ARTICLES

Category: Instructional Tips

This guest post is written by Justin Holbrook @JustinHolbrook, a 4th Grade Teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Check out more of his information at the end of the post. I fondly remember the games I used to play with my family as a little kid.  Legos with my mom.  Monopoly with all the money missing or thrown together into a “box”.  Stratomatic baseball tournaments with my dad on rainy afternoons.  Even 2-on-2 basketball with my little brother outside in any temperature for hours (We are still undefeated in the neighborhood!).  In all of these memories, time flew by like a race car.  As a 4th grade teacher, I try to recreate these experiences for my students because I recognize the emotional connection I forged with games as a kid and their power on students’ memories.  However, I think it is crucial that educators understand that there is a difference between relying on games and planning “gamification” in the classroom.

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I played this music video as I started writing and my kids swarmed me, halfway sitting on me, arms around my head! They were totally drawn to the sounds of Elmo, Abby, and Grover celebrating Autism!

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This guest post is written by Justin Holbrook @JustinHolbrook, a 4th Grade Teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Check out more of his information at the end of the post. When thinking about designing a dream instructional block, questions start whipping through my brain like the frantic tornado scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”  How much time do I have?  What are the curriculum requirements selected by my leadership and/or district?  What does my group of students individually need to be successful?  The list goes on and on.  How then do we as educators sort through these reflective questions and design our instructional blocks to be effective yet efficient?

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I’ve almost been trying NOT to use the term ‘grit’ because of how trendy it has become, but I’ve found it may be one of the best character traits we could possibly teach our students! Grit is courage and resolve; strength of character. It’s clenching the teeth, especially in order to keep one’s resolve when faced with a tough or difficult responsibility.

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This week is Inclusive Schools Week and we celebrate what it means to be inclusive through activities, readings, and discussions with our students. But why do we only talk about inclusive practices during this week? Inclusive Schools Week should be EVERY week! “Inclusive” is a powerful word. Remember that inclusive refers to mixed abilities but also diversity in cultures and backgrounds. How are we ensuring that every single student feels that they are included and wanted in our classrooms? It’s not just about what actions we take. It’s about the feelings and thoughts of our students.

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WE LOVE KIDS. We love making a positive difference in the future of students. We love feeling like our job matters and that the work is worth it in the long run. We radiate absolute joy when our students show growth and success. WE FEEL STRESSED. Like…all…the…time. Stressed about the tasks that have to be done. About the thousands of decisions and interactions that we make every single day. Because we are taking on the stress from our students in order to help their lives. From decisions others make that affects our daily routines.

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Edcamp started in 2010 in Philidephia, Pennsylvania, and continues to take off as a professional learning trend in education. It’s designed to be free, have noncommercial sessions, and use the ‘Rule of 2 Feet’ where participants can come and go as they please during sessions. Session topics are created by the participants on the day of the edcamp. Anyone can be a presenter or a learner, and many times will be both within the same session!

  Look closely. No, not at Jason Aldean, the country music superstar. Look at the crowd. What do you notice? In a quick count, I see more than 70 lights from cell phones, let alone my own as I took this picture and probably hundreds behind me in the crowd. This really caught me as a wow moment for education as I was singing along last night to ‘Night Train’ at the top of my lungs. (and yes, I’m a big education nerd and was thinking about this during the concert) Many of these cameras were taking pictures, but the wow moment for me was seeing all of the videos being taken, being sent to friends and family, and being streamed live online, capturing a somewhat typical experience but now using videos instead of just pictures.