I’m sure there isn’t a teacher who hasn’t heard the complaint, “I’m bored!” Well, let me tell you, boredom, or the state of feeling bored, is a self-induced state—meaning, we have control over the feeling of boredom.
So what are we to do when students say they are bored? First, we need to help our kids define their boredom. Feelings are individualized—my feelings of boredom may be totally different from my best friend’s feelings of boredom. Therefore, we need to ask kids what they mean specifically by being “bored.”
There are three ways we can help students conquer their feelings of boredom:
adjust, adapt, and advocate.
How we perceive situations can affect the way we feel. Ask students to adjust the way they think about a situation and reframe it in a way that is appealing. For example, in a math class where I am overly challenged by the content, I might think about how getting better at math can significantly impact my future career options. Shifting our mindset about a class, a teacher, or an activity can help us change the way we feel about it. By taking control of our feelings, we avoid being helpless and at the mercy of others’ influences.
Finally, we should teach our students how to respectfully advocate for themselves. If students can’t find value or interest in a situation, helping them find a way to infuse their interests into the content can help them overcome their feelings of boredom. In a social studies class where the students are learning about the U.S. Civil War, students who are interested in sports could research games played by children during that period of time or study Abner Doubleday (the supposed inventor of baseball) and his role during the civil war. Helping students find interest in a topic—or figure out how to infuse their interest into a topic—can be a valuable way to help them avoid feelings of boredom.
Students who are self-regulated rarely succumb to boredom. They have learned how to manage their affect, behaviors, and cognition (ABCs) to find interest in or to benefit from most learning situations. Self-regulation is one of the most important skills our students can possess to be college and career ready.
This blog post originally appeared on www.freespiritpublishingblog.com.
Copyright © 2017 by Free Spirit Publishing. Used with permission. All rights reserved
By now, most teachers have had time to interact with their new class of students and get to know them. Most of you are recognizing the unique qualities of all of your learners, which you can use when differentiating the learning experiences. One quality to keep in mind is that of the “gendered brain.” Cited by many neural scientists, the term gendered brain refers to the various differences in the way boys and girls prefer to learn. These differences show up everywhere from their collaboration skills to the most efficient ways they gather information. Debate continues among scientists as to whether these differences are nurtured, a part of our nature, or both. However, it is generally recognized that temperament, family background, culture, and the environment all play key roles in how the brain develops.
Regardless of where these differences may come from, most teachers will tell you there are distinct differences in how boys and girls approach learning. My intent in this post is to help you understand some of these differences and help you create a classroom tone in which boys will perform to their best.
The basic principles of brain-compatible learning suggest that all learners need:
Safe and Welcoming Learning Environments
Knowing that boys are more likely to bond physically rather than emotionally, when setting up your classroom consider that boys will need space to move. Boys also may need a space that they can call their own. So, create spaces in your classroom where boys can work in groups as well as have space of their own.
Friendships are often formed based on shared competitive activities. Boys’ need for physical movement and grouping by actions may necessitate clearing open space within your room for them to work and interact. Obviously, many classrooms do not have abundance of space. Think creatively as to how you can provide boys with space, such as having groups break out into the hallway, gym, playground, or other open spaces on the school campus. When boys feel confined, you may notice an increase in aggressive or stressed behaviors.
Stimulating and Varied Ways of Gathering Information
In general, boys tend to be more visual in their learning preferences. When creating learning activities, make sure to offer ways for students to visually interact with the information. Boys like to group information or put information into categories. Therefore, the use of graphic organizers can have a profound effect on information gathering and organizing. Additionally, because boys are less verbally inclined, keep verbal directions short and to the minimum. Use symbols and pictures to transmit step-by-step directions.
Boys should also be afforded differentiated writing assignments in which they are allowed to draw out their ideas (say in cartoon or storyboard fashion) before they begin the writing process. You may want to consider using graphic organizers when teaching boys how to organize their thoughts for writing.
Active and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Again, boys’ natural inclination for movement suggests a need to use kinesthetic activities to increase meaningfulness in the learning. Meaningfulness is when learners can apply new strategies and skills relatively immediately. Have boys practice new strategies and skills in context rather than isolated from the content.
I often use either sports or music analogies when teaching new strategies or skills. When learning a new sport or musical instrument, the learner doesn’t go immediately into a big game or performance. He has to learn individual strategies and practice those strategies in order to develop the skill to be able to play on the field or stage.
When working in groups, make sure that each boy has a specific role to play or task to accomplish, can articulate the directions, knows what the final outcome should be, and is aware of the consequences for lack of collaboration. Be concise and consistent with group norms.
One more thing to consider in the active classroom: the male brain is designed to go into a “rest state” every so often to recharge. Thus, the boys in your class will need periodic neural breaks during which they can switch to a different activity. You can do this by simply getting the class up and having them stretch about every 15 minutes or by showing a graphic brainteaser to allow their brains to recharge.
