Monday, October 31, 2016

Kids Deserve It! Week 5: Chapters 13-15

How do you give your students the chance to show what they are capable of and give them some control of their education? How do you support students who may go unnoticed or feel left out from their peers? Also, feel free to discuss any other ideas from chapters 13-15.

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Next week we will read and discuss chapters 16-18.

85 comments:


  1. On the first day of school I ask students to offer information about themselves by naming two possible career/job interests and answering three of the following five questions of their choice:
    What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?
    What is your proudest moment?
    What are you good at that nobody knows?
    What do you want to learn about (in this class or anywhere)?
    What’s most important to you in life?
    Who are your heroes or role models? On the back of the paper, they write any information they want me to know but have not already included in any of their responses. The students are honest. I reread the responses a few times a year to remind myself how I need to approach a student or include some variation of math activities. These are middle school students who are daily changing their minds and their outlooks.

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    1. Each of these questions, no matter which they choose to answer, allows you to get to know a student on a deeper level, and relate to them and get a glimpse of what they come from. It is awesome you can refresh your mind and go back to them. Great idea!

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    2. I really like your questions. I have a similar assignment, but I usually hand it back to the students after reading it. I like the idea of keeping it and rereading it. Thanks!

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    3. Revisiting responses is a great idea, and this is very similar to the idea of reflecting on a plan after delivery, as taking time to do these things can be so informative. I have been surprised at the true learning value that revisiting anything has for teachers.

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  2. As I have mentioned in previous answers I have the opportunity to provide instruction with a wide range of students. I have students that I see daily, once a week, and still others that I may only see once total. My students that I see daily and weekly I always start the year off by having them either bring me bags or colleges that share who they are and what interests they have. I also create a “Me Bag” to share. I feel this activity allows everyone to shine and the students really seem to enjoy sharing no matter their ages. This assignment has also allowed students to realize that they may have common interests with others in the class. I share with my students that nobody is perfect, including myself, at everything but we all have something that we like or enjoy doing.
    I also instruct one afternoon a week at the local juvenile detention center and this opportunity to be with young individuals is also very eye opening. Unfortunately with these students I have to be more guarded because of their situation but I do try to see inside their lives and share a little of mine. I also never know for sure if or when I may see them again so I try to encourage them to want to better themselves for themselves. I saw a young man last week, who told me that he had been in jail on and off since he was about 10 years old. This made me so sad because he seemed like a nice young man. While we were working together we discussed his situation and different strategies on how to manage his anger. I know that I am not the first person to speak with this young man, but I hope that he can combine some of strategies that he has been provided with and improve his life. He said that he wants to do something better with his life. He actually is doing better and should earn enough credits to graduate possibly in June. I told him that I really hope he can get his life together but I can’t do it for him and that he has to want a better life. He said that he is really going to try! I hope so because I did see potential and I shared that with him as we worked on the lessons. I hope in some small way that I am really doing some good with all of my students!

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    1. When I taught speech, I had the students present a You in a Bag. It was informal and short, but some of them really enjoyed sharing a little of themselves with the class. I also liked that they could see a shared interest with someone that might not know personally.
      I believe we are all doing good. Just like our students, we have strengths and weaknesses and reach out differently. But that allows for the different students to connect with us.

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    2. You in a Bag sounds like so much fun! I am borrowing this, thank you!!!

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  3. I asked my students what they want me to know at one point this year. Some were very light hearted, while others gave me insight on what they are going through.
    Supporting students who feel unnoticed is difficult for me. I try to invest in each of my students, but sometimes teaching gets in the way. This is an area I need to be more observant in. One student in particular stands out in my mind. I am going to try to go down and sit with her at lunch this week.

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    1. Definitely! When we go fully from bell-to-bell, it can be hard on those days. Some students are hard to reach, no matter how hard we try, but we have to keep trying, or find a teacher who has connected with them! It pays off. There was a kid who I was sure disliked me and my class. I greeted him every day and got nothing back. Never spoke in my class. On the last day, I was cleaning up, and found a letter from him on my desk, with pictures that he had drawn of Harry Potter because he knew how much I liked the books and movies. We're making a difference, if we know it or not!

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    2. I do something very similar. I teach younger kiddos so I send home prior to school starting asking the parents what they want me to know about their kiddos and to give me 3 words to describe them and finally what they want their kiddo to accomplish during this school year. I carry those sheets around with me...so I know to check back with those sheets often...
      When I taught kinder and first grade I used to eat lunch with the kiddos daily in the lunchroom. I rarely ate in the teacher's lounge...I learned so many wonderful and sad things about my students lives...that I would have never known had I not.

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  4. This week's questions leads me to how I am trying to do what is different and better for my learners. Examples of how I give them more control of their learning is giving them more voice and choice through collaboration. More voice is offered when they are allowed to form focused questions out of their curiosities about a topic and then given the power to search for those answers. Their choice comes in where they are allowed to choose the format in which they want to present their findings. They are in stations working collaboratively and are helping each other succeed. I know we have heard this before, but I keep it in mind when planning learning experiences. I cannot be the sage on stage, but the guide on the side to ensure students are playing a more active role in their learning. We do a lot of station work in forming curiosities and finding answers. Rather than the students depending on me to form their review game, they prepare study guides and games in their stations. An example would be in using Quizlet.

    Those that are usually unnoticed or left out are now part of stations given roles or parts of activities to complete. They have gone from being passive to active. The group is there to help them along the way. We continually discuss what it takes for groups to succeed together. Technology allows those typically unnoticed to now be heard. Rather than calling on students; all students answer questions that are formed through some form of technology. We use Poll Everywhere, Peardeck, Recap, Today's meet, journals, blogs, and more.

