Originally posted on the Secondary C&I website on 3/1/2018
Finding a video on YouTube and inserting it into a lesson often feels like a no-brainer.
Want to introduce a concept in 10 minutes or fewer? Find a video!
Want an activity any substitute teacher could easily facilitate? Have her show a video!
Want a way for students to review an idea outside of class? Link a video to class website!
Unfortunately, although videos are often easy to find and play, they’re not always what is best for student learning. Time and time again, educational best practices show us that if students are really learning the material it’s because they are reading, writing, and/or speaking about their thinking.
Does that mean video has no place in the classroom? That’s not at all what I’m saying. Rather, we need to be intentional about why and how we use video as an instructional tool. We need to ensure that our students are thinking about what they are watching.
With each video you show in your classroom, there are some key things to consider (1) before, (2) during, and (3) after you hit play.
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Before the Video
Establish its purpose
Students are more engaged with a video’s content when they know why they’re watching it.
The first year I showed the first fifteen minutes of the video Grand Isle (the film version of the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin), my students who had already thoroughly read the opening chapters of the book tuned out: feeling as if they were getting the same material in video form as they had just read, they disconnected from the video. Whereas the next year, I took a few moments to explain that the Creole culture of Louisiana is hard to understand on the page, but hearing the way the characters shift from speaking in French to English and then back again is critical to understanding why the main character—who only speaks English—feels isolated. Suddenly, with just a sudden explanation of why the video mattered, almost all students leaned in, took notes, and stayed engaged.
Many students need to know the purpose of an activity before they will devote their full attention to it.
Use an Anchor Activity
Grounding students in the topic of the video before you begin will often increase student understanding of and engagement in the video’s content.
Consider trying the following anchor activities with your own students:
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During the Video
Use Closed Captioning
When a narrator or character talks too fast, in an accent, or uses words that are new to the viewers, Closed Captioning can be a lifesaver. Especially for our EL and DHH students, Closed Captioning is a must for any video watched in class.
Stop, Rewind, and Re-watch
Some videos are fast-paced, introduce complex ideas, or have a lot going on visually. As adults, we know we can always pause, backup, and watch a section over again; however, this is not intuitive to many of our students. This is a skill we must model and teach.
In all of my English classes, I commonly used various Crash Course Literature videos. The students found John Green, the narrator of this YouTube Channel, to be funny and enduring; but, his delivery is so fast that students often missed key pieces of what he was saying. For this reason, we often stopped the video, skipped back to each of those key moments, and re-watched them. Sometimes, we even watched an entire video twice. Knowing this would be my approach, I would always tell students ahead of time that we would stop, rewind, and re-watch as needed: this helped reduce students’ anxiety levels, because knowing that all key ideas would come around again, they did not panic whenever they missed pieces the first time around.
Monitor Student Understanding
It is critical to stop a video from time to time to ensure student understanding, especially with videos that are longer than a few minutes, quickly narrated, or that contain new information. If students do not understand the information, they most certainly will not retain it.
Consider trying the following activities with your own students to ensure understanding during video viewing:
To see the above example of PlayPosIt:you may need to create a free PlayPosIt account or select a class (choose IA Institute).
The video in not optimized for playing on a small device, such as a cellphone.
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After the Video
Provide a way to re-watch
It’s a simple thing, but when a video is available online why not link it somewhere so students can re-watch it later? Linking videos used in class to your class website or Google Classroom, means that students then have a way to re-watch the material if they are still struggling with the content, to watch it if they were absent, or to review the material later prior to an end-of-unit assessment.
Connect to future learning
Just because the video is over, does not mean the learning is. As you teach future lessons, connect them back to the material watched in the video. This increases the importance of the material learned, which will not only help students build connections but will also help them pay closer attention to future videos, as they will now understand what an important role each video plays in your classroom.
