Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

Use student collaboration and keep your batteries charged   Leave a comment

Building Relevant Classroom Collaboration
The are 35 pages with techniques to put your students to work. This compares a traditional lesson with a lesson based on collaboration. There is a section focused on building effective time lines for class lessons. Included is a defined classroom collaboration lesson which you can use as a model to build your own lesson. Let student work drive your class – not your talking and talking. If that’s not possible in your class then you need to boost your classroom management skills. Take if for a donation at

Recharge Your Batteries
Understanding your own energetic is a key to better teaching and living. Check out the guide at

Or, use the biomat that literally charges you up and is approved by the FDA at


Posted April 29, 2010 by Jack in Curriculum

Teachers: Seven Top Replete Resources & Strategies   Leave a comment

Time to begin gearing up for classes and building those dynamo lessons ….

You’ve had a well deserved summer break, ready to start thinking about lesson ideas and learning strategies for this new year?  You don’t wanna just use what you did last year or even the year before.

Hey, we would have never stepped foot on the moon, it ain’t no hoax, doing the same ole stuff year after year.

Yep, I encouraging you to break outta da box – starting now!


Teach using projects or service learning feed:

Teach with online games feed:

Posted July 26, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum, curriculum design

Sizzle of service learning: helping students shine and extend their reach   Leave a comment

I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to do a Service Learning (SL) project with students.” The neighborhood of my school is recognized as the poorest area in the state, most students don’t speak English as the primary language at home. Over 80% of students take advantage of the free lunch program and just a small percentage will get to college; even fewer will graduate with a degree. When I first considered sponsoring an after school club to do recycling, I thought a few students might be interested. I had to gear myself up to deal with the overwhelming student participation, which was all volunteer on their part.

Read the article, get my top six service learning resources, at

Posted July 15, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum

Teachers – easily – tweak your tech skills   Leave a comment

Two free and simple to use resources allow you to fortify your lessons, in any content area, using technology. This is not rocket science, all you have to do is find the best fit for your classroom or campus. Doing this over the summer means you can save time later. Plus, show off your skills when school opens. Here they are:

1. Digital Storytelling
Not to worry, there are step by step instructions on setting this up and rolling it out. You can also browse some examples. On the second page (click arrow at botton of first page) are the detailed answers to all the potential “how to” questions.

2. Learning with online games
Thousands of free games that can be simply used over the internet – no special software required. This is a big win-win: students learn the subject content and technology skills.

Posted July 14, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum

Teachers: free & potent – 27 resources to juice lessons   Leave a comment

July is almost here, summer break is in full burn. Well deserved, it’s time away from the office – no students, administrators, or cajoling parents. Yet, it’s worthwhile to peek at the hill looming on the horizon. I have some quick and easy professional development ideas you can peruse from the comfort of your lawn chair to ease the climb. Why? I think they’ll satisfy that thirst for improving your teaching skills without taking dollars from your pocket, and they won’t reduce your leisure time. Heck, you can even use ’em to fulfill your Professional Development Plan (PDP) for 2010!

Nope, what I’m suggesting is not languishing away in a classroom or even attending a vendor sponsored seminar. What I’m talking about is an hour or two a week – or less – in the comfort of your own schedule to consider improving the architecture of your instruction techniques. That’s correct, my intention is to have you grow these three core teaching abilities:

1. Classroom management skills: this influences every aspect of teaching for both new and experienced teachers.

2. Multimedia resources: time to start putting technology to work for you, in whatever capacity you have available in your classroom or school.

3. Pedagogy ideas: taking stock of what you’re doing and listening to the experts provides new window(s) for improving student performance.

Let’s be real, acquiring additional skills in these abilities makes you better equipped to capture student attention. When you’re doing that, you have engaged students, which means they’re more adept at building lifelong learner skills.

Capturing student interest is no mystery. I know this first hand from my high school teaching experiences. When students are interested in class material; student disruptions almost disappear and class time flies finer than the stealth bomber. Lesson material that works with digital students makes concepts relevant to life outside of class. Research shows this is best accomplished using hands on activities, integrating technology, creating and managing student collaboration, and accenting important ideas with video clips (15 minute maximum). As you raise the bar on your lesson making ability you demonstrate your commitment to excellence.

Like I said, all the resources I’m about to mention are absolutely free. Need software to be more productive? This package works on any computer and is in multiple languages; use it to make and distribute documents, slides, or spreadsheets: Open Office.

1. Tune up classroom management strategies
Without a solid set of classroom management skills, learning happens by luck. Effective teaching isn’t completed by winning personality contests or being the student’s buddy. Instead, learning occurs in a safe environment where students are curious and there is an atmosphere of respect. Just like a business has a set of rules and procedures to produce quality products for its’ customers, a teacher must have a clearly defined set rules and procedures to conduct class. An extensive set of ideas and procedures can be found at this scale of social competence site. Another source for some tips and techniques is this RSS feed, beware it also wants to sell you a book at the end. The Empower A Child blog has 10 excellent tips for teachers. On the left hand side of the Cooperative Learning Network page there are several useful articles worth your review. My favorite there is Teaching Social Skills. I had to adjust it somewhat for my high school class but those ideas definitely worked for me. Of course, The First Days of School, by Harry Wong, is the perfect resource for every teacher library. Every time I pick it up I select one or two new ideas to use with students.