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  5. I give my students the opportunity to show me what they can do by letting them have a choice. I incorporate a number of projects and try to leave room for choice. For example, if working on a book project, students might be able to choose from several projects like a report, mobile, prezi, or book in a bag. I have guidelines for each project type, but they can choose a mobile instead of a report if they feel they are not a strong writer or prezi instead of a book in the bag if they prefer technology. I have also taken suggestions if they have an idea they would like to try. In fact, that is how I was introduced to Prezi. I assigned a powerpoint and a special education student asked me if he could use prezi instead. He showed me a presentation he had created for another class and prezi became an option for everyone.


    Engaging the quiet students has always been a struggle. I try to utilize a variety of modes of learning where their voice may come out such as discussion boards. I have found sometimes the pressure of having all eyes on them is intimidating. A discussion board alleviates some of that pressure and puts quiet students a little more at ease. Additionally, I will try to recognize quiet students for something positive will a call home or a High Five annoucement. This might not have them talking in class, but it usually has them talking to me.


    Chapter 14 speaks to students not feeling connected. I talk to my students about getting “rooted” in school. Fortunately, my school has a lot of sports and clubs - there is truly something for everyone. I encourage my students to get rooted by trying a couple of things they would not normally try. They usually end up meeting new friends. It is hard to control what happens outside the school, especially when it comes to not eating and clothing. I currently have a student with a terminally ill mother that is living with a friend. The washer and dryer just broke, so today he showed up to school, but he is out of dress code because he has no clean clothes. My team is trying to find him some clothes and figure out how to wash his clothes for him. It is really hard for students to come to school when their basic needs are not being met.

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    1. Thanks for sharing these ideas! I love the part about reminding students about being rooted in school, especially in helping each other out.

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  6. I like to offer choices. For example: pick 5 questions from the list below to answer for your quiz. That way students can show me what they know. To keep people from being left out, I switch up groups all the time. I also hand out pair cards so you always have a different partner. I teach an advanced high school sociology class.

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    1. Neat ways to mix students up without labels.

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  7. With teaching Spanish, our subject is very fluid, and kids have their strengths, and things that just "stick". We do a lot of writing and speaking activities. I give them pictures or open-ended questions to speak/write about in Spanish. It's a chance for them to show me what they know. Use the words they are know best, and the verb tenses that they are most comfortable with.When I give them a particular tense, they can avoid the verbs that give them problems! They have to be creative and find different ways to say what they mean, and showing me their strengths in the language.
    I have a student who is ELL. She is doing well taking on Spanish, but not very confident. I sat her by the hardest-working, most confident student, and she has taken the hesitant student under her wing. I'm seeing more participation and smiles from her now! That girl is her safe place to ask questions, since she isn't comfortable asking in front of the whole class.

    Page 104 (From Kids) was a great reminder, and something that I often forget. Again, being in the trenches every day, we get going and forget that these kids are human! They are busy and tired, have family problems, social problems, etc. We are tired and busy. We get frustrated and have outside problems. We all try to check them at the door, and sometimes we miss little clues from the kids. I give no more than 10 minutes of homework a night. They are busy beings that need to release energy (AND GET SLEEP!!)

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    1. Flexibility is sometimes hard to allow when regimented by grades, timelines, deadlines. Pages 104-110 are good reminders of life and living on many levels.

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    2. I agree that we need to remember that everyone at one time or another has problems and we just can't fit everything in our schedules!!!

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  8. As I read these chapters a few things really stood out to me. #1 Every child has a story. We often don't know what is going on in their world outside of school. If we ask the right questions and truly listen we will learn more about them. At the beginning of the school year I always send home a note asking parents to tell me about their child...something they want me to know, something they want their child to accomplish/learn, and 3 words that describe their kiddo and why.
    Secondly this really made me think about a comment a fellow teacher said to me years ago...years before I had children and it stuck with me: "Behind every child is a parent that loves them dearly." Every time I look at a child I think about that now...especially now that I have children of my own. I know that I want my kiddo's teachers to love them as much as I do. Being a mom has helped me be a better teacher.
    When I taught kinder and first grade I had the students keep data notebooks. The monitored their own growth and made academic goals for themselves. Every child is on a different page and their goals vary so much. I felt that it was important that the students became their biggest fan along with me. This helped encourage their learning and a sense of accomplishment when they met their goals.
    I also ate lunch with the kiddos daily rather than eating in the teacher's lounge. This helped me with building a relationship with them. I learned so much in that 30 minutes. It not only made them feel special...it opened my eyes.
    Now that I teach preschool and only have a handful of kiddos it is easier to make them feel a part of something...I encourage their thoughts and ideas...and praise them often. I want their first experience in school to be a strong foundation creating a love of learning! I tell them daily we treat everyone with love in our hearts. I always make sure my voice is happy and calm...I found this helps them my mind to their voice and actions as well.
    Finally...I loved the quote in this chapter: timothy 4:12 "And don't let anyone put you down because you're young." Teach with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity"
    These little blessings are our joy! I love that...if we take a minute to step back and remember why we do what we do...it should put a smile on our face!
    Chapter 15 I wish I knew...couldn't be more right on! When I did conferences...I always encouraged parents and kiddos to come...this way we all had a voice!

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    1. Mrs. Laura, loved your post. I also enjoyed the timothy 4:12 scripture. I want to have that posted in my son's room.

      I also invited parents and students to the conferences. We took time during the school day for the students (2nd grade) to review their data binders and make notes to tell their parents about their progress. This one on one conference time helped each child have quality time with me. It allowed me the opportunity to praise them and give them something to work towards. It gave the student an opportunity to evaluate their work and to celebrate with their parents. There is always SOMETHING we can celebrate!

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    2. I also send something home at the beginning of the year for parents to fill out about their child. I think it gives me more insight into the child and their lives at home. I know that when I have lunch with students, it gives more insight into their personalities and makes a deeper connection.

