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If you ask any fourth or fifth grade math teacher what is the most important foundation concept most would probably say place value.

In kindergarten the teachers focus on the making a 10 concept.Then place value is introduced in first grade using ten frames, Base 10 blocks, or counters. Grade levels 2-4 build on those place value concepts through addition and subtraction with regrouping, rounding, multiplication and division.

In my experience, I have found that many teachers struggle with giving place value the focus that it needs while introducing other skills such as addition and subtraction with regrouping and rounding.

The use of manipulatives with students who have behavior concerns can become issue in grades K-3. Manipulatives is MUST in the primary grades because it lays the foundation for more complex concepts in grades 4 and 5. Base Ten blocks have been the go to manipulative for teachers in first grade but I believe once the students have a concrete foundation with ten frames and place value then number disks are an excellent alternative.

I prefer to use number disks instead of base ten blocks because I have found that my struggling math students can connect the math concepts better when I use them. Also, because I teach decimals when I use Base T blocks my Special Education students struggle with making the jump from using base ten blocks to representing whole number to representing decimals.

Here are 3 simple ways to use number disks reinforce place value concepts:

Addition and Subtraction Remediation

A good portion of my 5th graders always struggle with subtracting large numbers with regrouping and subtracting with zeros and regrouping. No matter what my pacing calendar says I always begin my school year with reviewing these 2 concepts.

The only difference is that I don’t use base ten blocks, instead I take this opportunity to introduce the students to number disks. The review is always a hit with the students because all of the students are seeing something new for the very first time.

Model Inverse Operations

Students in elementary school rarely get the opportunity to explore inverse operations  . Modeling how subtraction and addition are inverses of one another is a powerful way to compare and contrast with young learners.

Using number disks to have students show the inverse of addition will either do one or two things. It will either cement the students’ understanding of addition and subtraction with regrouping or it will highlight the students’ misconceptions with regrouping.

Either way it will reinforce the place value concept with addition and subtraction while providing the students with practice with addition and subtraction.

Introduction to 10 More or Ten Less

Number Disks are the perfect manipulative for introducing 10 more or ten less because the students can actually see how the place value increases by ten or decreases by 10. If you use Base Ten blocks for this skill, Special Educations and struggling students most likely will miss the place value connection.

In my previous blog post 10 More or 10 Less The Bigger Picture I explained how I’ve seen teachers using the place value chart to teach this skill. Teaching 10 more or 10 less is more than teaching students how to find patterns of 10 more or less than a hundreds chart. Students should be able to demonstrate how the value of a digit either increases by 10 or decrease by 10.

Number disks will help students use their understanding of place value to articulate how many 10’s are left after a 3 or 4 digit number increase or decreases by ten.

I cannot stress how Number Disks are great alternative to Base Ten blocks. I’ve had so much success with using Number Disks to address misconceptions with place value that I can’t imagine ever using teaching with out them. I’m sure if you gave them a try you could achieve the same success too!

The post 3 Ways to Reinforce Place Value Concepts Using Number Disks appeared first on IgnitED.

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Teachers are increasingly faced with challenges stemming from the intensity and scope of student needs in the classroom. If you ask a new teacher what’s their number concern they will probably mention classroom management or student behavior.

Most teachers look at classroom management as this huge monster. When in fact it is a taxonomy of  different topics. Student behavior is one of the most neglected areas of classroom management. Most teachers would probably agree that teacher preparation programs give new teachers the impression that their classroom management plan will solve all of their behavior problems. This couldn’t be the furthest from the truth!

A classroom management plan will most likely (depending on student age and demographic) will only solve about 60% of classroom problems. The other 40% or so will require managing individual student behavior.

When teachers face classroom management issues there’s one phrase that most of them will say, ” It’s not the whole class.” For the most part this is true!  Even in my own classroom there is always 3-4 students whose behavior upsets my classroom environment.

