Lost in the Push for Literacy? 6 Reasons to Read THESE 6 THINGS

I recently finished reading an incredible book by Michigan teacher, Dave Stuart Jr. It was one of those reads that felt like a mixture between a vacation and conference. There were refreshing and affirming words of encouragement, but there were also mighty challenges put forth.

The title of the book is These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most. I have read books that boast they have the most important ideas for teaching, and usually they meant that the reader would have to buy into some sort of system that would be a complete overhaul and redesign of his or her classroom. No thanks, and this is not what These 6 Things is about. At. All.

Come along and I will show you six reasons why every secondary teacher, regardless of what content area he or she teaches, should read this book.
Continue reading “Lost in the Push for Literacy? 6 Reasons to Read THESE 6 THINGS”

Presentations: How 2 Sources Transformed Public Speaking in My Classroom

How has your experience been with assigning presentations in your classroom? Inspiring? Fun? Or does it sound more like how mine use to? Before I made significant changes, my students would make PowerPointⓇ presentations with busy slide decks. They would stand up in front of the class, face the projected image, and talk to the board instead of the class. When it was all over, we would all clap.

If your classroom presentations look like that, then it’s time for you to say “Enough!” I am still in the middle of learning how to teach my students to be better oral communicators, so you won’t see anything magical in my classroom, but you will see confident students, facing the class, note cards in hand, transitioning from topic to topic, with relevant visuals (and almost no text) on their slides. They have impressed me in ways I never thought possible with me as their teacher. I used to think that it was the job of another more competent teacher to get students ready for public speaking. But I have found that anyone can do it.  Continue reading “Presentations: How 2 Sources Transformed Public Speaking in My Classroom”

Teacher Blogger Tips: Create Content through Blending Your Development, Practice, and Reflection

Teachers are busy. They are always planning, always tinkering with their instruction, and there are the ever-growing stacks of assignments to grade. Just like one of those romantic comedy movies where the main character tries go one a date with two people at once, this is how a teacher deals with planning, instruction, and grading. As the main character switches identities to share time with one partner, this is like the teacher choosing to do one of those activities, like grading. Eventually, the pressure builds to switch to one of the other activities! And it goes on and on like this.

Not only do teacher bloggers participate in this same dance with planning, instruction and grading, they also spend several hours a week cranking out a couple of posts. Throw in the teacher podcast they are listening to on their drive home from work, the three twitter chats they participated in last week, and the teacher book that is their constant walking companion, and you’ll think that teacher bloggers have gone mad.

Well, we have! And we love it! But it doesn’t have to consume our lives. With a few simple tips, we can make it all blend together, while leading fulfilling lives and deepening our connections with our loved ones outside of work. Continue reading “Teacher Blogger Tips: Create Content through Blending Your Development, Practice, and Reflection”

Blending Argument into Classroom Culture

In my most recent post, I made the case against finding balance in life, but instead working to bring the ingredients of life together through blending. At the same time as the writing of that post, I found myself in chapter four of Dave Stuart Jr’s These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most.

As I was reading the book a little here, and writing that post a little there, a realization dawned on me: These 6 Things is a blessed picture of blending in the classroom. I think it was a mix of the timing of my post, all my prior experience with argument, but mostly that Dave Stuart Jr. just makes so much stinking sense (seriously, you should get the book), but I will now be using These 6 Things as a lens for how to make it all blend in my classroom. Continue reading “Blending Argument into Classroom Culture”

Blending Versus Balancing

“How can I get everything done that I want to get done? I just need to find balance.”

Have you ever thought that before? I do all the time. I used to stress out about it. I would look at all the things that I had to do, I look at all the time I had available, then try to block out time on a calendar to get it all done. It was a dance of scheduling all kinds of activities.

Certain activities got priority over others, especially the ones that involved work and family. As my kids have gotten older, they have been participating in more activities, and that has added a layer of complexity to each week. When I have tried to take it all in, thinking through my schedule, there were times when it was quite dizzying. Continue reading “Blending Versus Balancing”