STEAM and Classroom Management

Howdy all,

For this article I will be focusing on the inquiry question “what are helpful classroom management strategies to assure a STEAM project is a success?”.

Classroom management is an important part of STEAM projects because it structures the learning environment. One of the most important classroom management strategies when teaching a STEAM lesson (or others) is setting clear expectations. Setting clear expectations allows students to feel comfortable in their environment while also minimising confusion about what they are supposed to be doing. Expectations should also be visibly posted for student reference throughout the activity.

Another classroom management strategy that is important to STEAM projects is constant interaction with students. A teacher cannot simply review expectations, hand out supplies, and then sit at their desk checking emails for the next 40 minutes. For STEAM activities to have the biggest impact on students, the teacher must ask leading questions and offer challenging insights into student projects. Further, teachers must also be around to support students who need extra guidance.

Finally, the last classroom management strategy I will be discussing is relationship building. Although this may not sound like a classroom management strategy, it is arguably the most important. When a teacher has a relationship with their students they are better able to assess their needs. For example, if there is an ELL student in the class who cannot write proficiently in English yet, the classroom teacher could place him in a STEAM group with a student who could support him (peer support). By thoughtfully creating STEAM groups, students will be able to create, collaborate, and problem solve at their highest potential.

Attached is a video that highlights a STEAM school in Atlanta, GA.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Myths and Facts about ADHD!

ADHD, while one of the most common diagnoses in children today, is a very misunderstood disorder. There is no single cause for the disorder which often leads to people making misinformed claims to why their child has ADHD. What causes are true? Which causes are false? In this post, I will be talking about some facts and myths that exist about ADHD.

Fact: Did you know that males are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females (this doesn’t mean 3 times more males have ADHD, it’s actually pretty equally divided). This is because males typically present with the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD which is much easier to notice because it is more physical. Females typically present with the inattentive type of ADHD which is harder to notice because it’s mainly in your brain.

Myth: ADHD isn’t a real medical condition – ADHD is a recognized disorder in the DSM-5 and has been since the 2nd publication (DSM-II) in 1968.

Fact: Researchers have said the use of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy has been proven to be a possible cause of ADHD (http://www.myadhd.com/causesofadhd.html)

Myth: Television and Electronics cause ADHD in children. There is no scientific research to prove that this is true. Many people have linked the rise in ADHD diagnoses to television and electronics because the rates of technology use and ADHD diagnoses have been raising in similar ways.

Fact: Parenting does not cause ADHD, although parents can assist with symptom impairment by reading books that give them strategies to help their children.

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Building Community in the Classroom

We’ve talked about management already but when you are about to have your own class for the first time I think it is really important that you take some time and think about what type of classroom community you would like to have. All of my research has talked about how important community building is at the beginning of the year so that your students feel safe, at ease, and ready to share their thinking with their peers.  8 STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING CLASSROOM COMMUNITY is a blog post (click on it!) from thinkgrowgiggle.com and is a great starting place to get some ideas of ways you can build community with your students without spending a lot of money on resources. These are things you will want to fit into your routines such as class theme songs, relationship builders, goal setting and communication entered activities.

A Classroom Diva has a youTube video discussing her top strategies for building a community in the class which she says is important for good classroom management. Other things discussed are class jobs, collaboration and more relationship building. 

 

 

The previous video mentioned a strategy that I have seen in other places called the Morning MeetingThis is a time in the day where the teacher and students can do a check in, shake hands and greet each other and a chance for the teacher to set the tone of the day. Many models include a team building activity (and a chance for the students to move around) and also time to share with each other things that are happening in their lives. Here is a video from Edutopia discussing this technique.

Lastly we will discuss how bringing culture into the classroom is so important for community. It was touched upon in some of the other resources I provided for you but I will be devoting my entire last post to share with you my plan to incorporate the Six Cedars Tree into the classroom and using the First Peoples ways of Knowing to support the teaching of Core Competencies……. I better get on it…

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Hyperactive/Impulsive Type ADHD – All Your Questions Answered!

The Hyperactive/Impulsive type of ADHD is typically what people think of when they hear ADHD. It’s more commonly thought about because this type of ADHD is more visual, aka you can actually see there body doing things caused by ADHD. An important thing to remember though is that just because you have a hyper student in your class or a child with tons of energy, does not mean that child has ADHD. While that is a large portion of ADHD, there are many more underlying signs and symptoms that go along with it. But what are they?

