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Welcome Students on the First Day, Every Day (Guest Post)

By Diane Dougherty

Welcome Students!

How often have we seen this greeting posted on billboards in front of schools?  How often have we ourselves posted such a greeting in our very own classrooms?  And a fine greeting it is too!  We want our students to feel “welcome,” to know that each one is a part of the larger community of learners, to experience the warmth that comes from a sense of belonging; in short to feel gladly received into our classrooms, our “home away from home.”

When we invite guests into our homes, what do we do to ensure that they know they are welcome?  Can we apply some of the rules of being a good host/hostess to our beginning of the year (and, really, throughout the year) relationships with our students.  As one can find everything online, I googled “How to be a Good Host” and was hardly surprised by the multiple sites available on that topic.  Here are ten of these rules from various sites (listed in bold and in italics) that I believe transfer particularly well to the classroom:  Read more

From the Classroom: Three Things to do in the First 48 Hours

By Tricia Ebarvia

Glance at almost any education focused website, blog, or Twitter feed in mid-August and you’ll find no shortage of first-day-of-school activities. In one of my education-related Facebook groups, someone recently asked for suggestions on how to spend the first day in class. Others asked about how much time to spend on community building activities versus how soon to jump into the curriculum. Not surprisingly, opinions varied, as they should.

As for me, I’ve spent less time reviewing the syllabus each year and more time on doing things that will get us reading, writing, and talking more quickly. My goals for the first two few days of school, then, include the following:

  1. Give students a general overview of the course
  2. Set up the classroom environment
  3. Learn about student preferences and interests

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Teacher to Teacher: The Art of Questioning

By Lynne R. Dorfman

As teachers, we often feel like we should know the answer to every question. Often, we make sure that the questions we ask in our classrooms are questions we can answer. But is it necessary or even effective to ask these kinds of questions most of the time?  What does a teacher asking questions of a class expect the class to learn from the questioning process? Can we learn from our students who just might have possible answers to questions that we have not imagined?  Read more

Obituary of a Teacher-as-Examiner: Notes from the Summer Writing Institute

The Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) is a regional site of the National Writing Project (NWP), whose goal is to improve writing and learning in the nation’s schools. Each year, PAWLP and Writing Projects across the nation invite experienced, talented educators to study literacy development and the teaching of writing in a relaxed, collegial atmosphere. Institutes support teachers as readers, writers, and as researchers of their own literacy practices. Institute participants have ample opportunity to read and write and to reflect on their experiences as readers and writers. The Institute functions at various times as a seminar, workshop, and laboratory. A reflective inquiry stance allows participants to define, refine, and revise their thinking. Below, 2015 PAWLP Institute Fellow Jason Fritz shares excerpts from his Institute multigenre inquiry project: “Students’ Perceptions of Writing” Fiction Piece: Obituary of the Teacher-As-Examiner Role.

“Even with the changes that have taken place over time, however, the large majority of the writing students do is still to the teacher-as-examiner” (Applebee & Langer 2011).

Obituary of the Teacher-As-Examiner, 37

Teacher-As-Examiner died suddenly on Thursday, July 16, 2015 at the Front of the Classroom due to complications following an intensive three-week PAWLP Summer Institute where he continuously took an inquiry stance. He was 37. Read more

Monday in the Middle: Wish Girl and Firegirl

Looking for a few more good reads to squeeze into these last few weeks of summer? Here’s another installment of Monday in the Middle with librarian and media specialist Gabija Fischer!


wish girlWish Girl by Nikki Loftin

 

Peter Stone, of Nikki Loftin’s Wish Girl, wants nothing more than calmness, but his home is filled with noise.  His parents shouting and his baby sister crying drive him to search for solace, and that is exactly what he finds in the valley near his new home. His solitude, however, is short-lived, for someone else has happened upon this magical valley as well. Annie, self-named “wish girl,” searching for a similar peace, finds more than that. She finds Peter. And in each other they find a listening ear, a life-changing friend, and a glimmer of hope in their seemingly hopeless lives.

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