<![CDATA[EduMatch]]>https://www.edumatch.org/blogRSS for NodeSun, 22 May 2022 19:10:08 GMT<![CDATA[Connect Your Students to the World with The Expert Expedition]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/connect-your-students-to-the-world-with-the-expert-expedition62817b2528bafc34c5a37ec5Tue, 17 May 2022 14:00:09 GMTZach Rondot

A Classroom Companion

In 2021, Grayson McKinney and Zach Rondot released a book for educators called The Expert Effect, dedicated to providing students with deep and meaningful learning experiences. Since then, teachers around the world have found inspiration and ideas to help engage learners in an unforgettable way.

This picture book—a “classroom companion” as we like to call it—continues that mission by providing an onramp to help bring the "Expert Effect" system directly to the people who make it all worthwhile: the learners!

Empowering Students

There once was a time when the classroom teacher had to be the expert in everything they taught, but times have changed. We like to think of the modern teacher as an information agent—making connections between you and all the right people at the right time to inspire you to learn and become anything you want. That could mean taking you on field trips in real life, video chatting with experts in the field, or collaborating with other classrooms around the world. We’ve got the technology to connect people anywhere at any time so we might as well use it!

We hope students use their learning to improve their life, improve the lives of others, and improve the world around them. After all, knowledge is power, and we want our students to use their power for good. To get started, students can ask themselves these three questions:

  • Who will you learn from? Your favorite author? A sports star? A real-life scientist?
  • What will you create? A podcast? A useful app? A work of art?
  • Who will you teach? Your classmates? Your family? Your city council?

When they have a driving question and an inquiry plan in mind, that’s when the fun begins. The Expert Expedition will encourage them to take their natural curiosities and change the world through taking action!

Imaginative Illustrations

Our imaginative story of learning adventure combines beautifully articulated verse with bright, vibrant, and whimsical illustrations. In the words of our ingenious illustrator, Suria Ali-Ahmed, “Art is a part of me—a gift that I cherish. I was inspired by different artists—Lewis Carroll’s illustrations in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Cathie Shuttleworth’s illustrations in The Children’s Treasure of Classic Poetry, and even Tim Burton’s drawings of his imaginative characters. My art took on its own style, which is what you see today in the illustrations in The Expert Expedition.”

For this book, she used watercolor and gouache paints, Prisma colored pencils, and ink pens on mixed medium paper to create the pictures. The Expert Expedition is bound to capture the hearts of educators everywhere and the imaginations of learners of all ages.

Critical Reviews

"This would be a fantastic book to share with young scholars at the beginning of a research project to get them thinking and discussing topics and strategies for their work. I can see a group of students getting very excited about a project that opens up with this book."

-Toni Isaac, School Librarian

"What a wonderful, modern message for learners of any age! The illustrations are rich, diverse, and whimsical in a way that is sure to engage readers and inspire a whole new generation of ideas and creativity. This is a lovely book whose illustrations are full of diversity and whimsy, all designed to inspire and motivate. The message is appropriate for learners of ANY age. Children can see people like themselves throughout these pages, and that makes the message so much more impactful. The rhyming of the text is fun, and the images are bringing those lines to life."

-Sheri Parks, Secondary Teacher

"This inclusive book sheds positive light on the wonderful world of learning! This book allows students to see themselves as well as see their own teachers' passions present throughout. Not only does this book amplify the need to seek out new learning, but also provides multicultural representation with one driving theme: being innovative can help change the world."

-Laura Ferriss, Elementary Teacher

"The Expert Expedition will take you on an exciting adventure encouraging you to step outside of your comfort zone, overcome failures, and embrace who you are and who you want to be.”

-Amanda Oliver, Elementary Teacher

"The Expert Expedition will inspire your learners to pursue their curiosities and wonderings, so they can become experts too." -Lu Gerlach, Educational Consultant

"The book makes its case for students to engage with the experts! Kids will really enjoy the whimsy of the verse alongside illustrations of community and a diverse sharing of ideas. This includes the reader, and encourages them to find their own provocative spark of engagement." -Matthew Dennis, Educational Consultant

"The Expert Expedition: A Classroom Companion to The Expert Effect is a fantastic read! It will inspire young learners and help them realize they can make a difference in this world, and they don't have to wait to grow up to do it! The illustrations are beautiful and inviting. It's a good read for an individual or class. Teachers and parents, you'll want this for your classroom and personal libraries, and you can use it to spark great conversation with the learners in your life. Well done, Grayson, Zach, and Suria!” -Melody McAllister, Educator / Consultant

Where to Buy

The Expert Expedition will be released worldwide on May 17, 2022. It will be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, and directly through the publisher’s online store for discounted bulk orders of 10 copies or more. Click the buttons below to read more reviews and pre-order today!




If you haven’t yet read our professional pedagogy book, The Expert Effect, you might want to check that out, too!


About the “Experts”

Grayson McKinney, Co-Author

Twitter: @GMcKinney2

Grayson is first and foremost a teacher, but he could really get used to calling himself a writer. He mostly co-authored his first book for grownups, The Expert Effect, in a chair next to a fireplace at his local Starbucks, but wrote this, his first book for kids, from his house in Michigan, where he lives with his family. You can find his wife, three children, and their dog pictured in this book!

Zach Rondot, Co-Author

Twitter: @MrRondot

Zach is a 4th-grade teacher in Michigan. He has taught elementary school since 2013. When he started his journey as a teacher, he never would have imagined he would be a published author. Writing and sharing messages with teachers and students has become a true passion and he hopes you’re ready to take your learning to the next level as you set off on your Expert Expedition.

Suria Ali-Ahmed, Illustrator

Suria Ali-Ahmed is a high school English teacher who has a passion for art. This is her debut picture book. She lives in Michigan with her husband and children.

<![CDATA[FAQ: Ask the Nonfiction Picture Book Author]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/faq-ask-the-nonfiction-picture-book-author627dbba79e3eb060e2b2f6d6Fri, 13 May 2022 14:00:03 GMTEkuwah [Mends] Moses

Who is Ekuwah Mends Moses, the author?

I am a Black woman who was raised in a bicultural family. My creative work is rooted in preserving and sharing my family’s culture, history, migration, and legacy. As a Ghanaian-American, I didn’t see myself or my family in the stories I read or positively portrayed in the media. Now, with Mama’s artwork, family photographs, and Ghanaian artifacts, I design books from my experiences. I write because representation matters and Black storytellers are not a monolith. I want children and teens to be able to see themselves and know that they matter. I feel it is also important for me to educate readers, of all ages, about valuing the differences and similarities of others.

Why did you write Mama’s Portraits and Me: The Legacy, Life, and Love of Artist Carolyn Coffield Mends?

Carolyn Coffield Mends, my extraordinary mother, joined the ancestors on July 13, 2017. The picture of me crawling on the floor as Mama worked inspired me as I went through Mama’s old photo albums to design the pages of my first book - My Name is an Address. This photobombed photo is the title of the book - Mama’s Portraits and Me. I wanted to go deeper into my mother’s family history and the dynamics of our relationship than I did in my first nonfiction picture book.

Mama never had the opportunity to share her work with the world on the scale we can now. She believed that dreams could be fulfilled through children, and I am on a quest to inspire children and readers of all ages. I write to help me cope with grief and sadness, and sharing her story may help someone else who is feeling overwhelmed or alone.

Who is the intended audience?

Picture books are a storytelling format and they are not only for children. This longer picture book is meant for anyone who loves someone with a chronic illness like Multiple Sclerosis or is battling Breast Cancer. It is perfect for anyone who has lost a family member due to death or separation. Families are unique, and I hope this book will be an authentic example of Black excellence and legacy.

Mama’s Portraits and Me is written at a level that will appeal to students in upper elementary school or middle school. Readers ages 8 and above can fully appreciate the fine art included in the book. It is ideal for arts integration into the general education and art classroom. It is also excellent for those looking for books to address social-emotional learning (SEL).

What was the hardest part of writing a book?

As I say in the book, I loved my mother with my full heart, although it did not always show to my family and friends. Several family members approached me after the release of my first book. They were shocked that I would be the one to amplify my mother’s work for a new generation. As a result, I knew that I needed to be more vulnerable and explain my purpose for writing. There are many adults who do not understand that a child’s behavior is communication. I have never tried to publicly explain what it is like to grow up with a parent with a chronic illness. Ultimately, the hardest part was balancing my complex feelings while amplifying her extraordinary work in the best light.

How does your family feel about your book?

I am thankful for my family's support! I have aunties, uncles, cousins, and extended family cheering for me from around the world. My success is their success. I did not get to this point alone. This book is so much richer due to my family’s contributions of artwork, family history, and positive encouragement.

How did you come up with the front and back covers for Mama’s Portraits and Me? Did you do them yourself or hire someone?

I am proud to say that I designed them myself. The background color is Mama’s Black heritage. She specialized in pastel portraiture, and the broken pastels mirror her authentic unorganized collection of pastels she stored on a metal television tray (you can see beside her throughout the book). Broken pastels still color. Mama’s self-portrait was made with crayons while she was in college. My portrait is from a painting she made for me in 1989. The title’s font is to honor her gifted hands and talent with calligraphy. The layering of all of these things represents the complexity of our mother/daughter relationship.

How did you choose the images to include within the pages of the book?

Picture books are portable art galleries or art museums. First and foremost, I included as many photographs of her pastel portraits as possible for the readers to view her incredible portfolio. Additionally, I included multiple newspaper articles, ribbons, and customer testimonials as evidence to prove she was an award-winning artist in our small Missouri town and the Southwest. I added pictures of our personal family life and birthday gifts to demonstrate her love for family, friends, and community. The scrapbook, purposeful doodles, and clippings are also to honor Mama as our family’s creative historian.

How do you see teachers using this book in their classrooms?

Picture books are springboards to further learning! I have a free learning guide available on my ,website. It is full of ideas for discussing art as anchor texts, tips for reading or writing biographies, a list of related picture books for pairing, several self-portrait project ideas, links to how-to videos, and more. Mama’s Portraits and Me would add to the range and diversity of a classroom or a school library. It is robust for a book club, art club, or Black Student Union discussion. Social workers and counselors could use the book in 1:1 or small group work. Teachers and classroom volunteers could read it aloud during Black History Month, Women's History Month, Disability Awareness Month, Youth Art Month, and beyond.

What’s next for you?

I plan to keep on reaching, teaching, and writing. I will do the best I can to learn, educate, and change the narrative about Africa and Black families. Mama left us with a vast collection of art and family photographs, and my Dad is a griot who has many stories to share. I have accepted the challenge of finding creative ways to share the stories and lessons I learned from my parents and extended family. Follow me on social media, visit my website for resources, and sign up for my newsletter to grow alongside me!

About the Author

Ekuwah Mends Moses

Email: ekuwahm@gmail.com

Website: ,Ekuwah.com




Ekuwah Mends Moses is a K-5 Engineering Teacher in Las Vegas, NV. She previously worked as a Family Engagement Facilitator, Performance Zone Instructional Coach, K-5 Literacy Specialist, Learning Strategist, and elementary classroom teacher.

