Reflection

October 23, 2007 at 6:44 pm (all, blogging, Blogroll, children, classroom management, culture, drama, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESE, ESOL, friends, Gifted, High School, history, kids, life, love, Middle School, movies, Parents, Pedagogy, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized, writing)

Reflection

Reflection is a process for looking back and integrating new knowledge. Reflections need to occur throughout the building blocks of constructivism and include teacher-led student-driven and teacher reflections. We need to encourage students to stop throughout the learning process and think about their learning. Teachers need to model the reflective process to encourage students to think openly, critically and creatively.

 

Teacher-Led Student Reflections – Teachers review the learning to revisit concepts and processes that students will take away with them. This is an opportunity to restate and correct misinformation that has been noted. Teachers reframe new information to lead the students in a more appropriate path. Teachers link student learning to help the group make meaningful connections.

Student Reflections – Students reflect on what they thought about during learning process and how they reacted to other exhibits shared by peers. Reflections include what they were thinking, feeling, imagining and processing through the dialogue or learning exchange. Students reflect on what they will always remember. Reflections can be written but it is important to allow students to have purposeful dialogue.

Techniques for Reflections

Closing CircleA quick way to circle around a classroom and ask each student to share one thing they now know about a topic or a connection that they made that will help them to remember or how this new knowledge can be applied in real life.

Exit CardsAn easy 5 minute activity to check student knowledge before, during and after a lesson or complete unit of study. Students respond to 3 questions posed by the teacher. Teachers can quickly read the responses and plan necessary instruction.

Learning LogsShort, ungraded and unedited, reflective writing in learning logs is a venue to promote genuine consideration of learning activities.

Reflective JournalsJournals can be used to allow students to reflect on their own learning. They can be open-ended or the teacher can provide guiding, reflective questions for the students to respond to. These provide insight on how the students are synthesizing their learning but it also helps the students to make connections and better understand how they learn.

RubricsStudents take time to self-evaluate and peer-evaluate using the rubric that was given or created at the beginning of the learning process. By doing this, students will understand what areas they were very strong in and what areas to improve for next time.

Write a LetterThe students write a letter to themselves or to the subject they are studying. This makes the students think of connections in a very personal way. Students enjoy sharing these letters and learn from listening to other ideas.

Source:

http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/constructivism/how/reflection.html

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Exhibits

October 23, 2007 at 6:39 pm (all, blogging, Blogroll, children, classroom management, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESE, ESOL, Gifted, High School, history, kids, Middle School, Parents, Pedagogy, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized, writing)

Exhibits

By using a variety of ways to show what they know, such as projects, metaphors or graphic organizers, students are allowed to come to closure on some idea, to develop it and to further their imagination to find understanding. Understanding is taking bits of knowledge in all different curriculum and life experiences and applying this new knowledge. When students apply new knowledge, connections are made and learning is meaningful and relevant. Application is a higher order thinking skill that is critical for true learning to occur.

 

We often require students to hand in a completed paper, project or give them an exam to see what they have learned. In a constructivist classroom, the process moves from the individual to more public, shared knowledge. The power of social interaction shapes learning through critical thinking, communicating and relating. When we keep the product as a private act, we deprive the learner the opportunity to engage in and learn from and with others.

Characteristics of Exhibits

  • Students create a variety of products to ‘show what they know’
  • Students share these products in collaborative or whole group presentations
  • Students respond to questions and openly question others
  • Teachers guide student learning creating learning paths appropriate for each student or groups of students
  • Students take more responsibility and ownership for their learning exhibits

Possible Student Exhibits

Analogies – Students compare a topic or unit of study to an inanimate object such as comparing something known to the unknown or some inanimate object to the topic.

Blogs – Blogs, short for weblogs, are online journals or diaries that have become popular since the mid 1990’s. Bloggers post personal opinions, random thoughts, connections and real life stories to interact with others via the Web! Weblinks and photos can also be added to the blog. A learner may choose to have their own blog to record their learning on a specific topic. A group of learners could choose to share a blog and read, write, challenge, debate, validate and build shared knowledge as a group. Check out Blogger.com to set up your own personal or professional blog – develop your digital voice and model for your students.

Collage – Students cut out or draw pictures to represent a specific topic. To evaluate the level of understanding, students write an explanation or discuss in small groups the significance of the pictures and why they are representative of the topic. This technique encourages students to make connections, to create a visual representation and to then explain or exhibit their understanding.

Celebration of LearningA demonstration where students have the opportunity to share their expertise in several subject areas with other students, teachers and parents.

Graphic Organizers – Graphic organizers, also known as mind maps, are instructional tools used to illustrate prior knowledge.

Portfolios A portfolio is a representative collection of an individual student’s work. A student portfolio is generally composed of best work to date and a few “works in progress” that demonstrate the process. Students show their knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of different ways that are not dependent upon traditional media such as exams and essays.  Multiple Intelligences Portfolios are an effective way for students to understand not how smart they are but how they are smart.

Project-Based Learning– Students create projects by investigating and making connections from the topic or unit of study to real life situations. Multimedia is one effective tool for students to design their projects.

T-charts – A simple t is drawn and students jot down information relating to a topic in two different columns.

Venn-Diagram – A graphic organizer that is made with 2 intersecting circles and is used to compare and contrast. Using this tool, students identify what is different about 2 topics and identify the overlap between the two topics in the shared shared area.

http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/constructivism/how/exhibits.html

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Positive Environment and Classroom Management

September 4, 2007 at 7:43 pm (all, blogging, children, classroom management, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, Middle School, Parents, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, writing)

Positive Environment

As a volunteer Sunday School teacher, our children’s ministry director asked me if I would look over her sheet of classroom management techniques. “I am too wordy,” she said, “and I’d really like something simple and easy to remember. It should be three major points that would help those who aren’t teachers manage a group of kids.” My immediate thought was, You don’t want me helping, I’m about as wordy as you get. But then I thought about it. How would I simplify classroom management strategies into three major points?  Managing an environment of fifteen to thirty (or more) people is tricky. There is no simple method. There is no “EASY” button for classroom management. However, I did think of a way to communicate the essence of managing students into three areas: Positive Environment, Procedures, and Productive Students. Over the next three weeks I’ll address each issue. This week we focus on positive environment and how it affects classroom management.