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    3. As a mom, I appreciate it so much when a teacher asks about my kid, with just a simple email. My oldest is so very hard on herself, and aims to please. She is very sensitive. She will beat herself up if she has to "pull a stick" even once. I warn the teachers to expect tears....not because she is mad, but because she let herself down, and feels that she disappointed the teacher. Little quirks and knowledge like that about a kid can be so important! Is there another way to correct my child's behavior that makes her get the point, without the tears? For the kid who doesn't care about pulling sticks, is there a better way to correct the behavior so they understand?
      We can't individualize everything for everyone, but when we see patterns, we can adjust our overall methods to fit particular classes, or use a few different ways, instead of 20+ ways.

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  9. I like to give students choices. I will often give an assignment and it may be open ended or I may give two or three ways they can go about the assignment. I often find myself helping the quieter students become better at presentations or video productions.
    When they do well I tell them so and when they dont do so well I tell them that in a positive way also. I have found that students value honesty and being able to have a choice in their education as long as they get to the end goal what map they take to get there really is usually of no concern to me.
    Every child has a story and we need to listen to it and help them get the most out of their education.

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    1. Choices gives ownership doesn't it. I have noticed better outputs if they get to pick how to present the info. From year to year different groups make different choices which adds variety. to the final outcomes too. Growth is an objective also! Don't we all like a choice in what we do?

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    2. I'm all about choices! Kids' strengths lie in different areas, and not all assignments are going to speak to all strengths. I try to give choices in projects or writing prompts. Sometimes students will be able to choose whether they show their mastery of material through a test or a project. Throughout the process I try to guide them in making responsible choices--which will hopefully provide good experience for making responsible life choices in the future.

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  10. I gave all my second grade students google accounts. I taught them how to create documents and presentations. All the other teachers thought I was crazy. It took them a little practice, but with some patience they were able to type up stories and create a book report presentation. I absolutely agree that we sometimes limit our students by what we think they can/can't do. Students often rise to our expectations. Set the bar high and reach for the stars!

    I always find it interesting on recess duty when students continue to play with another child that repeatedly mistreats them. I often wonder why the want to play with someone that isn't nice or doesn't want to be their friend. The only thing I can come up with is that students want acceptance. They want everyone to like them. I can't say that I blame them. I just think it's sad when they keep playing with the same hurtful person when there are many other kids that would love to be their friend.

    I'm often frustrated with administrators and their decisions. I know I don't fully understand the reasoning behind choices or if it's really not their choice at all. We all just have to work together to give our students the best education possible.

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    1. Way to step up and teach your kids how to use those tech tools! I have found that students love to use that and they put more effort into their work, than just writing about something.

      Recess duty is definitely the time to learn about your students. I have found out who plays well with others and who could use some social skills.

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  11. I try to give my students as much choice as possible. So far, that means picking books they want to read (not assigning novels), choosing their reading and math centers to complete for the day, group activities (STEM projects), seating choices, and project based learning activities. I just received funding through Donors Choose and I will be implementing a classroom makerspace. This will allow the students to compete a task that I give them, or allow them to create on their own time. I will also be implementing Genius Hour into the classroom, so the students can complete research projects on what they want to learn. I am stepping out of my comfort zone with these last two ideas, but that is how I fell in love with STEM!

    By allowing the students to have more choices, this will allow them to learn at their pace, as well as show what they know and things that they are passionate about.

    To be honest, supporting those students who feel left out or unnoticed is difficult for me. I think that is something that is learned and practiced throughout a teacher career. If anyone has any ideas that they implement, then I am all ears. Maybe once I start incorporating my makerspace and genius hour, those students will be able to shine!

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  12. I enjoyed reading these couple chapters about a child's story and voice. I agree that we don't know what their home lives are like. Being an art teacher, I am fortunate enough to be able to teach every student in our school. I want the students to feel comfortable and for my classroom to be a "safe" place for them to know they can come into. However, that being said, I have high expectations for all my students and I tell them that all the time. "Think the sky is the limit" and you can make it happen. I challenge my students with very difficult projects, because I want them to learn, make mistakes, and grow from what they have accomplished in the process. I am very big on students working together as a table, class and lifting each other up. I also want students to have the freedom to be creative and make their own choices in their projects. I show them the basic project and usual give them one requirement and then they can go above and beyond. Something that I tell my students, that more than anything I want them to know that I love them. I tell them that that is more important to me than teaching art...so it must be pretty important! I also tell them that it is my job to teach them to be a good person and have a good character. One person can have a huge impact on so many children...I hope that is what I am doing :)

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  13. On the first day of class I always pass out a little sheet of paper with questions like 1. What is your name? 2. What do you want to be called? 3. Tell me something about yourself? The answers I get to the third question used to surprise me when I started teaching. But, after a few years I realized it's a great way for students to open up and they really do with that simple question. Another way I give them some control is with projects for my class, a lot of times they get to choose what it's over. For example we do a huge unit of their future job. I let them pick the jobs they'd be interested in at 4 different education levels. Another example is a commercial they have to make over manners. They pick the topic/manner for their commercial.
    I try to learn all of my students (100-150) names in the first two days I have them in class. I used to get new students each nine weeks but now it's just every semester so it is easier! I then always address them by their name/what they want to be called. In addition to that I always try to say hi to everyone who enters my room or passes me in the hallway. If I walk through the lunch room I like to stop by tables and say things as well.

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    1. I love that you give your students a choice with their projects. I think this makes the kids excited and more interested/invested in their work. I bet they love your class!

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  14. Like many of you have said you try to get to know all your students. On the first day of class I do a variety of ice breakers. With my Interpersonal class I do a "5 finger introduction" (thumb someone your close to, a teacher/subject you like, a leader, your weaknesses, and a relationship you need to work on), in my Family Wellness class we play a round of 'family bingo', and my foods class plays M&M get to know you, and my Child Development class plays 'categories' with baby type items. I also have them complete a 3x5 index card of interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and what their weekly schedule looks like. I mix it up a little each year but I always do 'Ice Breakers' on the first couple days. If kids don't open up for the games they usually will with the notecards.
    Control in the classroom is something I struggle with. I do give options for completion of projects, essay questions on tests but as far as what we're going to do or study-not so much. I tried to do this my first year teaching and I failed miserably. Needless to say, I haven't done it again. I suppose with a few more years teaching under my belt I could try again and give them some topics we could cover.
    I have a class of 23 in Child Development that has many kids who didn't really want to be there but needed a class. Its a big group for a class that covers such intimate topics. I have about 5 who really grind my gears (out of their seat, constant talking, moving, smart remarks, don't turn in work etc...) I struggle enjoying the other 18 GREAT kids and feel I am really the one missing out on some great kiddos. Those kids are missing out on me giving them everything I have. So I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any on enjoying the majority when a small group distracts the rest of the group.