Mama’s Portraits and Me: The Legacy, Life, and Love of Artist Carolyn Coffield Mends

Carolyn Coffield Mends was an award-winning artist who specialized in pastel portraiture. Ekuwah grew up watching her remarkable mother’s passion for painting, drawing, and storytelling. She pulls pieces from Carolyn’s studio to paint a biographical picture of love, family, heritage, and humanity. In what ways do Carolyn’s life and artwork inspire you to dream and use your gifts to impact the world?


,Barnes and Noble

<![CDATA[Empowering students through choice and voice in learning]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/empowering-students-through-choice-and-voice-in-learning62733a9f2c8c3115fd9a4560Fri, 06 May 2022 14:00:13 GMTRachelle Dene PothStudent choice and voice in learning are essential. We need to explore new ideas and tools that will help our students develop a variety of essential skills in ways that meet their individual interests and needs. Students not only need to develop content area knowledge and skills, but they also need to develop the essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills that will best prepare them for their future.

In deciding on methods and tools, we have to think about how our choices will impact students and enable us to better understand where students are on their learning journey and how we can help them to make progress. Having a clear focus on the purpose of our methods and the tools we use will enable us to provide authentic, meaningful, and relevant learning experiences for students.

As I consider the lessons that I plan and my assessments, a few things that I ask myself are:

What is the purpose of this assessment?

How can this method or tool enhance the learning experience?

Do students understand how they are being assessed?

What can I implement that will enhance my understanding of student progress?

How often do I assess and what comes next?

Just as we need to be clear on why it is equally important that students understand the value of assessments. Encouraging students to ask themselves some questions for reflection will not only promote self-awareness in learning but will also encourage them to connect that learning with real-world applications.

Students should be able to answer some questions such as:

What have I learned?

How do I know that I have learned?

How did I learn it?

How does what I learned apply to the real world?

When we look at these questions, we notice that guiding students with these prompts, will help them to develop the SEL skills of self-awareness and self-management. Thinking through each of these questions will encourage ,metacognition, an essential skill for student success. Metacognition is how students develop the skills to connect with, evaluate and think about their learning process.

Choosing assessments

There are many possibilities such as projects, quizzes, and tests, and many use technology. I believe that it is important that students understand why we choose a certain teaching method or digital tool. Also, take time to consider and even discuss with students, how technology enables us to enhance the learning experience and how it empowers them to drive their own learning.

A few ideas for your classroom that build content knowledge but also offer many other benefits including building SEL skills and promoting digital literacy.

  1. Brainstorm: Use a collaborative space to have students share ideas and questions that they have. Create a Google Jamboard or make a ,Padlet where students could also add audio or video responses.
  2. Blogging or journaling: Encourage students to share their ideas, learning experiences, or reflect on a lesson. Depending on the content, encourage higher level thinking by asking students to compare or contrast, explain something that they have learned or create a representation of it based on what interests them. Blogging creates a space for students to build their writing skills and promotes the development of digital citizenship skills. For a great option, check out ,Spaces, which promotes collaboration and communication in real-time and facilitates more interactions in the digital space.
  3. Creation: Have students design something visual to share what they have learned. There are many possibilities including the use of digital storytelling or making a video. Some tools such as ,Book Creator, ,Buncee, ,Storybird, and ,Story Jumper, offer many options for students to create a presentation. To represent data and information, students can create an infographic using tools like ,Piktochart or ,Canva.
  4. Quick check-ins: Encourage practice and be able to provide feedback by using some of the game-based learning digital tools available such as ,Blooket, ,Gimkit, ,Quizizz, and ,Quizlet Live! Each of these offers a variety of modes of play that will provide real-time data to help plan the next steps in the lesson and build student self-awareness.

We have many choices when it comes to digital tools, but we can also try different methods such as choice boards, HyperDocs, or playlists. Each of these options is easy to get started with and provides more personalized learning for students as they empower students to learn at their own pace, path, and place. We can also better differentiate instruction while promoting student choice and voice in learning.

Choose one or two tools or select one of the methods to try with your students. Make time to ask for their input and facilitate ongoing conversations. Students will feel valued as they engage in meaningful learning fueled by the power of choice and voice.

About the Author

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of seven books including n Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking, Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU, The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead, Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us, ,Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction and her newest book Things I WIsh [....] Knew is now available.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter ,@Rdene915 and on Instagram ,@Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at ,https://anchor.fm/rdene915

Rachelle is the host of the ,PBL Podcast through Defined Learning on BAM Radio Network.

<![CDATA[The Reason Behind the Story]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/the-reason-behind-the-story625f4303cb928352bcd3e073Wed, 27 Apr 2022 14:00:20 GMTBritney WolfWriting a book about my life with Tourette Syndrome is something that always made sense. Getting my thoughts and emotions out on paper has always been what I’ve naturally turned to ever since I was a child. When I realized how little information and representation there was out there for my disorder, I decided I was going to change that and one of the ways I would do that was by writing a book “someday.” It soon became a dream of mine to see my name on the cover of a book and here we are years later, and it’s actually happened!

Having my book published is a win on so many different levels for me and the Tourette Syndrome community. Because this meant that people were starting to listen, to care, and wanted to learn more about Tourette Syndrome. I grew up watching television and movies mock what I struggled with day after day. They put a stigma on everyone’s back and made it difficult for us to be taken seriously. This book was a way to get my voice heard and to be a voice for anyone who might be too afraid to speak out for fear of ridicule and/or rejection. Our stories are meant to be heard and if we can help just one person by sharing them, then we’ve accomplished something really special.

This book is for everyone in and outside of the Tourette Syndrome world because TS affects every single part of a person’s life. I want teachers to get a deeper understanding of the student who may be struggling without them even realizing it. I want children to be included and to stop getting kicked out of classrooms or wondering if they will if they begin to tic in class. A small act, good or bad, can be carried with a student throughout their entire academic career and beyond. The teacher is the role model and sets the standards for the students. If they aren’t showing that level of understanding, then the students never will.

My hope is that teachers use this book in and outside of the classroom. Sometimes, people think that if they don’t know anyone or have never met anyone with something like Tourette Syndrome that it must not exist or they never will exist around them. Because of that it can be overlooked how important it is to learn about these differences that could be right in front of them in the future. Learning together in the classroom can be a powerful thing. The class can use the stories in the book to learn from and understand how they can help their classmates and help the teacher to get ideas from their students.

When the student moves on from the classroom and enters the workforce, I want it to be done with as much ease as possible. Fearing to disclose their disability is something many people face and although I cannot speak to every disability, I can put information and advice out there for those hiring employees with Tourette Syndrome. It shouldn’t be a red flag to see or hear someone speak about their disability with pride. It should instead show the employer what resilience and strength they have. Just because someone may have to do something a bit differently or have certain accommodations, does not mean they are incapable of the task.

The passion behind wanting to write this book is the part that came easy. I thought that it would be easier since my love for writing and my advocacy were coming together, but I found that it wasn’t always the case. I wanted to be careful of the words and stories that I shared and I wanted to make sure I was telling my story and not something that I thought someone else would want to hear or read. I found myself re-writing so many chapters over again and having a fear that what I was saying was either too much or not enough. The voice inside my head throughout the entire project was loud and made me feel like I wanted to give up so many times. But, at the end of the day, I’m extremely proud of my work from cover to cover. I put my heart and soul into this book and I hope that those on the other side will feel that as they read and learn about not only my journey but the effects that Tourette Syndrome can have on every aspect of a person’s life.

People with Tourette Syndrome are just people. We may move around, make noises, or even say things a bit more than the average person, but we deserve to be heard and represented in the appropriate way. We deserve to be seen as human beings and not a joke or a punchline. Our stories matter and until every student, teacher, or employer recognizes that, I will never stop advocating - through every avenue possible.

About the Author

Britney Wolf

Twitter: @oneticatatime - https://twitter.com/oneticatatime

Instagram: @_britneywolf - ,https://www.instagram.com/_britneywolf/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oneticatatime

Bio: Britney Wolf is a passionate advocate in the Tourette Syndrome Community. She believes that the proper representation will only come by speaking up about what it’s like to live a life without control over her body. She’s not afraid to make people think about the way they speak and act around those with disabilities and is determined to make a positive change in every aspect of life.

Book Description: Ticcing My Way Through Life is a book about the ups and downs of living with the misunderstood disorder of Tourette Syndrome. I share my real life experiences while providing education surrounding the disorder and how the audience can become allies. It will help teachers, employers, and those in and outside of Tourette Syndrome by teaching them how little moments of respect, empathy, and understanding can make a huge difference.

Book Links:



<![CDATA[Why Did You Think You Had To Be An Artist To Draw]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/why-did-you-think-you-had-to-be-an-artist-to-draw6260b2c203eeedd7a849f6dcFri, 22 Apr 2022 14:00:21 GMTCarrie BaughcumBy Carrie Baughcum

I had just spent forty-five minutes on Zoom sharing, teaching, writing, and doodling all about sketchnoting. But before my time with these 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders was done, it was time for questions. The Zoom screen went from a grid of twenty faces to one face. The brown hair, brown eyed, rainbow polka dot bow wearer with hot pink, circled glasses looked at me.

“Hi,” the student greeted me.

I smiled and asked,” Do you have a question for me?”

“Why did you think you had to be an artist to draw,” she asked.

I replied like I always do. Repeating a story I share often in sessions when talking about my own journey with drawing. I told how grown up with a belief that only artists, professional artists, shared their drawings. That my mind had told me that only someone who calls themself an artist should ever share a drawing. So if you are sharing what you drew it had better be perfect.

She looked at me, blinked, and politely thanked me for my answer to her question.

The session ended. Her question swirled through my head one more time before bed. “Silly how she asked that question. Especially when its answer in one of the first things I always talk about,” I thought

The next morning came. I showered and got ready for work. As I blew dry my hair, there was her question again in my head, nudging at me. “Why would that have been her question, when she knew that I had answered it,” I still wondered.

As I put the finishing touches on my hair I froze. “I know why,” I said out loud to myself as I looked at myself in the mirror.

In this 3rd grader’s mind drawing was intertwined in all parts of her day, from showing understanding to telling a story or doodling a rainbow filled, imaginary creature for fun. In her world drawing was not something that is judged, critiqued, or only to be done by someone with a certain training or title. In her world drawings were for everyone, meant to fill pages, margins, and blank spaces of pages whenever an idea, learning, or connection was inspired. Most of all, this 3rd grader had never been told that her drawings were anything but amazing parts of her learning and imagination.

She could not fathom living with thoughts or beliefs of any different. And I hope she NEVER changes. But she will, I thought.

It is usually inevitable.

School changes after 3rd grade. The curriculum becomes more complex, more text base and more inferential. Drawings that were once woven as interchangeably as words slowly stop being included or accepted. Soon the only time a student gets to draw in school is a special project or art class when the stakes are high and quality is expected. Until the only time they draw is to be judged, critiqued, or graded on their product and not the process that produced it.

Two questions I cling to, hug tight, and strive to answer as often and in as many different ways as I possibly can are:

How can we keep students from losing their love of drawing and what can we do to re-develop their love of drawing once it is lost?

How can we keep students from losing their love of drawing?