So, while video commonly seems like an easy lesson enhancer, remember that while a video used well is wonderful, a video used without purpose and planning can end up being a waste of class time. For each video used, there are things to consider before, during, and after we share it with our students.
If you would like to tweak how you use video in your classroom, consider reaching out to your instructional coach or one of us on the C&I team; we would love to help you enrich your lessons with video. Or, consider diving in to some of the additional reading suggestions noted below.
This post brought to you by Heather Lyke, Secondary Implementation Associate
Suggestions for future reading on this topic:
Podcasts have been around for quite a while, however, many educators still have not tapped into their learning potential. Podcasts can be used for your own personal interest, as an easy source of professional development or for student use in the classroom. As the popularity of podcasts continue to rise, here are some creative and easy ways to use them in your elementary classrooms.
Podcasts for Educators
There are many educators out there who have started their own podcasts! If you are interested in learning more about a topic or if you are interested in getting new ideas, a podcast is an easy way to learn. While you are doing the laundry, driving down the road, preparing for your day at school or if you are interested in engaging teachers in a new way at a staff meeting, try listening to a podcast. Below are some Podcasts to check out!
Podcasts for Your Students
Students can also take part in learning through podcasts. They are available currently to them on their on iPads. Ask them to bring headphones, provide them with a list of pre-approved podcasts and they can get started. The podcasts below are currently used in classrooms around the country. Once students download their podcast on their iPad or phone they can listen to them anywhere. Consider taking them outside on a warm day or on a walking field trip. It can even be a station of learning in your classroom or a resource to use while writing a paper. If you want some ideas on where to start, below are some student friendly podcasts!
New to Podcasts? Here are simple directions on how to get started!
In iTunes you can find and subscribe to podcasts in several ways:
Things like Podcasts are the educational future. They open a whole new world of learning possibilities for adults and children alike. Explore. Engage. Enjoy. Of course, should you find something wonderful, be sure to share!
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, POSA overseeing Elementary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
Don’t you sometimes wish that students could just see inside your head and understand exactly what you are thinking? That may be every teacher’s dream. If someone would invent a tool that allowed students to see inside our heads, they would become a millionaire! Unfortunately, this invention hasn’t been created yet, so we need to find a way for students to “see” what we are thinking through strategic teaching methods. Marcia Dove and Andrea Honigsfeld call this idea “making thinking visible” in their newest book Co-Teaching for English Learners: A Guide to Collaborative Planning, Instruction, Assessment, and Reflection. In their book, they give several strategies for making thinking visible for students so that they can begin to magically see inside our teacher heads to increase reading and writing skills.
Think Alouds are one way that makes thinking visible for students. It seems so simple. Just talk about what you are already thinking. Yet it is extremely powerful for students. Teachers can model their thinking by making text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections. Check out this video to see a Think Aloud in action:
A Write Aloud provides a scaffold for students to guide them through the process of writing. Teachers can model a piece of writing so students can see the steps and procedures in the writing process. Throughout the process, the teacher explains verbally what he or she is thinking. The teacher can talk about why they selected a particular vocabulary word, phrase, transition word, or structure. Write alouds can be done with one teacher, or in a co-teaching partnership. In a co-teaching partnership, one teacher can do a think aloud while the other teacher takes notes or writes out what the other teacher is thinking in a structured format (or with a graphic organizer). Another idea is to have one teacher think aloud and write out what they are thinking, and then the other teacher performs a separate think aloud to show the differences in their writing and thinking processes. If you have a paraprofessional, it would be helpful to give them a frame for the think aloud so they can assist and/or provide other think aloud strategies.
A Scaffolded Comprehend Aloud is another version of a Think Aloud. While think alouds support different reading and writing strategies, Dove and Henigsfeld believe that scaffolded comprehend alouds “make thinking visible about processing and analyzing the language of complex readings at the word, sentence, and text level” (pg. 85). Dove and Henigsfeld provide the table below with different sentence starters (pg. 85-86). Each content area, and grade level, may have to adapt these, but this list can provide a start to using think alouds and/or scaffolded comprehend alouds.
