<![CDATA[AskteacherZ: Collaborative Education - BLOG]]>Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:03:57 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Creative Schools: A Book Review by AskteacherZ]]>Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:58:15 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/creative-schools-a-book-review-by-askteacherzPictureSummer Reads 2015
Little doubt remains that the current emphasis on standardized education squelches creativity. In the book Creative Schools author Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D. argues masterfully that the industrial aged, one-size fits all, educational structure of yesteryear exists in our schools still to this day but in a most destructive manner. To curb this continued course and positively transform education it will take a revolution of the masses.

Revolts begin with dissemintating information to crystalize the unity of the many. Identifying curricular outcome flaws is often not enough to sway involvement. However, presenting the political purse of maintaining ancient industrial education testing techniques is a  powerful motivator. 

The sticker price to clone learning costs billions of dollars. Testing and supporting students in the United States is a booming big business. It finances political electionioneering and drives the education systems. In 2013 the revenue was $16.5 billion. To put this in pespective Robinson points out that in the same year the U.S. domestic cinema box office grossed a lttle less than $11 billion and the National Football League (NFL) is a $9 billion business (pg. 165). Movie goers and football fans would never continue to pay for tickets if their return was anything like what's put in front of students in the form of standardized tests. The current educational system shortchanges consumers. We're purchasing an inferior end product for our students.  
Student engagement, learning outcomes and success of career preparedness depends upon allowing individuals the opportunity to pursue their interests, innovate and collaborate within the realm of educational curricucula.
Student engagement, learning outcomes and success of career preparedness depends upon allowing individuals the opportunity to pursue their interests, innovate and collaborate within the realm of educational curricula. Now with over 8 million views on YouTube Ken Robinson's TED Talks presentation from 2007 titled Do Schools Kill Creativity is an introduction of this very topic that is expanded upon in his 2015 book. In short, Creative Schools contains all of what he was unable to say in 18 minutes 8 years ago.

As a mission all teachers enter the profession with the intent of making a difference in the lives of those whom they serve. Regardless of the age, subject or role in education (as I described in my "Bad" blog post in June 2015) all educators want students to become compassionate, innovative and active citizens in the future. Ken Robinson explains and expands upon this perspective very well with his humorous analogies, sarcasm, school and classroom observation examples and educational data. 
The drill and test industrial aged education model of old must give way to a modern day creative one. Project based learning, maker spaces and a technology integrated curriculum need to be advanced, promoted and implemented in schools. Factors such as motivation, class size and funding can no longer be the crutch to explain the lack of student success. Schools and staff need to be supported and valued more by government leadership to allow for the building of quality relationships with students, parents and community. 
Education, as Robinson eloquently writes, is "...cluttered with every sort of distraction. There are political agendas, national priorities, union bargaining positions, building codes, job descriptions, parental ambitions, peer pressures. The list goes on. But the heart of education is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Everything else depends on how productive and successful that relationship is. If that is not working, then the system is not working. If students are not learning, education is not happening. Something else may be going on, but it's not education (pg 71-72)." Simply put, the priority in education needs to be about discovering individual talent not determining deficiencies. Discovering the gifts of each individual student is accomplished only through the building of a positive relationships.

Creative Schools needs to make an appearence at some point on everyone's night stand. Sir Ken Robinson doesn't disappoint. He's crafted a brilliant, inspiring and thought provoking book on where education needs to be and how to get there. When finished you'll have a more profound understanding of the education world.
<![CDATA["Bad" Reflections this Summer]]>Thu, 09 Jul 2015 20:46:09 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/bad-reflections-this-summerPictureTwo-TeacherZ at U2 in Chicago
"If I could, yes I would. If I could, I would Let It Go." A lyrical snippet from the song "Bad" performed by U2. Most recently it reminded me of my personal and professional mission. I recalled the creed I pledged to myself when entering the education profession. To purely and simply educate todays youth to be responsible, respectful and compassionate future adults that take an active role in bettering the world in which we live.

