The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 39
February 21, 2005
Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent
raising Response-Able children.
Our 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.
IN THIS ISSUE
2. Bumper Sticker
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation
4. Sign Language
5. Teacher Talk: Cushioning
6. It's a Fact
7. Article: "How Many Colonies Were There?"
8. The Teaching for Respect and Responsibility Seminar
9. Did You Know?
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
----George Bernard Shaw
2. Bumper Sticker
Spotted on a Chevy truck in Grand Rapids, MI
Leave no Bar Behind
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation
What if you thought of this student as wounded rather than wrong? Would
it alter your perception? Would it alter your approach?
4. Sign Language
A. Observed on a high school bulletin board:
If you decide to do nothing, how do you tell when you are done?
B. Seen in a middle-school counseling office:
It's easier to keep up than to catch up.
C. Noticed in an English teacher's classroom:
Double negatives are a no no.
5. Teacher Talk: Cushioning
"You don't have to learn everything today. Can anyone tell me
"When you take this quiz in a moment, would it be okay if you missed some?
Why is that?"
The Teacher Talk examples above fall into a category of verbal responses called "cushioning." Cushioning
is an attempt to reduce anxiety, decrease pressure, and free students up to
relax into an activity so they can gain maximum benefits from it.
To put cushioning Teacher Talk into practice with your students, follow these
One: Make an assertion.
Two: Ask why.
"We don't always learn everything the first time." (assertion) "Why
is that so?" (ask why)
Students might respond by telling you that it takes several repetitions before
skills become natural, that they have to hear it two or three times before
it sticks, or that sometimes they forget things and have to relearn a concept.
This gives students permission to not have to learn everything this time, in
this moment, forever and for always. By giving them verbal permission to learn
at their own pace, by their own time clock, you cushion the pressure to learn
NOW and actually increase the chance that learning occurs in this moment.
It would be okay if you had to read this twice to understand it, wouldn't it?
(Teacher Talk: What It Really Means, by Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber,
is available from Personal Power Press at 1-877-360-1277 or www.chickmoorman.com.)
6. It’s a Fact
Q. What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
Q. What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
Q. What do you call a person who speaks one language?
A. An American
Fact: Fewer than 1 in 10 students at U.S. colleges major in foreign languages.
Fact: Most of those language majors choose French, German, Italian, or Spanish.
Fact: Only 9% learn Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Indonesian--languages
that are spoken by a majority of the planet's people.
Fact: In August 2001--one month before the September 11th terrorist attack
against the United States--the National Foreign Language Center at the University
of Maryland noted that the country faced "a critical shortage of linguistically
competent professionals across federal agencies and departments responsible
for national security."
Source: Educational Leadership/January 2005
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are available to keynote your conference
or present one of their highly acclaimed full-day seminars for your building
or district staff.
Their most popular seminars are:
Transforming Aggression in Children
Celebrate the Spirit Whisperers
Teaching for Respect and Responsibility
Brain Functioning Behavior in Children
Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management
Contact them at www.thomashaller.com or www.chickmoorman.com to
begin the discussion of possible dates and topics.
7. Article: “How Many Colonies Were There?”
HOW MANY COLONIES WERE THERE?
By Chick Moorman
I arrived early, as I usually do, for my eighth-grade substitute teaching assignment.
I like to look over the lesson plans and make sure I understand them before
the students begin showing up. That way, if I have any questions or concerns,
I can check with another teacher to help me decipher the expectations.
No problems understanding the lesson plans this day. The U.S. history students
I was to meet with first were expected to study for a test on American colonies
by designing possible test questions and having classmates answer them.
When the class had been assembled and roll had been taken, I gave the assignment.
Students went immediately to work and for the next ten minutes silently designed
appropriate test questions. At the end of that time, I asked to hear some of
the questions they had created. I heard:
How many colonies were there?
What was the first colony?
Which colony did the Pilgrims found?
What year was the Virginia colony founded?
What colony did James Olglethorp lead?
Every question created by the students was one that required a single right
answer. Each was fact-oriented. None asked for opinion. None required thinking.
All demanded a simple regurgitation of a fact. All relied only on students'
ability to memorize.
"For the next ten minutes," I challenged the eighth graders, "come
up with a question that asks for higher-level thinking."
"What is that?" one of the students wondered aloud.
