NELMS Teacher Resources

NELMS needs your input for an updated Advisory Resource...
Click here to learn more.

Tiered Math & Science Assessments
http://challengebychoice.wordpress.com/
Geoffrey Smith, the middle level principal at Jakarta (Indonesia) International School, is a long-time subscriber who enjoys our resources and wants to give something back. Did he ever! This website developed by JIS teacher Dave Suarez shares a tiered approach to teaching "extremely diverse" student groups. Suarez hopes other MS teachers will contribute their own ideas. At the page titled "Tiered Instruction and Assessment," you'll find Suarez's rationale for (and results of) differentiating for diverse readiness levels. In his model, students are given the responsibility for determining their own readiness for assignments at various challenge levels. A series of videos demonstrates how this works in actual classrooms. You'll also find examples of math and science units and assessments "tiered by challenge." In the Other Readings section peruse Dave's recent article in Educational Leadership (11/07) and descriptions of language arts applications. We asked several middle school teachers to examine the site -- they were impressed by its intellectual depth and practical application. Kathie, an inner-city teacher, told us: "These are wonderful differentiation resources. In my school we're using data to uncover students who are 'getting lost' in our classes, so this comes at a very good time."

Study: Understanding concepts is important to children's learning
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090410143809.htm
Students learn more when taught general math theories that help them understand formulas and procedures or when allowed to compare ways of solving problems, according to Vanderbilt University research. "Teaching children the basic concept behind math problems was more useful than teaching children a procedure for solving the problems -- these children gave better explanations and learned more," said Bethany Rittle-Johnson, a Vanderbilt University assistant professor of psychology and human development. "This adds to a growing body of research illustrating the importance of teaching children concepts as well as having them practice solving problems." ScienceDaily (4/12) , ScienceDaily (4/10)

Scientists: Science classes should engage students, not bore them
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6367232.html
Students are being driven away from science by state tests that encourage memorization and lack the excitement of science, according to Bruce Alberts, editor of the journal Science and former president of the National Academies of Science. "Meaningless testing is a bad thing," said Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman. "If we want scientific literacy, then we want teachers to teach the beauty of science, the fun in it, the humor in it, and to bring examples of modern science into the classroom." Houston Chronicle (4/9)

Secrets for science educators
http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2008/09/10/01tln_jolly.h20.html
When science educator Anne Jolly, who was named Alabama's 1994 Teacher of the Year, began teaching she was shocked to find practically no equipment, a less-than-pristine classroom and skeptical students. She offers tips to help other teachers develop business partnerships and grants to obtain needed supplies, find new ways to engage students and help them learn teamwork and enlist the support of colleagues and parents.
Teacher Magazine (9/10)

Teaching children helps high-schoolers master science concepts
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/30/AR2008053003300.html
More than 300 Virginia high school freshman and sophomores not only showed off last week what they learned in their school's biotechnology program, but taught basic scientific concepts to area elementary students. "We make believe we are doing it only for the little kids, but we are doing it for us, too," said Larry Nemerow, the school's biotechnology coordinator. "There is no higher form of learning than teaching."
The Washington Post (6/1)

Hands-on design work helped middle-schoolers grasp physics concepts
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008
Motion, force and electricity made a lot more sense to Patricia Herr's eighth-grade science class after the students built a roller-coaster inside their classroom. "She has developed many creative ways to encourage her students to explore science and to hone their talents," said dean Kate Splendore, who was among those who nominated Herr for a local award that Herr subsequently won. "She is constantly exploring new ideas and challenging herself as well as her students to think outside the box," Splendore wrote.
The Washington Post

Tiered Math & Science Assessments
http://challengebychoice.wordpress.com/
Geoffrey Smith, the middle level principal at Jakarta (Indonesia) International School, is a long-time subscriber who enjoys our resources and wants to give something back. Did he ever! This website developed by JIS teacher Dave Suarez shares a tiered approach to teaching "extremely diverse" student groups. Suarez hopes other MS teachers will contribute their own ideas. At the page titled "Tiered Instruction and Assessment," you'll find Suarez's rationale for (and results of) differentiating for diverse readiness levels. In his model, students are given the responsibility for determining their own readiness for assignments at various challenge levels. A series of videos demonstrates how this works in actual classrooms. You'll also find examples of math and science units and assessments "tiered by challenge." In the Other Readings section peruse Dave's recent article in Educational Leadership (11/07) and descriptions of language arts applications. We asked several middle school teachers to examine the site -- they were impressed by its intellectual depth and practical application. Kathie, an inner-city teacher, told us: "These are wonderful differentiation resources. In my school we're using data to uncover students who are 'getting lost' in our classes, so this comes at a very good time."

