Saturday, April 29, 2017

Encouraging Students' Intrinsic Motivation

Top Strategies and Tips for Building Intrinsic Motivation in Students

1. Model the Strategies, Benefits, Beliefs, and Positive Characteristics of Intrinsic Motivation
2. Discuss the Aspects of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
3. Roll Play the Different Types of Mindsets Associated with Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
4. Build Autonomy, Trust, Self Esteem, and Self Persuasion
"Reward" Mastery, Genuine Hard Work, and Academic Struggle
5. Rethink using Fear of Punishment as a Motivator
6. Create a Celebratory Atmosphere, Education is a Joyous Journey and celebrating genuine hard work, showing up and participating with your heart and soul, and taking academic risks is reason to have a party
7. Rethink Data, Grades and Test Scores
8. Success breeds success, build competence, confidence, self-reliance, and deep curiosity
9. Set SMART goals that take repeated diligent practice over time to reinforce, success only comes through hard work and a strong work ethic
10. Create a Culture of Revision of ideas, Skills, and Knowledge through Formative Socratic Feedback
11. Build a Community of Cooperation, Communication, Friendly Competition, Empathy, and Compassion
12. Remember, Rome was not built in a day!
Known as a drive to be involved and succeed at a task regardless of reward, intrinsic motivation is pivotal for students in a classroom. In order for them to enjoy their education and remember everything they learn, they need to want to be taught for their own sake and not just because there is a reward at the end. Today, we are going to address this issue and suggest some strategies for building this motivation in all students so they go on to work for themselves and a better future!

Take an Interest in Them - First and foremost, how can we expect students to take an interest in their own learning if we aren't willing to invest our time and efforts in them? Rather than teaching from outside a window (figuratively, of course!), learning providers should get to know their students because then they can be a part of the students’ dreams, aspirations, and interests.

Not only should we listen to them, we should also talk to them about our own stories. Whether it is our successes or failures, students can learn important life lessons without even actively chasing them. From here, they will build their own interest in a task and the reward will be participation in the task itself.

Be Flexible - Let’s face it, all students have different interests much the same way that some adults like the theater whilst others would prefer to do anything else but this on a weekend. Therefore, teachers need to be flexible with tasks and allow students to explore their interests. For example, endlessly asking a student who isn't interested in doing essays to write about Shakespeare would be a pointless task.

Recently, we heard of an example of this where a student had never written an essay because they simply weren't interested. In the interest of being flexible, the teacher learned about the student’s interests and found video games along with sports. Immediately spotting the solution, the teacher asked him to write about his favorite video game or why one sport was better than the other. Eventually, the student did BOTH tasks, the teacher went through the essays with him for feedback, and he opened himself up to future progress.

Exude Trust - Often, it is a lack of trust that separates the students and teachers. When a teacher obtains the ‘best teacher’ title within a school, it is often because they respect the students and understand their needs. If there is trust within a classroom, the students won’t want to let the teacher down and they gain an interest in their own learning. Whenever the students prefer to be shouted at than the teacher feeling ‘disappointed’, you know that both parties are on the right path.

Celebrate Achievements - If the students do tasks and it goes unnoticed, the motivation will slowly decrease until it has completely evaporated. Of course, intrinsic motivation is all about internal reward but praise and some kind words go a long way to boosting this motivation. Suddenly, they are working for themselves without actually realizing.

Remove Grades - Finally, we also suggest creating one lesson a week that is completely free from grades. Often, the motivation (or lack of) comes from the student’s grade in a previous lesson. Therefore, it can be beneficial for them to improve for the sake of becoming better rather than just trying to improve the letter at the top of the page. Later in life and throughout their career, they won’t get graded so intrinsic motivation is important to build early on for a successful future!

[PDF]Intrinsic motivation in the classroom: Increasing ... - RIT Scholar Works
Additionally, intrinsic motivation was positively correlated with the student's .... students to succeed and build new skills within their range of competence as ...

[PDF]developing students' intrinsic motivation - BYU-Idaho
DEVELOPING STUDENTS' INTRINSIC MOTIVATION ... Helping students to act for themselves and accept responsibility for their own learning ...

[PDF]Encouraging Students' Intrinsic Motivation - Valencia College
by K McKinneydiscussed repeatedly is the concern that students focus too much on grades ... In part, the issue here is one of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation. ... This does NOT mean you have to "dummy down" your course, it does mean you build scaffolds.

[PDF]Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students - Self ...
supportive teaching behaviors in order to stimulate intrinsic motivation in their students. Conclusion: These tips demonstrate that it is not difficult to engage in ...

[PDF]Academic Diversity: Ways to Motivate and Engage Students with ...
The motivation for Students with LD in Re-‐ source Rooms or Inclusion ... and intrinsic motivation and their poor academic-‐ ... students, it is critical they help build intrinsic .....

[PDF]Fostering Intrinsic Motivation in Early Childhood ... - Adam Winsler's
standing of the beginnings of motivation, we can begin to find ways to build strong motivational pat- ... assumably because intrinsically motivated students are.

