Category Archives: school

Five effective ways to teach kids in the digital age

I often hear experienced teachers complain about how students have changed over the years.  Children who will spend hours locked into a video game can hardly pay attention for ten minutes to a classroom lesson.  It seems that children of the digital age expect to be entertained in the classroom rather than taught.  One teacher told me she felt she was becoming less and less of a teacher and more of a manager of electronic devices.

At the same time children are becoming more and more dependent on social media to be… well- social.  We are raising a generation that does not know basic social skills; how to talk rather than text, how to read and respond to body language and how to engage in productive and rewarding relationships.

It seems to me that we can either throw up our hands and admit that electronics win or we can work with the system and help children realize the benefits of both electronics and real world communication.

Five ways to use the features of electronics to engage kids in the classroom:

  1. Build in excitement and challenge–Part of the draw of video games is the excitement and challenge of accomplishment. Gamers want to accumulate points and unlock treasures.  They want to reach higher and higher levels of play. Challenges and threats of losing lurk around every corner. As educators we need to look for creative ways to infuse the same excitement and challenge in any classroom lesson.  Building in creative thinking skills  and identifying personal goals for achievement can help. Teach children to challenge themselves to be their personal best.
  2. Provide opportunities to learn and develop social skills–In this way you are providing something that children miss out on with technology.  First teach team building and cooperation skills.  How do you handle conflicts and differences of opinion? What habits and attitudes does an effective team practice?  Then set up teams, groups or partnerships where children solve problems.  After each experience process difficulties and how they could handle them differently next time.   Grade children not just on solving a problem successfully but also on how they solved the problem as a team.  Their future employer will be forever grateful.
  3. Create opportunities for mentoring–This could be with adults that you bring into the classroom to share their expertise on career day, science day or a historical  occasion.  It could involve partnering with an older or younger classroom as reading buddies or to practice math facts. This also opens the door to creating relationships across differing age groups.  Just as technology often opens the door to other world views and environments, the classroom can also be a chance to experience differing perspectives.
  4. Be a role model for passion and enthusiasm–As a teacher you have great influence on young minds.  Share your interests and excitement for the world.  One teacher I know starts every morning out with a current pop song and has everyone in the room begin the day dancing and singing (and no she wasn’t the music teacher–she just loves to dance.)  No matter what lays ahead in the day, it always starts off with a blast of energy.  Another teacher is passionate about saving endangered species and she teaches kids how to make a difference in the world’s environment.   You don’t have to convert kids to your passion, but instead teach them to find their own and follow their heart.  The digital world explodes with color and energy, but our own passions can provide the same impact.
  5. Make learning experiential–Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  Whenever possible make learning experiential.  The digital world creates passive experiences that seem real but in the classroom you have the opportunity to create active real life experiences.  For instance, you could create an environment similar to a historical time.  Have a colonial day and dress up, act out or make items similar to what you are learning about.  You can make this as elaborate or as simple as you want. It’s not about making a big show, it’s about making it memorable.  One teacher, I know had students act out typical student behaviors from a time period that they were studying.  Imagine classroom visitors’ surprise when all the students stood up and in unison said welcome as soon as guests entered the room.  Do you think the kids ever forgot that experience?

The greatest way teachers can help kids of the digital age become life long learners is to infuse the classroom with many of the characteristics found in the digital world while pairing them with meaningful relationships.

Related posts:

Seven ways to improved Teacher-Parent Communications

Ten secrets to improved Parent-Teacher Communication

One phrase to change an entitlement mindset

 

 Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

Lesson Package for Wyatt Learns about Cooperation on Teachers Pay Teachers

 

 

 

Positive Storytelling

We can learn a lot from the Olympics.  As you watched the performance of great athletes, did you wonder how they achieved such high goals?  Was it all practice and persistence?  Or was mindset an important part as well?  What if we applied some of the same mindset practices to the classroom?

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, dissects the athletic performance of Michael Phelps.  One of his most significant habits is the role of visualization or positive storytelling.  Each morning before he gets out of bed, Michael Phelps replays a tape in his head of winning the perfect race.  He imagines every detail from start to finish, the feel of the water against his skin, his body executing the perfect stroke, touching the wall in a victorious finish. Again before going to sleep at night, Michael Phelps retells the story of a great race-in his mind.  When asked what winning felt like after a real race, he responds that it felt natural,  just as he imagined it.  Positive storytelling sets the stage for the real thing.

