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Tag: differentiated instruction (page 1 of 2)

Cultivating a Learning Culture that Empowers Students

As a middle school social studies teacher, one of the very first things I teach my students each year is a unit on culture. Sure, the concept of culture is first up on my curriculum guide, but the overarching concept of culture is something that is essential to setting the tone for a productive year.

We begin the unit as most would expect: we define culture, we identify our own cultural markers, and we examine the cultural makeup of key civilizations throughout history.

But then we take a turn. I shift the conversation from cultural identification to cultural activism; we look at how the problem of cultural extinction is rapidly changing the face of our world. The students engage with stories from the past and from the present about how real people are faced with the challenge of carrying on and preserving cultures that are fading away forever.

For my students, the culture unit is no longer about defining cultural elements, it becomes about cultivating and preserving cultures in the face of increased globalization.

This may seem like a heady ask for a room full of 12-year-olds (…and it is), but by infusing a sense of agency into the learning, students buy in. They aren’t learning because they have to, they engage because they have a felt need to learn. By learning about culture in this type of classroom environment, I am setting the table for a classroom culture that will empower my students to be active learners.

Empowered learning is engaged learning

This trend of trying to motivate students to learn from an intrinsic place can be truly challenging. I have spent time as a part of a Learner Active Technology Infused Classroom (LATIC) cohort over the past three years that has worked to try to bring about this fundamental shift in our respective classroom pedagogies. It’s a lot of work, but it’s important work.

The studies are out there, but any educator who has had the experience of watching a student or even an entire classroom of students chasing knowledge knows the impact of a learner-driven environment.

In order to do so, whether it is in a classroom or a small group tutoring environment, there are a litany of considerations that need to be made:

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Improve Your Teaching Practice with These Great Podcasts

Whether you are looking to land your first teaching job or have been in the classroom for years, there is always something new to learn in the world of education.

Even if you have already talked the ear off of every teaching veteran you know, attended all the district professional development opportunities you could stand, and completed all the expensive college courses you could afford, there is still so much to learn.

Thanks to the plethora of quality, education-focused podcasts, a pair of earbuds may be the most impactful professional development tool in your arsenal. Whether you listen while cooking dinner, mowing the lawn, or driving to work, these great podcasts can help improve your teaching practice a little bit each day.

In no particular order, here are some of the best podcasts for educators to dive into!

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Foster Executive Function Skills with Digital Breakouts

Students in the 21st Century need opportunities to develop a wide variety of executive function skills to prepare for success. Among these are crucial abilities like collaboration, task management, prioritization, and flexible thinking.

While there are a variety of ways to target these skills individually, digital breakouts are an engaging and fun way to tackle them together.

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5 Practical Ways to Use Music to Promote Learning

 

Music is an amazing force.

It can rev you up and it can calm you down.

It can make you feel and it can make you think.

Bringing music into the classroom isn’t a new concept, but there is much more to unleashing its power than just hitting “Play”. Here are 5 practical ways educators can bring music into the learning experience in creative, productive, and engaging ways:

 

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When Students Are Too Cool to Care

One of the biggest challenges in education is motivation. For many students, getting older brings the added pressure to fit in and be accepted by their peers. This focus on popularity and “personal branding” doesn’t always line up with being seen as “the smart kid”.

As educators, how can we successfully promote learning and growth with a student who is preoccupied with image? Here are some practical approaches to both understanding and combating the issue of students who are too cool to care:

 

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