[PDF]Five key ingredients for improving student motivation - Academic and ...
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Typical students bring varying degrees of both intrinsic and extrinsic ..... Value and build relationship: “Relationships are at the heart of teaching since it is an ......

[PDF]Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation - Education Northwest
successful people are motivated by both internal and external factors, and suggest that educators build on both types when working to engage students more ...

[PDF]How to Motivate Your Students - ERIC
Understanding motivation and developing tools to affect and teach ... Intrinsic motivation represents the inner drive or passion people have to excel in a.

[PDF]The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement
motivation is broken down into topics on classroom climate, behavior management, and lesson .... Two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, have been.

[PDF]Encouraging Students' Intrinsic Motivation - Valencia College
 we can not force or require intrinsic motivation. But, are there ... It is the First Day of Class, Do You Know Where Your Students 'Are'? Knowing what.

[PDF]Academic Diversity: Ways to Motivate and Engage Students with ...
Examples of extrinsic motivation in-‐ ... source Rooms or Inclusion Classrooms .....

[PDF]Extrinsic Reinforcement in the Classroom - MISD
Extrinsic Reinforcement in the Classroom individual's intrinsic motivation to perform the task. For example, in some teacher guidebooks, teachers are told that ...

[PDF]the effect of extrinsic rewards in the high school classroom
Appendix F- Sample Powerpoint Lecture . ..... of extrinsic rewards and brings them into the classroom. .... The sample groups were made up of students from.

[PDF]Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students - Self ...
supportive teaching behaviours in order to stimulate intrinsic motivation in their students. Conclusion: These tips ... guises between intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivations .... class. This makes learning more autonomous, makes it easy to.

[PDF]The role of intrinsic motivation for teaching, teachers' care and ...
Autonomy support by the teacher on class level proved to be another predictor. On the other hand ... Keywords. Motivation for teaching; Intrinsic motivation; Teachers' care; Autonomy support .... Because there are various definitions for “care”, we define teachers' care as ...... Roth, G.

[PDF]Fostering Intrinsic Motivation in Early Childhood Classrooms
KEY WORDS: Motivation; classroom, preschool; infant. ... cators can use to foster intrinsic motivation in all young children. ... A DEFINITION OF MOTIVATION.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interleaving? What is the Interleaving Effect?

A Guide to Interleaving?

Learning requires repetition and exposure of concepts over time, the pacing and spacing of concepts has a significant impact on memory and retention. That is all common knowledge but adding interleaving has a multiplying effect on learning and retention.  Interleaving curriculum produces multiple exposure to mixed concepts that are interrelated and sometime inter-leveled. interleaving of concepts produces better learning than blocking in every study for the past 30 years. Many text books use a blocked concepts model, teaching the same concept in blocks, e.g. fractions or long division units for a few weeks. Interleaving exposes students to interrelated math concepts or societal phenomena. Text book A might use a concept block (Fraction Unit) A1, A2, A3, A4, yet a interleaving text book might use mixed block (Algebraic thinking and Numbers and Operations) of A1, B2, C3, D4, E5. So why are so many teachers and publishers not using brain based pacing, spacing, and interleaving to maximize learning and memory retention?

Interleaving improves the brains ability to learn and remember! Building and strengthening long-term memory that deepens and improves concept understanding, starts with brain based teaching practices. Interleaving taps into brain based learning research, we are discovering new ways to maximize the brains ability to build long term memory. Interleaving teaching and curriculum's starts by designing curriculum and lessons that are pedagogically paced, sequenced, interleaved and spiraled to maximize retention and deepen understanding of complex or difficult contextual concepts. Key concepts of interleaving learning principles: Multiple exposures over time to varied concepts, practice retrieval and review of new information, anchoring background knowledge with new learning, use multiple learning strategies and tactics with all lessons, and as with practicing over time the more you practice and interleave the concepts, the easier they are to retrieve. Interleaving can also include multiple academic subjects, phenomena, and or ideas. 

In years gone by, the grading system was enough to let us think that students were learning. However, opinions are now changing and we wonder whether students are retaining the knowledge in the long-term or whether they are just being taught with the exams in mind. Today, we want to take this one step further and look into the interleaving effect.

What is it? - First and foremost, we should cover the meaning of interleaving and it is essentially the opposite of ‘blocking’ or ‘cramming’. While these two terms look to teach students in sections, interleaving leaves the door open and returns to each section multiple times throughout the year. With this in mind, students don’t just have one chance to learn it; instead, their foundation of knowledge builds stronger and stronger each time it comes around in class. Ultimately, the idea is that a student retains this knowledge for years to come rather than just learning it for the exam and then forgetting.

Ever since the early 1980s, interleaving has been gaining traction and now there has been many studies assessing the effectiveness of the technique. However, very few used real-world examples until very recently. Now, we can be confident and factually-correct when we say that interleaving has a dramatic impact on long-term learning; especially in math. Over the course of a school year, key math techniques and vital sections to the curriculum are learned better when they are brought up multiple times rather than just the once.