  • Resist the urge and stop judging the quality of student’s drawings
  • Ask students to tell you about the drawing, “ Tell me about that [point to drawing]”
  • Ask students to share their drawing process with you, “I love that drawing! Tell me about what made you draw it.”
  • Build questions into your teaching that will force students to share their imaginations and visualization of material
  • Exercise their visualizing and drawing skills by making imagining, drawing, and sharing learning through drawing part of your lessons (and often)
  • Show your students moments of vulnerability, fearlessness and that your class is a risk safe place by picking up a marker and drawing to show your teaching
  • Sit with your students, chat, and draw together


,Ideaflood Sketchnote Challenge

,Icon Library

,Using Containers to Take Students From Self Care to Sketchnoting

,Group Sketchnoting

,Stanley and The Very Messy Desk: An Adventure in Sketchtnoting

What can we do to re-develop a love for drawing or build an understanding for why it is a tool worth having?


  • Give students time, as much as they need with drawing
  • Give students words, positive words about their drawings and thinking to fill them up
  • Give students experiences, to build skills and believe they can
  • Add icons to learning (,icons are the simple images we draw of what we imagine
  • Use containers to anchor or organize learning (,containers are shapes the hold information)
  • Color Coding
  • Margins of the Paper are wonderful places to fill with icons about learning and connections made
  • Sketchnote as groups
  • Teach them why drawing (doodling) our learning is a powerful skill to have
  • Make doodling and sharing learning through drawing a part of your lessons (a simple doodle in the margin will do)
  • Show your students moments of vulnerability, fearlessness and that your class is a risk safe place by picking up a marker and drawing to show your your teaching
  • Sit with your students, chat and draw together


,Get Started Drawing with Students

,When they Believe They Can’t Draw

,Why Your Pencil Was Write

,When They Say, “I Can’t Draw”

,Learning Mascots: Enhance, Empower and Support Learning with a Single Drawing

,Power to the Post It

,My Pencil Made Me Do It: A Guide To Sketchnoting

As I add the last link to my list, my two questions swirl through my head one more time,“how can we keep students from losing their love of drawing?”, “what can we do to re-develop their love of drawing once it is lost?” and I can’t help but think if there is one more question I need to add. “What will you do now that you know?”

About the Author

Carrie Baughcum

Twitter: @carrie_baughcum

Instagram: @carrie_baughcum

Facebook: @heckawesome

Website: carriebaughcum.com/

Carrie Baughcum (she/her/hers) is a mother, wife, mismatched sock wearer, a self described inspiration junkie and most of all a believer that all children can learn, we just need to find out how. She is currently a teacher of 6th/7th/8th students who receive support and services through their IEP. Carrie uses her 22 years of experience to bring creative thinking, a fearless attitude, endless doodles, and the power of technology to enable her students to access information, enhance their learning and empower them to achieve things they never knew they could. Carrie writes about her ideas and passion in her first book- My Pencil Made Me Do It: A Guide To Sketchnoting and in her second book- Stanley and The Very Messy Desk: An Adventure in Sketchnoting. She shares on her blog- carriebaughcum.com, her youtube channel, Doodle and Chat with Friends and when speaking at conferences.

<![CDATA[Translanguaging Like an Artist]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/translanguaging-like-an-artist624101e1e5ce91d514370463Wed, 13 Apr 2022 14:00:37 GMTDr. Denise FurlongEs cuando estoy leyendo (It’s when I’m reading) the book and soñando (dreaming) of other places.

Question for our multilingual friends: Have you ever felt that there is a word in one of your languages that just has the right “feel” to what you are trying to express–even if you are communicating in a different language? Perhaps your other languages just do not have the word with the exact connotation that you are looking for. Do you ever simply go back and forth between languages because that is your preferred means of communicating with different groups of people? This, friends, is translanguaging and I am here to applaud you for your language choices.

Translanguaging is the process of intentionally using words from different registers/languages in order to express oneself. Within the meaning of the parts of the word, trans means across or beyond and languaging refers to utilizing our means of communication. So, when we say that translanguaging is communicating beyond the bounds of language, it is a perfect way to view it.

In the past, translanguaging was referred to as “code switching” and was rather controversial. Some people claimed that it is a shortcut in language learning that is detrimental to progress (read: lazy). They claimed that relying too much on one’s dominant language would impede the acquisition or learning the target language. Others maintained that it helps language learners express themselves in ideas and concepts that may be beyond their language proficiency. It builds confidence in both expressing in the target language and understanding of content. Today, experts tend to agree with the latter, stating that this phase in language acquisition allows learners to produce language and communicate in whichever language comes naturally to them while acquiring additional languages.

Some people utilize translanguaging as they are acquiring a second language–and these people may be in your classes, teachers! This is not something to simply be tolerated; we must celebrate this ability, this movement. When people express their knowledge by leveraging all of the languages that they “own,” it is a true reflection of their individuality and language journey. Our multilingual learners most certainly have a vast amount of knowledge that they can share–but may or may not have the English yet to express it. As teachers, we do not assume that, because they do not have proficiency in English yet, they are not intelligent or capable of learning. We must acknowledge that our students should have the opportunity to express themselves however they can best communicate.

By encouraging our students to use translanguaging when they are communicating verbally or in writing, we are valuing all of their linguistic repertoires as an asset. As we keep discussing the growth mindset, this is the point at which we understand that there is more knowledge that learners have than what can be demonstrated by their command of English. They know many, many things and should not be relegated to communicating only what their target language proficiency allows. Translanguaging empowers learners as they take risks in producing words in the target language, even if these words are surrounded by words in their primary language. As they progress and add more words in the target language, confidence grows with vocabulary. Teachers who accept answers using translanguaging are supporting their students in both content understanding and language acquisition.

However, it’s not only about language learners! When speakers use translanguaging while communicating, this often does not indicate that they do not have proficiency in one language or another. It is not always part of a transition or acquisition of language. Rather, for many people, translanguaging is a way of expressing themselves, using the parts of whatever parts of their languages that fit their purpose at that moment. Translanguaging is a powerful, intentional, artful way to use language that transcends cultures and languages. This manner of communication provides a connection among speakers of the same languages–or opens the door to others who may not know one of the languages being used. Translanguaging provides access for others to experience and interact in languages other than their own.

When our students (multilingual learners or not) partake in this, they are participating in a process and a community of language speakers. People are using their voices to express themselves in an authentic way. And–much like artists–they construct linguistic creations that are beautiful and musical.

About the Author

Dr. Denise Furlong

Twitter: @denise_furlong

Instagram: @denisefurlong

Dr. Denise Furlong currently is working her dream job as a teacher educator for Georgian Court University in New Jersey. She has over 20 years experience teaching diverse learners and coaching their teachers in grades K-12. She lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband Tim, her kids (Ryan, Joey & Sarah), and their two dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter at @denise_furlong and Instagram at denisefurlong.

Amazon link: ,https://amzn.to/321ilqi

<![CDATA[What exactly is an Advisory Period?]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/what-exactly-is-an-advisory-period6241014a9cb6c16959444e5aWed, 06 Apr 2022 14:00:28 GMTDr. Nick SuttonThe topic of advisory periods in a master schedule at a junior high or high school is a topic that I have seen come up so many times. I think an advisory period, at its core, is a positive thing for kids that almost no one will ever object to if they understand what it actually is. However, I do think the misconceptions that sometimes are associated with an advisory period are the reason stakeholders may be apprehensive about them.

In my opinion - Advisory class periods should NOT be:

1) Study hall - I think this is the most common misconception, and also the most dangerous to deflate the idea of adding an Advisory class period. An advisory class period should be a time to focus on relationships and focusing on social emotional standards. It should not be a time for academics and to do classroom assignments.

2) RTI - Trying to find the right way to add the additional support of a Response to Intervention time in a master schedule is a problem I understand and respect. This issue only becomes compounded when educators lose focus of the fact that RTI should be an addition to the core, and the added instructional time should take place outside of instructional time within math and/or language arts. However, by making RTI synonymous with advisory it completely disregards what an advisory period is supposed to be.

3) A meaningless or unnecessary part of the day - I am almost convinced that any educator that doesn't appreciate, and even love, an advisory period simply doesn't understand it OR a school has not set it up in the correct way. Working with kids is FUN, and unnecessarily regulating an advisory class with any expectation other than interacting with kids is very unfortunate. However, giving any type of impression either directly, or through implication, that it is a "fluff" period of time during the day is also inherently wrong, too.

On the other hand - In my opinion - Advisory class periods should be:

SIMPLE - An advisory period gets so unnecessarily complicated for reasons I am not sure, but I think it is based upon common misconceptions listed above. I genuinely believe the core reason so many educators enter the field is to connect with students. Based upon this premise, I think a successful advisory class period really only needs to be driven by 3 basic phrases that an advisory teacher should use in some way every single day. They are the following and their simplicity is a positive thing.

* How are you?

* Are you ok?

* I care about you.

The most successful and true advisory periods only need a teacher to be placed with a small group of students and to engage in conversations both individually and in a group setting based upon those 3 phrases.

About the Author

Dr. Sutton is a veteran educator and a current district superintendent. His passion and background align best with middle school grade levels and instructional best practices.

My book Make Professional Development Matter is meant to be a guide for educators to ensure professional learning aligns with improving instruction. I share past experiences that support and create my core values as an educator, and the research that correlates to them.

Twitter - @DrNickSutton

<![CDATA[Stay Calm]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/stay-calm6248ad16e40008ff46b4d5dfSun, 03 Apr 2022 14:30:01 GMTCraig ShapiroI was teaching a fitness class to a group of 10th-grade students. They'd done a great job of listening, and I was finishing up demoing our leg press machine. Before hopping on the device, I said, "guys and girls, please pay close attention to how I lock and unlock this machine. It's tricky, and I don't want anyone unlocking the machine without knowing how to lock it after you're done. As I talked to them about the movement, I noticed two boys talking to each other, not paying an ounce of attention to anything I was saying. I got up from the machine and proceeded to embarrass them in front of the class! Since I'd never done this before, it caught the entire class by surprise, and a pin drop would have easily have been heard from across the room. As the class started again, my student teacher said, "wow, Shap! I've never heard you speak to students like that. That got their attention." I responded, "yes, but it was horrible teaching on my part. There was no reason to call them out in front of others. I could have just as quickly waited till the class started back up and spoke to them individually (which I did after the fact).

Those who've had a lasting career in education might easily understand the above story. We all lose our cool and forget the importance of patience, staying calm, and positively redirecting students. In other words, "stuff happens!" On the flip side, and much more important, what I did was wrong! I don't want to make excuses for my actions because I feel it serves no purpose in helping others to read this brief story. Educators are leaders in their domain. Students look to us for guidance, respect, empathy, and proper decision-making. So how do we "stay calm" in those moments where it's so easy to lose our cool?

  1. I usually remind myself that I'm still teaching young adults, not those my age. As much as I'd like to hope they can all listen intently all the time, more often than not, it just isn't reality. Again, I'm not making excuses for poor attention or behavior. Still, many years of experience working with teenagers has shown me that expecting perfection from every single student all of the time will be a recipe for disaster.
  2. Admit to students that you made a mistake. While my example above wasn't the worst thing ever, speaking to the class about how we treat each other and that we aren't perfect is an excellent opportunity for growth and reflection. Plus, it shows a human side that is equally important for relationship building. When I had a few moments, I spoke to both boys about our situation. They were apologetic about not listening, and because we'd already developed a good relationship, they appreciated my equally honest apology.
  3. Try not to take things personally. I don't know if I got upset because they weren't listening if I felt disrespected, or both. But in hindsight, I realize that taking things on a personal level is rarely productive for our students and us. In my experience, rarely is it about us when a student gets upset. Much more frequently, they have other aspects in their lives that are causing that behavior to exist. At the very least, we can ask, "Is there something I've said or done that is upsetting you?" While that is not an easy habit to develop, the results from practice can be helpful on so many levels.
  4. Remember the end game! Students, no matter their age, will follow our lead. While losing your cool one time isn't usually a relationship killer, doing it all the time won't promote empathy, kindness, listening, and respect. All essential skills are needed not just in school but in life. We aren't perfect; mistakes will happen. If we consider the benefits of remaining calm, it's easy to see the positive results from our actions.

