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Archive for the ‘young adolescents’ Category

Celebrate World Book Day!

World Book Day is March 6.  Initiated by UNESCO, World Book Day celebrates the joys and the transformational experiences of reading.

Larry Ferlazzo, a prolific educational blogger, suggests some of the best sites related to World Book Day. Here are just a couple:

  • Larry’s list of best sites for intermediate readers– a lot of his suggestions include informational text resources.
  • The World Book Day official site from the UK

World BookDay

Infusing the joy of reading into our curriculum and instruction is a worthy goal for middle grades teams.  Here are some cool quotes to have on your wall…

  • “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R. R. Martin A Dance With Dragons
  • “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
    Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
    Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
    Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

There has been a lot of debate recently about what students should be reading in school.  If you believe in the power of student choice, grab a copy of Smith and Wilhelm’s new book from Scholastic, Reading Unbound.

Reading Unbound

Celebrating World Book Day as a Team:

  • Take time during class (all teachers) to share an excerpt from your favorite book and a short explanation why it is cherished.
  • Invite students to dress as their favorite character (teachers too) and take time for students to share their thoughts.
  • Invite the librarian in to do book talks about the latest books in the library (print or digital).
  • Have a reading fest where students bring in their favorite children’s books and read aloud from them.  (Good activity to practice fluency)
  • Write a book together as a class or team.
  1. Use a web tool like SlideShare.net where students or sets of partners create a slide on a topic and then compile those slides into a slideshow and publish.  Topic should be something of high interest to students.
  2. Create an eBook using iBook Author or other web tool.  Here’s a link to a book on critters in Florida written by a middle school science class.  It includes images, videos, and text. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/creatures-plants-and-more!/id521854684?mt=11
  3. Invite a local author to visit or participate via Skype or Google Hangout.
  4. Have students research authors across time and then have them role play in a scenario:  Dinner at the White House, Panel discussion on a hot topic, Interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, or Arsenio Hall, etc.

If you have to link everything you do to a standard–think about the speaking and listening ones, close reading, writing informational text, etc.  Never let the standards keep you from doing something beneficial with your students!

In the spirit of the day, here are some of my favorites:

What are some of  your and your students’ favorites?  Happy World Book Day!

Team Action Plan for Students Who Struggle

Jack Berckemeyer, Ruler of Education, has a new book out! Taming of the Team: How Great Teams Work Together  

BerckemeyerJack

Jack offers a lot of practical ideas for teams, and one of my favorites is the 3-5-3 Action Plan.  Too often teams revisit the same student and his or her problems over and over again during Common Planning Time.  10% of the students consume 80% of the team’s time.  That’s pretty inefficient.  Unfortunately many teams never get beyond retelling all of the child’s misdemeanors during planning time and then having parent conferences where the same stories are retold. Nothing changes and frustration on everyone’s part grows.  Jack has a great strategy for breaking this unproductive cycle–his 3-5-3 Action Plan.  Here’s a quick summary:

1. As a team prepare a list of issues facing the student.

  •  Create the list before talking with parents or the student so everyone on the team is in agreement about the issues.
  • Divide the list into 2 parts: academic issues & behavior issues

2. Choose 3 academic or 3 behavior issues from the list.  Here’s your first 3!

  • It’s very important to keep the two categories separate.
  • Decide as a team which set you want to deal with first.

3. Once you have decided on which issue to focus on with the student, brainstorm as many actions as you can think of that will help the student move forward.

  • Categorize the ideas into teacher-initiated interventions, student services involvement, and parental involvement.
  • Make sure these strategies or actions are realistic.
  • Choose 5 of these strategies for the plan.  Here’s your 5 in the 3-5-3 Action Plan.