2. Tweak your multimedia skills and resources
One picture is worth a thousand words. Images quickly validate obtuse concepts and put the brain in gear. For example, students may not get the verbal aspects of biotic and abiotic, but show ’em pictures of people, plants, and fire; now they have a window to apply what is being discussed. There are plenty of ways to use multimedia besides just using PowerPoint or slide presentations. Thinking is an essential ingredient learning at any age, using the Big 6 you gain a critical thinking resource and a web site that offers a ton of worksheets and presentations. Start using media kits to supplement your lesson resources. You can find one for any subject across the K12 curriculum by visiting the Orange County DOE site. Some other favorites of mine: listen to famous speeches, find any sound and download it, and then the perfect music to spice up classroom atmosphere or to add on your web page. If you, or your students, are going to be using online much at all you probably want an avatar. You can easily build one at YourManga and it’s available in multiple languages. The next step is exploding your video library resources. Use one of these qualified sites to fulfill your video cabinet with thousands of professional clips to enforce class concepts: National Geographic,, and Teachers Domain. When you want to bring context of the past, present, and/or future to your class, check out the tons of streaming video (no downloads here) at TED and Fora TV , or scour How Stuff Works for material galore on any subject in an encyclopedia set.

3. Dust off your pedagogy schemes
Each educator has their own teaching style, refining that art of instruction never ends. Just like professional athletes always train to be on top of their game; superior educators look for ways to refine teaching methods. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. One way is reading current research on education. The Internet Public Library (IPL) has an array of reading material on education reform and measurements and assessments. Another way is fine tuning the methods used to do actual instruction. One of the most comprehensive sites I’ve seen is provided by Intel. They’ve assembled substantial material to support building student collaboration in classes and improve student critical thinking skills. Project learning is a proven technique for getting students actively learning in classes. Eutopia provides a RSS feed with studies validating this methodology. They also have an extensive video catalogue for educators covering a range of topics on effective K12 learning. The Global SchoolNet is a project exchange site. It’s a myriad of projects teachers and students have contributed from around the world. The content at Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education is aligned with math and science standards and it offers clearly defined projects. Their goal is to have classes use their projects to do cross-curriculum work. Students contribute from their local area, giving students in other areas an opportunity to learn about new areas while also exploring unique data contributions. At Merlot, teachers post their lessons and then get reviewed by peers. Covering all content areas, you can dig into high caliber lesson material for your new lesson or to revise an existing one. Another option is participating in a variety of quality academic communities.

I encourage you to share this article with other educators and participate in our reaching out to 25,000 teachers. To obtain additional free resources to support K12 teaching, visit my portal at

Steu Mann, M. Ed., an education journalist, is retired from careers in teaching and project management. He owns Education Reporting ™ Inc and works with teachers to implement experiential education curriculum.You can reach him at educationrebel@gmail dot com (.com).

Posted June 30, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum, Instruction

Measuring Curriculum Checklist   Leave a comment

We know that every school and classroom has a curriculum, but how can you measure it?

Everyone will agree, both parents and teachers want the curriculum to develop students.

Traditionally, curriculum will focus on academics. With all the high stakes testing taking place, which starts in middle school, it makes logical sense to focus daily lessons on testing material students will see. I know, I did that when I was teaching.

As a parent, I want my kids to develop the skills to be a progressive thinker. Ya know, be able to think a situation through by examining the circumstances from different perspectives and considering the different variables/outcomes. Then, use that information as a foundation for the choice being made.

Let’s be honest, all us grownups can remember at least one or two bad choices we made. I’m not saying it’s impossible to stop making bad choices, I just want my kids to be equipped with the thinking skills to reduce bad choice making.

I have developed two methods; one for teachers and one for parents to measure curriculum for their unique education requirements. Teachers can use it for developing and delivering more potent lessons. Parents can use it to evaluate classes and student performance, discussions in teacher-parent conferences, or in choosing a school.

I’ll be talking about my methods here for a few weeks. If you want me to send you a free five point Curriculum Measuring Checklist (CMC) send me an email:

Teachers, get your free CMC by sending an email to:

Parents, get your free CMC by sending an email to:

Simply put, I have the nitty gritty on what is beneficial to assist you in developing effective lessons. My information drill down into the core of what works and doesn’t work in educating the whole child during the K-12 years.

Wishing you the best life has to offer, Jack

PS: Visit my education research site here.
PSS: Get my free ebook here.

Posted March 12, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum, Instruction

Education Guiding Principles: Diversity   Leave a comment

One thing I heard over and over during my elementary school was that this country is a melting pot.   We have cultures and ideas from around the world that all contribute to making this the great country it is. And, even though I grew up in an inner city neighborhood in the Midwest, looking around my classes all I saw were pretty much other white kids.

Now, so many years later, when I talk to my students about what they learn in their Social Studies classes, they don’t hear about that melting pot, but just look around any class and you’ll see it.

Diversity is here to stay in our culture, which includes our classrooms. As a teacher, it takes on a new aspect in the effort of learning.  Why? Because students have different moods and behaviors each day. Because students have different learning skill sets. Because students have different emotional needs. Because students have different perspectives….. and so on and so forth until, as a teacher, I realized the most important ingredient about my classes is the diversity of the students. With the appropriate teacher effort, the diversity of students in class can provide students with real life examples of “the outside world” every day during studies….. aka building social skills while building also building academic skills.

So why am I carrying on about diversity as a teacher?  I think the national curriculum we are promoting in schools, even though no one official calls it such, is pushing teachers to homogenize classes and lessons to the point of mass producing students to do well on the test gauntlet they face once middle school begins. Nurturing student diversity, thus classroom diversity, is a key to enhancing the learning skills and social skills of students.

The Blue School is an example of very naturally including diversity in learning. If you get a chance to review their mission statement and results you’ll be amazed, like I am, at what the concentrated effort of a few people can produce.

Happy 2009!  Jack

PS: Wanna start the new year with an excellent teacher read? Try  Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto who is an an award winning teacher In New York.

Posted January 7, 2009 by Jack in Curriculum, education