This is the end of 33 years of being in the classroom! I mention that solely to re-state that it's okay not to be perfect. While I rarely raise my voice or embarrass students, on this one occasion, it happened. I can't take back that moment. But I can continue to learn from it for the betterment of everyone. Whatever your role in the school, staying calm is a learnable skill set that carries great power. A sense of calmness sets the tone for students and colleagues. It provides a growth-oriented atmosphere. I hope this story gives you pause and provides a meaningful chance to recognize our own words, actions, and behaviors. Stay calm: students will appreciate you for it!

About the Author

Craig Shapiro

Twitter: @Shapiro_WTHS @Positively_Well

Email: ,boomerizzy@gmail.com

Website: ,CMSdreambig #teachpos

I’ve been a Health and Physical Education Teacher/Coach/Trainer for 30+ years. I enjoy all types of fitness, writing, speaking, and spending time with my family! Stay positive, stay happy, stay well!

<![CDATA[“Girl Power” Through Literacy]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/girl-power-through-literacy6240e18ec48d2a0765db0934Wed, 30 Mar 2022 14:00:08 GMTLauren BresnerEducating young girls, and all children really, on female empowerment should begin as early as possible. One of the best and most effective ways to do so is through storybooks, both at home and in the classroom. It is important for both parents, caregivers, and educators to carefully select engaging texts that challenge the assumption that boys are smarter, more successful, privileged, powerful etc. than girls. Books can help parents and teachers discuss gender stereotypes with children and most importantly, can help make it the norm for girls to view themselves as equal to their male counterparts. Furthermore, choosing literature with strong female characters allows children, especially young females, to embrace their strength and gain an understanding of the challenges these characters tackled in order to be successful. These texts, in turn, provide girls with examples of how to confidently overcome the hardships and challenges they may face in their own lives - they can encourage young females to dream big and look toward their future with wide eyes. Below are a list of fantastic texts to help empower girls from a young age:

  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Chelsea Clinton
  • The Paper Bag Princess, Robert Munsch
  • Allie’s Basketball Dream, Barbara E. Barber
  • Think Big, Little One, Vashti Harrison
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli
  • Cinder Edna, Ellen Jackson
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer, Andrea Beaty
  • And So Can She, Lauren Bresner

About the Author

Personal Bio – My name is Lauren Bresner and I am a special educator and mother. My daughter, Lucy, is two-years-old and I am currently expecting boy/girl twins in June! I graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in elementary and special education. After graduation, I worked as a teacher at a preschool in Brookline, MA and earned my certification in early childhood education. I enjoyed working with toddlers but soon realized I wanted to return to special education at the elementary level. My next job was in Lynn, MA at Hood Elementary School where I worked as an inclusion specialist for both first and third grade. After three years in the North Shore, I married my husband and moved to Western Massachusetts. I currently teach second grade special education at Meadow Brook School in East Longmeadow, MA. I love dogs, tennis, traveling, and occasionally play the ukulele.

Amazon Link to And So Can She: ,https://amzn.to/3q1hgrX

Social Media Links:

Facebook - ,https://www.facebook.com/lauren.pleeter

Instagram - ,https://www.instagram.com/lpleetbrez/?hl=en

Twitter - ,https://twitter.com/LaurenBresner

<![CDATA[Where Words Fail, Music Speaks]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/where-words-fail-music-speaks6240e03136bf28517791a022Mon, 28 Mar 2022 14:00:08 GMTNoa DanielHans Christian Andersen, attributed as saying the title quote, was a renowned storyteller whose fairy tales made an impact on my youth. Like in his story The Ugly Duckling, the protagonist in Strum and The Wild Turkeys, feels disconnected from his family and is not treated well by them. He feels left out and different. In the end, unlike in the fairy tale, Strum doesn’t realize that he is actually something other than a duckling. Instead, because of his new found family of friends, he is able to feel good as himself.

Music is an incredible thing. It can connect people through shared interests or experiences. It can be a great source of nostalgia, reminding you of moments in the past or the people you hear it with. It can reflect your identity, giving you a way to share a part of yourself that you couldn’t otherwise. Music can pick you up, lift you up, inspire, or motivate you to change zones, feel empowered or just get ready to do something. Music can be a wonderful part of intellectual, personal, and social development. Science even shows that humans are hard-wired to respond to music. Music is powerful.

A peacock uses its music to connect with others and to attract mates. Their feather dance is more of a shake, rattle and hum. If you watch them and could imagine how hard it would be for a peafowl not to be able to use the tools they were supposed to be given you could empathize with Strum’s struggle. What would it mean for a peacock not to have a full plume of enchanting feathers? How else could he use his tail feathers if he couldn’t “train rattle” like the others?


Strum doesn’t play music using his fan of feathers, like his siblings and most other peacocks do. His less-than-perfect-plume was a source of shame for him so he wore it across his chest and strummed it with his strong tailfeathers. That’s how he got his name. One night, after a pivotal moment, he was sitting alone on his perch, playing his music and really exploring what it means to be himself. As songwriters do, he found the words that he needed to express his wonderings about what it means to be your unique self, different from the rest, and making it a part of you. Through the music, he feels a bit more self-assured and really finds his voice.

I use music in the classroom through a series of projects, even though I don’t teach music. Music is a great conduit and an impactful storyteller. It can help students look at music as art, see lyrics as poetry, and use songs to look at past events and historical figures. Students create a personal playlist that connects them to their past and their identity as they tell the stories of their favourite childhood memories or their struggles through their song selections. They communicate their sense of who they are or who they wish the world would see in them. They share the music that pumps them up to face challenges or fuels them to keep going when they feel that the world has got them down. Students can share their vulnerabilities without feeling overly vulnerable because music is their avenue to sharing. They actually feel empowered to own their narratives, just like Strum. Music can connect you to yourself.

Music can bring people together. It was his music that drew The Wild Turkeys to Strum. In playing his music his way, he attracts the band who wants to play with him. Through the harmony of their musical collaboration, Strum becomes a part of something that he was missing in his life. The music spoke for him and it was key to Strum achieving the connection and community he had needed all along.

Music allows people to express themselves beyond the limits of spoken language. Read Strum and The Wild Turkeys and check out our ,website full of ideas for the classroom and for home so that educators, parents, and caregivers have ways to use this book for more than a great story of the power of music. Share your ideas. Join the band. Where words fail, music speaks.

About the Author

Noa Daniel, MEd

Twitter: @StrumandTWT, @iamnoadaniel

Instagram: @iamnoadaniel

Noa Daniel MEd is a classroom teacher in the York Region District School Board outside Toronto, Canada. Through her consulting work at ,Building Outside the Blocks she creates personalizing projects and initiatives for schools, boards, and communities. Noa is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ,The Mentoree. She is also a ,blogger, a children’s book author, and podcaster. Noa’s children’s books include Crazy for Canada, Old Timers: The One That Got Away, and her newest, ,Strum and The Wild Turkeysthrough EduMatch Publishing. Noa hosts ,OnEdMentors on voicEd Radio and the former show, ,The Personal Playlist Podcast. She is also a ,TEDx and keynote speaker. As a board member of ,Learning Forward Ontario, Noa strives to contribute to meaningful professional learning opportunities for educators. All of Noa’s work amplifies voice and propels engagement for learners of all ages. She is always building outside the blocks.

<![CDATA[Communication is Not a 2-Way Street; It's a Highway Interchange]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/communication-is-not-a-2-way-street-it-s-a-highway-interchange6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8ecSun, 13 Mar 2022 23:00:20 GMTCarly SpinaMany times, folks will say that communication is a two-way street. I think nowadays, it's more of a highway interchange. We have so many different ways to communicate with each other and receive information!

As an adult, how do you prefer to get your information? Do you listen to the radio, watch the news, or read the newspaper? Do you log on to your social media accounts and scroll through your feed? Do you have a designated phone call with a family member each week? Do you text message with your friends throughout the day? How many times per day do you check an email account- and how many email accounts do you have?

Everyone has different communication styles, depending on the purpose or even timing. For example, there are certain seasons of life where I'm only available through cell phone because I simply can't get to my email quickly enough.

As we prep for the school year, we discuss fun and innovative ways to get to know our students. Let's also do a brainstorm of how we can get to know the families we serve! One simple way to do this is to ask the families & caregivers that we serve how they'd like to get their information this school year.

By clicking here, you will have access to a few sample templates, as well as a few letters you may wish to send home with students. Simply Make a Copy so that you can edit the template to better meet your needs as well as your communication styles & preferences, etc.

I think it's really important to also give families a starting point of conversation entry points. For example, instead of saying "Contact me for anything you need," be more specific and give them examples of WHY they may wish to contact you and/or the school. Again, feel free to Make a Copy/Edit to better meet your needs.

About the Author

Carly Spina

Twitter: ,@MrsSpinasClass

Instagram: @MrsSpinasClass

Carly Spina has 15 years of experience in Multilingual Education, including her service as an EL teacher, a third-grade bilingual classroom teacher, and a district-wide Multilingual Instructional Coach. She is currently a multilingual education specialist at the Illinois Resource Center, providing professional learning opportunities and technical assistance support to educators and leaders across the state and beyond. Spina enjoys connecting with other educators and leaders across the country and beyond and is an active member of the multilingual education professional learning community. Her first book, Moving Beyond for Multilingual Learners, was published in November 2021 by EduMatch Publishing and is available on Amazon.

<![CDATA[A New Question to Ask]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/a-new-question-to-ask6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd90aFri, 04 Mar 2022 15:00:32 GMTDr. Kevin LeichtmanIt isn’t always about the questions we ask. Sometimes, it is more important to consider HOW we are asking it. The way we frame our thoughts constructs the lens with which we view the world.

Let’s reframe a common series of questions in a way that benefits students and teachers alike. We often wonder questions like: “What’s wrong with this kid?” “Why is this kid struggling?” or “why is this kid like this?”

Here is your new question. “Why is this person a perfect student?” This is an incredibly important question to ask of all of your students.

This is an exercise in psychology and argumentation. By changing the question in this way, you are now forced to defend the student you are thinking of. Your language must change to match the question being asked. It immediately draws your mind away from any of the struggles or challenges they are facing, to focus on the strengths and goodness of that student.

Throughout my eight years of teaching from grades 7-12, I have encountered many students. They often puzzled me with their behavior or seemed to have a mental block that prevented or challenged their success. It was easy to fall into the trap of blaming the student, finding their faults, or feeling like they were not even trying. I soon realized that my ideas of how they should behave in class did not fit their experiences.