The reflections that follow originate from when my wife and I traveled to Chicago in June of 2015. A celebratory evening for a milestone of 20 years of marriage together. We dined at RPM Italian, enjoyed time together without our children and attended a U2 concert

It wasn't my first time witnessing U2's music making brilliance. The difference now from then -- It's impact on me as a middle aged adult educator is meaningful in a much more profound manner than it was when I was an 18 year old fan. No longer is it only the fact that I love the music. Rather in this moment I relate to their message and their tireless efforts to be more than artists but to be difference makers.

U2's stage is more than a place for presenting their musical talents and artistic expressions. They've transformed a physical platform into an avenue to publicize our worlds ills. U2 wills us to be active members of society, to correct injustice and to cure others pain. Organizations such as GreenpeaceAmnesty International and Red benefit from the due diligence and dedication of U2. 

Like U2 educators have a stage.

Each and every day educators take the stage. It's a stage shared with an audience of young minds awaiting daily guidance and leadership.
Each and every day educators take the stage. It's a stage shared with an audience of young minds awaiting daily guidance and leadership. A classroom concert unleashes meaningful artistry that creates the memories of a lifetime. My fellow teaching colleagues remember and reflect upon your mission. Continue to live and work to maintain your Creed. Standardized testing, politically generated curriculum, educational funding cuts and the lack of support for the daily rigor to meet the needs of all learners weigh us down, slows our course and may entice us to stray from our mission.  

"This desperation, dislocation
Separation, condemnation
Revelation, in temptation
Isolation, desolation"

As educators our goal is to plant within each young mind the seeds of compassion, creativity, critical thinking and to prepare them to solve the problems that beseech us as a people.
Be "Bad." You can "Let it go." Don't let these uncontrollable issues allow you to vary from your true mission. Hold firm to your creed. Continue to engage learners through real life project based learning activities. 21st Century students must understand that a wrong answer or complete failure on a test for that matter is fine. Instruct students to over-come adversity. Pass-on the knowledge that the greatest of achievements blossom from nutrients of the worst storms. As educators our goal is to plant within each young mind the seeds of compassion, creativity, critical thinking and to prepare them to solve the problems that beseech us as a people. Morally and ethically it's okay to stay true to quality instruction. Don't teach to the test. Lead student learning. Inspire student imagination. Promote educational innovation. Weave, entwine and embed state curricular requirements and standardized test preparation within lessons. 

"If I could, through myself, set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away, see you break, break away
Into the light and to the day."

Know now that you're not alone in this world of education. Find a common voice. Team up with other educators for support and to share ideas. Use Twitter and Google hangouts to connect to and work with other educators from around the world. Collaborate with other educators to advance your pedagogical needs.   

Educators return from your summer professional development reinvigorated and ready to be "Bad." You're armed with the righteousness to lead learning to the multitudes that enter your classroom. One size doesn't fit all. From the impoverished pupil, to the family fragmented freshman, to the special needs learner, to the socially shy student, to the overly active scholar -- educators lead instruction to one and all. "You're wide awake, you're not sleeping." Your mission isn't to test students. It's your mission to lead students to imagine, innovate and inspire ways to make a better world.

U2 Website
Bad Lyrics
Hearts and Minds - U2
P21.org - 21st Century Ed. Framework
<![CDATA[Teacher Appreciation Day]]>Mon, 04 May 2015 11:31:45 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/teacher-appreciation-dayPictureTeacher Appreciation Day
Each year April showers bring May flowers. Spring time is celebrated for blossoms and the coming of Summer. It's also a time for us to show appreciation for those that dedicate their lives to helping us to discover new knowledge and lead our learning.

Each and everyone of us can recall a teacher in our life that sparked our imagination, helped us to find our creativity and innovative spirit. We all have a teacher in our past or present that guided us toward opening a new door. There's an educator that's shown determination and drive in your learning. When you struggled and contemplated giving up a teacher discussed, demonstrated and collaborated with you to find success.