4. Designate 3 ways the team will follow up and coach the student.   This is your final 3!

I think the final step of follow-up and coaching is critical, and it’s a step teams often leave out.  The coaching, in my mind, must be intentional and someone’s responsibility.  We know just telling a young adolescent or anyone for that matter that they need to do 1, 2, 3, etc. rarely changes behavior.  Instead, think Jillian Michaels on The Biggest Loser–well maybe not that extreme.  Kids, however, need encouragement and cheerleaders as well as someone to help them reflect on their choices and decisions.  Jack’s 3-5-3 Action Plan provides teams with a concrete strategy to use with their students who struggle academically or behaviorally.

D310

Meet and Greet Jack at the MAMLE Annual Conference

October 17-18, 2013

Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center

Northport, Maine

Teacher-Student Relationships–How’s the Team Doing?

School has been in session for several weeks. It’s a good time for us to think about how well we have come to know our students as individuals. A formative assessment on relationship building, so to speak. It is especially difficult for large teams to see the individual faces when 125 + students pass through the doors each morning.  Assessing how well the relationship building between our team and our students is going is an excellent use of  common planning time.  Positive teacher-student relationships are essential to a supportive and challenging learning environment (http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/schoolclimatebriefs.php).

Try this during common planning time!

  • Each teacher brings a list of homeroom students
  • Homeroom teachers go down the list and put a star next to the names of students they know something personal about…
  1. How many brothers and sisters?
  2. Hobbies?
  3. Pets?
  4. How the student likes to learn?
  5. What responsibilities they might have at home–babysitting for siblings each night?
  6. What they like to read?
  • Trade lists until everyone has gone through each homeroom list and starred students they know something about beyond their grades.
Homeroom List with Stars

Homeroom List

  • Spread out all of the lists on a table and look at them
  • Identify which students no one knows beyond the seat they hold in the classroom. Also identify those students few  know.
  • Design a plan for ensuring each and every student has at least one adult advocate on the team who knows him/her well.  Think about the Donald Ducks on our teams–the children no one really knows at all.  Imagine how lonely the school experience must be for these children.  Some startling statistics:
  1. In the last 45 years, teen suicide have increased by 60% (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/)
  2. 85% of girls and 75% of boys report being stressed by the economy (http://www.stageoflife.com/StageHighSchool/OtherResources/Statistics_on_High_School_Students_and_Teenagers.aspx)
  3. Nearly a third of all teens report either being bullied or a part of bullying activity. (http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying.html)
  • Some possibilities include:
  1. Goal setting with students
  2. Individual conferences with students once or twice a month to check in with how things are going–  these can be just a 2 minute conversation in the cafeteria during lunch or in homeroom.
  3. Community building activities
  4. Get to know you activities during class & sponge activities at the beginning or end of class

Building relationships with students needs to be intentional on the part of the team. Yes, they develop naturally with some students, and with others they need to be consciously cultivated with the teachers taking the lead. Positive teacher-student relationships, even with the hard to teach and reach students, are a critical component of a team culture that leads to higher achievement and healthier social-emotional lives of the students..

Stories To Inspire Reflection

Summer must truly be over–it’s Labor Day, it’s chilly enough to wear flannel shirts in the morning, and only two scrawny cherry tomatoes remain on the vine.  Time to get back to blogging!
This summer colleagues shared two inspirational resources:

  1. Through the Cracks written by Carolyn Sollman, illustrated by Barbara Emmons, and designed by Judith Paolini. It’s a story of how children of all ages literally shrivel up in school  and slip through the cracks into a nether world where they are silent, dejected, and angry.  Fortunately, the narrator and a brave companion find a way out by locating an engaging classroom where students are actively learning.
    An illustration from the book Through the Cracks

    An illustration from the book Through the Cracks

    2. Dave Puckett who wrote Mr. DeVore’s Do-Over was captured on video discussing his eighth grade experience that was the inspiration for his book.  Take time to watch the video below to see why Dave was not one who fell through the cracks!

     

Combined or singularly, these two stories make great discussion starters for…

  • Faculty or team meetings
  • Advisory time
  • Parent meetings

But more importantly, they should cause each of us to pause and reflect on the lives of our students and how they experience school. What will we do this year to ensure…

  • Each student feels invited to learn?
  • Our classrooms abound with active learning experiences that engage, inspire, and challenge?
  • Our schools are places of continuous learning for every member of the school community?

