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Thank you for your interest in our blog. If you would like to find new posts from us, please head on over to http://quantumlearning.com/blog.

Hope to see you there!

–Quantum Learning Education

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Teaching to the Test: When Will it Stop?

NCLB-waiver-by-stateOne of the biggest debates going on in the educational industry for the good part of the last decade is student test evaluations. The No Child Left Behind Act was put in place with the intentions of making the U.S educational system a better place. Unfortunately, the opposite has seemed to happen. Teachers are now spending more time on test questions than on other subjects that could help a student in the “real world”.

Waivers
Educational Secretary Arne Duncan has decided to give school districts waivers so schools can start focusing on other standards students need to be focusing on. One of the first waivers given was to McPherson USD, in McPherson, KS.

In partnership with Quantum Learning and ACT, Inc., McPherson USD developed the C³ – Citizenship, College and Career Readiness plan that contains measures in the three areas of emphasis. McPherson is not the only district in America using Quantum Learning methodologies to change how their students learn and teachers teach. One of the reasons why Quantum Learning trained teachers are so effective is because they learn the “why” behind great teaching, by learning the way our brains develop and retain information.

More Waivers Now Being Given
At the beginning of August, President Obama has given the go ahead for states to request permission for a NCLB waiver. “With efforts to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act languishing in Congress, President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. Department of Education to grant waivers to states that agree to adopt a prescribed set of education reforms,” Education Week reports.

Education Week goes on to report, “Just what those reforms will be—and what freedoms states will gain in return—remain unclear. Those details will be made public in September, Obama administration officials said in a call to reporters.”

Some states that have already filed for the waiver are:

  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan

What is your opinion on this topic? Should states be allowed to receive these waivers? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: UtahPublicEducation.org

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Four Ways to Keep Your Students Attention

student-engagementHere at Quantum Learning, we know how important it is to communicate effectively. As an educator, making sure you are not only teaching the correct material, but doing so effectively can be harder than it seems. Everyone learns differently. We all know some people are more visual, while others may be more auditory or kinesthetic learners . But how can you make sure you are reaching your students 99 percent of the time?

Engage
The dictionary defines engage as, “to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).” How do you engage your students? Are you making sure you reach them visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically (VAK)? Are your lessons interesting and reach them in their reality (schema)? If not, how can you not only teach them the content, but in an engaging way?

Command attention. Not in a drill sergeant sort of way, but in an exciting relevant way. A student’s schema is what they relate to. For instance, if you see the Golden Arches, you know that there is a McDonald’s. This is because your schema told you so.

To get inside a student’s schema, you need to stay current on trends that relates to whatever age your students are. Listen to how they talk, pick up what’s exciting in their world, and see if you can explain your lesson plans in their world.

Interact
How many times have you been in a classroom and the teacher simply stands up and talks for an hour? I’m sure you all have sat through a class like this. Where you excited to get to class? Did you enjoy the monotone lecture? Chances are, you didn’t. Take a step back and ask yourself if you are inadvertently doing the same thing.

What can you do to interact with your students? How about moving around, making your students have to work to see you. This gets their blood flowing, and yours as well. Get them involved in the conversation. Have them help demonstrate something too. The more they can interact, the more you are keeping their attention.

Relevant
This goes hand in hand with schema. Being relevant is extremely important to your students. If you talk about things that are going on currently, you are more likely to get them engaged and interacting with your lesson. Teaching history? Find a way to use current news stories as a parallel to what may or may not be happening in your lesson for the day.

Tone of Voice
This may seem like a little aspect to your delivery, but tone of voice can be a great tool. Using slight inflections in your voice can keep your students attention, and auditorily highlight key points. In the same respect, you don’t want to sound angry or offensive in your delivery. Too many highs and lows can also be distracting, and sound less professional. It will take time to get your voice exactly the way you want it, but you can do it.

What techniques have you found useful to keep your students attention? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: eHow Family 

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Foundation: Starting the School Year off Right

Last  week, we talked about the new school year sneaking  up on us. Setting a strong foundation is pivotal in the first few weeks of school. It is a time where your students are learning you, and you are learning them. Here at Quantum Learning, we start our teacher training’s with a system we believe  makes great teachers greater.  Our acronym FAD²E (the core of our methodology), stands for:

  • Foundation
  • Atmosphere
  • Design and Delivery
  • Environment

Each one of these points is a pivotal role for teachers, and how to create the best situation in their classroom.  Foundation needs to be strong if you want any other aspects of the model to work as well. Like anything all parts of this system need to be working at top notch.

