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Empower is a monthly newsletter touching on important and timely topics relevant to teachers, educators, and administrators. Join our community at the bottom of the page to receive Empower in your inbox every month, and contact us to submit your articles for Empower!

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Spotlight: José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema orchestra, 1939-2018

Jose Abreu, founder of El Sistema Youth Orchestra in Venezuela, died Saturday, March 24th, at the age of 78. Abreu founded the globally acclaimed El Sistema, or The System, in 1975 in a garage with just nine musicians. In an interview, Abreu said about that…

Teaching Students: The Good Stress

As teachers, it’s easy to worry about the student’s stress levels and do what we can to reduce them. It’s not hard to find evidence that there is stress in a student’s life and that it can be a barrier to learning. We trust each…

Teaching Practice – Fine and Performing Arts – Express: Finding Meaning

Why teach the arts? This is the seventh and last article that looks at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted typical reasons for taking arts – that it…

Spotlight: Mr. Whitson – Best Teacher I Ever Had

By David Owen from Reader’s Digest (Asian Edition), April 1991, 47-48, downloaded June 1 2018. Mr. Whitson taught sixth-grade science. On the first day of class, he gave us a lecture about a creature called the cattywampus, an ill-adapted nocturnal animal that was wiped out…

Teaching Practice: Beginning with the End in Mind

At the beginning of the year, imagine what the end of the year will be like. The Cheshire Cat and Alice put it well. “Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” The cat asked, “Where do…

Fine and Performing Arts – Observe: Really Seeing, Not Just Looking

Why teach the arts? This is the sixth of several articles that look at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted typical reasons for taking arts – that it…

Thinking about Teaching (and /or Learning): Collaborative Teaching

Teacher Squared & The Power of Two​: ​​ ​Collaborative Teaching with Notes and Insights. By Kelley Brill and Dr. Paul DeAngelis, Miami Country Day School, Miami, Florida Few things can be as isolating as the profession of teaching alone in a student-filled classroom.​​ ​ ​​Teaching…

Teaching Practice: The Alphabet of Teaching 2018-19

It is August and the First Days of School are upon us. Here are the ABCs of a new year whether you are a new teacher or a long-time veteran! Abraham Lincoln said: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be…

Contribute to Empower

Empower Subscription: sign up here! Empower Participation: please contribute articles (always with original research citation) to Editor@lausannelearning.com. Authors are appreciated and acknowledged. Articles become the property of Lausanne Learning. Empower Editor: Simon Jeynes, Executive Director at Lausanne Learning. Contact Simon at sjeynes@lausannelearningl.com

Teaching Practice: Aiming for Discipline instead of Punishment

There has been a move away from the idea of ‘punishing’ students for the things they do wrong. The word wrong hasn’t been wrong – students do things wrong all the time. They say they did their homework when they didn’t. They show up late…

Thinking about Teaching (and /or Learning): Flipped Lesson Resources

Creating Interactive Online Lessons Offering Technical Support Anymeeting: www.anymeeting.com GoToMeeting: www.gotomeeting.com Show Me What’s Wrong: www.showmewhatswrong.com Quick Screen Share: http://quickscreenshare.com/ Google HangOuts: https://hangouts.google.com/ Quick Exit Tickets Padlet: www.padlet.com Answer Garden: answergarden.ch Google Forms: https://www.google.com/forms/about/ Hosting Your Flipped Learning Resources Google Sites: https://sites.google.com Wikispaces: www.wikispaces.com Weebly: www.weebly.com PbWorks: www.pbworks.com…

Fine and Performing Arts: Observe – Really Seeing, Not Just Looking

Why teach the arts? This is the fifth of several articles that look at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted that typical reasons for taking arts – that…

Spotlight: Teachers Who Make a Difference

In this issue, we spotlight a teacher who made a difference in the hopes that you will write into Empower and tell us about teachers who have made a difference in your life or the lives of children that you know. We will publish these…

Spotlight: Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese investigative reporter who was murdered on October 16th, 2017. She was about to drive off in her car when a car bomb was detonated, apparently by a radio signal from an off-shore boat. Empower places the spotlight on her…

Fine and Performing Arts – Envision: Thinking in Images

Why teach the arts? This is the fourth of several articles that look at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted that typical reasons for taking arts – that…

