Teach Students How to Think

When teaching a lesson, it is important that students be actively thinking in order to learn the material and connect it to their lives. Therefore, it is also important that teachers teach students how to think. There are four levels of thought for any given lesson: evaluation, synthesis, analysis and application. Learning how to incorporate these four levels of thought in a lesson plan will help every lesson be successful.

First Level of Thought: Evaluation of Information

The evaluation thought process for any lesson is the beginning building blocks for higher level thought. Skills that involve evaluation thinking include deciding, ranking, defending, verifying and critiquing. This is a basic level of thought that simply looks at the information for what it is. Reading about information, collecting some research on a topic and understanding the basics of the topic involve evaluation.

Connecting Information to Prior Knowledge: Synthesis of Information

To synthesize information, students must go beyond the basic information and do something with the knowledge. Students should use prior knowledge to connect to new knowledge during this synthesizing thought process. Some things that require a synthesis thought process include hypothesizing, inferring, predicting, imagining, estimating and inventing.

Teaching Students to Analyze Information

Analyzing information takes student thought to another level, requiring them to understand the basic information, connect it to their lives through synthesis and then extend that information to additional information. Activities that require students to use analysis include compare/contrast, creating an anthology, classifying information and sequencing information.

Application of Information to Student’s Life

The final level of thought that all teachers should strive to have their students achieve is that of application. To apply information learned to a new situation requires the highest level thought and understanding. Students who are capable of demonstrating, illustrating, generalizing or showing how to do something have effectively achieved this level of thought and understanding.

Using Levels of Thought For an Effective Lesson Plan

By incorporating each level of thought in a single lesson plan, any teacher will be able to ensure student learning. With only rare exceptions, lessons should be split into four sections, with an activity devoted to build each level of thought independently. Not taking the time to achieve the highest thought levels will result in partially learned material that may or may not stick with students and have any impact upon their lives.

Teachers should ensure that each lesson they teach includes a basic focus on each of four different levels of thought. Starting with an introduction, students will be required to utilize evaluation thought. Next, students should be encouraged to connect new knowledge to previous knowledge through synthesis. Deepening understanding comes through analysis and finally, students apply new knowledge to future experiences through application.

Should Employees Quit Before Finding a New Job

Quitting a job before securing new employment can be risky. Yes, sometimes people do it for what they consider is a magnanimous reason: they don’t want to take away time from their current employer in order to look for work. An alternative reason is that it’s difficult to carve out time to look for a new job while still at the old job.

Whatever the rationale, it is important to consider the consequences of quitting a job before finding a new one. Here are five reasons why it is wiser to hold on until the next job offer comes along.

The Labor Market is Unstable Right Now

This should be reason enough to consider staying put. With record-breaking layoffs and an unemployment level at 6.1 percent, up from 5 percent just six months ago, now is not the best time to up and quit a job, any job, without having a new position.

While job seekers who are at their wit’s end due to poor or stressful work conditions may be ready to jump ship, keep in mind nothing is more stressful than being unemployed and looking for a job. With that in mind it is important to have a backup plan. That means if it really is time quit, have another source of income – savings, a significant other, part-time work or preferably all three – and a job search strategy.

It Pays to Have a Steady Income

Job seekers who do not have unlimited financial resources and a back up plan will find it difficult without a steady pay check, and quitting usually means giving up the right to unemployment insurance; though it’s best to apply just in case.

The benefit of having a job while looking for another one is that it provides a regular flow of income. It may mean less freedom to actively look for a new employment opportunity and therefore a longer search time, but ultimately having a job will make the transition to a new position easier and less stressful.

A Knee-Jerk Reaction Could Result in a Jerky Job

The difficulty with quitting before securing another opportunity is that if the perfect job doesn’t appear rather quickly, many job seekers will begin to panic and wind up making a bad job choice. That means they could wind up in the same horrible work situation they just left or maybe something even worse. Ultimately it is better to stick with the devil you know. At least until the right opportunity comes along.

Finding a New Job is Never as Easy as it Seems

Even if jobs are a dime a dozen, finding and securing the right one will take time. Experts have been known to say one month of searching for every $10K of salary, though this is not necessarily a proven fact.