Teachers - If we look at the role of teachers, we have found recently that there are two main types of teacher depending on their stance on interleaving. With the first, they assume that all the information in prior lessons has been learned and they move on with this assumption. With the second teacher, they go over what has been learned in previous lessons before taking it a step further to embed this knowledge. Rather than knowing facts, teacher two looks deeper at why information is important and exactly how it works.

According to the ‘Forgetting Curve’, a graph belonging to a German psychologist in the 19th century, it takes just three days to lose 20% of a new topic. However, this retention of information improves as it is reviewed time and time again. Essentially, this is the interleaving method in action because one would go over information many times rather than relying upon our brains to remember everything first time.

Methods - For students, teachers, and principals of schools, we now have a couple of methods you could use to bring interleaving into education.

New and Old Material - Firstly, we tend to focus on new material only when studying for an exam but students should be encouraged to revise old material too. Sometimes, we also revise information in the same order it was taught but it can be handy to mix it up so bear this in mind for revision classes and such.

Interleaving and Others - If the best results are to be seen, interleaving needs to be combined with other strategies including practice tests and retrieval practice. Over time, these strategies will cement the information in the mind for the long-term.

Relation - Next, the information you interleave needs to be related otherwise the students will wind up confused and they won’t see the full effects. For example, don’t combine subjects but rather the information within a particular topic.

Work Hard - Finally, this isn't some magical formula that helps to increase the performance of the brain. If you don’t see results straight away, keep going and keep using the technique because this is what interleaving is all about. If necessary, mix it up, use other techniques, and allow students to work in groups! 

[PDF]Spacing Effect - Iowa State University
Spacing and Interleaving of Study and Practice. Shana K. ... recommendations regarding two specific learning principles—the spacing effect and the interleaving.

[PDF]Interleaved Practice Improves Mathematics Learning
Interleaved practice requires students to choose a strategy on the basis of the ..... the effects of interleaved mathematics practice in a classroom-.

[PDF]The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts ... - Dyslexic Advantage
The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning - Scientific American ... .

[PDF]The benefits of interleaved and blocked study - Indiana University ...
Interleaved or blocked study results in better learning depends on whether study is ... which instances are presented in a study session and the effect this has for ...

[PDF]The benefit of interleaved mathematics practice is not limited ... - Gwern
This interleaving effect was observed even though the different kinds of problems were superficially dissimilar from each other, whereas previ- ous interleaved ...

[PDF]Linking Cognitive Science to Education: Generation and Interleaving ...
Linking Cognitive Science to Education: Generation and Interleaving Effects. Lindsey E. Richland

[PDF]Why interleaving enhances inductive learning - Bjork Learning and ...
further tested the discriminative-contrast hypothesis by exam- ining the effects of interleaving and spacing, as well as their combined effects. In three experiments ...

[PDF]Rohrer, D. (2012). Interleaving helps students distinguish ... - ERIC
Interleaving effect. A simple example of an interleaving study, though it involved motor skills rather than cognitive skills, was reported by Hall, Domingues, and.

[PDF]Spaced Repetition Promotes Efficient and ... - Dartmouth College
Although most studies on spaced or interleaved practice have been conducted in ... observed effect of spacing/interleaving is impressive. Second, the instructors ...

[PDF]The effects of practice schedule on learning a complex judgment task
Studying the effects of different practice schedules on learning and transfer of ..... Therefore, Experiment 2 investigated the effects of interleaving and blocked ...

[PDF]Kornell and Bjork (2008)
(massed) or interleaved with other artists' paintings. (spaced). We then ... The spacing effect refers to the nearly ubiquitous finding that items studied once and ...

[PDF]effect of practice schedules on concept & category learning - MacSphere
Interleaving exemplars from different to-be-learned categories, rather than blocking exemplars by category, often enhances the inductive learning of those ...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Passing the STAAR Retest 2017-2018

Passing the STAAR Grade 5 and 8 math and reading retest starts with a review of Tier 2 and Tier 3 Academic Resting Vocabulary. 

STAAR TEST PREPARATION starts with Tier 2 and 3 Academic vocabulary word-work! Students that lack knowledge and understanding of key Academic Vocabulary is always deadly to a students success on the STAAR assessments. Academic vocabulary is king when you want your students to succeed on today's rigorous assessments. 

The first step in passing any STAAR Reading or Math test is understanding the types of academic vocabulary that students will see on the test. Tier 3 and Tier 2 vocabulary are the hardest to learn and remember, these words give students the most problems on test!

Tier 1 Academic Vocabulary: Basic words that commonly appear in spoken language. Because they are heard frequently in numerous contexts and with nonverbal communication, Tier 1 words rarely require explicit instruction.Examples of Tier 1 words are clock, baby, happy and walk.

Tier 2 Academic Vocabulary: Less high frequency words used by mature language users across several academic content areas. Because of their lack of redundancy in oral language and their multiple meaning or descriptive nature, Tier 2 words present challenges to students who primarily meet them in print and on test. Examples of Tier 2 words are obvious, complex, establish and verify. Blooms and Webb's DOK verbs are integral to any successful reading instruction or intervention.