Think Alouds, Write Alouds, and Scaffolded Comprehend Alouds are three great strategies to make our thinking visible to students. They provide a way for students to see inside our heads, model good reading and writing strategies, and allow students to use critical-thinking skills.
If you would be interested in trying any of these out with students, reach out to an instructional coach, or I would be happy to come out and model them beside you.
This post brought to you by Katie Miller, K-12 EL Implementation Associate
Dove, M.G., & Honigsfeld, A. (2018). Co-teaching for English learners: a guide to collaborative planning, instruction, assessment, and reflection. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, A SAGE Company.
One of the goals I hear most consistently from teachers is their desire to get their students to think more deeply and to be more cognitively engaged in the content they are studying. I have the distinct privilege of getting to be in many classrooms and here are some brilliant ways I’ve seen teachers shift the cognitive load from themselves to their students.
If you would like help with implementing any of these four metacognative approaches, or any metacognitive approach for that matter, consider reaching out to your Instructional Coache(s) or one of the Elementary Curriculum and Instruction team.
This post brought to you by Heather Willman, APOSA overseeing Secondary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
With the tragedy of the latest school shooting weighing heavily on many of our minds and social media, congress and the courts taking up the arguments of what should be done, teachers may be asking themselves, “What can I do today, that would make a difference?”
As a nation, we will need to address the issue of keeping our students safe at school. There are no easy answers and it will take time. For today, I believe that the one thing that many of us can agree on is that all children, from early childhood through high school graduation, need to feel safe and have a deep sense of belonging in our schools.
We can build that sense of belonging and community into our classroom and school culture by carving out a very important 20 minutes at the beginning of each day for a morning meeting; the purpose of which is to focus on building relationships. Relationships between teachers and students and relationships among the students; relationships that will build solid friendships, develop empathy, create greater understanding, foster confidence and deepen that important sense of self-worth and belonging. "People who have a sense of belonging are less likely to want to hurt themselves or others" (Oliker 2012).
Teachers who incorporate morning meetings take dedicated time to focus on building a safe and comfortable community in the classroom where every student is heard and held responsible for his/her actions. It is a time to encourage kids to care for one another. According to Responsive Classroom, a morning meeting done well should:
Take a moment to watch and listen to what Huntsville Elementary staff and students have to say about morning meeting.
There are several models of morning meetings from which teachers can get ideas. The Responsive Classroom model is based on the idea that students' social-emotional growth is just as important as their academic growth. The Responsive Classroom approach is informed by the work of educational theorists and the experiences of exemplary classroom teachers. Six principles guide this approach:
Responsive Classroom offers a template for morning meetings that has four key components:
Research supports that establishing a morning meeting in your classroom can positively impact the social emotional learning of your students. (Kriete & Bechtel, 2002) & Gardner (2012). There are several sites in our district who are currently using morning meetings and are seeing positive results. If you would like to visit a site and talk to staff who are already implementing morning meetings, please contact me and I can help to make arrangements.
This post brought to you by Julie Ace, Elementary Implementation Associate
Oliker, Ditta M (2012). On Being the Outsider-the lasting effects of being excluded, Psychology Today Nov. 9 2012
Gardner, C. (2012). Morning meeting and science -- a winning combination. Science & Children, 50(1), 60-64.
Kriete, R., & Bechtel, L. (2002). The morning meeting book. Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.
Recently I was asked about an article that I had shared awhile back so I am sharing it again. The focus is around the things we can do in our classrooms to help our students be more successful in regards to mathematics.
The ultimate goal of mathematics is to produce students who can think mathematically and solve
If that is truly the ultimate goal, we have to teach as though we believe it. We have to maximize every
opportunity for students to think deeply, to create their own solutions, to build/write/draw/talk about their thinking! Students learn important mathematical concepts THROUGH problem solving. This is a mind shift away from the idea that we teach math concepts procedurally first and only then can they do problem solving.