Symptoms or Signs of Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD:

  • Fidgeting or squirming (not being able to sit still)
  • Nonstop talking
  • Trouble sitting still and doing quiet tasks, such as reading
  • Running from place to place; acting like he’s driven by a motor
  • Constantly leaving his seat, jumping or climbing on furniture and other inappropriate places
  • Not having patience
  • Blurting out comments at inappropriate times
  • Interrupting conversations or speaking out of turn
  • Trouble waiting for a turn or standing in line

 

In today’s world, so many of our children and students are being diagnosed with ADHD. There are many reasons why that number might be increasing, but how do we help those student be successful with a body and mind that are working against them?

Strategies to help students in the classroom:

  • Allow movement and flexible seating
  • Give students tools to minimize distractions – maybe a quiet corner in the classroom
  • Provide lots of positive feedback – helps motivate students to want to focus
  • Give small rewards for completing tasks throughout the day.
  • Allow students to feel good for accomplishing simple and small tasks – Check box to do lists are great motivation for a lot of ADHD students and they could have a small reward for finishing all of their tasks for the day
  • Don’t get frustrated if they are not on task right away – sometimes it takes a while for children with ADHD to settle their minds down enough to focus.
  • Ask questions instead of telling them they’re not focusing or getting their work done – sometimes it might not look like they are working when they really are
  • Provide visual reminders – writing instructions on the board, pictures of tasks etc.
  • Talk to the parents of the children – often the parents will have successful strategies that work at home. Try to bring those strategies into the classroom to bring consistency for the child.
  • Active class participation – ask them to hand out materials, or be the teacher’s helper. Having the student moving around will help them learn best!
  • Offer choice – give your students different options for completing their work. This could be as simple as allowing them to choose where they will be able to complete their work best. It could also be the option of completing the assignment in a different way.
  • If they need help getting started, give it to them! – Sometimes students with ADHD can become very overwhelmed by the task they are supposed to be doing and don’t know where to begin. It doesn’t mean they can’t do the task, but when they don’t know where to start they will start being distracted by other things happening. Also, remember that you need to be very specific in your instructions.
  • Give your students time chunks – Time management is one of the hardest things to do when you have ADHD. When you give your student a task and 30 mins to complete, they will think that it’s only going to take them 10 mins to do so they will spend the first 20 mins messing around and they don’t have enough time to finish it. Breaking down the assignment for them in manageable chunks will help them complete their work. You could say you have 5 mins to do the first 2 questions, 10 mins to do part b, and 15 mins for the last question. Then the student will know how much time they have to do their work.

 

Tools to help students in the classroom:

Wobble Stools – these are one of the best inventions on the market. They allow students to move around while they are seated and get rid of that energy they have in their bodies which allows them to focus on what they are doing.

 

Privacy Boards –  These are a great tool for students with ADHD. They are put on the student’s desk which blocks all of the chaos going on around the classroom. This paired with some noise canceling headphones will do wonders for your students!

 

Headphones – This is another great tool for students with ADHD. They block the very distracting noise going on in the classroom. They are also a good tool for students with noise sensitivities so they can have multiple purposes.

 

 Standing Desks – This is another great tool for students with ADHD. It allows them to move their feet while still having a space to work. they can walk around the desk while thinking and then come back to their work to write down their thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Starting Literacy Center?

Learning at a the Primary Pond Webinar by Alison (specialist and consultant), allowed me to see how to set up and implement literacy centers in my classroom. It also provided me with strategies on grouping students and how to keep the students accountable for the work they are doing. Literacy centers are great in a classroom setting because it allows students to; try out  new literacy skills, take part in solo learning and interact with literacy in different ways. For teachers literacy centers allow time to meet with students both individually and in small group to provide support or introduce new idea/center activities.

Setting Up Literacy Centers

  • What centers should be provided?  
  • Are the centers going to be fixed (staying in one place) or flexible (can be done anywhere)?
  • What order the centers should be done in, to set the students up for success?
  • How many center rotations should be in each literacy session?
  • How are you going to transition between centers?

(All of these questions and answers depend heavily on the teacher and their teaching style, so she recommend using trial and error to find out what works for each individuals classroom. But that being said, she does provide example of what has worked for her in the past to aid in the early stages of planning. )

Center Categories

  1. Read to Self
  2. Reading Response
  3. Word Work
  4. Listening
  5. Writing
  6. Partner Reading
  7. Drama/Music/Art (especially for Kindergarten)

In Alison’s class she had three rotations every day, each being 15min long. Before the students would start the rotations Alison would have a mini lesson/ review to get the students minds focused on an aspect of literacy*. She would set the timer and when it went off the students would put their hands on their heads and look at the rotation cart to see where they need to go next. Before they go to the next center the teacher would name the students she would like to meet with next , then all the students would rotate. The rotation chard had the students split into groups of 4-6 students, preplanned by the teacher**, each group was assigned to a different station. Students have both a book bin and and a literacy folder that they take to each center, and add to over time. She stresses to only teach one new thing a day so as to not overwhelm the students***.

*One recommendation she has is to introduce the new topic/activity  in small groups a weeks in advance so that the students get familiar with the ideas before they work with it in larger groups during the mini lesson. This also go for new activity for centers.

** She set up partner groups with one similar skilled partner and one varied skill partner. For example if each number symbolized a student in my class and their level, 11223344, the teacher would put 1133 together and 2244 together so the gap is not to large, allowing some peer support but, not creating dependency on their partners.

*** Make  a chart to help you see what new center activity you will be introducing. ex. Monday-Woodwork, Tuesday-Independent reading, Wednesday- Reading Responce, Thuursday- Writing, Friday- Partner reading.

 

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Starting Literacy Center?

Learning at a the Primary Pond Webinar by Alison (specialist and consultant), allowed me to see how to set up and implement literacy centers in my classroom. It also provided me with strategies on grouping students and how to keep the students accountable for the work they are doing. Literacy centers are great in a classroom setting because it allows students to; try out  new literacy skills, take part in solo learning and interact with literacy in different ways. For teachers literacy centers allow time to meet with students both individually and in small group to provide support or introduce new idea/center activities.

Setting Up Literacy Centers

  • What centers should be provided?  
  • Are the centers going to be fixed (staying in one place) or flexible (can be done anywhere)?
  • What order the centers should be done in, to set the students up for success?
  • How many center rotations should be in each literacy session?
  • How are you going to transition between centers?

(All of these questions and answers depend heavily on the teacher and their teaching style, so she recommend using trial and error to find out what works for each individuals classroom. But that being said, she does provide example of what has worked for her in the past to aid in the early stages of planning. )

Center Categories

  1. Read to Self
  2. Reading Response
  3. Word Work
  4. Listening
  5. Writing
  6. Partner Reading
  7. Drama/Music/Art (especially for Kindergarten)

In Alison’s class she had three rotations every day, each being 15min long. Before the students would start the rotations Alison would have a mini lesson/ review to get the students minds focused on an aspect of literacy*. She would set the timer and when it went off the students would put their hands on their heads and look at the rotation cart to see where they need to go next. Before they go to the next center the teacher would name the students she would like to meet with next , then all the students would rotate. The rotation chard had the students split into groups of 4-6 students, preplanned by the teacher**, each group was assigned to a different station. Students have both a book bin and and a literacy folder that they take to each center, and add to over time. She stresses to only teach one new thing a day so as to not overwhelm the students***.

*One recommendation she has is to introduce the new topic/activity  in small groups a weeks in advance so that the students get familiar with the ideas before they work with it in larger groups during the mini lesson. This also go for new activity for centers.

** She set up partner groups with one similar skilled partner and one varied skill partner. For example if each number symbolized a student in my class and their level, 11223344, the teacher would put 1133 together and 2244 together so the gap is not to large, allowing some peer support but, not creating dependency on their partners.

*** Make  a chart to help you see what new center activity you will be introducing. ex. Monday-Woodwork, Tuesday-Independent reading, Wednesday- Reading Responce, Thuursday- Writing, Friday- Partner reading.

