Imagine giving a homework assignment that your students can't wait to start. Sounds like you'd need to wave a magic wand, doesn't it? But I just received such an assignment: Examine in detail the opening to Joss Whedon's science-fiction move Serenity,…
Are your students curious, exploring ideas or questions on their own? Or do they sigh with relief and go back to sports or social media or other pastimes once the bell rings? Yes we all need downtime, but look at…
It happens all the time. People learn a little about something new, think they understand, and make changes based on half-truths. That's how you get problems such as those reported in the Atlantic article, Why Introverted Teachers are Burning Out. Those with…
I’ve been writing about how effort and perseverance without capacity and readiness simply aren’t enough. (Check out my past posts on grit and effort.) They’re all interdependent. Ignore either side and you simply won’t get where you want to go.…
“I have to hold their hands.” “They need constant supervision.” “They don’t think!” “They aren’t creative.” Have you heard leaders and managers pass these kinds of judgments on employee abilities?
Frequently, as I conduct employee focus groups or review 360 results, leaders who make these kinds of statements receive the following kinds of comments: “What a micromanager!” “Constant meetings and checklists and interference keep us from our work.” “We’re treated like children!”
“But I tried giving more autonomy and it was a disaster,” many leaders say. Frequently, they provided autonomy without clarity of goals or the benefit of wisdom learned from the past. There’s a happy medium of structure AND autonomy, a polarity that leads to results AND happy employees!
[Guest post from Ann Holm] Who feels overwhelmed by all of the tips and suggestions out there about how to be more effective in work and in life? Blogs, books, and articles. Recently, I saw an article titled, “100 Questions Every Entrepreneur…
A school leader recently asked me, "Is it easier for students with some personality types, or cognitive processes, to develop a growth mindset than for others?" The idea of a growth mindset comes from the research of Carol Dweck, captured in…
A blog this week asked us to guess the grade level for which this math problem was written:
Kristen has four flowers. She gives some to a friend. Now Kristen has two flowers. How many did Kristen give her friend? Draw pictures to help you solve the problem.
It’s listed as a kindergarten homework problem.
If you teach math, you know this problem includes some of the biggest arithmetic concepts there are and you’re not deceived by the use of small numbers.
- Students need to understand hierarchical inclusion–that 4 includes 2
- They need to understand conservation–that the number of objects remains the same, no matter how they are arranged
- And, they need to understand cardinality, that the name of a number relates to a specific quantity–including the huge idea that “two” isn’t the second object, but a set of two objects. This is a major leap in knowledge, often hindered by memorizing names of numbers. Too often, students learn to count to 30 or 100 but don’t understand the concepts involved.
It’s official. Here’s the research: having students analyze how math mistakes were made is more powerful than having them solve equation after equation.
I often show math professional learning communities a great film that Lucy West provided to me. Picture an 8th grade math class in an urban school. One girl explains the equation she developed to describe the number of tiles that surround the edge of a swimming pool. Her equation is correct, but instead of saying, “Right!” the teacher says, “Thank you for sharing. Who has a different answer?”
Another boy comes to the front, places his equation and diagram on the overhead projector and says, “After hearing her answer, I think I’m wrong, but I can’t figure out my mistake. Who can help me?” And the other students, not the teacher, analyze the two threads of thinking and determine not just which is correct, but how the second student got off track. The teacher intervenes only to help the students make their diagrams clearer and ask for reasoning.
Powerful, isn’t it.
A few weeks ago I wrote about similarities in coaching myself as a cyclist and the strategies of differentiated coaching. A key component is knowing when to help teachers develop a routine or ritual to overcome a persistent struggle.
My problem with biking was remembering to unclip from pedals soon enough to avoid tipping over at stop signs. I needed a routine. To develop it, I identified when to clip in and out, practiced to determine how far in advance I needed to start the process (way sooner than other bikers), and also experimented with whether twisting my feet together or separately was the better way (separately so that I could then flip each pedal and not accidentally re-clip). These routines have so far kept me fall-free.
Here are a few examples of routines that helped teachers find flow in their classrooms: