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Thursday, March 24, 2016

What One Teacher Did When He Realized His Kids Weren’t Learning



How an Award Winning Teacher Went from Failure to Fantastic

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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failing to fantastic

When he started teaching, high school Spanish teacher, Matt Miller had a dirty secret: His students couldn’t speak Spanish. He didn’t want anyone to know. But he came to a breaking point. Learn what Matt did in a fit of frustration and the incredible results his students achieved.

Matt says teachers shouldn’t mindlessly run through the curriculum but should have a method. His method includes less textbook and other types of resources.

Matt tells his secret for getting students really engaged and excited about Spanish or any second language. We also discuss Kristy Cooper‘s mixed methods study, Eliciting Engagement in the High School Classroom, and how these principles explain why Matt seems to engage students so much.

Who is Matt Miller?

Matt Miller@jmattmiller  is a Spanish teacher at Turkey Run High School. He has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. Matt is a Google Certified Teacher, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and Bammy! Awards nominee. He writes at the Ditch That Textbook blog about using technology and creative ideas in teaching. Pick up Matt’s book Ditch that Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom or listen to his show Hooked!

Listen on: BAM Radio Network  |  iTunes  |  Stitcher

The post What One Teacher Did When He Realized His Kids Weren’t Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fair Grades, Dropping Grades, Grading Versus Knowledge



Advice From a Student Assessment Researcher About What is Fair and Unfair in Today's Grading Systems

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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With almost 9,000 downloads and counting, this show is the most popular episode on Every Classroom Matters in 2016 so far. Dr. Thomas Guskey shares the current research on “fair” grading and what teachers should be doing instead. This show came from the “averaging grades” graphic (shown at the bottom) that he posted on Twitter asking if it is “fair” to average grades.

Fair Grading according to research

Thomas talks about fairness, clearly defining a grade and why sometimes we should change how we grade to reflect mastery at the end of a course. Is a grade reflecting their average ability over time or their mastery and competency at the end?

Thomas also reflects upon those teachers who never drop grades and when it may be right or wrong to do so. How do we determine what the most valuable evidence a teacher has that determines student competency at the end of the course? Why we need multiple forms of evidence to determine grades. He discusses the challenge of end of grading period and how to make our grading better at that time.

Would other professionals looking at the same body of evidence come up with the same grade?  Thomas also talks about percentages and the flaws in the system that makes it hard for teachers to have consistent judgments on student work.

Who is Thomas Guskey?

Thomas Guskey@tguskey is Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. His research focuses on on professional development and teacher change, program evaluation, assessment of student learning, grading and reporting, instructional effectiveness, and educational reform.

Listen on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher 

Should we drop grades

Should we be averaging grades? Picture by Thomas Guskey

The post Fair Grades, Dropping Grades, Grading Versus Knowledge appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Monday, March 21, 2016

3 Ways to Get Back Up When Teaching Knocks You Down



Advice from a National Award Winning Teacher Who Has Had Tough Times Too

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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According to a recent Gallup poll, sixty-nine percent of teachers are not engaged in their work in the United States. Teachers are not emotionally engaged in the work. What can we do about it? National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb shares his views on how to engage more teachers in teaching.

3 Ways to get up when teaching knocks you down

Sean shares his struggle with hopelessness from a time when he had students who had failed the test twice. He was given the students LAST PERIOD and no one wanted to be there. This honest conversation is empowering and rings true.

Sean also shares a phenomenal idea for how his school regained 80 minutes of planning time for their teachers just by reexamining “extra” duties that teachers were given.

Who is Sean McComb?

Sean McComb@Mr_McComb teaches English and AVID students at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore MD. He is the 2014 National Teacher of the Year. He serves as an adjunct faculty member at Towson University and supports pre-service teachers to develop the habits of effective teaching. He blogs at mccombsview.wordpress.com.

Listen on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher

The post 3 Ways to Get Back Up When Teaching Knocks You Down appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Saturday, March 19, 2016

How Innovative Educators Plug into Global Ideas



The Innovator's Mindset series with George Couros

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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how innovative educators plug into global ideas

George Couros said he would argue to his death that Twitter was useless when he started with it. But, now he sees. Should every teacher be connecting online? How can we shift our way of thinking to get information that will really help us teach? George also says that principals who say that teachers have to “make time to do it on their own time” are making a mistake. (George has a genius idea for this one about how to make connecting a cultural thing and give teachers an extra hour to sleep in!)

George Couros is joining us for a series of shows on Every Classroom Matters where we talk about the eight characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset (George’s new book.) This is part 4 of the series. See the full series here


The post How Innovative Educators Plug into Global Ideas appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Friday, March 18, 2016

8 Secrets of a Great Language Teacher



Secrets from Language Teacher Isil Boy

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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8 secrets of great language teachers

Teaching language is a challenge. Isil Boy from Turkey teaches students how to speak English. Today, she shares her secrets for helping language students learn. She also shares her tricks and tips for using technology in the classroom. These secrets apply to every teacher and classroom.

Isil Boy@isilboy works as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at Yildiz Technical University, and as a teacher trainer for Pilgrims. She is also the coordinator of EdTech Summit in Turkey. Currently she is pursuing a PhD in Educational Technology.


The post 8 Secrets of a Great Language Teacher appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Not Just a Girl



5 Ways to Help Girls Achieve Their Potential

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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I dropped my end of the heavy battery. Daddy and I needed to “jump off” or start up the irrigation system. I was perhaps eight and my sister and Mom were somewhere else. Dad was a hard working farmer and he needed my help on this dusty, dry night. I was not feeling up to the task. I had to carry my end, and he would carry his (although admittedly, he was lowering his end so he’d shoulder more of the load.) But I dropped it. I recall that it wasn’t that it was too heavy, but carrying that battery was hard and I wanted someone else to do it instead of me.

Not just a girl

Not Just a Girl

“It is too heavy for me Dad, I’m just a girl.” I whimpered as dust swirled around my end of the battery.

Dad dropped his side with a thud to match my side already resting on the ground. He looked at me across the now still battery on the dry south Georgia dirt.  As some of the dust cleared, I could see Dad’s blue eyes looking at me intently from his sun-burned face.

“Don’t you ever say that again, Vicki. You can do anything you choose to do. I’d take you over any boy and you live your life like you can do anything because you can. Now pick up your end and let’s get this job done. I’ll never hear ‘just a girl’ again because you are my daughter and you can do anything.”

I never have forgotten that moment. As I struggled in a mostly male college, even when male students would throw the ‘just a girl’ at me. I’d throw an “I can do anything” right back at them and come out ahead. The “just a girl” phrase never held water and in fact, supercharged my fury if someone dare use it on me to try to hold me back.

This blog post is in response to Cathy Rubin‘s question of the month: What are the best examples you have seen of teachers closing the gender gap in education? Perhaps this is not the answer expected, but it rings true from my experience. 

An exceptional man, my Dad raised us to know we could do anything, and we have. While I won’t go into my accomplishments, one of my sisters is a successful alligator farmer, and the other one is an award winning online professor. We all own businesses. We all live in any world we choose – male, female, mixed. It is irrelevant to us whether the field is considered a “male” or “female” one because we don’t care.

Our world is the world and we will contribute where we’re supposed to work. We three sisters are just people doing hard work worth doing.

Just a Girl in the Classroom

Recently, Ben Owens, a physics teacher in the Appalachian mountains, told his story of a project-based physics class. Last fall, he had seven girls win their level of competition in their local “punkin’ chunkin'” competition by building a full-sized trebuchet. Their parents helped them.

One man even taught his daughter to weld and was out there welding late into the night with her. As an aside, Ben had two boys enter – but it was the girls who won. The girls were encouraged by their parents but in the end; they did it on their own.

I asked him what he did to get so many girls interested, and he wasn’t aware that he taught the girls any differently.

“They wanted to be left alone, and so I let them do it.”

I first met Pat Yongpradit in South Africa as he presented his after school coding club for girls. He had excellent results. Vinnie Vrotney teaches girls STEAM in middle school. And certainly all of these are excellent programs both which have “just girls” in the classes.

But I would think that these girls had parents who encouraged them to either go to a girls-only school or join an after-school girls club for computer science. It was OK for their girls to do something that interested them, even if it was different from what many expected of them because they were “just girls.”

They obviously had parents and teachers who saw them as human beings interested in coding and STEAM topics and let them do it.

Girl Power Starts at Home

My goal as a teacherpreneur and teacher is to notice the strengths of my students and share those with parents. And there is a profound difference in how I’ve seen the parents of boys and girls respond.

Recently, I had a bright young lady in my classroom who made a killer Scratch game. She did some tough things that no one had figured out to do but her. She has a natural gift of programming code. I told her parents, and they are excited but I am not sure they know what to do with it. Can girls program computers? We don’t have many examples around here.

Computer Science  often does not move high on a girl’s list of potential careers without an open minded parent.

When I tell young boys and their parents about a potential gift in Computer Science, it always moves up high on their list as a possible career. Every single time. Why?