Tier 3 Academic Vocabulary: Low Frequency words that are not frequently used except in specific academic content areas or domains. Tier 3 words are central to building backgrounds knowledge and conceptual understanding within the various academic domains and should be integral to instruction of content. Medical, legal, biology and mathematics terms are all examples of these words.

Links to PDF Academic Word List                                                                                                     The Tennessee Academic Vocabulary Project
Oklahoma Academic Vocabulary Suggested Words and Terms  Marzano based list
The Tennessee Academic Vocabulary Project Prepared for the State of Tennessee Department of Education by Marzano & Associates

STAAR Grade 5 Mathematics (retest)STAAR  Grade 8 Mathematics (retest)
STAAR Grade 5 Reading (retest) STAAR Grade 8 Reading (retest)
Test Forms  
Answer Keys  
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013 
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 
Social Studies: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Social Studies: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013  
High School  
Algebra I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Algebra I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
English I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading | 2013 Writing
English I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading | 2013 Writing
English II: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading | 2013 Writing  
English II: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading | 2013 Writing  
Biology: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013  
Biology: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 
U.S. History: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013  
U.S. History: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Literary Devices, Literary Techniques, and Literary Elements

Developing Deeper Reading Comprehension and a True Understanding of the Writers Craft Starts with Learning how to use Literary Devices, Literary Techniques, and Literary Elements

Students and teachers need to analyze, understand, discuss, and
explore the author's craft, multiple writing styles, and literary structures of rich texts at deepest levels. Most, literary analysis presented or represented in basal reading programs today is superficial. Readers have always needed to dive deeper into the five elements of plot, literary themes, inferential language, and authors point of view. Today, if you want students to go beyond the basics of surface reading or skimming they need to develop their literary analysis skills; the skill, ability and background knowledge to identify and use literary devices, literary techniques, and literary elements, explore the author's craft, multiple writing styles, and literary structures of rich texts at deepest levels. Most, literary analysis presented or represented in basal reading programs today is superficial. Readers have always needed to dive deeper into the five elements of plot, literary themes, inferential language, and authors point of view. Today, if you want students to go beyond the basics of surface reading or skimming they need to develop their literary analysis skills; the skill, ability and background knowledge to identify and use literary devices, literary techniques, and literary elements.

Within literature, there are various techniques, devices, and elements we all use or experience on a day-to-day basis when we read or write. For example, authors will obtain the attention of the reader with certain writing techniques while relying on the themes to keep the attention afterward. However, there is actually a difference between devices, techniques, and elements. As we continue our journey to better understand the language and how it is made up, we can see the definitions of the three down below;

Literary Elements - Essentially, this term describes certain characteristics within a piece of text. Instead of being used, they simply exist in texts such as a theme of a story. In every story, there will always be a theme, conflict, setting, and the piece will be written from a certain perspective. Although we can’t write these things directly, they are very much a by-product of what we do. Often, it is the literary elements that are discussed most for a piece of text.

Literary Techniques - On the other hand, this term describes the meaning that comes from deliberate constructions of the language. With literary techniques, these are like weapons authors can use at any time when writing whether it is a phrase or just one word. In addition to this, they also have another difference to elements in that they aren't always visible in every passage of text. Since they are actively inserted by the writer, they aren't always present.

Literary Devices - Thirdly, we have literary devices which are a particular section of work we can recognize and then analyze thereafter. In truth, this has a mixture of the two above but falls more closely on the side of techniques because they can be entered into text actively for the reader to then analyze.

Before we head any further, we should point out that ‘literary terms’ are the actual words used in the techniques and elements we discussed previously. While the ‘technique’ might cover a whole phrase or section of writing, the literary term will be the word/s used in this writing.

Today, we are going to bring you some of the main combinations and differences that often leave people confused. As an example, are you aware of the differences between an epilogue and a prologue? If you are, well done, but stay tuned for much more like this to see the tools that authors have at their disposal. As you will see, we have separated them into sections depending on whether it discusses how the text is formed or details within the text itself.

General Writing Structures

In this first section, we have comparisons of a general nature with writing. Rather than delving into the writing itself, we will compare and contrast what makes up a story or nonfiction work.

Nonfiction v Fiction - Let’s start with an easy one! With fiction, this is any piece of writing coming purely from the imagination so it could cover science fiction, fantasy books, romance, thrillers, and any other with no ounce of reality or truth. With nonfiction, this is based on fact and could be a detailed guide to butterflies or the wars throughout time.

Fairy tale v Folktale - Leading on from the previous point, fairy tales are often based around magical and mythical creatures such as witches, dragons, and unicorns. On the flip side, a folktale is based around a truth or real-life phenomenon; they are both instructive. 