The ultimate  goal for teachers is to manage student behavior on case by case basis. This can be done by following 4 steps: identify behaviors,

track frequency of behaviors, create a response to invention plan, and track progress.

1. Identify Behaviors

Before a teacher can start managing student behavior he/she has to be able to identify the behaviors that are causing the problems. This requires unbiased observations. This means that the teacher must disconnect and stay calm. Staying calm is the most important part of this step because an emotional person usually make decision based on their emotions at that particular time.

During this step the teacher should carefully observe the following:

  • Interaction with peers and adults
  • Behavior in different environments
  • Behavior triggers
  • Time of day

Behavior observations should be done for at least 3 days. Sometimes certain behavior can be situational, meaning something may have happened that’s out of the student’s normal routine.

2. Track Frequency of Behaviors

Once the behaviors have been identified the teacher then chooses 2 behaviors that cause the most disruption in the classroom. For example,when I was teaching 3rd grade I had a student who would leave his seat to go hit another student. I felt like if I could first get the student to stay in his seat it would change the classroom dynamic.

There are plenty of behavior tracking sheets but I’ve found that I’m way to busy to keep up with tracking sheets that contain too much information. I like to use tally marks to track the 2 targeted behaviors.

When tracking behavior make note of the time of day, during what activity, and how often. For instance if, I have a 5th grade student who is out of control after she spends the weekend with her father. She visits her father every other weekend, so every other Monday we bump heads.

Also, Mondays can be difficult days for certain students in difficult situations because on the weekend some students lack parental supervision and structure. So, on Monday it can feel like you’re starting over. This may or may not be included in the behavior frequency because every situation is different.

3. Create a Response to Intervention Plan

Creating a RTI plan is by far the most important and difficult part of managing student behavior. A RTI plan requires a team of people to use the teacher’s anecdotal notes to identify appropriate interventions for the targeted behaviors.

The RTI plan takes the 2 targeted behaviors from the tracking sheet and provides the teacher with interventions that can be used to address these behaviors. Most schools and counselors use the Pre-Referral Intervention Manual for interventions. It has the common student misbehaviors and provides suggestions for interventions. As with all resources this manual gives teachers and RTI teams a starting point for helping students who need more behavior support. It’s not the whole kit and caboodle.

The RTI Plan includes:

  • Targeted behaviors
  • Interventions/ replacement behaviors
  • Consequences and Rewards

Remember all interventions will not work with all students.  RTI teams have to take student motivation, age, and interest into consideration when creating a RTI or BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan). Also, older students should be allowed to take part in the construction of the plan. This will help with student participation and sometimes will alleviate defiance.

4. Track Progress

Tracking student progress is an essential part of managing student behavior. The goal of any behavior intervention plan is to teach replacement behaviors for undesirable behaviors so that the student can receive instruction. If a student has made progress then the RTI plan will need to be revised. Dates for reconvening to discuss student progress are decided during the construction of the RTI Plan.

The behavior plans that I have written or been a part of usually gives the student 4 weeks with the intervention before determining if the student has made progress. If you work in a school where you lack support, give the student at least 4 weeks to begin using the intervention.

Managing student behavior can be tricky for teachers, especially if you lack support and resources. If you have found yourself in a position where you don’t have support with behavior I’m building a  Facebook Group community for Managing Difficult Classrooms.  I would love to have you join our small but growing community!

The post The Ultimate Guide To Managing Student Behavior appeared first on IgnitED.

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Many teachers have entered the teaching field thinking that their college classroom management coursework had prepared them for their first year of teaching. I have heard teachers say,”I was not prepared at all to teach in my first classroom. I quickly found out that most of the teaching practices that I was taught in undergrad were not applicable to an urban classroom. ” Other teachers have also said, ” I’ve tried different strategies to refocus them and get them to stop talking such as a clap they repeat when they hear. Nothing seems to be working for me anymore and I have started to dread going to school everyday and battling with the students.”

