"The best way to understand how to teach Second Language Learners is to try to learn a second language yourself."
After studying Spanish intensely I embarked on a journey to teach in Honduras. This article is a look at what I learned during this adventure.
"Several years ago, we began collecting free-write
responses from young adolescents, who responded to the question: 'What should middle school teachers know about middle school students?' To date, we have collected and analyzed approximately 2,700 unedited responses from young adolescents who attend middle schools in diverse communities across North America. We have found their responses to be perceptive, honest, and wise."
This article, written with my colleague, Nancy Doda, discusses the findings of this study. The comments from young adolescents provide profound insights into how they think, feel and learn. (Middle School Journal,(2008, 29 (3), p. 26)
"Integrating the arts forces us to redefine who we are as teachers as we take risks and try new ideas. The rewards are worth the effort. Our students will expand as learners as new avenues for the acquisition of knowledge are opened. Maybe, as a result, test scores will rise. More importantly, our students will grow as human beings. The arts, plain and simply, make us better people."
Appearing in "Middle Ground: The Magazine of Middle Level Education," this article provides a rationale for integrating the arts throughout all the content areas. The arts are a powerful vehicle for helping all students access the curriculum and in the process learn about who they are. Although written in 2006, the concept is even more relevant in this era when we are losing the importance of art in our school curriculum. (Middle Ground,2006, 9 (4), p. 35).
"Education has lost its direction and somewhere along the way we forgot how simple it is. Instead, we began to rely on complicated rhetoric to define the simplest of tasks. Words and phrases abound: Cooperative Learning, Outcome Based Education, Learning Styles, Authentic Assessment, Collaborative Learning, Whole Language, Transformational Units, Demonstrative Indicators, Constructivist Education."
". . . make it integrated, make it relevant, make it real, make it fun. Give students a reason to want to learn and let them direct their own learning. You got it?"
More than twenty years have passed since this article appeared in Education Week (4/21/1993, Vol. 12 Issue 30, p33), yet, it is as timely now as it was then. With the focus in our K-12 schools on accountability as measured by high-stakes tests, we have lost the heart and soul of our public education system. Districts are resorting to scripted curricula and leaving out those subjects that speak to our hearts.
"Understanding students with ADHD is not about knowing the medical definition of the disorder or learning a pocketbook of tricks for the classroom. It's about listening."
This 2009 article from "Middle Matters," the online journal of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, looks at ADHD through the eyes of students who have to deal with it everyday. It gives practical advice to help all students be successful.
"If you want to know what the students in your school are thinking, ask them."
In 2006 and 2007, my colleague Nancy Doda and I asked middle school students what they were thinking. This 2007 article from "Middle Matters" provides you with a glimpse at the lives of young adolescents.
As one student said, "First of all, it must be understood that we are all trying to fit in. Eighth grade is a hard year and everyone has insecurities. I’m not saying to walk on eggshells around us, but be aware that our emotions can change like the wind. Be firm, but understanding and strict but gentle."
Change in the fundamental ways we view ourselves as teachers is necessary in order to empower students. In addition, changes in the way we teach, assess, and interact can have a profound impact on our students.
This article appeared in the journal "To Improve the Academy" of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. Its message of empowering students is as relevant today as it was when the article appeared in 1994. (To Improve the Academy, 1994, p. 203).
"The immediacy of the Persian Gulf War in the lives of children offered an opportunity to explore their political understandings during a time of international conflict. This article presents the findings of a study conducted with a class of 5th grade students from a rural county in the southeastern United States. The study analyzes these students' perceptions of the Gulf War and the part the public school played in the development of these perceptions."
One student summed up her emotions best when she said, "It's like a piece of your heart missing."
(Social Education 57(1) pps. 19-22.