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Classroom management

Why I'm Not Impressed with Effective Teachers

I was making a presentation about how to raise reading achievement. I was taking my audience through research on what needed to be taught and how it needed to be taught if kids were to do as well as possible. I was telling about my experiences as director of reading of the Chicago Public Schools at a time when my teachers raised reading achievement.

When I finished, a teacher approached me. “What do you think is the most important variable in higher reading achievement?”

My answer was, “The amount of teaching — academic experience — that we provide to our children.”

9+ Idea-Packed Resources to Prime Staff Development So All Learners Progress in 2016

There is no single best way to grow professionally. Here are some "finds" that educators and related services personnel can add to their 2016 professional development toolkit. 

1. Reading for All

How to Mix Oil and Water So that Nearly Everyone (including '1 in 5' with poor reading skills) Learns to Read by neuropsychologist Tim Conway at TEDxOcala on Dec. 15. Decide if his "highly effective" science-based approach can impact current approaches to reading instruction. 

Do We Teach Decoding in Small Groups or Whole Class?

Teacher question:  

You are confusing me. You have said that we should “never do in small group what could have been done as well as whole class,” but you also say that phonological awareness and phonics instruction are more effective when they are taught in small group. What should be taught in small group and what can be taught in whole class?

Shanahan's response: 

Making Whole Class Work More Effective

Recently, I wrote about the quandary of grouping. Small group instruction supports greater student engagement, higher amounts of interaction, greater opportunity for teacher observation, and more student learning. However, the benefits of small group are balanced by the relative ineffectiveness of most seatwork activities. Subtracting the downside of working on one's own away from the teacher from the clear benefits of small group teaching, one ends up with little advantage to all of the effort of orchestrating the small-group oriented classroom.

Cel-e-brate test times -- C'mon!

Yes, the old Kool and the Gang song rings true — even for state testing! One of the things I feel very successful about as an upper grade teacher is my ability to kill test anxiety! Even though this doesn't have too much to do with Common Core tactics and struggles, I find that anything that lightens the testing mood always helps every classroom!

How disruptive is a disruptive child?

As teachers, we know that a disruptive child can change a classroom environment. When a child is acting out, the teacher has to spend time redirecting that child, and then refocus the lesson for all students. Over the course of a day, interruptions from a disruptive child (i.e., a child with low self-regulation skills) really wear on a teacher and students. But does it have lasting effects on that child's learning? How about the learning of other students in the class?

First impressions with classroom doors

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression! I thought it might be fun to show some pictures of back-to-school classroom doors. Please check out our Pinterest board to see some great ones. If you have a picture of your own door to share, please let us know by commenting below. Enjoy!

My teacher gives more homework

Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?

Text sets: One theme, several books

Teachers often have a specific theme or content they want to cover, but have a wide range of reading levels in their classroom. One way to handle that situation is to have many books on that one theme, but the books are written at different reading levels. These are often called text sets. I wrote here about a text set on persistence. ReadWriteThink has some good guidelines for creating text sets.

Comprehension posters for your classroom

I recently stumbled on a site that promises to consume far too much of my time! But I love the possibilities of Pinterest, a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the great things you find on the Web in a very visual way. It's free to join, but there's an invitation process you'll see on the site.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald