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Help Your Students to Be Communication Superstars!

Often when we think of oral language development, we think about babies and very young learners like those in preschool.  While a good majority of language development DOES occur at this age, there is so much more for students to learn as they learn to be effective communicators.

Good communication skills are a prerequisite to most jobs and that won't change as life changes.  People admire effective communicators.  Our students can be just that but we need to teach them how. If you Google "children communicating" you will see images of children whispering in each other's ears.  You will see kids using the old can with a string thing that creates a "telephone".  How did this get to represent communicating?

 This blog post will talk about the benefits of teaching students effective communication skills and 5 simple ways to start to do that in your classroom tomorrow.

Hooked on Writing: March (Opinion Writing)

 This month's Hooked on Writing will use the skills students learned in the last couple of months about learning about voice to use that voice to share an opinion.

These mentor texts have strong themes. If you haven't read Hey, Little Ant, you will be in for a big surprise. To step on an ant or not?  This is a great book to showcase forming an opinion.  Once they have experienced the Ant story, students will then debate what the perfect pet is.  Do students agree with each other?  Henry and Leo is a story about a stuffed toy that is like a friend to Henry but no one understands.  Then it goes missing. What really happened? Although it comes back, students are left to wonder, imagine and come to their own conclusions. Perfect for the opinion writing experience. The last story is about a gardener that creates topiary masterpieces that influences not only a child but a whole community to appreciate nature. This is the perfect segway to next month's Earth day studies.

In the March Hooked on Writing, students will be involved in group, partner and individual writing lessons.  Students will participate in a debate, run for Best Class pet and many other engaging lessons that will have your kids Hooked on Writing in no time.  While each unit can be used as a stand alone unit for what ever concept you are teaching, it also works nicely as a complete unit that scaffolds on each other to make a cohesive, highly engaging unit.  Take a look at the feedback so far as you browse the other units.

(All units are at a special introductory price as they are release this year so it doesn't matter if you buy them individually or as a bundled set at the end of the year when it is bundled.  After the units are bundled, the single units will return to their regular price.)

The Evolution of MY Education: Growth Mindset for Teachers

When I first started teaching, my vision of being a teacher involved me being the center of the classroom.  The children would look to me to provide them with the lessons they needed to succeed and move forward to the next grade. There was always time to get to know the students but what was more important then, was that they make friends; I had curriculum to teach. I had all the information and I would share that with my students in very organized and efficient lessons to ensure maximum understanding.  I knew that to keep their attention, I had to add some element of "drama" or curiosity to the lesson. I was in charge of that and my classroom management depended on it. I had high expectations of my students and they always rose to the challenge. That's a good thing, right?

Then things in the classroom started to change.  Kids started changing.  Behaviour problems increased. It wasn't just one student in the classroom, it was now multiple students.  How could my efficiently run, happy classroom full of kids be changing this much?  What was I doing wrong?  Did I suddenly lose all my creativity in preparing great lessons, effective classroom management skills and routines?  I discovered what was happening but it was a process of powerful discovery for me.

So what exactly WAS happening?

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