Depending on the position, industry and company, searching for a job takes time and several steps. It means job seekers have to prepare and send in the perfect resume, go through the interview process, complete the background and reference check, receive a job offer and start work – all of which will likely take several weeks.

The End Result Could be a Hiring Red Flag

Sure experts will say that the world of recruiting has become more lenient over the past few years and employers are more open to hiring job seekers who currently don’t have jobs or have large gaps of unemployment. However, given the choice between equally qualified candidates, the one with stability is more likely to win out.

And while it may seem strange to the average job seeker, there is something about a person with a job that reeks of responsibility. On the other hand, the desperate job seeker who is likely to take the first decent offer is a turn off. It may have to do with that old “hard to get” mind set.

So, before bailing on a current opportunity, think twice. It really does make sense to hold on and not quit until the next job offer arrives.

Free Sample Letter of Resignation

For some people, a letter of resignation is one of the most challenging types of correspondence to write. This is because the letter must strike a balance between professional and personal. The letter must be professional in nature, yet still convey a personalized message that may be charged with emotion, depending on the parties involved.

Giving Notice of Resignation? How to Quit Your Job Gracefully

A written notice of resignation serves more than one purpose. Most importantly, this letter serves as official notice of the intent to leave the company. Firmly establishing the last day of work may be important for insurance purposes and company benefits (like the exact amount of accrued vacation to be paid out).

Resignation Format Not as Important as Content

A written letter of resignation becomes especially important if tension exists between the employer (or management) and employee. A difficult boss could make the process of leaving a job difficult; in the absence of a written letter, he or she could simply deny that an employee ever gave advance notice of the intent to leave. If any difficulties like this are anticipated, it would be a good idea to provide the letter of resignation to more than one person.

It’s important not to get caught up in the formatting of the letter (see the free sample letter of resignation template below for help with that); what really matters is that the resignation letter leaves management with a good feeling about the departure.

Quit Your Job Positively – Leaving a Job Should be Uneventful

Even if no problems are anticipated, it is simply good taste and very professional to write a formal letter of resignation to an employer. Here are some tips for crafting a professional, respectful letter of resignation:

Maintain a somber, yet positive tone. Say positive things about experiences at the company.
Don’t burn bridges by saying anything negative about the company. The new job may not turn out exactly as expected, and a return to the original company may be desired at some point.
Try not to single out any one person as a reason for leaving. This news can spread around, and even though it may not seem important at the time, that person may be in a position to get revenge in the future.

Free Example Letter of Resignation Template

Below is an example resignation letter template that briefly states the individual’s reasons for leaving the company in a positive manner.

(Insert date and address block)

Dear Manager,

I regret to inform you that I will be leaving the company two weeks from today, on X date. I truly enjoyed working here, getting to know everyone, and working on X projects during my tenure at X company. The position I have found will give me greater time off flexibility (or replace this explanation with another politically correct reason for leaving).

I feel honored to have worked at this company and will greatly miss the camaraderie shared among the work group.

Sincerely,

(Insert four spaces to allow for a signature)

John Job Quitter

How to Customize the Sample Letter of Resignation Above

To customize the preceding sample letter of resignation, replace any references to “X” with exact dates or names and insert information as noted in parenthesis. Notes in parenthesis are for reference only; delete these in the actual letter.

Don’t Say “I Hate My Job” in Letter of Resignation Wording

Even if the resignation is not an amicable one, try to find a positive way to state the reason for leaving. Stick to factual, positive statements. Resist the urge to say something like, “I hate my job.” For instance, use neutral reasons like “the new company location will reduce my commuting time by one hour per day” or “I am joining this other company because it affords me the opportunity to work in an exciting field.”

Resign from Job Properly – Use Resignation Letter Template Above

When someone resigns from a company, it’s always a good idea to provide a written notice of resignation. Use the tips and resignation template in this article to draft a unique letter of resignation that leaves a good impression on the company being left behind.

5 More Tips for Writing Resumes

Employers may see hundreds of resumes every day, so applicants should make every effort to write resumes that set them apart. Using the techniques below can help punch up an otherwise dull, forgettable resume.

Keep it Formal

Resumes are formal documents that require formal language. Using idioms, jargon, or slang in a resume presents an unprofessional image that most employers frown upon. Using conversational language, personal pronouns (I, me, you), or contractions (didn’t, aren’t) are also too informal for use in a good resume.

