March’s Teacher’s Corner: Blended Learning

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In the olden days—really not that long ago—technology in the classroom was an intercom connection with the office and a 16mm projector that showed black-and-white documentaries. When film strip projectors arrived on the scene, they represented real innovation; a film strip machine with audio and auto advance was cutting edge. The term “blended learning” didn’t exist because there was nothing to blend. Continue Reading ›

January’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Homework – The Great Debate

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The philosophy of education in the U.S. is always subject to disagreement and controversy, but everyone can agree on this: It’s never, ever static. The dynamics in education often seem like those of a pendulum swinging back and forth, from one extreme to the other, as policymakers, curriculum designers and book writers continue to define and redefine what are now called “best practices.”

The current Great Debate over homework is a perfect example of the way the pendulum swings in education. In “The Case For and Against Homework” at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx, Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering summarize how homework has been accepted or rejected as a good practice since the early 1900s. Reading the summary is enough to give you whiplash:

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December’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Are We Expecting Too Much, Too Soon?

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

I recently read an article by Laura Katan in which she shares an anecdote I keep thinking about. At a fair, Katan saw a ten-year-old boy and his mom pass a massage vendor, and she heard the mother ask her son, “Do you want a massage? It may relax you.” Katan recalls she was “incredulous” as she overheard the comment. “Since when do 10-year-olds need to relax?” she asks. Well, apparently now. In fact, there seems to be a lot of kids who need to relax, and most of them are in our classrooms.   Continue Reading ›

November’s Teacher’s Corner Column: A Guide to Summative and Formative Assessments

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Keeping Up with Assessment and Grading

Assessing students’ achievement is an integral part of teaching, and like everything else in the profession, it has become more complicated. The days of giving a chapter test and calling it good are over. That’s not a bad thing though. To really keep tabs on who’s learning what, assessment has to be an ongoing process, and it has to offer kids a variety of ways to show what they know and what they can do.

To be thorough and effective, assessment has to include the three main types of measurement: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Diagnostic assessment is imperative, since it’s impossible to know how much ground students have gained at the end of a study unit unless we know where they were at the beginning. Formative assessment checks their learning along the way and provides an opportunity to adjust lesson plans, if necessary, and to address specific problems a struggling student might be experiencing. Summative assessment at the end of a study unit indicates kids’ overall mastery of new material and gives a clear idea about how to proceed in instruction. A review of all six types of assessment can be found here at edudemic.com. Another good site with information about assessment practices is utexas.edu/teaching.

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October’s Teacher’s Corner Column: How To Be Proactive and Organized Year-Round

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Whether you’re a new teacher or a classroom veteran, the school year can feel overwhelming, more so than ever since the demands of standards-based testing and professional development have grown increasingly complex and time consuming. Teaching now seems to require holding down two jobs at once: teaching kids with one hand and meeting a plethora of administrative mandates with the other. It’s tough to carry such a load day after day without sinking under the weight.

According to the old proverb, “A stitch in time saves nine.” It’s true, and it’s still good advice. Being proactive takes a little time, but it saves a lot of work and heads off problems, making a difficult year more manageable and less stressful. Here are a few ways to save yourself in the classroom by acting sooner rather than later:

  • Organize your paperwork, but don’t overdo it:
    • An organizational system shouldn’t be so complicated that it takes hours to create and you have to remember what’s filed where when you’re looking for something.
    • Backing up critical information is a must, but recording the same information in multiple places wastes time.
    • Making lists keeps things on track, but if you have so many lists you need a master list to keep track of them, you’ve overachieved! (I’m speaking from experience here, so trust me.)

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August’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Schools of the Future—Oh, My

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. This month, she’s looking to the future of teaching with a skeptical eye. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Predictions about how students will be educated one day are intriguing, but a few of them are downright scary when you think of the implications. Some visions of education in the future seem really off-the-wall, but others are not hard to imagine, for better or worse, considering the continuing impact of technology in the classroom and how it has already changed instructional practices. Here are a few highlights from the prognosticators:

  • Schools will consist of interlocking modular pods that can be added to or removed from a basic structure to adjust for the increase or decrease in a school’s population.
  • Modular schools will be portable, easily moved from one location to another as the general population shifts geographically.
  • Students will be micro-chipped to facilitate supervision and safety.
  • Classes will be conducted with robots providing instruction.
  • Traditional schools will cease to exist. Students will complete individual studies on computers at community centers open 24/7, working when it’s most convenient for them and communicating with teachers by voice mail.
  • All field trips will be virtual, and students will attend virtual workshops conducted by recognized authorities in various fields.
  • Hands-on learning will be phased out; students will interact solely with 3-D models, touching only computer keys.
  • Computer keyboards will be phased out. Students will use hand and eye gestures, like playing games on a Wii, to control electronic tablets. Students will write with digi pens.
  • Large multi-national companies will have an increasing influence on curriculums and school resources.

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