classroom 2School started this week. Excitement reigns — or maybe not.

Schools and classrooms are a beehive of activity. Books are distributed. Bulletin boards are decorated. Rules are posted. Phones are ringing. Texting and tweeting are rampant. Tears and laughter are shared. Teachers worry about the kids they have been assigned. Parents and kids have the same worry, but in reverse.

Last year at this time I posted a blog noting that teachers needed a “sense of humor” to make it through the year. Having a “sense of humor,” as you might guess, is not enough. You can’t laugh your way toward being a successful teacher.

Social-emotional authorities offer additional suggestions about how to begin your new school year:

  • First, save the “get down to business” façade for another time. Meet your new students, greet them and welcome them in a festive and positive way.
  • Second, those who care, share! Let your students share their summer stories, something about themselves and what they are looking forward to in this new school year.
  • (read more…)

Student doing the notesImagine this: You are a seventh-grader. School is probably one of the last things on your mind. You are taking six different subjects with six different teachers and they all have their own teaching styles, expectations, grading systems and ways of providing feedback. You feel like they are all speaking their own language. You are learning about osmosis in science, the electoral process in social studies and geometry in math class. You have no clue how the skills you are learning in one class relate to those you are being taught in another. School seems more and more difficult and impossible to navigate.

This scenario is playing out again and again with students in classrooms across the country.

As educators, we need to work toward the same set of goals if we are to effectively prepare our students for the world of work and higher education. This means sharing a common language and a set of practices, so students can begin to clearly understand the connection between subjects and apply the skills they are learning in one area to their instruction in another. (read more…)

Children making music with instruments at homeMusic and song are some of the most underused educational techniques. We know that musical intelligence is one of the eight identified intelligences of Harvard researcher Howard Gardener, but we may not appreciate the role that music and song can play in deepening student learning and promoting memory.

Music and song can help students remember information, particularly lists or unrelated content. I used to integrate song when teaching names and other minutia in history class. By putting the names to a tune, the students were not only more engaged in learning the content, but would remember it far better.

Two years after they left my class — I taught high-school sophomores — my former students would still retain much of the information, as evidenced by their ability to “visit” my new class as seniors. Some would pop in from the hallway when they heard the familiar song being sung and join right in as if it they had learned it the day before. (read more…)

badgeSmartBlog on Education’s monthly content award recognizes content written by educators, for educators that inspires readers to engage, innovate and discuss.

SmartBrief Education editors and writers sift through thousands of sources each day, reading a variety of content, including blogs and commentaries written by you and your peers.

In an effort to recognize some of the innovative voices in the field, we’ve asked our team to nominate their favorite content — written by educators, for educators — each month from which we’ll choose two winners for the Editor’s Choice Content Award.

This month’s winners inspired us with their classroom-design tips for the new school year:

Meet this month’s winners:

Learn more about our previous winners. (read more…)

SmartBrief on EdTech last week polled readers about a few top tech-based approaches to learning that have been making news in education. Our goal was to gain insight about how prevalent these approaches will be in classrooms across the country during the new school year.

The first approach we asked about was flipped instruction, finding that more than 60% of respondents said the approach will be used sporadically in their school or district this year. About 27% of respondents said there were no plans to use the approach, while slightly more than 9% said flipped instruction will make its debut in classrooms this year.

Gaming — from game-based instruction to video games — in the classroom proved to be a slightly less popular approach with our readers, with just under half of respondents reporting that the approach will be used at least sporadically in their school or district this year. Another 45% said the approach will not be used at all, while just about 6% expect the approach to be introduced. (read more…)