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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 18
May 14, 2003

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Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able teacher and developing Response-Able students.

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MISSION STATEMENT

My mission is to inspire, encourage and uplift the spirits of educators so they can in turn inspire, encourage, and uplift the spirits of their students.

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IN THIS ISSUE

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1. Quote [back to top]

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"The past 10 years have been really bad. The only good news is that the way kids eat in school is getting so bad that people are finally paying attention."

----Antonia Demas
Director, Food Studies Institute

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2. Humor [back to top]

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Teacher: Didn't you promise to behave?
Student: Yes, sir.
Teacher: And didn't I promise to punish you if you didn't?
Student: Yes, sir, but since I broke my promise, I don't expect you to keep yours.

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3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]

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How do you know if you are a success as a teacher? Do you measure it from within or without? How do you teach your students to measure their success? Are your answers to these questions congruent?

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4. Fact [back to top]

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Every 19 hours a young person under 25 dies from an HIV infection.

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5. Bumper Sticker [back to top]

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Spotted on a Chevy Blazer heading north on I-75 near Flint, MI:

"There is no permanent record."

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6. Article: Labs in Cooperation [back to top]

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Labs in Cooperation

By Chick Moorman

Teachers hold different views on cooperative learning. Some see it as one of many very important tools for effective teaching. Others see it as an idea whose time has passed. Some teachers perceive this strategy as stimulating and rewarding. Others see it as a lot of work. Educators choose to see cooperative learning as helpful, time consuming, frustrating, challenging, or as a wonderful opportunity to help students learn interpersonal skills.

Whatever view teachers take of cooperative learning when they enter one of my trainings, I ask them to take responsibility for it. I then invite them to perceive cooperative learning from a different point of view. I challenge them to see each cooperative learning lesson as a laboratory in cooperation.

Remember your own eighth-grade general science labs? I remember mine. I was given batteries, bulbs, wires, a worksheet, and a lab partner. I was expected to work collaboratively, manipulate the materials, and make interesting discoveries. The goal was to fill my science notebook with appropriate answers and learn important scientific concepts in the process.

My partner and I made numerous mistakes. We touched wires to batteries and bulbs and got nothing. We wrote that down. We discussed our experience, reevaluated, and connected a different combination of batteries, wires, and bulbs. Still nothing. We recorded our findings again. Through the processes of elimination and improved thinking, we eventually discovered the correct combination. The light finally went on, both in front of us and inside our heads. We recorded that observation.

It was in a lab that I learned the valuable lesson that you can get as much information from an incorrect response as you can from a correct one. The lab was a place where mistakes were valued and expected - so expected that extra supplies were provided in case we broke, dismantled, or burned something up. The entire lab experience seemed to be orchestrated so that we could learn from the two greatest teachers in the world, "trial" and "error."

Please see your efforts with cooperative learning as a lab, a lab in cooperation. Yes, cooperative learning experiences can be viewed as mini-labs where students practice interpersonal skills and sometimes make errors. They will not always take turns, disagree politely, stay on task, or offer help without giving the answer. They will, on occasion, put each other down, lose track of time, or fail to finish their work. Value these interpersonal skill mistakes as you would any errors made in a lab setting. See them as data you can use to help students learn interpersonal skills. When you notice students making a mistake, help them process the experience, asking debriefing questions that require them to self-assess. Use the data you get from observing their interpersonal mistakes to determine which group skills need to be taught, reviewed, or brought to greater consciousness. Share your observations with your students, and ask them to reflect on their behavior and the results it produced.

In a science lab, it's all perfect. Students are either coming up with correct answers or they're making mistakes. Each possibility is perfect for learning the concept or for giving students the data they need to readjust and make a fresh attempt at learning the concept.

Likewise, in cooperative groups, it's all perfect. Students are cooperating and being interpersonally effective or they are making interpersonal errors. Each is perfect for giving you the data you need to design an appropriate response.

Choose to see cooperative learning experiences as labs in cooperation. If you do, eventually the wires will connect and the lights will go on!

(Special note: If you are looking for an incredible skill-based cooperative learning training that offers graduate credit this summer, email me at ipp57@aol.com, and I will let you know what's available in your area. Performance Learning Systems instructors offer a 3-hour graduate course in cooperative learning in several states throughout the country. It's a high-impact, high-energy course that emphasizes adapting cooperative learning skills to your specific situation.)

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Don't get caught with your pants down. Have you arranged for your back-to-school speaker yet? Now is the time.

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7. You Gotta Be Kidding Me Department

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It is particularly difficult to improve schools using federal leverage. US Secretary of Education Rod Paige says his strongest weapon for reform is shame. According to George Will, New York Post columnist, by "shame," Secretary Paige means the power to embarrass states if their results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveal that they are not progressing. This shaming power is the principal lever created by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Shame as a school improvement tool? Whose idea was this? Part of me wants to say, "Shame on you," but I don't believe shame is a helpful way to build positive results or to help people learn. So I guess I'm stuck with, "You've gotta be kidding me."

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8. Manage Your Subscription [back to top]

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9. We Get Email

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" In response to your discussion on the place of opinion in history lessons the last two issues, I just have to comment. I am a special education teacher and I co-teach in a middle school classroom. The teacher I teach with is AWESOME.

"He makes the kids THINK! He found a wonderful curriculum called History Alive. This series makes kids think, act, draw, listen, and really puts the kids into the shoes of the people in our past. There is some hope!"

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To find out more about books, tapes, and materials by Chick Moorman, contact him at (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or on the web at www.chickmoorman.com.

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Subscriber comments, ideas, and concerns are valued. Email your

comment to IPP57@aol.com

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Privacy Statement: Under no circumstances do we sell, trade, or exchange your email address, ever. It is safe with us. Always!

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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or on the web at www.chickmoorman.com.

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Copyright 2003 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.

 

 
 
 
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