A visual representation of virtual student learning

Relationships: First and Always

Categories: Instruction, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

In the spring of 2020, I published my very first book, I’m Listening: How Teacher-Student Relationships Improve Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening in which I poured everything I knew about teaching and learning.

And Then, The Pandemic
Suddenly, everything I wrote in this book seemed wholly inadequate for the emerging challenge of teaching during a pandemic. The pile of my newly printed books remained untouched, as instead teachers (including me) searched for books and articles that promised best practices and solutions for virtual learning. As an instructional coach for grades 6-12, I immersed myself in tutorials for digital tools that held the promise of perhaps an easier yet still productive school year for our students and teachers.

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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

How do you want to tackle trauma

How Do You Want to Tackle Trauma? Are You Focused on the Short Term or Aiming for Long-Term Solutions?

Categories: Authors, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, School Improvement

Schools and districts are planning to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars next year so that 2021-2022 will be a better year for all our students and schools will be safe for students and staff. Thanks to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, it almost feels like schools have won some lottery.

Yet, we need to ask ourselves, what could really make a difference? Is it the SEL program you purchase? Will it be a new air conditioning system? Or perhaps a new distance learning program? Right now, there are many commercial interests vying for our attention as school and district budgets are being formed with such rapidity that it is almost as if we are concerned that within a blink of an eye the monies will disappear. Which, in a way, is true. This is a time-limited deal. Buy now or lose out. So, what options do schools have? Read more

Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

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

I like to think of myself as pretty aware of ableism. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder back in the 1990s and while I’ve learned to live with both thanks to having worked with great therapists (and, not for nothing, being married to one), my mental illnesses continue to be a trip hazard on my professional path.

Also, my husband and coauthor Jonathan Weinstein and I have a son who is autistic and goes to a school for students with special needs. From the moment I arrived at his campus, I noticed how his school environment is built for students with needs like—and unlike—his. Read more

Kicking open the trap door of student engagement

Kicking Open the Trap Door of Student Engagement

Categories: Authors

On a recent visit to a school, I listened to a student who complained to that everything that he was asked to do by his teacher was boring. When I asked him what he would like to learn about, he promptly responded, “Something interesting, like maybe something about dragons!”

My heart went out to him, for autobiographical reasons. It was the dragon Smaug in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit who lured me to take on the massive Lord of the Rings trilogy, and that gave me a new identity as a person who read for pleasure. Decades later, I still find one of my greatest joys in life entails reading a new novel, preferably about people who expand my horizons and keep me turning page after page, as I try to anticipate just what is going to happen next. Read more