23 July, 2009

The Impact of Quantum Learning

By Bobbi DePorter

The perpetual question facing our education system is how to improve students' academic performance on standardized tests, enhance teachers' instructional techniques and increase student achievement overall. What's working and by what evidence?

A recent study, Quantum Learning's Impact on Achievement in Multiple Settings, was completed by William Benn. Benn, an External Evaluator for Program Improvement Schools, approved by the California Department of Education, studied the impact of the Quantum Learning model on 18 schools in four states.

The schools were chosen for their degree of commitment to Quantum Learning. All had implemented Quantum Learning over a number of years with a majority of their staff participating. High implementation and 'buy-in' from staff is a key component that correlates to the success of any method.

New Lexington Elementary School in the El Monte School District in California was one of the schools chosen for the study. New Lexington began conducting the Quantum Learning school wide reform model during the 2001-2002 school year and have continued through 2003. The results of the Academic Performance Index (API) scores from 2001 and 2002 indicate that New Lexington made statistically and educationally significant gains in academic achievement compared to 44 comparison schools. It also showed gains based on SAT-9 results. New Lexington Principal, Karen Smith commented, "Quantum Learning strategies played a key role in raising our students' literacy levels. In addition, I'm seeing a renewed sense of energy and purpose in my teachers' classrooms that truly helps to 'hook' students. When I see students get excited about learning, I get excited too."

In all 18 schools, Benn's study found that the Quantum Learning model demonstrated a consistent pattern of positive impact on student achievement. These outstanding results ranged from statistically and educationally significant gains in reading, mathematics, writing to more comprehensive measures of core academic achievement. Students whom attend schools that use the Quantum Learning model show a pattern of greater achievement than comparison sample students that have not been taught these strategies.

What is the Quantum Learning (QL) model?

Quantum Learning is a comprehensive model that covers both educational theory and immediate classroom implementation. It integrates research-based best practices in education into a unified whole, making content more meaningful and relevant to students' lives.

Quantum learning is about bringing joy to teaching and learning with ever-increasing 'Aha' moments of discovery. It helps teachers to present their content a way that engages and energizes students. This model also integrates learning and life skills, resulting in students who become effective lifelong learners – responsible for their own education.

The FADE model—Foundation, Atmosphere, Design, Environment—creates the context of Quantum Learning. We know when the context is strong, it 'fades' into the background and creates the structure for learning to occur.

Quantum Learning begins with a strong foundation built on the principles of the 8 Keys of Excellence. It holds the beliefs that: All people can learn, people learn differently, and learning is effective when it is joyful, engaging and challenging. The 8 Keys of Excellence include: Integrity, Commitment, Failure Leads to Success, Ownership, Speak with Good Purpose, Flexibility, This Is It!, and Balance. The 8 Keys of Excellence can be integrated into all subjects and grade levels. The 8 Keys are best implemented when parents and community leaders support and reinforce the Keys.

The Quantum Learning framework for student learning is expressed in 5 Tenets of Learning:

Everything Speaks: Everything, from surroundings and tone of voice to distribution of materials, conveys an important message about learning.

Everything is On Purpose: Everything we do has an intended purpose.

Experience Before Label: Students make meaning and transfer new content into long-term memory by connecting to existing schema. Learning is best facilitated when students experience the information in some aspect before they acquire labels for what is being learned.

Acknowledge Every Effort: Acknowledgment of each student's effort encourages learning and experimentation.

If It's Worth Learning, It's Worth Celebrating!:
Celebration provides feedback regarding progress and increases positive emotional associations with the learning.

Quantum Learning creates an empowering atmosphere of trust, safety and a sense of belonging. Establishing engaging, focused traditions creates a sense of belonging and safety and is an effective strategy for classroom management, focusing attention and motivating students to increase participation in learning. Each school day begins with a morning routine and purposeful first statement. These routines are designed to immediately focus students and create resourceful learning states.

Quantum Learning Design Frame
The QL Design Frame that drives the presentation and facilitation of content was formulated from many years of research on effective delivery methods and is the structural frame upon which content is designed to ensure student mastery. The elements (that are aligned with Dr. Georgi Lozanov's learning cycle) are:
Enroll—Use teacher moves that capture the interest, curiosity and attention of the students.

Experience—Create or elicit a common experience, or tap into common knowledge to which all learners can relate. Experience before Label creates schema on which to build new content.

Learn & Label—Present, sequence and define the main content. Students learn labels, thinking skills and academic strategies. Students add new content to their existing schema.

Demonstrate—Give students an opportunity to demonstrate and apply their new learning.

Review and Reflect—Use a variety of effective, multi-sensory review strategies and empower students to process their new content through reflection.

Celebration—Acknowledge the learning. It cements the content and adds a sense of completion.

Quantum Learning creates a supportive physical environment that enhances and reinforces learning. Ideal learning environments include proper lighting, purposeful color, positive affirmation posters, plants, props and music. These elements are easy to include in one's classroom, and students enjoy learning more in a comfortable setting.

The key is to create empowering school environments that build engaging and dynamic communities of learning. The results are enhanced teacher capacity and increased student achievement.

21 July, 2009

Real Wealth Community Presenters Pilot Project

What is the Community Presenters Pilot Project?
An exciting new citizen education project, the Real Wealth of Community Presenters Project, is underway to create a major grassroots “mind shift” in American economic thinking will support new conversations, actions, and policies essential to a viable future.

When and Where?

Applications are being accepted now through August 15, 2009 for 100 volunteer presenters to be trained to present community programs based on the book by Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy . Modeled directly on the highly successful design used in Al Gore’s Climate Project, the goal is to have an enthusiastic, well-informed cadre of presenters who will engage their various communities in lively discussion about an economic system that values people who do the work of caring for people and a sustainable planet.
Volunteer presenters will gather for a workshop in Seattle, WA from the evening of November 6th through midday November 8th 2009. This dynamic two and one half day workshop, held at Seattle University, will prepare volunteers to deliver a slide presentation, build communities for discussion, and promote activities that support change.

How can I get involved?
To submit an application please link to the program description and application at http://www.partnershipway.org/programs/community-presenters. Also includes an FAQ section.

About the Pilot Project sponsors

CPS is recruiting volunteer presenters who are committed to help create a new way to think about economics. Presenters must be willing help build momentum using grassroots activities that support a shift in service of a more humane and sustainable economic system; and facilitate at least 10 presentations in the 12 months following the workshop.

This pilot project is directed by The Center for Partnership Studies, a 501 (c ) 3 organization founded by Riane Eisler in 1987. In collaboration with The Center, this workshop is hosted by Alene Moris - nationally recognized trainer and consultant and Cheryn Weiser and Sara Saltee from Strategic Learning Resources. The Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation and several Seattle individuals provided the funding for the Pilot Project. Materials are based on the groundbreaking research and writing of Riane Eisler and David Loye, of the Center for Partnership Studies, a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to advancing human development by accelerating a movement to the partnership model of relations.

The program, the FAQs, and the application are on the CPS website at:

If you have any questions or comments about this we would happy to discuss this project further.

In partnership and peace

Janice Jaworski
Executive Director
The Center for Partnership Studies

For more information about the Real Wealth Community Presenters Pilot Project, please contact Janice Jaworski at jaworski@partnershipway.org.