National Institutes of Health (NIH): Office of Science Education
...a large collection of lesson plans and resources specifically intended for teachers in grades K-12

Life in the Roman Republic
http://www.judithgeary.com/id2.html
You'll find several excellent articles about life in the Roman Empire at this website developed by author Judith Geary, in connection with her YA historical novel "Getorix: The Eagle and The Bull." The free articles include topics like "Republican Roman Names" and "Big Changes in Ancient Rome." Geary teachers at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Here's a detailed review of the novel: http://snipurl.com/getorix1

Mostly Medieval
http://www.mostly-medieval.com/explore/
While we suspect that many teachers who enjoy the opportunity to enchant students with goings-on in the Middle Ages already know about this site, it's a big Web out there. The Internet Scout describes Mostly Medieval as "a rather fine potpourri," originally created by novelist Susan Wallace for her own research. Sections include "Ballads," "Beasties," "Book of Days," "God and War," and "Heraldry."
In "Ballads," for example, visitors can read (and perhaps sing) through such Top 10 medieval hits as "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne," "Gude Wallace," and (shiver) "The Unquiet Grave." Inside the "Book of Days," young researchers will learn more about holy days and celebrations throughout the year. And there's an A-Z index to look up specific topics of interest.

 

Study: Exercise may boost children's learning ability, test scores
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090331183800.htm
Physical education, recess and active extracurriculars may increase students' ability to pay attention to academic lessons, according to research led by a University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor. Twenty 9-year-old children in the study performed better -- especially in reading comprehension -- after a 20-minute exercise session than after a 20-minute rest. ScienceDaily

S.O.S.: Help for Busy Teachers-Sites of the School Days
a weekly update to Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators on Discovery Education
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/

Educator uses practical lessons to reach struggling students
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-05-28-teacherteam-schroeder_N.htm
Alternative-school teacher Alvin "Corky" Schroeder, 58, uses his shop classes to help students learn math, physics and art. "If I lectured them, they would fall asleep," said Schroeder, who struggled with dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder as a child. "I'm a con man. I do what it takes."
USA TODAY (5/28)

Online tools may make life easier for educators
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939
There are numerous online tools for teachers, but the five best, according to technology columnist Don Reisinger, are Blackboard, Classroom 2.0, TeacherTube, Engrade and MyGradeBook. Blackboard allows teachers to keep track of student grades and other information online, and Classroom 2.0 is a site where teachers can interact and share tips.
CNET/Webware (4/21)

Educators: Immediate immersion frustrates immigrant children
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/09/25/english_period/
Children who arrive in the U.S. and settle in Massachusetts may face a nearly incomprehensible first month, educators say, thanks to a state law that requires students spend 30 days in an English-only classroom before being referred to a bilingual class. "Following the law is just making it more difficult for those students in terms of time lost from the curriculum," said principal Margaret Doyle, who says the month is hard on both teachers and children. The Boston Globe (9/25)

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Teachers (Discovery Education)

Offer choices to engage students
http://www.teachermagazine.org/
Instead of dictating assignments, National Board-certified teacher Mary Tedrow always gives her students choices. The method gives students more ownership over their education and allows them to choose topics that may make the learning more relevant to their own lives.
Teacher Magazine (5/28)

Conferencing with Parents

DO
  • Start the conference with a positive note.
  • Select one or two major goals for the conference.
  • Be on time.
  • Prepare in advance
  • Remember that you are talking to another adult, not a child.
  • Keep the discussion simple and straightforward.
  • Watch body language and voice tone.
  • Provide support when appropriate.
  • When possible, share information with the child in advance.
  • Keep information confidential.
  • Give parents time to share their perceptions.
  • Keep a notepad handy to jot down questions you'll need to address.
  • Keep a clock in sight so you can stay on task and on time.

DO NOT
  • Minimize problems.
  • Use jargon.
  • Make promises that can't be kept.
  • Share personal experiences.
  • Say anything you wouldn't want a child to know.
  • Argue
  • Take things personally.
  • Cover too much information.
  • Drag the conference out too long.
  • Write things on a conference form that you might not want placed in a cumulative folder.
    From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Share lesson plans with parents
Send a brief copy of your lesson plan home with students each Friday so parents know what to expect for the next week. Include test dates, supplies needed, and reminders about events for the week. From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

CD cases can come in handy in your class
Put old CD cases to use in your classroom.
Remove the paper cover and pry out the molded black plastic insert. Then use the cases to hold all kinds of things. For example, put iron fillings inside and tape the case shut. Your students can study magnets without getting iron stuck all over the magnet. You can use the case to hold bug or butterfly specimens or other fragile displays. The case also makes good containers for hall passes and learning center or game instructions. From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Locate materials quickly with a flip file
Do you spend too muchh time looking for materials?

