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Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning includes the discovery, learning about and connecting to our natural world. Getting students outdoors, even just for 30 minutes, and engaged in environmental activities offers many benefits. This is true during the pandemic and beyond.

When I first started teaching about 13 years ago, I worked for a central city Milwaukee public school. Being a Montessori public school, our students had a slight advantage over many of their neighborhood peers. Connecting to the outdoors and the surrounding communities was already built into their learning curriculum.

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Unschooling Movement

Unschooling Movement is an informal learning approach encouraging learner-chosen activities over adult-chosen ones. It was inspired by John Holt, widely regarded as the ‘father of unschooling.’ He served in the military during WWII. As a civilian, he served as a dissatisfied elementary school teacher.

Coining this term in the 1970s, Holt came to the conclusion reforming the American school system was an impossibility. He began recommending to parents to keep their children at home; to let them decide what to learn and when.

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Project-based Learning

Project-based Learning is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in personally meaningful projects. These projects are designed to engross learners in solving a real-world problem or by answering a higher-level question.

Current research shows significant evidence of the effectiveness of project-based learning for all learners. This includes both young and old, all socio-economic levels and even those historically marginalized.

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Literature Circles

Literature Circles are a lot like Writing Circles. Students do not need to join them with anything prepared ahead of time. Each group can have a variety of reading levels. They can also be randomly assigned.

The idea is for students to get excited to read what their peers are reading. And, with some practice, to get excited to share their own book!

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Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is one of two belief systems we might have about our own abilities. Growth mindset has a more stagnant counterpart known as a fixed mindset. Research has shown encouraging different types of behavior might predict a person’s future successes.

Motivation Research has shown that these two mindsets are manifested from a very early age. Our mindset governs our behavior and our relationship with success and failure. This occurs in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately affects our capacity for happiness in life.

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Writing in All Subjects

Writing in All Subjects: Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored writing and ways to encourage reluctant writers to simply get words on paper. Now that your students/children are writing, what comes next? Writing can be used as a learning strategy, too.

Research has shown information is quickly forgotten if it’s not quickly reinforced. Writing can help to strengthen a student’s memories of material they’re currently working with.

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Writing Strategies

Writing Strategies: Two Strategies to Help Young (and old) Writers. In my teaching experience, writing is one of the most difficult things to teach effectively. Teaching effective and meaningful writing in a virtual setting becomes that much harder. In the classroom, it has taken me many years to develop what I believe to be effective strategies to teach writing. Two strategies I encourage to help struggling writers in the classroom or at home: Writing Circles and Writing Graphic Organizers.

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“Writing Wounded” Part One

Writing wounded. What exactly does this concept mean? Many educators, as do I, look at writing as the inverse of reading. If you follow the Montessori method, you discover the fundamentals of writing are taught even before many fundamentals of reading. Writing also happens to be one of the subjects I was given the least guidance in during my teacher training. In my experience, writing is one of the most difficult things to teach effectively. At least, I feel that way at the upper elementary ages.

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Comprehension Thinking Strategies

Written language is a code and children need to be taught how to decode it. Early reading skills include phonics, word recognition, vocabulary, decoding and fluency. But as young readers advance, the development of comprehension skills work differently. Skilled reading is an active process; the reader’s mind is constantly processing information extracted from the text.

There are multiple comprehension thinking strategies available to a struggling reader. Often, many or all of these strategies are working together to assist in comprehension. Here is a breakdown of the seven to which have been found most effective..

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Skilled Reading Part 1

Skilled Reading: How do we help struggling readers? As readers advance, the development of comprehension skills work differently. Research shows older readers possess specific strategies to construct meaning before, during, and after reading a text. I now know this type of reading to be called “skilled reading.”

The key to skilled reading is being capable of recognizing words without relying on context at all. This is one of the most well replicated findings in all current reading research.