20 July, 2009

Seven ways to motivate towards greatness

There is a story told about Abraham Lincoln and a friend leaving church one Sunday. Lincoln’s friend mentioned what a good sermon the minister had given.
“I just can’t agree,” Mr. Lincoln said.
“But why?” said the friend.
“It’s very simple,” said Lincoln. “He didn’t ask us to do anything great.”

I don’t know if the story is true or not, but the point is clear. Whether for yourself or for others you can, in the words of Phil Gerbyshak, “Make it great.”

Here are seven things that can help motivate towards greatness:

1. Cultivate an attitude of success – You’ve got to start by expecting great things. Don’t settle for second best. The old programmers’ mantra, “garbage in, garbage out,” holds a lot of truth. If you think you’re going to fail, that’s likely to happen. Start by thinking positively about where you want to go.

2. Be Enthusiastic – Enthusiasm is like a fire. When you build a fire, you start small with a few twigs and a match. Once that is burning, you add more fuel and the fire burns hotter and hotter. Enthusiasm starts small, but as you feed it, it grows in strength and gives energy to what you’re trying to accomplish.

3. Keep moving forward – There are going to be times when you don’t seem to have the energy or drive towards success. You hit a plateau, or you may even feel things are moving away from your goals. This is where you need to focus on continual movement. It may be taking small steps, but they can be steps in the right direction.

4. Evaluate your progress – Measure, measure, measure! The only way to ensure you are moving in the right direction is to chart your progress. Don’t make it so granular that it takes more time to measure than to move. But step back from time to time and check what you have accomplished.

5. Adjust your approach – If you find you are slowing down or have come to a stop, look for things you can change to get you back on track. Don’t be so attached to an idea that is weighs down your progress. Realize that circumstances change and what you’re trying to do needs to change to keep up.

6. Encourage others to greatness – Share the experience. A leader shows others where to go, then sets the example for getting there. If you want to energize your drive to greatness, bring others along with you.

7. Have confidence in your ability reach greatness.

Effective schools by Larry Lezotte

Seven Correlates

1. Clear and Focused Mission: In effective schools, the mission is clear and all programs and instructional strategies focus on its accomplishment.

2. Opportunity to Learn/Time on Task: In effective schools, every student is given adequate opportunity to master the required material, and those who struggle are given more time as needed.

3. Instructional Leadership: In effective schools, a strong leader with vision has tremendous impact on student achievement.

4. Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress: In effective schools, monitoring is more than annual standardised testing – it is the on going review of student work, accompanied by timely feedback.

5. High Expectations: In effective schools, a climate of high expectations includes the core belief that all students can learn, and that the teacher has the capacity to teach all students.

6. Positive home-school Relations: In effective schools, active parent involvement yields improved student attitudes toward school, higher self-esteem, and increased achievement.

7. Safe and Orderly Environment: In effective schools, discipline, classroom management, and character education help create a climate that is both safe and conducive to effective teaching and learning.

A Quote to Ponder
“Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore.... and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass.... and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.”
- Helen Keller

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with hostility,
they learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,
they learn to be shy.

If children live with tolerance,
they learn to be patient.

If children live with encouragement,
they learn confidence.

If children live with praise,
they learn to appreciate.

If children live with fairness,
they learn justice.

If children live with security,
they learn faith.

If children live with approval,
they learn to like themselves.

If children live with acceptance, and friendship,
they learn to find love in the world.

Quote to Ponder

“In years to come, your students may forget what you taught them. But they will always remember how you made them feel.”

- Author Unknown

A Message of Thanks to All Great Teachers in This World

Thank you for being such wonderful teachers, exemplary role models, and caring people.

Thank you for knowing your subjects and sharing your knowledge.

Thank you for not being afraid to treat students like real people.

Thank you for showing acceptance, approval, and appreciation. These are all gifts that are so important to a student's development and that your students will always remember, just as they will also remember you.

Words of encouragement, a little respect, and simple gestures of kindness from a teacher promote the perfect climate for students to study, learn and grow.

Your attitude translates into a spirit of friendliness and good will towards others in an atmosphere of creative freedom, joy and ease, and you foster this feeling in your classroom.

I salute the good work you've done. I appreciate the people you are, and I think you for your positive influence.

You have passed on invaluable instruction and wisdom and created pleasurable moments associated with learning that will always be sweet memories.

Thank you for answering the call to be teachers.

Thank you for the enduring impression you've made in the lives you have touched.

Every community needs people like you.

Your contributions are immeasurable.

Your lessons are permanent.

You improve our world.

You are so important.

15 July, 2009



By Ted Panitz

I have been searching for many years for the Holy Grail of interactive learning, a distinction between collaborative and cooperative learning definitions. I am getting closer to my elusive goal all the time. I believe confusion arises when people look at processes associated with each concept and see a certain amount of overlap or inter-concept usage. I will clarify the definitions of collaborative and cooperative learning first by presenting my definitions of the two terms and reviewing those of other authors who have helped clarify my thinking and second by presenting and analyzing the educational benefits of collaborative/cooperative learning techniques.

The underlying premise for collaborative and cooperative learning is founded in constructivist epistemology. Johnson, Johnson & Smith (1991) have summarized these principles in their definition of a new paradigm of teaching. ” First, knowledge is constructed, discovered, and transformed by students. Faculty create the conditions within which students can construct meaning from the material studied by processing it through existing cognitive structures and then retaining it in long-term memory where it remains open to further processing and possible reconstruction. Second, students actively construct their own knowledge. Learning is conceived of as something a learner does, not something that is done to the learner. Students do not passively accept knowledge from the teacher or curriculum. Students activate their existing cognitive structures or construct new ones to subsume the new input. Third, faculty effort is aimed at developing students’ competencies and talents. Fourth, education is a personal transaction among students and between the faculty and students as they work together. Fifth, all of the above can only take place within a cooperative context. Sixth, teaching is assumed to be a complex application of theory and research that requires considerable teacher training and continuous refinement of skills and procedures” (p1:6)

The following will serve as a starting point for this discussion. A basic definition of the terms collaborative and cooperative reduced to their simplest terms, is presented:

Collaboration is a philosophy of interaction and personal lifestyle where individuals are responsible for their actions, including learning and respect the abilities and contributions of their peers;

Cooperation is a structure of interaction designed to facilitate the accomplishment of a specific end product or goal through people working together in groups.

Before we proceed with the theoretical underpinning of each method it would be helpful to describe the differences between the two paradigms in terms of an actual class.

In the cooperative model the teacher maintains complete control of the class, even though the students work in groups to accomplish a goal of a course. The cooperative teacher asks a specific question such as, “What were the five causes of the start of World War II?” The teacher provides additional articles for the students to read and analyze, beyond the text, and then asks the students to work in groups to answer the question. The groups then present their results to the whole class and discuss their reasoning. A follow up question may then be posed to the groups to analyze the United Nations to determine if this has been an effective organization to prevent world wars and to make recommendations on possible changes needed to make the UN more effective. The teacher might use specific structures, such as a Jig Saw model, to help facilitate the group interactions. He/she might require a specific product such as a term paper or report, class presentations, and an exam at the end of the topic. The students do the work necessary to consider the material being covered but the teacher maintains control of the process at each stage.

