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Model Reading Strategies for Comprehension

"But I'm not a reading teacher. I teach literature." I hear this comment repeated again and again as I coach teachers in Virginia, New York, and Michigan and conduct workshops for middle and high school teachers around the country.

I'm sympathetic to their words because these teachers have had little to no formal training in teaching reading. However, reading is a part of daily learning, not only in the primary grades, but in grades 4 and up; and more than 8 million students in grades 4 to 12 are struggling readers. In addition, high school students in the lowest 25 percent of their class are 20 times more likely to drop out of school than are excellent and proficient learners.

Embrace Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizer... that’s just a fancy name for a worksheet, right?

Well, not exactly. A graphic organizer is designed to present information in a different, more visual way. These organizers can increase student comprehension because they help students categorize and make sense of the information they are given. They also take the intimidation out of writing assignments because students aren't staring at a blank page.

Play Fair with ClassTools

I don't know about you, but I always want to be sure that I am playing fair in my classroom. It takes a lot of practice to actively engage students, call on random students and keep the pace of the lessson. ClassTools can help you do this for free!

By using the Random Name or Word Picker tool, fairness comes with one click of the mouse.

Students as Activists: Youth Cancer Advocate Carolyn Rubenstein Interview

Carolyn Rubenstein shows just what students can accomplish. At just 15, Carolyn started her own non-profit group to start pen pal programs between students and young cancer patients. Carolyn, now 24, has expanded the program to provide cancer survivor's with college scholarships. She shares some of their stories in her new book Perseverence: True Voices of Cancer Survivors.

Her example shows the power of student activism while removing the stigma surrounding students with cancer or other serious illnesses.

Educators Behaving Badly

I've recently heard/read a few stories where educators' behavior surprised me - nothing outrageous, but it made me questioned why the behavior we teach and preach to students isn't extended beyond the classroom.

Read about The Discouraging Principal & The Disruptive Teachers

Have you experienced educators behaving badly? Share your story in the comments section or take the poll!

The Many Faces of Parent Teacher Night

Despite being one of the two nights a year that we are contractually obligated to stay in the building after the final bell rings, I genuinely enjoy Parent Teacher Night… for the most part.

Parents to the Classroom Stars
A majority of the conferences are quite pleasant, the “you have a phenomenal child, you must be proud, keep it up” kind of talks. This does not mean that my school is teeming with phenomenal scholars but that the honor role students have parents who will make it to a parent teacher conference. These parents allow you to feel good about your career choice and your ability in the classroom and hell, throw in your charm and your ability name literary elements. Education Pays! Yeah!

However, every fifth conference or so is not as pleasant.

Wordle What!?!

For fun, let's all play Wordle wordplay.
Wordle is a website that lets you create word "art" out of vocab lists, words to describe yourself (or have your students), literature, RSS feeds to any website/blog, etc. They're great fun to organize and identify topics using a more visual medium. There's a pretty extensive gallery, but it's not searchable, so you have to go page by page through user entries.

Homework Woes

Homework used to be the bane of my existence. I’m pretty sure my little friends felt the same way too. I had a laundry list of complaints about homework. Again, I’m pretty sure my little friends did as well.

However, homework is not going anywhere, so let’s try to tackle some of those issues on the teacher side of things, shall we?

Terminating Text Books?

Hasta la vista, text books.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is launching a state-wide initiative to encourage schools to explore online, open source instructional materials instead of textbooks, according to an eSchoolNews report.
This is both a move toward the current trends in digital media and a desperate attempt to confront the $24 billion budget deficit in the state. Existing online resources are being screened to determine if they meet state standards.

This Week in Rap

Rap music... you get jiggy with it, right?

Maybe not, but many of your students know and love it. Here is a way to use their music to engage them with weekly news and current events.

Browse out to Choose the topic of the week and see that latest slideshow with the weekly news in rap.

Interview with BrainPOP's Allisyn Levy

If you haven't met Moby, then you're missing out.

