Archive for December 2008

Teachers Collecting $125 For Sharing Their Wisdom   1 comment


…. that’s how much wisdom teachers sent me.
…..without any entries submitted there won’t be a list of winners to provide.



Posted December 31, 2008 by Jack in 1

Education Guiding Principles: Responsibility   Leave a comment

Typically one might consider responsibility to be “towing the line” or doing behaviors that are expected under certain circumstances.  In education responsibility is more a compilation of ownership, right action, and congeniality. I think educational experiences come in all shapes and sizes but the deeper they resound the more organized chaos is present.

Students must own the effort they make, which in the end will translate into the knowledge they acquire from the activity exercise during class: what they learned.  The easiest way this I’ve  accomplished this is using relevant lessons – a lesson that relates what is being taught in class as somehow enhancing student life skills or enhancing the quality of student life outside of school.

While working in a class activity there is certain action that is beneficial to obtaining learning. For example, if Johnny and Anita are chatting it up – not working on the activity tasks:  working with other students to investigate, collect information, and make educated guesses, then there isn’t really much hope they are acquiring the necessary info to learn anything. But, just nudging them to focus on the tasks while they continue chatting it up will transform a wasted activity into a contribution to their acquiring necessary info in the goal of completing class work. Digital students can multi-task better than I and many other “adults.”

Every situation has some form of decorum and class decorum is set forth in classroom management polices and activity guidelines.  A class without some guidelines is unorganized chaos.  The line separating unorganized chaos and organized chaos is very fine, but the difference is organized chaos has the existence of assimilating learning above and beyond survival skills.  For example, at the K-12 level, telling students they need to use the supplies and their notes to make a poster explaining XYZ has less learning potential then enhancing those instructions by asking students to include specific information in the poster: title, theme, illustration of cause and effect.

When students are expressing responsibility they are producing a context that naturally builds life skills. In these situations a “ teacher” moves out of the traditional role of being  the classroom “expert” dispelling wisdom, instead she/he is a facilitator – a resource for students – that guides the learning  taking place.


Posted December 30, 2008 by Jack in learning

Education Guiding Principles: Curiosity   Leave a comment

Learning is active – right?

….that would translate into I’m going to have to want/do/know “something” in order for my “education” to occur.

For example, how did I learn about the raging new social network games: Pet Society and Kidnap!?

I logged in and accepted the invite from a friend and began playing them, one game at a time. Sure, I’m pretty slow at picking them up but I’m making progress day by day and discovering the features of the games.

My “education” of social networking games expands ….not in a class or formal setting ….. instead it happens as I bang around around on my computer – driven by my own curiosity.

I’m not a big gift buyer during the holidays, but I enjoy going to the store and exploring the toys and games. How? I pick them up and read the boxes and talk it over with myself (quietly) or with my shopping buddy.  Again, my own curiosity is the driving force that creates this opportunity for my “education” on holiday gifts.

In traditional schools, a classroom with out some activity that will fire up student curiosity has a degrading potential for learning. And, this is one of those teacher qualities – the ability to peak and maintain student curiosity –  they don’t teach you in pre-service programs that churn out thousands of new teachers a year.

One bright spot in school “education” where curiosity is harnessed by design is Sudbury Schools,, where students learn at their own pace, imbibe responsibility and experience education. When you take a few minutes to read about how they have setup “education” you’ll be amazed and surprised.


Posted December 29, 2008 by Jack in innovation

2008 Top Three Education Innovations   Leave a comment

Three creative and innovative education ideas in 2008 include the following:

1. Pay-To-Behave Program Debuts In D.C. Schools

2. Open Book Exam: Prepare Kids for Life or for Exams?

3.  Service Learning As A Tool For Reducing High School Dropout Rates

…and then there is always the Quality Counts Report full of various measurements….

Have a happy 2009!


Posted December 29, 2008 by Jack in 1

Teachers Collect $125 – Share Your Wisdom   Leave a comment

……that is correct, you can put a hundred and twenty-five bucks in your pocket for talking about your class ….. or your teaching.

Here is how it works…..

I am looking for K-12 teachers (any grade or content area) to write at least 1,000 words to describe their teaching. Why? I want to print your teacher wisdom in my ezine starting In January when I roll out a brand new ezine format. That is correct, I want to share your wisdom with other teachers so they can apply it with their classes.

The key points…..

A. Your entry must be sent to me by midnight on December 30th, 2008.

B. Every entry will receive a free subscription to my Education Rebel Ezine and 50 of those entries will be selected to receive $125 in cash.

C. The cash award winners will be posted on this blog by January 12, 2009 and payments will be mailed to those winners by January 9, 2009.

These are the two pieces of information your entry, a minimum of 1,000 words, must include:
1. A brief introduction about your teaching background and class (one paragraph maximum).

2. Discuss one of the following:
– what works in your teaching style to encourage students to learn?
– explain professional development work that has improved your teaching.
– describe a project based learning activity in your class and the learning
– describe a service learning activity in your class and the learning results or impact on campus or community.

