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May 2001
Vol -2 No 5
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About Effective Teaching

The most important factor in improved student learning is with an effective teacher.  Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong feature effective teachers and administrators and what they do to enhance student learning.  The columns provide specific strategies and activities that you can download and use.  An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column.

These strategies and activities are all based on the teachings and works of Harry and Rosemary Wong and they are happy to share with the profession the work of effective teachers.  If you have an effective strategy or technique that works, please share this by sending it to hwong@harrywong.com. The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching columns.

About Harry and Rosemary Wong...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are teachers.  Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science.  Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.

Harry Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal.  He was recently selected as one of the most admired people in the world of education by readers of Instructor magazine.  Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

Harry Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today.  He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success.

Nearly a million teachers worldwide have heard his message.  Because he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for teachers.net so that more people can hear their message.

About Their Work...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity to the materials they produce. For this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.  They have dedicated their lives to leaving a legacy in education and making a difference in the lives of teachers and students.

Their latest contribution to helping teachers succeed is an eLearning course, Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong.  The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.  The outcome of the course is a 2 inch binder with a personalized Classroom Management Action Plan.

This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all successful teachers.  Details for the classroom management course can be seen at www.ClassroomManagement.com.

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education.  Over 3 million copies have been sold.

The third edition of The First Days of School includes an added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated to those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective they become.

The Wongs have also produced the DVD series, The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.

They have released a new set of CDs with Harry Wong LIVE, called How to Improve Student Achievement, recorded at one of his many presentations.  He is the most sought after speaker in education and his presentations are legendary.

When the book, video series, CD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective staff training tool for developing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at www.EffectiveTeaching.com or www.HarryWong.com.

Best Sellers

The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 from Amazon.com
More information

 


The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, with Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from EffectiveTeaching.com (volume discounts available)
More information

 

Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong
eLearning course for individual use, CEUs available Preview the course and order at www.ClassroomManagement.com $124.95 (Group discounts available.)

 


How to Improve Student Achievement
Hear Harry Wong Live! in this 2 CD set
$31.95
More information

 


New Teacher Induction:  How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong

$24.05 from Amazon.com
More information

 



Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
by Joseph Alsobrook

$12.57 from Amazon.com
More information

 


Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

$20.95 from Amazon.com
More information

 


Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

$13.30 from Amazon.com
More information

 


A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
by Bonnie Williamson, Marilyn Pribus (Editor), Kathy Hoff, Sandy Thornton (Illustrator)

$17.95 from Amazon.com
More information

 


Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education
by Peter M. Senge (Editor), Nelda H. Cambron McCabe, Timothy Lucas, Art Kleiner, Janis Dutton, Bryan Smith

$24.50 from Amazon.com
More information

 


The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer

$16.76 from Amazon.com
More information

 


If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students : Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
by Neila A. Connors

$13.96 from Amazon.com
More information

 

Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

May 2001

How to Motivate Your Students


There are many ways to excite, influence, and motivate students and one of the best techniques is the use of a discrepant event. A discrepant event is something that doesn't make sense to the mind, even while starring at it in disbelief. This kernel of skepticism is enough to pique any student's curiosity.

In our video series, The Effective Teacher, we model the use of a favorite classroom discrepant event. The class is asked to place two books near the edge of a table, leaving a small space between the two books. The students are to place a piece of writing paper over the books. Then offer anyone in class $1,000,000 if they can blow between the books and blow the piece of paper off the books. It's impossible no matter how hard the students try!

When they can't, they all scream "why, why, why?" And as effective teachers know, you never tell them why, because once you have them involved and interested you can do anything you want with them. If you want to lecture and explain what happened, they will listen. If you want them to watch a video related to the topic, they will watch. If you want them to break into groups and solve the problem themselves, they will work in groups.

More Discrepant Events

In the field of science, one of the best resource books for discrepant events is Invitations to Science Inquiry by Tik Liem. Dr. Liem has passed away, but many who attended science meetings will remember his jammed packed sessions where even the most die-hard science teachers would whoop and holler, laugh and cheer as he regaled the group with one discrepant event after another. Discrepant events are fun and exciting to do. They cause the students to sit in absolute amazement and, of course, the students go home with a great sense of pride knowing that their teacher is even better than David Cooperfield in causing people to ponder and wonder-which are the seeds for learning. To find Tik Liem's book and other materials, access www.scienceinquiry.com.

Every subject has its discrepant events. In language arts, there are palindromes. These are words, phrases, and sentences that spell the same backward or forward. Word examples include "mom" and "deed." A phrase as a palindrome would be "name no one man."

