Authors

Six Steps Toward Teacher Retention and a Long-Lasting Legacy

Categories: Leadership

Nothing Left to Give

When thinking about the landscape of education and how it has changed over the last few years, we can’t help but recognize the parallels between the selfless actions of our teachers and those of the iconic apple tree in the children’s book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The story tells of a boy and his best friend, an apple tree. Each day the boy visits the tree to spend time with it, play with it, and enjoy its company. However, as the boy grows older and faces the increasing demands and realities of growing up, his wants and needs begin to change. Because of this, the boy starts to take what he needs from the tree, initially only taking the tree’s apples but eventually taking its branches and finally its trunk, until the tree has literally nothing left to give. Read more

Nine Ways to Create Powerful Teaching and Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

 Elliott Seif is the author of Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In my various roles in education, I have had direct teaching experience, conducted professional development with hundreds of preservice and practicing educators, and observed and had important discussions with teachers over many years. All these experiences have helped me learn a lot about powerful teaching and learning and what seems to work well for many teachers in many circumstances and situations.

My ideas and suggestions below, based on my many years of experience, will hopefully be helpful to educators and suggest ways to think about powerful teaching and learning. I have classified these suggestions into nine categories, and you may find the categories themselves helpful as a way of thinking about how to improve teaching and learning. Read more

4 Types of Activities-Assessments That Every Teacher Should Know and Use

Categories: Assessment, Instruction, Student Engagement

What kinds of activities best prepare students for a changing and uncertain world? I would like to suggest that four powerful types of activities, each of which can also be used as assessments, should be part of an arsenal of tools that all teachers should develop in order to prepare students for their future. Each incorporates opportunities for students to develop key ideas and understandings, a critical knowledge base, and core reading, research, communication, thinking, and collaboration skills. Each can be adapted for all grade levels.

Open-Ended Assignments

Open-ended assignments pose questions and offer activities that lead students to think and explain rather than give simple yes or no answers (Gardner, 2005). They can be used to provoke interest and curiosity in what is to be learned, to teach content and critical skills, and to provide opportunities for independent and deeper learning. They often provide students with writing opportunities and/or a chance to participate in discussions with multiple possible responses. They are also designed to create new ways of thinking about problems and challenges, allow for alternative possibilities and options, and enable students to be innovative and to think outside the box. Read more

Image with text How to Strengthen Understanding by Design

How to Strengthen Understanding by Design: Five Suggestions

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Authors, Instruction

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the Understanding by Design (UbD) family for a long time, originally as part of a team organized by the UbD authors Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins to help develop the program. Once the program was developed, I also became a member of the ASCD UbD faculty that conducted training across the country and even in several countries around the world.

I am proud of what has been and is being accomplished through UbD, one of the best curriculum design programs that exists today. But my experiences as a developer and trainer also exposed me to what I consider to be some problems and challenges facing UbD designers. In this blogpost, I suggest five ways that I think teachers and schools that are already familiar with and using UbD can strengthen the design model and make it more powerful, relevant and different from traditional curriculum design. Read more

Building a Foundation for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) within Elementary Schools

Categories: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

While implementing meaningful and authentic SEL instruction throughout the school day.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) continues to be a hot topic as we move into 2022. Although the concepts around SEL are not new, we are encountering educators and parents whose ideas differ around what it is and what it is not; leading some schools to focus on SEL while others may still not.

As educators, many of us recognize how essential social-emotional learning is both for our students and ourselves. Yet, we have so many other pressing needs throughout the school year, we can find it difficult to prioritize SEL for our students. As we begin to engage in necessary collaborative practices around SEL we may find ourselves designating certain time periods of the school day to focus on SEL but still not seeing a true difference in our students. Why is this? Dufour, et. al. state that collaboration only works and leads to improved results when the people are focused on the right work. So, how do we honor what we know is important and focus on the right work, while also balancing everything else?

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