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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!

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