Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Holy Metacognition, Batman! Have you read this book?

The new book is here! The new book is here!

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am a big fan of Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers of BrainSMART. Their passion for teaching teachers about the learning brain is inspiring. I can say with all sincerity that they have had a profound impact on me as a teacher and an individual. So, when I saw their new book, I knew I had to have a copy. 

I wasn't disappointed.

Wilson and Conyers have hit it out of the park again with their new book: Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains. Both teachers AND students need to know that they are indeed in charge of their own brains, IQ is not fixed, and effort trumps talent. This book guides teachers at all levels to make metacognition an integral part of their own classrooms through the use of metaphors, strategies, instructional tips, and sample lessons. Equip students for lifelong success through the metacognitive strategies in this book. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Video Reflection Tools for Teachers

I previously posted about the value of using video for self-reflection. The ability to step outside of yourself to evaluate your teaching is something we should all be doing. However, once you get past the initial traumatic thoughts such as: OMG I'm so fat!, That blouse is going in the trash!Is that really how I sound?, or my personal favorite, Did he really just pick his nose and wipe it on that book? Hello trash can!, then it's time to find a focus.

Focus on Questioning

For many years I've tried to fine tune my questioning skills and do less of the talking. Ian Byrd from came up with an excellent tool to track who is doing most of the talking and the depth of questioning. Here is an example of one I filled out:

Here is how you use it. As you watch your video, record every sentence spoken with an S (statement) or a Q (question). Circle the Q for higher level questions. Ian Byrd does an excellent job explaining the reasoning and what to look for in your results on his blog, so I won't go into the details. You can read about this and also download the form free at Byrdseed.

A Next Step

I loved Ian Byrd's tool so much, I wanted to dig even deeper. I created a tool that tracks wait time, depth of questioning, follow up questions, and the ratio of calling on boys/girls/whole class. Here is an example of one of my evaluations where we were going over a chapter in a book.

In the first column I marked every time I asked a question. Circle for higher level questions. I want to make sure I asked several higher level questions.

The second column tracks the wait time. Did you know the average wait time a teacher gives after asking a question is ONE second? That's something we need to be acutely aware of. Some children are slower processors and we want to give them time to generate quality answers.

The third column is for tallying follow-up questions, guiding questions, and making other notes.

The last column is used to track the ratio of boys vs girls called on relative to your class make up. Kids notice these things.

Once you have completed your evaluation, ask yourself what the facts presented say about your teaching. I realized that I did have some one-second waits. Now I am more mindful about that.

You can download this form here.


As you watch your video, ask yourself if you would be want a student in your class. Why or why not? What can you change? Make a reflection tool to track those changes. I will be doing the same for myself.  As I create new tools I will be adding them to a folder for free downloading. Do you have any ideas for me? Leave them in the comments below.

Thank you for reading, and have a fabulous school year!