Category Archives: Students

Teaching Without Tests

This is teaching as it should be!  Allowing students to have a choice in demonstrating their knowledge is definitely differentiating and acceptance that one size does not fit all – in teaching, learning, or assessment!  Thanks for sharing Nicholas!

Teaching Without Tests.

Colin Powell: Kids need structure

A great talk!  Helps us learn that students are more than a grade on a piece of paper.  Just look at what a straight “C” student can do with the right structure!

Music and its importance to learning

I was once asked what my greatest personal accomplishment was.  My answer was a no-brainer.  My greatest personal accomplishment was
overcoming a birth defect to go on to make a living for many years as a
professional vocalist, then teacher.

I was born with a hemangioma under my tongue which prevented me from speaking normally until after surgery at the age of five. The doctors said surgery would be too dangerous to attempt before then.  It turned out that the age of five was almost too dangerous.  As doctors were about to do a tracheotomy due to swelling, I began to breathe normally.  I suspect God had a long list of things for me to carry out with my voice!  🙂  Healing wasn’t easy and I had just come through years of being teased by other children.

The taunting left me embarrassed to speak so my parents encouraged me to sing to use my voice.  That I did! After surgery, my singing and a short stint in speech class found me off and running! (Or I should say “talking and singing”!)

Though my shyness remained, my junior high school music teacher helped me realize I had talent and encouraged me to use it. Because of his encouragement, I held many leading roles in high school and college theatre productions and went on to earn a living as a professional vocalist for many years before becoming a teacher.

MB900184975I have long shared with colleagues the importance of using music in the classroom – no matter student age.  I was thrilled to meet with my neurologist to review an MRI of my brain after falling and badly hitting my head weeks earlier.  He shared the pictures stating,  “All is well – you have a highly developed brain – especially your cerebellum.”

I knew the reason immediately.  “I have been a musician all my life!” I shared trying to contain my enthusiasm.

“We see this development in people having experiences in music from an early age on,” he shared.

Music has great significance to learning – especially to children who may lack self-esteem or sit through class day in and day out trying to fit a “one size fits all” educational expectation.  Learning is hard to without being provided creative experiences which create neurological connections that enhance learning.

One of the most important books on this subject is This is your brain on music written by Daniel J. Levitin.  For more information you may want to explore –

Cover of "This Is Your Brain on Music: Th...

http://daniellevitin.com/publicpage/books/this-is-your-brain-on-music/

Enjoy and be sure to listen to music!

Remembering Dr. King, Dad, and life lessons from both.

MLK

He sat at the edge of the sofa, glazed eyes fixed on the TV screen, tears streaming down his face. My brother and I watched silently with our father as the body of Martin Luther King was pulled by two mules on a mule cart. Thousands of people marched in tandem. My father wept, not ashamed to cry in front of us. “Why did they kill him?” we asked.

“Come close,” Dad said. “Never judge anyone by the color of their skin. There are good and bad people in every group,” he said. “Look to the person, and not the group they belong to. Consider everyone as an individual – an equal – remember that.”

08-06-2009 11;44;31AM

This would be one of the many life lessons I learned from my Italian father. Like King, Dad sought fairness for all in a time when it was not a popular thing to do. Similar to Dr. King’s life cut short at the hand of an assassin, Dad’s life was cut short in a car accident. I would only realize the meaningful extent of both of their legacy’s through their deaths.

Today, I can see my father on the sofa and the images of King’s funeral procession as if it was yesterday. I take comfort knowing the lessons I learned from both that year are handed down to each new group of students that enter my classroom.

The significance of today – the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the historical second inauguration of President Obama will be meaningful to some though not all. We have come a long way but the road is long and we still have a way to go.

For the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech illustrated…

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8961639&pid=8961633

“I can’t be president.”

1993 kindergarten classI admit that over the years I have become increasingly enamored of politics and the guiding and misguiding effect it has on us all.  It is no secret then that I woke early today to turn on the news so I wouldn’t miss anything.  Watching a reminiscent clip of past inaugurations – my first kindergarten classroom and one particular student came to mind.  The year was 1993 and I was thrilled to accept a cardboard replica of President Clinton for my classroom.  Of course, I had to take a picture of my students with the president’s replica and share some of the presidential stories I heard.  My favorite story to share with my students that day was the fact that several of President Clinton’s kindergarten friends were serving on his White House staff.

“Look around at your friends,” I enthusiastically said.  “One of you could be president one day and call on some of your kindergarten friends to work with you!”

“I can’t be president,” said Kendrick.

“Why would you say that?”  I naively asked.

He shrugged his shoulders, looked up at me and said, “Black people can’t be president.”

My heart sank and with it the idealistic joy I had for teaching was shadowed by the stark social reality of the time.  I hugged him and said, “You can be anything you want to be if you work hard for it.”

I have thought of Kendrick often over the years, but never as much as I did on the day watching President Obama’s first inauguration with a new generation of students.  I am thinking of Kendrick today – wondering if he remembers that day in 1993 and remaining hopeful that he finds as much joy in this week’s inaugural events as I do.

How to keep talented teachers from leaving

A must read for anyone interested in preserving the integrity and vitality of the teaching profession.

How to keep talented teachers from leaving.

To America from a Teacher

writing_letter      This is a beautifully written letter – one I’m sure many of us would have loved to have written but just haven’t gotten around to.  Thank you for sharing lisamyers.org!

To America from a Teacher.

Teachers Gravitate to Social Networks Tailored for Educators

Interesting findings!

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Teachers Gravitate to Social Networks Tailored for Educators.

ASCD Express 8.07 – The Neuroscience of Joyful Education

 

Well worth the read!

ASCD Express 8.07 – The Neuroscience of Joyful Education.

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Guns for teachers? Really?

MB900178845It’s amazing that the NRA and gun enthusiasts eagerly tout placing guns in the hands of teachers in order for them to protect their students.  Clearly, they have no concept of what a teacher is already responsible for in the classroom – especially when it comes to younger students.

A teacher’s role is that of educator, assessor, mother, father, nurse, counselor, nutritionist, self-esteem builder, protector, and role model in addition to a myriad of other roles.  Regular education classroom student counts can range from 16 to 35 plus.

I have reflected on my classroom and my kindergarten students and as hard as I try to visualize a scenario where I would have to settle 17 frightened students long enough to retrieve a locked and loaded gun to better protect them, I can’t fathom it being physically possible.

Yes, I have a moral obligation to protect my students and I will always do that to the best of my ability.  I also have a moral obligation to be the best role model that I can be for them.  The thought of having my students see me or any other teacher or administrator (the good guys) with gun pointed at the bad guys is incomprehensible to me.

There are many strategies already in place in schools across the nation to protect our children.  There are also many other cost-effective strategies that can be used such as bullet proof windows and entry doors which might buy the added time needed for a successful school wide lock-down.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has awakened the nation to the societal needs we all need to address to prevent future tragedies.  Rather than escalate an already gun-infused society, let’s begin early on in a child’s life to identify and respond to the signs of impending future loss of control by focusing on a child’s physiological, social and emotional needs in addition to academic needs.  A balanced approach addressing the needs of the whole child can lead to the successful completion of the educational journey in addition to providing the child a well-established sense of self-worth advancing a self-assured, productive member of society.