Free Probability Device

Math is full of discrepant events, number problems or events that are so amazing that the students will ask, "Hey, how did you do that?" Perhaps you have been to one of several science centers and seen a large-scale model of the probability device shown below. It is fascinating to observe crowds of people stand for great lengths of time, watching as one ball drops after another and no matter how often the activity is repeated, the question is always asked, "Why do the total of all the balls always wind up in a normal distribution or bell-shaped curve?"


 
We have a few class sets of 15 of these Probability Devices for those of you quick enough to ask. They are absolutely free with the postage included. Just give us your name, school, address, and class or grade that you teach and email this to us at the address shown at the end of this column. These sets will not be available after June 15, so email us now if you are interested.

When you get your Probability Devices,

  1. have your students hold the device vertically, upside down, until the some 256 small steel balls fall into the reservoir.

    turn the device over and place the bottom flat against the tabletop.

    watch as the balls each fall into one of the nine columns.

    no matter how many times you repeat this procedure, the results will always be the same-a normal distribution curve. Why?

Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician of the seventeen century, developed the basic laws of probability. He investigated the arrangement of numbers known as Pascal's triangle and this arrangement is shown on the front of the Probability Device.

The most basic law of probability says that each event is an independent event and does not influence previous or future events. For instance, each time you flip a coin, the probability of the coin coming up heads or tails is always 50 percent. Even if a coin has come up heads five straight times, the next time you flip the coin the odds are still 50 percent for either heads or tails.

Likewise, as each ball falls down the channels of the Probability Device, each has a 50 percent chance of falling to the right or left at each junction of the channels. Knowing this, why do more balls fall into the center columns than the far extreme columns?

Forming Support Groups

Now that the students have been duly motivated, the effective teacher knows how to structure the procedures for group work. We know that many teachers have given up having group work because each time they try, confusion and disorder reign. So, here are some practical points for the smooth running of groups.

Groups are to be divided by the number of jobs, not by the number of people. The number of people in a group must equal the number of jobs in the group. People do not go through life always working, say, in groups of four. The task always specifies the optimum number of people needed.

Learning is much more effective when it takes place within a support group of learners.

Instead of having groups or teams, organize your class into Support Groups with each member of the group known as a Support Buddy. The world is full of support groups, people helping people. There are support groups for senior citizens, alcoholics, cancer patients, battered women, abused children, and war veterans. Children are at an age when they need lots of support. Instead of isolating them with seatwork, surround them with support buddies and teach them how to support others.

Teach Group Procedures

Ineffective teachers divide students into groups and expect the students to work together. Effective teachers teach the group procedures and social skills needed for functioning in a group. All successfully run classrooms have procedures, and having group procedures is no exemption. Before you begin your first group activity, teach the following four procedures which will be consistent for all other group activities.

    Group Procedures

  1. You are responsible for your own work and behavior.

  2. You must ask each Support Buddy for help if you have a question.

  3. You must be willing to help any Support Buddy who asks for help.

  4. You may ask for help from the teacher only when the group has reached consensus with the same question.

You Are Responsible For Your Own Work

The reason some students do nothing or copy from other students is that they do not have specific tasks or jobs. Determine the number of students you need to accomplish an activity, divide the class accordingly, and then spell out the assignments.

For instance, in a group of four

    Student 1 is responsible for getting the materials and returning them to the appropriate place when the day or period is over.

    Student 2 is responsible for seeing that the steps of the activity are followed.

    Student 3 is responsible for making observations, recording data, and taking minutes as the activity progresses.

    Student 4 is responsible for overseeing the writing of the group report.

For more information on how to work with groups, please consult Chapter 24, "How to Get Your Students to Work Cooperatively," in The First Days of School where you will learn in detail how to structure a cooperative learning activity. The basic format for all group activities is

  1. Teach the PROCEDURES.

  2. Specify the group NAME.

  3. Specify the SIZE of the group.

  4. State the PURPOSE, MATERIALS, and STEPS of the activity.

  5. Specify and teach the COOPERATIVE SKILLS needed.

  6. Hold the individuals ACCOUNTABLE for the work of the group.

  7. Teach ways for the students to EVALUATE how successfully they have worked together.

Why Group Work?

Group work is really hands on work where the brain and the body are actively engaged.

The mind cannot forget
what the hand has learned.

However, we need to caution that having students do activities, just for the sake of doing activities, is not learning. It may be nothing more than "busy work" designed to keep the students occupied and out of mischief.

In his 42 years of studying children, Jean Piaget discovered

Students do not learn by doing activities. They learn by thinking about what they are doing.

So naturally, any group activity needs to include sharing and discussion of what each group discovered and learned. This is how the students think about or conceptualize the work of the activity.