Use Formatting That Works

A resume is a brief list of education, skills, and work experiences that employers leaf through relatively quickly before making a decision on whether the applicant submitting it should be considered for a position. It should be concise and easy to read, or else it runs the risk of being tossed aside, never to be reviewed again. Resume writers should include only the most important details and make adequate use of white space so that employers are not bogged down by heavy text and too much information. Clear headings, bullet points, and simple fonts direct the eye down the page and help emphasize relevant information.

Include Numbers and Data

Numbers and data are another way to show what job applicants have done in concrete terms. If a job applicant managed a retail store that sold $1 million in clothing and accessories per year, he should include the sales volume in his resume. Including numbers not only helps quantify the responsibility that each previous position required, but also shows the employer that the applicant pays attention to both the big picture and the details of his work.

Stick To Active Language

Resumes that use repetitive, passive language are boring to read and do not catch the attention of potential employers. Instead of listing “Used spreadsheets to record monthly sales” as a previous job responsibility, an applicant could more actively say, “Increased monthly sales volume by tracking successful selling methods.” Not only does this rewording sound more active, but it also emphasizes the way the responsibility of recording sales matters for the employer.

Get a Second Opinion

After proofreading at least twice, an applicant should show his resume to a friend, colleague, or, if possible, someone in the field he is hoping to enter. Fresh eyes are quicker to catch errors and inconsistency, and readers can offer insight that resume writers might never have thought of themselves. Applicants should always be careful with whom they accept advice from, though – someone who never held a job that pays over minimum wage might not have the experience to comment on a resume for a senior management position.

How New Teachers Can Manage a Classroom

Dealing with discipline problems is part of effective classroom management. Every new teacher needs a classroom management plan that will lead to a positive learning atmosphere. An effective management plan should be in place before any teaching can take place. Often, discipline problems happen because a new teacher lacks confidence in one or more areas of his/her ability to successfully manage a classroom.

While there is no single best practice or method for managing a classroom, experts agree on a handful of guidelines: teachers must be consistent in their message and consequences, lay a strong foundation of expectations early in the school year, follow through with promised punishments when students misbehave and stay on track without giving into distractions.

Have a Consistent Message and Consequences

Students must understand first that teachers care about them, but that teachers mean what they say. For example, if teachers say the next person who talks in class will be required to do an extra homework assignment, teachers can find themselves in trouble if someone talks and they don’t give them an extra homework assignment.

When teachers communicate the consequences clearly, students know how their classroom is run and therefore, they feel safe. Simply put, students won’t challenge a new teacher’s authority because they won’t need to.

Have a Strong Foundation of Expectations

An effective classroom management plan needs simple systems to help students become more self-directed in their learning and behavior. Teachers should set up expectations for success so students always know exactly what to do for every task, rule and procedure. All throughout the year, teachers should teach and reinforce those rules and procedures consistently.

Students learn better when they know what is expected of them. In the beginning of the school year, teachers should spend much more time reinforcing rules and procedures than on actual teaching. This also means teaching rules and procedures as deliberately and thoroughly as academic content for the remainder of the school year.

Have a Plan to Follow Through With Promised Punishments

If teachers don’t follow through with promised punishments, larger problems will arise. So from day one, misbehavior should be deal with quickly. Teachers should determine a range of consequences (maximum of five) and always begin with a warning. Teachers should state the consequences in clear and specific terms so that students will know what type of punishment they can expect if they break a rule. Teachers should relate the consequences to the rule as directly as possible.

For new teachers, the challenge is always how to implement all three systems so that classroom management runs most effectively. Controlling a classroom isn’t easy, but with simple systems, new teachers will have an easier time managing student behavior while promoting a more cooperative learning environment.

Political Cartoons in History Lesson Plans

Using visuals in history lesson plans promotes student analysis skills and activates higher level thinking abilities. Activities involving political cartoons, works of art, and photographs are easy to put together and complement other parts of a teaching unit. Additionally, these activities are enjoyed by students.

Political Cartoons in American History

Although political cartoons in American History are often identified with the great 19th century cartoonist Thomas Nast, every generation saw the use of such media in influencing thinking. Whether it was a depiction of a snake cut into pieces with the caption “Join, or Die” by Ben Franklin or a cartoon depicting Andrew Jackson as King George III, political cartoons help students understand the key issues within lesson plan units.

