The title of this “The Best…” list is pretty self-explanatory. What you’ll find here are blog posts and articles this year (some written by me, some by others) that were, in my opinion, the ones that offered the best practical advice to teachers this year — suggestions that can help teachers become more effective in the classroom today or tomorrow. Some, however, might not appear on the surface to fit that criteria, but those, I think, might offer insights that could (should?) inform our teaching practice everyday.
For some, the headlines provide enough of an idea of the topic and I haven’t included any further description.
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Here are my choices for The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2011:
The New York Times has a fascinating article about Lincoln and The Mormons. It explains that he basically made a deal to leave them alone and they left him alone. This is what he told a Mormon leader:
When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farm which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn, and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it.
In other words, there are some battles not worth fighting, which also happens to be a community organizing axiom. I also think it’s also a good classroom management guide. We need to “keep on our eyes on the prize” and not get sucked into distracting conflicts. If a student just keeps on forgetting to bring a pencil to class, I just give him one from a big box of golf pencils I buy at the beginning of each school year. If they don’t have paper, I have stack. I’ve got bigger fish to fry, like helping them developing intrinsic motivation to read the first book in their lives and develop an appetite for learning.
Patterns and Punctuation by Elizabeth Schlessman appears in the most recent issue of Rethinking Schools. It is clearly the best lesson plan I’ve ever heard about for teaching punctuation. I’m not going to go into depth on it since the article is available for now and is not behind a paywall. In summary, it Elizabeth used inductive teaching and learning to have students identify punctuation in what they were reading, identify patterns, and then apply what they learned to their own writing. In many ways, it’s similar to the inductive learning strategies I’ve often discussed in this blog and in my books. I’ve constantly used “data sets” — a list of 10-30 examples of writing — that students categorize and then expand. I’ve just never thought before about using them to teach punctuation, but it makes perfect sense.
An Effective Five-Minute Lesson On Metacognition is a post I wrote about a very effective classroom activity I did recently. I think it’s pretty good, if I say so myself
This Is My Simple Three-Day Lesson On 9/11 might be helpful for next year.
Excellent New Edutopia Resource On Brain-Based Learning provides excellent practical advice.
The Seven Wonders….Of The Neighborhood? could be a useful lesson plan.
This next one doesn’t fall into the category of “advice,” but it’s an extremely practical resource:
I learned about APPitic, which describes itself as:
…an directory of apps for education by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) to help you transform teaching and learning.
It has over 1,300 categorized apps, including a ton organized by Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Here’s another resource that isn’t “advice,” but is eminently practical: Most Big Cable Companies Agree To Provide Low-Cost Internet To Low-Income Students
I’ve previously posted about the Bloom’s Taxonomy of Reflection that Peter Pappas developed. I just discovered that he developed this excellent Prezi about it. I’d also strongly encourage you to read his post that explains it further, as well as one by Langwitches giving an example of how to apply it in the classroom.
Asking if people are available and have time to talk with you instead of just immediately talking with them dramatically increases the rates of compliance, according to a study.. In the classroom, when a student is acting inappropriately, I generally try to begin with a “Can I talk with you, please?” before intervening. Just framing it as a request, even though the student knows it really isn’t, seems to help de-polarize the situation. And there have been a few times when a student has responded something like “Can you not talk to me right now — give me some time and let’s talk later” and that has also ended up working well.
I’ve written quite a bit about Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, here on this blog (see My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students) and in my new book. I recently saw what I think is the best short description and summary of the book’s key points. Check-out the post “What really motivates us?” at the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog.
Bloomin’ Mathematics is a great post sharing ways to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy into teaching math.
I had a fun online chat with over 450 educators at Ed Week. It was on my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves. The transcript of the chat is now available.
Eye On Education, the publisher of my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges, has placed the entire first chapter on “How To Motivate Students” online. It includes several lesson plans and hand-outs. In addition, you can access all the web resources for the whole book on a special publisher’s page. Just to to my book’s webpage. Right below the image of the cover is a link that says “Click for PDF sample chapters.” That will take you to the sample chapter. On my book’s webpage, if you scroll down a few inches, you’ll also see a link to “Online Resources.” That link will take you a listing of all the recommended links for each chapter of the book.
Top Ten Tips for Assessing Project-Based Learning is a new great — and free — classroom guide from Edutopia.
You can read an article I wrote for Teacher Magazine, What ‘Star Wars’ Can Teach Educators About Parent Engagement, without having to register first at this link. It’s a cute headline, but it provides very practical suggestions for teacher/parent meetings.
Ronnie Burt at Edublogs has published what might be the very best guide for helping teachers begin to blog (and for helping veterans get even better) — The ultimate guide to getting started with blogging!
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