Moby is the robot-friend who will help you get your students' attention, thanks to BrainPOP and their animated educational videos. Allisyn Levy, director of BrainPOP Educators, was nice enough to give TeachHUB the inside scoop on BrainPOP's innovative approach to helping teachers bring some flair into their classrooms.

12 Easy Ways to Use Technology in Your Classroom, Even for Technophobic Teachers

Everyone wants teachers to use technology. But you're busy -- meeting standards, prepping students for tests -- and maybe you’re not too fond of computers, anyway. Never fear – there are easy ways to bring your classroom up-to-date, technologically.
Here are 12 easy ways to prepare for your ed tech adventure and try activities at every level of experience.

Got Rigor?

There’s a new word running up and down the halls of our school and that word is RIGOR. Teachers have been both praised and slanted by administration in the past month and a half for the respective abundance or lack of rigor in their classroom.

“Now that class is rigorous,” “That lesson was full of rigor,” or “Where was the rigor in that?” were some of the exit lines of a Learning Walk I accompanied my principal and assistant principal on last week.

The problem is that they know what they are looking for when they pull out their rigor rulers during classroom pop-in’s but many of us teachers don’t. Getting a privileged ear before and after the quick five minute “mini-observations” that made up our Learning Walk, I gathered the following about what they are looking for in terms of rigor:

Teaching Tolerance

The highest result of education is tolerance ~ Helen Keller

Since questions on tolerance and acceptance don’t often appear on standardized tests, Helen Keller’s message can too easily fall by the wayside in these stressful times in education.

Intolerance, prejudice and hate in children are too often inherited or a result of ignorance. There are a tremendous number of resources available to help you open the minds of your students and broaden their understanding of racial, ethnic and gender stereotypes and differences

School Supply Slump

At the beginning of the year, many parents generously donate much needed school supplies. Many of us supplement those supplies with insane spending sprees at our local office supply stores. We spend September and the beginning of October lost in a haze of that new crayon smell, sharp pencils and fully functional glue sticks.

But as October comes to a close, supplies start to dwindle and those supplies we do have are starting to look....well, shabby. (In all honesty, I’ve used much stronger language when lamenting the loss of yet another glue stick to the dreaded improperly snapped cap, but I digress.)

Web 2.0 Tool of the Week: VoiceThread

Give your classroom and your students a global voice with VoiceThread!

You can use this Web 2.0 tool to share your classroom experiences in a very easy and useful way. VoiceThread combines images, videos, text, documents, audio and YOUR voice into an easily published multimedia slideshow. You can also comment in 5 different ways, so it's great for all learning styles!

How do I deal with out of control parents?

QTypically, I have positive relationships with most of the parents in my class, but one mom continually causes me problems. Whenever she makes a request for her son that I can’t or won’t comply with, she literally screams at me. How should I deal with this out-of-control parent?

A: Let’s approach this unreasonable parent like we would an attacking bear. Just roll up in a ball and play dead. Hopefully, she’ll lose interest and roam away to more responsive prey. If that doesn’t work, climb the nearest tree and call animal control for backup.

Last Chance To Enter $250 School Supply Giveaway & Best Dressed Teacher Contest

The deadline for TeachHUB's fall giveaways and contests is THIS WEEKEND!!! Get your entries in today.

I know it's a crazy week with Halloween and report cards for some of you. But since we're gaining an hour with Daylight Savings Time, you can spend a quick minute to win some cash for classroom supplies and/or school clothes

Enter the $250 Classroom Supplies Giveaway to win... $250 for classroom supplies. Not a clever title, but you get what I'm saying.


Send a pic of you in your cutest school outfit for the Best Dressed Teacher Contest!!! Email it to:

Five finalists will be chosen, then people can vote for their favorite over the next two weeks. The winner will get a $100 gift card to the work-clothes store of their choosing.
Just in time for the holidays!!

Fighting for Darwin: One Woman's Struggle for Science Education

Last year, Louisiana passed a law allowing public school teachers to use creationist supplemental materials in public school science classes. The Texas Board of Education recently adopted changes in the wording of Texas state science standards that undermine the teaching of evolution.