After discussing the role and impact of political cartoons, have students use the internet or history texts to find other examples relating to the unit under study. Demonstrate that political cartoons are still used to elicit reader responses by exhibiting contemporary cartoons from newspapers and magazines. Ask students to share any similarities and differences (19th century and early 20th century cartoons are often more difficult to interpret and frequently have several messages).

The purpose of the lesson plan should be to develop acute powers of observation. From this will flow analysis based on the historical facts already taught.

Campaign Literature

American History is full of campaign literature including posters, buttons, and other advertisement. An 1896 campaign “card,” for example, printed on behalf of the McKinley campaign, used pictures and bold print phrases that differentiated McKinley from William Jennings Bryan. The “card” addressed tariff issues as well as monetary concerns.

Old campaign buttons also help to relate candidates to key issues while at other times they might have seemed bland: why did everyone “like Ike” in 1952? In both American History and World History classes, a creative assignment might be to ask students to create their own buttons or bumper sticks. When teaching the ancient world, teachers might say, “Develop a bumper sticker one of the Roman emperors could put on his chariot.”

Paintings and Old Photographs

Although some famous historically-themed paintings were created more to glorify an event or person and thus perpetuate historical myths, they are still a good source to encourage student observation and analysis. What were the people in the painting wearing? Does this indicate a level of prosperity? What action in the painting does the artist want the audience to focus on? Have students initially develop their own questions and then write a brief analysis of the painting.

The same can be done with old photographs. Ask students to bring old family photographs to class for discussion. Photographs may depict old neighborhoods – perhaps ethnic enclaves in American cities, or some of the first suburbs after 1947. Students can be shown how to use photographs as historical sources and how they further illustrate an understanding of the past.

When Art Changes with the Time

The May 29th, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post featured a Norman Rockwell cover: the iconic “Rosie the Riveter.” Ask students to compare the propaganda message of “Rosie” to American women with later 1950s Rockwell depictions of American women as happy housewives. Lesson plans can explore how cartoons, posters, and other media were used as propaganda. This was particularly true in World War I and World War II.

Another area students may wish to explore involves military recruitment posters used throughout the 20th century and the changing role of “Uncle Sam” in those depictions. The bottom line is that enough material exists, at least in American History, to incorporate fun and creative activities into lesson plans that encourage observation, analysis, and high level skills.

Preparation for Teaching in Urban Schools

Most teachers receive some form of training before they enter their own classroom to practice as a full-time educator. In a study of teacher preparation programs in “Surveying the Landscape of Teacher Training in New York City,” two basic types of teacher preparation were described:

1) early entry –students begin full-time teaching before having completed all their certification requirements and

2) college recommending – require student-teaching after the majority of preparation has been completed.

As a result of the need to place teachers in hard-to-staff schools and stimulus from the federal policies No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, there has been an increase in the proliferation of early entry teacher preparation programs because they provide a needed resource in such schools.

Debate on Teacher Preparation

There is a debate as to whether teachers need the kind of preparation offered by college recommending programs. Those who oppose this form of preparation advocate for alternative certification through programs such as Teach For America. They argue that state requirements for licensure are too rigid and prevent otherwise capable instructors from being able to work in schools who need them. They advocate for deregulation and the end of state-sponsored licensure.

Proponents of college recommending preparation argue that teaching requires preparation that can respond to the rigorous demands of the contemporary classroom, which becomes more complex if that classroom is in an urban context.

They describe what the contemporary teacher needs to know before entering the classroom, which includes knowledge, skills, and dispositions for teaching. More specifically, proponents argue that teachers must know about learners, know how to connect curriculum to the wider purposes of education, and use assessment to understand learners and respond appropriately to their learning needs.

Vagle, in “Searching for a Prophetic, Tactful Pedagogy: An attempt to Deepen the Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions Discourse Around Good Teaching,” extended these notions to include the concept of a ‘prophetic tactful pedagogue’ who sees teaching as a way of life, is perceptive of their students’ lives and responds accordingly, who deliberates vicariously to create meaningful spaces for children to learn, and who recognizes and responds to pedagogical moments when the teacher is called upon to provide direction and care.

