We really don't need to be in the front of the room talking--pointing at a slide, rapidly firing questions at students and cold calling to make sure they are paying attention--in order to be "teaching." We know this, yet we still do it so much of the time. Just take a quick walk through the halls of your school and peek into each classroom. Where is the teacher? Who's talking?
Recently in student-centered teaching practice Category
August 08, 2018
July 26, 2018
There is little more difficult than trying to engage a whole class of students in reading a novel that is a poor match for the group. There are things teachers can do to influence the experience in one direction or another, but a great deal rests purely on the book itself...Once we have some possible titles in mind, we need to think through our decisions very carefully, going in with as clear an understanding of what might work really well about the book and what might be challenging or disappointing about it. Below is an excerpt adapted from Whole Novels For the Whole Class: A Student Centered Approach (2014) about five key factors I weigh when I select a book for my whole class to read.
April 19, 2018
Every year I have some students who arrive to my class with a fear or dislike of poetry. Spending some time away from deconstruction of meaning of poems has always worked to put these students at ease and allow them to open up to poetry anew.
April 15, 2018
Language can be limiting; it can also be liberating. With that in mind, I wanted to look at some of ways we categorize people and ideas in education, and how they might represent false dichotomies that need to be opened up.
February 27, 2018
There's a strange power children and adolescents can derive from watching adults be clueless about something they know—it's the role reversal that makes it a novel event.
February 14, 2018
I share these two stories for the chance they offer to think about the power of our words to students. What sentence will you say to a student--intentionally or not--that will stay with them for the rest of their lives? That might, for better or worse, reframe how they see themselves? How do we show students we see them?
January 31, 2018
If we provide structure and support for students to raise their voices and take action, they can astonish us with their capacity—and show us a good time!
January 06, 2018
Around the end of the semester, I like to use a simple speaking activity that accomplishes several things at once.
December 06, 2017
Reading is a skill necessary in pretty much any academic subject, so we all need to teach it. The eye rolls, however, remind us that we can say this all we want, but that doesn't make it clear how we should go about it, especially when content area teachers are struggling with their own content, pacing calendars, and the same staggering diversity of readers that challenge us in the ELA classroom. And that PD in June? It didn't help teachers make actionable plans, and it hasn't been discussed since. I've witnessed a version of this cycle in every school I've taught in.
November 08, 2017
My favorite part of a whole novel study is the week we hold student-driven discussions of the book. Students have completed reading the whole novel and are eager to share and investigate what they experienced. These inquiry-oriented tips have can also be used with other kinds of texts.