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    1. The 5 finger introduction sounds like an activity that most teachers could incorporate in their classroom the first few days of school. It wouldn't take a lot of time and you could learn five things about each student. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. These chapters reminded me of a job I had a few years ago. I was a Homeless Liaison for a LEA at the time. Due to an economic downturn, we had an influx of homeless students. I set up a teacher/student mentoring program. Every student was assigned a silent teacher mentor. The teachers volunteered for this program. The purpose was to establish a positive connection between school and home as well as give the student someone they knew they could talk to who would not judge them. The only people who knew about the relationships were the school counselors and me. The teachers only knew about their student and were never aware of others. Homeless students often feel out of control of their lives. Some are living in cars, hotels or on a different couch every night. The mentor program helped the students feel like they were in control of their education. They knew if they needed a winter coat or food for the weekend, they could tell their mentor and it would show up. The rest of their life may be out of control, but this small program helped many students stay engaged with their school life.

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    1. Wow! What an awesome program. Sad that it is needed and that kids have to worry about food, clothing, etc., but it's reality. This program really lifts some burdens and worries from these kids. I'm sure you really made an impact.

      Two sentences from Ch. 14 seems fitting here, "The smallest stone dropped into the largest lake will leave ripples felt miles away. We can't undervalue our impact, our reach, and our potential."

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    2. What an amazing program! Think of the kids that their life has changed because of it!

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    3. The teachers were the ones who truly saw and made the impact. I was never turned down when I asked someone to be a mentor. Many of the teachers donated time, money and energy to their students. One even became a foster parent to a HS senior so he could finish his school year, graduate and accept a scholarship to a state university. Their belief in the system is what made the program a success. I am so thankful to have been a part of it.

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  16. I wish all teachers would read this book. I believe so many teachers get caught up in "test scores" and forget their passion for children and teaching. I remember one of the key questions I was asked during my first interview with a superintendent, "What do you teach?". The answer was "Children". He didn't want to hear about the subjects, curriculum, etc., but "Children". I've always remembered that, and that was almost 20 years ago. We became teachers to empower children to reach their full potential.
    I try each day to make each student feel special and smart. I tell them that it "makes my heart happy" to see their hard work and see them following rules so they can be great learners. When a student does make a wrong choice I talk with them privately and discuss the situation. Most of the time the student just wants attention. This actually happened twice yesterday, both boys that crave attention, but it was very disruptive to the rest of the class. So I was patient and spoke to them to tell them I knew they could do better, that they were capable of so much more, and I believed in them.
    As far as supporting students who may feel left out: I call my class "friends", so we talk about how we treat friends and how to be a good friend. I try to teach them that they are all important, and we have to care for one another and work together as a classroom family. Our school also has a "Buddy Bench" on the playground. If students don't have anyone to play with they sit on the bench and if someone sees them they ask them to play. This has been really fun and heartwarming to see the kids reach out to their peers.

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    1. I have recommended this book to so many people! It does help you remember why you got into this profession in the first place!

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    2. Yes I agree this book needs to be a requirement for our entire school system. All teachers, new and old need to read this book. I love that it is written by administrators and administrators need to read this as well :)

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  17. Doing small things to create ripples down the line is what this is all about to me. I get to do life with my students and hopefully make a difference along the way. I know they have made a difference in my life as well. My students are all so different and continue to surprise me everyday...I have the pleasure of having classes that teach everyday life skills-- which allows for students to really open up. In Child Development today we were talking about Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development. The conversation is still bringing a smile to may face hours later :) Its amazing what these kids are holding inside that just comes out when conversation is actually available to them. The conversation went from Childhood Memories to School Projects to "Talking" to Parents to Politics to Lady Gaga. We get so wrapped up in deadlines and doing the next activity, we forget to just be still and listen to our students and just let them talk. This actually allowed those that don't normally talk to do so because we were in small groups as well as sharing as a whole group. Fun Stuff!
    I also allow for student choice in projects. I don't necessarily think this should be all the time. Students also need to try things they might not be as good at to give them a chance to get better in those areas. However, I believe allowing students to shine in their strengths helps to create a bond of trust as well as excitement for what they are doing.

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    1. I love how you call it creating ripples down the line. It's so true! We may not see the difference we make in a child's life. But we still try because we hope down the road the difference will be evident!

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    2. I totally agree with your comment about deadlines and rushing through to the next activity. Setting time aside or simply making time to let students freely talk and really engage in the conversation would make a world of difference to a lot of students.

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  18. The chapters this time just reiterated to me that we never have any idea what the students are going through before they enter our doors.
    We have noticed and used the bonds that students have with "other staff" in the building. We have "cashed in" on these relationships to continue to grow these students that feel no one cares about them. We have relationships that have been built with our custodian, our secretary and our bus drivers. The kids will "hit it off" with someone, you don't know why, but that adult cares about them and the kid about them, so you continue to grow that relationship and the two both benefit from it.
    It's so great to pour our energy into our future! No matter what it takes!

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    1. Beautifully said Jenni! It can be a tiring job, but if we keep our focus and passion in check, only great things can happen!

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  19. i ask the students what they want to learn in my classroom. I build the relationship with them. I create a positive energy in my class. I give high fives and eat lunch with several of the kids just to talk about how the day is going.

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    1. These are all great actions Missy. Keep up the great work in building a bond with your students. We know the pay-off is huge.

