I've learned something about myself reading this book. I did not have a philosophy of kids. I've always thought kids don't do things because they don't want to. I never considered that kids do well if they can. I was speaking to a grandmother today and she is concerned that her sixth grade grandson isn't learning. He told me, "He can't read, do his math, or spell." He struggles with reading so I suggested she try to get him glasses. Our principal offered to help with the cost if she takes him to the doctor. She wants him in a self contained classroom. This student has had behavior problems in the past and has improved some since being in an inclusion setting. To go back to the previous point, this is a kid I considered didn't want to do well. No matter what interventions we try, he's not progressing at a rate I'd like him to. I try to make him want to do well by offering incentives.

I need to teach thinking skills. This came from chapter 1. I just received the book from Amazon today.

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I mentioned this here at CR 2.0 before but I don't think kids THINK. Over the last few years our district has gone to a 'scripted-everybody-on-same-page" reading series (2 hours a day mandatory at elementary) and a focus on computational math (hour and a half a day). I don't think there is time for thinking, kids are just doing stuff the teacher tells them to do. Sad, but true.
Couldn't agree more, I'm sad to say.

This is the first year I've noticed this and I fear it will get worse as future students will have experienced more and more scripted lessons.

I don't think we're doomed though. Since I've noticed the problem I have altered my teaching and have already seen great improvement in my kids' ability to think. Next year I'm going to hit them from day one. I don't care how much they complain about their brains hurting!
Kev, Good for you--your kids will benefit in the long run. I teach gifted kids and it amazes me when I first start working with them I see these deer in the headlights looks--like 'what? you want to know what I think?" I seen huge negative changes since NCLB--- it makes me sad.
Kenya,

Sounds like the book is helpful to you. The boy may not make progress at the rate you want him to. Even if he tries his best, he is still only going to progress at HIS rate of speed. Champion his progress!!! The rate of progress is not of his choosing. Don't let his speed disappoint you - he is probably disappointed enough for both of you.

And, do remember that incentives are only good to get a kid started. If the boy doesn't believe he can do well, and the incentives help him make some progress, he must understand that HE DID IT! Not the incentives! When he can believe in himself, he won't need the incentives.
Teaching people how to think...what a novel idea! I have learned that allowing/encouraging students to share their opinions on historical matters is a very effective way of getting students to understand complex ideas. Also teaching the human story, such as what Howard Zinn sort of does in a People's History of the United States, gives students a glimpse into the minds of people of yore as well. A few short stories in a great book I'm reading "Never Work Harder Than Your Students" by Robyn Jackson highlight some amazing changes in the classroom when a teacher facilitated a class discussion by asking a question and waiting, waiting, waiting for students to think. By waiting for her class to come up with opinions on the subject their class discussion was far more enriching.
DJ,

WAITING is exccellecent advice. I taught learning disabled kids, and the waiting was like GOLD. If an answer didn't pop into their minds, they were willing to just say "I don't know". But waiting, and them knowing that I would wait, made a big difference. I could get a full, thought about answer! Don't be hasty at sharing your opinion on deep matters. In fact, you opinion is really irrelevent. Get the student's opinions on deep questions.

One way I got the kids thinking was to reply to deep questions posed for them on the Internet for which we wrote group replies. Everyone had to make a contribution, and every contribution was included in the reply. It taught the kids that their thoughts were valuable - especially when replies came from afar questions everyoone of the response, looking for even more brain jewels in the kids.
Read the work of Nancy Johnson--Questioning Makes the Difference, Active Questioning, Thinking is the Key--she does a great job of teaching teachers to ask good questions. You could order her books used from Amazon for less than 5 bucks!! One of her strategies I've used for years is not allowing hand raising in the classroom---also wait time is VERY important.
Nancy,

On the subject of not raising hands ---- I like that idea, and I used that in my classes back when. But, it concerns me that so many classes for behaviorally troubled students include religiously learning to raise their hands rather than just speak up. Perhaps we need to get the message out to more teachers to not require raising of hands in anything but super-large classes (30 or more), and decrease this objective in behavioral programs.
If the kids know they are going to get called on anyway they will learn. I also have a class rule that if hands are raised, then the second someone is called on to speak all hands go down. It's rude and looks like what you have to say is more important than what the other person is saying (and your brain is spending time keeping you arm in the air rather than listening).

I have students from parochial (Christian and Catholic) coming to my program. The Catholic kids can hold their hands up in the air for hours!! The kiddos who go to Christian school stand when they speak--I like that!

I tease the kids that raising your hand the fastest does not mean you are the smartest!! haha!!

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