 

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Assessment

When thinking about assessment with Genius Hour, it can easily become an overwhelming feeling. You don’t want your students to have artificial motivation like grades to make them fit their Genius Hour projects fit into a box. But you also want to nudge them forward and for the learning to be meaningful. You have to come back to thinking about the process as assessment for learning all the way through. Students must develop the tools to self-assess based on criteria you created as a class. This criteria should reflect broadly what you hope they get out of the journey. Examples include:

-Creativity

-Presentation techniques and 21st century skills

-Collaboration

-Problem solving

In this model, it reflects the feedback model in which students can reach their ultimate potential with reflection and constantly moving forward rather than just being assigned a grade and being done with it.

https://www.easel.ly/viewEasel/654416

Keeping a reflection journal:

  1. What did I do?
  2. What did I learn?
  3. What was successful?
  4. What is next?

When thinking about self-assessment, students should be assessing themselves during the whole process:

Example questions for assessment…

DURING THE PROJECT PROCESS: 

  • Looking at my work so far, how can I keep focusing on answering my inquiry question?
  • What have I done well so far?

RESEARCH CHECKLIST:

  • When I learn something new from a web page or book, do I make a note of where I got my information?

AFTER PRESENTATION: 

  • Was my voice loud enough for all to hear? Did I speak slowly enough and enunciate so I could be understood?
  • Did I make eye contact with my audience?

Peer Feedback: 

  • What went well?
  • What can I do to make it better?
  • What more do you wish you could learn about my topic? What’s missing?

Some teachers use more of a framework for assessing Genius Hour which I will attach the link.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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Resources to practice mindfulness

So you want to practice mindfulness – great!! This post focuses on providing resources to help bring mindfulness into your classroom.

First off, mindfulschools.org – whether you’re looking for videos, audio, books, or even blog posts, this website has tons of amazing resources to get you started, including their “starter lesson” which you can find here.

This website has tons of free resources for practicing and teaching mindfulness and meditation, kindness and compassion, generosity and gratitude, social responsibility and social-emotional skills. That’s right, FREE RESOURCES. Their website also has sections for self-care resources, recommended books and mindfulness training links.

Of course, YouTube is a great place to find videos for children of any age, to help practice mindfulness whether that be through mindful breathing or other activities. Here is a link to a guided-relaxation playlist (more geared towards younger primary students) if you’re not yet comfortable leading the class in guided-relaxation/mindfulness.

The MindUP curriculum is another incredible resource that I came across during my inquiry. This program features “15 lessons that use the latest information about the brain to dramatically improve behavior and learning for all students.” (mindup.org)

The Free Mindfulness Project has a ton of downloadable resources readily available on their website, although I have not tested all of them so please ensure they are appropriate for your grade level before using! Some of these resources include guided imagery, mindfulness of breath and self-guided mindfulness exercises.

There are also a whole bunch of downloadable apps that could be incorporated into your classroom or just everyday life. here are a few:

  • DreamyKid: offers meditation, guided-visualization and affirmations curated for children and teens. (FREE)
  • Breathing Bubbles: helps kids practice releasing worries and focus on good feelings by allowing them to select the emotion they’re feeling and how strongly they are feeling it. (includes deep breathing and visualization. (FREE)
  • Smiling Mind: designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. Suitable for ages 7-18. (FREE)
  • HelloMind: helps change negative thought patterns. Children can choose treatments based on whatever is bothering them – low self-esteem, needing courage, or being afraid to stick up for one’s self. (FREE, but in-app purchases)

Image result for dreamykid app    Image result for breathing bubbles app

Image result for smilingmind app      

Last but not least, Calm. They have just launched The Calm Schools Initiative, and are offering every teacher in the world free access to Calm, their mindfulness app. They want to empower teachers with mindfulness tools and resources by giving us unlimited access to their guided-meditation and mindfulness exercises. There is no catch. All you have to do is go to this link, and fill out a couple questions on the form at the bottom of the page. Easy. 100% would recommend!!

Obviously there are a million other resources out there to help practice mindfulness in the classroom. Like I said, these are just a few that I found helpful and will be incorporating into my lessons.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about mindfulness with me – stay tuned for my summary of learning.

Until then,

S.

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I really CAN’T DO IT! (yes.. you can!)

okay.. we’ve touched on it a bit.

The kid who just CANNOT do it. The one who totally has a melt down/freak out when something isn’t perfect. The one who’s afraid their phonetic spelling isn’t what we want to see. The one who has SUCH good ideas in their head, but just can’t quite express it.

I want to foster that safe space in my class so that students don’t feel that crazy pressure to get it right every single time.

I really believe I see potential in my class, and the way that my sponsor teacher asks the students to “use inventive spelling” is really cool. They still are wary of it, but once they bring their work to me or the teacher and get recognition for it- they feel more confident.