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  20. I feel that in my content area it is especially important to allow students autonomy in their decisions about coursework, projects, and showing their strengths through English. In order to do that, I give choice for essay options and project options. I encourage students to show their strengths and talents by selecting project choices that express those talents. As an example, a student may have the opportunity to write a song and perform it for the class instead of writing a report and presenting it to the class.

    I was, however, blown away by the idea of elementary students understanding and learning coding. I have attempted to learn more about coding at different points in my life with overwhelming struggle. As the text expresses, there are ways to involve students and play upon their strengths without giving them a strict guideline or assuming that they cannot handle it.

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    1. I'm in the same boat as you - it's hard to give true autonomy in English class. Giving them options as final projects is what I find myself doing often. Too much autonomy can cause problems for high school students who already have a hard time with time management! It's a daily struggle for me. I want to give freedom, but sometimes when you give an inch, they take a mile, if you know what I mean.

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  21. Addressing the students using technology and setting high expectations: I found it interesting that the last assessment I gave to my students was a PBL using technology. A gave them the driving question they were to research and the impact points to cover in their project. I intentionally kept the rest of how to complete the project vague. Almost immediately, three hands shot up with questions about how they were supposed to do this task. I kept my response still vague to challenge them in the "how". They were frustrated at first until they started to experiment with imovie, google slides, keynote, prezi, etc. All of the groups found a techy way to present their info on their own and most turned out very nice. The best part was, I didn't really help with the techy stuff, they learned from others in the class. How neat to see them reaching for the unknown. A few groups experienced some roadblocks, just as life will, but they also found solutions to those walls. A think the problem solving that arose from project was worth as much as the content. let them experiment!

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  22. Sometimes I feel like I need to be superman to cover all the needs of the students, colleagues, family, etc. I really like the statement in Chapter 15 that "We're all in this really hard thing together. Sometimes, we laugh: sometimes, want to give up. But we are a team." I say this about my school quite often with the exception of saying we are "family" instead of "team." We attend the banquets, sporting events, plays etc. to show support for our family. I even involve my personal family in the servant events, sporting events, and structure of some of my lessons. My sons helps me find music and dance moves for some warm up activities I use. They also help me take tickets or money for the tickets and work on math skills and being courteous to others. Great life lessons in helping others and being a servant.

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    1. Yes, Pam!! It's one of the things I love most about our school. We truly are a family. We might not agree with our "brothers and sisters" all of the time, but when it comes down to it, we have each others' backs! A strong team (family) of teachers and administrators definitely makes a stronger team (family) of students and parents in this journey with us!

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  23. This is not my answer to this thread, but I wanted to share that I attended the webinar with Todd tonight, and it was great. He just barely touched on some of the things in the book, many from the first few chapters. You can watch the recording here (and take the quiz for a certificate) http://home.edweb.net/webinar/kids-deserve-it/

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  24. I don't work with students every day, but I often am invited into classes to discuss digital citizenship and to collaborate with teachers on integrating digcit. Whenever I have an opportunity to spend time with students, they typically have TONS of questions about digcit. I allow them to ask questions and I tell them upfront that I will be completely transparent about why we make the decisions we do. They love to talk about web filtering and have very thoughtful questions! I find that taking the time to allow them to ask questions is very powerful instead of just talking at them about digcit.

    I love that integrating web 2.0 tools can help give our quiet students a voice. When working with teachers, we try things such as starting with a blank Doc and letting students create their own rubric for a presentation. Collaborating online and discussing using digital tools is a great way to give everyone the opportunity to "speak" and build confidence.

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    1. I agree! I was just talking to someone yesterday about NOT "talking at" the students, rather including them and allowing them to be a part of the discussion/learning. It keeps them engaged and they get to actively learn.

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  25. So many of my students just don’t do anything. It’s hard to give them autonomy when they will waste it and do absolutely nothing. I find myself saying often, “It’s your education. It’s your life. You need to take control of it!” The lack of intrinsic motivation can be frustrating at times. Sometimes I give students choices at the end of a novel, things like write a review of the book, create a board game about the book, create a book cover, etc. Kids like doing those types of projects. I teach English 9, so really it’s a lot of reading, discussions, and activities over the reading. This year I had each student choose an academic goal to work towards for the end of the year. Many of them said they wanted to achieve a certain GPA, or to not have any missing assignments in their hardest class, etc. I guess that was a way of giving them control as well.

    Making sure students feel welcome into our “family” is a big part of the program I teach in. We invite students in for chats to check in on them, for example. Just last week we called a student in that had given all of us a very hard time at the start of the year. She was literally uncontrollable and we all knew it was a cry for help because of what her home life was like. We called her in last week to congratulate her on her hard work and that we have been impressed with her new behavior. She was so awkward during that meeting and I know it’s because she had never received a compliment like that from a teacher. Ever. We showed her (and some of us literally told her) that we love her and are proud of her, and we can’t wait to see how she continues to improve. And I know her behavior changed because we showed her that love and compassion every day. Because we treated her like family. We didn’t give up just because she was giving us a hard time and not doing her work. We proved to her we care. And she changed. It was an amazing transformation.

    So many of my students (like the one I spoke about earlier) have crazy family lives and issues I cannot imagine dealing with at the age of 15. Chapter 14 really spoke to me. We have to show kids we care because we may be the only adult in their life that does! I would love to give my kids an “I Wish You Knew” assignment and see what they have to say. I’m sure a lot of it would make me smile (because they have such great, spunky personalities) but I know a lot of it would make me cry as well. I am in the middle of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird right now and one of the most famous quotes from that novel is, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” It’s so true in our profession. We have to look at things from our students’ point of view and remember what it’s like to be their age and deal with some of the things they have to deal with.

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    1. So many of the concerns you have about motivation are also mine; these struggles sometimes get in the way of me handing over the ship to the students when they show little evidence that they care to navigate purposefully on their own. However, I can also read that you care deeply and try your best. This is all any of us can do in the face of difficult students and days. I look for the little victories that you mentioned with individual students. Sometimes the things I teach are not what I thought I would teach or what lines up to a standard, we work through what they need to move forward and find success in any way we can.