A positive classroom environment encourages participation and risk-taking because students know they will not be harassed or belittled by the teacher. Students do not have to shrink within themselves to survive the forty-five minutes, ninety minutes, or full day with teacher who yells, throws things, or makes hurtful comments. In a positive classroom environment students can make jokes, engage in their learning, banter with the teacher, and feel comfortable with the tasks given.

Why is this so important? Let me ask you – when do you feel most motivated to be on your best behavior? Is it for a person who constantly makes you feel small or for someone whom you respect and don’t want to let down? Most students will go out of their way to harass and frustrate a teacher who belittles through words and actions. “Let’s see how mad we can make her today,” becomes the goal. Conversely, those same students will go out of their way to behave for a teacher who encourages and lifts up.

What are some ways we can create a positive environment in our classroom? Read below.

·         Welcome students each day with a smile. Take some time to talk to each person and find out how they are doing. I use the time when my students are copying homework and working on the focus assignment (the activity ready for students to begin as soon as they enter the classroom). While everyone is working I walk around the room and stop to talk to each student briefly. It doesn’t take that long and gives me a good idea of what is happening with each student. Those that need a little extra time get it.

·         Interact with your students as human beings and as colleagues. Be respectful and it will come back to you in spades. Treat your students as you would the other faculty in the school. Yes, they are children, but they are also people. We adults can be childish ourselves at times. Children are simply that way more often. Yet, at the same time they can respond to you in very mature and appropriate ways as well – especially if we expect it of them.

·         Focus on the positive rather than the negative. If you focus your discipline/behavior program on consequences, then you are constantly reacting to misbehaviors. Your focus is on the negative. Instead, create a program that encourages students to act appropriately. You might have a chart or map that students “travel” or advance to a goal of some sort through good deeds and behavior. Every time a student does something good for others, is helpful, turns in homework, etc., he/she gets a coupon or ticket. Collect “x” number of tickets to earn movement to the next point on the chart. No matter what type of system you create, the idea is that students earn their way to something good or fun through their positive actions. This type of program focuses on the positive behaviors of students.

·         Redirect misbehaviors rather than always punishing the student. If you see a student getting ready to push another, catch his/her attention and silently shake your head. Smile and nod when they stop, then say a silent “thank you” to the student. If you notice a younger child misbehaving, redirect his/her attention to another activity. Distraction is an excellent tool to help manage students. Of course, this does not mean that you never have consequences. You will also have those students who deliberately set out to defy and misbehave. You begin with redirection, and the positive reinforcement, but be ready to use consequences when the action calls for it.

Teachers who focus on consequences and set up a discipline system that relies on punishment, or even losing potential rewards (which is also a punishment), set themselves up for disappointment. Students continue to behave immaturely because they are treated as immature. Misbehavior continues because it is assumed automatically that students will misbehave. The focus is entirely on the negative and not the positive. In many cases students will deliberately misbehave to see how many “marks” they can rack up in one week. A particularly bright student might say to himself, “Well, I’m always in trouble anyway, so let’s see how far I can push it.” It is goal setting – negative style. A negative focus almost always results in this type of negative thinking by students.

Our students will live up to our expectations, whatever they might be. When we expect students to fail, they fail. When we expect them to misbehave, they misbehave. When we expect them to act immaturely, they act immaturely. On the other hand, when we expect students to achieve high goals, they reach for high goals. When we expect them to behave, they behave. When we expect them to act more maturely, they act more maturely (well, most of the time. J ). You get the gist of what I’m saying. As the leader of the classroom, our focus sets the stage for student actions and behaviors. So, where does your focus center? How do you set the stage for your students? And what results do you get in return?

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How To Appreciate Your Student’s Diversity

August 30, 2007 at 6:57 pm (all, blogging, children, classroom management, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, friends, High School, humor, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, poetry, politics, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized, writing)

This is a powerful reminder of the challenges – and joys that we face – in dealing with our diverse student population.

Welcome to Holland
By Emily Perl KingsleyI am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas of Venice. You learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I have dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would have never met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you might never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.

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Building Habits

August 24, 2007 at 5:53 pm (all, blogging, children, classroom management, culture, drama, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, food, friends, High School, history, humor, kids, life, love, Middle School, movies, music, news, Parents, personal, photography, poetry, politics, principals, reading, religion, school, school administration, sports, teachers, technology, Thornebrooke, thoughts, travel, Uncategorized, video, women, writing)

It takes 27 days to form a habit. Remember when your mother used to ask you to make your bed every day? Then, after a while, you simply started making it on your own —without having to be reminded to do it. Making your bed every day had become a habit.

In my column, Laying the Groundwork, I discussed the importance of brainstorming expectations and procedures as part of laying the groundwork for building good habits. This time, I want to discuss in a little more detail the kinds of habits we want to build in our students — and how we can build them.

When thinking about the kinds of good habits you want students to develop, go back to that list of expectations and procedures you created. For me, for example, it’s important that students enter my classroom, check their mailboxes, and start working on their focus assignment before the first bell rings. It’s important that when I use the quiet signal, my students get quiet and focus on me. I expect my students to stay in a quiet straight line when I walk with them down the hall. It’s also important to me for students to be silent, with a clean area, before I dismiss them. Those types of habits, as well as others, also might be important to you. If you’re not really sure what you expect of your students, then take some time right now to brainstorm those actions and behaviors that you want to become habits for your students.

Okay, you have your list. You might be asking yourself, “Why is it important that I help build these habits?” The reason is to save yourself stress later on in the school year. Spring semester might seem like a long way away, but it will come around a lot faster than you think. Students who are not following good habits in the fall have a tendency to let spring fever get out of hand. Behavior can become more erratic then, and without good habits in place, students are more likely to get out of control. By setting the standards at the beginning of the year and turning good behaviors into good habits, you save yourself a lot of time and stress later.