Thinking about Teaching (and/or Learning)

What is the best way to teach? After so many millennia, why are we still studying it? You would think that it would all be figured out by now. There still seems to be significant confusion. We will attempt to clarify the various schools of…

Leading Discussions of Public Policy

A recent article in Phi Delta Kappan talked about how students can disagree productively and with civility in the classroom. Given an environment where adults in the United States are finding it harder and harder to even talk with each other, this seems to be a…

Making a Difference

I was talking with a Head of School recently and he told me that a mother and two children returned home after an admission event at school to find their husband and father had committed suicide. This brought to mind the fact that USA Today…

Spotlight: Coach Aaron Feis

Coach Aaron Feis died in the line of duty. He was not a policeman, on assignment in Afghanistan. He was an assistant football coach in a school in Florida. He died placing his body between the gunman and three girls in his school. The Orlando…

Fine and Performing Arts – Develop Craft

Why teach the arts? This is the third of several articles that look at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted that typical reasons for taking arts – that…

Thinking About Teaching

By Greg Graber and Simon Jeynes We all want the ideal student sitting in our classroom. Someone who has great focus, increased capacity for learning, improved observational skills, good emotional development, thinks well of themselves, continues to improve their grades and behavior, and who controls…

Mathematics and Bananas

The material in this article is derived from Dan Meyer’s e-letter, Ilona Vashchyshyn’s Twitter feed, and Vashchyshyn’s webpage. Dan Meyer notes that mathematics is all around us if we are willing to “notice” it. His interest was piqued when he looked at Ilona Vashchushyn’s Twitter…

What Should I do on Break?

What should I do on Spring Break? (Or any break!) Think of it first as a Health Break. Teaching is a stressful profession. Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at the University of Manchester’s business school and a former government adviser on…

An Unedited Letter from My Children

I want to share something two of my children wrote last year before our family moved from the USA back to Canada to be closer to my wife’s family. I have received their permission to share this. I think it is an anecdotal piece of…

Spotlight: Eric Mazur

We put our spotlight on Eric Mazur this month. He is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Dean of Applied Physics at Harvard University, Member of the Faculty of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and President of the Optical…

Fine and Performing Arts: Engage and Persist

Why teach the arts? This is the second of several articles that look at the intrinsic reasons art is a critical part of how and what a student learns at school. In the first article, I noted that typical reasons for taking arts – that…

Science, Video Games, and Exceptional Children

The material in this article is derived from: Enhancing Secondary Science Content Accessibility With Video Games Matthew T. Marino, Kathleen Becht, Eleazar Vasquez, III, Jennifer L. Gallup, James D. Basham, Benjamin Gallegos TEACHING Exceptional Children Vol 47, Issue 1, pp. 27 – 34 First Published…

Thinking about Teaching Teenagers

I recently read two articles from completely different places but that spoke to the same issue – how do we engage teenagers with the topics that we are compelled to teach? These two articles are Teacher Constructed Prompts to Assist Question Development and Personalizing Learning:…

Spotlight: Tamar Barabi

It is fun to identify and spotlight teachers; every now and again, we will do the same for students. This month, we are appreciating Tamar Barabi who, at 16 years of age, did her math homework using a proof that hadn’t yet been invented. This…

Participation

Question: does everyone participate in your class? Answer: of course Except that research shows that in most classes, most of the time, only some students participate and they often participate in a formulaic way that meets the teacher’s expectations and that achieves a good participation…

Taking a Leap

What is the value of teaching the arts? Elliott Seif gives 10 pretty good reasons for doing so: Reason 1: Many children come to school and stay in school because of the arts. Reason 2: Children learn positive habits, behaviors and attitudes through the arts….

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The month of January includes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Since we all have the benefit of having the day off, I would like to provide for you the full script of MLK’s speech. This is an opportunity for us as teachers to reflect on what our…

Turning Math Upside Down

Cathy Seeley is the former President of the National Council for Teaching Mathematics. She has spent the last several years talking about Turning Teaching Upside Down in mathematics and this article reviews what she is saying. Her phrase, Upside Down, depending where you are on…

Are Read Alouds Hurting Early Learners?