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    2. Thank you for your kind reply. Yes, small victories are what keeps me going!

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  26. In the past I have done todays meet chats with the students to find out how things are going and what they would like to see different. While I have not done one yet this year, I think it might be time. The thing I like about doing the todays meet is that it does give the students a chance to have some say in things. While we may not be able to do all they would like to see done, we are able to do some. I have two rules when they log in, they must use their real name, and they are not allowed to be negative. They do not have to agree, they just cannot put another person down as a result of that disagreeing. These are always optional chats. Some of the kids will even follow it, but not participate, and that is ok.

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  27. I have really enjoyed incorporating on-line homework. This has allowed me to really see what the students can achieve and how hard they will work. The students are all given different problems, so they are forced to work them independently, which really shows me what they know (not what their friend knows). And, the students are allowed multiple attempts at each problem, which lets me see how persistent they are and how hard they are wiling to work to understand the material. I think the switch from worksheets to on-line homework has been an asset for me and also for the students. The students can now have immediate feedback on their honework and can work at mastering each topic.

    I support all students in my classroom, even the ones who are sometimes left out. Since I like to use partner work regularly, I want all students to feel included. So, we set up clock partners at the beginning of each semester and the students have assigned partners that they work with. This allows students to work with many other student in the class, and it helps everyone to feel included.

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  28. Each new year, we go over rules and expectations with our students. We discuss good sportsmanship, good language, and good positive attitudes and how important it all is. I always discuss the importance of being nice. I emphasize that it is easy to be nice and we don't always know the other person's story. We never know what they have had to deal with before they came to school. The words I always say are "you don't have to be friends with everyone, but you can be friendly to everyone" I remind them on occasion about this discussion. At times, I allow students to make their own teams in some of the sports we play. This gives the kiddos some ownership in their teams and they enjoy it and it works! I give them 2-3 minutes to form their teams and I tell them they must work together to be sure every person is on a team, their job isn't complete until everyone has a team. I make a point to always speak to students when passing in the hall. Most all of the time I stand at my door to greet the incoming students. It is so important to make them feel important!

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    1. I like your quote and think I'll start saying that myself, "you don't have to be friends with everyone, but you can be friendly to everyone".

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  29. I let my students choose different activities they want to do in class. Or I often let them choose the order of their morning work. We do a lot of voting in my class. I know they are only in kindergarten, but I try really hard to offer a lot of "choice" in my room. I really want them to feel like they have a voice when they are in my classroom. I always listen to my students when they are telling me something and I want to know my students on a personal level. I always do my best to have all class discussions with different topics. I am often questioning my students about their personal lives. I would NEVER want a student to feel like they are unnoticed in my classroom. One of my favorite aspects of teaching is getting to spend time with the kids who are in my classroom for 180 days.

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  30. In my elective PE classes, I let the students help plan what sports we play in class. They also give suggestions for test questions, picking teams that are fair, and giving lead-up game ideas. I may not always agree with their suggestions but I listen to them. My 9th grade PE classes are getting ready to go bowling and if the student cannot afford to go, I find a way to allow them. The student has to come tell me personally they do not have the money and in some cases I would never had thought they could not afford to go. I also find out who needs clothes that do not fit me anymore and give them my old clothes or my oldest daughter's. I had a fundraiser for a student club I am in charge in and we will sponsor a couple families at Thanksgiving and Christmas that are going through a financial hardship. We just want to let them know that their school is thinking of them!

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  31. I do not think that I give students enough ownership of their education, and this is an area that I should improve upon.
    I do give students some responsibilities throughout the week that have been well-received. For example, on Fridays, my students are assigned to go to MyOn.com The state offers this site, free of charge, and students can access thousands of books with audio versions. My students are assigned to select any book to read, and at the end of class, each student delivers a 3-5 minute report on the book they have selected. The students develop a confidence when speaking in front of others, and the class learns some fun facts about various subjects.

    Supporting students who are left out can be challenging, but I once read a post from a teacher who came up with a strategy that I have not forgotten- every Friday, before school lets out, she announces a new group activity for the upcoming week, and she asks students to write down the names of the fellow students that they would like to work with. Students turn in their selections on a slip of paper before leaving for the weekend. This strategy has been very revealing for this teacher, as the information that she receives tells her who has friends, and which students are not connected. This teacher said she had been doing this "ever since the Columbine shootings."

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  32. I teach preschool so my students do get "free play" where they get to choose what center to play at. This is one of my favorite times of the day. I get to see students using their imaginations at the block and dress up area and I get to see them using their creativity at the writing center. This time also allows me to get down on the floor and interact with the students.
    I teach social skills lessons because I feel like this is just as if not more important as the academics. We talk about how to make friends, how to be a good friend, how to share/take turns, manners, being respectful, and the list goes on. If I see a student that is not playing, I help them ask others to play or have another student ask them. I want students to have a good experience with their first year of school and making friends is a large part of that.

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  33. Given the subjects that I teach, I am able to make project based learning a regular technique in my classroom. I find that this gives students a chance to get outside the box with the knowledge and put practical application to the subject we are studying. The nice thing with project based learning is while there is a rubric, as long as the basics are covered for the points; students have the freedom to show their knowledge in whatever way best suits them. This also allows students who are overlooked by their peers to shine. A student who is not normally outgoing may be able to put together a fantastic project. They may hate working in a group, but by making sure that they understand what their specific role in the group is, they can contribute to the group and still feel comfortable. I think it’s important to give students different avenues to show what they have learned. It helps the student stay engaged, and I believe it gives a more well-rounded view of general retention.