In effective classrooms, a strong Foundation creates an aligned community of learners through a shared vision, intentions, values and principles and clear expectations. These are not just posted on a wall. They are taught, discussed, modeled, and consistently reinforced. For example, the educational vision and values of the school are understood and shared by everyone and are made relevant in the classroom by the teacher. There is a clear understanding regarding expected behavior, quality of work, interactions, and daily procedures. These FOUNDATIONAL elements are communicated clearly and reinforced each day.

To get started on your search of what foundation you want your classroom to be set on, you can take a personal activity we have set up on our site here.  Sometimes just taking a step back can help us see something we normally wouldn’t have.

Once you have set up your own clear idea of foundation, it is then time to deliver the information to your classroom. What expectations do you have for your students? What is the correct way to turn in their homework? All of these things need to be told in a clear way at the beginning of the year. Once you set your foundation, your students will understand you better, and know what you expect from them. Besides the great personal activity, we also have three short lesson plans to help set up foundation in your classroom.

How do you set a good foundation in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Riverstone International School

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iPad in The Classroom: Taking Learning to the Next Level

Educators are always finding ways to improve their skills, and the best way to reach their students. As technology evolves, the opportunities to reach students on their level becomes easier and easier. In a world where 21st century skills are crucial for student achievement, tablet PCs like the iPad are becoming a staple in schools across the country.

We asked our Twitter followers what their favorite iPad apps where, and we found five we think you’ll love.

Flipboard
Besides being named Apple’s iPad App of the Year, Flipboard is a great way to catalog many publications in one setting.  In addition to  regular publications, you can turn your social media updates into magazine format as well. According to the App store, “See your social media in a magazine layout that is easy to scan and fun to read. Catch up on the latest stories, videos and posts from popular publications and people such as National Geographic, The New Yorker, Wired, Rolling Stone, Oprah, Forbes, Robert Scoble, and Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova.”

Chris Fancher, a Math/Engineering teacher at Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas, is excited to use this app in his classroom.

Keynote
Adding a little pizzazz to a presentation is done much easier with Keynote. Once you have created your presentation in the app, you can hook up your iPad to a projector, and you are set to go! Some of the features Keynote boasts are:
• Animate objects on slides with more than 20 builds.
• Choose from over 20 professional-quality slide transitions, including Anagram, Page Flip, Mosaic, and Twist.
• Use the predefined text styles or choose text options to personalize your slides.
• Quickly add your photos and videos from the Photos app using the Media Browser.
• Organize your data with beautiful charts and tables.
• Skim through your presentation, add new slides, and reorder slides with the slide navigator.
• Work without worry — Keynote automatically saves your presentations whenever you make a change.

Outliner
How do you keep track of your to-dos? Outliner is a great app that lets you stay on top of everything going on in your crazy world. Outliner has the following features:

  • Create outlines for structured notes, lists, tasks, tasks with subtasks, projects, etc.
  • Search through all your outlines, or find text in the current outline.
  •  Create items as tasks (with checkboxes) or not
  • Add notes to items
  • Get a quick view of the progress of a parent task – each shows pie charts to indicate what percent of child items are complete

Attendance
Appadvice.com recently did a review for iPad apps geared to teachers. They recommend Attendance because it’s a, “solution for quickly taking attendance, identifying students via photo, recording tardies, and emailing students or classes with progress reports. It integrates with your address book to import student data, or allows for direct download of course .csv files from the web. It is not particularly pretty to look at, but what it lacks in form, it makes up for in function. With an inexpensive in-app purchase you can also sync data between iDevices.” You can read more in Apple’s App store here.

Cram
You might not want your students to cram your content the night before a big test, but Cram is a great app for teachers. Cram is actually a flash card application to quiz your students. Teachhub.com goes on to say, “the multiple choice, flash card format saves resources, time, and energy when it comes to whipping up a quick assignment, quiz, or test. In addition, users are granted the ability to access an online database of questions as well as pre-established assignments. Cram boasts its own benefits for all elements of education, though, making it a well-rounded application to download and use.”

Do you have an iPad app you can’t live without? Let our readers know in the comments below.

