Monthly Archives: December 2010

Prezi on William Glasser’s Basic Needs.

This is an updated Prezi presentation of William Glasser’s Basic Needs.  I wanted to do an updated version with a Northern theme. If you want to read how I meet the needs of students in the classroom, please see an earlier post here. Enjoy!

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }


Retention: The obvious answer or more harm than good?

The topic of retention or “failing” in the early grades is much debated. It is easy to say that one should be held back a grade if they do not acquire the necessary skills to move to the next.  However, on further analysis this may not be the best decision for the student.
In Alfie Kohn’s book, The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards,” Kohn notes, Students who have to repeat a grade are much more likely to drop out of school years later than if they hadn’t been held back.”
Moreover, Kohn states that the most comprehensive review of the available evidence shows that, “At risk students who are promoted achieve at the same or higher levels than comparable at-risk students who have been retained and…effects measured long term [are] more strongly negative than those measured short term.”
Further, Kohn points out that advocates of retention may “acknowledge some potential harm to a child’s self-esteem but hold that achievement gains are more important than this potential risk.” But, “the data suggest that retention is even more harmful to achievement than it is to a student’s self-concept or attitude towards school.”
Kohn says this does not mean you promote and forget about the problems of the student. If a student needs help then they should get it: “Special arrangements for tutoring make sense and may turn out to be less expensive than having a child repeat a grade. Better yet, teachers ought to work together, and with parents, to consider how they’ve been teaching.” Moreover, Kohn states that the opposite of retention is not social promotion, “but the willingness to look at deficiencies in the instruction instead of just the learner.”
Alfie Kohn’s findings seem to dispel the advantages of the practice of retention. In fact, his findings state that it does more harm than good. I would love to hear what you have to say.

How are you effecting change?

Over the past year there has been a lot of discussion about education reform. I have followed and participated in conversations about this “big picture” item.  Many teachers have felt helpless in the battle of education reform. Indeed, it can be frustrating to feel like a cog, to use a Seth Godin term.

It’s easy to get bogged down in “big picture items.” However, what about if you looked at the other side: the small picture. The small picture means doing something today to effect change;  Doing something in your own classroom today to effect change; Sharing an idea with a colleague today to effect change; Writing a blog today to effect change; Sharing a resource on Twitter today to effect change.

It is easy to feel helpless when looking at the big picture. However, don’t forget the small picture. It could be the change we have been looking for.

I don’t follow people that protect their tweets.

I don’t follow people who protect their tweets. If I do then it’s a mistake.  I just don’t see the point in protecting tweets. Why would you want to? The best way to utilize the power of twitter is to be open. That is how you meet people here. That is how you meet outstanding educators here. That is how you learn through Twitter. That is how you become a better educator.
 If you protect tweets then you are closing yourself off from the power of Twitter. You are closing yourself off from meeting outstanding educators. You are taking the safe road and refusing to grow. Worse, you are making it harder for people to discover who you are. Why are you afraid?  Am I missing something?

Your Use of Twitter: Are you just making a lot of noise?

I have been thinking a lot lately about my use of Twitter. I think about the things that I tweet, resources I share and receive, and discussions I have had. My question is this:  When I tweet about things like better ways to use technology in class, or better ways to engage students, am I just making noise? Or am I using those things in the class to become a better teacher for my students?

It becomes overwhelming at times the amount of information that can be found on Twitter. It is easy to tweet and forget. It is easy to share a link and not look at it again. It is easy to have a worthwhile conversation about education and not use what you learned it in your classroom. It is easy.

Is it easy for you? How do you use Twitter? Are you using Twitter to become a better teacher? Or are you just making a lot of  noise?

I challenge you to question a class rule.

If you have class rules, I challenge you tomorrow to look at those rules. I challenge you to question one of them. Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of this rule?” Involve your students, too. Ask them the same question. If you cannot come up with a valid reason for the rule, get rid of it. See how it impacts the class. Try it.

How do you "control" your students?

My last post referenced Diane Gossen’s pamphlet “5 positions of Control.”  Gossen notes there are 5 methods people attempt to control each other. Do any of these methods look familiar in your teaching practices. Which one do you use most? Are you being the teacher you want to be?

In no particular order:

1. Punisher: This person may use anger (shouting) , criticism, humiliation, or corporal punishment. Ex. Adult says, “Do this or else!”

2. Guilter: This person uses silence, withdrawal of approval, or guilting remarks. Adult says. “You should have known better.”

3. Buddy:  Adult says, “Do it for me.”

4. Monitor: This person uses stimulus-response discipline meting out consequences, positive and negative. The person disciplined does learn by the approach. He/she learns that society does have rules and limits. Eventually the recipient will find ways to get around the system or will decide to be unreceptive to the rewards or consequences. Monitor says, “You have earned 10 check marks,” or “You have lost 15 minutes of free time.”

5. Manager: This person knows how to do everything the monitor does and will use that approach as a fall back position.  However, the recipient of this approach is asked to work to figure out a solution. The emphasis is not on designing a consequence.  The manager says, “What’s your plan to fix it. When can you have it done?” The recipient is also asked to think about the kind of person they want to be. More manager questions include, “What do we believe? Do you believe it? If you believe it, do you want to fix it? If you do, then what does that say about you?” Every time one fixes a problem and ties it to the person one wants to be, there is less chance the person will reoffend.  This approach is the Restitution approach.

It should be noted that the first 4 approaches to control are based on extrinsic motivation. The last one, manager, is an intrinsic approach because the person is motivated to fix his or her problems to become the person they want to be.

For further reading check out the Restitution website.