Posts Tagged education

Budget Cuts Can Bring Creativity Into the Classroom

If you type in “education” into Google News, you find article after article on funding and budget cuts. The economy is still far from “reformed”, and everyone including our children, are feeling the effects. Teachers now need to be more creative in their classroom to keep their students engaged.

Incorporating new and fresh ideas isn’t a new tactic. Teachers have been evolving their craft since the first person started teaching. With that said, what can we do to keep student motivation and participation up when budget cuts are looming in the air? There are many cost-effective ways to include technology and fresh tactics into your curriculum.

Energy
Being energetic doesn’t cost you or your school board any money. It might be hard to put on a smile and be energetic some days, but if Ellen can do it—you can do it. If your teaching style is more serious in tone that doesn’t mean you can’t be energetic. We aren’t talking about jumping up and down and being a cheerleader for your kids, but it’s the way you stand, talk and give out information.

Smiles are contagious—how many of you could not smile at someone who smiles at you? Frowns are also contagious, so make sure you are setting the example for your students. You have to be 10x more energetic than your students to keep them engaged. Another way to get them energized is by INVOLVING them with the lesson. Have them work in teams, create a learning game, anything to get them up moving and motivated.

YouTube
What if your next English assignment was inspired by a video of the Tempest you showed your class? Hooking up your computer to a projector is inexpensive, and brings the world of YouTube to your students. If you have a video camera you can have your students submit videos via YouTube for a video book report.

There’s an App For That!
If you have an iPhone, you can send your students text messages to remind them of an important test, or even home study tips in the evening.  Thinking of new teaching tools such as mobile apps can be extremely beneficial. The app Mozes is a great tool to reach your kids via text message.

Get Involved
Going to sporting events to support students who are participating is an excellent way of building a sense of trust with your students. Juliann Frangella, a teacher in Illinois told us on our Facebook Page, “I have been doing this for years…the kids get such a kick out of it!”

Parent involvement is important, and sporting events is a great place to meet them outside of the classroom. Interacting with parents in a different environment than your classroom can really make the bond between you and the parent even stronger.

What have you done to get more creative in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: http://education.byu.edu/n

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Technology is Everywhere: How Can You Use it In the Classroom?

technology-in-the-classroomTechnology has evolved dramatically over the last ten years. We can now drive electric-powered cars, work with lightweight computers containing amazing power, and manage our lives on “smart” phones. As technology evolves, it has a powerful impact on us and our children.  Learning to read on an iPad or even playing fundamental learning games on the computer, make children very susceptible to new technology.

With that said, how are you implementing new technology in your classroom? Are you engaging your students to the best of their abilities? Are you being flexible and thinking of new ways to reach your students on their level?

Finding new and exciting ways to present your material can have a direct impact on how well your students will learn, and how they are able to retain the information.

Cameras
Last June, an educational certification program for K-12 teachers called Teach Tech was held.  The program demonstrated how teachers can utilize YouTube and Flip Video cameras to help student engagement.

StatePres.com reported, “Eighty-nine percent of teachers who attended the program last year said in a survey that the “new technologies enhanced the classroom experience.”

Computers
Your computer can do so much, not only for you, but for your students. Simply hooking up your computer to a projector, you can make your classroom come alive. Teaching about tsunamis? Go to YouTube and get examples from real life.

Even a simple PowerPoint presentation can make the curriculum more entertaining (if you have the right PowerPoint skills).

Google Calendar
If you aren’t familiar with Google apps such as Google Calendar, it’s worth checking out. By giving access to your students to view the calendar, they will have an online source for all major projects going on in the classroom. You can even set up alerts for your class which would be sent straight to the students’ cell phones.

Skype
As of this past Tuesday (March 29, 2011) Skype launched Skype in the Classroom. “Using the platform, teachers can create profiles that describe their classes and teaching interests. They can also search a directory of teachers from all over the world by student age range, language and subject,” reports Mashable.

Other Technologies
School districts across the globe are getting creative with technology.  Percy Centennial Public Schools in Warkworth, ON, have purchased iPods and iPads for their students. “The students love it, they think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said school Principal John Goheen to the Northumberland News. Goheen goes on to say, “One of our Grade 1 students basically summed it all up … ‘It’s really easy to use because if you have a finger and you can point, you can work it’… the whole experience has been great.”

Have you used new technology in your classroom recently? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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Character Education Conference

At the upcoming Character Education Conference in San Francisco, Quantum Learning representative Cami Eiskamp will be hosting a workshop.  Cami has worked with administrators, teachers, students and parents as an instructor and trainer around the globe for more than 13 years.  Her witty, outgoing personality — combined with her highly interactive training approach — keeps audiences energized and engaged.  She models applicable instructional/leadership strategies that all attendees can use immediately when they return to school. Cami is a San Diego native, currently in her seventh year as a high school Spanish and leadership teacher.  She was voted Teacher of the Year by staff and students.  If you are attending the conference, you can join Cami on Thursday, 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.

 

 

 

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What Makes a Great Teacher — It’s about the HOW

“Student achievement flows from great teaching,” states Vicki Phillips, Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

We believe great teachers know how to create meaningful, engaging learning environments that challenge students to do their best. Unfortunately, the majority of time that’s spent on developing teachers is too focused on the “what” and the “why” but not the “how” of creating successful learning environments.

