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Showing posts from February, 2015

Political Cartoon Analysis: Zoom Out

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Today's work in History centered on a Visible Thinking routine called Zoom Out. Students were asked to analyze this political cartoon in three stages: during the first stage I only showed the bottom of the cartoon. The second stage included the veto in Jackson's left hand and the third stage showed the entire image. Students needed to analyze the changes in their perspectives first, and then analyze the cartoon and its impact on them (whether they feel Jackson is a hero or a villain).
Routines like Zoom Out challenge students' thinking in ways that allow all students to take risks and give everyone a chance to share their opinion with others. They are also interacting with primary historical sources.

TeachThought Can compassion be taught?

The final @TeachThought #reflectiveteacher February post asks whether compassion can be taught.

Yes, it absolutely can be taught.
I am a realistic optimist. I prefer to believe in the goodness of others and that belief has made me a better person and a better teacher. I feel that people may show varying degrees of kindness to others based on their life experiences but that all people are capable of honing the compassion they have for themselves and for others. 
I think that compassion is like a muscle. It needs to be strengthened and maintained properly in order to fully maximize its potential. 
I have high standards for compassion in my classroom. I expect students to use please and thank you when they speak to me and to others. I continually model this when I interact with them, as well. I want my students to feel respected and safe in my room when they take academic and emotional risks (speaking and performing skits in front of their peers, giving their opinion on issues we discuss)…

How can we create a culture of charity in our classrooms/schools?

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Andrew Jackson: Hero or Villain?

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My 8th Grade Historians are continuing their analysis of Andrew Jackson this week. Students will be examining the issues surrounding his life and presidency including his military victory during the War of 1812, the aftermath of the Missouri Compromise, the Bank Panic of 1837, the Indian Removal Act, and the perspectives of various groups in American society in both the North and the South in the early 1800s. They will culminate their learning by writing an essay taking a stand on whether they believe Jackson was a hero or a villain. The discussions have already proven to be interesting--I am blown away by their ideas and insights.
I have honed this culminating project over the last few years and each year students have, in fairly equal numbers, proven him to be both. I enjoy reading why they think what they think and how they use the evidence presented in class to justify their viewpoints.

Teaching Students to Pay It Forward

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The TeachThought February Blog Challenge centers on the themes of kindness and caring. This week's post: 

How can we teach students to pay kindness forward - to give expecting nothing in return?
I feel that this can be challenging--many people (adults and children alike) are motivated to do something knowing that they will get something in return. I believe that practice in performing acts of kindness (random or not) strengthens our ability to do them more often. We also need to realize that there are two different examples of "receiving nothing in return". One is a simple, but heartfelt "thank you" with no gift or reward for completing the act. The other is a random act where the recipient will never know who completed the act. Both are important.
Adults and educators need to model larger and smaller acts of kindness over and over again and students need to be aware of all parts of a act of kindness--they need to walked through the entire process and witness the …