Wishing all of the dedicated educators and hopeful students a joyous year full of wonderment, excitement, and mind-expanding learning experiences!

Labor Day, 2012

Celebrate Student Strengths as the Year Comes to a Close

Use the final days of school wisely!

They provide the last opportunity to positively impact this group of students.

Think–recognition of their strengths, affirmation of their worth, wishes for their futures.

Here are 5 ideas to take and adapt!

Allow students to do some of the planning and organization.

1. The Grand Good Bye!  an end of the year team gathering (hopefully in a pleasant & comfortable spot)

• Slide show of pictures from throughout the year.****Make sure each child is represented and no one group of students is over represented–you may need to do some last minute photography!

• Positive recognition for each child –Explicitly state how each child contributed to the team–don’t let the cynics on the team rule the day! Identify a positive attribute in each student.

• Teacher skits of some of the more memorable team moments.

2. Sharing of portfolios:

• Kids share portfolios with incoming 6th or 7th or 8th graders as a preview of coming attractions for the next year.

* Students reflect on what they are most proud of from the year and share in small groups.

3. Homeroom Olympics: organize a field day with all sorts of fun activities and have each student sign up up to compete in at least two

• Tug of War

• Water balloon toss

• Backwards sprint

• Kickball

• Scavenger hunt

4. The Legacy–One last community service project that will stand as a reminder to your students that when they came together on a project they made a little corner of the world a better place.

• Create a garden at the school.

• Paint picnic tables at a local park.

• Write and illustrate children’s books for the incoming kindergartners

5. Exit Interviews: each homeroom or advisory teacher sits down for a one-on-one conversation with each child in their group

• Ask students to share suggestions form making the team experience better for the next group.

• Ask them to share their favorite activity of the year.

• Share one thing you really enjoy about the person you are chatting with.

• Offer one positive wish for his/her future.

Remember the old middle school adage:

They may not remember what we taught them, but they sure will remember how we treated them.

Free- Webinar: You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

Free 45-Minute Webinar

Help Students Understand and Manage Their Digital Footprint

You Are What You Post: Create a

Positive Web Presence

May 9, 3 pm EST

May 9, 7:30 pm EST

May 10, 9:30 pm EST

To registerhttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CTMay910

 

Can’t attend one of these three live sessions?

Register instead to provide On-Demand access for your entire student population!

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web PresenceOn Demand

Jill Spencer, Chris Toy, and Ed Brazee will offer a free webinar through
JK Thomas & Associates Ltd.

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

It is sometimes difficult for an adolescent to think beyond next week, let alone several years in the future. In addition, they have tendencies to occasionally act first and think later.  In today’s world of instant access to information about everything and everyone, impulsive postings  have long lasting ramifications.  Colleges, businesses, even parents checking out their child’s prom night date use the web to ferret out information about applicants.  Our young people must learn to be proactive in building their online reputations, and it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to help them understand that process. This webinar will be an invaluable resource for understanding the possibilities and challenges inherent in one’s online life.

Intended audience:

  • students
  • parents
  • teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff members

Ways a team might use this information:

  • In advisory
  1. Share the webinar  with students in 10 minute segments and structure conversations around the salient points of each segment.
  2. Use the information in the webinar to create your own interactive lessons.
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  1. Use quotes, statistics, etc. from the webinar to frame a lesson on cyberbullying or other topics
  2. Explore the topic of social entrepreneurship using examples of adolescents doing good in the world through online social activism; perhaps spur students into starting a service learning project.
  • Parents’ night
  1. Use it as the central focus of the parents’ night program to (1) help them understand the positive aspects of their children’s online participation and (2) give them some tips for guiding their children through the maze of web.
  2. Share the registration information as a good resource for parents to access.
  • Information to put in parent newsletters
  1. Create a section of your newsletter entitled “Tips & Facts” for Digital Parenting” and use information from the webinar to give parents some concrete advice.
  2. Copy links from the webinar for parents to use  (e.g. Common Sense Media).
  • Educate your community
  1. As you advocate for additional technology (hardware, software, & curriculum integration), use information from the webinar to demonstrate the urgency of providing 21st century resources for your students.
  2. Volunteer to go to the Rotary (take students!) and other civic organizations to do a program that emphasizes the world your students will be entering as they graduate. Use webinar information to help make your case.

