Teachers: Summer Reading to Cultivate Your Emotional Resilience Immerse yourself in these books to renew yourself for the coming school year.

 By Elena Aguilar

 

Ever since I was a young child, the long days of summer have been for reading. Early in the morning and late into the night, sitting on a beach or lying on the living room floor, I devoured book after book. Novels took me on the journeys and adventures I yearned for; memoirs connected me with shared humanity. Books made me stronger: They put my sadness and loneliness into perspective, suggested routes around the obstacles in my life, and gave me clues as to how I could not only surmount challenges, but thrive in spite of them. By the end of summer, my literary immersion had renewed me for another school year.

A teacher discusses a project with a small group of students.

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Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key

What’s ideal when it comes to collaboration in our classrooms? Here’s one coveted scenario: several children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level task, discussing, possibly debating an issue, making shared decisions, and designing a product that demonstrates all this deeper learning.

A photo shot from above of four girls working together at a table.

As teachers, we’d love to see this right out of the gate, but this sort of sophisticated teamwork takes scaffolding. It won’t just happen by placing students together with a piece of provocative text or an engaging task. So how do we begin this scaffolded journey? Here are some steps for supporting students in deep and meaningful collaboration.

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Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners…..

Introduce game dynamics like leveling up and earning badges into your classroom to boost student engagement. By John McCarthy

Illustration showing a computer and various icons connected to games and gameplay.

Playing games is fun. Some people pour hours into games without complaint, whether it’s shooting 200 free throws or completing a guild raid in World of Warcraft over several hours.

You can tap into that kind of engagement through gamification—applying game elements to non-game environments to encourage higher participation and motivation. A simple example is a hotel chain, airline, or credit card reward system, where points earned offer customers perks like free rooms, flights, or upgrades, or other amenities. Continue reading “Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners…..”

The Search for the Perfect Kindergarten

You’re not alone in this big decision. We’ve tapped the brains of parents and experts to guide you through the process in this multi-part series.

illustration of people in a forest of pencils

 

Many of today’s parents remember their earliest years in school as simple times. They went to the closest public elementary school or to a private school their parents chose. Kindergarten was a rewarding and meaningful experience: Play was encouraged; they made their first real friends; they learned how to tie their shoes.

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Overcoming the Principle of Least Effort

 

A student confidently speaks to her class as her teacher smiles in the background.

Challenging students to dig in and achieve their potential during instructional hours confronts a mighty obstacle: the principle of least effort, the idea that people apply nominal effort to achieve a basically acceptable result instead of pushing themselves in pursuit of greatness.

We might be tempted to conflate low effort with laziness, but that misses an important physiological point: To conserve finite attention funds, our brains are designed to avoid tasks that are cognitively demanding. Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, describes two modes of thinking. The efficient and fairly unconscious mode is System 1. Involuntarily reading a Wheaties box, scorning new “athleisure” clothes, and opening a combination lock are all System 1 mental events.

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Drones Can Be Fun—and Educational

A young boy is standing in an empty cement building. He's playing with a flying, remote-operated drone.

Peering up, a teacher asked me, “What are we going to use it for?” as I flew our shiny new drone up between the umbrellas on the quad, past the roof of the gym, and into the low scattered clouds. The camera projected back to my iPhone, and I could see the newly planted trees in our quad, the only green for miles in the Mondrian concrete grid that is our local community.

The students and teachers in the quad all looked up too, shielding their eyes to see the drone fly. Our custodians pulled up in their cart, and my assistant principal whooped like one of the middle schoolers on my campus.

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5 Highly Effective Teaching Practices

Teacher standing in front of class with students' hands raised

I remember how, as a new teacher, I would attend a professional development and feel inundated with new strategies. (I wanted to get back to the classroom and try them all!) After the magic of that day wore off, I reflected on the many strategies and would often think, “Lots of great stuff, but I’m not sure it’s worth the time it would take to implement it all.”

We teachers are always looking to innovate, so, yes, it’s essential that we try new things to add to our pedagogical bag of tricks. But it’s important to focus on purpose

and intentionality — and not on quantity. So what really matters more than “always trying something new” is the reason behind why we do what we do.

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