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  34. One way I give students control is with my composition lessons. I do several music composition lessons throughout the year. Some are done individually and some in small groups. These activities have some parameters that must be met, but students are given the freedom of creativity to make it their own in what rhythms they use or instruments they will choose to perform with. My students also try to earn free time in class by staying on task throughout the lesson. They love the chance to pick a favorite song to sing or music game to play with their free time. I also use Quaver Music as a supplement. My students love getting on their quaver accounts and choosing what musical stuff they will learn for the day.


    For the students that go unnoticed, I try to keep communication lines open with them. I use humor as much as possible and make sure their classmates know when they’ve earned a compliment from me. I have found that, often times, those kids are the musical ones that suddenly surprise everyone.

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  35. In my 8th grade Health class students have an opportunity to pick any health topic they feel passionate about and create a persuasive presentation. I give them some basic things they need to cover but the rest is up to them. Students often pick topics that have affected them personally or within their family. I really stress that my classroom is a "safe place" to give their presentation. It is wonderful to see them share their opinions with the rest of the class. One year, I had a student who refused to give his presentation. I think he was scared of making a mistake and being embarrassed. Eventually, he told me about his presentation-which he didn't realize he was actually "giving me his presentation." But the ultimate, was the rest of the class that were so encouraging and supportive to him.

    In my health class I work very hard to help students feel safe and comfortable to share. I am very honest with them that life can be hard and we have to find positive ways to cope and positive people to help us. I try to connect with students by asking them how they are doing, inquiring about their day, their health or activities. Students know I will share some of my hardship stories with them as well. This past quarter I had a student that asked to go to print something. She was gone quite a while, when I went to hunt her down she was actually trying to make a copy of a picture she'd drawn as a surprise for me. This is a quiet student who I know has many family issues. I will frequently just inquire how she's doing. It is so true, that you never know the power of a kind word.

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  36. I use some tic tac toe activities where students get to choose activities over the topics we are learning. Students are given ideas in the tic tac toe activities but they have the option to be creative with how they accomplish the activities. Students have made Roman Coliseums on Mine craft with these options as an example. I use different strategies to keep all students involved such as popsicle sticks to make sure everyone gets involved before students get to answer twice. I try to make a point to talk to all my students throughout the week and not let any student get through the week without having an individual or small group conversation with me. This year I am fortunate to have smaller class sizes of between 15-21 students per class and this has made it easier to get to know my students better.

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    1. I am trying to use more tic tac toe activities and choice boards this year. I think my students enjoy having a choice on how they accomplish an assignment.
      I try to talk to every student everyday either during homework check or when they are working in small groups. I still have students that don't like to talk but I'm working on them!

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  37. I always like to do a "shoebox" activity where the kids bring a shoebox full of things that help them tell a little about themselves. I teach little kids, so the props help prompt them to talk and share, and the other kids love seeing and hearing about all of their friends. I think this activity helps the kids connect with each other and find out similar interests.

    If I see that someone is being left out during play or free time, I talk the kid and find out what they would like to do. Then, I help them join in the group or activity that they want. I also have many classroom conversations about being inclusive and what it looks like to be a good friend and kind person.

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  38. On the first day of school I look for students who look lost, scared and more overwhelmed than the rest. I also look for students who sit by themselves at lunch. If any of those kiddos are in my classes, I pour extra attention on them. If they aren't, I find them in the halls and smile and talk with them. During class, I learn the names of all my students as quickly as my old brain will allow. :) I also figure out what my students -- especially my fringe students -- are interested in. This way I have things to talk with them about that aren't always just school stuff. When I am making groups, I am sensitive to put my left out students with the ones in class who are just nice to everyone. I also pay attention to the "mean girl" students in class and try to protect my more shy students from these students. As a person who was quieter in class while growing up, I have a soft spot for the collaborative work and what it feels like to the introvert. Not everyone loves the idea of working in groups.

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  39. I try to encourage students to be a part of their own learning and education by allowing them often to make decisions on topics and lessons of the day. I enjoy holding heated discussions and playing devil's advocate to start a fire in their hearts and learn what their beliefs are as I am very aware that we all don't think the same. I enjoy taking votes on things such as projects. I bring attention to the kids that don't directly participate by acknowledging what they would like to learn about and holding them accountable for some of the materials presented in class. I try to ask questions that get the kids wheels turning on issues they may not have otherwise even thought about or considered, "what is my opinion on the matter?" I ask them to provide reliable valid sources to back up their opinions and allow them to try and persuade each other. I believe teaching in this way and using coding frequently I learning helps a child develop an opinion of their own. I have found that often times, after really researching and asking their peer's opinions, they will completely change their own minds on a subject. Regardless of their opinion, learning about a subject takes place and it was on their own free will to do all of that investigating!

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  40. On their first day of class I have students fill out cards where they put their names, choose a Spanish name (Spanish teacher here), and write down a list of favorites or anything else they would like me to know. I try to memorize these little fact cards so I have something to break the ice when talking to them individually. I want them to feel noticed. I greet students as they enter the room.


    To avoid students being left out when choosing partners, I have a deck of cards with word pairs like: muchacho/muchacha, gato/gata, hermano/hermana. I shuffle the deck, turn the cards over, and let them pick a card. Everyone has a partner and it’s different every time. Nobody gets left out.


    One way I let students show what they are capable of is by diary entries in Spanish. I often give guidelines such as use these words any way you want, use some chapter vocab, or use this tense. I explain I want them to try new things, and on the rubric for grading, there is a category for creativity/trying new things/variety. So far it has worked well, and student writing ability grows by great leaps when comparing between the beginning and end of the year.


    I also try to create an atmosphere where it is ok to make mistakes. I demonstrate the learning process by showing that I am always learning. I share stories about my mistakes in Spanish and what I have learned.

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    1. I like your deck of cards idea for partner choosing. I have used similar things over the years.
      It is so important in Spanish class that the kids realize it's OK to make mistakes. I give participation points for right or wrong answer...so they know as long as they try...that is what is expected of them. I correct them ina way that they don't feel threatened or embarrassed by their answers.