The mere definition of classroom management can be a complex thought process for most teachers. College courses and other popular classroom management books present classroom management to teachers as a set of rules and procedures. This gives teachers the impression that they will create class rules with the class and the students will automatically buy in. Ummm…..not so fast!

Effective classroom management requires so much more from teachers. Every year I sit back in awe at how new and not so new teacher sink because of their lack of classroom management.  At the end of every school these teachers say the same thing, “I didn’t think that it was going to be like this.” After the teacher is finished venting, I explain my 3 reasons why I think everything that they learned about classroom management was wrong.

Not just about consequences and rewards No Magic Pill

 
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE MANAGING DIFFICULT CLASSROOMS EBOOK TODAY!  

All students aren’t created equal

The post 3 Reasons Why Everything You Learned About Classroom Management Is Wrong! appeared first on IgnitED.

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IgnitED by The Ignited Teacher - 3M ago

I have seen so many new teachers struggle with classroom management for a variety of reasons. Some teachers either try to bribe the students and others try to implement ineffective strategies that they taught in their education classes. By the middle of the school year many of these teachers quickly realize that the students don’t respect them and have no control over their classrooms.

A teacher’s classroom management can be a deal breaker when it comes to increasing student achievement.  A literature review  by Wang, Haertel, and Walberg found that of all the variables , classroom management had the largest effect on student achievement.

Robert and Jana Marzano’s article “The Keys to Classroom Management” discusses the importance of using researched based classroom management strategies to build a positive classroom dynamic. In the article Marzano focuses on 3 teacher behaviors that create appropriate levels of dominance, appropriate levels of cooperation, and awareness of high-need students.

1. Appropriate Levels of Dominance

The idea of dominance in a classroom may give some a negative feeling. Dominance in the educational setting can be defined as the teacher’s ability to provide clear purpose and strong guidance with both academics and behavior. Some teachers may feel that they are controlling  a child and diminishing their independent thinking, but studies indicate that when students are asked about their  preferences for teacher behavior, students typically chose this kind of teacher-student interaction.

Dominance in the educational setting can be defined as the teacher's ability to provide clear purpose and strong guidance with both academics and behavior.
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Whenever I have to support teachers with classroom management the complaint that students have is that she can’t control the classroom. Although teachers should assert an appropriate level of dominance in the classroom, some teachers can take it to far. For instance, last school year the science teacher (who is friend) said that I structure my students to death. LOL. So, I asked some of my students how they felt about my classroom. In the words of one of my students, “You’re strict but you’re not mean.”

I was surprised at her response but it let me know that I had established clear behavior expectations and learning goals in my classroom. Although is seemed like overkill to my co-worker my students saw it as an appropriate level of dominance.

2. Appropriate Levels of Cooperation

Dominance focuses on the teacher as the force that drives the classroom. Cooperation focuses on teachers and students working as a team. Cooperation and dominance together is the force behind an effective teacher-student relationship. Three strategies that teachers can use to foster appropriate levels of cooperation are:

  • Provide flexible learning goals
  • Take a personal interest in students
  • Use equitable and positive classroom behaviors

Throughout my 17 years of teaching I’ve seen teachers puzzled by the fact that they can’t control their classrooms. Some of the teachers buy extravagant presents to try to get control of their classrooms, however the result is always the same. The students behave for a little while but return to doing whatever they want to do. I tell teachers time and time again that the students MUST know who’s in control from day 1. If you don’t establish this hierarchy then your classroom management plan will be meaningless. So in order to get students to cooperate there has to be an appropriate level of dominance.

3. Awareness of High Need Students

The last key to managing a difficult classroom is awareness of high need students.  As a teacher I have come in contact with different kinds of students with needs that I can’t sometimes meet. The Association of School Counselors notes that 18% of students have special needs and require extraordinary interventions that are not available to classroom teachers.

