Observe these 6th grade math students working with each other to learn different types of angles and triangles by using strings as manipulatives. These newest additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel come from Lanai High and Elementary School in Lanai City, HI.
Clips from a 3rd grade English in Sedro-Woolley, WA are the newest additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel. Janell Doggett facilitates a discussion on comparing and contrasting using George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as examples.
In this lesson, students start by thinking about "trends" in general and then narrow their focus into looking at trends in the periodic table. These additions to the Classroom Clips playlist on our Powerful Teaching and Learning channel come from a 10th grade science lesson delivered by Steve Cornell and his students in Lahaina, Hawaii.
As a first-year teacher, I thought entry tasks had one primary purpose: to keep the students quiet and occupied long enough for me to take attendance. During my first two years of teaching, I tended to assign a lot of simple, skills-based activities as entry tasks. I was an English teacher, so my students typically had grammar or vocabulary exercises during the first five minutes of class. However, as I observed other teachers through my STAR training and grew stronger in my own instructional practices, I began to look for ways to raise the level of thinking and application in my lessons. As my lessons began to demand more from my students, so too, did my entry tasks. Although I still started one or two lessons a week with skills-based practice (there is always a place for that!), I began to focus more on activities that asked my students to think critically and to make connections from the moment the bell rang. Here were three of my favorite entry tasks.
I am sure most us remember hearing stories from our grandparents or great-grandparents about the one-room school house, where students sat in wooden desks, the teacher was almost always female, and a shiny red apple stayed on the teacher’s desk. Students of varying ages sat and watched as the teacher reviewed how to write cursive letters, or they worked on perfecting their penmanship skills. Students usually were taught to be respectful and quiet, and to mind their manners. I certainly did not grow up in this era, but I do remember getting in trouble if I asked my neighbor to help me solve a problem because that was considered cheating, at least in my experience. Gone are the days of reading, writing and arithmetic. You may ask yourself, “What?! Students aren’t learning the most fundamental subjects needed to be a functioning citizen?” Well, that is not quite the case.
We have come a long way since those days. With a vast educational reform movement underway, we are no longer expecting the typical bell-shaped curve, where the average student will rank at the top of the curve, with lower-performing students on the left-hand side (indicating possible learning disabilities) and higher-performing students on the right-hand side (indicating possible high potential). There are three big concepts behind this: rigor, relevance, and relationships.
Student achievement is higher when the Essential Components of Powerful Teaching and Learning are evident in classroom practices. These components include Skills, Knowledge, Thinking, Application, and Relationships. In observations I have conducted, Application has usually been the lowest scoring component. This means that students are often not given the opportunity to make relevant and meaningful personal connections to their learning. Teachers can quite easily provide opportunities for students to make these connections by incorporating student culture into the classroom.
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