Urban Schools

The urban context has implications for schooling. Many writers make a note of the distinguishing features of urban schools. Weis describes urban schools in Urban Teaching: The Essentials as places that operate with large ineffective bureaucracies, lack the needed funds to properly educate the children they serve, and have high levels of diversity.

Others have further delineated the unique aspects of the urban schools and these include high population density, profound income disparity, high levels of student, teacher, and administrator mobility, and student populations likely to have health problems.

Because these distinctively urban traits impact student learning, many researchers argue that the education provided here must address these matters. For example, Solomon wrote “Ideally, urban education provides a curriculum and pedagogy that increases the life opportunities and the practice of responsible citizenship of those residing in urban communities…To accomplish this, however, requires a teacher preparation that moves beyond subject instruction, beyond the images of urban schools as dangerous and foreboding places, to focus more on the larger social, economic, and political structures that maintain urban communities in marginal, inequitable existence.”

Thus the specific issues presented in the urban setting necessitate a specific form of teacher preparation. Researchers have found that teachers with early entry preparation are less effective in raising student achievement in urban schools than those with more preparation.

Teacher Training Makes a Difference

Does teacher preparation, which indicates the route by which teachers enter urban school classrooms, make a difference? Research leans toward the idea that teacher preparation absolutely makes a difference because it may or may not give future instructors the training and practice needed to work in urban schools. Teachers in urban schools need knowledge, skills, and dispositions that work best with high-need students, but they also need to be prophetic, tactful pedagogues to be effective in this unique context.

How to Practice for the Next Job Interview

Interviewing for a job is all about first impressions. Not just with the clothing job seekers wear, but with how they carry themselves, their mannerisms and body language, their interactions with the people they meet and how well they handle face-to-face job interviews.

That’s why experts repeatedly tell job seekers that they need to practice before going to job interviews. That means taking advantage of one (or more) of the many options to participate in the job interview process.

Loved Ones Can Act as Job Interviewers

Sitting down with a friend or family member and role playing in order to really get a sense of what types of questions might be asked and how to best answer them is probably one of the easiest ways to practice for the next interview. And with all the online resources that offer practice interview questions, it should be easy for a loved one to find a whole list of potential questions that a recruiter or hiring manager might asked.

Just be sure to find someone who will take the practice seriously and can offer proper feedback. That includes setting aside sufficient time, finding a quiet space and selecting a list of ten or so interview questions in advance from a reliable source such as QuintCareers.com or Careerbuilder.com.

Informational Interview as Job Interview Practice

Not only are informational interviews a great networking tool, they can offer job seekers the opportunity to practice their interview techniques. Yes, the general purpose of an informational interview is to provide the job seeker an opportunity to connect with someone in the career or industry they would like to have.

However, being in an interview situation should always be looked upon as an opportunity to learn. That includes learning how to behave professionally and how to answer questions fluidly.

Local Community Services Offer Job Interview Workshops

For a great opportunity to really get hands on experience in the job interview process, check out local community service organizations or local colleges for job hunt workshops. Some may charge a fee, but it can be worth it.

Current college students should avail themselves of their campus career center for a full-range of job hunting tools. Non-students might want to start a search for community-based services by going to the online yellow pages and searching under “employment training.” Plus check with the state employment development department for guidance.

Practice Job Interviews Online at Better Talking

For those who want an added bonus or just like hearing themselves talk, check out Better Talking where a pre-recorded voice will handle the interview. It’s easy to do. Just sign up and get a PIN. Then call a toll-free number and answer a series of typical interview questions. That’s it!

Once the interview is over, Better Talking sends job seekers an email with a link so they can listen to how well they did. Job seekers can even share the information via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to get feedback from friends and family. It’s just one more tool to help job seekers improve their job interviewing skills.

No matter what method or methods job seekers use to practice for their next job interview – loved ones, informational interview, interview workshop or online – it is important to take the time and practice, practice, practice. Because everyone knows that practice makes perfect

How to be a Teacher who Leads in the Classroom

Teachers are always wanting to insure that their students like them. They strive to provide interesting lessons each day and hope that the students will be motivated to learn and achieve. The challenge for teachers becomes linked with balancing friendliness, trust, and kindness with discipline, accountability, and expectations.