In the collaborative model groups would assume almost total responsibility for answering the question. The students determine if they had enough information to answer the question. If not they identify other sources, such as journals, books, videos, the internet, to name a few. The work of obtaining the extra source material would be distributed among the group members by the group members. The group would decide how many reasons they could identify. The collaborative teacher would not specify a number, but would assess the progress of each group and provide suggestions about each group’s approach and the data generated. It might also occur to the students to list the reasons in order of priority. The teacher would be available for consultations and would facilitate the process by asking for frequent progress reports from the groups, facilitate group discussions about group dynamics, help with conflict resolution, etc. The final product is determined by each group, after consultation with the teacher. The means of assessment of the group’s performance would also be negotiated by each group with the teacher. Some groups might decide to analyze the UN, as the cooperative group was directed to do, or they might try to come up with a completely new organization. They might go back through history to determine how other periods of peace were created. The process is very open ended while it maintains a focus on the overall goal. The students develop a very strong ownership for the process and respond very positively to the fact that they are given almost complete responsibility to deal with the problem posed to them and they have significant input into their assessment.

The underlying premise for both collaborative and cooperative learning is founded in constructivist theory. Knowledge is discovered by students and transformed into concepts students can relate to. It is then reconstructed and expanded through new learning experiences. Learning consists of active participation by the student versus passive acceptance of information presented by an expert lecturer. Learning comes about through transactions and dialogue among students and between faculty and students, in a social setting. Students learn to understand and appreciate different perspectives through a dialogue with their peers. A dialogue with the teacher helps students learn the vocabulary and social structures which govern the group students wish to join, such as historian, mathematician, writer, actor, etc.

Ken Bruffee (1995) identifies two causes for the differences between the two approaches. He states: “First, collaborative and cooperative learning were developed originally for educating people of different ages, experience and levels of mastery of the craft of interdependence. Second, when using one method or the other method, teachers tend to make different assumptions about the nature and authority of knowledge.” (p12) These different assumptions will be explored throughout the paper. The age or education levels as a distinction have become blurred over time as practitioners at all levels mix the two approaches. However, what determines which approach is used does depend upon the sophistication level of the students involved, with collaborative requiring more advanced student preparation working in groups. Other determining factors are the philosophy and preparation of the teacher.

Brufee sees education as a reacculturation process through constructive conversation. Students learn about the culture of the society they wish to join by developing the appropriate vocabulary of that society and by exploring that society’s culture and norms (i.e. that of mathematician, historian, journalist, etc.). Brufee identifies two types of knowledge as a basis for choosing an approach. Foundational knowledge is the basic knowledge represented by socially justified beliefs we all agree on. Correct spelling and grammar, mathematics procedures, history facts, knowledge of the contents of the constitution, etc., would represent types of foundational knowledge. Brufee contends that these are best learned using cooperative learning structures in the early grades. He states: “The main purpose of primary school education is to help children renegotiate their membership in the local culture of family life and help them join some of the established knowledge communities available to them and encompassing the culture we hold in common. An important purpose of college or university education is to help adolescents and adults join some more of the established knowledge communities available to them. But another, and perhaps more important pirpose of college or university education is to help students renegotiate their membership in the encompassing common culture that until then has circumscribed their lives.” (p15)

Brufee defines non-foundational knowledge as that which is derived through reasoning and questioning versus rote memory. He writes: “It is more likely to address questions with dubious or ambiguous answers, answers that require well-developed judgment to arrive at, judgment that learning to answer such a question tends, in turn, to develop.” (p15) The other way in which non- foundational education differs from foundational is that it encourages students not to take their teacher’s authority for granted. Students should doubt answers and methods for arriving at answers provided by their professors, and perhaps more importantly they need to be helped to come to terms with their doubts by participating actively in the learning and inquiry process. Out of this process knew knowledge is often created, something not likely to occur when dealing with the facts and information associated with foundational knowledge. Collaborative learning shifts the responsibility for learning away from the teacher as expert to the student, and perhaps teacher, as learner. Brufee sees the two approaches as somewhat linear with collaborative learning being designed to pick up where cooperative learning leaves off. In effect, students learn basic information and processes for interacting socially in the primary grades and then extend their critical thinking and reasoning skills and understanding of social interactions as they become more involved and take control of the learning process through collaborative activities. This writer believes that the transition is better viewed as a continuim from a closely controlled, teacher-centered system to a student-centered system where the teacher and students share authority and control of learning.

Collaborative learning (CL) is a personal philosophy, not just a classroom technique. In all situations where people come together in groups, it suggests a way of dealing with people which respects and highlights individual group members’ abilities and contributions. There is a sharing of authority and acceptance of responsibility among group members for the groups actions. The underlying premise of collaborative learning is based upon consensus building through cooperation by group members, in contrast to competition in which individuals best other group members. CL practitioners apply this philosophy in the classroom, at committee meetings, with community groups, within their families and generally as a way of living with and dealing with other people.

Cooperative learning is defined by a set of processes which help people interact together in order to accomplish a specific goal or develop an end product which is usually content specific. It is more directive than a collaborative system of governance and closely controlled by the teacher. While there are many mechanisms for group analysis and introspection the fundamental approach is teacher centered whereas collaborative learning is more student centered.

Spencer Kagan (1989) provides an excellent definition of cooperative learning by looking at general structures which can be applied to any situation. His definition provides an umbrella for the work cooperative learning specialists including the Johnsons, Slavin, Cooper, Graves and Graves, Millis, etc. It follows: “The structural approach to cooperative learning is based on the creation, analysis and systematic application of structures, or content-free ways of organizing social interaction in the classroom. Structures usually involve a series of steps, with proscribed behavior at each step. An important cornerstone of the approach is the distinction between “structures” and “activities”. To illustrate, teachers can design many excellent cooperative activities, such as making a team mural or a quilt. Such activities almost always have a specific content-bound objective and thus cannot be used to deliver a range of academic content. Structures may be used repeatedly with almost any subject matter, at a wide range of grade levels and at various points in a lesson plan.”

John Myers points out that the dictionary definitions of “collaboration”, derived from its Latin root, focus on the process of working together; the root word for “cooperation” stresses the product of such work. Co-operative learning has largely American roots from the philosophical writings of John Dewey stressing the social nature of learning and the work on group dynamics by Kurt Lewin. Collaborative learning has British roots, based on the work of English teachers exploring ways to help students respond to literature by taking a more active role in their own learning. The cooperative learning tradition tends to use quantitative methods which look at achievement: i.e., the product of learning. The collaborative tradition takes a more qualitative approach, analyzing student talk in response to a piece of literature or a primary source in history. Myers points out some differences between the two concepts: “Supporters of co-operative learning tend to be more teacher-centered, for example when forming heterogeneous groups, structuring positive inter-dependence, and teaching co-operative skills. Collaborative learning advocates distrust structure and allow students more say if forming friendship and interest groups. Student talk is stressed as a means for working things out. Discovery and contextual approaches are used to teach interpersonal skills. Such differences can lead to disagreements…. I contend the dispute is not about research, but more about the morality of what should happen in the schools. Beliefs as to what should happen in the schools can be viewed as a continuum of orientations toward curriculum from “transmission” to “transaction” to “transmission”. At one end is the transmission position. As the name suggests, the aim of this orientation is to transmit knowledge to students in the form of facts, skills and values. The transformation position at the other end of the continuum stresses personal and social change in which the person is said to be interrelated with the environment rather than having control over it. The aim of this orientation is self-actualization, personal or organizational change.”

