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- Differentiated Instruction: Bloom's Taxonomy helps differentiate
- Working Together: Collaboration = higher achievement
- Math Skills: Actually, they do need to memorize math facts





Differentiated Instruction: Bloom's Taxonomy helps differentiate

Assign a reading. Then use Bloom's Taxonomy to differentiate responses to the reading, ranging from the most concrete to the most abstract.

Check for students':
• Knowledge. Ask students to answer basic questions such as the name of the author or the names of several characters.
• Comprehension. Ask students to summarize the story.
• Application. Have students use learning styles. For example, a visual learner could draw a picture or diagram of a key point.
• Analysis. Ask students to compare the book with another one they've read.
• Synthesis. Have students transform a passage spoken by a key character into poetry.
• Evaluation. Ask students to examine a decision made by a key character. Then write about a choice they might have made in those circumstances.
Bloom's Taxonomy has undergone a revision in the last decade, but whichever version you use, it's a great framework for differentiating instruction.

Reprinted with permission from the June 2011 issue of Better Teaching® (Elementary Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2011 The Teacher Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: Char Forsten et al., The More Ways You Teach, The More Students You Reach: 86 Strategies for Differentiating Instruction, ISBN: 1-884548-93-8, Crystal Springs Books




Working Together: Collaboration = higher achievement

In some schools, every door is closed. But when the doors are open (figuratively, at least) and teachers collaborate with one another, students learn more.

That's just one of the big findings from a recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. Two-thirds of the teachers in the survey said that greater collaboration among teachers would have a major impact on student achievement. Nine out of 10 said that their own success in the classroom depended at least somewhat on the other teachers in their building.

Most teachers say they spend at least some time working with other teachers. Typically, elementary teachers say they work with others on their grade-level team, spending an average of 2.7 hours weekly.

Here are some suggestions on ways teachers can get the greatest benefit from collaborating with peers:
• Observe other teachers. Invite other teachers to observe you. The survey found this to be the least frequent type of collaboration in most schools. Yet watching someone else address the same issues can often give you insights into a new approach to try in your own teaching.
• Collaborate beyond your grade level. Talk with teachers at the next grade about how prepared students should be to do the work at their grade level. Are there things you could change to be sure that students have those skills?
• Use technology to collaborate with teachers in another school. Tools like SkypeTM and ePalsTM can make it easier for teachers to collaborate even if they never see one another in the teacher's lounge.
Reprinted with permission from the June 2011 issue of Better Teaching® (Elementary Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2011 The Teacher Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: "Collaborating for Student Success: The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2009,"




Math Skills: Actually, they do need to memorize math facts

Cognitive scientists are learning more about how students learn. One thing they now know about math may not make students happy. It turns out that memorizing basic facts is critical.

Learning math requires three kinds of knowledge. Students need to know: 1) facts, 2) procedures and 3) concepts.

But the facts come first. Any complicated math problem has simpler problems contained within it. Calculating the answer to those basic problems requires a certain amount of brain power--of working memory.

But when students already know a set of basic facts, they can free their working memories to focus on the higher-level math problem. In other words, the less working memory your students need in order to multiply 7 times 8, the more likely they will be to solve the equation in which that problem is embedded.

Does this mean that students should only drill on a set of basic facts? Far from it. Knowing that multiplying a negative number by another negative number results in a positive number is not the same as knowing why.

Still, for students to free their brains to do the kind of deeper conceptual thinking that is involved in most middle and high school math, they need to know some things cold.

Reprinted with permission from the June 2011 issue of Better Teaching® (Secondary Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2011 The Teacher Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: Daniel T. Willingham, "Is It True That Some People Just Can't Do Math?" American Educator, Winter 2009-2010, American Federation of Teachers.


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