There's no greater gift than the gift of knowing you made an impact in someone's life.
Remember the educator that impacted you positively. During teacher appreciation week take a moment to celebrate the gift of learning. Give back to those that gave so much to you. Teachers don't expect anything especially not a tangible gift reward. Honor that special teacher in your life by acknowledging their hard work, their tireless efforts and their dedication to students like you -- tell them.

Most memorable to me in 21 years of teaching is a note of appreciation. A students note, a quick email or tweet from a student or parent telling me thanks. I recall the pleasure these quick comments brought me. Knowing their relationship with me helped them is among the highest of honors. One student even painted me an apple on a note. The picture still adorns my desktop to this day. 

Show a teacher that the time they spent with you made a difference in your life during teacher appreciation week by reaching out. Contact them. Send an email, tweet'em, mail a note or leave a voicemail. This gesture will mean the world to a teacher. There's no greater gift than the gift of knowing you made an impact in someone's life. This is why every educator entered the profession -- to make a difference -- so tell that teacher they did. You have the power to make teacher appreciation a memorable one for an educator.
<![CDATA[Pedagogical Adaptability: Where's the Phone Booth?]]>Thu, 09 Apr 2015 15:03:09 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/pedagogical-adaptability-wheres-the-phone-boothPictureSuperman 1978 - Christopher Reeves - Warner Bros.
Superman fan? I've always enjoyed superhero movies. One particular scene from the 1978 original Superman movie, starring Christopher Reeves, stands out and inspires me to be a better educator and person.

A disguised superman, portrayed as a mild mannered typical white-collared worker, needed to switch into his blue spandex and red cape uniform to save the citizens of Metropolis from harms way. No worries. A quick change of clothes in a phone booth is the patented move for the son of Jor-El. On the street he immediately finds a phone but there's no longer a booth; it's small receiver station with no door. What now? Adjacent to where he stands is a revolving-door unit. Problem solving in the heat of the moment is his forte. He acts quickly and uses the turn-style door to make his transition from Clark Kent, the reporter for the Daily Planet, to Superman, the hero of the people.

Metaphorically this superman movie snippet encapsulates the world of education in several ways. For starters, in this ever changing world, educators, like Clark Kent, must problem solve and determine alternate strategies to accomplish tasks so frequently it's beyond measure. Both also serve the people; for better and worse Superman and Teachers are servants to those whom they've dedicated their lives. Successfully working on behalf of the people depends upon the acclimation to ones surroundings and the constant retooling of ones craft.

If classrooms are preparing students with the skills necessary to meet the rigor of the 21st century work place then conformity to ancient learning practices will not cut it.
If classrooms are preparing students with the skills necessary to meet the rigor of the 21st century work place then conformity to ancient learning practices will not cut it. Teachers are lead learners. Leaders promote innovation, critical thinking, collaboration and risk taking. To promote these skills teachers must understand and employ them.

This mind shift is necessary.
Pedagogical Adaptability is a choice; albeit it's not a difficult decision or is it? We've all come in contact with people that dismiss giving change a chance. That person, for whatever reason, that's resistant to attempt a new instructional tactic or use a new technology tool. Perhaps you've overheard someone that's quick to point out to others "You don't have to do that because -insert negative result here- is going to happen when you try it." 

What drives and motivates these individuals to be this way? Maybe it's fear. Maybe it's because they're overwhelmed. Maybe they need help and they're not accustom to asking for it. Together we must move forward and overcome these obstacles because the people we all serve can't afford the result.
The "Set-In-His-Way Superman" would've missed a chance to save a life. If Clark Kent were reticent to change and resistant to adapting to his environment something as simple as a covert outfit transformation would result in tragedy. If he'd have continued to look for a phone booth rather than use the revolving-door the chance to help and save humanity would've past. Likewise, a new clothing conversion technique is lost. A tactic that'd serve him and mankind well in the future. These same decisions exist more often for teachers and school administrators than for fictional superheroes. Revolving doors are everywhere for educators.
SAMR Ladder by Susan Oxnevad
Educators are the non-fictional superheroes. Teachers perform life altering tasks that are super. These endeavors often go unnoticed. In one day as a Vice-Principal, on top of all the spectacular learning I'm privy to experience from my daily classroom visitations, I also witnessed: secretarial and custodial staff rush to the aid of a student having a seizure; an educator walk a student to the clinic that had a bloodied nose; a teaching-assistant walk the entire playground with a distraught student until they found their missing cell phone; and the school principal save a choking student in the cafeteria by performing the Heimlich Maneuver.   

