Low Tech Notes

LI was looking through my twitter feed about 10 minutes before my ELLs arrived in class when I read the following:

Although the students resist, I  insist they keep an idea/thought/interactive notebook.

I always stress that  note taking is one of the essential skills they’ll need in high school and college.  They practice Cornell, discussion and even sketch note taking in the hope that they  find a system that works best for them.   All notes are handwritten.

For this morning’s warm up, I projected and read  an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, written only yesterday,  with up to date research on the benefits of written rather than typed notes. We had an interesting discussion about low distractions such as drawing and doodling.  I explained that according to research, that also helps you think.

It appears that I am not the only teacher who insists on hand written notes.  Their social studies teacher has the same idea.

How do you teach note taking?

Art Costa has many answers

A propos our unconference, Art Costa has some answers.

I remember going to an ASCD training week for peer coaching several years ago.  He even came to speak at one of our conferences.  Although Costa still talks about habits of mind, this education leader always moves forward.

Watch this short video on what Costa has to say about ‘responsible risk taking’ and how a school can encourage this behavior as long as …


Have you shifted your paradigms recently?

Nothing like friend/colleagues

Kara sent a link to a fascinating podcast on the power of expectations on human ( and rat) behavior.      She then  suggested we get together for an unconference.

It is worth listening to the powerful story of how a man with no eyeballs can see.

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This morning we sat around my new round table and discussed the implications of expectations, risk taking and independence in the classroom.


Carol Dweck’s opening remarks in the podcast (especially the first sentence), really got me thinking:

“You may be standing farther away from someone you have lower expectations for. You may not be making as much eye contact. And it’s not something you can put your finger on. We are not usually aware of how we are conveying our expectations to other people. But it’s there.”

After some soul searching, we admitted that we need to change our behavior towards certain students.

Do you spread your TLC equally among your students?

You know we talk too much

The best way to increase student talk time is through discussion.

I just read Larry Ferlazzo’s tweet about a teacher/student friendly competitive fish bowl discussion.

I have  downloaded the Socratic Smackdown.

Thank you Rebecca Grodner and the Institute of Play for sharing.

I don’t know why, but I am always amazed at the generosity of educators who share their ideas and resources.

What’s the Story?

The Teaching Channel is a wonderful resource.

The talented teachers share creative activities and guide the viewer through them in short videos.

I decided that our first discussion on Lord of The Flies would be a variation of the formal Socratic Seminar.

I lifted the ideas directly from this video.

I did not begin with a purpose questions, but asked the students to reflect on their reading by completing a handout. (The same one that is used in the video).

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As part of their ‘takeaway’, the ELLs had to reflect on the activity.  The consensus was that this was an activity that encourages participation by  the whole group,  and the discussion helped clarify main ideas etc.


Teach better tomorrow via a Tweet


It just so happened that I was planning tomorrow’s lesson on the first two chapters of Lord of the Flies


when I came across this tweet:

I chose the following EQ:

“How do you differentiate between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’?

After a ‘quick write’, we came up with a few ideas.  e all admitted we were stereotypingIMG_0235.

Reading for Pleasure/ SSR/ Independent Reading – So What?

reading for pleasure - a habit
reading for pleasure – a habit

This quote says it all.


Quote Of The Day: Research Supports Independent Reading | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day….

I have been following Larry Ferlazzo for years.  I always find a video, image, comment or activity to use tomorrow in either ELL Reading or Writing.  His lists of ‘The Best..’ seem endless. No matter what content or level you teach, you will find an idea to embed in your lesson design.

His teaching experience is vast; from beginner ELL to IB Theory of Knowledge.

Thank you, Larry, for enriching my students’ learning experiences.

How do you encourage reading for pleasure?

The Imitation Game

Joan Clarke, the only woman on Turing’s team, says the following more than once:

“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”.

What struck a chord was the first part of the statement. Just replace the word ‘people’ with ‘students’.  How do we educators, within the constraints  of our one size fits all system, reach out to, value and include each and every learner?

Any ideas?

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