Set up an efficient system now to save frustration later. To do this:
  1. Find a file box.
  2. Write all you materials on individual index cards.
  3. Group materials by topic, for instance, "Fractions" and "Literature"
  4. Wrte the topic at the top of the card.
  5. Use highlighters to color code the topics.
  6. Put cards in the box alphabetically by topic.
  7. Wrote where the material is located at the bottom of the card."Math material box" or "File"
From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Use index cards for keeping records
Put the name of each student on an index card and during class discussions shuffle the cards, calling on students according to the "deck".
Record student responses with a check, plus, or minus. This system will help you manage and evaluate your class discussion. It will also give you a guide for conferences with parents and other school personnel. From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Numbers will keep you organized
After alphabetizing the names in your gradebook, simply number the names. Have students place their number in the upper left hand corner of every page turned in. Then students can arrange them in numerical order. This automatically puts papers in alphabetical order for entering grades in the gradebook. From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Make a homework station
A notebook used to record daily classroom activities, assignments, and homework can save time and help organize any teacher. Run off a sheet with the date at the top and space each period/block that you teach. Under each period/block, make room to write classroom assignments and homework assignments. Each day, record all that you do for class time and homework. Keep a file with the notebook that keeps any handouts, notes, etc. that you used for that day. Date each folder in your file system that corresponds with the date in the notebook. When students are absent, make them responsible for checking Class/Homework Station to get any work that they missed. From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Use homework cards
Motivate students to complete and turn in homework on time by using homework cards.
Each day as you collect homework, give each student a card for homework turned in. Use 3"X5" index cards that have some identifiable mark that cannot be readily duplicated by students. The students save their cards like money. Once a week, auction something, such as favored classroom jobs, homework passes, and library passes, in return for the cards.
From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Motivate yourself: make a "smile file"
If you're going to motivate your students, you've got to stay motivated yourself. A "Smile File" is one way to do just that.
Fill a file folder with notes from happy parents, cards from students, class pictures you have collected, and positive notes from administrators. When you're having a bad day, simply look through your file. It will make you smile, remind you what a good teacher you are, and motivate you to keep going.From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Avoid teacher burnout

If you feel under-motivated or over-stressed, you could be headed toward burnout. Head it off with a few simple remedies:
  • Ask for help. You can't do it all yourself. Parents, school volunteers, friends, and students can ease your load.
  • Keep you eyes on the big picture. The saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff" must have been written for teachers!
  • Stay focused on what's important. If an activity isn't vital to teaching and learning, drop it.
  • Leave your teaching role at school. Don't correct your loved ones at home.
  • Take time just for you. Indulge in some guilty pleasure-whether it's ice cream or a favorite magazine, or a TV show.
  • Remind yourself why you teach. Keep a list, or a journal, of reasons. Or log those moments that make it all worth it.

From Editor's Eye - Ran A. Barnes, Advanced Editor

Discussion groups may help ninth-graders manage conflict
http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/41350367.html
A Milwaukee high-school program to have students work out their problems together may be helping curb discipline problems at the school. While 45% of Milwaukee ninth-graders were suspended last school year, only about 4% of ninth-graders in the program have been suspended so far this school year. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (3/16)

S.O.S.: Help for Busy Teachers-Sites of the School Days
a weekly update to Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators on Discovery Education
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/
Site 15

School nurse role expands, but some districts consider cuts
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2008-09-14-your-health_N.htm
School nurses are being called upon to do a wider range of health care tasks, including giving medicines to chronically ill children or monitoring respirators, feeding tubes and catheters. Some school districts, however, are looking at reducing the number of nurses and having secretaries, teachers or health aides help out instead. USA TODAY (9/15)

New site helps teachers use Google Earth in classrooms
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/site-of-the-week
A new teacher-created site allows educators to share lesson plans incorporating the free Google Earth software. In addition to dozens of lesson plans, the site offers guides to help teachers become more comfortable with the software.
eSchool News (4/2)

Our Pal Bill: Integrating LA and SS with Web 2.0
http://www.edutopia.org/voicethread-interactive-multimedia-albums
We've mentioned sixth grade teacher Bill Ferriter enough times to send him an invoice for public relations work. But hey, the guy is good -- as evidenced by this recent Edutopia feature highlighting his Web 2.0 teaching strategies. The story provides a fulsome description of the innovative work Bill and his kids are doing the free web tool "Voicethread." What's that? "VoiceThreads might best be described as interactive media albums," the article explains. "They are essentially online slide shows of images, documents, or videos that enable viewers to comment on any slide (or at any point in the video) by typing, recording an audio or video comment, or drawing on the image itself." Read the story and find out how Bill is using this tool (and others) to integrate his language arts and social studies instruction.