The Crystal Ball (fairy tale)

A sorceress was afraid of her three sons. She turned the oldest into an eagle and the second into a whale, and each could take his human form for only two hours a day. The youngest son fled before he could suffer the same fate and went off to seek the king's daughter, bewitched and held prisoner in the Castle of the Golden Sun. He saw two giants quarreling over a wishing cap and they asked him to settle the dispute. He put on the cap, forgot he had it on, and wished himself to the castle.
The king's daughter told him that only a crystal ball would break the enchantment. She directed him to go down the mountain and fight a wild bull beside a spring. If he killed it, a bird would spring out of it. If the bird was forced to let free an egg in its body, the crystal ball was its yolk, but the egg would light everything about it on fire if dropped on the land.
He fought the bull. The bird sprang free, but his brother the eagle harried it until it dropped the egg. This landed on a fisherman's hut, setting it ablaze, but his brother the whale drowned the hut with waves. The youngest brother took the crystal ball to the enchanter, who admitted himself defeated and told him that the ball would also break the spell on his brothers. The youngest hurried to the princess, and they exchanged rings.

Prologue v Epilogue - Essentially, these are actually opposites with one coming before the bulk of the story and the other after. A prologue is an introduction to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, most often an earlier story that ties into the main one. If you look at the prefixes meaning ‘pro’ and ‘epi,' we see that the former is before the story while the latter appears at the end to tell the audience what happens to the characters or historical figures.  An epilogue is different from an afterword.
 An afterword is a literary device that is found at the end of a piece of literature. It usually covers how the book or story was developed, or the inceptions of the characters, plot, themes, idea or source texts for the book.

Perspective v Point of View - Surprisingly, these two do have their differences and it can be a tricky topic. With point of view, the focus is on who is telling the story. In a work of fiction, you will often get first and third person writing (rarely with a second person too). In terms of perspective, it looks into the background of the person telling the story and from what position they are talking.

Antagonist v Protagonist - As you may know, these terms describe characters, concepts, or groups of people in a story. For the good person and main character in the story, this will normally be the protagonist and the antagonist will be the opposition. Typically, the antagonist will oppose the protagonist.

Plot v Theme - With the plot, this will be the subject of a story and the meaning according to the author. On the other hand, a theme will be the noticeable recurring topic/s running through the text.

Resolution v Exposition - In every story, there will be a climax and everything preceding this helps to build anticipation. Ultimately, the exposition is an introduction and the starting point of the building; the resolution is after the climax where the antagonist and protagonist normally meet.

Mood v Tone - When reading a story, you sometimes get a feeling or some emotions and this explains the mood of the text. With tone, this is things the author chooses such as theme, word choice, setting, plot, etc.

Character Traits v Characterization - When you read a fictional story and notice the actions or behaviors of a character, these are the traits they portray. Sometimes, it could even be their attitude and personality. With each character, they will have both good and bad traits and this is what normally makes them so likable or frustrating to the reader.

With characterization, this is the process of revealing the character’s personality through writing. With direct characterization, the author will tell the reader something about the character’s personality and indirect characterization comes through actions and various other tools.

Legend v Myth - Over time, these two words seem to be used interchangeably more and more but this shouldn't be the case. With a ‘legend’, you start with a story that is partly true. Eventually, it gets passed from one person to the next and it has meaning. Normally, there will always be an element of truth somewhere whereas a myth is purely speculation and doesn’t offer much in the way of truth at all.

Fable v Parable - In a parable, a religious or moral lesson will be shown in a prose or verse story. In fables, this is very different because they tend to rely on plants, animals, and even inanimate objects to tell the story.

Parody v Satire - When the author uses humor, exaggeration, and perhaps even ridicule or irony to expose someone or something, this is known as satire. Not to be confused with parody, the latter can be a form of satire but it focuses more on mocking the style or personality of another. Most commonly, we see this with artists, musicians, and various other celebrities from impressionists.


With the general topics covered, we are now going to look into things that may appear within the writing itself starting with another fairly easy comparison.

Rhythm v Rhyme - When you are rhyming, you follow the first word with other similar-sounding words. Commonly, this is seen within poetry at the end of each line; i.e. bark, shark, and park. With rhythm, this is similar to the beats in a rhyme. When reading a poem, we normally fall into a rhythm subconsciously and this is down to a number of syllables in a single line.

Stereotype v Archetype - A stereotype is having a belief or opinion about a whole group of society rather than judging them individually. Often, this is a prejudice based on a common theme or perhaps even a not-so-common theme. However, a stereotype doesn’t always have to be negative which is a common misconception today. On the other hand, discrimination can lead from stereotyping and this denies the rights of someone just because they belong to a particular group.

With archetype, this is actually an original pattern; from here, the copies or a prototype is then made. In writing, the author may suggest an ‘old-style diner’ since the original pattern has already been developed. Despite this realization or recognition, there is no judgment or stereotyping thereafter which is the important difference.

Irony v Paradox - When a writer uses a paradox, it is the bringing together of two seemingly opposite themes. Although both sides of the statement are true, they don’t quite fit together and prime examples of a paradox would be ‘jumbo shrimp’ or ‘bittersweet’. With irony, this is where the evident meaning is incongruous with the intended meaning.

Adage v Maxim - If an adage describes the general rule of conduct, this is seen as a maxim. However, the adage itself is perhaps an old saying or expression; for example, ‘you know the old adage…’.

