Teachers, Here Is How to Spend Your Summer

Blackboard with School's out text on the beach

I distinctly remember staying late, late on a Friday night my second year of teaching so that I could finish all of my grading and planning for the next week.

I loved the idea of having a whole weekend to myself for once, but I didn’t actually think about what I would do with it once I had it. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling optimistic and free and by 1:15pm when I still hadn’t really moved from my bed, dread started to creep in. I had no idea really what to do with this free time. Completely forgot what I actually liked to do. It was the worst day ever.

I ate a Hungry Man dinner at 4:00pm.

If you are like me and are in danger of having that happen to your entire summer, or even just a couple of weeks of it, I have some ideas for you. Continue Reading ›

The Next New Thing: Personalized Learning

High School Teacher Helping Student With Written Work

One thing about education as a profession—the grass is never allowed to grow under a teacher’s feet for very long. There’s always something new coming down the pike, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does induce a kind of professional dizziness from time to time. Adapting to the “next new thing” is always a challenge, especially if it moves from the periphery onto the center stage in classroom practices. The most recent concept in education is personalized learning, not to be confused with differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction addresses how lessons are delivered to students, based on their individual needs. Personalized learning is more complex.

enotes blog squaresIn its purest form, personalized learning allows students to choose what they will study and to proceed at their own pace in meeting individual goals. Implementing it requires four instructional strategies, which are summarized in “Personalized Learning: A Working Definition”:

  • Continual assessment as a student progresses toward “clearly-defined goals,” with the student advancing and earning credit after demonstrating mastery.
  • Learning environments designed to meet students’ needs in reaching their goals.
  • Customized “learning paths” based on each student’s progress, motivations, and goals.
  • Up-to-date “learner profiles” that chart each student’s strengths, needs, motivations, and goals.

That’s a lot to do after taking attendance! Seriously, it’s a lot to do period, and the current demands of standardized testing make personalized learning seem like a classroom fantasy. It’s a great idea, though, so what can be done to personalize learning in a system based on covering a specific curriculum in a limited amount of time? Apparently, quite a bit, starting with learner profiles. Continue Reading ›

8 Ways to Use Social Media for Homework

Blank blackboard

Students use their social media accounts all day long—likely both in and out of school. Meet them on their turf by assigning homework to be completed on various social media websites. Students will be excited to use the websites they love, and you can take lessons outside the classroom and bring them into the real world. Continue Reading ›

Educator Professional Development: Issues and Opportunities

enotes_testtaking_cartoon

Last month the first Global Teacher Prize—$1,000,000—was awarded by the Varkey Foundation to an educator in Maine, Nancie Atwell. Described as the “Nobel Prize in teaching,” the award received a lot of publicity, and Atwell made the news when she won it. During an interview with CNN, she said that the current emphasis on standards and standardized testing is “a movement that’s turned teachers into technicians, not reflective practitioners.” Considering that she has forty-plus years of teaching experience and has now been recognized essentially as the best teacher in the world, her assessment of the profession deserves attention. It also raises questions about current trends in professional development. Continue Reading ›

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 ›

10 Books to Help Every Teacher Rock

Pick up one of these teacher-written guides over your next school break to return to your classroom with fresh and inspiring ideas.

By Lesley Vos, a private educator of French language and a Bid4papers blogger.

A good teacher is not the one who believes he knows everything, but the one who is ready to learn new things and improve his knowledge and skills. A good teacher is not the one who perfectly knows a theoretical part of a subject she teaches, but the one who knows how to talk and behave to her students, how to understand them, how to become their friend, how to make them trust and rely on her.

If you want to become a teacher who rocks, it’s never late to learn some tips and tricks from your colleagues: check out these 10 top books written by your fellow instructors to help you understand your students better, and come back to school a better teacher.

Your must-read books include:

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.

Continue Reading ›