Even worse, I would hear other teachers complain about those students. They would often fixate on what the student could not do or what they were deficient in. This hyper focus on the flaws would lead to the student burning out and lacking confidence. It had no productive impact on their work and only led to a further decline.

My new, reframed question aimed to look at the perfection in each student rather than the tensions that existed between their character and the school system they were absorbed into.

“Why is this person a perfect student?”

Now I had to find their strengths and their passions. This meant that I needed to communicate with them and learn from them. That process put my students in a position of power and influence in the classroom. Their ideals, values, and passions were protected and respected in the classroom setting. They all became experts in their own field, ready to share their wonderful attributes out.

The result? Students who were often referred to as “bad,” “at risk,” or “below level” were outperforming their peers. Classroom management became a non-factor as my job became more of an experience of learning from them and learning with them. Even better, I began to gain more joy as a teacher in partnering with my students and becoming an advocate for their success rather than a barrier against it.

Think about your students and pay particular attention to the ones who take up more of your head space throughout the day. Reframe the question. “Why is this person a perfect student?” If you don’t have an answer, it may spark the most productive and interesting conversation you will ever have with that kid.

About The Author

Kevin Leichtman

Social Media Links: @KevinLeichtman on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Website: http://tlceducate.com

Dr. Kevin Leichtman is the author of “The Perfect Ten: Ten Students, Ten Mindsets, One New Definition of Perfect.” He is also the co-founder of TLC Educate, alongside his wife, Dr. Anala Leichtman. Kevin has taught ELA/Reading in every grade level from 7th-12 and teaches equity and diversity courses at Florida Atlantic University. His research interests include equity, student voice, burnout, and mindset.

Book Description: “The Perfect Ten” will challenge your perspective on the idea of the “perfect student.” This non-fiction, narrative based project will introduce you to ten students who did not fit the typical mold of a perfect student. They detail their experiences, both in and out of school, to show how they were able to leverage their strengths and overcome the obstacles that many parents, educators, and peers placed in front of them. Their vulnerability and stories of success will surely inspire you as you consider the role perfectionism plays in your own life and the way you view others.

Author Info: Dr. Kevin Leichtman is the author of “The Perfect Ten: Ten Students, Ten Mindsets, One New Definition of Perfect.” He is also the co-founder of http://tlceducate.com. Connect with him at http://twitter.com/kevinleichtman.

<![CDATA[Be Curious]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/be-curious6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8f6Fri, 25 Feb 2022 15:15:00 GMTCraig ShapiroEvery once in a while, a show comes along that you can't stop watching. Sometimes it's the characters. Sometimes it's the plot. Sometimes it's everything all wrapped into one enthralling package. For those who haven't seen Ted Lasso, you're missing one heck of a series. There are too many scenes that have resonated with me to cover them all. But for the sake of this writing and the context behind education, I'd like to focus on one particular part.

Ted has been challenged to a game of darts by the owner's ex-husband. As the game unfolds, Ted is forced to hit three difficult shots to win the game. Prior to those shots, he mentions to Rupert (Rebecca’s Ex-Husband) that all through his life, people have underestimated him. In his own words, “but if they were curious, they would have asked, "do you play darts?" Ted responds, "Yep, through the ages of ten to 16, every Sunday with my dad until he passed away!" As Ted hit's the three shots and wins the game, the crowd breaks out into cheers.

The scene is a feel-good moment that made me think about all the times we are in front of our students learning about their lives. You see, education is never just about a lesson we teach, a test we give, or a project we assign. While those all matter, what truly ends up shaping the lives of our students is being curious about who they are and bringing that curiosity into how they experience and learn in our schools and classrooms. Whether you are new to education or a seasoned veteran, we've all had those moments that made us say, "wow, I'm so glad I tried that!" Or, when a student says, "that teacher made me want to do something more than just the minimum." While I believe that being curious has always existed in education, it's more important today than ever. Because children and teens have access to information at their fingertips, it’s easy to assume that their curiosity has waned. In reality, using Tik-tok, Instagram, or Snapchat should never influence our willingness or ability to get them curious about learning.

The great thing about getting students curious is how it promotes our own curiosity. When our classes explore new types of learning, we also see how lessons can be improved or modified. I've long been amazed at assignments or projects that we’ve done in class done that were bred out of ideas that were not originally planned. Whether it's a creative video, slideshow, story, or even a student talking in front of the class, the benefits to everyone can't be quantified. So how do we get that curiosity flowing and growing?

We first must look at our current teaching to see if it promotes curiosity. I can't say what a lesson that supports curious learning looks like in each class, but you know it when you see it. If your students ask questions, try new ideas to learn, don’t ask, “how much is this worth?”, and experiment beyond the minimum necessary, you know you're doing something right.

As I reflect on all the writings I've done these past few years, I've probably mentioned "start slow with success" more than any other term. While many students may be curious by nature, education tends to suppress this idea as students get older. We see compliance as the norm rather than testing the limits of learning. When you begin planning lessons to get that curiosity back into students' minds, it's imperative that having success early on matters. If failure becomes the common theme, compliance will always come back as the normal reset.

Whether it's the beginning of the year or even towards the end, I believe that having students curious about each other is a crucial tenet to a more inclusive, happy, and respectful classroom space. There are no set exact rules for making this happen. I love just having students chatting with each other about specific prompts that I'll give them. Things like: discuss with a partner/group your favorite songs, bands, and television show with a partner/group - tell each other something about you that makes you proud - what are some of your favorite things to do outside of school? Of course, you can develop many ideas for building that curiosity among students. The sky is the limit! Please remember to keep the initial thoughts non-stressful and things that every student can answer.

Once you've got the curiosity bug going in class, a great way to close many lessons is by reflecting on what students have learned, whether it's about themselves, a content area, fellow students, or even you! Getting students to think back on the positive interactions and ideas they've gained makes the time fly by and leaves them wanting more.

Finally, curiosity is part of our human psyche! All of us have some sense of curiosity. Students are no different. We can weave so many elements of the school experience around developing a curious mindset that the outcomes are endless. Whether it's assessments, connections, team building, or just having conversations; I’m curious is all about the great things you do each day.

Thank you for being curious!

About the Author

Craig Shapiro

Twitter: @Shapiro_WTHS @Positively_Well

Email: ,boomerizzy@gmail.com

Website: ,CMSdreambig #teachpos

I’ve been a Health and Physical Education Teacher/Coach/Trainer for 30+ years. I enjoy all types of fitness, writing, speaking, and spending time with my family! Stay positive, stay happy, stay well!

<![CDATA[For the Love of Learning]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/for-the-love-of-learning6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8dfMon, 14 Feb 2022 15:15:01 GMTDr. Jacie MaslykFor the Love of Learning

For the love of learning, let there be triple hearts! To know a learner’s heart and how it beats is a special gift. Some share it right out of the gate, and others take their time easing their way into a new space. While some may come with their heart open wide, others may be a bit more protective. The beats may vary, and the rhythm may sway, but the one thing that always keeps the love of learning alive is a human connection.


Don’t wait, now is the perfect time to create a connection with Random Acts of Kindness! This year, ,RAK is being celebrated February 13-19, so with an open heart, let’s set these kind acts in motion. Just remember, ,a little love opens the heart to grow, and growing is learning. Be ready to invite others to a new conversation. In turn, be vulnerable to creating a new connection. In fact, here are a few simple ways to keep the love of learning alive.


Do you remember reading those conversation candy hearts when you were a kid? Did you really eat them or were you the one that stared at them wondering who the perfect person would be to give that heart to in that moment? Well, here is your chance to make it happen. Pick a heart, any heart, and put it into action. As a result, you will be amazed how ,one moment or gesture can open up another person’s world!

“SAY YES”...

let's play a new game

that new tool looks interesting, lets's try it

to a new friendship

that idea sounds like a great starting point

I would love to join you

“HUG ME”...

with a smile

with a little note reminding them how special they are

to show that I’m here for you

by sharing a favorite show to watch

or passing down a favorite book you’ve read


may actually be all that someone needs to hear

reminds a person how much you gain from them

can simply be the action of showing up

shares that your world is better with them in it


Like Rob Base says, “It takes 2 to make a thing go right!” Think about the last time you laughed so hard that tears ran down your face or when your lightbulb moment turned into a flaming bonfire. Most often “it takes 2 make out of sight!” Team up with others and as a result, create new opportunities.


for a laugh or a good cry

embracing a partnership that is stronger with them by your side

sharing the work and the reward with your person

I am “,ALL IN” with you


that special relationship that only grows with time

recognizing where you may feel weak, they are strong

the willingness to commit to taking a risk . . . together


Can you even imagine how fulfilling it would be if you reached out to someone that may have once hurt you or simply didn’t venture into your world for unknown reasons? The risk of pulling down that lever to see what happens is there, but “what if”… what if TRIPLE HEARTS appear? Total Jackpot! For the love of learning, let’s remember that the triple heart moment is where your mind, body, and soul are fulfilled and you are ready to take on the world! How can you create a triple heart moment for someone?

MIND: ease someone’s mind by letting go of the past (,having grace) or by opening the door to the future. Either way, the mind is given rest and with rest, will find new energy.

BODY: lend a helping hand when it is least expected. When lightening the workload for another person, you, in turn, are gaining strength too

SOUL: be a soul-filler for others with kindness and you will feel it to your core

For the love of learning, just act! When you think about it, Random Acts of Kindness do not need to be set aside for one week a year, but it is definitely a great starting point.

About the Authors

As an educator for the last 25 years, Kristen Nan’s passion for building relationships with her students, colleagues, and community continues to ignite change for the better! Kristen has served as an emotional support teacher, learning support teacher, and classroom teacher from Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to her current role as a Cyber K-6 Grade Teacher, Kristen is an author, ,blogger, and national speaker. With keeping a future-ready mindset at the forefront for every child, she has been recognized as an award-winning educator for innovative practices. Kristen’s book, “ALL IN, Taking a Gamble in Education” is co-authored by Jacie Maslyk and focuses on the importance of risk-taking, chances, and building relationships between teachers and administrators. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and Instagram @nankr1120 or email her at ,nankr1120@gmail.com.

An educator for the last 25 years, Dr. Jacie Maslyk, has served as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. She is the author of several books including Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students and All In: Taking a Gamble in Education. Jacie is a featured blogger with Defined Learning and Carly & Adam, as well as maintaining her own blog, Creativity in the Making at ,www.jaciemaslyk.blogspot.com. Jacie has been a featured speaker at FETC and ISTE, as well as a keynote speaker for the Northwest District Educators Conference and the Virginia Children’s Engineering Convention. Connect with Jacie on Twitter @DrJacieMaslyk or email her at ,jaciemaslyk@gmail.com.

<![CDATA[TEACHER KRYPTONITE]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/teacher-kryptonite6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8f8Sat, 12 Feb 2022 21:16:00 GMTJerry Toups Jr.March 2020

Education forever changed. The corona virus began manifesting itself upon the globe and changes were made to society. The change in education is still rippling across the globe. Teachers are being asked to go above and beyond a typical classroom role which is resulting in drastic numbers of retirements and resignations. Teachers are being overwhelmed with the kryptonite that drains the energy out of dynamic educators.

This kryptonite takes various forms, but in its essence, teacher kryptonite has one overarching concept, TIME. Since covid appeared more and more time is being added to teacher's roles with no balance in return. Then when you add to this the tremendous needs the students are coming to school with each day, teacher after teacher is experiencing burn out from the kryptonite that they are unable to get away from.