How to use positive storytelling

As educators, we can use the same imagery to plan and create the best school day.  I’ve written in previous posts about setting an intention for our day.  What if we went beyond intention and using Phelps’s example, we created a positive story for the day and shared it each morning with our students?  It might go something like this:

Good Morning students, it’s a great day at XYZ school.  Sit up straight but relaxed, close your eyes and let me tell you what today has in store.  We will begin with a math lesson and I want you to take a minute and imagine yourself focused and engaged in learning about decimals.  You are going to be great at this.  Next is PE and I want you to see yourself…(create your own script here)  Finally I want you to know that you are smart, you are kind and you are someone with great value.  Find someone today to lift up with a random act of kindness.  Open your heart and your mind to the possibilities ahead in this day.  Open your eyes and let’s get started.

Once you have modeled this positive story telling technique with students, you can ask students to write or draw their own story for a positive day.  Then begin the day with a few moments of quiet reflection where they close their eyes and imagine their own positive story.  Not only will you be teaching students how to plan for the day ahead, but you will be teaching them a mindset skill that will serve them in the future.  Positive storytelling is a powerful habit that can transform students’ lives, one day at a time.

 

Related Posts:

Begin School Year with Intention

Change Manic Mornings to Tranquil Transitions

10 things joyful teachers do differently

 

 Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

 

 

 

Seven Secrets to Effective Teacher-Parent Communication

In my last post, I identified ten ways that teachers could establish effective communication with parents. Communication however, is a two way street.  Parents also have a responsibility and an opportunity to establish a relationship with their child’s teacher. Here are seven ways to create open communication while empowering your child to be a leader in their own right:

Seven Secrets to Effective Teacher-Parent Communication

  1. Express appreciation- Everyone wants to be appreciated-teachers included. Look for a way early on to express your gratitude for the teacher’s hard work and dedication in the classroom.  Even if you have areas of concern, begin with the positive and set a positive tone.
  2. Determine the regular routines for communication and stay engaged-Does work go home once weekly or daily? How often should you check agendas, backpacks, special folders? Is there a weekly newsletter that you can read to stay abreast of classroom activities?  Be proactive and don’t wait for there to be a problem to get involved.
  3. Determine the time frames that teachers are available and respect them– Do they prefer a note?  an email?  When is it too late to call?   We all have busy, complicated lives that involve juggling many roles and teachers need time with their families away from the demands of work.
  4. Be authentic–Let teachers know about changes and challenges that your child may be facing.  Is the family going through a stressful time at home?  Have they been sick?  Are they on medication that might affect their performance?  Any of these things can impact a child’s ability to focus and excel  in the classroom.  The more the teacher knows about your particular child, the better the chance they will connect in a positive way.
  5. Be open to suggestions– Even if it is a new way of doing things, listen when teachers suggest alternative ways of teaching a child new concepts.  What may have worked well previously may not be the best approach as your child develops and changes. You don’t have to follow every suggestion but honor the request with your attention.
  6. Share your expertise and insight-As a parent,  you are the expert on your child. You know their history, their abilities and their quirks.  Share what you know so teachers can teach to their strengths.
  7. Encourage and empower your child to be an effective communicator and leader-While it’s important for you as the parent to stay involved with your child’s teacher, it’s equally important for your child to learn what they are responsible for and how to communicate their needs.  Communicating with the teacher doesn’t mean taking over your child’s responsibilities or solving all their problems for them.  Instead, model for them how to be a leader and problem solver in their own life.  As it is age appropriate, transfer that responsibility for  effective communication to them.  After all it is their academic success and only they can achieve it.

Other ideas?  I’d love to hear them in the comments section…

Related Posts

Five Easy Steps to Teach Kids Problem solving

Creating a Growth Mindset in Kids

Four Leadership Lessons for Your Child

 New!!  

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship

Personality Style and Motivation

It’s a new school year and you have spent hours setting up your classroom, attending meetings on the latest and  greatest technology and getting your lesson plans in order. You are ready for the kiddos to arrive with parents in tow so you can orient everyone to your system and dive in to a new and exciting year of learning and teaching.

However, if you’ve been teaching any time at all you know that the best laid plans can go astray, especially if you have “one of those classrooms”.

You know what I mean.

One where you are pulling out your hair and wondering who on earth thought putting this combination of children together in one room was a good idea? Maybe you have children that are exceptionally talkative or headstrong.  Maybe they are needy and lack initiative. In any case, I bet you have at least one child in your classroom that really knows how to push your buttons… and not in a good way.

What if you understood their personality and their motivation so that you could work with them instead of against the resistance? Understanding the four basic personality styles can help.

The Four Basic Personality Styles

Understanding and speaking the same personality language is important. This is especially true if you want to help your students set goals that motivate them and have a successful school year. As a quick reminder, the four main personality types are:

D wired=dominant, decisive, determined, doer

I wired=interactive, inspiring, influential, initiator

S wired=stable, sweet, shy, likes status quo

C wired=conscientious, careful, cautious, careful

Personality Style and Motivation

If you have a D wired child in your classroom, then you will want to help them chose a goal that is very specific and has a deadline. D personalities are highly motivated and competitive, so setting a goal to give their energy some direction will be very successful.