Quotes from Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All, NCTM (2014)
Here are some different ways we can change our practices to be more effective.
We think we are being helpful, but are we handicapping them for later?
We used to help students identify words like “altogether” and “in all” in story problems and we said these meant to do a particular operation. I clearly remember posting lists of these words under various operations. My intentions were good and I had seen it done by others. Now, I know there is strong evidence that this practice may actually hinder students’ comprehension of the story! Why?
1. Now we know that when the emphasis is on the “key words” themselves, students tend to find the numbers and just do the operation without thinking about the overall story in the problem.
2. These words can be present in a story problem but not necessarily indicate a particular operation. For example,consider what operation you would use to solve the following problems that contain the word “altogether”:
3. Standardized tests often make a point to avoid these key phrases. When students become dependent on finding the key words and doing that operation, they no longer have a strategy for solving problems when the words aren’t there.
Even at the earliest grades, our focus needs to be on comprehension of the story and true problem solving. It is with good intention that we offer up tricks or shortcuts, but in the long run, these tend to expire and negatively impact student learning.
At every grade level we want to be sure that we are presenting students with practices that create a problem solving environment because that is where true learning and enduring understandings are taking place.
This post brought to you by Carol Lucido, the K-8 District Math Coordinator
As a teacher, we spend the vast majority of our time educating others but often do not get the time to further our own learning. There is an amazing opportunity coming up in August that is close to home and budget friendly.
The Learning First Institute is taking place on August 8 & 9 in Kasson. This is an unbelievable chance to spend two days learning and networking with local educators. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event last year along with 70 other educators from RPS and found those two days to be some of the most informative learning in which I have been able to participate.
Over the course of the two days, you are treated to 4 different keynote speakers that are not only engaging and dynamic but also deliver important message around current educational trends and topics. The remainder of your time is spent in small group sessions that you select to best meet your learning needs.
Some of the topics from last year’s presenters included: Assessment strategies that motivate kids and help them learn, keys to a positive learning environment, building culture in your PLC’s, RTI – it’s not just about intervention but how kids respond to intervention, changing the experience of school and how to have difficult but necessary conversations.
This year’s lineup of speakers is just as impressive as last year. Keynote speakers this year include:
Myron Dueck - Vice principal and teacher with over 17 years of teaching, He has had experience in a variety of subjects in grades 3 to 12. Dueck has been a part of district work groups and school assessment committees that have further broadened his access to innovative steps taken by others.
LaVonna Roth - An internationally known brain-powered educational consultant, author and presenter. She is known for providing fun and engaging professional development specializing in neuro- and cognitive sciences to help educators better understand how the brain learns.
Kenneth C Williams - A former teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Kenneth is the chief visionary officer of Unfold the Soul, LLC, a company dedicated to inspiring individuals and teams to perform at the highest level. He is skilled in developing productive, student-focused learning environments.
George Curous - A previous speaker in RPS, he has over 17 years of experience as an educator, in a myriad of roles from K-12. George speaks about meaningful change happening when you first connect to people's hearts and the importance of creating an innovative student learning environment with high engagement.
In addition to these four amazing keynote speakers, there are an additional 14 speakers leading breakout sessions on a huge variety of topics. Last year I was able to attend 8 breakout sessions in addition to the learning from the keynotes.
Mark your calendar for August 8 & 9. You won’t be sorry that you spent two days in August at a conference once you’ve experienced this amazing event!
This post brought to you by Rebecca Mecikalski, Elementary Implementation Associate
The purpose of this blog is to share with you the work a group of educators are doing in the area in new teacher support and retention with a partnership between the New Teacher Center, REA president Dan Kuhlman, POSA Heather Willman, POSA Kate Palmquist and numerous educators within RPS.
