The Chalk Blog

Marcee Harris

Marcee Harris is the Evaluation and Curriculum Specialist with Learners Edge. She is a veteran elementary teacher with a passion for engaging teachers in equity conversations and working to transform education through technology. On any given evening you can find Marcee having a dance party in her kitchen with her husband and three kids.

Recent Posts

Assessment Made Easy with Google Forms

Five Useful Resources on Google Forms

Here at Learners Edge we value your time as an educator. We've put together this quick and comprehensive slideshow on how to use Google Forms to simplify and speed up your classroom assessments.

Five Useful Resources on Google Forms:

1. Save time and go paperless

2. Add dynamic elements

3. Customize your quizzes

4. Don't reinvent the wheel

5. Use comments to support growth

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

4 Steps Towards a More Inclusive Classroom

 

Creating a Diverse Curriculum

When I think back on all of my years of K-12 schooling, the only diversity included in the curriculum (if you can even call it that) were the ubiquitous studies of westward expansion, slavery, civil rights and a few prominent figures that emerged from those time periods. What I took away, as a young person of color, was that the influence and contributions of people like me were relegated to the margins of history. An additive to the mainstream narrative.   

As classrooms in the U.S. continue growing in diversity, teachers are tasked with creating a more inclusive curriculum to reflect the voices and perspectives of a broader spectrum of people. By teaching the established curriculum, minority students often feel disengaged and unempowered resulting in lower levels of achievement.  But when educators work to create a set of curricula that is relevant, meaningful, and affirming to diverse identities, their efforts result in positive outcomes both socially and academically. Research also shows that not only students of color, but white students greatly benefit from a diverse curriculum as the exposure enables them to grapple with multiple perspectives and build a better understanding of both self and others. 

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Topics: Positive Behavior Supports, diversity

4 Secrets to Successful Parent/Teacher Conferences

Working with parents made simple!

As parent-teacher conferences loom, educators start to get nervous. We work hard to get all of our ducks in a row-- the test score data, the report cards, and the examples of student work.  There’s an enormous amount of anxiety and stress thinking about how to accurately convey details about each student’s successes and struggles. Will parents push back on my assessment of their child? How in the world will I squeeze in all I want to say in a few short minutes? Will the parents even show up? 

Since becoming a parent I’ve been able to sit on the other side of the table and see things from a different perspective. I’ve reflected on the purpose of the parent-teacher conference and come to the realization that less is more!  Less data, fewer numbers and more stories, more connection. 

Reframe your thinking, save time and make each meeting work for everyone with our 4 secrets to successful parent-teacher conferences! 

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Topics: educator wellness, Parents

6 Screencasting Tips

6 Ways Screencasting Can “Level Up” Your Classroom Instruction Screencasting isn’t just for Flipped Classrooms and Webinar recordings anymore! Teachers are now using this flexible medium to provide a more personalized learning experience for students, to connect with families, and get more done during their workday  

A screencast is a video recording of your computer or device screen that allows you to narrate actions, and include webcam footage. If you haven’t logged in and created a quick screencast yet, don’t worry.  It’s easier than you think! We’ve created an easy guide to get you started and curated our top 8 ways to use screencasting to level up your classroom. 

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

Digital Lesson Planner

Toss that lesson plan book and go digital instead!

If you’re still using one of those lesson plan books, or (*gasp*) sticky notes to plan your weekly lessons, it’s time to upgrade. I went digital years ago and haven’t turned back since!  

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Topics: Classroom Management, Technology

NEW Course on the Importance of Student-Teacher Relationships

Great Teaching Starts with Relationships

Classroom management. Starts with strong relationships. 

Student achievement. Starts with strong relationships.  

Social-emotional growth. Starts with strong relationships. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching. Starts with strong relationships. 

Notice a pattern? When it comes to quality teaching and learning, authentic relationships are key! The science of learning tells us that from birth, relationships and experiences drive brain development. As teachers, we have to opportunity and the duty to make relationship building a priority, thereby positively shaping the developing brains of the children in our care.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Educator Coaching

5 Easy Tips for a Co-Designed Classroom Makeover

Creating a Well-Designed Learning Space

Every year, when summer was in full swing and my teacher batteries were nearly full, it never failed-- I would move into classroom planning mode. I don’t mean the curriculum stuff, but fun planning like classroom desk arrangements, wall decorations, and bulletin boards. I would head to Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers to find the perfect posters to match our carefully selected classroom theme for the year. So much time and energy and money went into these efforts, with the hopes that it would have a positive impact. But a recent study found the opposite to be true-- children are more likely to be distracted in a highly decorated classroom.

As we embrace more teaching and learning practices that offer our students a voice and choice in designing how they learn, it follows that we should allow for that same sense of empowerment in designing the place where the learning happens. Flexible, inviting spaces with student needs at the center have the potential to create feelings of safety and relevancy, which then lead to a willingness to engage. Spaces where students have a say in where materials are kept, how tables are arranged and what goes on the walls, can do just that. 

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

The ISTE Hot List

5 Ideas for BOLD Change in the Tech-Infused Classroom

The yearly celebration of all things edtech, known as the International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE) conference was a success!  With nearly 20,000 attendees and 10,000 exhibitors taking part in the annual pilgrimage, there was more than enough to keep this girl busy for 4 full, exhausting days. Although, not too busy for a famous Philly cheesesteak (or two)!  While I wasn’t able to bring cheesesteaks back for everyone, I did bring some piping hot takeaways and fresh resources straight from the ISTE griddle just for you!  

Take a look at our ISTE 2019 Hot List, which provides a taste of what the ed tech experts had to say about the future of technology integration.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology, 21st Century Learning

4 Ways to Nurture Creativity in Your Students

Let Your Students' Creativity Shine!Did you know that children are born with a higher capacity for creativity and imagination than adults? According to a study conducted by NASA, out of the 1,600 school children (4-5-year-olds) tested on their ability to develop new and innovative solutions to problems, a full 98% of them fell into the genius category! 

It’s a fact that kids are creative geniuses when they arrive at our school doors, however, this creativity greatly diminishes over time. Perhaps this downward trend occurs because we encourage the safe, secure route in our educational system. Maybe it’s because we teach children to follow directions and to excel on standardized tests that only measure limited knowledge and skills.

So how can teachers help students find their inner creative genius? How can we create a learning environment that honors divergent rather than just convergent thinking? Below we outline 4 great action steps for tapping into your students’ innate ability to create, innovate and solve problems.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development, Student Engagement

6 Tricks to Make Learning Sticky!

Designing Brain-Friendly Lessons for Students

Have you ever been in the middle of teaching a lesson, and refer to something students learned days, weeks or months prior, and get this response-- “I’ve never learned that!” or “You never taught us how to do that!” I can’t tell you how many times in my 16-year career I’ve heard my students say this to me. With frustration, I always put it back on the students explaining that I taught them the information last month or that last year's teacher surely covered the skill. 

What I realize now, after learning more about the psychology of learning, is that more often than not those kids were right! The students hadn’t ever really learned the skill I taught them. Most likely they had just memorized information for the test and promptly forgotten. The learning wasn’t relevant, emotionally engaging or connected to prior knowledge, so it didn’t stick! It turns out that while I may have gone through the motions of teaching, the facts and skills just didn’t stay with them.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development

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