For example, this school year I’ve had to refer 2 students to be put into the Behavior Support Classroom (BSC). I teach 5th grade so these behaviors didn’t just magically begin this school. When we had one of the student’s staffing for placement, a committee member stated that she was concerned that student would never get out of the behavior program because he was going to middle school. I responded and said, “That’s why it’s important for teachers in k-3 to begin the referral process.”

The Key to Classroom Management identifies 5 categories of high need students.

  1. Passive- avoids the domination of others
  2. Aggressive – overpowers, dominates, harms, or controls others without regard for their well-being
  3. Attention problems – motor or attention difficulties
  4. Perfectionist – avoids the embarrassment and assumed shame of making mistakes
  5. Socially inept – misinterprets the nonverbal signs of others

Teachers aren’t able to address all the needs of every student because 12-22% of all students in school suffer from mental, emotional or behavior disorders in which few receive mental health services (Adelman & Taylor, 2002). When teachers are faced with students who fall within this 12-22 percent he or she should become an advocate for that student. Sometimes school may be the only place where students can get their needs addressed.

The Foundation

Teacher-student relationships provide the necessary foundation for effective classroom management. Classroom management is the key to increasing student achievement. According Marzano effective teacher-student relationships have nothing to to with the teacher’s personality or even with whether the students view the teacher as a friend.

Building an authentic relationships with students begins with taking a personal interest in the students that you teach. If you aren’t truly interested in seeing your students succeed then the classroom management battle is lost. Students can spot a pretender a mile a way.

When I meet first year teachers I always tell them how you begin the school year is how you will end the school year. Meaning if you begin with chaos then you will the year with chaos. So if you feel as if you are loosing control of your classroom you can always restart your classroom management with these 3 keys to managing a difficult classroom

The post 3 Keys for Managing a Difficult Classroom appeared first on IgnitED.

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Technology integration for high poverty schools is a luxury for most teachers. The teachers either have some outdated technology or none at all.

As a math teacher integrating technology honestly was not a priority until after an intense conversation with my son about 3 years ago. He was so disappointed because he felt like school had not prepared him for real life.

Our conversation really bothered be so much that I began to reflect and change how I taught math concepts to my students. I’ve always made sure that I connected math to real-life situations but I also included culturally responsive teaching and more technology.

Although I have plenty of experience with working in high poverty settings, making changes like these didn’t come without its challenges! There were many challenges that didn’t anticipate. For example, after getting a classroom set of Chromebooks I didn’t expect my high achieving students would  have so many computer deficits. I had to take the time to teach them basic keyboard skills.

After implementing Google Classroom with just one of my three classes, I quickly realized that there are 5 simple steps that teachers in high poverty setting show follow to get started with Google Classroom.

1. Create a Plan

Before jumping feet first into using Google Classroom it is very important to create a plan. This plan should include:

  • Purpose – if you don’t set the purpose for implementing the platform the students will use is a entertainment tool
  • Expectations – lay the foundation of what you expect when using the platform
  • Consequences – what will you do when students don’t follow your expectations
  • Computer storage- where will you store your computer/how will you charge your computers
  • Frequency – how often do you want to use Google Classroom
  • Routines and Procedures – routines are the step by step process and the procedures are the how
2. Find Resources

There are many blogs, podcasts, and books that you can turn to when getting started with Google Classroom. When I decided that I wanted to use Google Classroom I began with Twitter. I found the hashtag for Google Classroom which then led me to other resources.

  1. Alice Keeler
  2. Kasey Bell
  3. Teachers Using Google Classroom

Being a change agents can sometimes be a lonely place. Often times it seemed as if I was the pioneer for trying to expose my students to more 21st Century skills. This made me look for resources outside of the school and sometimes the school district. If you want to implement innovative teaching ideas in your classroom don’t let the lack of support deter you because there are online communities that can provide the support that you will need.

