Teaching Learning Leading K-12
Episode 32: Planning-A Key to Better Teaching

Episode 32: Planning-A Key to Better Teaching

September 8, 2014

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

This is so true in every facet of our lives and especially in the world of teaching. 

Too often colleagues will act as if no planning is necessary. They will fly by the seat of their pants…...doing whatever hits them at the moment. This is a terrible way to work with kids. The better teacher needs to take time to purposefully plan and the best plan is developed with the big idea in mind. 

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As Stephen Covey said, “Start with the end in mind.” What is it that you want the kids to know? To get to this takes time to develop unit plans that are used to guide the teacher in working with the kids. These plans should contain at least the following six elements:

1.     Essential Question (What is the point/purpose of this unit?)

2.     Content Vocabulary (What words are necessary for understanding the subject?)

3.     Formative Assessment (How do you know that the kids understand or get it?)

4.     Engagement (What activities will you use to engage the kids in the lessons?)

5.     Connections (How will you connect the topic to the real world?)

6.     Use of Time (Are there any special considerations?)

It takes time to create lessons that engage kids and move them to learn and grow academically. The better teacher understands that planning and preparing leads to success in the classroom. 

Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters-everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

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Some excellent resources for developing plans and understanding why you should plan with the end in mind have been developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding By Design and Essential Questions.

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       (Grant Wiggins           and                   Jay McTighe)

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Here is a link to an overview of UbD at grantwiggins.org

Here is a link to an overview of UbD at JayMctighe.com

Here are links to YouTube clips of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe explaining Understanding By Design.

Here is a link to the excerpt from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Example of a Frayer Model for learning words...

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Example of a Unit Plan

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Time to start planning…

Enjoy!

Length 35:09

Episode 29: Foldable Graphic Organizers and Interactive Notebooks with Lynda R. Williams

Episode 29: Foldable Graphic Organizers and Interactive Notebooks with Lynda R. Williams

August 6, 2014

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Lynda Williams started teaching elementary school and now teaches beginning teachers at Utah Valley University.  She has been in education for 28 years. She specializes in how to teach science.

I think that you will really enjoy this very practical and user friendly episode. It is filled with ideas for challenging your students to expand their understanding of the content through the use of foldable graphic organizers and interactive notebooks.

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Lynda explains what foldable graphic organizers and interactive notebooks are and describes how to use them. She talks about why teachers should want to use them and how they can help the kids with retention. Lynda states, “The notebook gives the kids a chance to process an idea in writing…it is great for explaining and recording information visually and linguistically.” She notes that kids and students of all ages enjoy using the organizers and the notebook, even her adults in college.

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Creating the notebooks is engaging and retention of content information is increased but there are other benefits. Lynda reflected, “ A couple of side benefits of using these resources is that the notebook makes an awesome study guide and the students have created a portfolio of their work.”

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Lynda suggests that teachers who are experimenting with the organizers and notebooks should model frequently and keep their instructions clear.

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Lynda has an amazing blog, posts on Twitter, has very helpful boards on Pinterest, and has a store at Teachers pay Teachers. See the links below. I hope that you will take the time to check out her many resources.

Lynda's Blog

Lynda's Twitter

Lynda's Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Lynda's Pinterest

Teaching Learning Leading K12/ Lynda's Guest Blog

Enjoy the Show!

Length 35:11

Episode 27: Teaching Tip/ Learning the Kids’ Names

Episode 27: Teaching Tip/ Learning the Kids’ Names

July 13, 2014

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It is extremely important that the classroom teacher get to know and use the names of the kids. 

The children need to know that you know who they are. 

The better teacher has strategies for doing this as soon as possible. Whether it is the beginning of a new semester or school year, the better teacher takes time to learn and use the names of the kids.

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Today, instead of an interview...it’s just me talking about getting to know and use the names of the kids.

What ways do you have for learning and using the names of the kids? 

Please share them with me. I would love to hear your ideas about this.

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Take care.

Enjoy!

Here are the links to the works by Deborah Meier.

The Power of Their Ideas by Deborah Meier

In Schools We Trust by Deborah Meier

Length 22:53

Episode 24: Teaching First Grade with Tonya Hair

Episode 24: Teaching First Grade with Tonya Hair

June 11, 2014

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Mrs. Tonya Hair teaches first grade at Pulaski County Elementary School located in Hawkinsville, Georgia. This is her 11th year of teaching. Mrs. Hair grew up in Hawkinsville and is now a teacher at Pulaski County Elementary School where she attended as a child. She is working with some colleagues who were teachers when she was a student. How cool is that?!

Mrs. Hair has some amazing routines and practices. Her kids know them and it is obvious. They transition between activities and different locations in the classroom with no down time or disruption to the learning. I asked Mrs. Hair to explain how she is able to accomplish this.  She commented, “Practicing routines. If you set it up in the beginning then it is not that hard as the year goes on.” Tonya also noted, “Organization and planning are keys to being successful, as well as learning from your mistakes.”

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Tonya uses groups quite successfully. She says that she is looking to find the best fit for the child. She uses these groups to help her address the individual needs of her students.

As you listen to us talk teaching and learning you will hear us touch on…

·         reading and math stations

·         problem solving

·         showing numbers in different ways

·         starting class with an activity

·         formative assessments

·         charts that she uses to make notes on student progress (she uses this information to adjust her instruction)

·         using mini-white boards

·         engaging kids

·         organizational skills

Her favorite resource for her classes is her SMART board and if she could have anything for her classroom where money wasn't an option it would be a parapro and a set of laptops.

If she had a chance to give advice to 30 brand new elementary teachers she would tell them, “Always be prepared and forward thinking. Be flexible.”

At the very end you will hear Tonya express her thoughts about a teacher who made a difference in her life… She says that she was like… Wonder Woman.

Mrs. Hair has much to share!

Enjoy!

Length 31:24

Episode 21: Allen Fort -Talking about Rural School Systems and other Education Topics in Georgia

Episode 21: Allen Fort -Talking about Rural School Systems and other Education Topics in Georgia

May 15, 2014

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Allen is currently the superintendent of schools in Quitman County, Georgia. He has 39 years of total education experience. He was a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, a principal, and worked for five years as a GA Department of Education School Improvement and Redesign Specialist.

He feels that he is very fortunate for his opportunities to travel across the state and get to know educators in many different regions of Georgia.

Allen is familiar with the needs of the rural school systems. He has created a rural school system learning group that is comprised of educators from rural systems. He sees this group as providing an opportunity for the different systems to learn from each other on how best to use their limited resources.

As a principal he instituted one of the first ninth grade academies in the state. We talk about his thoughts and lessons learned.

We also talk a little about the challenge of teachers working with kids who have access to incredible amounts of information through Google and other web based solutions. We talk about how when we were kids the teachers had the information or it was in books that they could direct us to, whereas today, the kids can study beforehand and actually know more than the teacher about some topics. This becomes a challenge in that the teacher is often trying to keep up with the kids, but another challenge is that all kids don’t have access. It is quite possible that in the same class there will be those who can and those who can’t access web based information.

I enjoyed talking with Allen and I think that you will enjoy your time listening!

You can find out more information about Allen at www.allenfortga.com

Length 33:27