The Chalk Blog

Substitute Teachers aka Super Subs to the Rescue

Whom do we turn to when we’re called out of the classroom? When the flu attacks or someone in our family needs us near, whom do we call to cover our teaching responsibilities?  When we’re lucky enough to attend a professional training or workshop, how do we keep our daily instruction on pace?  We call a substitute teacher, a super-sub, of course!   

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Topics: Teaching Excellence, Substitute Teachers

Using Personalized Learning to Increase Intrinsic Motivation

Let me ask you a few questions…How motivated would you be to learn a new skill your supervisor demanded you learn? Would your motivation level be high or low if the skill you needed to learn was of no interest to you? What would you think if your supervisor could not provide a reason for you to learn the skill? Would you be motivated if you had to learn the skill the exact way your supervisor learns best?  

These situations occur daily in our schools! Teachers are told what to teach and how to teach it, and then students are told what to learn and how to learn it.  

What if I told you there is another way to teach and learn that can increase intrinsic motivation? 

You want to keep reading, don’t you?! I believe personalized learning increases intrinsic motivation, but by all means, you decide… 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Personalized Continuing Ed

Late Homework [VIDEO]

Are you experiencing difficulties with students turning assignments in late? Do you want to help them succeed by allowing late assignments, but feel overwhelmed when they all submit them at the end of a grading period? Well then we have the perfect video blog for you! Check out Dawn's helpful tips on keeping you AND your students on track with late homework.

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Video

ThinkCERCA: Teaching and Assessing Critical Thinking

This blog posts comes from our friends at ThinkCERCA. We encourage you to explore all of their great offerings.

Writing is the Path to Critical Thinking

This blog posts comes from our friends at ThinkCERCA. We encourage you to explore all of their great offerings.

Educators know students need critical thinking skills. But when it comes to assessing and teaching critical thinking, it’s tough to know where to start. “Critical thinking” is a concept. By design, it’s amorphous. You can’t glean critical thinking from a series of multiple choice responses.

You see evidence of critical thinking, however, when students write arguments. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Teaching Excellence

Tackling Tough Topics in Your Classroom

Why it's important for you, and your students...

Turn on the television, listen to the radio, pick up a newspaper or log on to your favorite social media website. You, and students, will see opposing views and lively debates, some articulated respectfully and others...not so much. In a society fraught with disagreement, it is important that we teach our students about tough topics and how to engage in civic discourse. This may take place through planned activities or it may be more spontaneous, but if you are prepared, you will have great opportunities to teach skills that could last a lifetime.  

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Social Emotional Learning

The Best Teachers I Ever Had

Teaching from the Heart

This blog post comes to us from our sister company, iteachiteach is the leading educator preparation partner, offering rigorous, research-based online training with the support of face-to-face mentorship. It was originally published on their blog on March 13, 2018.

For me, school didn’t come easy. I started as a four year old in first grade. My parents were going through a divorce and my mom told the school I was five years old and started me early. I was big for four, as big or bigger than most five year olds, but obviously a year of growing makes a big difference. I was too young to remember most of that year, but what I do remember is my first grade teacher requiring me to stay in during recess and practice my ABC’s. This was tough. I wanted to be outside, what little four year old boy wants to be practicing penmanship? But it was good for me and I quickly caught up to the rest of the class.

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Instructional Strategies

Engaging Families and Communities in Students' Education

Student success is a shared interest of both school and family.” 

Research informs us that students whose parents [and communities] are involved in their education are more likely to: 

  • Adapt well to school 
  • Attend school regularly 
  • Complete homework 
  • Earn better grades 
  • Have better test scores 
  • Graduate and go to college 
  • Have good social skills 
  • Demonstrate positive behaviors 
  • Have better relationships with their parents 
  • Have higher self-esteem 

*Bonus: parents who are involved in their children’s education at a young age are more likely to stay involved with their children’s education as they grow 

(*Adapted from “The Importance of Community Involvement in Schools” by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved 8/2/18. ) 

So, how can teachers engage and involve families and communities in students’ education?

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Instructional Strategies

Nonverbal Communication in the Classroom

What You Don't Say Makes a Difference

As a Learners Edge Curriculum & Instruction Specialist, I’m constantly prompted to reflect on my classroom teaching career. And, I’m very happy to report, the low moments fade from memory and you get to keep the joy and carry it with you forever. How great is that? 

One of my most powerful teaching and learning memories is from a two-day workshop I attended on nonverbal communication in the classroom. I believe it’s true - when the student is ready, the teacher appears! This learning opportunity transformed my teaching. I shared my learning with colleagues and mentees over the years - whenever I had the chance. Today, if I could look you in the eye, stand by your side, and nod my head, you would feel the positive energy I still feel toward nonverbal communication! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice

Teachers That Lead

It's All About the Verbs

As a former special education administrator, I came to rely on certain teachers to help me lead. There was just no way I could do it all by myself. Thank goodness there were strong teacher leaders in my midst! I couldn’t have done it without them! 

While teacher leadership is defined in a number of ways, Levin and Schrum, authors of Every Teacher a Leader, define it this way: 

The process by which teachers, individually or collectively, influence their colleagues, principals, and other members of school communities to improve teaching and learning practices with the aim of increasing student learning and achievement. Such leadership work involves three intentional development foci: individual development, collaboration or team development, and organizational development. 

Are you this teacher? Do you know this teacher? Could you be this teacher? If so, read on! 

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Topics: Leadership

How to Have a Successful Open House - Dos and Don’ts

Have the back to school nightmares started yet?  They’ll come.  They always do this time of year.  All teachers seem to suffer the same fate in August-- sleepless nights worried about misplaced lesson plans, a classroom full of students and not enough student desks, or alarm clocks that don’t go off on the first day of school.  Those nightmares are a cruel indicator that summer is over and the new school year is right around the corner. 

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Excellence, Parents

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