We discussed this controversial shift in science education with Dr. Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor and a leader in the fight to keep creationist curricula out of the classroom

Top 12 Tips for Teaching Math Facts

As teachers of all grade levels know very well, it is extremely difficult to teach students higher order math algorithms when they are not fluent with their basic facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). If students are not automatic in responding to math facts, their attention is necessarily taken away from the multiple steps necessary to solve more complex problems.

Think about long division. Students must be able to come up with the answers to multiplication, subtraction and division facts all in the context of the higher order algorithm. Less than automatic facility with math facts often results in either errors in the algorithm or fact errors. Both kinds of errors appear to be the result of carelessness when in fact it is the result of being distracted by having to figure out the answers to facts. Below are 12 principles necessary to successfully teaching math facts.

Roll Call

This week, I had to cover first period four days in a row for missing teachers. New York City has tool called sub-central which assigns substitute teachers to absent classrooms, however sometimes subs don’t show up and sometimes, teachers don’t bother to call in.

Besides the annoyance of having to give up a prep period, these coverages teach the students little more than it’s okay to take a day off school. Even when teachers leave assignments to work on, students are typically reluctant to do complete it, because, “come on, Mister, it was a substitute.”

Science on the Cheap

The phrase "in these current economic times" has become a bit of a cliche lately, but that doesn't change the fact that our lives as educators will be changed for some time to come.

As science teachers, we generally need larger budgets to purchase equipment for the various activities and experiments that we do with our classes. I know that my department will be faced with significant budget reductions, and this has forced us to rethink our priorities and the way we use supplies.

Vote for the Best Dressed Teacher!

Thanks to all those who entered the TeachHUB Best Dressed Teacher Contest. Everyone looked great!

The top five finalists for TeachHUB's Best Dressed Teacher Contest have been chosen. Whoever receives the most votes by Monday, November 16 at noon will win a $100 gift card to the school-appropriate clothing store of their choice. The poll allows one vote per day per person/computer.
At TeachHUB, we fully support shameless self-promotion, so tell your friends to vote for your favorite & get the word out!


This is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here.
True wisdom comes to those who have a profound understanding of why they do what they do, says Ricardo Semler, former CEO of Brazilian equipment supplier Semco. Tired of the status quo at the company, Semler and his team eliminated most of the rules and bureaucracy associated with running a large corporation. Employees no longer had to come in at a designated time, or report to a specific office—there were virtually no rules or management in place, and with employees accountable for themselves and their success, the company thrived.
For Semler, doing something just for the sake of doing it is worthless. Instead, every act, whether related to work or leisure, should be deliberate and have meaning. And while it's unlikely that organizations can do away with traditional structures and become entirely free flowing businesses overnight, Semler urges workers—and organizational leaders—to keep asking themselves "why" they do certain things. And to not stop asking until they get to core of the task at hand, whether it's menial or significant; Only then will they truly be wise.
Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk.

"Let's give people a company where we take away the boarding school aspects of it and see what's left."

From long commutes to redundant meetings, there are many aspects of work that employees grow to dread. But what happens when an organization eliminates all these elements of work, and leaves employees to solely focus on the job that needs to be done? Semler experimented with this approach at his company, and found that people thrived in an environment that was more transparent, democratic and purposeful.
Even when asked to set their own salary, employees were fair in their assessment of how much they should earn based on the income of fellow employees and workers across the industry, according to Semler. The lesson: It can be beneficial to loosen the grip on employees—if you've hired the right people, chances are they'll continue being productive, effective workers even if you give them some free reign.

"How do we design, how do we organize, for more wisdom?"

Being wise doesn't always mean knowing the right decision to make, according to Semler. In fact, the path that seems most intelligent doesn't always "jive," he explains. Rather than immediately looking for the best course of action in a given situation, wise individuals ask questions to better understand the challenge at hand.
At work, applying wisdom means being inquisitive and getting down to the reasoning behind specific strategies, processes and other organizational fundamentals. Sometimes the status quo is fine, but leaders shouldn't be afraid to question it and make a change for the better, Semler urges.