Aphorism v Anecdote - While an anecdote explains a short story from a 
real incident or experience (relating to the topic of conversation in a written work) usually an amusing or interesting story about a poignant indecent, an aphorism portrays a concept or thought.  Aphorisms are a laconic (few words) saying, expressing a simple truth or principle, it can also be an astute (accurately assess situations) observation.

Hyperbole v Tall Tales - With tall tales, they are somewhat hard to believe stories about folk heroes or legends that once existed. Over time, the story is told over and over again until certain stems become twisted or exaggerated. Normally, hyperbole's are the emphasized points themselves; for example, I could eat a horse I’m so hungry.

Literal v Rhetorical - With a rhetorical question, it doesn’t necessarily require an answer but it can be a technique used to start a conversation. Just as it suggests, literal means the art of saying exactly what you mean, no hidden meaning or "inferential reasoning" needed. When your teacher ask you, is this really your best work? That is 
a rhetorical question

Symbolism v Imagery - In a story, the writer describes factors using the five senses and this is called ‘imagery’. In terms of symbolism, this is finding meaning in another abstract idea such as an animal, season, object, or even a season.

Allegory v Allusion - Often found in poetry, allegory is the act of providing two meanings. While the first is obvious and the main theme, the second is deeper and sometimes not found at all. Relying on the knowledge of the reader, an allusion assumes that the reference is known by the reader (i.e. they allude/hint at something).

Foreshadowing v Flashback - Hopefully, this is easy to decipher since foreshadowing suggests something that will occur later in the story, it is usually an ominous warning of future events to raise tension, suspense, or mystery in the story. A flashback is an interjected scene taking you back in time to make the plot more complex or to clarify a characters actions or thoughts.

Assonance v Alliteration - While alliteration is a sequence of words all beginning with the same letter, assonance looks at the same vowel sound repeated in the same way.

Hyperbole v Personification - Finally, neither of these are literal but personification gives an inanimate object human-like qualities; e.g. the ocean sighed. As we saw earlier, a hyperbole exaggerates a point to add emphasis.


There we have it, your guide to literary elements, techniques, devices, and terms. With this, you should now better understand the writing of famous authors as well as using it in your own writing!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nine ‘Outstanding’ Teaching Skills Shared by ‘Exceptional’ First-Grade Teachers

Nine ‘Outstanding’ Teaching Skills Shared by ‘Exceptional’ First-Grade Teachers

When looking at various careers, there are some that get instant
Teaching the Little Scientist
respect; doctors, engineers, scientist, firefighters and military officers, etc. However, teachers often go forgotten even though they are, quite literally, teaching the next generation of leaders for every single industry. In every classroom, there is a chance that each will go off to be a scientist, engineer, poet, lawyer, and perhaps even a teacher. Therefore, it is a vital role in any society but what makes a teacher ‘exceptional, outstanding and highly effective’?

Back in 1998, the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement conducted a longitudinal study best teaching practices, to find out the key skills or traits held by highly successful first-grade teachers across the United States. Why? What can or should we all learn from these ‘exceptional’ first grade teachers? In truth, the study has proved to be sage advice since it was published, a primer for pre-service teachers, trainee teachers and yes even veteran teachers. Improving the teachers we already have is a critical goal for all schools that are preparing tomorrows leaders. Today, we will reexamine the nine traits that were shared by all if these outstanding teachers and the common themes that appeared in the 1998 study. In all of the classrooms chosen, the students were seeing huge success; the majority of all students were reading and writing above their current level in schools. Without further ado, let’s take a look!

Excellent Classroom Management - For a class to be efficient, engaged, and productive, classroom management is essential, yet sadly, it is something that not all teachers have a firm handle on. In the most effective classrooms, student behavior, engagement, cooperative exploration, dialogue, Socratic investigation, and depth of learning was “managed” as well as the joy and happiness of the students. In addition to this, administrators, librarians, specialists and instructional aides were also used to engage students in a harmonious school environment. The students learning and engagement is the top priority in a school that uses exceptional classroom management techniques. Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures, Whole Brain Teaching, Socratic Seminars, and hands-on multisensory engagement protocols are a critical part of Reading Boot Camps Outstanding teaching practices!

When effective classroom management “engaged minds” isn't in place, a classroom can quickly get out of hand and then nobody in the room is benefiting and the students aren't learning. Sometimes, teachers will have one method of keeping the class under control. However, students soon learn to work around this and then the teacher is left demoralized. With outstanding teachers, they have a variety of methods to keep a class engaged, curious, learning, and yes under control and prevent huge distractions that waste instructional time that is even more precious in today’s high stakes environment.