A few times in the past, I’ve even been corrected by the parents of girls and told “we thought she’d make a great nurse” or “she might be interested in teaching.” Not that there is anything wrong with any of those professions (I’m a teacher, after all).

But in the end, I’ve noticed that as a teacher, I can point out strengths, but it is often an observant teacher coupled with an open minded parent that makes a huge difference in the path girls choose.

It isn’t about forcing her down a path, but letting her see as many options as possible that makes the difference in the end.

For what we need is every child – girl or boy – achieving their full potential. We want them to bring their best self to the world and contribute in only a way that they can contribute.

5 Ways You Can Help Girls Achieve Their Best Potential

1. Help Girls See Themselves as a Person First.

The parents who insist that their girls see themselves first as a person — that view makes a difference.

2. Be Open Minded About Careers and Interests Girls Pursue

Parents who are open minded about helping their daughter pursue her interests whatever they are (or aren’t).

3. Encourage Girls By Helping Them Learn Things That Interest Them

I love the father teaching his daughter to weld. When I asked to program computers, my parents gave me access to the family TRS-80. When I wanted to throw a football, Dad bought one and taught me how (even if I chipped my tooth in the process.) I know an amazing young lady who is tearing up the shotgun competition circuit and others who show hogs or barrel race. These no-limits parents will reap the rewards when their daughters tackle whatever comes to mind.

4. Watch The Language You Use

Perhaps the best thing Dad did was not letting me use “I’m just a girl” as an excuse as he worked alongside me in a dusty field to fix an irrigation system.

My favorite college professor, Dr. Phil Adler, often talked about sexism and racism and how to deal with it in the world.

“Be so good they can’t ignore you. The world cannot afford to ignore great talent. Yes, you’ll have to work hard, but do not limit yourself by your thinking. A person can not overcome the barriers of their own mind.”

He also encouraged us to look for organizations and places that promoted a diversity of talent because those organizations would be more successful.

5. Expose them intentionally to non-traditional fields.

The parents who have their girls in programming or robotics clubs or, for that matter, take their daughter to work on the farm with them — are sending a message of open-mindedness to their girls. The fact that I even have to point this out troubles me, but it is the truth.

Girls can do anything but not if we only expose them to some things.

A large part of the responsibility lies with adults. As humans, sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know and when we’re not exposed to something, we don’t know we can do it.

The World Needs Everyone to Contribute: Girls and Boys

The world needs every person to achieve their best. But to do that, we cannot limit girls or boys with preconceived notions about what they “should” be and get busy helping them explore what they “could” be.

As for me, having a Dad and a Mom who had no limits for me made all the difference.

Girls are people — people we need to reach their full potential so the world can reach its.

The post Not Just a Girl appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Is Your School Culture Welcoming to Parents?



Best Selling Author Anne T. Henderson helps us become more parent friendly.

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Parents should be partners: it sounds nice, but does it help learning? Anne T. Henderson, author of the best-selling book Beyond the Bake Sale, talks about school culture and parents. Parents are not the enemy. When we teachers engage parents as partners in helping children, we can turn around our struggling students. Also hear her talk about common mistakes schools make when they are relating to parents and figure out where your school lies in parent-friendliness.

Take a pen and paper and take notes. Where do you think your school fits? This is one of those shows to share with your board and school leadership teams.

Show Notes: Is Your School Culture Welcoming to Parents?

  • What are the four types of school cultures as they relate to parents?
  • What do student-led parent-teacher conferences look like?
  • What is the single most important factor in what parents think about your school?
  • The advocate that every struggling students need and the mistake most teachers make with their struggling students.

Educator Resources from this Episode


The post Is Your School Culture Welcoming to Parents? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Belief: A Powerful Tool in Every Teacher’s Toolkit



Mattering Mondays with Angela Maiers

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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You believe, you receive. But how can you believe in a child who has let you down? How can you believe in yourself when you aren’t sure if you can do it?

Angela Maiers shares practical everyday ways you can help people know they matter in this fourth of the series. Listen to the full series.

Show Notes: Belief: A Powerful Tool in Every Teacher’s Toolkit

  • Why is believing in your students and yourself so important?
  • What is some current research relating to belief in students?
  • How can you adjust your belief when you’re struggling?

Educator Resources from this Episode

You can listen on iTunes, BAM Radio Network, and now Every Classroom Matters is now on Stitcher! (I know my precious Android friends will be happy with that one.) 

The post Belief: A Powerful Tool in Every Teacher’s Toolkit appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

CHALLENGE: Ask Students to Share What They’ve Learned From You



You might just be surprised...