There's little doubt that educators are quick to act when someone is physically, socially and emotionally in harms way. Lets apply this same principle to when someone is intellectually in harms way. As educators we must be quick to act on trying a new form of acquiring professional development -- maybe it's being involved in a Twitter EduChat. As educators we must be quick to implement a new learning tool and attempt a new learning strategy. We must, as educators, be quick to collaborate with others. Be that Clark Kent Educator that's quick to take a risk, try that revolving-door and enter into a new, more profound world of pedagogy.

Resources and Credits:

Superman the Movie. 1978. Warner Brothers.

Superman - DC Comics.

Oxnevad, Susan. Getting Smart. The SAMR Ladder Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills. 17 July 2013.

McMaddish, David. YouTube Superman Clip.

<![CDATA[Dungeon Master of Education]]>Mon, 02 Mar 2015 02:52:46 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/dungeon-master-of-educationPictureD&D with Family -- AskteacherZ
It's Mid-Winter Break and we're in up-state Michigan at the family cottage Charlevoix. Outside it's -12°F and it feels like -31°F with the wind chill. The fireplace has become the household hot spot -- figuratively and literally. It's a perfect day to spend time with the family indoors. What to do? How do you get eveyone involved? The answer is play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)... seriously.

I've participated in the RPG (Role Playing Game) Dungeons and Dragons since I was 10 years old. I'm now, lets go with, middle aged, and it's not since undergrad college days that I've participated in D&D. Recently my passion for the game is rekindled. Here's how.

While searching through the basement inner sanctum my youngest daughter came across my D&D gear. She dashed up the stairs to my office, in excitement, clamoring: "Dad, Dad, can we play D&D? I found it in the closet." A memorable Daddy, Daughter moment; I dusted off the lead miniatures and dice, unshelved the rule books and unrolled the playing surface. A new era began. Nonetheless, it wasn't until our family furlough that the educational value of the game hit home to me.

Along with Cooper, the family Bearded Dragon pet, and our luggage -- the game of Dungeons and Dragons was packed up for our family sojourn. On a ridiculously frigid day the six of us gathered; Grandpa, Grandma, Mother, Father and Sisters; by the fireside and proceeded to play D&D. Acting as the Dungeon Master or DM (which is the game referee, instructor, teacher and/or lead learner) I provided each family member with a character, as well as, the background of the adventure they were about to undertake. As we played I found myself utilizing questioning tactics and methods I've employed over the years in the classroom. BAM -- it struck me there and then. I'm a far superior Dungeon Master than I was decades ago because of my teaching experience. Consequently my early years of Dungeon Mastering must've, unknowingly, made a profoundly positive impact on my teacher preparation. The gaming experience that day is the evidence.

...sensational educational learning moments crackled as often as the fire beside us.
My family and I laughed together. We interacted, cooperated and enjoyed one anothers company for several unadulterated hours. Each member of the family was forced to think critically and collaborate to solve problems that their fictious characters faced -- sensational educational learning moments crackled as often as the fire beside us. D&D isn't about killing creatures, well some of it is... it's about a group of individuals working together to overcome obstacles, decipher riddles, conquer quests and much more. 

