Monthly Archives: September 2010

Motivational Resources

Last week I was talking to a first year teacher in my community. He was saying how overwhelmed he felt being a first year teacher. Being a rookie, he was overwhelmed by classroom management issues, curriculum, how to best communicate with parents, a new culture (He is from Southern Canada) and new students, just to name a few. I tried to help him out a little by making a few suggestions.

The more I talked the more I was saying, “I will send you a link for this, a link for that.” The links were flowing out of my mouth so fast that he, again, seemed a little overwhelmed. I was doing more damage than good. So, I decided to start a motivational page on my website where he could get a feeling of the things and philosophies I was talking about. By no means is the list extensive. It is just a few resources to share those philosophies. If you would like to see the page please follow this link to my class website by clicking on Boomer the Dog. (Boomer is owned by a Student Support Assistant at our school)

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Basic Needs

Here is my first Prezi. During an earlier blog post I wrote about Meeting the Needs of Students based on William Glasser’s Choice Theory. I decided to further explain the needs using a Prezi.

I would like to thank Diane Gossen and Joel Shimoji for teaching me about Glasser’s Choice Theory. It is my hope that a better understanding of human needs will allow me to create the learning environment my students deserve.

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

Where are all the great educational video games?

I just read this headline and could not believe my eyes: “‘Halo: Reach’ sales hit $200-million on 1st day.” Could this be real? The amount of money spent on this newest Halo game is staggering. And $200 million on day one? Staggering.

This got me thinking. Why the big sales? Easily, one can state that the fun need is being met. However, people are also meeting their need for freedom, success and belonging. Freedom? Freedom from their regular routine and freedom to choose to play. Success? Being good at the game. Belonging? Playing with friends, thus being a part of a group.

Indeed, video games can meet needs of people but I have one question- Where are all the great educational video games? If a lot students have an amazing capacity to play video games, why are great educational video games not being produced? It could be an amazing way to engage students in a meaningful way.

Michael Jordan Inspirational Videos

I would like to share a few inspirational Michael Jordan commercials with you.The themes deal with hard work, not giving up when you fail, and realizing your potential. Enjoy.

30 Second Interventions

Sometimes students need respectful reminders to get back on task, begin a task, or a reminder of a school rule. The last thing you want to do is to get into a confrontation with a student. Friendly reminders may save you from a confrontation with a student, saving you and the student a potentially embarrassing situation.

Joel Shimoji, in his book Restitution Field Guide (based on the work of Diane Gossen), calls the respectful reminders “30 second interventions.” They are “fast and polite reminders designed to respectfully get people back on track.” Shimoji also notes that the way you communicate your message is important. Ten percent of the message is conveyed through words; 35% is conveyed through tone of voice; and 55% is from body language. That means 90% of your message is non-verbal.

Shimoji says if students need friendly reminders, the following things can help:

A. 30 second intervention (Assistance)
1. “When will you be ready to start?”
2. “Do you need some help?”
3. “Can I help you get started?”

B. 30 second intervention (Directive)
1. “What should you be doing now?”
2. “What’s your job?”
3. “Is what you’re doing helping or hurting?”

I usually use the assistance intervention sentences. I like to do a “hit and run.” That means walk over to the table and gently say, “Can I help you get started?” and then walk away. If the student needs help they will ask, but if they don’t need help I continue walking and they get the message that it is time to start.

If the student does not get back on task after a couple of friendly reminders then a further discussion can take place. This discussion can include saying something like, “If you can figure out a plan that can make this work for you and me, then…”

30 second interventions are respectful ways to get students back on task. It is also important to watch your tone and the body language because it makes up 90% of your message. It has allowed me to have far less confrontations with students.

Towards a More Democratic Classroom

School has started and I have been getting to know my students. We have been teaching 2 weeks and I have done a few things that have let my students know that it is “our class” and not “my class.” They have responded well to their new freedoms. I want to share a few of the things I have tried so far. My objective is, indeed, to make the classroom experience more of a democratic one, as opposed to the usual “teacher dictates the rules.”

I began the school year by asking the students to vote on a few rules for the class: Is wearing hates allowed? Is food allowed? What about Ipods? Chewing gum? The students voted on each proposal and, to no one’s surprise, they approved each. I told them, however, with more freedom come a few responsibilities. For example, put all trash in the garbage can, only listen to your Ipod when doing an individual activity, etc.

On Friday, I told them something that would give them the feeling that, indeed, it was our class and not just mine: I told them they could rearrange the classroom as they saw fit. After I said this, a few of the boys rearranged their tables to form an L shape. (I only have tables in my class.) The others were happy the way they were situated but have the right to change when they see fit.

Those are just a few things I have tried thus far. My goal towards a democratic classroom continues. Indeed, my goal towards a better learning environment also continues.