But how can you build in students the good habits you expect? First, clearly explain your expectations to students. Next, make sure students practice the correct actions and behaviors daily. (It’s especially important to practice behaviors over and over again during the first couple of weeks of school.) Third, be consistent about requiring specific behaviors. If you see students not meeting your expectations, don’t be afraid to stop and take the time to practice the correct action or behavior right then and there.

For example, if I notice that many students are entering the classroom and “hanging out” without starting their work before the bell rings, I stop everything and practice my expectations. I have students file out of the classroom and re-enter correctly. If students are not following my quiet signal, we stop immediately and practice until they get it right. By doing that consistently, students begin to see that I will hold them accountable for their actions. After 27 days or more of doing the same actions over and over again, the behaviors become a habit for students. What you want to achieve is a classroom in which students know what to do and when to do it. That is a well-disciplined classroom.
You might find, of course, that as the year progresses, you need to stop and practice your expectations again. That is perfectly normal and can be thought of as “maintenance.”

Before you know it, however, your students will be entering the classroom and doing exactly what you expect of them — whether you are there to remind them or not. Good behavior has become — just like making your bed each day — a habit. In the end, that’s precisely what we strive to accomplish.
As you work toward that goal, remember the maxim “Good habits are hard to break” — and practice, practice, practice.

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Adult Behaviors That Decrease Student Misbehavior

May 28, 2007 at 10:11 am (all, blogging, children, classroom management, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, writing)

Adult Behaviors That Decrease Student MisbehaviorAdults who work with confrontational students must have the capacity for patience, self-control, and self-coaching. Responding to this type of student requires forethought and planning.

De-escalating a confrontation can be accomplished in several ways. Each of the following suggestions requires tremendous desire on the part of the teacher for maintaining his or her own control and understanding that the student needs to save face.

  • Speak calmly throughout the interaction.
  • Keep the focus on the desired behavior of learning or work completion. For example, you could say, “Sounds like we have an issue to discuss. Let’s do so right after class. For now, can you get back to the report?”
  • Use self-directed humor or self-admonishment: “Why didn’t I think of that? You’d think after ten years of teaching, I would’ve thought about this coming up!”
  • Listen actively and acknowledge the student’s concerns: “Seems as though you are really angry. Let me think about it for today, and we’ll talk about it at another time.”
  • Try the broken record approach—communication through a nonconfrontational voice and body language: “Please return to your chair and get back to work.”

Teachers will be able to use these strategies only if they rehearse them, at least mentally. Practice time through role-play can be given during faculty meetings.

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Memory

April 30, 2007 at 6:01 pm (all, books, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, life, Middle School, music, news, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, technology, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized, writing)

Memory improvement and research related to the science of memory

Fahey, John AAlthough the art of mem

Memory improvement and research related to the science of memory

Fahey, John A

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The purpose of this article is to propose proven methods to enhance memory, thus learning, for both students and teachers. Some of these methods to improve learning were discovered as far back as 400 B.C., while others are in the process of being developed.

In a time of high-stakes testing and accountability, educators must use research-based skills, tools and techniques to assist students learn content and remember the information. Learning the content is a function of numerous educational practices that assist memory. This article focuses on memory. Without the ability to remember the content we have not learned it, according to the standards-based tests. We need to learn how we best remember and how we can improve this skill.

Memory: A Definition

What is Memory? Memory is a glorious and admirable gift of nature by which we recall past things, we embrace present things, and we contemplate future things through their similarity to past things. Boncompagno, 1891 (Yates, 1966. p. 58)

Introduction and Purpose

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The new millennium should produce exciting, innovative ways to access and expand memory. Scientists have located multiple loci in the brain for memory storage and neurochemical research has provided invaluable information on the chemistry of neuron activity. Recent use of music and exercise are demonstrating exciting and effective ways to increase memory. All of these discoveries and the potential instructional strategies are important for educators to incorporate into their pedagogical repertoire.

This article is about memory improvement, and some of the recent research implications related to the science of memory.A proposal to use music, movement and objects or articles as metaphors to assist students to remember will be offered in order to add practical application to understanding.

Historical Perspective of Memory

From the concept of natural memory to ancient views of artificial memory, people have examined this art and devised numerous mechanisms to assist their efforts. Certain techniques and patterns were established early in the studies of memory. In the late thirteenth century, Lull distinguished between types of memory (Yates, 1966). Lull presented two types of artificial memory; the first employs medicines and plasters, and the second relates to frequent repetition of information “like an ox chewing the cud.” (Yates, 1966, p. 192). The importance of repetition has been understood since 400 B.C. (Noll & Turkington, 1994). The concept that “the brain strengthens learning through repetition,” so long as it is not boring, supports efforts to improve memory (Jensen, 2000, p.78), however, there are numerous significant research findings that take memory strategies to levels beyond the “cud” metaphor.

The Multiple “R”s of Memory-Record, Rehearse, Retain, Reconstruct, Retrieval

For a person to remember he, or she, needs to proceed through a pattern of actions that enable a word, idea, concept or skill to become embedded into long-term storage. Long-term memory storage is enhanced by association, repetition, reconstruction or through vivid feelings.

Preparation for standardized tests at key gateways in educational evaluation requires the ability to memorize information and to recognize it at the appropriate times. Content knowledge is required before the learner can move to the more complex levels of educational taxonomy. In this pattern the multiple “R”s of memory might be helpful.

The use of “R” words employs a mnemonic device (all begin with an “R”) to assist recognition. They are examined as follows: (see chart on following page).

Avenues of Understanding

Recent investigations of brain-based research on memory suggest types of memory lanes (Sprenger, 1999), the importance of attention and receptor modification (Jensen, 1998) and the action of messenger proteins in the recall processes (Milner, 1999). Each discovery illuminates an important feature in the science of memory.