Relevant and Immediate Feedback to Correct or Support Learning
Finally, because boys are more visually stimulated, I would caution you about asking a boy to “look you in the eye” when you interact with him—whether it’s for redirection or even for positive feedback. Boys who are confronted with eye-to-eye contact may react in one of two ways: They may feel threatened, or they may be distracted by the highly visual stimuli. Instead, I recommend using what is called the “coaches’ talk,” where you walk shoulder-to-shoulder or sit side-by-side and deliver feedback directed toward a simple object, picture, or other visual. This is similar to what coaches do when replaying a game through the use of Xs and Os on a chalkboard or dry-erase board in the locker room.
Also keep in mind the amount of emotion you put into your feedback to boys. Boys have less serotonin and oxytocin, the human bonding chemicals, in their brain, and they devote less blood energy into the midbrain (the emotional center). Therefore, boys are less likely to understand their own emotional functioning, may not relate to emotionally heavy situations, or be less comfortable with the emotions of others. Keep your feedback focused on the performance. Support what the student did effectively and be descriptive about what he can do to correct his learning.
In Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century, I provide a list of 25 strategies for creating a “boy friendly” classroom. I have been asked by teachers why I don’t have a list for creating a “girl friendly” classroom. My response is: Our classrooms are designed with girls in mind (highly verbal) and often treat boys as dysfunctional girls. The statistics on boys’ poor performance in schools is overwhelming. According to Gurian and Stevens in their article “With Boys and Girls in Mind,” boys:
What strategies do you use to help make your classroom more learning-friendly to boys?
This blog post originally appeared on www.freespiritpublishingblog.com.
Copyright © 2016 by Free Spirit Publishing. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
by: Dr. Richard Cash
With the changing landscape of the future workforce, our role as an educator must also change. The World Economic Forum states we are entering the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” This revolution is being signaled by drivers of change, such as artificial intelligence, smart technologies, and broader socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic developments. With the projections of more competition for jobs and the sophisticated skills that go along with those positions, our students must be equipped to compete.
The essential skills of the emerging workforce are critical reasoning, creative thinking, social adaptability, cultural awareness and sophisticated problem solving techniques; all dimensions of a self-regulated learner. In a differentiated classroom, the intent is to develop self-directed autonomous learners, who can make a positive impact on their community and the world. The way our students will stand out in the competition of the future workforce is for them to engage in the entrepreneurial spirit—to design, launch and manage new ideas/products/services and so on. There are three ways in which a differentiated classroom encourages self-regulated autonomous learners with an entrepreneurial spirit.
1. Developing the skills of an entrepreneur A differentiated classroom is designed to increase students’ level of motivation and engagement in content that has value to their future success. When teachers are skillful in aligning content through relevant connections to the students’ lives, they ensure students will attend to meaningful information. Problems that are worth solving through embedded content, give students causes to develop skills of critical reasoning, creative thinking, and effective problem solving. Entrepreneurs arise by finding problems, seeking out creative solutions solution by thinking critically. In a differentiated classroom, students work on varied authentic problems that have meaning and relevance to their future success. Collaboration and communication are vital skills developed through these activities
2. Developing the skills of a learner In the past, to learn meant to go to this place called “school.” This is no longer the case. With ready access to the Internet, students can acquire information anywhere and at any time. The exponential growth of YouTube, social media, Wikipedia, and other free resources gives kids an unlimited amount of information—some legitimate and some not legitimate. Therefore, our role in education has to transform, from teaching students what to think to how to think; from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side. A teacher who skillfully implements differentiation is aware of the learning process of each child. S/he then tailors instruction and activities to increase the levels of thinking and doing. To be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to identify credible sources, analyze various options, and anticipate the needs of the market. A differentiated classroom encourages these talents every day.
3. Developing the skills of self-regulation True success is achieved through effort, drive, and hard work. In this era of instant gratification, we must teach students how to persevere and persist at tasks. In the differentiated classroom, teachers build respectful tasks that encourage each student to be diligent. The essence of differentiating for students through respectful engaging tasks is to develop self-directed and self-regulated learning. To be an entrepreneur, you must be able to identify a need, figure out how to address that need and persist until your idea is successful. This is the measure of a differentiated classroom.
With the evolving criteria for successful applicants in the future workforce, our roles in the classroom must also evolve. The future will be driven by new ideas and unique solutions to complex problems—characteristics of the entrepreneurial spirit.
The hallmark of a well-differentiated classroom encourages learners to be self-regulated to take on challenges, create new ideas and add value to their community.
How many of these gifted and talented Black Americans can you name?
In honor of Black history month, we have put together a little challenge for you!
Try to name as many of these figures from history as you can.
Hint: they have all dedicated their lives to education!!
by: Dr. Richard Cash
1. Never work harder than your students!
2. Make sure to find time for yourself.