3. Prepare Your Classroom

Preparing your classroom for technology integration may seem silly to some teachers. When I began to use Chromebooks on a daily basis it changed the dynamics of my classroom. I had to create an area to store the computers as well as additional routines and procedures for distributing and charging the computers.

It is not uncommon for students in high poverty setting to associate computers with entertainment. Throughout this process I learned that it’s a huge mind shift for me and the students when we began to use computers alongside paper and pencil.

4. Scaffold Google Classroom Introduction

Just like with your instruction you have scaffold the implementation of Google Classroom. Some of the students will go with it and be rock stars and others not so much! Of all of the resources that I have used, I think Alice Keeler’s blog does a great job of scaffolding instruction using Google Classroom.

When I introduced Google Classroom to my students I began with a simple Youtube video on the purpose of the platform. Then I created a question in the stream for the students to answer. Every week I introduced a new feature by creating a new assignment for the students.

5. Create Paperless Assignments

There are some teachers who have paperless classrooms. I’m not a fan of total paperless classrooms. Especially not for in a high poverty school, because a large majority of the students don’t have access to computers at home. Also, sometimes the technology doesn’t work. Creating a hard copy for the students allows me to continue with my lesson when the technology isn’t available.

There are 2 programs that I use to create paperless assignments that integrate with Google Classroom. Nearpod and EdPuzzle are 2 platforms that I use to create my assignments. I create Google Slides to create my lesson and Nearpod allows me to make the slides interactive. I use Edpuzzle to flip some of my lessons with videos.

There are a plethora of other apps, extensions, and platforms that can be used with Google Classroom. You have to remember that less is more!

If you started using Google Classroom or would like to start using Google Classroom you can download my FREE Google Classroom checklist below!


The post 5 Steps for Getting Started with Google Classroom in a High Poverty Classroom appeared first on IgnitED.

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It’s been almost 6 months since Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains flooded Houston. Life has not been the same since the 40-50 foot Pine Tree fell on my house.

One would think that in 6 months my life would be back to normal. Nope! I moved into a duplex and slept on an air mattress for 3 months. Then I hotel hopped for 2 weeks before I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and moved into my unfinished house.

I have had so many ups and downs since Hurricane Harvey. To the point where I thought I couldn’t take much more and almost broke down in front of my students. Things aren’t as intense as they were after the storm but my life hasn’t returned to normal yet.

Back to Work

The most stressful part after Hurricane Harvey was going back to work. I wasn’t ready to go back at all! When it was finally time to go back, I was living in a house with huge holes in the roof. Every time it rained outside, it rained inside of the house. With every rainfall pieces of the kitchen and living room ceiling would crumble and fall.

With all of this going on at my house I went back to work anyway. My first week back at school was really difficult because I didn’t have all of my materials because my home life had been turned upside down.  I began teaching anyway. We were 2 weeks behind so I had to get started fast.  If you teach in Texas you know that 5th and 8th grade teachers teach 9 months of curriculum in 6 months. Since we lost 2 weeks to Hurricane Harvey and a week to the ice storm we only had 5 months to prepare our students for STAAR testing.

I figured dealing with being displaced would be difficult but not having enough time to effectively teach your content is the pits! I feel so bad because I have had to cut so many activities out because I don’t have enough time for them.

My principal asked me last week how did I feel about this school year compared to last school year. My response was there’s not any comparison. Last year I had enough time to prepare my students for these high stakes tests. This year I’m just praying that the information sticks!

Lesson Learned

When that Pine Tree fell on my house I felt helpless. With all the donations that were pouring in you would think that someone would ask about the teachers. I have to admit I didn’t expect my school district to do anything for us but make us work like Hebrew slaves. Based on how the school district handled other situations, I didn’t expect much from anyone at the district office.

Well, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised when my principal told us that if we needed to take care of Hurricane Harvey related business that it wouldn’t be a problem. This is even true 6 months later. Trust me when I say I have had to leave early or come late to school because I either had to call or deal with the insurance company, mortgage company, or the contractor.