"What we've done all these years is very simple: [We've asked] three 'whys' in a row."

One way to get to the bottom of why something is done a certain way is to ask "why" three times consecutively. Answering the first two "whys" might be simple, but by the third, the answer will be harder to determine. If there isn't a good response to that last "why," then the process or strategy might be obsolete and ineffective, Semler says.
It's a healthy exercise not only for organizational leaders tasked with building business strategy, but also HR departments, where important tasks such as hiring or developing learning opportunities for workers can sometimes become robotic and automated. Stepping back to ask "why" can set these processes back on the right track.


Whenever someone tells me they want to be a manager, I make sure to ask them one simple question: Why? I've heard countless answers over the years: I'll make more money. I'll be more successful. I've been at this company a long time. It's the next step.
While any of these answers might be true, they're not reasons to become a manager. In fact, only about 1 in 10 people is cut out for management. Still, there's an expectation—set in part by companies, but also by society—that career ladders lead to this position. As a result, many employees feel like they have no other choice to advance their careers but to become a manager.
wrote recently that we need to stop promoting star players into management roles, but it begs the question, where do we promote them instead? Sports history is rife with star players who tried to coach and struggled, from Wayne Gretzky to Magic Johnson. And why put Michael Jordan on the bench as a coach when he's most effective on the court? Using this analogy for the working world is useful, except for one key difference: In sports, star players like Michael Jordan get the accolades. It's typically the opposite in the workplace, with career hierarchies designed to reward those working toward managerial positions. Individual contributors, meanwhile, often struggle to find a path for growth. And many of them take on management roles they don't want or aren't cut out for.
The solution to this problem requires a better focus on individual contributors, one that prioritizes helping them find their career paths—with the help of company leadership.

Stop Overselling the Management Role

My daughter recently went through the job-search process for the first time. Along the way she told me many of the companies she'd applied to said the same thing: “If you succeed, we'll promote you to a management role, where you'll make more money."
This sets an unrealistic expectation with employees about their career trajectory. To help promote the right people into management roles, we have to be more transparent about what the manager job is—beyond a pay raise and a title change. What companies should be saying is, “When the time comes, we'll see whether management is the right match for you, or if you should continue as an individual contributor. Either way, we'll give you the resources and support to continue to grow your career at this company."

Have Regular Conversations About Career Paths with Employees

According to Glassdoor, one of the top reasons for employee attrition is a lack of career path and sufficient compensation. Harvard Business Review researchers found that 73 percent of workers left their employer to achieve career progression.
Managers should be having regular conversations with their employees about career paths to help mitigate this turnover. I do this with everyone on my team: Once a month, I ask them questions like where do you want to grow and why? We talk about what opportunities there are for that kind of growth. Is there a gap in the organization somewhere that this person could fill? Is there a way we can quantify their improvement? There might not be a formal career path for your individual contributors, but show them that you're willing to work with them to find one together.

Provide Training and Development Toward Career Goals

The managerial hierarchy exists because somebody needs to be accountable to drive performance of other people. Managers are being paid more because they're responsible for a lot more. For that reason, I lead a lot of manager workshops across our offices at Cornerstone—giving them the training and support to become the best managers they can be.
For individual contributors to grow in their careers, they need to increase their accountability to the business' bottom line. So why isn't it a common practice to host workshops that help individual contributors have a maximum influence at the company? To better serve individual contributors—and increase their positive impact on your company—make training resources available to them so they can improve their skills and reach their career development goals.

Celebrate Your Individual Contributors

Gallup research suggests lack of recognition is one of the top reasons strong performers will stay at—or leave—your company. For managers, recognition comes naturally: most of their work happens in front of other people—they help get everyone organized, they mentor, they troubleshoot. Individual contributor roles are much less in the spotlight. Find ways to make sure people know the great work these employees are doing—and why it matters to the company.
Companies don't want to lose their star players. But rather than moving them into management to keep them, help them find a career path that will help them grow on their own—and continue to add the most value to your business. Overall, we need to treat individual contributors like the rockstars that they are. In sports, it's the individual contributors that get all the publicity—the Michael Jordans, the Steph Currys. Let's give them the spotlight in the workforce, too.