Sprenger’s (1999) memory lanes analogy provides the avenues associated with learning information within a variety of contexts. From the semantic, episodic, procedural, automatic and emotional lanes, individuals have a variety of neural pathways to search for information. Information is stored in context and this context provides a cue in the recognition process. Sprenger aptly states, “Locating memories may be impossible if we aren’t looking in the right place.” (p. 45). These avenues, supported by Caine and Caine’s locale memory (1994) relate to storage of information in a context. Embedding knowledge in context assists in memory and recall. For example, this phenomenon can be natural or assisted through the use of mnemonic devices such as the multiple “R”s of memory discussed earlier. The mnemonic device of using loci in a room for memorizing information dates back to 500 BC (Yates, 1966).

Food for Thought

New discoveries related to the brain have enhanced our perspectives and provided better science for examining memory. From research on neurochemistry to positron emission tomography (PET) scans, we have a better understanding of the brain and how it works. Important findings related to the fluidity of information storage (neural plasticity), the importance of protein in long-term memory, the need for calcium, choline and acetycholine in aiding the chemical processes of memory, (Jensen, 1998) and the importance of water in the entire memory learning process (Fahey, 2000) have provided food for thought. This research, applied with complementary studies on memory mechanisms, provides optimal learning tools for educators and their students.

In the area of activity-induced changes at the synaptic level in the brain, Milner (1999) provides a conceptual framework for the complex processes of neurological changes we call learning. Milner’s research provides insight into neurochemical activities of the synthesized proteins necessary for storing (learning) and changing receptor sites to configure the ability to recall information (retrieving). Initial storage of information requires changes in the receptor proteins and the messenger proteins in the brain. These receptor sites synapses “retain a chemical tag that allows the new protein to find them,” (p. 83). Through repeated activation this process strengthens the synapses and recall is facilitated. This seems to encourage protein in the diet for optimal brain function.

There is much research to support the importance of protein in the diet (Wurtman, 1998, Conners, 1989, Jensen, 1998). In correspondence with Steven Rose, author and brain scientist for almost thirty years, Rose cautions scientists and educators to be judicious about many of the recent findings. In the 1960s, scientists researched the neurochemical functions of the brain to find the “memory molecule.” Protein and RNA were claimed to be the magic chemistry of memory (Gurowitz, 1969). In 2000 Rose writes

because all foodstuffs are broken down into their component molecules during digestion there is no special need for protein per se what is required are the essential amino acids which are components of protein, and are then used as the building blocks to synthesize the proteins that the brain – and other tissues – need. Ditto for sugars. Vitamins are important because they are molecules that the body can’t synthesize from simpler components and therefore become essential parts of the diet. (Personal communication with Rose, May 25, 2000).

Review of literature on the brain and learning consistently supports the biological need for the amino acids that come from proteins, calcium that can be found in dairy products or other sources and vitamins that come through nourishment. Our brain, like the rest of our body, needs specific chemicals to function.

Imagery in the Learning Process

Exhaustive examination of imagery and related mnemonic processes (McDaniel & Pressley, 1987) provides a sense of memory efficiency that contributes to the ancient concept of artificial memory. Review of literature addresses the issues of student-generated images vs. teacher-generated images, as well as the use of bizarre images vs. the use of vivid images. In this body of research it was determined that bizarre was no better than plausible. Most findings concluded that vivid images were important in association and recall (McDaniel & Pressley). Much research on teacher vs. student-generated images demonstrated that in early years teacher-derived images are more helpful and as students become more experienced, student generated images are helpful (McDaniel & Pressley). From this perspective, we are proposing a means of mnemonic memory metaphors.

From Mnemonics to Metaphors

Mnemonic devices such as the loci, link, peg, and phonetic key word systems have been used successfully for years in assisting students to form associations in the process of learning. These devices provide imagery, rhymes and organizational patterns that are used in a variety of learning contexts.

A real object or a model of the object provides the learner with a plausible visual and at times, kinetic hook in the association process. Years of teaching with toys and real objects to demonstrate scientific laws and principles, one of the authors has found that these articles provide students with visual images, metaphors for memory and kinetic experiences that are encoded in a context that is registered and retrieved more readily. This aspect of multi-sensory stimuli assists students in creating vivid images for association and recall. The use of objects as metaphors for processes, concepts and knowledge assists students as they make connections to their world, forms images that will be recalled, and provides another sensory input for the intended learning. Examples of this practice are numerous and teachers do this every day.

The method of using objects as learning metaphors also supports the research on emotion and memory. Milner (1999) discussed the effect of emotion on remembering an event. Intensity of emotion may assist recall for years at a time or forgetting in minutes (Milner, 1999, p. 124). As good teachers know, the varied use of emotion in explaining and teaching assists students in creating hooks for memory and recall. Students may remember the location, specific words and concepts as presented in class if they are emotionally engaged in the process.

Music and Exercise to Enhance Memory

De Los Santos (2000) has proven that certain classical music compositions accompanied by physical exercises to stimulate the whole brain enhance memory, and thus learning. He conducted a study in Texas with a “pilot school” of 402 elementary school students using pre- and post-tests, and teachers’ observations. This empirical study used a “control school” with similar demographics as the “pilot school.”

In one semester the “pilot school” first and second grade students improved student performance in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills by 11 to 23 percent more than the “Control School” students. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the “pilot school” improved their Texas Assessment of Academic Skills scores in reading, writing, and arithmetic by 9 to 16 percent more than the “control school” students using the music and exercise program only one semester. These are some of the exciting memory enhancement innovations of the new millennium.