An article by Richard Allington provides interesting insights into the teaching of reading. Professor Allington is Professor of Education at the University of Tennessee, was an elementary school teacher, and has written many books and articles on reading. He makes the provocative statement: “In almost…

Making Feedback Vital for Learning

We know that student achievement is powerfully impacted by feedback that is skillfully given. We know that student achievement declines when feedback in the form of summative evaluation is carried out. “There are clear messages for how the negative impact of summative assessment on motivation for…

Finding Sunshine for Winter Wellness

What does the winter holiday mean to you? It means, of course, family, religious celebration, feasting, gift giving and receiving. One way of thinking about it is as the season of light. This year, the winter solstice is on December 21st, 2017 although it can…

Jeffrey Wright: The Greater Calling

“One Size Fits All Doesn’t Work” Meet Jeffrey Wright, physics teacher, father and family man, and a teacher who inspires his students many of whom freely admit they fall asleep in other classes. He is, of course, an excellent teacher. Watching the video however shows…

Adding Up Mastery Learning in Math

In 1984, Benjamin Bloom (of the famous Bloom’s taxonomy), published a paper titled “The search for methods of group instruction as effective as one to one” . In it, he and his research team split students into three groups – conventional learning where tests were done…

Struggling in the Real World

My daughter highlighted her way through AP Literature and AP US History, working assiduously evening after evening for months at a time. She got 4s in both examinations too suggesting that her study habits were excellent. Obviously, that wasn’t the only thing she did but…

Thinking about Teaching

As we teach each day, it may be easy for many of us to remember that there is an entire world outside our classroom windows. That world is not the world of concrete and manufactured environments but the world of nature. That doesn’t include the…

What Kids Will Remember

As teachers, it’s easy to get swept up into the fad of marks and grades and college acceptance and kindergarten graduation and learning how to read, write, count, tweet. That’s also extremely exhausting, something like businesses must feel about corporate results being published every quarter…

Thinking about Teaching

We know that psychology matters. It is easy to be both skeptical that psychologists can help us and at the same time willing to admit that psychological constructs can make sense. Carol Dweck’s mindset theory comes to mind. A review of some mindset literature in…

STEM for Lower School

A recent Edutopia article considers how we might teach higher-level engineering skills to elementary students. The first step is for us to actually believe that our students are capable of complex thought! The teacher in this account used Backwards Design Thinking to construct projects that…

Innovative Arts

If you are one of the many fine arts teachers trying to convince your colleagues of the importance of your curriculum vs. “core academics”, we would love to introduce you (and them) to Sir Ken Robinson and his explosive (and entertaining) contribution to the critical…

Lisa Nielsen: Facebook and Behavior

We want to introduce you to Lisa Nielsen today who says that she was bored at school and didn’t want her students to feel the same way. She works in New York’s public school system – and is a great example of why the public schools…

An Early Start to Teacher Self-Care

It’s September. The summer is a blissful memory. The excitement of starting school has faded. The future holds the prospect of infinite numbers of interruptions to my classes as kids are pulled out for special rehearsals, early dismissals, photo shoots, admission tours, quite apart from…

We Need Clarity on “Well-Rounded” Students

We all talk about the well-rounded student. But do we have any idea what it means? From a student’s point of view, it seems to mean that adults think they should be perfect at everything from the moment they hit kindergarten and are expected to…

Make Writing Purposeful (With Less Work!)

How do you improve writing without “Purposeful Practice”, review, and renewal? This applies to all forms of writing, of course, not just literature essays. We all know the routine: student hands in essay / piece of writing; teacher carefully reads and annotates it over the…

Math Is About Skill, Not Speed

In an article back in 2013, Jo Boaler wrote about research showing that timed math tests resulted in significant math anxiety and thus underachievement by many students. One of her statements that is maybe most perturbing is that “mathematics has become a performance subject”. It is…

Haim Ginott: How Do You Yell at Visitors?

We want to introduce you to Haim Ginott today. He is, sadly, no longer with us but over 50 years after his death in 1973, his wisdom can still startle us with its insight, humor, and clarity. He was a clinical psychologist who began his…

Spotlight: Daphne Caruana Galizia

This month’s person is not a teacher, or at least not a teacher in a conventional sense. Her name is Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was a journalist in Malta who was a crusader against corruption in that country. She was assassinated by a car bomb on October 17th 2017. She was 53. She had been chosen by Politico as one of the 27 people who would influence the world in 2017.

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