This will be my 32nd year to teach in a career that started in August 1990. I would not change my career for anything. I have been blessed to inspire child after child to BELIEVE in who they are through the power of my first rule, “Always Believe in Yourself.” My days are still filled with the smiles of my students in my classroom, but the effects of kryptonite still are with me. Each day I leave drained. I know I need to get some exercise after school to maintain my cardio, but the emotional drain from the needs of the kids is wiping out the energy needed to do this. This causes a never ending cycle of my strength dwindling away each day.

This is my story about teacher kryptonite. We all have our individual stories of what is draining our energy each day. If we were to add a reply thread to the paper, the individual list of teacher kryptonite would be a lengthy cry for help from educators around the country and globe. This kryptonite is making us question our careers and even our callings.

What is the antibody to teacher kryptonite?

First off is making the time. Time must be given daily to our families and to ourselves to recharge. This me-time is essential. Administrators are feeling the impact of teacher resignation after resignation. Time must be balanced between family and job. The needs of the kids are tremendous now, with many districts still teaching virtually, which is demanding for the teacher. Teachers need to voice their needs to the administrators and plans must be made to balance the time needed for teacher self care.

Most importantly to overcome this time, we need to focus on how the time we have with our students is making them feel. When a teacher is generating a positive vibe each day with the students, the feelings that the kids have will be contagious and can energize the educator. This is perhaps the most powerful antidote to the teacher kryptonite.

What is the primary way educators generate these positive feelings. It is through nonverbal communication and the words you are generating through your actions, not your words. The words kids describe who you are with are the verbs you are bringing to life in your room ( either face to face or virtual ). When you are being described with the right words, your actions will in turn inspire the kids.

What are the right words to be described with? According to Dr Chris Peterson and Dr. Martin Seligman, two pioneering researchers in the field of positive psychology, there are 24universal attributes attributed to inspiration.1 In the spring of 1991 I made it my goal for my kids to describe me with eight of these words: love, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, and joy. Over the course of my career these words, my ultimate teacher descriptors, have evolved into who I am with my students. The consequences of being able to replicate these words through my actions has been gold coins of my career.

Through the lens of my career I was inspired to arrange my ultimate teacher descriptors in a powerful graphic.

Notice the arrows generated in this graphic. Love is at the center of the diagram and all the other descriptors are generated from love. Even more powerful is that all arrows end up at joy. It is this joy that is providing me with my most powerful antidote for my personal kryptonite. This joy permeates my very being. It is a big reason why I am a constant positive force each day for my students and my coworkers. Once this diagram takes force in your life the impacts are intense. The joy that is being generated in your life as an educator can become a source of necessary energy needed to overcome your kryptonite. Focus each day on the ultimate teacher descriptors. Make the time to have reflection each day. Dwell on these words for a couple of minutes. The payback just might save a career you are questioning.

1 Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)

About the Author


Jerry Toups Jr

Twitter - @Toups_J

Facebook - Jerry Toups

Instagram - tex_toups

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/toupsgraphics

Jerry Toups started teaching in 1990 when he made his first rule Always Believe in Yourself. This rule, combined with powerful non-verbal communication skills has changed the lives of thousands of students for over three decades. You can read about his life in the book “The Story of Always Believe”. In the spring of 2019, a student made a video documentary about Mr. Toups’ career. This video went on to win 2nd place in the state competition. ,https://youtu.be/-plYJBPBWTE

Jerry Toups will soon publish his second book with Edumatch Publishing. “The Art of Inspiration” is Jerry Toups’ manifesto of how he has used non-verbal communication to inspire his students.

<![CDATA[Building SEL and skills for the future]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/building-sel-and-skills-for-the-future6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8a4Fri, 04 Feb 2022 15:01:22 GMTRachelle Dene PothAs educators consider the best ways that we can prepare our students for the future, we need to make sure that we focus on the mental health and wellness of our students. It has been a challenging time in the world and in education over the past two school years. To create a supportive learning space for our students, we must be intentional about helping students to build social emotional learning (SEL) skills in our classrooms.

A few years ago, I started to learn more about SEL and realized that I was not providing enough opportunities for the development of SEL in my classroom. I took time to reflect on the activities I had planned and the different digital tools that I was using with my students. What I realized is that I was creating opportunities for students to build skills in self-awareness, social awareness, and to develop relationships, however, I needed to do more and help students understand the importance of these skills for their future.

To be prepared, educators need access to a variety of resources, including methods and tools to help students build social emotional learning (SEL) skills. I recommend exploring ,CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, and checking out what they have for getting started with SEL and resources to share with educators and families.

SEL Matters

Why does SEL matter? There is a direct connection between SEL and the essential skills that employers seek. Skills like communication, creativity, teamwork, and problem solving to name just a few. The research surrounding SEL shows that when we address the five competencies of SEL, it positively impacts student wellbeing and also leads to an increase in student academic performance. There are quick strategies we can implement as well as different digital tools to learning experiences that foster the development of the five SEL competencies.

While there are many options, it is important that we are purposeful in deciding on the methods and tools we will use for creating spaces where our students can feel more connected to us and to each other. We can help students to build academic skills as well as the essential SEL skills by infusing a variety of activities into our daily lessons.

The five competencies

Self-awareness: Students need to become aware of their skills and interests as they learn. Understanding where we are in the learning process is important.

Self-management: Students build self-management skills as they set learning goals and work through assignments. During the learning experience, as they experience stress, they will develop the skills needed to push through these challenges. We can help students learn how to track their emotions and manage stress using different teaching methods and tools.

Social awareness: Students need to develop an understanding of the perspectives of others and learn about different cultures. Developing empathy as they learn is important and using methods like PBL for example, can help students in this area.

Relationship skills. Developing supportive relationships and working as part of a team are essential for all students and adults too. Being able to ask for help, provide support, and collaborate with others is important. Providing opportunities for students to develop relationships in our classrooms will best prepare them for future workplace success.

Decision making: Among the skills for the future, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are necessary and will enable students to be flexible especially in a changing world of work. Part of decision making includes understanding the consequences of one’s actions, focusing on well-being, and knowing how to process information and find solutions are vital for students’ success.

Think about the tools that you use in your classroom. Which ones can you use to help students to collaborate with one another, to share their learning, to set and track goals, or to explore new ideas? We know that technology will change, so it's more about keeping focused on the “what” we want students to know and be able to do. Focus on the purpose behind using a certain digital tool and how it will amplify students' learning and prepare them for the future.

About the Author

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of seven books including n Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking, Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU, The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead, Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us, ,Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction and her newest book Things I WIsh [....] Knew is now available.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at ,https://anchor.fm/rdene915

Rachelle is the host of the ,PBL Podcast through Defined Learning on BAM Radio Network.

<![CDATA[A Career in Education]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/a-career-in-education6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8faSat, 29 Jan 2022 15:16:00 GMTCasey JakubowskiWhen did you decide you wanted to teach? For many educators, we often feel like becoming a teacher happens as if by magic! Yet, our career in education is the summation of years of decisions and scaffolds. We must not forget to thank mentors along the way! When I wrote my book, A Cog in the Machine, I never realized how many decisions I made, and the untold adventures of my childhood would culminate in my career in education.

A note on a career in education versus teaching. First teaching is only ONE aspect of a career in education! Classroom instruction as we define it is just a slice of educational opportunities. Most teachers understand the career ladder of a teacher in a classroom, then principal, and then superintendent. Sometimes people will add college professors to the mix, but SO MUCH MORE actually exists! There are instructional coaches, subject matter experts, and support roles within support structures, called in my state BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Service). You can volunteer as a Board member for a professional group, or do what I did, and become a consultant! A career in education is more than just the traditional classroom role.

In Cog in the Machine, I write about how my experiences growing up impacted my career. I had two amazing and supportive parents, who introduced me to curiosity! So many books, magazines, and vacations included trips to museums and historic places. One place that truly sticks out in my mind is the Chicago based Museum of Science and Industry. So many different subjects under one roof. The museum contained examples from geology, physics, biology, chemistry, and technology tools. As a family we spent days in the museum, looking at exhibits on cars, trains, genetics, and crystals.

I am certainly blessed to have enjoyed support as I asked why, and investigated (through utter destruction, I do admit) second hand store products and devices. My brother and I tore apart an old alarm clock, and we looked at the wires, transistors, and circuit boards. We played with the speaker magnets and learned that some metals stuck really well to the magnet, while others ignored the pull.

My time at summer camp, with Scouts, allowed me free range in environmental, conservation, crafts, and outdoor activities. I learned how to weave a basket. I explored the woods, streams, and meadows looking for and observing signs of wildlife. As part of the badge requirements, I had to present to groups.

I enjoyed growing up in the Greater Buffalo and Niagara region, where Niagara Falls is well, Niagara Falls. We visited the Turtle, a Native American Cultural museum. We explored the Buffalo Museum of Science, and saw mummies! I loved learning all about different cultures, and this love of learning launched me into thinking closely about what different communities and cultures thought about the world.

What is most impactful in my career, however, are the stories I heard from family members who were the World War II generation. I listened as my grandparents recounted what they did in their jobs and the world around them. For a college class at Fredonia, I interviewed my great Aunt about what she learned about the decision to use the Atomic Bomb as part of my historiography class. What she knew, and remembered was so interesting compared to the academic books we read in class. This taught me an important lesson: always remember people have a worldview that is theirs, for right or wrong, and as educators, we must use grace, appreciation, and best practices to understand, and then if necessary, educate people.

My career as an educator benefited from two other major ingredients: my mentor Nancy, and then Martha, both helped me understand my strengths, and explore areas for growth. Both Nancy and Martha helped me achieve goals along the way, like finding my career in higher education and then finding my voice as a writer. I also benefited from working with Dr. Sarah Thomas, Melody McAllister, and Mandy Froehlich from Edumatch publishing. The birth of my books definitely benefited from their nimble support.

Finally, I want to thank my students, past present, and future for inspiring me, and allowing me the greatest opportunity ever: to work with you, as you experienced growth, questioned assumptions and created paths that had laid undiscovered. Your inventions, your lesson plans, and your creativity and caring are impressive! I am profoundly amazed to watch you raise money for charity, implement opportunities for children, and most importantly support each other through triumphs and disasters. You are the heroes in my journey!

About the Author

Dr. Casey Jakubowski

Twitter: @caseyj_edu

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/casey-jakubowski-03471533

Wordpress: https://caseytjakubowski.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CaseyJthinkingaboutteaching

Casey Thomas Jakubowski, Ph.D. is a 20-year educator, consultant, and leader in the world of improvement practice. Writing on rural education, Casey has presented internationally, nationally, regionally, and locally. A student of history, sociology, geography, STEM, and innovation, with a unique career, characterizes, Casey holds firm the Servant Leadership model. He is a national, regional, state, and local award-winning mentor, author, and presenter in the areas of Civic Education, Community Service, Volunteer Leadership, and innovation. He is the owner of CTJ Solutions, LLC, and the Chief Innovation Officer of Greenstone Consulting, LLC. Academically, Casey has served as an adjunct, Associate Director, and Department Chair at a range of institutions.