This is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here.
For doctors, the stakes are high every day. They're required to treat maladies and save lives on a regular basis, often performing miracles to help patients. And yet, it's easy to forget that they're human and they make mistakes. According to Brian Goldman, emergency room physician in Toronto and host of CBS Radio's “White Coat, Black Art," many of his fellow physicians would rather ignore the fact that their colleagues, like all individuals, are prone to error.
But in his TED Talk, he reminds us that regardless of industry, profession or title, the right thing to do when a mistake is made is to acknowledge it, talk about it and learn from it.
Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk.

“[The system we have] has a complete denial of mistakes."

Mistakes in any profession can lead to serious consequences: from criticism to full blown lawsuits. It's human nature to avoid confrontation, but to thrive in any field, admitting errors is crucial, according to Goldman. It's the only way to grow beyond the misstep and improve at your craft.

“If I can't talk about my mistakes, how can I teach my colleagues so that they don't do the same thing?"

Ignoring or hiding mistakes doesn't benefit anyone, Goldman says. Though it's tempting to avoid admitting them, not only to colleagues but also to yourself, it's a wasted learning opportunity, according to Goldman.
No matter how hard it may be, discussing errors with colleagues, managers and mentors can solidify individuals' learnings the next time they're faced with a similar situation, and can also teach others how to handle similar hurdles.

“Errors are absolutely ubiquitous."

Learning from mistakes is part of growing as a professional. But just because learning takes place doesn't mean that a mistake won't ever happen again. Expecting perfection from human beings is simply unrealistic, Goldman says.
Rather than striving for perfection, Goldman urges others to accept and remember the mistakes they've made, as well as apply any takeaways to future challenges. Don't rush decision making, trust your instinct and ask for help when you're unsure about something, says Goldman.


This piece is part of our celebration of #OnlineLearningWeek happening from September 10-14. Have a skill you want to sharpen? Start learning through Cornerstone's free online learning portal here.
It's no secret that the career ladder is outdated, but many companies and their employees still struggle to create an internal framework for the career “lattice" that's replacing it. In fact, research suggests 70 percent of employees today aren't satisfied with the career opportunities at their companies.
For Chirag Shah, Cornerstone's senior vice president and general manager of growth markets, creating opportunities for employee development and growth starts with learning. Shah started out as a manager of corporate strategy at Cornerstone, and has since held seven different positions throughout his decade-long tenure at Cornerstone, and he has followed a career path that has been anything but linear.
He has moved from finance, to operations, to his current senior leadership role not by adhering to any guidelines, but instead by following his own interests—and, most importantly, constantly seeking out learning opportunities, whether through his MBA coursework, interactions with peers or online materials.“I'm fortunate to be a part of a company that has allowed me to expand my horizons and do the things I'm interested in," he says. “Most companies wouldn't necessarily say, 'Okay, we've got a finance guy, let's make him an operator and have him run this business.'"
Here Shah shares how he managed to balance an MBA program with a new role at Cornerstone, why he sought out learning opportunities beyond work and how following his interests has enabled him to find the career path that was right for him.
When you first started in the SMB team manager role, you weren't necessarily as qualified as other operations candidates might have been. How did you feel when you stepped into that role on day one?
I had a knowledge of the business and enthusiasm for that business. I felt like I could add value to the team in ways that maybe a person who had been in that role previously at another place couldn't.
You pursued an MBA while you were making this transition. How did you balance work and your course load?
I worked toward my MBA on the weekends. I had to really understand the value of the things that I was doing and how it was going to help me achieve my career goals. It wasn't easy, especially because I had a lot to learn adapt to the new SMB role on the job. In my MBA classes, I learned about topics that I wasn't necessarily exposed to at Cornerstone. I was also in class with a lot of people who worked in industries that I hadn't had a lot of exposure to, so I was able to learn from them.
Where else do you go to find learning opportunities that you're not encountering day-to-day at work?
Online learning has been a huge part of my learning program ever since I joined Cornerstone. I can't tell you the number of times that I've wanted to learn about something and Googled it, or went to YouTube and watched a video about how to do something. When I have specific things that I want to learn about, online is my go-to format because I know that I can quickly find relevant content that is easily accessible in under an hour.
How has online learning helped you in the course of your career?
When I took on my initial general manager role as the GM of the SMB team, I actually took some online courses on marketing to teach me the basics so that I could enter into a conversation and not sound like a complete idiot.
It doesn't matter how smart you are, everybody has to invest time in learning. I wanted to make sure I had that basic level of knowledge and that I was making the most of the people I was working with—and not using their time to teach me what an MQL is, or any other basic marketing concept.
What advice do you have for people trying to balance their own learning pursuits with their daily work and life?
Everyone has to recognize that when they think about their careers, learning is part of getting to the next step. If you want to get to a certain place in your career, it's not going to just happen on its own. You've got to make sure that you make the investment in yourself to help you get to that point. Some of what you need to learn is going to happen on the job, but you also need to recognize what you're not learning and proactively seek it out.
For those looking to become extreme learners and strengthen their business skills, Chirag has curated a new learning playlist that you can access for free during #OnlineLearningWeek.