Conditions to Remember

With more than 25,000 scientists rediscovering the brain everyday, we may be able to make better connections between the research and the application of the brain-based findings in classrooms. Educators must examine these conditions and ensure they build schools and communities that meet more optimal conditions for learning. Conditions that may assist memory include:

* Repetition in learning – not boring, exciting

* Emotional attachment during learning

* Proper neurochemistry through diet and vitamins

* Mnemonic devices for better association and recall

* High challenge-low threat (Caine & Caine, 1994)

* Hands-on, active, visual, kinetic, metaphoric instruction

* Context and connection to ensure embedding knowledge

* Frequent assessment with non-threatening feedback to ensure mastery

* Certain classical music compositions

* Exercises that stimulate the brain

There is so much more to memory than this. Brain-based research may be a key to understanding the making of memories and the application in education. As educators, we need to add our experiences to this body of research. We need to be critical consumers of the research and create conditions for success. We play the games of memory everyday in our classes. We teach with mnemonics. We played “Jeopardy” in schools for years. We now play “Who wants to be a millionaire?” in school. We know the melodies, the lyrics, and respond to the music. We know that movement assists connections. We know what conditions work. We know how we learn. We remember!

ory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The purpose of this article is to propose proven methods to enhance memory, thus learning, for both students and teachers. Some of these methods to improve learning were discovered as far back as 400 B.C., while others are in the process of being developed.

In a time of high-stakes testing and accountability, educators must use research-based skills, tools and techniques to assist students learn content and remember the information. Learning the content is a function of numerous educational practices that assist memory. This article focuses on memory. Without the ability to remember the content we have not learned it, according to the standards-based tests. We need to learn how we best remember and how we can improve this skill.

Memory: A Definition

What is Memory? Memory is a glorious and admirable gift of nature by which we recall past things, we embrace present things, and we contemplate future things through their similarity to past things. Boncompagno, 1891 (Yates, 1966. p. 58)

Introduction and Purpose

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The new millennium should produce exciting, innovative ways to access and expand memory. Scientists have located multiple loci in the brain for memory storage and neurochemical research has provided invaluable information on the chemistry of neuron activity. Recent use of music and exercise are demonstrating exciting and effective ways to increase memory. All of these discoveries and the potential instructional strategies are important for educators to incorporate into their pedagogical repertoire.

This article is about memory improvement, and some of the recent research implications related to the science of memory.A proposal to use music, movement and objects or articles as metaphors to assist students to remember will be offered in order to add practical application to understanding.

Historical Perspective of Memory

From the concept of natural memory to ancient views of artificial memory, people have examined this art and devised numerous mechanisms to assist their efforts. Certain techniques and patterns were established early in the studies of memory. In the late thirteenth century, Lull distinguished between types of memory (Yates, 1966). Lull presented two types of artificial memory; the first employs medicines and plasters, and the second relates to frequent repetition of information “like an ox chewing the cud.” (Yates, 1966, p. 192). The importance of repetition has been understood since 400 B.C. (Noll & Turkington, 1994). The concept that “the brain strengthens learning through repetition,” so long as it is not boring, supports efforts to improve memory (Jensen, 2000, p.78), however, there are numerous significant research findings that take memory strategies to levels beyond the “cud” metaphor.

The Multiple “R”s of Memory-Record, Rehearse, Retain, Reconstruct, Retrieval

For a person to remember he, or she, needs to proceed through a pattern of actions that enable a word, idea, concept or skill to become embedded into long-term storage. Long-term memory storage is enhanced by association, repetition, reconstruction or through vivid feelings.

Preparation for standardized tests at key gateways in educational evaluation requires the ability to memorize information and to recognize it at the appropriate times. Content knowledge is required before the learner can move to the more complex levels of educational taxonomy. In this pattern the multiple “R”s of memory might be helpful.

The use of “R” words employs a mnemonic device (all begin with an “R”) to assist recognition. They are examined as follows: (see chart on following page).

Avenues of Understanding

Recent investigations of brain-based research on memory suggest types of memory lanes (Sprenger, 1999), the importance of attention and receptor modification (Jensen, 1998) and the action of messenger proteins in the recall processes (Milner, 1999). Each discovery illuminates an important feature in the science of memory.

Sprenger’s (1999) memory lanes analogy provides the avenues associated with learning information within a variety of contexts. From the semantic, episodic, procedural, automatic and emotional lanes, individuals have a variety of neural pathways to search for information. Information is stored in context and this context provides a cue in the recognition process. Sprenger aptly states, “Locating memories may be impossible if we aren’t looking in the right place.” (p. 45). These avenues, supported by Caine and Caine’s locale memory (1994) relate to storage of information in a context. Embedding knowledge in context assists in memory and recall. For example, this phenomenon can be natural or assisted through the use of mnemonic devices such as the multiple “R”s of memory discussed earlier. The mnemonic device of using loci in a room for memorizing information dates back to 500 BC (Yates, 1966).

Food for Thought

New discoveries related to the brain have enhanced our perspectives and provided better science for examining memory. From research on neurochemistry to positron emission tomography (PET) scans, we have a better understanding of the brain and how it works. Important findings related to the fluidity of information storage (neural plasticity), the importance of protein in long-term memory, the need for calcium, choline and acetycholine in aiding the chemical processes of memory, (Jensen, 1998) and the importance of water in the entire memory learning process (Fahey, 2000) have provided food for thought. This research, applied with complementary studies on memory mechanisms, provides optimal learning tools for educators and their students.

In the area of activity-induced changes at the synaptic level in the brain, Milner (1999) provides a conceptual framework for the complex processes of neurological changes we call learning. Milner’s research provides insight into neurochemical activities of the synthesized proteins necessary for storing (learning) and changing receptor sites to configure the ability to recall information (retrieving). Initial storage of information requires changes in the receptor proteins and the messenger proteins in the brain. These receptor sites synapses “retain a chemical tag that allows the new protein to find them,” (p. 83). Through repeated activation this process strengthens the synapses and recall is facilitated. This seems to encourage protein in the diet for optimal brain function.

There is much research to support the importance of protein in the diet (Wurtman, 1998, Conners, 1989, Jensen, 1998). In correspondence with Steven Rose, author and brain scientist for almost thirty years, Rose cautions scientists and educators to be judicious about many of the recent findings. In the 1960s, scientists researched the neurochemical functions of the brain to find the “memory molecule.” Protein and RNA were claimed to be the magic chemistry of memory (Gurowitz, 1969). In 2000 Rose writes

because all foodstuffs are broken down into their component molecules during digestion there is no special need for protein per se what is required are the essential amino acids which are components of protein, and are then used as the building blocks to synthesize the proteins that the brain – and other tissues – need. Ditto for sugars. Vitamins are important because they are molecules that the body can’t synthesize from simpler components and therefore become essential parts of the diet. (Personal communication with Rose, May 25, 2000).

