At every turn, we are hearing more about trauma and the impact on students and their educational experience. As research continues to inform what we know about the impact of trauma on neurology, behavior and relationships, it will continue to transform how we are able to effectively respond to the complex, changing needs of our students.
The foundation for our knowledge about trauma and children is the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study. While for many of us, the ACEs term might be new, you may be surprised to know that the research around Adverse Childhood Experiences is actually over 20 years old. In the mid 1990’s, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed 17,000 volunteers on their childhood trauma experiences. The research sample included primarily white, middle class participants who had attended college, were employed and had health insurance. Adult participants were asked about their childhood history and whether they had experienced 10 different types of trauma including:
A further research study conducted by the Area Health Education Center of Washington State University examined the correlation between ACES and school performance. This study found that students with at least three ACEs are three times as likely to experience academic failure, six times as likely to have behavioral problems, and five times as likely to have attendance problems. Children who are exposed to adverse childhood experiences may become overloaded with stress hormones, leaving them in a constant state of arousal and alertness to environmental and relational threats. Therefore, they may have difficulty focusing on school work, and consolidating new memory, making it harder for them to learn at school (further information on that study can be found at acestoohigh.com).
With such compelling facts about the connection between adverse childhood experiences and academic success, we are compelled to consider what school can do to mitigate the impact of trauma, increase student resilience and support school success.
Below is a list of ideas of what each of us can do to support students that have experienced trauma:
This post brought to you by Denise Moody MSW, LICSW; Assistant Director of Student Services
Feel free to contact Moody at 507.328.4274 or to connect with her via email
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to visit classrooms and observe our amazing teachers and students in action! Today, I’d like to share some simple ways that I have observed teachers bringing in student voice and increasing choice in their classrooms. There are two huge benefits to including these things in our classrooms. Student engagement and motivation increase and, in turn, students drive more of their own learning.
Create a “We Wonder” board.
No matter what content you teach students naturally have lots of questions. One classroom I visited had a spot on their board where kids wrote things they wondered about. The teacher spent the first week modeling good thought-provoking questions and then turned students loose. They could add I wonder questions throughout the week and once a week they took a fifteen minute research break to see what they could find out about these questions.
Admit you don’t know everything.
One of the most powerful things we can do as teachers is to admit we don’t know. The next time a student asks a great question that you don’t know the answer to, toss it back to the class to explore. This might sound like, “Does anyone know something about that topic?” or “Would anyone be willing to research that and report back?”
Poll your students to find out what they know and what they want to know.
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple Likert Scale to help you find out that students know and are interested in. I recently watched a teacher write five big concepts up at the beginning of a unit. Students were able to rate each concept with what they knew about it using these descriptors:
Next, students were asked to rate their interest in the topic using these descriptors:
The teacher used this information to decide on which order to teach the concepts as well as how to approach the topics. Although students needed to learn all of the information, she knew that she’d have to plan a “ hook” for the one that had the lowest student interest.
Add choice whenever possible.
Humans love choices! Often we can build in more choice than we realize with a bit of creative thinking. Here are some simple choices I’ve seen teachers provide in their classrooms in just the last two weeks:
The key with choices is to give two choices that are equally rigorous and that you are comfortable with. Try looking for at least one opportunity for choice in every lesson.
If you're looking more more ways to provide choice, watch the following two minute video by author John Spencer where he lays out ten simple choice strategies.
As you work on adding more choice into your classroom, consider working with your instructional coach or one of us from Curriculum & Instruction. We'd love to help you tweak your instruction.
This post brought to you by Heather Willman, APOSA overseeing Secondary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
Getting students to talk more seems like a very simple task. Students talk all the time, right?! Sometimes, it’s hard to get them to stop talking! The question is: are students using social language or academic language? Our goal should be to increase academic talk in our classrooms, while encouraging students to continue to develop their social language. Seems easy right? Not always true, as I have discovered in my teaching experiences.
Here is an example of a lesson that I learned a lot from:
Interaction is a key component of SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Promotional). We often say we want students to talk more and teachers to talk less. However, before we can expect students to interact and use academic language, we first need to teach them the procedures and routines to do so. The error I made was I wanted students to use the academic language, but I had not taught them how to do so in the Turn and Talk.
So, here are some eight steps to help you not make the same mistake by instead creating an environment that teaches students how to build the skills needed to interact with one another and to use academic language (Echevarría and Short).
| 1 |
Teach students how to listen to each other.
