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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 2
April 12, 2002


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



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.





2. Humor

3. Teacher Talk

4. Subscription Information

5. Bumper Sticker

6. Idea Exchange

7. Parent Talk System Training

8. Article: "Blockers"


1. Quotes [back to top]


“The hitchhiker who sucks her thumb never gets anywhere.”

Although I can’t do everything at once, I can do something at once.”


2. Humor [back to top]


Did you hear about the teacher who told a student to go to the end of the line? The student came back and reported that someone was already there.


3. Teacher Talk [back to top]


Teacher Talk to increase Attribute Awareness


Attribute Awareness is an attempt to help students link their successes and failures to their own efforts.  The goal is to have them attribute personal success to effort, energy, persistence or another factor over which they have control.

Attributions are the reasons one assigns for achieving success or failure. Lack of ability, luck, not enough effort, and difficulty of the task, are the attributions most often used by students.


Arranging your classroom so that students experience success is an important first step in helping them see themselves as successful. Another, more important step, occurs when a student realizes she or he personally contributed to that success. Students must see the cause and effect connection between their behavior and the outcome for that success in order to experience the maximum benefit of that success. That’s where the importance of effective Teacher Talk comes in.


Skillful Teacher Talk on your part can help students link effort, strategies, and ability with results. Some examples follow:


“Madison, this is your highest test score. I guess that extra practice had an effect.”


“Latrell, that final revision put you over the top. It shows you really have learned to write in complete sentences.”


“Pablo, your test score went up again. Using note cards seems to work for you as a study aid.”


“Brenda, choosing not to complete the make up assignments hurt your grade this time.”


“I see your handwriting is becoming more legible. What do you attribute that to?”


Often students don’t know why they failed or succeeded. When teachers use Teacher Talk like the examples above to give performance feedback that helps students link results with effort, strategy, or ability, they help them take responsibility in the present and raise expectations for the future.




“Teacher Talk: What It Really Means” by Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber is available from Personal Power Press, $13.95 by calling toll free, 877-360-1477 or emailing


4. Subscription Information [back to top]


Please recommend this E-newsletter to any educator who is interested in improving their professional practice by forwarding it to them.

If you are receiving this E-newsletter as a forward, and would like to insure that you get your personal free subscription, email and type in the words, ”Add me to the Response-Able educator newsletter.”

To remove yourself from the list, email and ask to be deleted form the Response-Able educator newsletter list.


5. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Don’t lessen the lesson.

In four words this bumper sticker reminds us to implement consequences so that students can learn what happens if they do and what happens if they don’t. It helps us remember to refrain from bailing students out, saving them, rescuing them. If we lessen the lesson the lesson that students learn may well be that I will not be held accountable nor have to be responsible because someone will always be there to take over for me and keep me from feeling the cause and effect of my choices. Don’t lessen the lesson. Allow students to experience the legitimate consequences of their actions.

6. Idea Exchange [back to top]


Test Division

A high school teacher in Kentucky recently shared a strategy he found effective to help students do better on tests. After he created a chapter test, he divided it into two parts. The first part contained one-fourth of the test which he gave on day one. That same day the test was corrected and returned to the student. Explanations, reasons, and examples of quality answers were given and discussed as part of the debriefing.


On day two the remaining three-fourths of the test was given. Students now had a better idea of what to expect on the test and the quality of answers that was desired. Although not all students chose to use this opportunity to more effectively demonstrate their learning, many did.


7. Parent Talk System Training of Trainers [back to top]

We are looking for individuals who desire to help parents improve their parenting skills by using Parent Talk to become more Response-Able parents. The next training of trainers in The Parent Talk System is scheduled for July 25-27, 2002 in Dearborn, MI.  Call toll free 877/369-1477 or email to request a detailed brochure.


8. Article [back to top]



By Chick Moorman


Christian Miller didn’t do substitute teaching because he needed the money. He did it because he enjoyed it. He was a former teacher, now retired, and sincerely liked being around children. “Subbing is one of the ways I stay young,” he told many of his friends.