<![CDATA[How to Be a Warrior for ALL Students & Build a Thriving Culture & Community You Can Be Proud Of]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/how-to-be-a-warrior-for-all-students-build-a-thriving-culture-community-you-can-be-proud-of6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8d6Wed, 26 Jan 2022 15:00:27 GMTPamela HallBy Pamela Hall

Relationships are king. We all know it. But how do we truly acquire unshakable, lasting relationships where all students thrive? A place where everyone contributes and belongs. How do we cement bonds that withstand the test of time and bring out the best of every single student? How do you amplify every student's potential (even the challenging ones)?

It sounds like a pretty tall order, especially when there is limited time and a lack of resources. Teachers want more autonomy, smaller class sizes, fewer mandates, Social Emotional Learning training, fewer behavior challenges, less paperwork, fewer meetings, and the list of teacher problems goes on and on.

While I can't solve all the dampening demands, I wrote Be Their Warrior as a source of hope and help for overworked educators. I wrote it for anyone contemplating exiting education- please read it before you depart. There is a reason you got into teaching, and I can bet it isn't meetings, mandates, and new initiatives piled upon not yet mastered initiatives. I bet you love kids, and you aspire to make a difference.

Well, I'm here to tell you that you are making a difference. Even on your most brutal day, someone needs you. I wrote Be Their Warrior to give you an arsenal of strategies to pierce through your most challenging students and inappropriate behavior. I wrote it for anyone who is on the brink of burnout. You can go from depleted to delighted and from the point of burnout to burning with passion.

How do I know?

I was in all those situations. I've lived it, and I wrote about it to help you.

Why else did I write Be Their Warrior?

Be Their Warrior began as a faint idea. However, there are three reasons the book was born:

  1. I was Teacher of the Year and had to write five two-page essays. I sent the essays to a dear friend to edit. Every reply to each piece, she'd say, "You really should write a book."
  2. My assistant principal at the time continually called me a champion for all kids.
  3. Another dear friend, not the one who edited my essays, listened to my book idea and dared me to contact two publishers. You can read more about this and my ,fear of failure here.

Because of those three things, the book was born. It was a three-year journey from the time of conception- ideas- to now- the release of Be Their Warrior. I’m forever grateful to EduMatch Publishing for believing in this project and me.

At first, I titled the book: Be Their Champion. However, there are multiple books with the word champion in the title. So I Googled synonyms for the word champion and targeted the word warrior. I ran it by numerous friends and family members. They liked it. So it stuck.

I ultimately wrote Be Their Warrior for all educators, novice and seasoned. Novice educators will appreciate the viable strategies to navigate challenging students and to bond with their families' students. Seasoned educators will find hope and nod their heads as they relate to the heart-wrenching stories.

So, How Can You Be a Warrior for ALL Students & Build a Thriving Culture & Community You Can Be Proud Of?

Grab a copy of my book: Be Their Warrior from ,Barnes & Noble or Amazon. It's all in there just for you.

Be Their Warrior is more than a catchy phrase. It's about being intentional and planning to help every child succeed.

You'll learn to:

  • Create a culture that keeps all kids coming back
  • Start STRONG & Embrace self-care
  • Cultivate impactful relationships
  • Ignite passion
  • Empower community & family partnerships
  • Create a classroom culture that fosters every student's gifts & talents and leads to a love of learning.

Eliminate average. Be a warrior!

Not only will you know relationships are king, but you'll also know how to cement them when you follow the strategies in Be Their Warrior. You'll have more fun and less stress teaching.

About the Author

Pamela Hall, a multi-national award-winning educator, is a speaker and author of Be Their Warrior dedicated to helping educators consciously connect with and grow all learners. Pamela's a life-long learner leading and inspiring thousands of students and educators.

Pamela has appeared on PBS. and local news, and written for many magazines such as Educator Insights. She’s a passionate educator specializing in student relationships, class culture, engaging challenging students, and hands-on, life applicable learning. She encourages educators to be STRONG and embrace self-care.

Pamela leads Literate For Life, a non-profit foundation, that educates, encourages, and empowers children to be literate. She also shares tips on her mindfulness blog, a blog focused on amplifying all kids, education, and self-care. She’s an ordinary cappuccino drinking, chocolate eating mom, and wife from Virginia with an extraordinary passion to make a positive difference.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PamHall2inspire

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamhall2inspire/

E-mail: pamhall2inspire@gmail.com

Website: https://www.pamhall2inspire.com

<![CDATA[I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/i-get-by-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8dcFri, 21 Jan 2022 15:00:35 GMTHeather LyonWhen I wrote ,Engagement is Not a Unicorn (It’s a Narwhal), my goal was to create a common understanding regarding the term “engagement”—this over-used, under-understood word that is thrown around in education (and certainly other professions). I wanted to ensure that if we were going to say that we needed students to be engaged or teachers to create engaging lessons that we knew both what we were saying and what we were aiming for. There were plenty of strategy books out there already that say they will help you create engagement—that was not the problem. The problem was that there wasn’t clarity about what engagement actually was. In other words, I didn’t want my book to be another strategy book. I wanted my book to be a resource for understanding how to select a strategy to achieve engagement. As I embarked on actually writing the book, I realized that I had so many strategies in my first draft that the book was over 400 pages. Even if there were 200 pages of strategies, I didn’t think that people would have the stamina or desire to get through them. Thus, I thought it might be better to streamline the first book and have a companion book (,The BIG Book of Engagement Strategies) of just strategies.

I have learned two very important truths in the process of writing The BIG Book of Engagement Strategies. First I’ve learned that everyone has at least one strategy to increase engagement. That means if you are ever stuck, all you need to do is talk with people you already know and trust. They will be able to give you the inspiration you need. The second is that it feels amazing to share the great work that others are doing! With respect to both of these points, I have the tremendous privilege to share the work of some amazing people that I have met along this journey. I have no doubt that you will enjoy their work as much I do! For this reason, I’d like to highlight here the amazing educators who contributed strategies. Please

  1. Follow or reach out to them to learn more.
  2. Reach out to the people around you to learn from them.
  3. Shoot me an email at ,lyonsletters@outlook.com to share a strategy you love with me! I’d be happy to post it on my website and credit you so you can help others grow.

Strategy: Goals Dana Britt is an Associate Partner with Education Elements, a national education consultancy provider. At Education Elements, Dana has supported over 100 schools in sixteen states to design personalized learning experiences for all learners, develop and implement strategic plans, and lead high-quality professional development. Dana currently leads the organization’s work in the state of New York. Prior to joining Education Elements, Dana worked in the District of Columbia Public Schools, first as a high school English teacher, then in the district office as the Manager of Educational Technology. Dana holds a B.A. in English from Wellesley College and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University. When not thinking about personalized learning or strategic planning, Dana enjoys rock climbing and training for her next marathon in Washington, DC.

Strategy: Notice and Wonder Elizabeth (Liz) Buck has been teaching both earth science and general science at the middle school level for over twenty-one years. The majority of her career has been spent teaching at Lewiston-Porter Middle School in Youngstown, NY. Her approach to teaching has always been a hands-on, experiential method where students engage in the world around them through science. She creates opportunities for her students to consider multiple perspectives and challenges them to ask thought-provoking questions as a way to deepen their thinking.

Strategy: Notice and Wonder Nina Calarco has been fortunate to be teaching at Lewiston-Porter Middle School for over fifteen years. For the majority of her career, Nina taught mathematics to 8th grade students. In 2016, she also started teaching a course that she co-created called “Innovation Experience.” The course became her passion and inspired her to make impactful changes to her mathematics instruction based on what she learned from her Innovation students. Her non-traditional approach focuses on student discourse and a model where students explore and discover mathematics before formal instruction.

Strategy: Standards-Based Grading Jessica Colavecchia has been an educator in the East Irondequoit Central School District for over a decade, where she has been a high school math teacher and is currently the K-12 Math, Science, Technology Coordinator for the district. She also holds her Educational Leadership certification from the University of Rochester. She takes pride in her career knowing that she is helping to shape the lives of future generations by providing students with a deep-rooted, digitally rich, standards-based education. She has proudly shared her passion for educational technology, standards-based curricula and grading systems at various conferences throughout the country. Jessica lives with her husband Greg and their three children. When she is not sharing her enthusiasm for mathematics, she enjoys exercising, camping, sports, puzzles, and traveling.

Strategy: Modeling Susan Cyrulik (M.S.Ed.) is a Professional Development Coordinator for Erie 1 BOCES where she shares her passion for science with everyone she meets. Her work is focused on supporting K-12 teachers of science while integrating the use of phenomena and the science and engineering practices, from the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards. Susan is on the Board of the Western Section Science Teachers Association and the New York State Science Consortium. Prior to working at Erie 1 BOCES, Susan enjoyed her career as a middle school teacher, at the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Buffalo, New York, and in Westport, Connecticut, at Bedford Middle School. Susan is supported at home by her husband and three young men, who she strives to help understand the importance of caring for the planet. Susan is always accessible by email (scyrulik@e1b.org) and welcomes your communication.

Strategies: Peer-To-Peer Mentoring, Targeted Assistance, Community Building Circles, and Service Learning Projects Lori DeCarlo retired from the position of Superintendent at Randolph Academy UFSD where the implementation of Restorative Practices began in 2015. As a certified Restorative Justice (RJ) trainer, she has studied under internationally renowned experts in the field. She serves as a trainer for New York State Education Department and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services sponsored RJ projects. Ms. DeCarlo presents on the topic of RJ and school climate and culture at state, regional, and local conferences. She also practices the art of "circle keeping" by facilitating circles for community organizations. Follow her on Twitter @ldecarlo23.

Strategies: Esti-Mysteries, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Can You Make It, and Strategy Share Molly DiPirro is a math coach and teacher in the Sweet Home School District in western New York. She is also a professional developer for all things related to math routines and number sense development. You can follow Molly on Twitter @mollydip.

Strategy: Golden Lasso Moments Michael Fisher is an author and instructional coach who works with schools to design contemporary curriculum and modernize instruction with an array of technologies. Michael is the author of several books published by ASCD, Solution Tree, and Times10 publications, most recently ,Hacking Instructional Design. For more information, visit The Digigogy Collaborative (,digigogy.com) or find Michael on Twitter @fisher1000.

Strategy: Be The Tiebreaker Rebecca Gibboney is currently a Curriculum Specialist but started her career in education in 2010 as a Spanish teacher and Instructional Coach in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about two things in life: sports and education. As a women’s assistant college basketball coach and a passionate educational change agent, she lives the best of both worlds. She continues to provide fun and engaging avenues for adult learning while challenging the traditional mindset of professional learning. There is no reason why professional learning experiences cannot add some fun to the workplace! For more information on ,The Tiebreaker, you can follow Rebecca Gibboney on Twitter and Instagram @GibboneyRebecca or visit her website ,www.rebeccagibboney.com. You can find her book on Amazon ,https://bit.ly/theTIEBREAKER.

Strategy: Story-Based Learning Drew Kahn is a State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Theater at SUNY Buffalo State where he teaches acting (President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching/SUNY) and has directed over 20 productions (Kennedy Center Award). In addition to his work in higher education, he has taught K-12 populations for over three decades. He is the Founding Director of the ,Anne Frank Project. He presents and teaches internationally on the use of story as a tool for conflict resolution, community building and identity exploration—most recently in Rwanda, Kenya, Switzerland, DR Congo, Turkey, Burma and Viet Nam (Toby Ticktin Back Award for Holocaust Education and the National Federation for Just Communities-Community Leader Award,). His book, Story Building: A Practical Guide for Bringing the Power of Stories into the Classroom is used by teachers and organizations around the world. His favorite roles are husband to his wife Maria and dad to his children Sam and Nate.

