College Ready

Sharing strategies for student success, college readiness and academic coaching


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How to be a Scholar. 6 Steps to Encourage Critical Thinking

As we get to the end of the semester and school year, we are expecting our students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills, or Critical Thinking. I like this infographic from Learning Commons at the University of British Columbia.

Critical Thinking Toolkit

Thanks to its simple flow chart style, students can use it to clearly reflect on their own thinking. Students need to constantly question their own process, and those of others. They need to ask questions about the text they read, test possibilities, and allow for new discoveries.

Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) push our students beyond simple responses and elevate them to scholars and critics in their own right. Part of what’s vital in education is for students to learn to trust their own voice, while still questioning their thinking. What strategies do you use in your classroom to encourage critical thinking?

 

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No Net Around the Future. Simple Ways to Help Students Soar to Their Potential

Students Need the Power of Belief to Soar to Their Potential

Teachers. It’s hard. We ask a lot of you. We ask you to keep getting up in the morning and showing up in that classroom and bringing your A Game.

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We ask you to notice the students who need the extra help and notice the students who need the extra challenge. And to do it with a smile and a magical “Mary Poppins” like presence in a classroom. Do all that but do it with fairly little community support and for not that much financial compensation, either. But do it all the same

because

Every

Student

Needs a Hero.

Keep helping our students realize that their potential is unlimited. They can soar and achieve any dream as long as they have someone in their lives that supports them. Our goal at College Ready is simply to let all students know, regardless of socio-economic background, there’s no net around their future.

They can soar to unlimited heights.


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Read, Write, Connect. 18 Weeks in the Life of an English Prof: Week 1, Day 1

CONNECT

Week 1, Day 1 of the semester. Welcome to 18 weeks in the life of a college English professor…or, what I’m affectionately calling “High Heels & a Highlighter.” I have committed to sharing my experiences with all of you. You’ll have a front row seat here in my college English class this semester. As an “Insider” you’ll be privy to lesson plans, learning goals, successes, and (likely) some occasional bumps along the road that happen to us all, not so much failures as, oh, let’s call ’em “learning opportunities.” 🙂

We spend a lot of time at the very first class establishing connections, getting to know each other, and laying the foundation for our Learning Community. One active learning exercise we do is called Common Ground. Students get into groups of 6 and come up with a list of 10 things they all have in common. It is a great way to get students interacting from the very first class!
Fast & Fun Ice Breaker

Fast & Fun Ice Breaker

And of course, I introduce myself, the course objective and overall theme. Along with all of that, I also introduce my students to the concept of Metacognition: thinking about your thinking, or learning about your learning. When students use metacognition strategies, it increases their learning outcomes. Students need to recognize that the brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, and flex it, the stronger it becomes. You can literally build the brain you want. The very latest neuroscience backs this up. Here’s what Judy Willis, MD, had to say in a recent Edutopia article:
“To reduce anxiety about new “stuff” in the classroom — whether related to Common Core State Standards, struggles with reading, or something else entirely — you can find opportunities to emphasize students’ ability to literally build the brains they want. Remind them that, when they turn in a story, demonstrate a science principle in a skit, or even raise their hand to respond to a question, they grow more dendrites and add new layers of myelin to their axons. To them this may sound gross, but it’s actually good news. By activating these brain networks, they continuously use their executive functions as they apply new learning. Like a muscle, the brain responds to interaction and activity.”
Sure, there’s more, but I’ll be keeping these posts more like a “snapshot.” So, that’s a taste of Day One in my classroom. We Read, Write and Connect. In fact…that’s the title of my class! Post a comment on what you do on your first day-I’d love to hear from you. xo~Lisa


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Books, Bedtime and Beyond: Why Family Reading Rocks

Even MORE reasons to read to a child. Reading aloud “builds a child’s WANT to read.” Think your kiddo is too old for you to read to them at bedtime? Think again. Check out the difference in a child’s interest in reading between Kindergarten and Fourth Grade! What was the key difference? Parents stopped reading to kids.

By 12th grade-only 19% of kids asked said they were interested in reading! When you consider that higher levels of college readiness are linked to reading skills, I have just one word for that statistic: Noooooooo….but what can you do about it?

One thing our family started last summer was family reading time. We picked a classic-The Wind in the Willows-and each of us would read a few pages at a time. We read it together each night and enjoyed the simplicity of the words, the comfort of the timeless message and the beauty of the illustrations. Yes, even my Minecraft lovin’ middle school boy unplugged long enough to take part! He loved doing accents and really cracked up at Toad’s antics. So get silly, have fun, and share the joy of reading at any age!! What types of family reading do you do with your kids?

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This beautiful infographic was produced by usborneusa.com and Nancy Ann Wartman

This is true!

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This is true!

Books are like oxygen.

To me, they are nothing short of life support.

Some of my favorite books to read lately are Children’s Literature. I’m rediscovering those sweet tales, and they’re the perfect reminder of all the good in the world. Books like Charlotte’s Web and The Wind in the Willows. They also remind us, that even as adults, it’s ok to smile, to have fun, to take care of your friends…and

…to Dream.

So, what are you reading?


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Always Learning

Day one. We begin.

I’m a gal from New Jersey, now located on the West Coast–teaching, raising a family, & living my dream.career passion

The theme for this blog is “Always Learning.” I’m a college English instructor and although it’s my name on the schedule where the instructor is listed, each day I learn from both my students, and my colleagues. Add in the wider academic community (ie, all of you!), via my Twitter PLN, Pinterest, teacher blogs on Tumblr, and well…the access to information, learning, and new ideas is endless. Family, friends and life are also all great teachers. I’m always learning and I love it!

For a while now, I’ve been determined to start a blog to both reflect on my own teaching, learning, writing, and reading, and to share content and ideas with others.To give back. To model the openness that is so vital in our profession. I’ve been doing this on other social media channels, and even blogging with my students, but I came late to setting up my teaching blog. (Ok, truth be told this blog has been in the planning stage for over a year! A year! Wow!) No more. Summer, sunshine and time off have given me the burst of creativity that I needed to envision and launch this new site. And here it is.

I’m passionate about student success, literacy, and educational equality. I believe in education to empower people of all ages and backgrounds,  and to save & change lives. To teach is to be a small part of this and that to me, is living my dream.  In my next post, I’ll explain how I named this blog…but here’s a hint. I’ve taught college English for 16 years in a student-centered classroom.

I’ll try to keep future posts short and sweet and end with something useful each time. Today, it’s this link to “15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read.” I plan to read Feed next. How about you-have you read any of the books on this list? Which would you recommend?

Happy Summer. Happy Reading.

~Lisa