Summary of the Year

It's been a wonderful first year with teachers.net and we look forward to our next year. We are most appreciative of those have who communicated with us. To summarize the year, our columns included

June 2000YOUR FIRST DAY - Scripting the first day of school
July 2000APPLYING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB - Your first job and induction
Aug 2000THERE IS ONLY ONE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL - The seven things students want to know
Sept 2000THE PROBLEM IS NOT DISCIPLINE - It's the lack of procedures
Oct 2000HOW TO START A CLASS EFFECTIVELY - Start with bell work
Nov 2000THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES ARE CRITICAL - High school examples
Dec 2000IT'S NOT THE STUDENTS; IT'S THE TEACHER - Teaching procedures
Jan 2001THE MIRACLE OF TEACHERS - You are a marvel
Feb 2001A JOURNEY OF THE HEART - Making a difference
Mar 2001WHAT SUCCESSFUL TEACHERS ARE TAUGHT - New teacher induction
Apr 2001NINETY-NINE PERCENT NEW TEACHER RETENTION - Keeping teachers in the profession
May 2001HOW TO MOTIVATE YOUR STUDENTS - How to do group work

You can access any of these past columns by going to the end of the left margin and clicking on "Gazette Back Issues."

There Is a New Day Dawning For You

At the beginning of this column we mentioned our videotape series The Effective Teacher. It is fitting as we end our first year with teachers.net to share with you the singer and her song that ends our videotape series. The vocalist is Joyce Randolph, who teaches English at a high school in San Jose, California, and the song that she wrote and sings is My New Day.

MY NEW DAY
(Theme from Careers for Kids Curriculum Series)
Click here to listen to a sample!

I BELIEVE IN MY NEW DAY THAT'S DAWNING
AND THE PROMISES THAT LIE THERE FOR ME.
DEEP WITHIN, THERE'S A KNOWING THAT SOMEDAY
I'LL BE ALL I'VE DREAMED I CAN BE.

MY HOPES ARE PERCHED ON THE CREST OF THE RAINBOW
MY HEART IS HITCHED TO THE BRIGHTEST OF STARS
I WILL STRIVE FOR THE BEST
AND ACCEPT NOTHING THAT'S LESS
THAN THE FULLNESS OF WHAT MY DREAMS ARE.
I BELIEVE IN MY NEW DAY THAT'S DAWNING
I HAVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE IN ME
THERE'S NO STOPPING ME NOW
I KNOW WHY-I KNOW HOW
I CAN BE ALL I'VE DREAMED I CAN BE.

I STAKE MY CLAIM ON THIS NEW DAY BEFORE ME
THERE'S NO MOUNTAIN, NO HILL I CAN'T CLIMB.
I CAN FEEL IN MY HEART OH SO CLEARLY
THAT THE SKY AND ITS LIMITS ARE MINE.

I BELIEVE IN MY NEW DAY THAT'S DAWNING
I HAVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE IN ME
THERE'S NO STOPPING ME NOW
I KNOW WHY-I KNOW HOW
I CAN BE ALL I'VE DREAMED I CAN BE.

Music and lyrics by Joyce Randolph,
English teacher, Santa Teresa High School. San Jose, CA
Copyright Columbia Publishers (1997). San Francisco, CA, (1993-2001)
Reprinted with permission.

The song is available on CD from 2 different sources:

Joyce Randolph, PO Box 54038, San Jose, CA 95154
FAX: 408-448-2615
TEL: 408-723-7480
randolphmusic@sprintmail.com, or

"Careers for Kids Curriculum for Elementary Schools."
c/o Columbia Publishers, 1963 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA 94117.
TEL: 415-668-9561
FAX: 415-751-4336,
columbiapubs@earthlink.com.

Light Another Candle

As another school year comes to a close, don't let the mad rush to finish the curriculum, return the class work, and grade the papers detract you from the most important person in the room-you. You have given so much during the year, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully. Focus on all of your successes and not your not so successful ventures. Revel in your successes! Do not leave bitter and disappointed as it will only affect your personal life. You did your best so be proud of what you did.

Most importantly, when you bid your students "goodbye," say it with meaning and love. Their life and your summer will be much happier if you both part with a happy and loving heart.

With each new year learn to build on to your old successes and add one new success after another. You dedicated yourself to making a difference in the lives of your students. Remembering this will help you to light more candles as you strive to brighten the lives of your students.

We believe that there is a new day dawning for each and every one of you. Have a great summer and know that the kids will be waiting for you to shine again in their lives.


For a printable version of this article click here.

Harry & Rosemary Wong products: http://www.harrywong.com/product/
Email Harry Wong: harrywong@teachers.net


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