Elliott Seif

Five Questions Every Teacher Needs to Ask Often

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

Based on Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In today’s uncertain and changing world, teachers need to continually ask themselves five questions that help them to decide on what’s important to teach and how to teach in order to prepare students for future success. They are useful questions to ask for both in person and online teaching situations.

What can I do to:

  • Develop a positive classroom and school climate, culture, and environment for learning?
  • Focus student learning around relevant, meaningful, important, and significant content and vital skills?
  • Help students apply and deepen learning and become independent learners?
  • Help to broaden and enrich student experiences, interests, and talents?
  • Help students meet high-quality standards and share their learning and work with others?

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Research Based Learning: a Lifelong Learning Necessity

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Literacy, Student Engagement


“Give a person a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a person to fish and she will eat for a lifetime.”
– Adapted from a saying by an unknown author

What is Research-Based Learning?
Research-based learning (RBL) consists of a framework that helps to prepare students to be lifelong inquirers and learners. The term “research,” which often conjures up a picture of students writing research reports, is here defined as a way of thinking about teaching and learning, a perspective, a paradigm. It is a specific approach to classroom teaching that places less emphasis on teacher-centered learning of content and facts and greater emphasis on students as active researchers.

In a research-based learning approach, students actively search for and then use multiple resources, materials, and texts in order to explore important, relevant, and interesting questions and challenges. They find, process, organize and evaluate information and ideas as they build reading skills and vocabulary. They learn how to read for understanding, form interpretations, develop and evaluate hypotheses, and think critically and creatively. They learn how to solve problems, challenges, and dilemmas. Finally, they develop communication skills through writing and discussion. Read more

Being unfinished

Being ‘Unfinished’: The Essence of a Growth Mindset

Categories: Authors

How transformative would it be if we could embrace the idea that unfinished is our natural and permanent state?…Our path, if we’re lucky, is evolution without an end. –Susanna Schrobsdorff, Time Magazine, January 24, 2021

As we think about our lives and the lives of children, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all embrace the idea that our natural and permanent state is a sense of wonder, curiosity and continuous growth and development?

This is especially appropriate in a world that is constantly changing and evolving environmentally, economically, technologically, and culturally. For most, the permanence of work at one job, in one place, is no longer the rule but rather the exception. Even the ability to maintain the security of one career no longer means that the work will not change dramatically over time, that we will not continually need to learn new knowledge and skills. Many build new interests and talents. We are always figuring out evolving relationships and friendships. “Getting stuck in a rut” is no longer a viable option for successful life navigation for most Americans. Read more

Using a Four-Phase Instructional Model to Plan and Teach for Lifelong Learning

Using a Four-Phase Instructional Model to Plan and Teach for Lifelong Learning

Categories: Authors

Based on Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World

One of the special joys in life is watching a child or grandchild play sports, like baseball, soccer, or football. It is especially interesting to watch progress over several years. For example, let’s take baseball. During their younger years, children often play because they become interested in baseball and its physical activity, but at this early stage they are novices when it comes to the fundamentals.

As they get older, they become more skillful and learn the strategies of the game, especially with a good coach. Good coaches keep them interested in the game, encourage their improvement efforts, and help them learn and understand the fundamental rules of the game. After some time, with practice and understanding, they can get really good at playing the game. They need less coaching and more individual practice on their own. They are no longer learning new skills but refining their skills. Finally, they may get so good that they themselves become coaches and teachers, sharing what they know, staying at peak performance, and demonstrating their skill by performing well in every game.

These four phases of learning baseball – call them novice, apprentice, self-directed, and expert – characterize how we might also think about planning for good teaching and learning. What if we thought about planning and teaching units of study as a way of creating student curiosity and interest in learning? As a way to raise the level of learning over time? As a way to build more complex understanding and skill development? As a way to lead students towards greater opportunities for self-directed learning and high levels of performance? Read more

Online Learning Teaching Tips; Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP)

Online Learning Teaching Tips: How We Can Teach Our Students, Prepare Them for the Next Challenge—and Prepare Them for Life

Categories: Pandemic Response and Educational Practices

This entry is the tenth in a blog series called Pandemic Response and Educational Practices (PREP), which aims to highlight and further the important work educators are doing amid the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.

Based on the upcoming title Rigorous Learning: Preparing Students for a Changing World

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended traditional schooling and created enormous challenges for teachers and schools as they shift to remote student learning. There are numerous difficulties in making this shift that include the adequacy and use of technology, physical isolation, self-management, the daily challenges faced by students and families, and the difficulties of teaching and learning online.

In this blog entry, we will look at some ways to soften and reduce the academic challenges of remote learning, and at the same time consider the use of teaching approaches that help prepare students for a changing world. Read more