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Online Book Talks! Connecting educators around the globe.

This post was written by Brad Currie, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at bradmcurrie

Online books talks are making an impact on how educators learn and connect with each other on a global basis. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to lead a district wide Edmodo book talk on Dave BurgessTeach Like a Pirate. Staff members signed up for an Edmodo account and over a two month period, responded and commented on a plethora of questions related to passion based teaching. You are probably wondering what Edmodo is, right? It’s a web based resource that enables teachers and students to hold a virtual classroom of sorts. Assignments, links, videos, and other materials can be posted and commented on in a secure setting. So to model its effective use in the educational setting, we used Edmodo for the book talk. Even more exciting was Dave’s involvement in the actual discussion. It’s not too often that you get to have the author of a book share insight. The entire experience allowed everyone to reflect on their experiences and learn how to use a resource that could be helpful in the classroom.

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Go Mentor or Go Mental

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” - Rachel Carson

Besides the optional therapist and the mandatory confidant, the mentor plays a major role in helping new educators survive, and intermediate educators thrive. And survive.

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How to engage the disengaged! …with ClassDojo :)

This post was written by Kelly Draper, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

I had a difficult class of 11 year olds who liked to make a lot of noise, start fights and avoid work. Plain vanilla praise was often a double-edged sword because of their behavioral issues and problems with authority. I turned to ClassDojo to help with classroom management. It turned out that the least engaged children in that class were also the ones most motivated by ClassDojo and it improved behavior during lessons to a dramatic degree.

Here are some top tips for integrating ClassDojo in a middle school classroom:

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The Morning Ritual

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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Everybody has a morning ritual.

For some people, it’s elaborate. Drinking a pressed-kale smoothie, then Yoga, then seeing what’s new on the Hobbit thread on Reddit.

For others, it’s more bare-bones: get up, fall out of bed, drag comb across head, find way downstairs and drink a cup, look up, notice it’s late. Then, grab coat and hat, make the bus in seconds flat, find way upstairs and have a smoke, etc.

Like that.

The question is not whether you have a ritual, it’s whether the ritual is a good idea for you as someone with one of the hardest jobs on earth.

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The Therapist and the Confidant

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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For teachers, therapy isn’t a terrible idea.

Let me back up. Many psychoanalysis programs require new practitioners-in-training to undergo a course of analysis of their own.

The rationale makes sense: journeying with the patient through the muck and mire, the fear and anger and pain, can cause memories to bubble up, complicated feelings, in the analyst. The analyst’s needs and emotions, however, are not relevant in the therapeutic encounter —  they can undermine the therapeutic relationship.

The analyst needs to learn how to keep memory and emotion in check - to deal with them appropriately.

True, also, for parents.

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Create a school culture that embraces technology

This post was written by Erin Dye, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at GreenLightLT

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Picture this: You’ve built a great PLN (Professional Learning Network) using social media. You have lots of ideas about how you can use technology in your classroom. You’ve tried some new activities and want to share them with other teachers in your school… but they aren’t interested. What can you do to create a school culture that embraces technology?

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Differentiating in Baby Steps, Part 3: Differentiating by Interest through Credits

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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You may want to read Part 1 and 2 on Differentiating in Baby Steps first, here.

The course catalog, my freshman year of college, was almost as fun as a J. Crew catalog. I couldn’t fathom how many options were open to me, and the sense of choosing my own academic destiny was intoxicating.

Why must students wait until college before they can have the autonomy to choose the credits they need to meet their goals?

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Differentiating in Baby Steps, Part 4: The Rolling Roster

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Parter who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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You may want to read Part 1, 2, and 3 on Differentiating in Baby Steps first, here.

One incredibly simple model for getting students into pairs for work - and then keeping them in pairs for work - hit me this year (it only took me 10 years to come up with it).

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Differentiating in Baby Steps, Part 1: Don’t Differentiate Yourself Into Insanity

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein

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Have you ever seen this cartoon before?

I have, about two dozen times, and it frustrates me. It’s often the first slide in a presentation on differentiated instruction in the classroom, and while yes, it makes a point, it raises some serious concerns.

If I understand the logic: the goldfish should not be asked to climb a tree. Let her, um… do a modern interpretive swim.

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Differentiating in Baby Steps, Part 2: Getting your feet in the Differentiation Kiddie Pool

This post was written by Evan Wolkenstein, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who blogs regularly at magnetiCClassroom.com and tweets at evanwolkenstein.

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You may want to read Part 1 on Differentiating in Baby Steps first, here.

The main books on differentiation are by Carol Ann Tomlinson; she stresses that you must enter into differentiating your classroom slowly, and trying one small thing at a time.

The problem with this very true statement is that, well, it’s sort of like the first time I went out for Dim Sum as a 17 year old. The adult friend of my parents said, “You can’t try everything, so just pick a few things and see what you like.”

But everything looked scary. I needed a place to start.

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