In a 7th grade classroom where students are used to sharing ownership and know how to think on their feet, what does the teacher do when he asks a question and there’s absolute silence? Smile at all the parents in the room and trust the kids.
Educators can create classrooms where students control their own learning and still meet the demands of a Common Core curriculum, says 5th grade teacher Pernille Ripp, author of “Passionate Learners: Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students.”
We can’t support rigorous learning unless we make sure students are ready for the experience, says teaching consultant Barbara R. Blackburn. She suggests three quick ways to assess prior knowledge, including the LINK small/whole group strategy.
If asking student writers to develop voice, stamina and range isn’t hard enough, says teacher educator Troy Hicks, we now have digital tools to contend with. Watch as Hicks helps his 6th grade daughter think through her creation of a book report video.
Teachers can help students explore important connections across different genres and subjects using “text sets” – collections of books and other media with a common theme. In this MiddleWeb article, teacher educator Amanda Wall details an assignment creating text sets for ELA and math.
Too much close reading is boring, say Mike Fisher & Danielle Hardt, as students comb through fiction, constantly analyzing lots of text. Ask them to read and write digital microstories. They’ll build evaluation & synthesis skills and have some fun.
Blending fiction, mystery and scientific investigation can be an effective way to excite tweens and young teens about science topics, says former teacher and NSTA trade book award winner Gail Hedrick, who shares her own writing & publishing story.
If persistent inequalities in urban and rural classrooms continue across the public system, reading expert Laura Robb says, it will be impossible for many children in poverty to achieve the deeper levels of learning anticipated by the Common Core.
An essay without a thesis might have great ideas in it, but absent an organizing principle it doesn’t hold together. Literacy expert Sarah Tantillo shares tools for thesis brainstorming & organizing that can save students and teachers time and pain.
Teachers who fail to actively involve students in learning experiences are mired in mediocrity, says educator Barbara Blackburn. The author of Rigor Is Not a 4-Letter Word shares five rules for student engagement she’s discovered, with examples from her own teaching and consulting.