RPS Teacher Induction Program Mission Statement:
To ensure that all educators entering Rochester Public Schools receive an inclusive high-quality induction that focuses on professionalism, growth, students learning and retention of quality educators.
Over the past year a group of teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches have been working with the New Teacher Center to a learn more about how we can improve our support for first year/beginning teachers. Throughout the process of investigating our current practices we found that while we have a solid plan for supporting classroom teachers, our special area and related services teachers have less access to strong mentoring. This past week our team met for the final time to lay out a vision and mission for how to support area and related services. Our goals and focus are as follows:
For the teachers who are not aware of our current Rochester Public Schools New Educator Induction Plan, we also reviewed those supports below:
After listening to the group concerns and ideas, the team chose to focus on how to better support special area and related services teachers due to the unique needs of this group of educators. One thing that we know we do well in Rochester Public Schools is supporting the classroom teacher with full release coaches. These coaches support our new and veteran teachers in many different ways. However, what we learned is that if you are a traveling art teach for example, you lose the connection between a specific site, so a site coach might not be the best mentor for you. We also discussed how our special area teachers have specific needs as far as understanding a unique grading process, learning how to establish relationships with a larger group of students, parent communication tips and other areas that are different to them.
Much like the special area teachers, our related services educators also have unique needs that they felt may not best be served by their instructional coaches. Knowing that we need to do more to support these important educators and to increase the retention rate, the group strategies a few possible plans on how to support new teachers in these areas with mentors, as well as still receive support from their building instruction coaches. Moving forward, the team will be exploring ways to support new special area teachers and related services teachers and in turn hopefully increasing their retention rate. If you are interested in learning more about this great work, reach out to Kate Palmquist in the Elementary C&I Office!
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, POSA overseeing Elementary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
Are you aware of all the amazing things that our school librarians can do if you just ask? Listed here are just 10 of the ways you can better utilize this amazing resource that is already right at your fingertips!
1. Plan & co-teach engaging lessons.
Librarians cover topics that are important to their media classes which, depending on your media specialist, can include digital citizenship, research, book selection, state and national award books, components of fiction and nonfiction books, book care, database usage, teaching App usage, literature appreciation, multimedia presentation tools, book genres, growth mindset, keyboarding skills, citation, plagiarism, oral presentation skills, keyboarding skills, mouse skills, website evaluation, note taking, and alphabetization skills. This is just the tip of the iceberg of topics covered in media classes.
They also value and connect with the content that is being delivered in each of their buildings, each of their grade levels, and each of their individual classrooms. Frequently, teachers will ask librarians to reinforce a skill they are teaching in class, and librarians feel this is a major part of their role. They plan lessons for multiple grade levels, often for 2 different buildings: some of those buildings have 1:1 iPads, some don’t; some have computer labs, some don’t. Like classroom teachers, they seek to make their lessons engaging and enjoyable for their students. Librarians also push into classrooms to co-teach lessons when teachers are looking for support. They are happy to lead the lesson or just be an extra set of hands.
2. Partner in integration of new technology in your classroom.
3. Locate, vet, curate and share high quality resources for you and your students.
As most teachers know, librarians will research and acquire materials such as books (from their libraries or from other school libraries), websites, and databases to support student learning. Some of the greatest resources are quality databases which can easily be accessed through MackinVia by both teachers and students. Please see your media specialist if you have any questions regarding access or ways to best use these resources.
4. Connect students with books to nurture life-long readers.
5. Support and advancement of curriculum development.
Librarians often work on curriculum writing teams in order to support their work with valuable resources and offer their unique perspective. There are librarians who work on articulation committees, attend PLCs, participate in summer curriculum writing, and work with grade levels on planning teams. Feel free to contact your librarian if you feel this is something that would be helpful for you or to your team.