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It’s About That Time of Year

August is just around the corner, (3 days, but who is counting?) and you know what that means. Soon you will be setting up your classroom, and your kids will be done with their first semester before you even know it. With that said, are you prepared to let this school year be your best yet? Sometimes it’s the simple things we need to be reminded of. Below are some tried and true tactics to start the year off with a bang.

Environment
One of the first things your students are going to be exposed to is your classroom. Having a warm and inviting environment is a must for any educator. What makes a classroom a great environment? One thing is to make sure the room represents you as an educator. What message do you want to expose to your students?

Having a safe learning environment enables students not only to learn quicker, but also feel like they can take educational risks. Taking ownership of their learning, and engaging in the conversation  needs to be organic for you and your class. Setting the tone you want your classroom to have can be a hard task, especially when you are dealing with student motivation.

If your school allows plants, they are a great start. Plants bring life into the classroom—literally. Something as simple as assigning students to take part in watering plants can encourage responsibility, and ownership for their part of the room.

Engaging Lesson Plans
Studies have proven a student’s age is the amount of minutes they can stay focused on a topic. Yes, that means if you are a kindergarten teacher, you have about five minutes to get your point across.  To keep attention, one way is to have engaging lesson plans. Instead of lecturing, try having the students discuss points throughout the lesson with a seat partner. It could be as much as just a two minute conversation to review what you had just taught them. Not only does this help re-enforce the content, but it also helps keep your students engaged throughout your class. If you are worried about classroom management, it does take some practice when trying new lesson techniques, but well worth it.

Smile
I know this seems simple, but making sure you greet your students with a smile every day can have a huge effect. For one, having a smile is more inviting, making you seem like a ‘person’ to the student. Also, smiling is contagious. How many times has someone looked you in the eyes and smiled at you, and you didn’t start smiling? More times than not, I’m sure you smiled back.

Have Fun
Learning can be fun, and if you are having fun, chances are so are your students. Every fall is a chance to start fresh with a new group of students, (usually) and you can make the most of it time and time again. With a little (well, let’s not kid ourselves a lot) of hard work, you can have fun with your students, and have them learning the skills they need to succeed as adults.

Image Credit: CBS News

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Teacher Appreciation Week–What Can You Do?

teacher_appreciation“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions”  ~Author Unknown. Teachers appreciation week may be coming to an end, but the fact remains teachers should be shown appreciation everyday. We all know the importance of a great education, and great education comes from great teachers.

So what makes a great teacher? Is it someone who pushed you to do your best? Believed in you when no one else did? Looking back, almost all of us have at least one teacher they will never forget–that touched our lives and we are not the same because of it. There are plenty of theories on how and what makes a great teacher, but it all comes down to one thing–teachers have the choice everyday on how great they will be.

We all do, whether you are a dentist, retail associate or the President of the United States, we all decide how well we will do in our profession. Like the opening quote said, teachers teach other professions. They should be appreciated everyday–not just one specific week. U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote an open letter to all teachers this week:

I have worked in education for much of my life. I have met with thousands of teachers in great schools and struggling schools, in big cities and small towns, and I have a deep and genuine appreciation for the work you do. I know that most teachers did not enter the profession for the money. You became teachers to make a difference in the lives of children, and for the hard work you do each day, you deserve to be respected, valued, and supported.

To view the entire letter, click here. There has been some very strong opinions on this letter, but the point here is that teaching is hard work, and you can make a difference in childrens lives–and we understand that here at Quantum Learning. We support teachers through our staff development programs. Our small way of contributing to the excellence of all teachers.

Back in 1984 the National PTA started teacher appreciation week. Ant example of teacher appreciation they have seen over the years are below.

Teachers at Brookview Elementary School in Indianapolis, Indiana, were surprised with “Academy Awards” at a schoolwide assembly in the gymnasium, decked out with stars and spotlights for the occasion. The PTA honored every teacher and staff member, from administration to teachers to janitors and lunch ladies. “The kids were absolutely amazing during this ceremony,” wrote Carissa Dollar, president of Brookview Elementary PTA. “They screamed and cheered for our staff just like they would have cheered for their favorite stars. They slapped high-fives with teachers and chanted their names as each winner stepped up onto the red carpet to receive their golden apple. The teachers were totally surprised and genuinely touched by the whole thing.”

Let us know how you received appreciation this week, or showed your appreciation in the comments below.

Image credit: TheApple

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