"It's a question that asks for opinion, evaluation, or judgment," I
rattled off quickly, trying to think of a simple definition of higher-order questions.
"We don't have to do that," I was informed by one of the students. "We
only have to do questions like the ones that will be on the test."
"You don't have any questions on your test that ask your opinion?" I
"Nope," came the response from several students simultaneously. "Mr.
Johnston will use some of our questions on the test," one student informed
me. "And he likes these kinds of questions."
Mr. Johnston is going to be in for a surprise, I thought to myself, being careful
not to say aloud what I was thinking privately.
"Well, let's play with this for the rest of the hour," I urged. "I'll
suggest a certain type of question and you write one that fits the criteria I
"Write a question that begins with the words, 'What is your opinion about
. . .?'" I challenged. After some initial resistance and grumbling, the
Questions the students designed included:
What is your opinion about why Plymouth was founded?
What is your opinion about the rules people had for living in the Massachusetts
What is your opinion about the easiest colony to grow up in?
"Now give me a possible test question that begins with 'What factors led
to . . .?'" I said. Again I received questions that called for thinking
and real understanding. In the remaining class time, I asked students to design
1. Rank the colonies from best to worst on ______.
2. Sum up what you know about __________ in two sentences.
3. Predict what would have happened ____________if_____________.
4. Write a question that uses the words "same" or "different" that
asks the person answering to compare or contrast something about the colonies.
5. What changes would you have made to_____________? Why?
6. Evaluate how_________________.
7. What in your own life is like ______________ from ______________.
By the time the class period ended, the eighth-graders were into the flow of
asking questions that demanded more than a single right answer. The activity
was clearly new for them, and they seemed to be enjoying the novelty and the
I'm not sure what Mr. Johnston thought of the questions we came up with that
day. I don't know if he ever used any of them. But I do know that by asking
the students to create questions that require others to think, they were forced
to think themselves.
Chick Moorman is the author of Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who
Nourish a Child's Spirit, available through Personal Power Press
(toll-free 1-877-360-1477) and amazon.com.
8 . The Teaching for Respect and Responsibility Seminar
Announcing public seminars in Teaching For Respect and Responsibility:
PHOENIX, AZ…………..…..February, 22, 2005
LANSING, MI……………..…March 2, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK….….March 7, 2005
Send an email request today to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your detailed brochure
about this powerful and practical seminar presented by Chick Moorman. Be sure
to include your mailing address.
9. Did you know?
A. It's easier to apologize than to get permission.
B. We never sell, trade, or distribute your email address for any reason, ever.
C. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, private companies are mining the
testing field and rolling in the money. Between 2002 and 2008, states are expected
to spend between $1.9 billion and $5.3 billion on NCBL-mandated tests. We wonder
. . . is anyone holding the testing companies accountable? Is anyone designing
a test for them?
D. If you book either of us, Thomas Haller or Chick Moorman, for a full-day
seminar with your teaching staff, we will stay and do a parent program in the
evening at no additional charge.
E. March 20th is International Parenting Commitment Day. Check www.10commitments.net to
see suggestions for International Parenting Commitment Day rituals, celebrations,
and other ideas.
F. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a suburban high-school student and his father have
filed a lawsuit seeking to bar homework over the summer. The family believes
that if teachers want to assign homework during the summer, it should be voluntary
and not factored into the student's grades without the student's consent.
G. The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose has gone back to press.
The first printing is nearly sold out, and demand for this valuable book continues
to grow rapidly.
H. We are looking for people who are committed to helping parents raise responsible,
caring, confident children. We are offering a West Coast facilitator training
in the Parent Talk System in Santa Barbara, CA, April 7-9. Send for details
at email@example.com. Include your mailing address.
I. You can reprint any of our articles without permission as long as you
publish it in its entirety and keep the tagline that informs readers of how
to contact us. Many schools have called or emailed to request permission
to use our "Explaining
World Tragedy to Children" article. View it at www.thomashaller.com or www.chickmoorman.com.
J. For ideas on youth-led efforts and resources for parents and teachers to
talk to young people about the tsunami disaster, visit http://www.service-learningpartnership.org/teaching/tsunami.cfm.
To find out more about books, tapes, and materials by Chick Moorman and Thomas
Haller, contact them at (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or on the Web at www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com.
Copyright 2005 Chick Moorman Seminars and Thomas Haller Seminars, all rights
reserved. Share this with your circle.