Ability to Motivate - Next up, the best teachers find a multiple ways to create a learning environment were the students work conscientiously for themselves as well as the teacher. The allusive intrinsic motivation is a worthy and critical skill that must be developed and internalized in all students. Students are supposed to take ownership of their education, work hard, stay curious and be intrinsically motivated, right! Teachers need to stay curious, continuously work on improving their skills, read, read, and get inspired and stay motivated by studying other outstanding teachers. Success really does breeds success! If a non-skilled teacher was to teach in the average classroom, the students might do as they are told for a while, but as soon as the teacher leaves, work would come to an end, they would start talking to their friends, and it would be bedlam. With the best teachers, they have an ability to keep students motivated even when they leave the room or even more impressive when they are out sick. Strengthening Pedagogical Knowledge is critical for all teachers, yet reading self improvement books is also a big priority for me to stay motivated! I read books like, John Medina’s- Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School," Steven Covey’s- "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Sean Covey’s-"The 7 Habits Of Happy Kids."

Intrinsic motivation “self persuasion” is vital to lifelong learning, understanding, and enduring curiosity, this is pivotal because students need to know how to learn “alone” rather than relying on the teacher always being there. Dump truck pedagogy or teachers filling the empty bucket is fraught with peril for future success, students with without :self persuasion: skills leaves students at risk for failure when challenges arise. As students grow older, the teacher will have less one-to-one time and less engagement so developing intrinsic motivation in a student at a young age will give them the thirst for knowledge and academic challenges.

Teaching in Context - When teaching, good teachers will allow the students to discover the basics in a student centered environment. After leaving the classroom, they should then be able to apply this whether it is numeracy, literacy, or any other topic. With a great teacher, it is always hands on first, not about learning from a worksheet or a list of words, but exploring the ideas and phenomena in context. Often, the complaint about education is that it bears no relevance to the real world. Even in the first grade, context is very important laying the foundation for further learning and building critical background knowledge. Reading poignant books or singing emotional songs creates a 1,000 teachable moments. Reading aloud daily with your class and discussing the literacy devices, language, vocabulary, the authors inferred ideas, themes, perspectives, and feelings it invokes. Teaching in context prepares students for a more rote education that comes later. If they go through the education system thinking ‘what is the point?’, this thought will only get stronger as time goes on.

For example, most classes have vocabulary, spelling, writing activities, and reading comprehension skills taught daily as part of grade level standards. In order to prepare students for the next level, but teachers that focus on contextual teaching will integrate this knowledge to real reading and writing tasks. If they learn about a certain feature of fictional writing, this would then be followed with a real example in a popular book. As soon as they see it in action, they see why they are learning it and will have the ability to apply it outside the classroom.

Focus on Literature - When we think back to our own education, it is quite easy to recall times where we read a favorite books series; for many years, this has been a staple of school life. Today smartphones, video games, and cable TV stand in for amusement and diversion, reading for enjoyment and getting lost in a great book or series is lost in many classrooms today. This being said, a key trait in an outstanding teacher is to put a significant emphasis on real literature whilst digging deeper into the authors view points, explicit or inferred ideas, opinions, language, and literary devices used to learn why they wrote what they wrote and how it was written. By completing comprehensive literature studies that are integrated with multiple subjects, themes, ideas, students develop a deeper perspective on literary elements and literary devices, close reading comprehension strategies, and they expand their language and oracy skills exponentially. Reading Boot Camp is based on a concentrated focus on contextual language development “oracy” and deep integrated literature studies spiraled through Socratic inquiry process.

Of course, this can be fairly limited with students in the first grade and it won’t involve long essays but this is still improving their understanding. Over the years, there has been a criticism that students are taught to remember “rote learning” rather than actual hands on learning. For example, repeating a set of sight words over and over again will certainly help a kindergartner remember their sight words. However, they won’t be able to understand how to use the words in context. If you want them to be able to read sight words and build background knowledge, you have to teach them the ‘what, how, where, and the why the word is used’; why does the word “look” have multiple meaning? Without this information, how can students work out what the word ‘look’ means in a sentence? With literacy, this is critical to teach reading with an emphases on spiraling contextual examples, and what may be even more important is building oracy and dialogue skills built around literature. Literature studies help student develop critical thinking skills, empathy, reasoning, and it is something that all outstanding teachers do.

Positive Atmosphere - Let’s not forget, these 1st grade students are only six years of age and they have spent the majority of their life free from educational requirements or any type of restriction on their curiosity. The good old days before Common Core and test prep. Therefore, they need the same safe and secure environment that they should be getting at home. Gobs of positive behavior support, a nurturing atmosphere, and building on the positive encouragement they may or may not have receive at home. Manners and positive behaviors that are experienced and practiced become habits. If there are the odd discipline problems, they can be handled with care to improve the relationships between students rather than allowing them to deteriorate early.

When students achieve an academic goal or exhibit a positive behavior, this achievement is shared with the class and praised in person, this creates an atmosphere where all good deeds and work is appreciated and acknowledged. Soon enough, the students will be encouraging each other without any input from the teacher and the whole classroom feeds off of positivity. Creating a positive culture of praise and positive feedback that celebrates academic and behavioral goals is a classroom game changer! Corrective feedback from teachers and peers in a supportive atmosphere should be a classroom norm. Creating a Culture of Peer Critique and Revision Creates an Atmosphere of Positive Academic Success!