If we want students to talk, we need to teach them also how to listen. What does listening to each other look like? Model for students what active listening looks like. Have students practice listening skills using social conversations first (i.e. tell each other about their favorite TV show) and then move into more content-rich conversations.
| 2 |
Teach students how to respectfully speak to one another.
What types of respectful words or phrases do you hear (I agree with you because…, I don't know that I can agree with you, and here's why...)? Provide sentence frames and model how to use them. Hang them up or write them on the board for students as a reference or to keep in a journal.
| 3 |
Align the conversation to lesson objectives.
Make sure students know the goal of the lesson. That way they know if their academic conversations are on-topic or on-target. If they are not on-topic, remind them of the target or objective to help get them back on track.
| 4 |
Pose questions that prompt high-quality discussions.
If you want students to increase their academic language, then make sure questions lend themselves to higher-order thinking skills. Questions should make students think, clarify, predict, or explain. A question such as “Tell your partner one fact about the Gettysburg Address” could be changed to “What do you think the reaction of the crowd was after President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address and why would he have reacted that way?”
| 5 |
Teach students to ask questions or expand their thinking.
Students often need to be taught how to keep a conversation going. Put question and sentence frames around the room that expand discussions, such as Tell me more about …, Why do you think… I heard you say…, That made me think of …, Do you think that …, or That idea connects to the story by …. These frames allow students to build on each other’s thoughts and create engaging conversations.
| 6 |
Link oral discussion to reading and writing.
Academic speaking and listening are deeply tied to reading and writing. Student discussions that are linked to text bring forth deeper academic discussions.
| 7 |
Set reasonable time limits.
Think about how long it will take students to talk to each other. Don’t let a turn and talk that lasts 1-2 minutes turn into 10 minutes. This creates wasted academic time and often leads to off-task behavior.
| 8 |
Hold students accountable for their talk.
Let students know that you are listening to them. Walk around and listen to what they are saying. Have a clipboard and write down what students say. Them, when the class is brought back together, talk about the great conversations you heard. Provide examples and discuss why these conversations were so powerful. This will motivate students moving forward because they know you are listening and sharing out their examples and ideas.
Consider using all of these eight steps to take your classroom conversations to the next level. I know they certainly helped my students.
If you would like to study these ideas future, consider reading the article "Student Interaction Gone Awry" by Jana Echevarría, and/or watching the Teaching Channel video "Talk Moves in Academic Discussions". Both provide great ideas on how to help students interact.
And, of course, feel free to connect with me directly. I would love to help you increase the academic talk in your classroom.
This post brought to you by Katie Miller, K-12 EL Implementation Associate
In her book Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential Through Creative math, Inspiring Messages, and Innovative Teaching, Jo Boaler lists six ways to change a ordinary activity into a rich mathematical task. The use of any or all of the six ways described below will increase a tasks "richness" and will help students to think like true mathematicians.
1. Open up the task so there are multiple methods, pathways, and representations.
2. Ask the problem before teaching the method
3. Ask the problem before teaching the method
4. Add a visual component and ask students how they see the mathematics
5. Extend the task to make it 'low floor' and 'high ceiling'
6. Ask students to convince and reason; be skeptical
Incorporating one or all of these six changes does not need to be difficult. I saw a great example while visiting the classroom of a science teacher earlier this week. He was teaching a chemistry class where he was asking students to find the density of irregular shaped objects. The students were given an overflow cup and a very short list of instructions.
| DIRECTIONS |
First, watch the following video of Archimedes
Then, design an experiment to measure the density of 4 irregularly shaped objects
Next, create and design a data table for data collection.
Finally, come up with a way to represent your results.
I have personally seen this same activity presented to students with a full set of step by step instructions that take away the students imagination and opportunity to struggle and learn. This way, the task is wide open for the students.
All six of Jo Boaler's ways for making a task rich can be met with this simple set of instructions and with a purposeful instructional pedagogy that allows all students to enter the activity, use their creativity, and explain their thinking Instead of telling the students what to do. This teacher let them figure out what to do and how to represent their results. He did not have to search the internet for a creative and rich tasks on density, he only needed to make simple changes to an activity in front of him.
If you have traditional STEM task that you'd like to develop into a rich one, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to help you develop your idea.
This post brought to you by Dan Devine, Secondary Implementation Associate
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