This piece is part of our celebration of #OnlineLearningWeeek, happening from September 10-14. Have a skill you want to sharpen? Start learning through Cornerstone's free online learning portal here.
The way employees learn and develop throughout their careers has changed a lot in the past decade. With an accelerating pace of change driven by advancements in technology and a widening skills gap, it is no longer enough to train employees on an annual basis.
Today, in order for employees (and organizations) to realize their full potential, they need the ability to continuously learn and develop their skills on an ongoing basis. But finding the motivation and time for learning while juggling other work responsibilities can be challenging.
Here, six HR experts, Cornerstone all-stars and extreme learning professionals share what motivates them to find time to continue learning day in and day out.
“When I think about what keeps me excited and engaged at work, it's the moments where I'm forced to learn something new. It's critical for us to challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zones if we want to continue to move up in our careers and discover our passions.
It's easy to get bogged down with daily to-do lists. But when you escape from the tactics, and think bigger picture about how you want to make an impact—whether it's a new project you want to lead, or a new job you want to apply for—the only way to get there is to continue to learn and be open to change. Embrace it—change is the only constant!"
Lindsay Thomson, Product Marketing Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand
"I didn't realize this until I was well down my career path, but I developed a growth mindset and the belief that I can be smarter if I try [harder]. Many of the skills I use every day I didn't learn in school or through any formal training.
What motivated me down this path? The seed was planted by my mother who always believed that the one thing no one can take away from you is your education. But that seed grew and became what drives me today—a deep sense of curiosity and wanting to be the best I can be. Without continuous learning, my value to clients diminishes every day."
—Ira Wolfe, President of Success Performance Solutions
“I've always equated learning with being able to do something new. Rather than getting stuck in a routine, constant learning allows me to do something new and different every day!"
Akanksha Garg, General Manager at CyberU
"Having moved to a new country as an adult, I've learned that culture and language play a much bigger role in people's lives than I ever thought. As a result, I've been motivated to learn more about culture and how it impacts people's decision making. My goal? To understand people. Understanding others is a huge motivator in my life."
—Suzanne Lucas, Founder of Evil HR Lady
“Back when I first became a product manager, product management was not yet taught in school and the world was still figuring out the role. Now, as a director, I interview the next generation of product managers for our team and consistently observe that they are well-educated and practiced in business, design and data science.
These new super-kids are going to make me obsolete if I don't keep up with learning new skills and honing my craft. So that's exactly what I intend to do!"
Elvis Ha, Director of Product Management at Cornerstone OnDemand
"I struggle with looking at the end result of someone else's thinking and understanding it. That has driven me go back to the basics and research the information that went into the conclusion that was drawn. I find this gives me a deeper understanding of not just the decision, but also of the various elements that were considered. I learn a lot."

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