What shocked me even more is that instead of using a donation that was given to the school district for other things our superintendent gave up to $5,000 to teachers and other staff members that were affected due to Hurricane Harvey.

The lesson that Hurricane Harvey taught me is that people still do care about teachers. My perception of my school district has totally changed because our superintendent saw people with real problems instead of just employees of a school district.

The title of my blog post is Who will care for the teachers? I asked this question because teachers are people too. I hope by sharing my story teachers will not remain faceless when decisions are being made that may devastate the already devastated.

The post Hurricane Harvey: Who Will Care for the Teachers? (Part 2) appeared first on IgnitED.

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The concept of scaffolding can actually be tied to Lev Vitgosky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Vygotsky believed that a learner’s developmental level consisted of two parts: the “actual developmental level” and the “potential developmental level. Scaffolding can be described as the bridge that is used to connect what a student already knows to the new learning that he or she will acquire. It is essentially connecting the new to the known.

Why should scaffolding be important to educators?

Scaffolding instruction should be like gold to educators teaching in high needs schools or who teach a diverse population of students. Teachers who scaffold their lessons when teaching complex concepts are telling their students that they believe in their students’ “potential” to learn what they are teaching. The actual development level of their students does not make them shy away from teaching their lesson or compel them to water down the content.

Student achievement is important to teachers who plan their lessons for students who may need more support with the on grade level content. The grade level standard is the goal and the scaffolded lesson is the road map that teachers use to get students to reach the goal.

Teachers who scaffold their lessons when teaching complex concepts are telling their students that they believe in their students’ “potential” to learn what they are teaching.
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What does scaffolding look like in a lesson?

Scaffolding may look different in each content area. According to Wood, Bruner, and Ross scaffolding most effective when support  is matched to the needs of the learner. For example, the needs of a student in math may not be the same in reading.

Many administrators tend to generalize students, academic ability. They will ask questions like, “Why is this student doing so well in reading and not in math?” I cannot tell you how many times I have had to have this lively discussion about why certain students perform well in reading and are in the red in math. It seems as if there’s this new idea among certain administrators that if a student is strong is one area they should strong in every content area. NEWS FLASH!!! It doesn’t work like that.

The grade level standard is the goal and the scaffolded lesson is the road map that teachers use to get students to reach the goal.
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Scaffolding vs. Discovery

Over years I have heard some trainers and teachers say, “Let the students discover first.” I always wonder why would I let them discover when they don’t have a clue about what to look for! From a Vitgotskyian approach to learning  the teacher’s role is to moderate the students’ learning activity as they share knowledge through social interactions (Dixon-Krauss, 1996 p.18)




Scaffolding is an important part of effective teaching. It can include modeling, providing cues, and creating an activity the builds from basic to complex.

When attempting to scaffold a lesson consider these 4 questions:

  1. How will you assess the students’ background knowledge?
  2. What will you use to connect the new learning to what the students already know?
  3. How will you break the content into smaller chunks?
  4. When will you provide feedback?

Teachers of diverse learners cannot afford to create lessons that just require him/her to stand and deliver. All students have potential. Are you creating lessons that communicate that you believe in your students’ potential?

The post Scaffolding Instruction to Support Diverse Learners + FREEBIE appeared first on IgnitED.

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Having students that are working at multiple grade levels can be stressful for even for the most seasoned teacher. It really shouldn’t be a surprise when teachers struggle with implementing Tier 2 interventions.

The response to intervention model is very clear about what steps to take when students are not making progress with Tier 1 instruction. Yet, schools with large populations of  high need stundents continue to struggle to ensure that Tier 2 inventions are taking place.

There are 3 reasons why teachers struggle with with implementing Tier 2 interventions.