Entries must be sent in a Word document or a Google document.
Each entry must include your name, email address, school name, and your mailing address (where the check will be sent). Entries must be received at no later than midnight on December 30th. The cash award winners will be notified by email on or before January 5, 2009 and their payments will be mailed to them by January 9, 2009. All entries will receive a free one year subscription to Education Rebel Ezine. When you submit your entry you’re giving me the rights to print it in my ezine for  unlimited issues along with your name, grade, and state. I will not share any other information you provide with any other organization because I respect your privacy.

If you have any questions you can send them to me at

I know you’ll have time over the holiday break to share your teacher wisdom with me and I’m paying you to do it.

A beautiful sunny day today, Jack

Posted December 10, 2008 by Jack in Curriculum, Instruction, pedagogy

Tagged with

Effective Teachers Have WILL   3 comments

…..was looking over what has helped me the most in my teaching to reach my “getting organized” goal for 2008 and thought I’d blog it.

It’s fair to say that it takes a special type of person …. a certain chemistry … to be a teacher. Not everyone has it or is willing to make the effort to obtain it. I’m all for keeping the effective teachers and helping the ineffective ones, but from what I’ve seen and heard, usually the ineffective teachers don’t know the slide they’re on or won’t agree to being supported – they’re just doing a J.O.B..

I detailed my thoughts about teacher chemistry in the TeacherHandbook (free) that you can pick up at so I’m not going to carry on about it here.

What is WILL? Very simply, it’s Whole children Influenced by Living Learning. I have being doing lessons with a WILL focus for years and I’ve been helping other teachers do them – because they saw the positive results in my classes. WILL starts with a martixed lesson using an OPTIMUM design which is easy to put together and implement.

There are two phases of this OPTIMUM design. The first phase is that a least 40% of your students must be familiar with working in student groups …. plus ….. your students need to be familiar with doing certain critical thinking exercises that are consistently woven into your lesson activities.

A matrixed lesson is built using Objectives, Activities and Resources.  Activities are a part of almost every lesson in my classes. Students working in groups have opportunities to flex their social skill learning muscles. I use different “comparing” exercises to get them comfortable with looking at  similarities and differences between things – thus building their analytical skills – and building those critical thinking skills too. Once you have 40% of your students familiar with working in groups you are on your way!

One “comparing” example is having students examine completed white  boards (posters, models, pictures, reports, and so forth). The goal is to have them describe similarities and differences between whatever they are comparing. I like the completed white boards since students work on them in groups after I give all the groups the same prompts for a specific set of questions or challenge or scenario. There is never a wrong answer, make sure you always use student comments and work as a contribution to the learning objective, or a contribution to their critical thinking skill, or just a plain ole “good work” comment.

Note I didn’t say that 40% of your students are “comfortable” with working in groups. I’m not a believer in comfort zones in class. On the other hand, students need to be familiar or confident with working in groups. When 40% have reached that point they’ll pull the rest of the class with ’em.

BTW, If you trust me enough to talk with your teacher friends then I’ll  instantly give you three of my highly rated classroom resources. Click here to learn more.

The critical thinking skills develop as we educators help students ask better questions. While they are comparing the boards I always do a two minute talk about the constant comparing every one does all day:

– why did you wear those clothes today (you compared them to other clothes)
– when you go to the store, why do you buy some tomatoes and not the others? (you compared them to other tomatoes)
– why do you hang out with Anita and not Sally? (you compared their characteristics and choose one over the other)

This kinda conversation qualifies this “comparing” exercise as relevant to students. When kids see the link to class work and life “outside” they will participate. Bottom line is, we all compare stuff constantly without everything thinking about doing it. As a teacher, bringing the “comparing” activity to the surface is a potent relevancy tool for your arsenal.

Traditional education got students used to memorizing: the development of thinking skills that recognize the value of patterns, self-questioning, associations, and mental pictures ….. and you can use that as a starting point during  “comparing” exercises.  The more of these exercises you do in class the better worn the path becomes in the direction of boosting the core-thinking processes that naturally induce metacognition.

BTW, if you’re interested in some easy reading material about critical thinking to get 2009 started in a fresh direction take a look at my handbook. (Click here for free copy)

Enjoying a winter rain and wind storm, Jack

PS: After the holidays I’ll be detailing phase two about using WILL with classes.

Posted December 9, 2008 by Jack in Curriculum, Instruction

Tagged with ,

Teacher Creativity Opens Learning Potential   Leave a comment

Checking the net for education stuff this morning I found an amazing (and true) story of a couple of teachers at Woodland Park HS in CO ……..

They came up with a redesigned lesson idea….. put it to work ….. and everyone wins! The teachers have more individualized time with students, students can learn in ways that work for them, plus the test scores are improving!

What did they do? They stopped lecturing in class for 45 minutes everyday, gave students a DVD of the lecture to take home, and then used class time to work individually with students on problems. Check out the news interview here.

Staying warm, Jack

Posted December 7, 2008 by Jack in Curriculum, innovation

Tagged with , ,