The Chalk Blog

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

5 Technology Practices Every Educator Should STOP Doing!

How to Implement Technology in a Meaningful Way!

My first memories of technology as a student mostly involve magical visits to the computer lab where I would get lost in a game of Oregon Trail or Number Munchers.  In the 80s, technology was a special treat, something extra my classmates and I got to experience on occasion.  Fast forward several years and you’ll find that educational technology has come a long way!  Students now have individual devices available to them at any time and in any place.  There are apps and sites for learning, practicing, publishing and connecting.  Technology has definitely helped to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the 21st century, but educators must always stay vigilant in our efforts to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies

10 Reasons to Use Sentence Frames in Your Classroom

A Great Teaching Strategy!

A sentence frame is a teacher-created scaffold using a fill-in-the-blank format designed to help students ask or answer questions verbally or in writing. They are very effective for all students but especially for those who may require a bit more support. Take a look at our TOP TEN reasons you should be using these in your classroom. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Literacy

Why and How to Use Your Walls

Promote Learning Using Every Aspect of the Classroom

I bet you use a variety of methods to increase the likelihood a student will learn the concepts being taught. You might use teachable moments, great books, novel activities, and the occasional dollar store purchase to engage and encourage student interaction with new ideas. But do you use your walls? If you don’t, you should, and here are a few reasons why! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Instructional Strategies

Four Ways to Help Anxious Students Succeed

A Practical Guide to a Calming Classroom

Anxiety in the classroom is increasing in both students and teachers. This creates an added layer of complexity for educators as we continue to tackle mental health and its impacts. To help you out, we’ve put together a practical guide to creating a calming classroom to decrease anxious feelings and increase wellbeing. Take a look at our Do This/Don’t Do This list on lighting, clutter, visual schedules, and safe spaces. Feel free to share with colleagues! 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Social Emotional Learning, anxiety

10 Ways to Build Relationships With Students Who Challenge You

Building a rewarding relationship

Ever think that students behave better for teachers they like? Rita Pierson agrees! 

Ever heard of the relationship bank account? The concept is simple, to take something out of said account, you need a balance from which you can withdraw “funds” when you correct behavior! There is only one way to get that…positive deposits! 

Ever heard of the praise ratio? Experts disagree as to whether it’s 4:1, 5:1, or 6:1, but either way, you should be praising (building the relationship bank account) at least five times as often as you make a withdrawal.   

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Positive Behavior Supports, Teacher Burnout

Grasp and Grip [VIDEO]

Simple ways to increase classroom play

Skills that should be "simple" have slowly become lost in the shuffle of technology. As teachers, it's important to incorporate activities in your classroom that allow students to work on their grasp and grip. Susie, one of our Curriculum & Instruction team members, is here to give you some quick ideas!

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Teaching Excellence, Video

7 Steps for Keeping Students Engaged After Spring Break

Passion Projects

Spring Break has come and gone and you’ve (barely) survived the testing season. Summer vacation is near, but the countdown is still in the double digits.  Your students are restless and so are you. What do you do?! How about introducing an activity that sparks joy and intrinsic motivation in your students. One that allows them the freedom to explore areas of personal passion and encourages creative thinking. Something that combines fun and learning.  How about Passion Projects?! 

The Passion Project movement has morphed over decades from a workplace approach to cultivating innovation among employees at 3M to something called 20% time or Genius Hour at Google.  It’s now a popular practice for schools to infuse personalized learning and creativity into their curriculum. Students spend at least one hour each week researching an area of personal interest and designing an engaging multimedia product to be shared with others.   

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Personalized Continuing Ed

Improving Your Teaching Strategies

Why Instructional Coaching is Important

Sometimes it takes a while to hit our stride in teaching, and feedback is usually pretty helpfulBut scoot past student teaching and the survival mode into the instructional aspects… that’s when we need help yet again. As a student teacher, we’re watched, evaluated, supported, and given specifics for improvement. Then comes that first outing alone in our own classroom, where management of said space and its inhabitants can feel like an episode of Survivor. But with or without years of experience, diving into the intricacies of instructional practice is always better done with the help of an objective eye, as we once had as student teachers. 

Enter Instructional Coaching - the colleagues who have the perspective, knowledge, and experience to challenge us to move towards meeting our goals and realizing our potential 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Educator Coaching

You're in LUCK!

St. Patrick's Day Celebrating & Learning

149 million people.

That’s how many celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 2018 according to statistics from CNN.

If wearing green, instigating shenanigans and being Irish for the day means St. Patrick’s Day to you, you are not alone.

For those of us surviving living in the Bold North, St. Patrick’s Day becomes our beacon of hope. The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day means we are halfway through March and that much closer to spring.

Celebrations enrich our lives. They spark joy, teach gratitude, and can be used to create a sense of community in our classrooms.

In this short (and sweet) video, we get a glimpse of how Ms. Laurance creates a sense of community with her students:

In addition, this blog explains four strategies teachers can enlist to ensure a sense of community is established for students:

  1. Having Morning Meetings
  2. Establishing rules together
  3. Greeting each student as they enter the room
  4. Focusing on relationships from day one

Although these four strategies are right on the mark, we would like to suggest a fifth strategy for the list: Celebrations!

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Holidays

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