 1.Tier 2 students are not identified

At the beginning of the school year teachers are busy giving BOY (beginning of the year) tests, reviewing data from the previous year, and disaggregating data from the current year. DATA ,DATA, DATA!  Schools are data rich2 but are information poor.  This means that teachers are unable to take the data and translate it into useful information. There’s so much data that teachers are using ONLY raw data to make instructional decisions.

Schools are data rich but information poor.
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2. Teacher don’t know where to begin

With all of the technology that is available to schools many teachers struggle with putting a RTI plan together for students. Sometimes students have huge academic gaps that it’s overwhelming for less experienced teachers. For example, if a 5th grader struggles with reading most teachers who have not taught reading at a lower level will not know know where to begin this student’s interventions. This this then leads to students not receiving any remediation if adequate support is NOT available for the teacher.

3. Remediation is non-existent

Often times effective remediation is not offered to students. Since education has become so test driven that Tier 2 interventions have become test prep practice. Most tutorials that are supposed to help students with skills and concepts  are “how to pass the test” sessions. Teachers , through no fault of their own, have to focus on helping students to master test taking skills. True interventions/remediation doesn’t stand a chance in a system that is so focused on passing tests.

There’s hope!

Even in a high stakes test driven school system I have managed to effectively implement Tier 2 interventions. You can register for my live FREE Response to Intervention webinar here.

The post 3 Reasons Why Teachers Struggle with Tier 2 Interventions appeared first on IgnitED.

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IgnitED by The Ignited Teacher - 6M ago

 I have always taught in low income or as some would call them high poverty schools. Over the course of 17 years my view of my role at these schools has drastically changed .

When I finally moved up to a high stakes testing grade level I used to love being the underdog and then coming out on top. Then all of a sudden at the beginning of the 2008 school that feeling had vanished and was replaced with boredom.

I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings

After my 9th year of teaching in Houston I left Texas and temporarily moved to Louisiana.  I was tired of the constant emphasis on testing. I’m sure you’re wondering why of all places I moved to Louisiana. I began my teaching career in Texas and all I was groomed to become a Texas teacher with Texas ideals. That meant absolutely NO creativity or innovative thinking. As I approached my 10th year of teaching I began to feel like I was a mouse on a wheel. 


Although the East Baton Rouge Parish School System was in total chaos, I was able to tap into my creative side. I received training that increased my math pedagogy. I also became the educator voice for education policy at the state capitol. Two years after leaving Texas I was finally off of the mouse wheel.

While I had finally gotten off of the mouse wheel I knew that Houston was my home. On December 7, 2014 with my new found knowledge I left Louisiana and moved back to Texas. I was so happy to be back home but I quickly realized that not much had changed in the Texas school system. While I was learning all of these new instructional strategies in Louisiana many of my Texas colleagues were using the same old teaching strategies.

After a year and a half of teaching in the Texas public school system I knew that I had changed but the school system had not. To make matters worse the administrators that I worked under made it abundantly clear that they weren’t interested in creativity of innovative teaching ideas.

Breaking the Pedagogy of Poverty Cycle

I’m a reader of  all things education. I’m always looking for teaching ideas that will increase my pedagogy and engage my students. While I was preparing for my Twitter chat #UrbanEdChat the author of the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain mentioned The Pedagogy of Poverty.

I found the article on the Internet and much to my surprise I had finally had a name for my resistance to the pedagogy of the Texas public school.  Everything that the professor talks about in the article gave me confirmation that  my caged bird feeling is valid!