Review of literature on the brain and learning consistently supports the biological need for the amino acids that come from proteins, calcium that can be found in dairy products or other sources and vitamins that come through nourishment. Our brain, like the rest of our body, needs specific chemicals to function.

Imagery in the Learning Process

Exhaustive examination of imagery and related mnemonic processes (McDaniel & Pressley, 1987) provides a sense of memory efficiency that contributes to the ancient concept of artificial memory. Review of literature addresses the issues of student-generated images vs. teacher-generated images, as well as the use of bizarre images vs. the use of vivid images. In this body of research it was determined that bizarre was no better than plausible. Most findings concluded that vivid images were important in association and recall (McDaniel & Pressley). Much research on teacher vs. student-generated images demonstrated that in early years teacher-derived images are more helpful and as students become more experienced, student generated images are helpful (McDaniel & Pressley). From this perspective, we are proposing a means of mnemonic memory metaphors.

From Mnemonics to Metaphors

Mnemonic devices such as the loci, link, peg, and phonetic key word systems have been used successfully for years in assisting students to form associations in the process of learning. These devices provide imagery, rhymes and organizational patterns that are used in a variety of learning contexts.

A real object or a model of the object provides the learner with a plausible visual and at times, kinetic hook in the association process. Years of teaching with toys and real objects to demonstrate scientific laws and principles, one of the authors has found that these articles provide students with visual images, metaphors for memory and kinetic experiences that are encoded in a context that is registered and retrieved more readily. This aspect of multi-sensory stimuli assists students in creating vivid images for association and recall. The use of objects as metaphors for processes, concepts and knowledge assists students as they make connections to their world, forms images that will be recalled, and provides another sensory input for the intended learning. Examples of this practice are numerous and teachers do this every day.

The method of using objects as learning metaphors also supports the research on emotion and memory. Milner (1999) discussed the effect of emotion on remembering an event. Intensity of emotion may assist recall for years at a time or forgetting in minutes (Milner, 1999, p. 124). As good teachers know, the varied use of emotion in explaining and teaching assists students in creating hooks for memory and recall. Students may remember the location, specific words and concepts as presented in class if they are emotionally engaged in the process.

Music and Exercise to Enhance Memory

De Los Santos (2000) has proven that certain classical music compositions accompanied by physical exercises to stimulate the whole brain enhance memory, and thus learning. He conducted a study in Texas with a “pilot school” of 402 elementary school students using pre- and post-tests, and teachers’ observations. This empirical study used a “control school” with similar demographics as the “pilot school.”

In one semester the “pilot school” first and second grade students improved student performance in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills by 11 to 23 percent more than the “Control School” students. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the “pilot school” improved their Texas Assessment of Academic Skills scores in reading, writing, and arithmetic by 9 to 16 percent more than the “control school” students using the music and exercise program only one semester. These are some of the exciting memory enhancement innovations of the new millennium.

Conditions to Remember

With more than 25,000 scientists rediscovering the brain everyday, we may be able to make better connections between the research and the application of the brain-based findings in classrooms. Educators must examine these conditions and ensure they build schools and communities that meet more optimal conditions for learning. Conditions that may assist memory include:

* Repetition in learning – not boring, exciting

* Emotional attachment during learning

* Proper neurochemistry through diet and vitamins

* Mnemonic devices for better association and recall

* High challenge-low threat (Caine & Caine, 1994)

* Hands-on, active, visual, kinetic, metaphoric instruction

* Context and connection to ensure embedding knowledge

* Frequent assessment with non-threatening feedback to ensure mastery

* Certain classical music compositions

* Exercises that stimulate the brain

There is so much more to memory than this. Brain-based research may be a key to understanding the making of memories and the application in education. As educators, we need to add our experiences to this body of research. We need to be critical consumers of the research and create conditions for success. We play the games of memory everyday in our classes. We teach with mnemonics. We played “Jeopardy” in schools for years. We now play “Who wants to be a millionaire?” in school. We know the melodies, the lyrics, and respond to the music. We know that movement assists connections. We know what conditions work. We know how we learn. We remember!

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Teaching Adolescents

April 24, 2007 at 6:28 am (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, humor, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, writing)

Teaching adolescents
What and why?

Teachers’ views on the teaching of adolescents vary enormously. Some love it, and would not choose to teach any other age range. Probably almost as many, however, find it difficult, often more difficult the older the adolescent students become. The first important point to make, however, is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to generalize about ‘adolescence’. There is enormous variation in the nature of the adolescent period from individual to individual, and from culture to culture. In some cultures, children seem to remain ‘children’ longer; in others they appear to grow up very quickly. Some adolescents find the movement from being ‘a child’ to being ‘an adult’ a very troublesome one, whilst others do not experience any particular problems. What is clear is that during the period of adolescence, an individual’s sense of who they are may often go through many transformations. Bodily changes as well as rapid changes in opinions, tastes, habits and relations between the sexes may combine to give the impression that it is not one person that we are dealing with, but several!

Parents and teachers of adolescents often report that the period can place great strain on their relationships. Adolescents may be seeking independence and this may conflict with the views of the parents/teachers. As the time may be a period of great change for the adolescent, they may often seem restless – unsure if they are doing what they want to do or should be doing. They may also be anxious about the future: ‘What is to become of me?’, ‘What next?’, ‘Will I cope?’, ‘What will happen if …?’ All of these things may require great patience from everyone concerned.

Practical ideas

Given that the period of adolescence is so changeable, it is difficult to offer clear advice about how to best handle the teaching of adolescents. There are, however, some general points which teachers have shared with us and which we have found useful.

Be patient. Things may take longer to achieve in the classroom than you anticipate. The students may seem tired or unwilling. Very often this is because of factors completely outside the classroom.