After we completed a few hours of gaming and I put all the D&D materials away, my wife, a first time player and 1st grade teacher for 21+ years, made the same educational connection as me. Although she's not a fan of, if you will, the "sword play" -- she was astonished at how synergetic, player centered and engaging RPGing is for the participants. Higher order thinking skills are prominent at every turn of the game. The two of us dialogued at length about the educational attributes of Dungeons and Dragons

Together my wife and I concluded that D&D RPGing encapsulates all the vital educational acronymns of 21st Century Learning. It's PBL (Project Based Learning), IBL (Inquiry Based Learning) and a ILC (Interactive Learning Challenge). More to the point, the Game, via the Dungeon Master, provokes immense curiosity from the player participants because a problematic scenario beseeches them. The Dungeon Master knows "everything" but only reveals what players probe from them. Players attain knowledge through collaboration with party or group members to formulate high level questions to present to the DM in an effort to ascertain information on the adventure at hand.
This is what can be taken from being a Dungeon Master of a D&D RPG Adventure and applied to lesson planning, educational expectations and procedures in our schools.
  • Center a lesson plan around a problem, high level question and/or a scenerio.
  • Group students. Place each member in charge of differing aspects of the outcome of the challenge.
  • Create opportunities for student collaboration to problem solve.
  • Use rubrics. Let students create, know and understand in advance the learning outcomes and mastery.
  • Don't answer questions; provide clues and minimal information to guide outcome/s. 
  • Use openended quetions or employ a 2-question technique.
  • Use wait time.
  • Cold call or roll dice to determine which participants are chosen to respond.
  • When a participant is questioned never move on to another without a response; work with a student until a response is attained.
  • Wrong responses don't exist; rationalize all answers.
  • Guide student learning. Don't worry about where the students take the challenge, let them embrace their own learning.
  • Let curiosity lead student engagement and learning outcome/s.

A fellow lead learner and teaching colleague, whom we greatly admire, wrote in a 2012 blog that "maybe all teachers should spend a few years gaming before they get in the classroom." A prophetic comment because 21st Century Learning involves the 7 C's of learning: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, cross cultural understanding, computing and career pathways.As educators that embrace 21st Century learning we must embrace the attributes that D&D RPGing offers. 
<![CDATA[Super Bowl Victory]]>Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:12:29 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/super-bowl-victoryPictureWhat's your Super Bowl Victory?
Deep down in the bowels of our everyday life -- past or present -- we all attended school. Each of us have experiences and stories about our days in classes, whether good or bad. Yes, they're going to be different because one of was labeled a Jock, a Bookworm, maybe we're into Music, Art or a mixture of all these components. Here's the bottom-line: we can all relate to each other based upon our experiences attending school.

Education is the gift that keeps giving. It may be cliche but it's so true; an education can never be taken from you. 

Each year in America an event grows greater in stature since it began back in the year 1967. The country is engrossed with it every January. Billions of dollars are spent commercializing, preparing and planning for the one day spectacle. Worthless bits of news about the event become headline stories in the weeks leading up to it. The nation is consumed by it.

Is this celebration the crowning of the national spelling bee champion? Is it the honoring of the teacher of the year? No -- it's paying homage to professional football players that win a game known as the Super Bowl.

"You've just won the Super Bowl what are you going to do next?"
I'm not an anti-Super Bowl enthusiast, quite the opposite. What I'd like to see, given the magnitude of the stage the Super Bowl offers, is a tribute to what really is vital to the quality of American life: education. Every athlete thats reached the Super Bowl has an inspirational person in their life thats assisted them to attain this pinnacle point in their athletic career. Celebrate that. Honor them. Mention a teacher or a high performing student; commercialize these succeses, donate some dollars towards their efforts and accomplishments.
Can the Super Bowl not only honor the NFL Champion but also be a celebration of the education, inspiration and learned work ethic these athletes received throughout their careers? Lets pay tribute to the teachers and students in the classrooms of America that dream of being on their own personalized stage of success like we do our Super Bowl Champions.