Now, in my last post I did touch on false growth mindset, which essentially is encouraging the wrong spelling often and not facilitating correction at some point. Here’s what my class has that I think is super helpful. We do Words Their Way and one whole wall in the room is dedicated to be a word wall. Every letter of the alphabet is up there, some had sight words under them, too. It’s really cool to be able to say to students ‘have a look around the room for words that have 5 letters in it, or words that start with the letter B…’. They have a table group game they play where the groups to find the word clues given get points (they all get points… just so you know!). My class loves this because they’re super energetic and the movement around the rooms is so great for them. It also facilitates them actively seeking words out and spelling them in their note pads.

My supervisor noticed that while I was giving my lesson, I dropped a few words the kids might not know. I think ‘obscure’ was one of them. Anyways, he suggested that i adopt a practise to write those words on the board for students to see/know how to spell. Perhaps make a collection of new words on the board and every day spend time going over them at the end of the day. I thought it was a fun idea because then they get used to seeing new words, and maybe even adopt them into their own oral language (or even written!).

One of my students came up to me during my lesson on Favourite Place and showed me his inventive spelling. He definitely used inventive spelling for the word (I think it was ‘hiking in the mountains’), and I asked what he wrote. Once he told me, I notcied how accurate his inventive spelling was- and i commended him on it.

Here’s my question: when or how can we switch from inventive spelling to getting it right?

Back to the I CAN’T. Another student was having trouble with a spelling assessment. I said the word out loud, he was to write it down. He second guessed himself every time. every time! I noticed that he often got the sound-letter right the first time, then said it outloud himself, asked me, and scribbled it out when he second guessed himself. Then he would say ‘no, it was an E’ and change it yet again. He was getting to the freak out stage soon.

I think it was a sign that growth mindset it lacking in my class. and it doesn’t seem like it will be an easy fix, for sure.

I wanted to share this video with you all, and I intend to share it with my class and have a conversation one day with them about how we can move past I CANT to I CAN TRY!

As you can tell, it’s a total work in progress. I appreciate you who’ve given some feedback on ideas and really- if anyone has any other Growth Mindset tools they’ve seen and know work please let me know! I am all ears 🙂

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Creating a mindful space in your classroom

What does “mindful space” mean? Why should I have one in my classroom? What if I don’t have enough space? These were just a few of the questions I had when looking at how to create a mindful space in the classroom. What I realized is that students might need time to manage their feelings at school – I know that being in a group context can be overwhelming for me, so why would it be any different for my students. Processing those feelings is important, even as adults; 5-10 minutes (or even less) can do wonders for level of participation.

Despite what some students may think, a mindful space isn’t a space they can go to escape learning; it’s a space that allows them to check in with themselves and experience a break before returning to the group. I believe that it is very important to have a positive outlet for students who might need a break. This space should support self-regulation and encourage students to recognize, accept and understand their feelings.

Ultimately, we want students to gain independence by choosing strategies for themselves, and understanding what works for them in that space. Some of those strategies/items could include:

  • stress balls
  • glitter jars
  • breathing spheres
  • a mirror (to help identify emotions)
  • emotional feelings sheets (to identify and record emotions)
  • iPad + headphones with short videos on mindfulness/guided breathing/any kind of calming video
  • sand timers
  • weighted blankets
  • blank paper, pens, pencils, crayons (to draw emotions, write a letter, or reflect on strategies used in the space)
  • books
  • yoga cards with pictures (self-guided)

And the list goes on. Here are a few photos of my favourite spaces (brought to you by Pinterest🎉):

the result of my Lokoff award grant, the Peace Corner - Thoughtful Spot, for kids who just need to take a break, think, calm down, focus, breathe, or just be for a bit. the spot is for encouraging mindfulness and resilience in the children.

Fun with Fidgets - Inspire Me ASAP

Classroom safe space calm down corner

These mindful spaces don’t have to be anything fancy – it could even be a desk somewhere in your classroom – but I do believe that there should be a safe space for any student to go to calm themselves down if they need to. Of course you would go over expectations for this space with students at the beginning of the year (and throughout if needed). Despite possible difficulty in the beginning, having this space would be beneficial for everyone in the classroom.

How would you incorporate a mindful space into your room?

Until next time,

S.

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