Be flexible. Conflicts can be avoided if the teacher is prepared to be flexible about when and how things are done. This may be a matter of tolerating classroom behavior that you don’t approve of, for example. However, you have to also make clear the limits of what you are prepared to accept.

Be sensitive. Teachers often report that adolescent students are frequently moody – they can be happy and bright one day and deflated the next day. As a teacher, it is important for you to keep note of these changes and, where necessary, talk to the student to see if they are having problems.

Allow choice and student decisions. It may also be useful if you can be flexible about what the students do. If you can provide them with choice and allow room for their personal interests, you are likely to find it much easier working with them. You can also involve them in decisions about what you will do in the lessons and ask them to plan activities, choose texts, music and so on.

Show respect. The students must have a clear sense of respect for you as the teacher, but equally you must have a sense of respect for them – recognizing, for example, that their opinions, tastes in clothes, music, etc. are equally valid. That said, your role is as an educator, so it should remain your responsibility to encourage students to question what they are saying or doing, and to ensure that limits are set and maintained for the benefit of everyone.

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Instant Messaging and Adolescent Writing

April 18, 2007 at 3:43 pm (all, blogging, children, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, Middle School, Parents, poetry, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, writing)

Introduction
With the commercial advent of the Internet and cell phones in the late 1990’s, technologies such as instant messaging (IM) and text messaging (TM) have achieved increasing prevalence in our society. These types of messaging technologies are widely used among adolescents today. To cite just one personal example of this widespread usage, my friend’s daughter, who is now 11 and lives in Ireland, got a cell phone last year, and, according to my friend, “was the last person in her class to get one.” This is quite an amazing change, given that ten years ago, instant messaging and text messaging were in their infancy, and cell phones were only readily available as tools for roadside assistance.

Given the newness of these types of technologies, it is only in the last few years that educators have started to notice them and explore their effects on student behavior and performance. While there is supporting evidence to suggest that these technologies have a large influence on the social development of adolescents, an even more pertinent issue for classroom teachers is what effects these technologies have on the academic development of young people. In this article, I examine how students’ use of text messaging technology, specifically IM, affects their writing skills. How does IM use affect students’ interest in traditional writing (as learned in school)? In what ways does IM usage affect students’ writing ability? How does “IM-speak” change students’ views of what is considered “proper” language? How can classroom teachers build on student use of this increasingly popular technology? In this paper I provide a discussion of the current issues and current teacher practices surrounding instant messaging as it relates to student writing.

What is Instant Messaging?
Instant messaging is a form of computer “chat” that allows one to have a real time, typed “conversation” with one or more “buddies” while connected to the Internet (Figure 1). It is an extremely fast-growing communications medium, especially among adolescents. According to a Pew report from 2001, “74% of online teens use instant messaging” (Lenhart, Rainie, & Lewis, 2001, p.3), and “69% of teen instant message users use IM at least several times a week” (p.3). Given this high rate of use, which has only been increasing since the Pew report was published, IM is clearly an extremely influential element in many young people’s lives.

Figure 1

Academic Effects of Instant Messaging
While everyone recognizes that IM is widely used by adolescents and teens in the United States, there seem to be two distinct opinions of its effect on student academics. There are those who see the use of so-called “Internet English” as a breakdown of the English language – according to a recent newspaper article, “Some teachers see the creeping abbreviations as part of a continuing assault of technology on formal written English” (Lee, 2002). Conversely, there are those who regard this same “Internet English” not only as an example of how language is constantly developing and changing, but also as a type of literacy in and of itself, which can be capitalized on to engage students in more traditional learning. As professor Barbara Bell believes, “anytime (students) are reading or writing, it’s going to help” (Associated Press, 2003, p.1).

One concern about IM has to do with the “bastardization” of language. Several articles indicate that students who use messaging on a frequent basis often use bad grammar, poor punctuation, and improper abbreviations in academic writing. According to Lee (2002), “teachers say that papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalization and punctuation, and characters like &, $ and @. ” However, something that is not always considered is that these mistakes are often unintentional – when students use IM frequently, they reach a saturation point where they no longer notice the IM lingo because they are so used to seeing it. Montana Hodgen, a 16-year old high school student in Montclair, New Jersey, “was so accustomed to instant-messaging abbreviations that she often read right past them” (Lee, 2002). As she puts it, “I was so used to reading what my friends wrote to me on Instant Messenger that I didn’t even realize that there was something wrong,” she said. She said her ability to separate formal and informal English declined the more she used instant messages” (Lee, 2002).

This was also a problem for Carl Sharp, whose 15-year old son’s summer job application read “i want 2 b a counselor because i love 2 work with kids” (Friess, 2003), and English instructor Cindy Glover, who – while teaching undergraduate freshman composition in 2002 – “spent a lot of time unteaching Internet-speak. ‘My students were trying to communicate fairly academic, scholarly thoughts, but some of them didn’t seem to know it’s “y-o-u,” not “u”‘” (Freiss, 2003.) These examples give credence to Montana Hodgen’s point, that heavy IM use actually changes the way students read words on a page.

Other educators take IM usage as a more positive trend, and revel in how comfortable today’s kids are with writing, and how much easier it is for them to get words on a page (or, more often, screen.) Barbara Bass, director of the Maryland Writing Project, points out “For a while, people were not writing anything. Now, people are actually seeing words on paper. And that’s good” (Helderman, 2003.) In fact, according to another recent newspaper article, “Instant messaging and e-mail are creating a new generation of teenage writers, accustomed to translating their every thought and feeling into words. They write more than any generation has since the days when telephone calls were rare and the mailman rounded more than once a day” (Helderman, 2003).

Gloria Jacobs, in her research, has found that not only are students writing more than they have in years, but they are also revising and editing as well. As the aforementioned article cites her, “Jacobs said too many adults dismiss online writing because they assume kids jot off anything that pops into their heads. While that is sometimes true, she said, she also saw teenagers read over messages before sending them, editing to clear up mistakes or imprecision . . . Liz [Charlton, a 13-year old seventh grader] and her classmates said they will sometimes sit in front of a computer screen for up to 10 minutes, planning a sensitive message – wording and rewording” (Helderman, 2003.)