There's no greater trophy for a teacher than a thank you for the hard work, dedication and individualized care they provided. Each and every student that enters their classroom daily has a special place in a teachers' heart. Perhaps the day will come when the Game MVP responds to the question "You've just won the Super Bowl what are you going to do next?" and the response is "Thank my teacher then send a special student and their family to Disney World."
<![CDATA[3 Steps 4 Reaching a New Year Resolution]]>Thu, 01 Jan 2015 16:20:11 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/3-steps-4-reaching-a-new-year-resolutionPicture"Slow & Steady Wins the Race."
Each and every year we all do it -- a new year resolution. We all give it a shot. Lets face it most us don't follow through. "February Failure" sets in. Some of us may deny making a resolution while others are openly candid about what it is we hope to accomplish. The fact of the matter is -- we all do it. Every one of us seeks to make the new year better than the previous. Whether it's a personal goal, a work related or financial benchmark we're all looking toward establishing a firm footing in some territory of our lives to help ourselves in the future.

January 1st will be filled with interviews and articles from experts on how to accomplsh your new year resolution. What made these individuals experts? Did they attain their resolution goal; thus claiming expert status? Furthermore, is it necessary to employ an expert opinion on how to get yourself to follow through on a goal you set for yourself? Here you have it: I'm no expert. I did't reach my 2014 new year resolution goal. The fact is I have documented proof of my failure.

Yes, Really -- I'm celebrating my 2014 new year resolution failure. While I didn't reach my goal I did come close to reaching it. More important than accomplishing it is that I kept working toward attaining it.

Last year I embarked on a goal to jog/walk 500 miles over the course of the year. I fell short of meeting this goal by 71.5 miles. Or rather I managed to jog/walk 428.5 miles this past year. That's certainly worth a fist pump.

Just as essential to reaching a goal is the consistent effort put forth to accomplish it. It's from this perspective that I'm most satisfied with myself. Three factors contributed to my consistency of working towards meeting a resolution goal.
  1. PLN (Professional Learning Network)
  2. Technology Integration 
  3. Blogging
A group of individuals or PLN to support and inspire you, whether you know them personally or only through a social media port, is helpful. My wife and I have been most fortunate to build a network of fellow educators that not only advise but encourage us on twitter. It was a PLN member that got me involved and motivated to participate in the quest to jog 500 miles in the year 2014. Whether it's to help you work towards a new year goal or not I encourage you to seek out others on Twitter. It's a system of assistance that's invaluable.

Tracking my jogging miles was easy using the Nike Running app. This also allowed for my PLN to track my accomplishments by being part of a challenge together in addition to tweeting using an established hash tag. Integrating technology in this manner made charting my resolution work simple, manageable and shareable.

Keeping a journal is vital to holding yourself accountable to a resolution. Blogging is the modern day journal. A blog is easy to use. It can be accessible on most iOS products and on all desktop computers to update. Keeping a blog will establish a positive aura in your life; you'll be astonished.

"Slow and steady wins the race." Keeping this old expression in mind should be your focus when it comes to the implementation of reaching your new year resolution. You will start out of the gate in full force; this is inevitable. Avoiding the "February Failure" is most problematic for most. Putting in place these three attributes will help you along the way and make better odds for success in the long run. 

My new year resolution is to jog 500 miles again -- but actually reach it. Best of luck to all of you in the new year. Make your goals a reality by finding the positive attributes that are attained from working towards reaching it rather than completing it.

<![CDATA[Embrace Failure]]>Mon, 24 Nov 2014 01:58:58 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/embrace-failurePicture--Maya Angelou
It's time for a mindshift. There's nothing wrong with failing a task. To FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning. As educators assessing student success only in a summative manner maintains the archiac pedagogical mentaility of sit still and drill. Really; Is this what's best for the student?

In the good ole grading scale system the range from 0-59% represents failure. All other ranges are increased at a rate of 10%; as such the greatest learning gains for students is in the "F-Range." It's our task to eliminate the connotation that failure is a bad thing. Rather it's a natural thing.

Utilization of formative assessments frequently can and will bridge mistakes with victories. Take time to conference with students and discuss learning with them in small groups or one-on-one. Have students collaborate with classmates and learn together. The best, most abundant and inexpensive student resource available are the people around us.