I wired children are great starters but not such great finishers. They also thrive on social interaction and recognition, so setting a goal that involves a social network to support and encourage them to achieve it would be best. Add in an element of fun perhaps by making a lesson or project much like a game and the I wired child will be hooked.

S wired children are great finishers but have difficulty starting tasks. They are very tuned in to the needs of others and will work to accomplish a goal as much to please you as to please themselves. Select a goal that they can commit to with your support or the support of a partner to motivate them to get going.  They are great team players and can be a real asset to group  oriented learning.

Finally, C wired children love to develop and research a goal.They thrive on quality answers and good value.  If they are committed, they will work hard to accomplish the task. Help them see the big picture so that they don’t get lost in the details and you will have a winning combination.

Learning to set and accomplish goals is an important skill to learn and by speaking your student’s  personality language, you can not only insure that they are successful but you will motivate them in a way that is congruent with how they are wired.

Related Posts:

Celebrate your child’s personality style

10 things joyful teachers do differently

Tackling those back to school blues

Wyatt’s latest book!!

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

It’s not all about ME! Teaching Empathy

What do you envision as the foundation of your classroom culture? your family culture?

Is it all about me and what I want?

Making the best grades.

Having the most friends.

Winning, Scoring, Getting to the head of the line…

I doubt that is what you envisioned, but maybe you feel you are fighting a losing battle.

What if empathy were the foundation that we built our culture on?

How might our interactions be different?

In the following video, Brene Brown teaches the difference between empathy and sympathy:

Why empathy matters:

1. Empathy builds a positive social culture.

Empathy encourages a better understanding of diversity and consequently encourages friendship and cooperation across ethnic and ability groups.  It teaches tolerance and acceptance.

2. Empathy strengthens community.

Empathy encourages more than just understanding though.  It empowers children to take action that makes a difference in other’s lives. Students with empathy are willing to offer a helping hand to others.  They become active participants not just bystanders in the community.

3. Empathy makes students leaders in their own lives.

Having empathy for others also translates into tolerance, patience and empathy in children’s personal lives.  Recognizing that we are all uniquely gifted and uniquely challenged often gives children permission to accept challenges and failure in their own lives with a positive and persistent attitude.

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

 

How to Create an Intentional Year

January is the time of year for setting goals and planning for the future.  It’s also the time of year when it can be hard to drum up some excitement for the learning opportunities ahead. Blustery weather, overcast days and early nights when everyone is cooped up inside can quell even the most spirited among us.  The thrill of the beginning of school seems long gone and the anticipation of the end of the school year seems far, far away in the future.

What can we do to get off to a great start and create the conditions necessary for a great school year?  There’s a lot!

Five Strategies for a Magical and Intentional Year

  • Set an intention–Not to get all woo-woo on you here but this is a useful technique for whatever you are doing that is new.  Athletes, entertainers and CEO’s use this technique successfully to create optimum performance.  It can work equally well for educators.
    • Begin with the end in mind.  Picture or visualize how you want your classroom to be as we move into 2016.  The tendency is to be so busy doing (managing student behavior, putting up bulletin boards, making lessons plans) that we expend all of our energy and don’t take the time to be.  Imagine how you want the room to feel;  excited, enthusiastic, focused, curious, etc.
  • Revisit your teaching method–Look at your materials and curriculum with a renewed fresh look.  Imagine that you are seeing it for the first time.  How will you engage students, pique their curiosity, personalize the message?  Make sure the classroom environment reflects your new vision.
  • Stay positive–it is really easy to let the negative drag you down.  There are always too many things to do, too many students to adequately serve, too few resources, too many meetings to attend and not enough time.  Reserve judgement.  Expect the unexpected and see it as a learning experience.  Choose to be a positivity role model for your students and you will find your enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Focus on and process the experience as much as the material.  It’s easy to  bemoan the fact that it’s hard to teach or counsel students because of all the extenuating factors in their lives.  Instead view those circumstances as teachable moments.  Sometimes the biggest lesson you can teach is how to handle disappointment and adversity.
  • Take care of yourself–there will never be enough time to do it all.  One reason you became an educator was because of your creative, heart-centered giving spirit. Make sure sure that you direct that energy toward yourself as well as the students you serve.  When you take care of yourself, you are modeling for students how they can take care of themselves and that is an invaluable lesson.

By following a plan, you will be able to not only meet the expectations of parents and students, but also to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Grab ‘N Go Lesson Plan for Busy Educators:

Winning and Losing Lesson Plan

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)