Rocky Rockwood describes the differences by acknowledging the parallels they both have in that they both use groups, both assign specific tasks, and both have the groups share and compare their procedures and conclusions in plenary class sessions. The major difference lies in the fact that cooperative deals exclusively with traditional (canonical) knowledge while collaborative ties into the social constructivist movement, asserting that both knowledge and authority of knowledge have changed dramatically in the last century. Rockwood states: “In the ideal collaborative environment, the authority for testing and determining the appropriateness of the group product rests with, first, the small group, second, the plenary group (the whole class) and finally (but always understood to be subject to challenge and revision) the requisite knowledge community (i.e. the discipline: geography, history, biology etc.) The concept of non-foundational knowledge challenges not only the product acquired, but also the process employed in the acquisition of foundational knowledge. Most importantly, in cooperative, the authority remains with the instructor, who retains ownership of the task, which involves either a closed or a closable (that is to say foundational) problem ( the instructor knows or can predict the answer). In collaborative, the instructor–once the task is set– transfers all authority to the group. In the ideal, the group’s task is always open ended. Seen from this perspective, cooperative does not empower students. It employs them to serve the instructor’s ends and produces a “right” or acceptable answer. Collaborative does truly empower and braves all the risks of empowerment (for example, having the group or class agree to an embarrassingly simplistic or unconvincing position or produce a solution in conflict with the instructor’s). Every person, Brufee (1995) holds, belongs to several “interpretative or knowledge communities” that share vocabularies, points of view, histories, values, conventions and interests. The job of the instructor is to help students learn to negotiate the boundaries between the communities they already belong to and the community represented by the teacher’s academic discipline, which the students want to join. Every knowledge community has a core of foundational knowledge that its members consider as given (but not necessarily absolute). To function independently within a knowledge community, the fledgling scholar must master enough material to become conversant with the community.” Rockwood concludes: “In my teaching experience, cooperative represents the best means to approach mastery of foundational knowledge. Once students become reasonably conversant, they are ready for collaborative, ready to discuss and assess,….”

Myers suggests use of the “transaction” orientation as a compromise between taking hard positions advocating either methodology. “This orientation views education as a dialogue between the student and the curriculum. Students are viewed as problem solvers. Problem solving and inquiry approaches stressing cognitive skills and the ideas of Vygotsky, Piaget, Kohlberg and Bruner are linked to transaction. This perspective views teaching as a “conversation” in which teachers and students learn together through a process of negotiation with the curriculum to develop a shared view of the world.”

Brody and Davidson (1998) look at the differences between the two paradigms epistemologically. In the early1970s some educators were formulating methods based upon studies of human social interaction and group learning. These studies lead to cooperative learning strategies based upon social interdependence theory, cognitive-developmental theory and the behavioral learning theory. Another group of educators based their framework for group work on theories derived from studies about the social nature of human knowledge. The different roots of constructivism formed the basis of collaborative learning.

Johnson, Johnson, and Smith (1998) clarify the differences between the cooperative learning strategies. “Social interdependence theory assumes that cooperative efforts are based on intrinsic motivation generated by interpersonal factors and a joint aspiration to achieve a significant goal. Behavioral learning theory assumes that cooperative efforts are powered by extrinsic motivation to achieve rewards. Social interdependence theory focuses on relational concepts dealing with what happens among individuals (for example cooperation is something that exists only among individuals not within them), whereas the cognitive-development perspective focuses on what happens within a single person (for example, the disequilibrium, cognitive reorganization). The differences across these theoretical assumptions have yet to be fully explored or solved.” (p29)
Brody and Davidson (1998) identify a series of questions for teaching and learning in the classroom which help distinguish between the approaches. (p8)

“Questions teachers ask from the cooperative learning perspective
1. How do we teach social skills?
2. How can we develop self-esteem, responsibility, and respect for others?
3. How does social status effect learning in small groups?
4. How do you promote problem solving and manage conflict?
5. Are extrinsic or intrinsic rewards more effective?
6. How can we prove that cooperative learning increases academic achievement?
7. How do we teach children to take on various roles?
8. How do we structure cooperative activities?

Questions teachers ask from a collaborative perspective
1. What is the purpose of the activity?
2. What is the importance of talk in learning?
3. To what extant is getting off topic a valuable learning experience?
4. How can we empower children to become autonomous learners?
5. What is the difference between using language to learn and learning to use language?
6. How can we negotiate relevant learning experiences with children?
7. How do we interact with students in such a way that we ask only real questions rather than those for which we already know the answers?
8. How can we use our awareness of the social nature of learning to create effective small group learning environments?”

Johnson, Johnson & Holubec (1991) have established a definition of cooperative learning which identifies five basic elements necessary for a procedure to be considered cooperative. They also define structures and evaluation procedures within which any content may be taught, rather than defining procedures based upon specific curriculum. They have developed an extensive set of worksheets for teachers and students to use in establishing the five elements. The Johnson’s five items are as follows.

“Positive Interdependence- Students perceive that they need each other to complete the group’s task (”sink or swim together”). Teachers may structure positive interdependence by establishing mutual goals (learn and make sure all other group members learn), joint rewards (if all group members achieve above criteria, each will receive bonus points), shared resources (one paper for each group or each member receives part of the information), and assigned roles (summarizer, encourager of participation, recorder, time keeper etc.).

Face-to- Face Promotive Interaction- Students promote each other’s learning by helping, sharing,
and encouraging efforts to learn. Students explain, discuss, and teach what they know to classmates. Teachers structure the groups so that students sit knee to knee and talk through each aspect of the assignment. Individual Accountability- Each student’s performance is frequently assessed and the results are given to the group and the individual. Teachers may structure individual accountability by giving an individual test to each student or randomly selecting one member of the group to give the answer. Interpersonal And Small group Skills- Groups cannot function effectively if students do not have and use the needed social skills. Teachers teach these skills as purposefully and precisely as academic skills. Collaborative skills include leadership, decision making, trust building, communication, and conflict-management skills. Group Processing- Groups need specific time to discuss how well they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships among members. Teachers structure group processing by assigning such tasks as (a) list at least three member actions which helped the group be successful and (b) list one action that could be added to make the group more successful tomorrow. Teachers also monitor the groups and give feedback on how well the
groups are working together and the class as a whole. (p1:33)

The National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM) has a similar definition as presented by Alice Artzt and Claire Newman (1990) in their book “How to use cooperative learning in a math class. “Cooperative learning involves a small group of learners, who work together as a team to solve a problem, complete a task, or accomplish a common goal. There are many different cooperative learning techniques; however, all of them have certain elements in common. These elements are the ingredients necessary to insure that when students do work in groups, they work cooperatively. First, the members of a group must perceive that they are part of a team and that they all have a common goal. Second, group members must realize that the problem they are to solve is a group problem and that the success or failure of the group will be shared by all members of the group. Third, to accomplish the group’s goal, all students must talk with one another- to engage in discussion of all problems. Finally, it must be clear to all that each member’s individual work has a direct effect on the group’s success. Teamwork is of utmost importance.”