Are we Teachers or
Learning Inspirationalists?
Another mission that must be grasped is uncovering failure. Lets show it for what it is -- it's not success and it's okay. Students are resilient and can handle falling down. When we help students confront the fact that they made a mistake, wrote down a wrong answer or flunked a test we're supporting them to find the path towards meeting their accomplishment.

Lets not sugar coat or cover up failure. Make it an educational mission to address what's an obstacle and direct students toward success. When we help students to embrace failure is when we begin to assist them towards their own mastery of learning.

Are we Teachers or Learning Inspirationalists? Failure is the key component to Success. By emphasizing the fact that to fail is simply an act of learning will change the mindset of our students. As educators we're tasked daily with the opportunity to uplift every student after they fail; let's embrace the positive not the negative perspective of what failing really is -- it's the beginning not the end of learning.
--Abraham Lincoln

--Thomas Alva Edison
<![CDATA[5 Tips for Effective Studying That You Can Teach Your Students]]>Mon, 18 Aug 2014 11:23:46 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/5-tips-for-effective-studying-that-you-can-teach-your-studentsAs a teacher, you spend countless hours thinking about your students and the impact you have on their lives once they leave the classroom. Being an educator is about more than teaching the specific subject matter, it’s also about leading by example and motivating your students to be a better version of themselves. Now that’s a tall order!

One of the ways educators can make a positive impression on their students is by equipping them with studying techniques that they can apply long after passing a grade or even graduating from high school. As students grow up, enter college, and move into the working world, their ability to focus and learn will continue to be an invaluable tool. From tackling home do-it-yourself projects, to advancing in the workplace, to someday passing on these valuable skills and lessons to a future generation, good study habits are a positive asset for any young person to develop. 
Here are 5 tips for effective studying that you can pass on to your students:

  • Pay attention to how you learn best.

Make sure your kids understand that everyone has unique learning needs, and that they should adapt their approach based on what works best for them. Do they learn best with visuals or by reading lengthy study material? And don’t underestimate the effectiveness of flash cards–they work for all types of subject matter and for students of all ages!

  • Get help when you need it.

If students have a hard time studying no matter what they try, encourage them to ask for help. They have a variety of resources available to help them find their groove, including everyone from teachers, to parents, to professional tutors

  • Limit your distractions.

Today, more than ever, it is all too easy for students to be distracted while trying to focus on academic work. Talk to them about limiting distractions. They should put their cell phone away, turn off the TV, and find a quiet spot where they can focus on schoolwork. 

  • Don’t wait ‘til the last minute.

Research has shown time and time again that students perform much better when they study material over a period of time as opposed to “cramming” just before an exam or other academic milestone. Students can significantly lessen stress, increase their confidence going into a test, and perform much better if they set aside smaller amounts of time over multiple days or weeks versus studying for hours the night before an exam. 

  • Set goals–big and small.

Students develop important self-management skills and do better when they set intermittent goals over a longer period of time. For example, if a student wants to get a score of 90 or higher on a final exam, he or she should set a series of study goals leading up to the exam date. They could be things like “studying for one hour every day for a week” and “completing the practice exam at the end of the text book.” 

Learning to be a “good studier” is about more than passing grade levels and doing well on exams. As your students grow into young adults they’ll use these skills to become more productive citizens. Hopefully these tips will motivate you and your students in the new school year! 

Dusty Fox is a full-time world traveler and freelance writer who contributes to the WiseIvy network. Visit the Ivy Trainers website to learn more about the services they offer.

All opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily represent that of the website sponsor AskteacherZ. Permission to write this guest blog post is provided by AskteacherZ.

<![CDATA[Gift of Learning: Lou's Pet Shop Birthday party]]>Wed, 16 Jul 2014 01:25:49 GMThttp://askteacherz.com/blog/gift-of-learning-lous-pet-shop-birthday-partyPictureDon instructs Kids on Alligator Behaviors
Balloons, Cake, Candles and Ice Cream, Singing Happy Birthday and playing with a Tortoise. Yep, you read it correctly; a tortoise. Recently our youngest daughter turned nine years old. My wife, and first grade teacher of 20 years, is a party planning extraordinaire. Every birthday celebration is managed to perfection; it always comes-off like a brilliant lesson because of her meticulous planning.