Strategy: Playlists With her undergraduate degree in Special and Elementary Education and a master’s in Adolescent Education, Melissa Laun worked in various classroom settings ranging from kindergarten through middle school and taught graduate courses for Buffalo State College in the Exceptional Education department. In 2013, Melissa graduated with an advanced certificate in Educational Leadership from the University at Buffalo LIFTS program. In 2018, she became a certified CliftonStrengths coach. Currently Melissa serves as the Director of Special Education and Grant Writing in Lewiston-Porter Central School District. She most enjoys her role in evaluation and coaching teachers, administrators, and related service providers in all areas of growth.

Strategy: Reel Them In Andrew Marotta is an energetic and enthusiastic leader who has put his positive imprint on his beloved Port Jervis HS, in Port Jervis, NY. With the release of his first book, ,The Principal: Surviving and Thriving, Andrew is expanding his impact on the educational leadership community. His second book, ,The Partnership, Surviving & Thriving is a guide for parents to better assist their children in school by working closely together with schools. In his personal life, Andrew is a loving husband to his wife, Jennifer, and supportive father to their three young children. In his professional life, Andrew has been at Port Jervis HS for over sixteen years, serving as Assistant Principal for seven years and Principal thereafter. Learn more at ,www.andrewmarotta.com and through his #ELBlog and #ELB podcast, Education Leadership & Beyond, found on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @andrewmarotta21, and Instagram.

Strategy: Standards-Based Grading Angela Messenger has been in education for over fifteen years and is currently a high school math teacher in the East Irondequoit Central School District located in Rochester, NY. In 2019, she presented at the NYSCATE Annual Conference about how she uses a standards-based grading approach to engage her students in learning mathematics. Angela is also a Noyce Digitally Rich Master Teaching Fellow at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester and is in the process of earning her Educational Leadership certification. Angela lives with her husband Jason and their three daughters. She enjoys camping, running, and decorating cookies when she is not shaping the mathematical minds of the future.

Strategy: Standards-Based Grading Dr. Nicole Mucica is an Instructional Technology Specialist/Special Education/Math teacher in the East Irondequoit Central School District located in Rochester, New York. She is also an adjunct professor for Inclusive Education Studies at SUNY Brockport. Dr. Mucica completed her Doctoral studies in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Rochester. She has spent over seventeen years working in the field of education, and is passionate about sharing her experiences and triumphs with standards-based grading. Nicole has presented at numerous conferences around the country about digital engagement, differentiation and equity. Nicole resides with her husband Scott and two children. Please follow Nicole on Twitter @nicolemquick1.

Strategy: Student Gamification Mike Neumire is an instructional technology coach in Rochester, NY. You can keep track of his gamification efforts at libguides.monroe2boces.org/gamify or follow him on Twitter @MNeumire.

Strategy: Room to Breathe Erin Quinn and Tara Vandertoorn are Grade 8 Humanities teachers at Griffith Woods School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They embrace an approach to teaching where their students are co-creators of curriculum. This philosophy has informed their personalized Language Arts program, Room to Breathe and the game-based learning they embrace in Social Studies. Learn more at ,http://www.creativitycollective.ca/. You can find them on Twitter at @luckybydesign (Erin Quinn) and @bestcircus (Tara Vandertoorn).

About the Author

About the Author: Heather Lyon’s is the author of Engagement is Not a Unicorn (It’s a Narwhal): Mind-Changing Theory and Strategies that will Create Real Engagement and The BIG Book of Engagement Strategies. Heather has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and an Ed.M. in Reading from the University at Buffalo. She is an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology for Lewiston-Porter Central School District in Western New York. Heather has been a staff developer and held various administrative titles, but the professional title she likes best is learner. She is also a proud wife and mother who values the importance of work/life balance—which is so critical in a profession like ours. Heather lives with her husband and three children, who make her smile and teach her the importance of patience and humor!

Please follow Heather on Twitter @LyonsLetters and visit her website www.LyonsLetters.com.

<![CDATA[Belonging and PBL for Language Learners]]>https://www.edumatch.org/post/belonging-and-pbl-for-language-learners6230ed5a19d1035d1d6cd8ffSat, 15 Jan 2022 19:00:05 GMTDr. Ilene WinokurCreating an Inclusive Classroom with Belonging

Imagine that you traveled to a country where the people didn’t speak English. How would you communicate with others about your basic needs like a place to stay, your meals, and what parts of the city are safe? Would you panic or feel scared? What would you need to feel safe? How could others who speak the local language help and support you to make you feel safe? This is how language learners often feel in your classroom. English learners in Kuwait’s private schools often lack confidence in their ability to communicate in English and immigrants around the world face similar obstacles.

Newcomer students may also be coming from a traumatic situation if they’re a newcomer or recently resettled. Your role as a teacher in making sure they feel safe is vital if they’re going to succeed in your classroom. If they’ve been uprooted from their homes due to war or a natural disaster, they lack a sense of belonging because they were forced to leave their homes. They may have gaps in their education due to displacement or are unfamiliar with the local language. We know that all students need to feel a sense of belonging at school and “(w)hile a sense of belonging is necessary for all students to succeed in school, students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds are particularly affected.” What do we mean by belonging? Naashia Mohamed explains,

Students’ sense of belonging refers to the feelings of being accepted by teachers, peers, and any other individuals at school, and feeling like they are part of the school community. When students feel that they are a part of a school community, they are more likely to perform better academically and are more motivated to learn. Studies also show that the feelings of security, identity, and community associated with a sense of belonging affect students’ psychological well-being and social development.

It’s important to establish a safe environment that begins with trust and respectful relationships from the first day of class. All students need to believe they are treated fairly, so if accommodations are made for some students, including language learners, their peers need to be aware of the reasons you are scaffolding their lessons. In addition, there are several steps you can take to ensure all of your students feel a sense of belonging like greeting them at the door every day or as they come on the screen. Another step is making sure you pronounce their names correctly. Sometimes students who are new will be shy about correcting their teacher so explain that it’s important to you. After all, it’s part of their identity.

Another way to increase your students’ sense of belonging is by creating an environment of caring, collaboration, respect, empathy, and compassion among your students. Modeling this whether you’re inside your classroom or with your students or colleagues will go a long way to show your students the way. We need to make sure our students don’t feel like the other. In an article for the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (Berkeley), John a. Powell and Stephen Menendian (2016) define “othering” as a

set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities. Dimensions of othering include but are not limited to, religion, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (class), disability, sexual orientation, and skin tone. (p. 14)

You might be saying to yourself, ‘How do I handle differentiated lessons or accommodations for my students? Won’t that make them feel different and othered?’ Truthfully, it won’t if you handle it correctly. If your students know you have their best interests at heart because you’ve shown them you care about how they’re progressing in your class, they won’t focus on how you’re delivering the lesson. Also, they will champion your efforts to ensure their success if you explain to them, from the beginning of the year, that each student has different needs, strengths, and areas that need improvement. Your job is to help them reach the stated outcomes by supporting their efforts, celebrating their successes, and giving them focused feedback to support their progress.

My experience teaching English in Kuwait at the grade 3 level and pre-college intensive courses spans 25 years. Within that time, I have tried numerous methods to support my students’ English language acquisition while overcoming their lack of confidence and negative self-talk (lack of self-belonging) about learning the language. My action research shows a direct link between the achievement of language and content objectives through project-based learning (PBL). The best resource for PBL is the Buck Institute for Education: PBL Works

Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.
As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

PBL is authentic learning that is meaningful to students. They make connections to their interests, background knowledge, and learn the language throughout the process. Writing, reading, listening, and speaking are all necessary components of the projects. They are making meaning and connections to the learning because it’s meaningful to them.

According to PBL Works,

English Language Learners are one of the groups that tends to be looked over when thinking about who is “ready” to do PBL. But all students are ready if armed with appropriate scaffolding by their teacher. In fact, if we look at learning in terms of growth, EL students are likely to show huge success due to how immersive PBL is in communication skills and critical thinking.

Projects can be tailored to any and all subjects. When using this method with language learners, scaffolding is a must. Planning by the teacher must be intentional and well-thought out. PBL mentions several scaffolding strategies for successful PBL planning with language learners. I have summarized them here:

  1. Research must be accessible and students shouldn’t be left on their own to search. They should be guided to look for podcasts, leveled books, short articles, etc. that can be chunked into smaller bits. Model the search and research process the first time they’re assigned a project.
  2. Provide background vocabulary of Keywords to support them. Building schema around the topic gives students valuable context before beginning the project. This supports their confidence and efficacy when they encounter words or phrases they’re unfamiliar with. Help them make connections to their prior knowledge.
  3. Depending on the student’s level of language fluency, provide visuals for instructions such as pictures, gif, or icons. Videos using Screencastify to record your instructions gives the student a way to view them multiple times or stop at certain points.
  4. Set the stage from the beginning of the year by teaching collaboration to all of your students. Don’t assume they know how to work together. This is where empathy, sharing of ideas and resources through teamwork supports their feeling of personal belonging. Collaboration creates respect for others and helps them embrace differences.
  5. Teachers should be actively involved in interacting with students as they work in groups. Asking tiered questions that guide students towards the next short term goal is essential. Keep anecdotal notes of student progress and let them know you value what they’re doing.
  6. Post project progress timelines, keywords, and related resources on a bulletin board and keep adding to it for the duration of the project. This will provide ongoing support to students who might not work as quickly as others.

You may be wondering how PBL Works recommends assessing students working on projects. They have created a set of research-based rubrics with four main areas: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Self-Directed Learning, and Complex Communication. The rubrics act as a guide for giving focused feedback to students about their progress in each area from Beginning, Emerging, Developing, to Demonstrating. When using these rubrics, they recommend teachers modify them based on local context.

Learning a new language in an academic environment is daunting, so creating ways to integrate feelings of belonging (validation, acceptance, feeling valued, having agency) while conquering the language and content objectives will go a long way towards successful achievement of those goals. Project-based learning that is planned for and implemented well can help students accomplish it all.

About the Author

Ilene’s Bio:

Dr. Ilene Winokur has lived in Kuwait since 1984 and is a professional development specialist supporting teachers globally including refugee teachers. Ilene has been active in learning innovation for over 35 years, is an expert in professional development, and passionate about narratives related to belonging. Prior to retiring in 2019, she was a teacher and administrator at the elementary and pre-college levels for 25 years. Her blog, podcast, and book focus on the importance of feeling a sense of belonging.

Link to purchase Journey to Belonging: Pathways to Well-Being: ,https://journeys2belonging.com/3C5Ojig

You can connect with Ilene on

Twitter: @IleneWinokur

Instagram: @journeys2belonging

Facebook: IleneWinokur

LinkedIn: ,https://www.linkedin.com/in/ilene-winokur-edd-08683527

Blog: ,https://wke.lt/w/s/vNkgVJ

Website: ,https://www.journeys2belonging.com

To purchase the book: ,https://journeys2belonging.com/3C5Ojig