Teachers know what they want their classrooms to look like and how they want their students to be, yet often they don’t know how to make it happen. Over our 20 years of experience working with schools on professional staff development, we’ve seen many good teachers become great — once they learn how to change the dynamics of their classroom.

Specifically, great teachers know how to:

  • Connect with students
  • Make content meaningful and relevant
  • Orchestrate positive interactions
  • Build a classroom environment of respect and high expectations
  • Inspire students to do their best
  • Stimulate positive student behavior
  • Teach to all types of learners
  • Engage students in learning from bell to bell
  • Great teachers know how to create a community of learners who are engaged and excited to learn!

When teachers are empowered and know how to make this happen in the classroom — when they have practical, transferable skills and techniques to create a learning environment that works — the desired outcomes follow: improved behavior, attendance, grades, test scores and graduation rates.

Vicki Phillips continues to say, “Great teaching is advanced by great professional development.” Effective teacher training takes time and commitment. Success in the classroom is not achieved with drive-by workshops that lecture teachers on the what without the how. Effective programs put the “how” first and ensure that teachers can successfully apply it in their classrooms.

When teachers acquire the necessary “how” skills and practice and personalize them in their classrooms, the result is a highly effective learning environment that produces positive outcomes for their students.

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POWER WHOOSH!

Below you can see a video of Kelli Myers’ Quantum Learning 5th grade class doing a “power whoosh.” A “Power Whoosh” is when on cue, everyone claps their hands three times in unison, then sends all of their positive energy to a designated person. It is a part of Quantum Learning’s “If It’s Worth Learning, It’s Worth Celebrating.” Celebration builds the desire for success. So celebrate often!

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Recharging classroom joy with techniques from Quantum Learning

Teachers need techniques. There is no shame in a new teacher adopting a great lesson plan from a generous master teacher. The sharing of “best practices” is a common activity at staff meetings. As so many veteran teachers will admit, some of their best ideas were “borrowed” from colleagues. It’s what teachers do – brag about a great unit they just taught, helpfully hint at a classroom management strategy that a colleague might need, and refresh their dwindling enthusiasm at the pool of shared experience and creativity.

In San Diego County, educators, schools, and students have the good fortune to be located near the home office of a dynamic education company that offers its own well of energetic, inspired ideas: Quantum Learning. This is not an advertisement; this is a testimony. Quantum Learning uses brain research to inform its instructional methodology. They also offer brain-based methods for learners via summer camps. But that sounds so dry. Really, the impact of what Quantum Learning delivers in its teacher workshops and camps can best be conveyed by a description of a Quantum Learning-infused classroom.

Imagine a classroom filled with color and light – a cozy lamp, a bright tablecloth – and posters displaying positive messages such as “Today became great when YOU arrived.” Listen – there is music playing, upbeat as you enter the room and soothing as you work. There’s a teacher who gets the class up and moving at frequent intervals, using body motions, choral response, and visual cues to engage kids and help them remember concepts. Notes are taken in color with picture drawing encouraged, and students whose brains don’t work in a linear mode are taught mind-mapping instead of traditional notes. Life skills are imparted along with academics – keys such as “Failure leads to success” encourage kids to see their efforts as building blocks towards success when they struggle. Kids start class charged up and ready for learning and leave class with concrete knowledge about what they know and don’t know and how to move forward.

It is difficult to share the techniques with a colleague who has never “been to the well” – to outsiders, it seems gimmicky, perhaps even cultish. But teachers who have attended a Quantum Learning workshop and tried the strategies in their own classroom know how powerful they can be. These days, with tight budgets limiting the acquisition of expensive toys like smart boards and individual student laptops, our schools are more in need than ever of good strategies that help kids learn, make school a positive, energetic, attractive place, and infuse joy back into the teachers’ efforts.

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Two For One

Thank you Teacher World for your flattering post!

I have shared with you that I spend time in the mornings reading positive, uplifting, and motivational materials that help jumpstart my day, and I am going to pick the best of these that can be applied to education in some way and share them with you on a regular basis. I hope that these bring some laughter, some deep thought, some happiness, and some positive reaction from all of you. These aren’t very deep, but they are fun. So, without further ado, here is another great saying.

* “It is okay to try and fail and try and fail again, but it isn’t okay to try and fail, and fail to try again!”

Oh, I love that, don’t you? Isn’t this a perfect message for students about not giving up until they get it right? For that matter, isn’t it a great message for teachers, too? I loved this quote from the moment I heard it, and I proudly display it in my classroom and talk about it at the beginning of every year.

I can’t take credit for this wonderful quote, so where did I get it? About six years ago my school system sent several teachers to the best training program I have ever had the opportunity to attend. It is called Quantum Learning, and I would highly recommend this program to all teachers. What is the premise behind this training? According to its website, “Quantum Learning for Teachers programs empower educators to create joyous, engaging and successful learning – turning their classrooms into optimal learning environments”. We learned countless teaching strategies and moves that are based on brain research. One of the best techniques I learned, circuit learning, is a technique that incorporates repeated exposure to facts in a manner that moves information from your short term to your long term memory without memorization. It works, and I use it every year!

So, today you got a two-for-one; a great saying and a little commercial for a great teacher’s program you and your school system might want to consider taking. Enjoy!

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