A point of pride in planning birthday parties has always been the infusion of learning -- imagine that from such an incredible educator (sarcasm). The educational experience for my daughter and her friends during the party on this day reached a paramount level because of Lou's Pet Shop. A visiting pet shop; at a birthday party? Yes. You read that correctly too. A traveling pet store party.

Don, the Owner of Lou's Pet Shop, transformed my youngest daughters ninth birthday party into a educational traveling zoo of sorts. As any teacher can attest; just having some animals or reptiles and showing them to some nine year old girls isn't going to keep their attention for long. Like a seasoned teacher -- Don knows his pets are simply learning tools; no different than a book, iPad or computer in the classroom. It's Don that makes learning happen. As an incredibly charismatic, caring and kid capturing kinda guy; Don blends these traits with humor to impress upon young minds his passion and knowledge for animals. In short, Don posseses all the qualities of a highly effective teacher presenting a top-notch lesson plan.

Like a seasoned teacher -- Don knows his pets are simply learning tools; no different than a book, iPad or computer in the classroom. It's Don that makes learning happen. 
Focused with baited-breath as hands are popping in the air and bodies bobbing where they sit on floor the party-goers actions show how engrossed they are by the lesson. This is a constant behavioral theme of the kids during the entire one hour long presentation. Before each specimen is shown, touched and held Don gathers background knowledge from the audience through their participation answering his fascinating whimsical quiz style questions. Then, after setting the stage, he interjects vital information. Tidbits, such as, what colors indicate a dangerous snake to avoid; safety and precautionary measures when around reptiles, bugs and mammals in the wild or in captivity; in addition to proper animal care for house pets of all types. Then the kids get to touch and handle these critters he brought with him -- like the Tortoise named Frankie.

Exiting or Leaving the party is Don's most difficult feat. Swarmed by the inspired kids as he gathers together his materials and animals; the ongoing comments and questions never seemed to end. We had a hard time getting the kids to transition to the next phase of the party -- Cake and Icecream. Imagine that problem at a birthday party... the eating of cake and icecream couldn't match the joy and excitement of learning.
Our NEW Family Member: "Cooper"

Fastforward a few months -- Don inspired my wife and I so much that we finally succumb to our daughters plees to add another member to our family: a pet. This is no ordinary pet; at least we didn't think so at first. Little did we know as parents it's the third most popular household pet behind a dog and cat. It's a Bearded Dragon.

Our "Beardie" purchasing experience at Lou's Pet Shop was amazing. Like always, the staff accommodated these two extremely reluctant pet purchasing parents like true champions of the trade. We're not strangers to the Shop -- we've always gone there for fish, aquarium gear, pet food, etc. What's incredible and sets the store apart from all others isn't just the great customer service and attention to detail but the fact that it's also a mini zoo of sorts. There's a Lemur, a Parrot, a Boa; a massive free-moving Rabbit; and of course a tech-rigged Tortoise: aka all the stars of the party are here.
Frankie the Tortoise is camered-up. You can view his adventures around the store on YouTube 24/7 because he has strapped to him a "Tortoise-cam." Needless to write more, you get the idea, this store, owned by Don, is like an extension of the classroom; no different than his Birthday Party Presentations. Kids love going here simply to hangout.

If you're in the Grosse Pointe, Michigan surrounding area, like us, visit and use Lou's Pet Shop for what it is -- an educational and pet experience like no other. We're very grateful to all you've done for us Don and we'll be visiting even more often now that we're caring for our new Bearded Dragon "Cooper."

Sources and References:

Lou's Pet Shop
20779 Mack Avenue
Grosse Pointe, MI 48236
Ph: 313-885-1560

EcoHealthyPets.com - Bearded Dragons