Teachers

Proficiency-Based Learning

In practice, proficiency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms–there’s no universal approach! The following principles of proficiency-based learning describe the common features found in the most effective proficiency-based systems, and can therefore help teachers and schools learn how to best understand and utilize this method.  All learning expectations must be clearly and consistently communicated to students and families. This includes long-term expectations like graduation requirements and standards, short-term expectations like learning objectives for…

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Do’s and Don’ts for Group Work

Educators have learned much about the benefits of using projects for learning, and collaboration is easily recognized as an important skill for students to build. There are very few arguments against having students do group work together in class and on certain assignments. However, the challenge facing many educators lies in figuring out how to group students together in the most effective way. The following simple guide can help. 1) Do: Consider distance and access…

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Project-Based Learning

Interest in project-based learning has been on the rise in recent years, and the practice can now be found in some form or another all over the United States. But while interest in projects is high, a deep understanding of what makes project work meaningful and impactful to students is less pervasive, largely due to a lack of understanding of what kinds of projects make for high-quality learning experiences. There’s certainly a danger in an…

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Promoting Gender Equality in the Classroom

As young children begin to take notice of gender equality and the differences in social expectations for gender roles, the ways in which their teachers interact with them become more weighted. These interactions also create long-lasting effects in other areas of their lives, at times limiting their self-image and their perception of the opportunities that are available or appropriate for them. This trend is especially apparent in the shortage of women who pursue education and…

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Starting School Later Can Improve Student Health

It’s safe to assume that high school students would probably cherish a little extra sleep in the morning, but did you know that studies show that starting school later for teens is actually healthier for them? Sleep experts have determined a shift in sleep cycles (circadian rhythms) in recent studies. This shift begins in adolescence and makes it more difficult for most adolescents to fall asleep as early as younger children or older adults. Typical…

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No Student is Unreachable

I’m sure most, if not all, teachers can think of at least one student that was defined somewhere along the way as unreachable. The struggles of children who are challenging (often victims of exploited communities, neglect, and abuse) are so heartbreaking and extreme that as professionals, teachers need to share their stories and vent their feelings. It is equally important, however, for them to build from there, and for that they need awareness of and…

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Time-Saving Strategies For Teachers

It goes without saying that teachers are very busy, so it’s not unusual to hear their concerns about the lack of adequate time to do everything teachers need to do: plan, individualize instruction, test, assign grades, collaborate, innovate, reflect and of course, teach. Not even teachers can add more hours to the day, however. The key to finding more time each day may be to use strategies that make the most of your available time,…

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How to Broach Tough Topics With Kids

With school shootings and other tough topics now commonplace in our country’s nightly news, we not only have to worry about how the students of those schools are affected, but also about the tens of millions of other children in schools across the country who have since heard about what happened and now likely struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion, and uncertainty. Parents and teachers alike may find the following guide helpful in…

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Meditating Before Starting Class

According to a new experimental study by George Mason University professor Robert Youmans and University of Illinois doctoral student Jared Ramsburg, meditating before class can lead to better grades. The pair of researchers conducted three classroom experiments at a California university to see if meditation might help students focus and better retain information in class. A random selection of students followed basic meditation instructions before a lecture, and the students who meditated before the lecture scored better…

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Ideas For Students Who Finish Their Work Early

How to respond when students finish their work early is a classic teacher challenge. Most of it boils down to creating learning opportunities where students are naturally funneled toward extending, improving, and sharing their work. This turns stopping points into more of a matter of scheduling than learning. All of the following ideas, however, are great for those moments when students finish their work early and have a little spare time. Dig: Ask the student…

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