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Welcome to The Inspired Educator: 21 Days to Happier and More Engaged Learners
Registration for this course is currently open!
Welcome! We are so excited to share our first ever 21-day experience for inspired PreK-8 educators.
We know that working in today’s high-stakes educational climate can leave teachers feeling like they don’t have the same opportunities to be as creative, engaging, and joyous as they once did. We also know that pushing against the trends of segregation, standardization, and compliance is exhausting and isolating.
We could all use more energy, more time, more strategies for engaging our students, and perhaps above all, more love. That is why we’ve designed this 21 day experience to give you and other inspired educators more happiness, strategies for engagement, and ways to feel and get connected.
I want more happiness, engagement, and connection.
What you get. During this 21-day experience, you will receive practical strategies, resources, and a lot of love to help you infuse creative energy into your teaching. Each day, for 21 days, you’ll receive an email from us highlighting the day’s tips and treats, and a link to access the content. You’ll also receive exclusive access to a discussion group, where the three of us, along with other inspired educators, will be sharing even more ideas to help you head to school with renewed excitement and energy.
Here’s a small sample of tips and tricks from Day 2…
Simple ideas for gratitude in the classroom
- Write a note of gratitude each day to one student;
- Have a classroom gratitude wall;
- Create a classroom gratitude box;
- Post gratitudes on the classroom door so students feel the love as they come in and out;
- Use a composition notebook and have students start each day writing or drawing about 5 things they are thankful for. Each week go around and share one. By the end of the year they have over 1000 things to be thankful for!
- Gratitude showers One second grade teacher decided to boost the mood of the entire school by creating gratitude showers. The class was responsible for showering the school with gratitude. The week long project focused on these two ELA writing standards:
- With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
- With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.She first taught students how to create thank you notes. She then had students make a list of people and things they were thankful for in the school. They divided up the thank you notes, wrote/drew, revised, and edited their work. They voted to deliver the praise in fun and varied ways. Some students created a video thank you message to the principal that was delivered over email. Another set of students made paper flowers with all of the things they were thankful for and brought them to the people who worked in the cafeteria.
- 21 days of gratitude Consider having students create a thank you email, text, snapchat, or tweet, for 21 days- letting people know that they are grateful to them. They can even compile these at the end of the 21 days to create a blog filled with their gratitudes, or, publish them in a beautiful book on CreateSpace.
I want more happiness, engagement, and connection. Sign me up!
The experience is organized around three inspiring themes: Week 1 is all about creating happier classrooms, Week 2 about boosting student engagement, and Week 3 focuses on building more connections in your classroom, schools, and communities. At the bottom of this page you can check out a short excerpt from Week 2.
All of the strategies and resources we offer are evidence-based, grounded in recommended practice and designed to create more inclusive, engaging, and happier classrooms. Throughout the 21 days we will also share inspirational quotes, guidance for self-reflection, and printables that can be shared with your friends and colleagues.
As this is an online experience, you will have the opportunity to interact and learn from other inspired teachers, as well as receive support and nurturing directly from us inside our online discussion group. Once you register you will have access to the 21 days of content… forever! This means that we encourage you to engage in this experience at your own pace. Then, when you complete all 21 days, you will receive a Certificate of Completion, which can be credited as 3 hours of Professional Development with administrator approval.
Who are we? This course has been designed by Dr. Julie Causton, Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak and Dr. Kate MacLeod, who have a collective 45 years of experience both as educators and supporting educators. We realize that in order for teachers to do what we think is the most important job on earth, there is a deep need for more love and light in the way you all are supported.
We’d love you to join us. We know that happier teachers and happier learners mean more inclusive, engaging and exciting school experiences for all. It is our hope that this 21 day experience will help you capitalize upon your passion for teaching, boost your energy, and renew your commitment to happier inclusive teaching experiences.
We look forward to learning with you!
Julie, Kate & Kristie
An Excerpt From Week 2: Engaging them ALL
We know that engaging students in active meaning making is one of the most effective ways to motivate learning and increase retention. Simply think about the last time your students exclaimed, “I can’t believe how fast class went!” or about a student who really didn’t want to leave an activity center. Learning experiences that create deep engagement are enchanting, memorable, provocative, and FUN!
In our many years of working and researching in schools, we’ve found that in highly engaging classrooms, the teachers are using a wide variety of active learning strategies, instructional formats, and learning experiences to excite and motivate learners.
Our goal for this week is to share tons of engaging strategies to help y’all hook student curiosity, highlight their strengths, provide them with meaningful choices, and keep them moving. We’ll also share ways to “shake up” your instruction, and exciting ideas for lesson closures.
Our hope is that you will feel more motivated and more prepared to engage the hearts and minds of all your students.
Hook Their Curiosity
Classrooms can be dynamic spaces that spark dreams and delight minds! Some of the best lessons we’ve ever seen begin with short engaging “hooks” that ignite wonder and curiosity about a new topic or project.
We think hooks should be short (3-5 minutes) so that after you pique students curiosity, you still have ample time to guide them into deep learning.
Here is a list of 9 groovy ways to hook your students and ignite their wonder:
- Dress up: We’ve seen a teacher dress up like Marco Polo to introduce a lesson on exploration and international trade, and a co-teaching team who wore presidential candidate masks to introduce a lesson on voting.
- Hide clues: We once saw a teacher who hid clues around the classroom about the main characters in the novel Esperanza Rising to pique student interest about the book, but the options here are endless!
- Hang a Gallery/Exhibit: Introducing a complicated ecosystem like the Amazon? Hang images around the room and have students take an observation walk through the gallery with a peer.
- Show & Tell: Launching a project-based unit on a particular region of the world? Pack a traveler’s bag with interesting items students might encounter there. Or, create a “Time Capsule” that includes unique items from a particular time in history.
- Be Novel: Garner students’ interest by introducing topics, concepts, and/or materials in a way that is unique, new, and/or unusual, but not necessarily surprising. Use of novelty is designed to engage students in the learning process by capturing their attention in a way that differs from the usual routine or activity, therefore increasing the likelihood that new learning will be retained and connections with previous knowledge or understanding will be made.
- Save our Ship: Have the principal/director enter the classroom requesting help from your students in a way that connects directly to your lesson or unit. For example, he or she might say, “Our school has a problem with ______ and you are most qualified to help us!” Or, create a Voki in which the President or other world leader is calling for your class’s help to solve a major world problem. Another idea is to have a neighboring class make a video asking for help with a particular issue or topic. The collaboration possibilities can then carry on into the unit!
- Act it Out: Skits are a great way to creatively introduce a topic to your students. You can easily infuse humor and spark curiosity and, bonus, it can be a fun and easy way to engage and collaborate with your classroom colleagues.
- TV or Radio Commercial: Create a 30 second commercial (we like the simplicity of Moovly) that you can play for students to advertise the wondrous things they will be learning in the new unit about the solar system.
- Gather and Use Loose Parts: Materials, natural or synthetic, which can be used in multiple ways and based upon children’s choice, are what many call “loose parts”. For example, think about the junk drawer in your kitchen, it’s likely full of things such as lids without containers, keys that unlock… who knows what, scraps of paper or fabric, small tools, and plastic figurines. All of these loose parts can be combined with other materials, redesigned, taken apart, put back together, etc., thus sparking children’s curiosity. Nature also provides us with loose parts (e.g., rocks, sticks, sand, pine cones, bark, feathers, and seeds).