March 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 7

Are You Treating Your August Students Like June Students?

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

I enjoy my job. When someone mentions that summer is almost over, I imagine the well-behaved, cooperative students that will be joining my class, just like the ones that I said goodbye to in June. Except…the students who will enter my classroom in August are not the students from this past June. It’s easy to forget that those students were well-behaved and cooperative because I taught them to be that way.

More than one classroom management book emphasizes that the first moments with new students are crucial. The first greeting, assignment, and seating arrangement all set the tone for the rest of the year. Explicitly teaching new students classroom routines and required behaviors is just as important. Putting in the time and effort during the first week of school will pay off in time saved for learning and in less aggravation for the teacher and students.

While teaching students desired routines and behaviors the first few weeks of school are essential, the key to maintaining them lies in revisiting them frequently. Never assume that students remember what you expect. It is easier and more effective to review expectations regularly while students are still conducting themselves in the manner you have asked, than trying to re-teach those classroom structures after they have fallen apart. This is true regardless of what they look like in your individual classroom. Every day of the first week of school, I provide all the expectations to my students verbally as well as in written form on the front board. (While we all need our front boards for academics, the academic outcomes cannot be achieved until students are clear on what we want from them. This is not to minimize the power of well-planned, engaging lessons on student behavior.) After the first few weeks of daily reviewing, I provide intermittent reminders for the remainder of the school year. I always make a point of revisiting procedures and expected behaviors after holidays and the first day of each new grading period. The short amount of time this takes is rewarded in students who are friendly, cooperative, and efficient. Additionally, it creates an environment where the maximum amount of time can be spent on learning.

Just as it is easy for students to forget teacher expectations, it is just as easy for teachers to forget the amount of effort they need to put in at the beginning of the school year in order for their classroom to run smoothly. Pulling out your favorite classroom management books now and quickly reviewing the main concepts can be just the reminder you need to be sure you designate enough time to this critical component of any classroom. My favorite classroom management books are:

My best wishes to all of you for a successful and fulfilling school year!

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is president-elect of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Great article Lisa! I’ll be sure to share this with my pre-service teachers.

  2. Very true words, and ideas that I try to instill in all my student teachers. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Engineering Brings It All Together

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

P.Ahearn_Photo_1

I am really enjoying the creativity that NGSS is awakening in teachers. Those who want to create are taking the standards (and the freedom that comes from the lack of a test) and really exploring what engages their students. I found though, that even when trying our best to match up to the expectations of NGSS, there is a feeling that we missed something. Did we remember the crosscutting concepts? Did the students engage in the practices at the level that NGSS expects? Did we get to the engineering? How about the Nature of Science? Was the content deep enough to really teach the DCI to the point where it could be applied to a new situation? Was it engaging? About a real world phenomenon or problem? Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District, Co-Chair of the 2013 Conference Committee, and a member of CSTA.

Meaningful Thinking in 140 Characters or Fewer

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

I’ve learned the hard way that I will get “huffs”, eye-rolls, grunts, and the occasional nuclear meltdown from students if I ask them to summarize their learning in, dare I say it, a paragraph. It’s as though paragraph is a bad word and how shocking that I would ask for one in science class! I even get slammed with questions: “How many sentences to I have to write?” (why are we still asking that question in middle school?), “Do I have to use complete sentences?”, and “Do I really have to write a whole paragraph?” *teacher sigh*

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of having students produce writing in a science class. I will also admit that this can be a challenge, and so the year that I decided to make the shift to an interactive science notebook it was glaring at me. I would be asking students for writing as a vehicle to share their thinking (in what we refer to as “outputs” in the notebook) all the time. Although we wouldn’t be able to avoid the writing, sometimes I may want to ask my students to share their thinking in a way that will avoid the drama that asking for a paragraph can sometimes generate. (Incidentally, this was all prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards – where anecdotally, in just one year, I’ve seen a big shift in student acceptance of writing outside of language arts.) Learn More…

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace teaches 7th grade science at Palos Verdes Intermediate School and is the Middle School/Jr. High Director for CSTA.

State Board to Vote on Suspension of API for 2014-2015

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The California State Board of Education will vote on the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) Committee’s recommendation to suspend the calculation of the Academic Performance Index (API) for a second year Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Exploring the Ecosystem That Is Your Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

As you read through this month’s CCS you’ll find articles about biology, professional learning, NGSS implementation tales, and finding a job. I find the juxtaposition of the articles works. When we look for a job we need to have a good fit – we need to fill a niche in the school’s ecosystem and our needs must be met. When we look at our professional learning needs we are doing a self-assessment, finding out our own needs and meeting them

Earlier this year John Speigel, Anthony Quan and Yami Shimojyo wrote an article for CCS which discussed a pathway from NGSS awareness to implementation. If we use their awareness-transition-implementation matrix to mark our efforts we can start making changes to our instruction and have a mechanism to note progress. So let’s think of our classroom as its own teaching/learning ecosystem and start modifying the system to see what positive changes we can make to student engagement and student learning. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

CSTA Legislative Update – March 2015

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Friday, February 27, 2015 was the last day for legislators to introduce bills. As with many things with a deadline, the last days leading up to the deadline saw a flurry of activity and many bills were introduced. CSTA will be monitoring many pieces of legislation this year and will seek to have funding for NGSS implementation included in next year’s budget. Bills of note include:

AB 631 (Bonilla)Titled the “Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Fund ActLearn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.