Many of the elements of cooperative learning may be used in collaborative situations. For example students work in pairs together in a Think-Pair-Share procedure, where students consider a question individually, discuss their ideas with another student to form a consensus answer, and then share their results with the entire class. The use of pairs can be introduced at any time during a class to address questions or solve problems or to create variety in a class presentation. The Jig Saw method (Aronson 1978) is a good example. Students become “experts” on a concept and are responsible for teaching it to the other group members. Groups subdivide a topic and members work together with those from other groups who have the same topic. They then return to their original groups and explain their topic. Slavin developed the STAD method (Student Teams-Achievement-Divisions) where the teacher presents a lesson, and then the students meet in teams of four or five members to complete a set of worksheets on the lesson. Each student then takes a quiz on the material, and the scores the students contribute to their teams are based upon the degree to which they have improved their individual past averages. The highest scoring teams are recognized in a weekly class newsletter. In another method developed by Slavin- TGT (Teams-Games-Tournaments) instead of taking quizzes the students play academic games as representatives of their teams. They compete with students having similar achievement levels and coach each other prior to the games to insure all group members are competent in the subject matter. Other structures include: Co-op, Co-op (Kagan), CIRC- Cooperative Integrated Reading and Comparison (Madden, Slavin, Stevens), Group Investigation (Sharan, Aharan), Issues Controversy, Learning Together (Johnson, Johnson), Jigsaw II (Slavin), TAI-Team Assisted Individualization (Slavin, Leavy, Madden), Structured Controversy (Johnson, Johnson).


There are many ways that cooperative learning can be implemented. An educator’s philosophy plays a key role in determining how cooperative learning is used. The table below displays a number of issues in education. Following the table, implications of various choices are discussed. Please bear in mind that the choices in the table are not either-or choices. Instead, they represent continua, and the views of educators lie at many different points along these continua. Further, a given educator’s views are affected by the students the are currently teaching.

1. student-centered————————–teacher-centered
2. intrinsic motivation—————- extrinsic motivation
3. knowledge construction————-knowledge transmission
4. loose, trusting students to do———– structured, it right social engineering

Issue 1. Student centered — Teacher-centered:

The issue here is the role of students in shaping the classroom. Student-centered, also called learner-centered, means that students provide input into what the class does and how it does it. This includes decisions about what to study, how to study it (e.g., by reading, field trips, discussion, lecture), choice of group mates, how often to use groups, which group activities to do, how assessment is conducted, and what rewards and punishments - if any - are given.

In a teacher-centered situation the above decisions are made exclusively by the teacher. Teachers are the bosses, leaders, and creators, while students are the employees, followers, and users. What and how of learning are preplanned by the teacher. When students are in groups, they are studying material chosen by the teacher. The teacher decides who is in which group, gives groups time limits for finishing their tasks, and does all the assessment.

Issue 2. Intrinsic motivation:

Extrinsic motivation The issue here is how students become motivated to learn and cooperate. Intrinsic motivation comes from within students. For example, they want to learn for the joy of learning, because they are very interested in the topic, or to improve themselves. Helping other students’ flows from the desire to be altruistic and the enjoyment of collective effort. Students learn together without the use of grades, team award certificates, and other rewards or punishments to encourage them.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from outside the students. For example, they learn in order to receive praise, grades or other rewards from teachers, parents, classmates, and others. They may not help one another learn if there are no outside incentives. When rewards or threats of punishment are not there, students may be less eager to learn and to help one another.

Issue 3. Knowledge construction - Knowledge transmission:

This issue involves the process by which students learn. Knowledge construction, a concept from cognitive psychology, is the idea that learners construct their own networks of knowledge by connecting new information with their past knowledge and interests. Each person is different; we each will come away from the same lesson with different constructions of the ideas presented. Teachers can facilitate this construction work, but the key is what happens in each individual’s mind. The use of open-ended questions is consistent with knowledge construction. In this view, collaborative interaction in groups provides students with many opportunities to build and try out their developing knowledge.
Knowledge transmission, a concept from behaviorist psychology, sees knowledge flowing directly from the teacher to the student, just like the teacher is pouring knowledge into the students’ heads. What the teacher teaches should go into each learner’s head without being filtered by what is already there. Close-ended questions tend to predominate in this type of instruction. The main role of groups from this perspective is to make sure group members master the material transmitted by the teacher.

Issue 4. Loose — Structured:

This issue refers to the extent which teachers believe groups of students will work together well without teacher intervention. Teachers may start by using more structure and as students become familiar with the group process and proficient at working together they eventually, may be looser about structuring group activities and teaching collaborative skills in order to encourage effective group interaction. On the other hand, other teachers feel that they need to be like social engineers, structuring group interaction, or else students will not reap the benefits of working together. The issues discussed above are also heard when some people contrast the terms “collaborative learning” and “cooperative learning”. At the same time, it should be pointed out that other educators use the two terms interchangeably.

Collaborative Learning (Orr 1997)

Frequently, when students or teachers hear the phrase collaborative learning, they automatically assume a work group context, harken back to their own unpleasant experiences with work or study groups, and dismiss the notion of collaboration as an unworkable approach that attempts to transfer the burden of teaching from teacher to student. Such anxiety is worth noting because it represents an acute misunderstanding of what has become a most viable approach to teaching and learning.

Collaborative learning is based upon the following principles:
1. Working together results in a greater understanding than would likely have occurred if one had worked independently.

2. Spoken and written interactions contribute to this increased understanding.
3. Opportunity exists to become aware, through classroom experiences, of relationships between social interactions and increased understanding.
4. Some elements of this increased understanding are idiosyncratic and unpredictable.
5. Participation is voluntary and must be freely entered into.

Cooperative Learning is very similar except that it introduces a more structured setting with the teacher in total control of the learning environment. Interactive learning relies on the application of computer technology as the collaborative medium between student and teacher. But all three learning approaches recognize that learning is indeed a two-way street with teaching and learning being two components of the same educational system. The approaches diverge in the amount of freedom allowed the participants; collaborative learning strategies are the most open.

In my classes, I view student-teacher and student-student collaboration as essential to successful learning. Thus, I will seek every opportunity to encourage collaborative experiences. This does not imply that there will be no traditional lecture formats. Some lecturing is necessary either to clarify complex informational ideas or to present material not readily available. But students will experience a variety of instructional methods and they will be actively involved in the learning experience

Artzt, A.F., Newman, C.M., (1990) How To Use Cooperative learning in the Mathematics Class, National Council of Teachers of mathematics: Reston, VA
Brody, C.M., (1995), “Collaboration or cooperative learning? Complimentary practices for instructional reform”, The Journal of Staff, Program & Organizational Development v12, n3, Winter 1995, p133-143
Brody, C.M., & Davidson, N., (1998), “Introduction: Professional development and Cooperative learning” in Brody and Davidson (Eds.), Professional Development for Cooperative Learning- Issues and Approaches, State University of NY Press; Albany NY
Bruffee, K., (1995), “Sharing our toys- Cooperative learning versus collaborative learning”. Change, Jan/Feb, 1995 pp12-18
Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Holubec, E.J., Cooperation in The Classroom, (1991), Interaction Book Co: Edina, MN
Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Smith, K.A., (1998), Change, July/August p27-35
_____, (1991), Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom, Interaction Book Co.: Edina, MN
Kagan, S., Educational Leadership (Dec/Jan 1989/1990)
Lee, G.S., Internet communication, Institute for Distance Education
Universiti Pertanian Malaysia
Myers, M , (1991), Cooperative Learning vol 11 #4, July
Orr R., Internet communication, IUPUI Professor of Computer Technology
Rockwood, R., National Teaching and Learning Forum vol 4 #6, 1995 part 1

03 July, 2009

Learning Cycle


Teacher: Actor, Ringmaster
Get them involved!
Students: Spectators, Judges
What's going on?