Recently assigned to sub in a third grade classroom, Christian was moving uneventfully through the day. Thankfully, no behavior problems required his attention. He had followed the detailed lesson plans for math and language arts. Spelling appeared next on the agenda.


The directions for spelling were simple enough. Christian was instructed to announce a ten-minute study time and then give the students a trial test on their weekly list of words. Students spelling all words correctly on the trial test would be excused from the final test on Friday.


At the conclusion of the short study time, Christian asked students to clear off their desks and take out a piece of notebook paper. Immediately, seven students sprang from their chairs and headed towards a bookcase at the back of the room. “Whoa,” announced Mr. Miller. “Where are you going?”


“We’re going to get the blockers,” two students answered simultaneously.


“Blockers? What are blockers?” asked the surprised substitute teacher.


“They’re what we use to block our papers so that other kids can’t see them,” answered one eight-year old. “They block the other person’s view,” added another.


Constructed with two 8 by 10 sheets of cardboard and taped in the middle, blockers stand  upright. They are designed to shield one student’s paper from another’s eyes.

“No, no, no,” cautioned the substitute. “We don’t need blockers.”


“Yes we do,” responded the third-graders.


“Why?” Christian asked aloud.


“Because we’ll look on each other’s papers,” said one child. “Ya,” agreed several others.


“You look at each other’s papers?” asked Christian.


“Several of us,” reported one student.


“No,” countered Christian, “no one will look today. We don’t need the blockers.”


“We need them because some kids cheat. They look,” warned a well-intentioned girl in the back of the room.


“Let me see a show of hands,” challenged Christian. “How many of you are going to look on another’s paper?”


No hands were raised.


“See, we don’t need blockers today,” Christian explained to the class.


“They say they won’t, but they will,” a student informed the substitute teacher. Heads nodded in agreement.


Undaunted, Christian asked, “How many of you are just saying that you won’t look, but you really will?’


Still no hands.


“See,” he said again, “no one in this room is going to look.”


“We always use blockers,” shared one persistent student who wasn’t buying into the--- we don’t need blockers--- theme. “Mrs. Tattersall wants us to use them so we don’t cheat. They block us from cheating,” she explained, hoping to get this substitute teacher to finally appreciate the necessity of blockers.


“O.K. we’ll use blockers,” announced Mr. Miller, appearing to finally cave in to the perceived need to use an external object to protect one child’s paper from another’s need to look.


“We’ll use blockers,” he continued, “only this time we’ll use our inside blockers. Looking or not looking at another’s paper is an internal decision that each of you make. It’s something that happens on the inside of you. If each of you chooses to use your inside blocker, we won’t need outside blockers. Things like honesty, integrity, respect, and caring are decisions that each of us make on the inside. When you make an inside decision, the outside takes care of itself. Outside blockers are only needed when the inside blockers have not been turned on.”


“How about if we play with using our inside blockers today and see how that goes?” Christian challenged the room full of eight-year olds. “Let’s see how well your inside blockers are working. Are you willing to turn them on and see what happens?”


“Yes,” several students responded, finally conceding to the relentless challenge of their substitute teacher.


“O.K. Number your papers from one to fifteen. Put your name in the upper right hand corner. Turn on your internal blocker. Here we go.”


The spelling test proceeded without incident. Students practiced spelling words and they practiced using their inside blockers.


Following the test, Christian allowed students to correct their own papers. Papers were then collected and left for the regular classroom teacher to peruse. Later, he assumed, scores would be added to a grade book so that the learning could be appropriately documented.


No record was made of the 23 eight-year olds who successfully used internal blockers that day. No note was left for the regular classroom teacher to explain why blockers weren’t used. No documentation of the learning experience was necessary. Perhaps that type of learning is best recorded the way it is used, on the inside, in the hearts and minds of the students who experienced it.


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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 email


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