcefulness, using feedback, and determination.

When learning something new we must use effective effort to build capacity.  Example:  Learning to ski,  we must put incredible effort at the beginning and as we become better at skiing we put in less effort because we have built capacity.  For our students, learning any piece of content requires a lot of effort at the beginning, e.g. learning to read, memorizing the multiplication tables, learning the Periodic Table, Pythagorean theory, etc...

I no longer say to students "Good Luck" on a test, project, presentation, sport, etc...  I always say, "Best Effort".  Luck means outside influences lead to success.  Luck, good or bad, applies to the lottery, and we all know how that works.  Luck does not apply to learning and has no place in the classroom. "Best Effort" means success will be the result of the effort put into the test, project, etc...

I hope you will think about the language you use with your students in reference to effort and success.
Best Effort,

P.S.  Please share this link with colleagues and friends.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daily Assignment #68: Closure for the End of the Year #3: Letters

This strategy is for the very beginning of community building for the new year and away for current students to "pass the wand" to the new students.

Each current student writes a letter to an incoming student for the next school year.  The letter should include a sentence welcoming the new student to the class, one or two sentences about projects and activities that were done this year, and perhaps a sentence on their favorite thing in the classroom.

Students should use the formal letter writing format.  Each letter should begin with "Dear...." and end with "Your Friend" or "Sincerely Yours".

     Welcome to room 103.
     This is such an exciting class to be in.  This year we studied islands and got to make volcanoes.  We also studied Social Justice.  We did a play based on the Montgomery Boycott.  You probably don't know what that is yet, but you will.
    My favorite thing in the classroom is the art area.  We get to use clay, paints, markers and other neat stuff.
     I hope you have as much fun as me in room 103.

                                                                                          Your friend,

You may not have a class list for next September and therefore you cannot identify to whom each letter is to be addressed to.  So, just have the students write "Dear" and leave a blank, which you will fill in later.

Two weeks before school begins, send one of these letters and a welcoming letter from you to each of your new students. (refer to Daily Assignment #1)  This, of course, will require you to find a save place for the letters over the summer and to remember where you put them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Daily Assignment #67: Closure for the End of the Year: #2 Goodbye Book

Another activity for the end of the year is a "Goodbye Book".  This provides a brief summary of the school year for the students.
The teacher puts the name of the class and the year on the front cover. The students complete the cover by decorating it with drawings of things that happened throughout the year.

On the inside have 8-10 pages with ideas for drawings or words.  For example:

Draw a picture of your teachers.
Draw a picture of a friend.
Something you learned.
Favorite field trip.
Something that made you laugh.
Favorite activity.
Favorite book.
Something I shared.
Something I'm good at.
Favorite project.
Favorite unit of study.
Autograph pages/ a gift from a friend.  (The gift from the friend would be kind words.)
A gift from your teacher. (Again, this would be kind words.)

Match the ideas to your class and your students.  I'm sure you have a lot more ideas.

On a side note, I spoke with a student today, who I had 15 years ago, she said she still has her book!  So, these are definitely keepers.

I hope you will experiment with this activity.
Please share this link with colleagues and friends.
If you haven't already, consider becoming a "Follower".
Best Effort,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Daily Assignment #66: Closure for the End of the Year: #1 Portfolio Presentations

It is June 1st, which means you are almost at the of this school year.  YEA!!!!  Now, is a good time to start planning for the last week of school, if you haven't already.

An activity I did with students, the last week of school, were Portfolio Presentations.  I would meet with each student, (2-3 weeks before the end of school), and go through their work--math, writing, projects, drawings, journals, assessments.  Students would select a piece of work from the beginning of the year and, in the same content area, a piece of work from the end of the year.  We would conference on the significance of the selected work, e.g. why it was chosen, what it represents for the student, what is the difference between the 2 pieces of work, what did the student learn that makes the difference, can they demonstrate the learning. The students would write their responses, which are used for their oral presentation.
Math:  the student selects a worksheet, from September, which demonstrates his capacity to do simple equations.  The second worksheet, from May, represents the student's capacity to solve 3-digit subtraction equations with regrouping.  For the presentation the student would read their responses from the questions and then demonstrate how to solve a  3-digit subtraction equation with regrouping.

Reading: the student selects a book they read in September and then a book they are currently reading.  They respond to the questions.  For the presentation the student would read the responses then read a passage from the first book and then from the latest book.

Writing: the student would select a piece from the beginning of the year and a current piece.  For the presentation the student would read their responses then share their work.  This can be done by copying the writing onto a transparency or by using an Elmo, or copying onto a computer and showing on a Smart board.

Art work:  the student selects a piece of art from the beginning of the year, perhaps a drawing and a piece from the end of the year.  For the presentation the student reads their responses, shares the art work and demonstrates/describes a technique that they have learned.

Music:  the student selects a piece of music they learned at the beginning of the year and one they currently play/sing.  For the presentation they read their responses, play the 1st piece, then the 2nd.  To take this to the next level, the student could write their own piece of music to play/sing.

The presentations were done as part of a class breakfast.  Parents/families, colleagues, administrators and anyone else who wanted to, came to this event.  It was very powerful to hear and see the students share their learning.  The students took this event very seriously and really put in the effort into their presentations.

I hope you will consider this activity as you begin to plan for the end of the year.
Please share this link with colleagues and friends.
If you haven't already, consider becoming a "Follower".
Best Effort,