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  41. One way I give my students control of their education is to give them choices. I believe that kids put forth more effort and are more engaged in their learning when they are allowed to have some input. I know that it is not always applicable for students to have choices in what they are learning, but I do try my best to provide choices whenever possible.
    Another way I encourage them to show what they are capable of, is to make sure I acknowledge any topics that they kids are more knowledgeable on than their teacher. In the age of technology, I often find myself asking the kids for help. I believe that when they see me learning from them, it is a valuable experience.
    One way I support kids who feel left out or unnoticed is to pay attention. If I see that a student is always picked last when forming groups or has a hard time finding a partner, I take more control in assigning groups. I also make sure to acknowledge strong skills and traits that those kids can bring to others.

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  42. Giving students the opportunity to make choices in the classroom and have a voice in what is being taught and what they are learning are common themes among innovative teaching routines. I feel it is important to let kids know they have some control over where their homework and class discussion will lead them. Many students refuse to cooperate when they feel they are being pushed or required to do a specific task. With just a little wiggle room and offering input into what they want to learn or how they will reach a learning goal, attitudes change immensely and make for a more positive learning environment!

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  43. As I posted earlier, I give my students a lot of freedom, until they prove that they can not handle the freedom. In my small class, I allow the students to choose their semester writing projects based on a starting pretest. I make sure that they gain the skills that they need while allowing them the freedom to chose the topic.

    I treat my library media students as trusted employees. They know their responsibilities and I depend on them to make good choices even if I am not in the library. For example, this semester, I've missed several school days due to a family member's illness. My kiddos have really stepped up to run the library while I have been away. They come in and do the daily required duties before they report to the middle school library where their supervisor for the day is located. They know that I am an email/text away and they contact me if they have questions. Modern technology has been invaluable and I can report that all of my students (even the questionable ones) have been great! I know that most of you do not have this option, but I'm so glad that I do.

    I do my best to make all students feel welcome and noticed in my library. I try to get to know their reading preferences and read books that might appeal to them. Since I read more than 100 books every year, I recommend books all the time. When I attend conferences and workshops, I keep an eye out for books that appeal to those unnoticed kids. Every year, I attend the ALAN (YA Literature) conference. When I get books signed by the authors, I keep my kiddos in mind. Several have been pleasantly surprised when I've called them to the library just after the conference to present them with a favorite title personalized for them.

    I have a core group of kiddos who hang out in the library every morning before school. I send them on their way with a “have a great day” and “learn something new”. Even when I'm having a bad day, I make sure to smile and share a good word. As the book says, kids can recognize “fake” so I try to never fake my enthusiasm for students, books and learning.

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  44. Have the questions for this week been posted? I haven't been able to find them anywhere. I'm looking for chapters 16-18 please and thanks :)

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  45. Often, I notice middle school students that are quiet and seem to keep to themselves. I always try to initiate conversation with them. For example, we have many amazing artists at school! If I ever catch them drawing in class, I use that as an opportunity to learn more about them and strike up a conversation about their artwork and what they enjoy drawing.
    A way I like to give students ownership in their education is by offering multiple ways to complete projects in Health class. For example, during the digestive system students get to pick from a variety of ways to explain the digestive system process. I offer opportunities to create a song, write a story, etc.

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  46. I try to “notice” every student everyday. The smallest gesture can mean so much. If I see a student being left out of a group, I will encourage them to join a near by group without making a big deal out of it.
    I think we need to listen more to our students. The “I wish you knew….” survey would be an awesome tool. I did one question like this earlier in the year about their hidden talent. For the students who couldn’t think of their “hidden talent”, other students pointed out what they thought the person was talented at…so others knew more about their classmates than what we may have thought.
    I encourage my students to show their talent. I try to offer choices in projects and sometimes on regular assignments. Since we are a 1:1 school, this allows the students so many ways to complete their projects.

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  47. I try to come up with innovative projects that allow students to display their creativity that they might not otherwise get to exhibit by simply doing standard bookwork. I often let students explore and learn about topics through their own research and findings. My favorite question that students ask me is, "Can I do this?"
    When I notice students who are left out, I go out of my way to talk to those particular students outside of class. Sometimes this is in the hallway during passing period, or at lunch.

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  48. I try to give my students multiple chances to show me what they're capable of. I don't know if it's because of the subject I teach (FACS) or my personality, or maybe a combination of both, but I really enjoy giving my students the opportunity to take control of their education. I think one of the easiest ways to do this is through projects. I believe that projects really let students take ownership and let's them shine. I am always open for modifications to my projects, based on the class dynamics.
    As for supporting students, I try my very best. We have had a rough year at our school with teen suicide, so it's been on my mind quite a bit. I really try to connect with my students (and any students that I come in contact with). It may be a simple hello, a smile, a wave, etc. As I've stated before, I try my best to connect with them on a personal level, to let them know that I care about them as a person...not just a student in my class.

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  49. At the beginning of the year, I have my students create a mock Facebook profile for themselves. Believe it or not, not all of them have one. (Being in 7th grade, not all of them can “legally” have one because of their age.) It has some basic contact information about them and their parents, but it also tells me about their interests (what subjects they like/dislike, what they like a teacher to do/not to do, goals for themselves for the school year both in/out of school, etc.). I have the kids share with their classmates at least two of the items on the paper, but they get to choose what those two things are. I collect those papers, but we re-visit them periodically throughout the year, like at the beginning of new grading periods or if a particular kiddo is struggling and needs reminding of things they mentioned on there.


    Many of my students seem to fall in the category of going unnoticed or feeling left out by their peers. I address this fact head on with them from the beginning of the year. Becuase they are in my program, they and their peers often see themselves as “different” and that is a bad thing. I always put my own spin on it that yes, you are different. I selected you to be in my program because your teachers and I saw something in you. That something was that you were still willing to work and be dedicated to bettering yourself as a student. I remind them of this fact throughout the year when they get discouraged, which is often, because it’s hard for them to remember that they were chosen to be in my class.

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