• Use EEEPs, discrepant events or focusing questions to get students' minds on topic.
• High energy, or high curiosity the key.
• Pre-assessment a powerful tool, to determine what prior knowledge is available.
• Provides handles to attach the upcoming material to.


Teacher: Facilitator, Coach
What have you tried?
Students: Investigators, Builders
What if we did this?

• Cooperative groups, structures.
• Positive interdependence, Individual accountability.
• Hands-on/Minds-on activities!
• Laboratory experiments
• Inductive exercises-truth is yet to be found!
• Just about anything that creates interaction between students and the subject material.


Teacher: Expert, Tour Guide
Here's what others found.
Students: Curious adventurers
Tell me an answer, please!


• Direct Instruction, Sharing in groups.
• Students either explain their own findings within the groups, or from one group to another.
• Teacher takes them a step beyond, possibly highlighting specific answers, or adding to them.

4.Take Action
Teacher: Consultant, Evaluator.
That was a great job!
Students: Independent Agents, Performers, Artisans
What can I do about it?


• Student presentations- individual or group.
• Writing assignments- journals or papers.
• Construction- build apparatus to accomplish specific purpose.
• Portfolios- short or long term.
• Can be done either in class, or at home.
• Key: personal action/ responsibility of students.

Learning Principles - Tradition V/S Constructivist

Design for a Thinking Class Period

Promoting Critical Thinking in the Classroom…

Explain to the students, when orienting them to the class, what will happen on a typical class day and why.

In most classes students need practice in active listening, active reading and writing, and disciplined discussion. Designing a typical class day so that students are required (by design) to be actively and thoughtfully involved is an important goal. Here is a possible format you might use in creating your “typical day.”

1. At the end of each class period, assign some section from the textbook for students to read.

2. Where possible, ask students to write out their answers to key questions within those sections.

3. When students come to class on the next class day, place them in pairs or triads.

4. Have each student read his/her paper aloud to the group.

5. As the student is reading his paper aloud, have the other students in the group give the reader feedback on his paper, focusing on two or three intellectual standards such as clarity, relevance, logic.

6. Then lead a brief discussion of the chapter or section you are focused on, using an engaged lecture format or Socratic dialogue.

7. At the end of the class period, assign another section for the students to read and on the next class day begin this process again.

"A society which makes provision for participation in its good of all members on equal terms and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life is in so far democratic. Such a society must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and the habits of mind which secure social changes."

~John Dewey, Democracy and Education, 1916

02 July, 2009

Exciting Examples of Everyday Phenomena-EEEPs

What is an EEEP?

An EEEP is an exciting example of an everyday phenomenon. It is a science demonstration. It is an active learning tool designed to gain the attention and pique the curiosity of our students. I coined the term several years ago after reading an article about the importance of linking science concepts to our student’s everyday experiences. Since then I have used the concept of an EEEP as teaching tool in my classes and seminars.

I have included many examples of EEEPs at this site and hope that you will find them useful in your science program. But before jumping ahead, you should read the next section, because that’s where I explain how to use EEEPs in science teaching.

How are EEEPs used in science lessons?
I think most of us would agree that science inquiry is an important goal of science teaching. Put another way, helping students inquire into questions, phenomena and ideas is a fundamental purpose of the science curriculum. EEEPs are designed as a tool to help us do that. So, how are EEEPs to be used in the classroom?
First and foremost, a good EEEP creates looks of surprise, and fosters an environment in which students say things like, "How did that happen?" "What caused that?" "My prediction wasn’t even close to what happened?"
Here is an example of how to use an EEEP. Its one of my favorite EEEPs, and if you have been to one of my seminars, then you will recognize it. This EEEP is called, "Where did the water go?"

An Example: Where did the water go?
For this EEEP, you will need a white powder (sodium polyacrylate) which is also called waterlock. It is a substance that absorbs a lot of water. You will also need three large Styrofoam cups (large coffee cups are good to use). Also, get a large box that you place on a desk on which you will perform the EEEP. Finally you will need some bottled water. You should also have your students arranged in groups of three or four.

1. Prior to the arrival of the students into your classroom, pour about a teaspoon of the water lock into one of the large cups. Put the cups on the box and when you are ready tell the students you are going to conduct an EEEP.

2. Open the bottled water, and tell the students you are going to pour some water into one of the cups. Take the cup with waterlock, and pour a small amount of water into the cup. Immediately put the cup back on the box from the location you removed it.

3. Now, start moving the cups around on the top of the box and as you do tell the students to keep their eyes on the cup with water in it. Move the cups so that you exchange their places one or two times.

4. Now ask the students where is the cup with the water? As students point to a cup, take it and turn it over in front of them (put do not let them look up into the cup). Because the waterlock absorbs water quickly, even the cup with the water will appear to be empty when you turn it over. Continue turning the cups over until all three are shown be empty.

5. Without any class discussion <------this is important), tell the students that they have a problem, and that the problem is "Where did the water go?" Tell the students that they have three minutes to write down as a group as many different answers as there are people in their group that answers the question, "Where did the water go?" (I like to provide small white boards, one for each group, and a dry erase marker for this activity). Let the students work within their groups for about three minutes. When the three minutes are up, tell the students to take another 30 seconds to review and make sure that everyone in their group knows all of the ideas their team generated.

6. Now you are ready to call on students. However, use this technique. Have the students number off within each group from 1 to as many people in their group. Then have one student in the class draw a card from a set that you hold (the set should contain four cards containing the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4). Tell the students that if their number is drawn then they should stand to represent their group and be ready to provide one explanation to the question, "where did the water go?"

7. Move around the room quickly, asking one student at a time to give one answer. When all the students have provided answers, recall their replies by writing them on chart paper for all to see. You might ask for further opinions at this time.

8. Finally, ask one of the students to come to the box holding the large cups. Let the student turn over each cup one at a time, noting the contents. A look of surprise and delight will emerge when they inspect the cup with the mush in it (the water has turned the powder to a gel).

When should EEEPs be used?

There are number of situations in science teaching that you might consider using EEEPs. Here are some for you to think about:

• As an introduction to a new chapter or unit of teaching. An EEEP is a wonderful way to begin a new chapter. It helps establish interest, and gives the students some idea of what is come. If you use EEEPs in this manner, you won’t need too many during the course of a year.

• As a pre-assessment activity to ascertain students’ prior knowledge. I really like this reason for the use of EEEPs. It is a great way to let students hear each others’ views, and it a great way for you hear what ideas they bring to the topic.

• As a test of students ability to:
• Predict
• Brainstorm alternative ideas
• Make observations
• Hypothesize
• Work cooperatively

EEEPs can be used as performance assessments.

Using the EEEP Sheet

I have designed a generic EEEP sheet. Typically I give each group in the class one EEEP sheet. All the ideas that the team generates must be written on the EEEP Sheet. Students can made predictions, write their observations, think visually by drawing pictures of their explanations, and write a summary of their explanations. EEEP sheets can be collected and then assessed using the rubric that I have provided here. It then becomes a powerful learning tool linking instruction and assessment.

Earth Science EEEPs

1. A Cool Experiment. Put a piece of wet cotton around the bulb of one thermometer. Hold another thermometer (nothing on the bulb) next to the wet bulb thermometer. Fan both thermometers with a piece of cardboard until there is no further change in their readings. Invite students to explain why the thermometer with the cotton has a lower reading. Concepts: evaporation, heat, relative humidity.