Format:

  • Free 45 minute webinar

For more information beyond this free webinar

Option to purchase 6 additional + 2 bonus modules that go more in depth on the topic, including

  1. First Impressions Matter: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Improving Your Digital Footprint
  3. “To Be or Not to Be” Personal Branding
  4. Being Safe Online: Ensuring Online Safety and Privacy
  5. Presenting Yourself Online—Where Will You Be Found? (Hint: More than on Facebook)
  6. Weighing the Options — Making Choices

Bonus module #1: But, What About Young Adolescents (10- to 15-Year-Olds)? A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and 10-15 Year Olds

Bonus Module #2: Raising Children in the Digital Age—Any Century Parenting

Help Students Understand and Manage Their Digital Footprint: Free Webinar!

 Chris Toy and Ed Brazee and I are offering a free webinar through JK Thomas & Associates Ltd. entitled In Your Online World...Perception is Reality! Creating and Controlling Your Online Reputation.

It is sometimes difficult for an adolescent to think beyond next week, let alone several years in the future. In addition, they have tendencies to occasionally act first and think later.  In today’s world of instant access to information about everything and everyone, impulsive postings  have long lasting ramifications.  Colleges, businesses, even parents checking out their child’s prom night date use the web to ferret out information about applicants.  Our young people must learn to be proactive in building their online reputations, and it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to help them understand that process. This webinar will be an invaluable resource for understanding the possibilities and challenges inherent in one’s online life.

Intended audience:

  • students
  • parents
  • teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff members

Ways a team might use this information:

  • In advisory
  1. Share the webinar  with students in 10 minute segments and structure conversations around the salient points of each segment.
  2. Use the information in the webinar to create your own interactive lessons.
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  1. Use quotes, statistics, etc. from the webinar to frame a lesson on cyberbullying or other topics
  2. Explore the topic of social entrepreneurship using examples of adolescents doing good in the world through online social activism; perhaps spur students into starting a service learning project.
  • Parents’ night
  1. Use it as the central focus of the parents’ night program to (1) help them understand the positive aspects of their children’s online participation and (2) give them some tips for guiding their children through the maze of web.
  2. Share the registration information as a good resource for parents to access.
  • Information to put in parent newsletters
  1. Create a section of your newsletter entitled “Tips & Facts” for Digital Parenting” and use information from the webinar to give parents some concrete advice.
  2. Copy links from the webinar for parents to use  (e.g. Common Sense Media).
  • Educate your community
  1. As you advocate for additional technology (hardware, software, & curriculum integration), use information from the webinar to demonstrate the urgency of providing 21st century resources for your students.
  2. Volunteer to go to the Rotary (take students!) and other civic organizations to do a program that emphasizes the world your students will be entering as they graduate. Use webinar information to help make your case.

Format:

  • Free 45 minute webinar
  • Option to purchase 6 additional + 2 bonus modules that go more in depth on the topic
  1. First Impressions Matter: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Improving Your Digital Footprint
  3. “To Be or Not to Be” Personal Branding
  4. Being Safe Online: Ensuring Online Safety and Privacy
  5. Presenting Yourself Online—Where Will You Be Found? (Hint: More than on Facebook)
  6. Weighing the Options — Making Choices

Bonus module # 1: But, What About Young Adolescents (10- to 15-Year-Olds)? A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and 10-15 Year Olds

Bonus Module # 2: Raising Children in the Digital Age—Any Century Parenting

I cannot post the direct link to register on WordPress. However if you go to my webpage the live link is there: http://jillspencer.net/

 

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