6. Cohort in exploring and trying new things and ideas.
7. Help students develop research and presentation skills.
Everyday there are new and exciting ways that students can present their learning. The more tools the students feel comfortable with, the more choice they have in presenting the information. The more comfortable they are with different methods of presentation, the more efficient they will be in their choices. They can target their strengths and/or explore new options. Librarians teach them not only presentation skills but presentation options. They teach the most effective ways to research and how to translate what they have learned into information that is easily consumed. Whenever possible, librarians give students voice and choice in their topics and encourage real world application and sharing of the knowledge they have acquired.
8. Community Builder - Both within the school and globally.
9. Collaborate on innovative projects.
Even librarians on fixed schedules can find time to collaborate on new and exciting projects with teachers. There are often resources they are aware of that can be added to enhance a particular project. Librarians can also teach components of the lesson that will help students achieve their goal. They can also just be another set of hands when needed. They are always happy to help.
10. Facilitate lessons and discussions on digital citizenship topics.
Librarians are there for you in whatever way they can be helpful. If they can’t answer the question or find the resource - they can find someone who can. Please don’t hesitate to seek them out.
During this past year, many of you at your sites and within your PLC’s have worked very hard to identify the most important or prioritized learnings for your specific grade level. Prioritized Learning is the learning that has been identified as most essential to a particular grade level or course and for which significant time and resources are devoted to ensure mastery. To identify priority learnings we used the five key areas, asking ourselves; does this learning have:
After work was completed within site PLC’s, representatives from each RPS Elementary site in the content areas of English Language Arts and Math came together as a collaborative effort to construct the prioritized learning for each grade level and content area. (insert working Prioritized Learnings) Once the prioritized learnings were identified, teachers again went back to sites and PLC teams to begin the task of building proficiency scales for each priority learning. The proficiency scale will indicate specific information about what student achievement looks like, ranging from no knowledge to in-depth knowledge.
Within the Rochester Public School District it was determined that a three point proficiency scale indicating proficient, partially proficient and not proficient would best rate and communicate information regarding student performance.
In the next couple months, elementary site representatives will come together again to collaborate in the building of District Proficiency Scales for each prioritized learning in the content areas of English Language Arts and Math at each grade level.
Each grade and content area collaborative team will work to be sure each proficiency scale includes the fundamentals, specific word choice, and clarity allowing PLC teams to have the ability to asses, or build multiple common formative assessments based on the content of the proficiency scale.
A great deal of RPS effort, time and resources have been dedicated to this endeavor, WHY??
To answer this question, we need to look at both the reality and the research. The reality is stated best by Larry Ainsworth, “So many standards, so little time……” Statistics provided by Dr. Doug Reeves, founder of Creative Leadership Solutions, tell us that on average a student spends 13,000 hours in school from Kindergarten through grade 12, however if all standards were taught with the same length and depth it would take over 15,000 hours, time we just do not have. Because of the overwhelming number of standards, many of us may feel we have been taking the approach Ainsworth calls “Spray and pray” to try to cover all we feel is expected. When this happens,
Research tells us that the most effective schools focus on: simplicity, clarity and priority. (Schmoker, 2011). This research is also evident in the success of 90/90/90 schools (90% free and reduced price lunch, 90% minority, 90% achievement). These schools have focused on academic achievement by clearly identifying priorities.
For more answers to Prioritized Learning Frequently Asked Questions and the research that supports these efforts, please watch the RPS Prioritized Learning video below and read the Frequently Asked Questions responses.
This initiative is intended to be a collaborative effort to improve teaching and learning within our district, with our experts, classroom teachers, having the strongest and most important voice in the room. Another key thing to keep in mind is that prioritized learning, proficiency scales and common formative assessments are living documents with future opportunities for continuous improvement. As we continue to grow and improve, so will our work in this area.
This post brought to you by Julie Ace, Elementary Implementation Associate
Best Practices/ Tom W. Many Ed.D. and Ted Horrell Ed.D www.tespa.org
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