2. Water Evaporation. Pour equal amounts of water into a dish and a test tube. Set both the dish and the test tube next to one another and observe over a period of several days. Invite students to explain why the water in the shallow dish evaporated faster than the water in the test tube. Concepts: surface area, evaporation, heat.

3. Hot Water Freeze. Put equal amounts of water (about 500 mL) in two metal canisters (label them 1 & 2). Heat the water in canister 1 to a temperature of about 70oC. Put both canisters in a refrigerator, and have the students monitor them for the next several hours. Invite the students to explain why the water in canister 1 froze before the water in canister 2. Concepts: molecular motion, heat energy, freezing point.

4. The Punctured Can. Puncture three holes at different heights in a large juice can, or a 2 Liter plastic bottle. Set the container in a large pan to catch the water when it pours out. Cover each hole with a piece of plastic tape. Now fill the container with water. Ask the students to predict what will happen if the plastic tape is removed from each hole. Students should be encouraged to draw a diagram illustrating their prediction. Now remove the pieces of tape (very quickly), and have the students observe. Invite the students to explain their observations by comparing their prediction to what they observed. Concepts: pressure, water pressure.

5. The Foggy Cloud.

Fill a flask with hot water. Pour out most of the water, leaving about an inch of it. Sit the bottle in bright light. Hold an ice cube over the opening. Ask the students to predict what they think will happen. After water vapor becomes visible, invite the students to explain what happened. Some questions: Where did the water vapor come from? What cooled the water vapor? What is water vapor?

6. Breaking Rocks. Show students several pieces of sandstone that you have soaked overnight. Tell the students you are going to do something to the rocks before their next class with you. That night put the rocks in plastic zip-loc bags and place them in the freezer. Show the bags to the students the next day. Invite them to explain what you might have done to cause the change in the rocks. Have them make diagrams showing how they think the change may have occurred.

7. The Mini-Telescope. Show the students two lenses. (Hand lenses will work just fine.) Invite the students to use the lenses in combination to enable them to see distance objects (a picture or chart on a wall of the classroom). The first challenge is for the students to figure out how to hold the lenses in relationship to each other. (Hint for the teacher: hold one lens up to one of your eyes; hold the other at arms length in front of the lens to your eye. Move the lens at arms length toward and away from the eyepiece until objects are focused.) Students will also notice that the images they see is up-side-down. Invite them to illustrate their explanation of this phenomena.

Life Science EEEPs

1. Earthworm Investigation. Show students a few earthworms. Invite students to speculate on the interaction of earthworms and changing environmental conditions (e.g. light, temperature, smell, gravity, sound, etc.). Have them formulate questions in the form of "if..., then....." Students can then design simple investigations to answer their questions.

2. Gravity and Plant Growth. Show students various plants that you have had growing in your classroom (e.g. in advance, have plants growing in various situations---a pot on its side, a pot hanging upside-down, etc. Invite students to speculate on the relationship between plant growth and the force of gravity. Does gravity affect plant growth? Have students talk about designing an experiment that could find an answer to this question.

3. The Case of the Mealworms. Show the diagram of the mealworms to the students, and while doing that, read this scenario to them: "An experimenter wanted to test the response of mealworms to light and moisture. To do this, she set up four boxes as shown here. She used lamps for light sources and constantly watered pieces of paper in the boxes for moisture. In the center of each box she placed 20 mealworms. One day she returned to count the number of wealworms that had crawled to the different ends of the boxes. Invite the students to consider this proposal:

The diagrams show that mealworms respond to (respond means move away or toward): A). Light but not moisture; B). Moisture but not light; C). Both light and moisture; D). Neither light nor moisture. Please explain your choice. Note: have students work in groups of two, and have them write their response in their own science log. Here is one student's response: "Boxes I and II show they prefer dry and light to wet and dark. Box IV eliminates dryness as a factor, so they do respond to light only. Box III shows that wetness cancels the effect of the light, so it seem they prefer dry. It would be clearer is one of the boxes was wet-dry with no light."

Physical Science EEEP

1. The Penny and a Glass of Water. Present a full glass of water to the students. Ask them to predict how many pennies can be carefully dropped into the full glass of water. Note the students' predictions. If you want to take some extra time, have teams of students work together to talk through their predictions. In front of the entire class, drop one penny at a time into the glass of water. (Note: If you hold the penny so it slides into the water vertically, as opposed to on one of its sides, then you ought to be able to drop between 20 - 50 pennies in a full glass of water.) Invite the students to work in small teams to illustrate and describe in words their explanation of this EEEP.

2. Electric Balloons. You'll need a few balloons and string for this EEEP. Inflate two balloons and tie about 50 cm of string to each. Rub the balloon briskly against a piece of wool fabric. Bring the balloon up to a wall in the room and let go. The balloon should stick to the wall. Take the second balloon and rub it briskly with the piece of wool. Hold both balloons close together. This time the balloons will move apart from each other. In teams, invite students to explain each demonstration. They should draw diagrams and use words to help explain their ideas---use an EEEP sheet for each team. Concepts: static electricity, charged particles.

3. Why Does the Water Rise. Stand a candle a candle (use clay for support) in a pan of water. Light the candle, and then place a small glass jar over the candle. The flame will go out very soon after this event, and water rises into the glass cylinder. Invite the students to develop explanations that will answer two questions: 1). Why did the flame go out?; and 2). Why did the water rise? Concepts: heat, air pressure, molecular model of matter.

4. The Egg and the Bottle. Present the students with a problem. Place a peeled hard-boiled egg in the mouth of bottle. The problem: How can you get the peeled hard-boiled egg in the bottle without touching the egg? Have students work in teams and propose a methodology. In order to test their method, they must present to you a written details of the procedure. (Note: you should have plenty of hard-boiled eggs available---students can peel them, glass jars, matches, etc.). Concepts: air pressure, molecular model of matter.

5. Fill the Beaker! Show students rubber tubing, a syringe, a beaker, and a pan of water. Tell them to invert the beaker of water in the pan of water. Challenge them to find a way to fill the beaker with water in that position. Have students talk through possible methods. When they have an idea constructed, tell them they can obtain the materials to test their method. (Note: students will discover that removing air will help, not trying to force water in!). Concepts: air pressure, molecular model of matter.

6. The Coin Drop and Throw. Place one coin (a quarter) on the edge of a table, and another quarter in your hand at the edge of the table. Tell the students that At the same instance, you will flick the coin on the table outward horizontally with your finger while at the same time dropping the other coin straight down. Ask them to speculate which coin will hit the floor first. After groups come up with their own ideas, provide the coins for them to test out their ideas. (Note: in most cases, both coins will hit the floor at the same time.) Invite students to explain the result. Concepts: gravity, Newton's laws of motion

Source: http://www2.gsu.edu/~mstjrh/eeep.html

Bulletin boards and other displays

Using your bulletin boards as a teaching tool — not just as decoration.
The bulletin boards and black/white boards in your room reflect what you feel is important. Consider carefully what you need to display on them and use these as an additional teaching tool.

Use bulletin boards to reinforce instructional goals.