Realistic Expectations - According to some teachers, they have to set unrealistic goals for their young students, the high standards and unrealistic expectations soon demotivates the students because they feel as though they aren't good enough or worse are failures. Imagine kindergartners and 1st graders feeling they are failures! With so much learning yet to come, it is important to gradually raise expectations, while educating and motivating students to take risk without fear of failing. Creating an classroom atmosphere that rewards struggle is a skill many teachers need to understand and develop. Failure, struggle, challenges, and academic risk taking can make some students shut down, or opt-out at a young age. Great teachers know how to keep students learning, motivated, curious and “struggling” with games, novelty, competition, praise, and just enough support to reinforce learning. Great teachers turn around students that opt out, lose hope, or feel like failures. At all times, outstanding teachers push, challenge, and have high expectation that their students will show exceptional growth. A teachers intuition must take precedence over fidelity to set of standards, curriculum or external expectations. Realistic expectations mean many things to teachers, staying motivated, curious and feeling amazing when students achieve a challenging goals daily, is a realistic in an exceptional classroom. Set SMART goals daily, weekly, and monthly that are low your student to take risk in a nonjudgmental environment.

Furthermore, we should also point out that these outstanding students weren't allowed to settle for something that wasn't quite good enough by their teachers. Rather than just scraping through, students were encouraged to continue improving by taking on more challenging tasks; at no point were they overwhelmed though, this actually had the opposite effect, students were building stronger intrinsic motivation as they pushed through the challenges.

Dedicated Time - Instead of ‘trying’ to find time to read or write, the outstanding teachers all set aside a large blocks of time in the day where everyone is working on listening, reading, writing, and discussing great literature. Whether it was 80, 90, or even 120 minutes, this is something students did every single day. Also, it wasn't just the same thing every day as the teacher would mix it up. For example, one day they would read to themselves whilst reading to a partner the next day. On every third day, they might even read as a group so the teacher can give feedback. Time on task, distributed practice over time or spiraling curriculum, and dedicated time targeting language and vocabulary is a primary goal to help my students succeed! Focus on critical literacy skills, we are what we practice and spend time improving on. If you want students to become cogent readers and erudite thinkers you need to read, read, and read some more!

Ultimately, this is a superb system to have because it provides each student with multiple opportunities and exposures in a spiraling ELA skills. If the teacher were to set up a fixed schedule of reading aloud with the class, reading with small groups, and then reading and researching alone, they would go through a natural process of improvement. On day one, they learn new vocabulary words ‘front load concepts’ or discuss literary devises / literary techniques as a group. On day two, they work with a partner and help each other with these new ideas. On day three, they have a chance to work individual on a topic they wish to explore deeper before then going back into a group to iron out any creases. After this, many successful teachers also had their students write and reflect in a daily journal which brings its own benefits.

Integration - Earlier, we discussed integration or “interleaved curriculum” within a single subject/topic and how students are allowed to discover how these multiple ideas, concepts, and theories applies in practical real world circumstances. After this initial level of integration, top teachers also create deeper connections between different subjects and this is important today with the mandate for students to develop higher order thinking skills. For example, reading and writing skills might be integrated with math or it could even be used with topics like science and history. Whenever a topic sees the students writing, there is a chance to enter an element of literacy into the class. Immediately, they notice how the knowledge is useful in more areas than just literacy class.

As these students grow older, it contributes to the thirst for knowledge once more. Instead of telling them why certain rules or writing techniques are important, why not show them? As you have seen from many of these tips, this is one of the biggest differences between a good and a superb teacher. Sure, they need to be taught certain information but we need to teach them the ‘why’ to go with it. Otherwise, they aren't quite sure why they have to remember it or what it means.

Self-Regulation - Finally, there is one last skill “self regulation or self persuasion” and it comes from the fact that teachers aren't always around to push, help, or explain. In classrooms, there will always be a reliance upon teachers as guides, sages, coaches, and learning partners, but great leaders help to remove this dependency somewhat. How? In essence, they help the students to help themselves and each other by creating a culture of constructive feedback and cooperation . Rather than waiting for the teacher to come around and give assistance or not asking a question at all, they are encouraged to be proactive, choose an approach themselves, ask a peer for feedback, a critique, or seek support from the teacher or peer to develop deeper understanding or clear up a misconception. Cooperation, collaboration, and dialogue are essential in every class.

In a classroom, the teacher is the only person “different”. For this reason, students will always learn more effectively from their peers, colleagues and friends; this is why group projects are so important as they get older. At no point are we saying that the teacher isn't needed because this would be ludicrous, but the classroom would certainly be more effective if students are teaching each other whilst the teacher is there for support, a guide, and a learning coach.

Conclusion - There we have it, “easy?” the nine key skills that all outstanding teachers have that help student thrive and exceeded expectations. If we are to see an improvement in the education system, it needs to come at the beginning because this is where the foundations are laid. If students get a bad start, they lose motivation and, more importantly, they lose trust in the system. With a solid start, their quest for knowledge will take them further than any teacher can accomplish alone. By utilizing these nine outstanding teachers traits, we could create a generation of incredibly effective teachers!