Students can mistake a friendly teacher attitude as favoritism and believe they are not as valued as other students in the classroom. Awkward situations can arise between a teacher and a student whenever there is a feeling that the two are friends thus leading to misunderstanding and mistrust.

Teachers must be aware that technology can provide outlets for students that can link the two as “friends.” Facebook and MySpace enable students to communicate with teachers and begin to believe that the teacher is someone who is “cool” and interested in their personal lives. The risk can be quite high for teachers and may lead to serious consequences.

Create a Friendly Classroom Environment

Teachers who are leaders will provide a learning environment that is inviting and that feels safe to students. As soon as students walk into the classroom, they should feel a friendly atmosphere that will motivate them to do the daily tasks set before them. It is a matter of creating a setting for the students that supports successful completion of learning tasks and a positive relationship between teacher and students as well as within the student group.

One way to create this environment is to greet the students each day. This can be done by starting the class with a simple good morning or hello. Some teachers use an anticipatory set at the beginning of each lesson to insure that the students are ready to learn and listen. Organizing the lesson with a beginning and ending sends a message to the students that learning has a purpose and that the teacher wants to see each one of them enjoy the experience in a positive way.

Communicate Well With Students

Paying attention during lessons is a very significant skill needed by all students in order to be successful. Teachers can become frustrated whenever the assessments completed by students indicate that learning was limited or did not occur as they had planned. Behavior issues can also arise that distract from what a teacher may be presenting in class.

One important key to successful student outcomes is linked with communication. Teachers must examine their methods of communication whenever they are analyzing the progress of the students. If there is a disconnect between the teacher and the students, eventually there will be a different teacher identity which is no longer being the leader of the students.

Stay in a Positive Mode While Teaching

Whenever students are asked why they liked a particular teacher, usually the answers will be linked with the fact that the teacher was interesting and caring. In order to provide a friendly classroom environment, teachers must exert every effort to teach with a positive mindset and face the challenges that arise with a commitment to insuring the best possible for each student. Challenges could be many during any given school year. However, it is the responsibility of every teacher to search for answers and to work towards providing learning as the positive that occurs in the classroom.

Providing daily praise to students will help portray that positive. It is significant that teachers understand praise must be appropriate and applicable to the specific situation. The problem becomes when the verbal praise is misconstrued by the student as saying the teacher likes him. This can lead to the mistaken identity of being a friend to the student rather than a leader whose goal is to motivate learning. Teachers must praise the efforts and the actions rather than the student personally. Whenever the teacher states he liked the way in which a student handled a challenging situation, that student then has the opportunity to feel encouraged and be motivated to continue the same positive behavior.

There is a fine line that has been drawn between teachers and students when it comes to the relationships in the classroom. The roles of teachers are clearly linked with promoting student learning successfully and helping students find the best strategies to reach their academic goals. When teachers create friendly classroom environments, communicate clearly with the students, and remain positive whenever helping students find solutions, the opportunity for learning is endless.

Copying Lesson in ESL Writing

Every ESL writing teacher wants their students to be able to communicate clearly in written English using standard rules of paragraph organization, sentence structure, and punctuation. The great mystery remains, however, about how best to provide lessons that will help students attain that goal.

Every ESL student will gravitate toward the method that best suits their own style of communicating, which can be problematic if that student becomes wedded to one particular way of expressing ideas rather than trying alternative strategies that may work best in specific instances. It is reasonable to present ESL students with the argument that, for example, a newspaper article, a recipe, a poem, and a love letter are all different types of writing which are created or developed in singular ways. Who could argue that the practical need to prepare a grocery list emerges from the same emotional starting point as a resignation letter? – see Letter Writing exercise for more classroom activities.

Of course, ESL students are not necessarily in need of taking part in a debate about various concepts relating to rhetorical theory, but ESL students at all levels can benefit from the practice of Copia or “copying,” especially at the sentence level. And from this practice, ESL teachers can not only show students how they can develop more flexible writing strategies, but they will also discover incredible potential for reinforcing important grammar concepts.

Curious? I hope so. I have used this sentence writing technique with high-beginner to advanced levels of ESL classes, and I think you will find the activity interesting and fun for all ESL students…and particularly convincing for those students who seek practical strategies for improving their writing.