Some educators even see the pervasiveness of the frequently-changing IM terminology as an opportunity to teach students about language evolution. Erika Karres, a teacher educator, “shows students how English has evolved since Shakespeare’s time” (Lee, 2002,) using IM lingo as an example of today’s speech.

It is clear from the points raised in this section that both ‘sides’ have valid concerns in this ongoing debate. To further address these issues, I will now turn to a more in-depth discussion of IM and its relationship to academic writing, including strategies implemented by actual classroom teachers.

Instant Messaging and Writing
One of the most interesting things about IM and other popular technologies (text messaging, video games, etc.) is that they are potentially learning tools. They can be harnessed by educators to help students learn school-related content, as is illustrated by teachers who “encourage students to use messaging shorthand to spark their thinking processes” (Lee, 2002.) Trisha Fogarty, a sixth grade teacher, states “When my children are writing first drafts, I don’t care how they spell anything, as long as they are writing . . . If this lingo gets their thoughts and ideas onto paper quicker, the more power to them” (Lee, 2002). However, the same teacher indicates that “during editing and revising, she expects her students to switch to standard English” (Lee, 2002).

Other teachers have also started to capitalize on student interest in writing as “recreation” rather than “work.” Robyn Jackson, a high school English teacher, has “organized an online chat room where some Gaithersburg High students meet once a week to discuss literature and writing. The students are allowed to use Internet-speak in the chat room that would never be allowed in formal writing, but the online conversations are vigorous and intelligent” (Helderman, 2003.) However, the teacher’s job doesn’t end there– Jackson believes that part of her job as an educator is to help students to “switch off their informal habits when they leave the chat room” and that “this gives us a wonderful opportunity to speak to students about what language to use where” (Helderman, 2003.)

Jackson’s point is the crux of the concern that educators have with IM and IM lingo. Students have trouble seeing the distinction between formal and informal writing, and consequently use informal IM abbreviations and lingo in more formal writing situations (Brown-Owens, Eason, & Lader, 2003, p.6.) However, this problem is not insurmountable. Students can be taught both to understand what constitutes correct language, and also to know when different types of language are appropriate to use. Educators sometimes believe that this level of judgment is something adolescents already have, but as Jackson points out, “I think we expect kids to get it instinctively, and they don’t. It’s something that has to be explicitly conveyed to children” (Helderman, 2003.)

Joylyn Hannahs, a ninth grade English teacher, told her students that “if they turned in papers written like instant messages, their grades would suffer” (Helderman, 2003.) Her threat worked. Students no longer make those same mistakes, indicating that students can learn the appropriateness of language in different situations. Robert Schrag, a communications professor, points out that “We have always implicitly taught our children different language structures and how they function in different arenas . . . We use (a different) language structure watching a basketball game than in our place of worship. Most children will understand the difference” (Friess, 2003.)

Some educators believe that this type of language misuse is the fault of the students. Obviously there are cases where this is true, as well as cases where it is not. However, regardless of the situation, teachers can work to ensure that students develop a sense of audience when writing. As Leila Christenberry, former president of the National Council of Teachers of English and a university English professor, asserts, “It’s not that there’s never a place for this sort of thing, but it’s the difference between how you would dress to go out on Saturday night versus how you dress when you do yard work” (Friess, 2003.)

I believe that Brown-Owens, Eason, and Lader (2003) sum up the general debate on this issue very succinctly: “The dilemma, then, is how to help educators adapt literacy education to the reality that instant messaging is the dominant mode of written communication in the lives of many American teenagers” (p. 8.)

Conclusion
At this point in time, it is not possible to determine specifically the effects of instant messaging on formal writing. However, one clear conclusion is that IM is becoming an important literacy in kids’ lives, and consequently one that needs to be recognized by teachers.

So how does this ‘new literacy’ impact classroom teaching? Probably the most important thing that teachers can do is to emphasize to students the concept of audience. Students need to understand the importance of using the appropriate language in the appropriate setting, and that who one is writing for affects the way in which one writes. For example, IM-speak is perfectly acceptable when instant messaging with someone; on the flip side it is completely unacceptable when writing a formal letter. The same thing is true of formal writing – it is appropriate in an official document, such as a school paper, but would be inappropriate in– for example– an online chat room.

In addition to teaching about audience, teachers can also use IM to speak to their students. As cited in the previous section, teachers have done this with some impressive results. If students understand where and when it is appropriate to use certain types of language, then allowing them to use IM-speak can be beneficial in building student-teacher relationships, in enhancing students’ comfort level in school settings, and in improving academic performance.

IM lingo is evidence of the evolution of language, and as Brown-Owens, Eason, and Lader (2003) point out, teachers need to realize that – for better or for worse – IM is widely used among many adolescents and is consequently a strong influence on student academic performance. For who knows? Given its roots in other languages, sometime soon we may even be teaching IM-speak as a legitimate form of language.

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Writing Tools – Over the Years

March 5, 2007 at 8:55 pm (children, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, kids, Middle School, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, writing)

Today’s tool is a good one to use if you are having students research an historical figure, author, or scientist or draw a portrait of a character in a novel or story. It can also help them develop a biography or autobiography. Tips: 1. Have your students select a person or character that is important for your unit. 2. Students should review the life of that person or character, identifying specific events or factors that contributed to his or her personality or view of life. They should choose something for each stage of life. If a fictional character is chosen, the student might create a biography for that character, using clues about the subject that would help support the fictional background. Teachers need to help students make choices about the details they choose to include. 3. Explain why or how each of the details or factors chosen had an effect on the person’s life or the kind of person he or she became. 4. After completing the chart, students can use it to write a biography. Ideas: 1. Before having the students complete the chart for an historical figure or character, let them practice by thinking through their own life. 2. Define the stages of life by age so that all students understand the stages in the same way. 3. In lieu of a paper, let students present their biographies in speeches or nonlinguistic ways such as posters, storyboards, or other visual methods.

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