The Chalk Blog

Fostering Curiosity in Your Students

Strategies for sparking curiosity in the classroom

Curiosity primes the brain for learning. It makes learning more rewarding and helps students learn more, and better. It also improves learning retention and deepens understanding of content. Pretty clear, right? Curiosity is a necessity in our classrooms, and since we are in the business of helping teachers, we thought we would provide you with a list of methods for awakening curiosity in your students.  

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies

Building a Bridge to Skill Acquisition in Eight Easy Steps

Help Your Students Gain Positive Skills

At its widest point, the Grand Canyon stretches 18 miles (29 kilometers) acrossIt is 6000 feet deepThats more than a mile! Many people consider it to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon is an example of amazing geology where it seems impossible to get from one side (where you are) to the other side (where you want to be). 

A similar canyon exists in classroom management: Challenges with student behavior (where you are)…great student behavior (where you want to be). 

So how do we do it? How do we get from where we are to where we want to be? The answer is simple. We build a bridge. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development

Trade School vs. 4-Year Degree

Adapting to How Students Learn BestBlake was a junior in high school in my first year of teaching. He was in my 6th period of the day. His hair flopped over his twinkling and mischievous eyes, and we had a great relationship. We’d joke around and tease each other. He drew a lot- hysterically funny comics, especially. He was a gifted swimmer who consistently performed well in the pool. He also liked to create things and tinker around with different materials. 

Unfortunately, he just didn’t want to be in my English class. Blake missed assignments, failed tests, refused to retake or submit things late. I coaxed, cajoled, tried to meet him halfway, find alternative assignments. Results were few and far between; he straddled the line between a D and a F for most of the trimester. Blake’s mom, his science teacher, and swim coach were involved with the effort too. We even went down to the 11th hour- having him submit some work so he made it above a D so he could swim to compete in the state swimming meet. He barely scraped by. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Engagement

When Empathy Hurts

Trauma in the Classroom
With the increase of schools and educators using the best practices of trauma-informed teaching, it is important to note that trauma-informed schools should include measures of care for all involved. Working with students who have experienced trauma takes a toll on teachers, support staff, specialists, and administrators in the form of secondary trauma or vicarious trauma.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Trauma Sensitive 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

What Teachers Can Learn from Reality TV!

Using real-life experiences to increase student engagement

The Bachelor, Survivor, American Idol, Real World, Deadliest Catch, Shark Tank, Duck Dynasty…the list goes on and on. While these shows often seem like just a teacher’s guilty pleasure, thego beyond encouraging procrastination and providing a reason to eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting. These shows are based on reality, and they typically suck us right in!  

What does reality have to do with these shows? Very little when you actually pay attention to the “stars” and the plots clearly sketched out by writers and producers. That being said, reality does have an impact when we are working to engage learners in the classroom. We could take a cue from how these engaging shows are structured. Real-world learning increases engagement, creates opportunities for students to make connections and develops student skills that will be used in adulthood. This authentic learning provides a reason to the student who is always asking, “Why do I even need to know this?” Real world learning activities often allow students to make an impact on a larger scale. And, if this type of learning is done well, it will suck your students in too! 

Here are six methods for bringing the real world into your teaching: 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, 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

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

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