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Ellen Weber

How refreshing Kimberly, to see the images of rejuvenated learning here. Added to your highly effective strategies, I think we need to reach beyond the broken system which leaves too many students behind. The teenage drop out rates show what's broken, and new brain based strategies from neuro-discoveries show what could fix it for the teens you engaged here so well.

For instance: Lectures work against the human brain, males and females use different intelligences to get to the same high standards, assessments are also learning tools when they relate to the intelligence used to learn a thing, and to some reality in the student's world. The list goes on, and so do the classes that ignore the wonder of human brains as they are hardwired to succeed.

Thanks for the inspiration Kimberly - that learning can still happen with a little help from us, in spite of a system that's often toxic for teens. Stay blessed!

Angela Maiers

Kimberly, you are right on! Standards, testing, new laws...all done in the name of raising student achievement, yet...our schools still continue to fail, students continue to disengage, and the solution is clearer than we think.

It's not about back to the basics-it's about back to the teacher! But, that will work only if the teacher gets this: "I showed them that I cared so much about their success that I was going to use every minute to our fullest advantage, I was going to give them my best, and I expected their best every day." Great point-well said!

Ellen Weber

You certainly plucked out the key to curiosity building Angela - I agree!

I do have a question though: What would their best look like, and how would it be inspired from the disengaged learner?

Thoughts?

Kimberly Moritz

I love Ellen's question--what would their best look like and how would it be inspired? I imagine every teacher, heck every state, might define that a bit differently. I suppose NYS would say it looks like a 3 or a 4/ 85+ on a NYS exam. For me, it looked like they owned the content--understood it deeply and were able to use it. I relied heavily on Silver and Strong's Thoughtful Classroom strategies and concentrated my efforts on helping students own the content well enough to use it on a test (and hopefully beyond, but I won't be there to see to that).

First, my students completed projects (direction chosen from a list of 8 based on the student's preferences) in which I could hear their Spanish. From this preview into their strengths and weaknesses, I chose three simple ways to speak in the past, present, and future so that they could get by if plopped into the middle of a Spanish speaking country. My goal was to make sure they weren't just reiterating how to form the tenses without understanding and applying what they know in spoken and written language.

The place where the teacher makes all the difference comes not just from designing the lesson to engage all learning styles, but in my monitoring and connecting with all students. No one goes unnoticed, unattended to, misunderstood.

Unfortunately, too many HS teachers take the approach that students hold all the responsibility, if they want to sleep or daydream or work on other homework or skip out, so be it. Let me just say that there is NO WAY I would ever allow this to happen in my class, it just says to everyone that what we're doing here is NOT important.

I want to show students that even when they don't care, I care enough for the both of us. Students get that and they certainly respect it, unlike the teacher who doesn't even care enough to first of all design good lessons and second of all make them accountable for learning.

Ellen, you touched a nerve for me, because it seems so simple and yet we can't take for granted that everyone does this in their classrooms. Sadly, too few do. I can't ever understand, even after 20 years, why not.

Ellen Weber

Wow Kimberly, it would be an amazing adventure to learn in your classes.

In my role, I certify secondary teachers and university faculty in brain based learning and assessment for higher motivation and achievement.

Some teachers simply lack the strategies to allow students to own the curriculum and to use it in and beyond tests. Others remain convinced that the old methods would work if learners cared more.

Luckily, leaders like you place learners and their amazing brains at the center. Stay blessed! I hope my grand kids walk past your influences!

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