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

This week my students are preparing for a visitor. My good friend Dr. Frank Buck (he’s been on the show to talk about his organization book for school leaders) is coming in town along with his lovely wife. My students are going to be giving an overview of their learning for this year and are practicing today.

eyeshot

Honestly, it warms my heart when they share what they’ve learned. When you ask them to discuss what they’ve learned from you, and they say:

“We have to talk about the life lessons she teaches us. Those are the most important things she teaches.”

or

“One thing she teaches us is to show our strengths, S— why don’t you present your recent literary dramatic interpretation. It is awesome and it is your strength.”

or

“We love how the whole class is like a game. Lets show him how we do that and why it makes us want to learn more about keyboarding.”

or

“We are working to design an app to show the world that people with special needs matter. Let’s tell him why that is a problem and what we’re working to do about it.”

or

“J— your presentation on George Lucas was the best presentation of the year, would you be willing to do it again?”

or

“Hey M—, you have some great videos you’ve made on your YouTube channel, you should share one of them.”

There are times you don’t know what you’re teaching until you ask students to reflect on what you’ve taught. And when you realize that they have sincerely learned to look at each others strengths. When you see them giving to one another and working together. When you see that the little offhand comments or conversations that you felt you need to have about life — where you poured out your heart or told a story of something you’ve learned — when you realize that kids LISTENED and reflected upon it. When these things happen, you just realize that your time in the classroom is not wasted. All those hours and feeling like you are going to lose your mind are for something. And the incessant buzz you hear is not just flies on a waste dump but is the hum of learning. That is when you realize that teaching is truly a special profession.

If it fits with your curriculum, take the ultimate challenge for the teacherpreneur — ask your students to teach an audience about what they’ve learned in your class this year. I might help you refocus your priorities and understand that what you’re really teaching may not be the click of a button or a line of code — you may just be teaching life itself.

The post CHALLENGE: Ask Students to Share What They’ve Learned From You appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

How an “F” Turned into the Greatest Thing that Happened to One Student



Stories of the Changing Culture of Teaching and Learning with Dr. Maryfriend Carter

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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changing culture of teaching and learning Dr. MaryFriend Shepherd Carter

Can giving a failing grade ever benefit a student? Well, our guest Dr. MaryFriend Shepherd Carter shares an unbelievable but true story about something amazing (and a bit scary) that happened when she gave a failing grade to a college student who was pursuing a teaching degree. Dr. Carter also talks about the changing culture of teaching at the college and PK12 level.

If I had to pick a personal mentor who has taught me the most about teaching, it is Dr. Carter. Her kind demeanor and rock-solid knowledge of current educational research have made her one of my go-to researchers when I have questions relating everyday practice to research. I’m grateful for her mentorship and encouragement in my life. She changed my thinking about teaching as she taught me about teaching. She single-handedly convinced me that testing doesn’t work and what does. Even better — I took the concepts she taught me back to my classroom and it worked. If you want to see my #1 teacher about teaching — here she is.

Show Notes: Adapting to the Changing Culture of Teaching and Learning

  • How have students changed in the last ten years?
  • What are characteristics of successful college professors and K12 teachers?
  • How can an “F” can still mean success for a student?
  • How can you regain your classroom if you believe you are no longer relating to students?

Educator Resources from this Episode

  • @maryfriend
  • Dr. MaryFriend Shepherd Carter wrote a piece in my book Reinventing Writing on cooperation versus collaboration that is a must-read on this essential understanding in collaborative projects.

An F was the greatest thing that ever happened to one student

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.button-itunes

The post How an “F” Turned into the Greatest Thing that Happened to One Student appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Friday, March 04, 2016

How to Safely Connect Six-Year-Olds to the World



Kathy Cassidy shares her secrets for blogging, sharing and keeping kids safe online

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Kathy Cassidy classroom blogging with kindergarten students

Six-year-olds can blog. Canadian first-grade teacher Kathy Cassidy has long shown us the way as she has been blogging with six and seven-year-olds successfully for many years. She shares her secrets of keeping kids safe, helping them build a portfolio and the workflow for helping kids become independent bloggers.

Show Notes: How to Safely Connect Six year Olds to the World

  • What kinds of things can six-year-olds share online?
  • How can you keep kids safe online? (And how parents sometimes compromise their own child’s security and what she does about it.)
  • How, when and if corrections should be made to student work.
  • Why young children need a portfolio.

Educator Resources from this Episode

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or click the listen buttons.button-itunes

The post How to Safely Connect Six-Year-Olds to the World appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.
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