• Create a calendar. Use bright colours, patterns, or perhaps a different numbering system. For example, you could use Roman numerals, a periodic table of elements numbering system, Morse code, etc. In the primary grades the calendar is a wonderful medium for introducing, extending, and reviewing mathematical concepts. Use the calendar to display schedules of upcoming events such as PTA meetings, sports, or other school activities.
• Display maps, charts, graphs, and book jackets related to current and continuing study.
• Display numbers, letters, poems, songs, and sight words. These signs are key elements of the print-rich environment that whole-language advocates recommend.
• Display posters, photographs, and other information relating to a unit being studied. These displays add valuable visual support to current topics.
• Create a class theme. Many teachers choose, or have their students choose, a year-long theme to tie their units of study together.
• Try designing a mystery display board based on the popular game show "Wheel of Fortune." Each week offer a different class-related motto, famous saying, or appropriate epigram with only a few letters filled in to get the students started. Let students offer guesses for missing letters until one misses. At that point, suspend play until the next day when guessing may begin again, selecting a different student to start the game. When the puzzle is solved, leave the complete saying up for display and prepare a new mystery saying related to class study or school goals.

Use bulletin boards to communicate essential information.
• Display posters of the classroom rules, rewards, and consequences.
• Create a visual representation of your classroom management system. The students will be more conscious of their behavior when they have something visual on which to focus.
• Post a list of the things students may do when they finish an assignment early
• Post school goals lists and mission statements. These may reflect classroom, team, and/or school priorities.
• Post a daily or weekly schedule for your room.
• List monitor jobs and the students who are currently filling these roles. For the sake of efficiency, make sure the names on this list can be changed quickly and easily.

Use bulletin boards to include and motivate students.

• Create a bright welcome board that incorporates every student’s name and makes them feel a part of the classroom.
• Use student snapshots and Polaroid photographs of the class members at school activities to create a bulletin board, collage, or montage for display.
• Randomly select a "Student of the Week" to feature on a bulletin board.
• Display students’ work. Ask students which assignments or projects they would like to have displayed.
• Display "thermometer graphs" to measure progress toward major class and/or school goals. Let students have responsibility for maintaining and posting changes in the "rising temperature."

Use bulletin boards to make the classroom a more appealing place.

• Display seasonal decorations.
• Display student artwork.

10 Steps To Developing A Quality Lesson Plan

This guide is not meant to be the one and only way to develop a lesson plan. It is a general overview that highlights the key points of creating a lesson plan. Below is a list of the steps involved in developing a lesson plan as well as a description of what each component should be. You may also find this new Lesson Plan Template to be useful for creating your lesson plans!

1. The first thing to consider, obviously, is what you want to teach. This should be developed based upon your state (or school) standards. You also need to be aware of what grade level you are developing the lesson plan for (and keep that in mind of course), and also record a time estimate for your lesson plan to help in time budgeting. Once you have your topic, you can begin determining how you want to teach the topic. If you didn't use the state standards to help in developing your topic, refer to them now to see what specific standards your lesson plan can fulfill. Having your lesson plan correctly aligned with state standards helps to prove its worthiness and necessity. It also helps in assuring that your students are being taught what your state requires. If you are able to correlate your lesson plan with standards, record links to those standards in your lesson plan. If writing this lesson plan for a website (The Lesson Plans Page) be sure to include a title that properly reflects your topic.
2. To make sure your lesson plan will teach exactly what you want it to; you need to develop clear and specific objectives. Please note that objectives should not be activities that will be used in the lesson plan. They should instead be the learning outcomes of those activities. As an example, if you wanted to teach your class how to add 2 + 3, your objective may be that "the students will know how to add 2 + 3" or more specifically "the students will demonstrate how to add 2 + 3."

Objectives should also be directly measurable (we'll get to this in assessment / evaluation). In other words, make sure you will be able to tell whether these objectives were met or not. You can certainly have more than one objective for a lesson plan.
To make objectives more meaningful, you may want to include both broad and narrow objectives. The broad objectives would be more like goals and include the overall goal of the lesson plan, i.e. to gain familiarity with adding two numbers together. The specific objectives would be more like the one listed above, i.e. "the students will demonstrate how to add the numbers 2 and 3 together."

3. You would probably find out exactly what materials you are going to use later, but they should be shown early in your lesson plan. This way if someone else were going to use your lesson plan, they would know in advance what materials are required. Be specific here to make sure the teacher will have everything they need. For the addition lesson, you should make sure you have 10 or so unifix cubes per student, paper, and pencils.

4. You may also want to write an Anticipatory Set, which would be a way to lead into the lesson plan and develop the students' interest in learning what is about to be taught. A good example deals with a lesson on fractions. The teacher could start by asking the students how they would divide up a pizza to make sure each of their 5 friends got an equal amount of pizza, and tell them that they can do this if they know how to work with fractions.

5. Now you need to write the step-by-step procedures that will be performed to reach the objectives. These don't have to involve every little thing the teacher will say and do, but they should list the relevant actions the teacher needs to perform. For the adding 2 + 3 lesson, you may have procedures such as these:

A. The teacher will give each child 2 unifix cubes.

B. The teacher will ask the students to write down how many unifix cubes they have on paper (2).

C. The students should then write a + sign below the number 2, like this:

D. The teacher will then pass out 3 more unifix cubes to each student.

E. The students will be asked to write down how many unifix cubes they were just given. They should write this number below the number 2 that they just wrote, so that it looks like this:

F. Students should now draw a line under their 3.
G. Now the students should count how many unifix cubes they have together and write this number just below the 3, like this:

H. Ask students how many unifix cubes they had to start, how many they were given to add to that, and how many they had total after the teacher gave them the 3 unifix cubes.

6. After the procedures have been completed, you may want to provide time for independent practice. For the example of above, students could be given time to add different numbers of unifix cubes together that a partner would provide them with.

7. Just before moving on to the assessment phase you should have some sort of closure for the lesson plan. A good idea for this is to return to your anticipatory set, i.e. ask students how they would divide up that pizza now that they know how to work with fractions (refer to the example in step 4).

8. Now you want to write your assessment / evaluation. Many lesson plans don't necessarily need an assessment, but most should have some sort of evaluation of whether or not the objectives were reached. The key in developing your assessment is to make sure that the assessment specifically measures whether the objectives were reached or not. Thus, there should be a direct correlation between the objectives and the assessments. Assuming the objective were to be able to add two single digit numbers together, an example would be to have students approach the teacher and add two single digit numbers (that the teacher provides via unifix cubes) on paper using unifix cubes as a guide.

9. Adaptations should also be made for students with learning disabilities and extensions for others. Examples would be adding 1 unifix cube to 1 unifix cube for students with learning disabilities and adding 9 unifix cubes to 13 unifix cubes for gifted students. This is best done with specific adaptations for specific students, to take into account their individual differences.

10. It's also a good idea to include a "Connections" section, which shows how the lesson plan could be integrated with other subjects. An example would be to have students paint 2 apples, then 3 more apples below them, etc. to integrate Art into the lesson plan. A better integration would involve creating 2 or 3 different types of textures on those apples, assuming texture was being studied in art class. Putting a lot of work into this can develop complete thematic units that would integrate related topics into many different subjects. This repetition of topics in different subjects can be extremely helpful in ensuring retention of the material.

That's it! If you followed all the instructions above, you've successfully written a very thorough lesson plan that will be useful for any other teachers wanting to teach such a topic. One of the most helpful tips in writing your first lesson plans would be to look at lesson plans that are already fully developed to get a better idea of what needs to be in the lesson plan. You can do this by looking at the lesson plans on this site!

Source: www.lessonplanspage.com