I have such a different view of how teaching and learning should looking in the urban classroom. I do believe that students in urban schools should have structure, however they shouldn’t be treated as prisoners inside of the school or classroom. I think children should be taught how to behave instead of being controlled instead of being told what to do and how to think. The Pedagogy of Poverty doesn’t appeal to me, but the author of the article states that The pedagogy of poverty appeals to several constituencies:

  1. It appeals to those who themselves did not do well in schools. People who have been brutalized are usually not rich sources of compassion. And those who have failed or done poorly in school do not typically take personal responsibility for that failure. They generally find it easier to believe that they would have succeeded if only somebody had forced them to learn.
  2. It appeals to those who rely on common sense rather than on thoughtful analysis. It is easy to criticize humane and developmental teaching aimed at educating a free people as mere “permissiveness,” and it is well known that “permissiveness” is the root cause of our nation’s educational problems.
  3. It appeals to those who fear minorities and the poor. Bigots typically become obsessed with the need for control.
  4. It appeals to those who have low expectations for minorities and the poor. People with limited vision frequently see value in limited and limiting forms of pedagogy. They believe that at-risk students are served best by a directive, controlling pedagogy.
  5. It appeals to those who do not know the full range of pedagogical options available. This group includes most school administrators, most business and political reformers, and many teachers.

I cannot tell you how many people that I have met that fit the above description. I have worked with minority teachers who live and die by the Pedagogy of Poverty by having low expectations for students who look like them. Every time I witness the pedagogy of poverty in progress my response is always the same. You can’t expect students to think and act like intelligent human beings when appropriate behavior isn’t taught and reinforced. 

School districts will continue to graduate student who have bathed in the nuisances of the  pedagogy of poverty. If the cycle is going to be broken it will require teachers and administrators to work together to fulfill the true function of education.

The post Breaking the Pedagogy of Poverty Cycle appeared first on IgnitED.

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Tuesday morning was just like any morning except on this particular Tuesday morning Hurricane Harvey had made landfall on the the coast of Texas. After a night of pouring rain I went outside to make sure that the trenches that my son and I dug to help the water drain were working. After being outside for a while I immediately noticed that the there were huge gusts of wind. I looked up at the tree tops of the pine trees swaying in the wind and decided to go live on Facebook to talk about the possibility of one of the trees falling.

My dog Sam follows me everywhere I go, so as usual while I sat on the couch he was lying on the living room floor. Not long after I sat down on the couch Sam’s ears perked up and I heard a cracking noise. I jumped up off of the couch and ran to the front door. When I reached the front door I turned around and a large pine tree branch crashed through the ceiling. The tree didn’t immediately fall so I turned around to see what was going to happen. I don’t know why I stopped at the front door but that moment will be forever etched into my memory.

On the Road to Recovery

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get the pine tree off of my house. It had been on my house for 2 days and the weight of the tree had begun to put more stress on the frame of the house. The city of Houston was a disaster and all of the entrances to my neighborhood were flooded. Well to make a long story short my mechanic (of all people) volunteered to cut this 50 ft. pine tree. The tree cutting began with 2 men and ended with 6. By 6 pm the tree had finally been cut in half and taken off of my house. Knowing that the tree was off of the house gave me a sense of relief.

While scrolling down my Facebook timeline I came across this article by US News “Houston Schools Chief: Many Students Will Lose Everything” This headline immediately made me feel like nobody cared about what was happening to teachers.  For the first time I felt like going back to work may not be an option because with everything that was going on I felt like I was one loop short of fruit loop.

Going Back to Work

The first day of school was supposed to be August 28th two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. That date has come and gone and the start date is now Sept. 11th. Teachers across Texas are hurting and it seems as if nobody is asking about the teachers. In addition to my home life being in shambles my school was damaged by the storm so I don’t even know where I’ll be working. My stress levels are already high because I will have to move out of my house and I’m going back to a classroom to deal with students who may have lost everything.

I don’t want to sound like what my students are going through isn’t important but I’m a person too. My question is “Who will care for the teachers?” I’m very fortunate to have educator friends and a teacher union who cares about teachers. Hurricane Harvey has left Texas in a state of devastation and shock. Setting a start date for school can’t be the sole focus of the school district. School districts have to take care of their teachers too!

The post Hurricane Harvey: Who Will Care For the Teachers? appeared first on IgnitED.

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