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October 2011 edition of Tips for Teachers featuring advice for middle school teachers.


  • As the days start to shorten and the piles of marking start to lengthen, we become more in tune with the routines and rhythms of our classroom. Both teachers and students are creatures of habit, choosing the same seat in the classroom or staff room, needing that coffee or sugar hit at 2pm in the afternoon...

    Teachers also become more attuned to students who are the outliers in the classroom or playground. These students might simply be more introverted than the average middle schooler. It may be a sign that they are having difficulties adjusting to the school environment. It might also indicate that a teacher needs to step in and provide some specialised support.

    How do we spot these students? How do we differentiate between a student having a bad day and

    one who is in need of extra support? This edition of Tips for Teachers offers advice from two teachers specialising in Learning Support and Student Counselling. Their top tips will provide clear guidelines and recommendations for these students.

    Also in this edition you will find updates to conference keynote speakers as well as more information about the special film screening that ELMLE will be hosting in January. Following on from the success of Race to Nowhere, ELMLE will host a screening of Mrs Careys Concert. For more details, please turn to page 6.

    Dont forget to register now for attending and presenting at ELMLE 2012 in Prague.

    T u n i n g i nTIPS FOR TEACHERS

    O C T O B E R - N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1

    Upcoming Events and

    News10-12 Nov 2011NMSA annual conference. Full details available at http://www.nmsa.org/annual/

    2-3 Dec 2011ELMLE committee meeting to finalise annual conference and programme sessions.

    26-28 Jan 2012ELMLE annual conference in Prague. Keynote speakers and registration details in June Tips for Teachers.

    Follow ELMLE on Twitter and Ning@elmlenewshttp://elmle-org.ning.com/

  • Integration motivationRachel Suery-Earney, primary and middle school counsellor at ICS Zurich, offers 5 top tips to help students develop social skills.

    The new school year is well under way, students are now settled and have learnt to negotiate their way around middle school. It is now, as students and teachers slip into the routine of school life, that those students who experience social issues and find it hard to develop friendships are likely to come to the attention of teachers. These students stand out as they may choose to be alone or hide away at break times, can be quiet and withdrawn in class, prefer to work alone, and may show anxiety when asked to work with others. The following top 5 tips are ideas teachers can use to encourage and help integrate students who are having difficulty fitting into the social peer group or developing friendships.1. Cooperative learning groupsUse cooperative learning groups when teaching. This is an excellent way to help students who are struggling socially to develop connections with other students. The collaborative structure of cooperative groups provides the chance for the target student to interact with peers in a supportive environment. It is a non-threatening situation where appropriate social interactions are modelled.2. What are the students strengths or interests?Encourage a student struggling socially to join after school or lunch time activities and clubs that focus on what they enjoy doing. Doing an activity that interests them and is one they feel successful at will increase confidence levels and make social interactions less threatening.

    3. Direct teaching of social skillsIn collaboration with the student, identify those characteristics that impede successful social interactions or the specific social skills they are having difficulty with. Directly teach those skills in order to enhance social connections with peers. These skills could include conversation starters, body language when talking to a peer, listening skills, or asserting oneself.4. Role PlayingBuild role plays into your classroom teaching to model the types of situations the target student is having difficulty with and how to respond appropriately. Role plays to help solve a social problem can also provide an opportunity for the target student to observe problem solving strategies in the social setting.

    5. Peer MentorsStudents in the secondary school can be an excellent source as peer mentors to help middle school students develop social skills and friendships outside of the classroom environment. Pair an older student with a student struggling socially at lunch time. Include other students, so the targeted student does not feel singled out. The peer mentors can organise a football game, run an art activity, or organise a drama group. Having structured activities for the target student to participate in, will give the student a chance to practice social skills learnt through direct teaching of skills and role playing.

  • Diagnoses, psychological reports, Schools Attuned or are they just un-attuned, ADD or is it OCD? One could go on with terminologies and acronyms that would define the exceptionalities of some of our students. But is it the diagnoses and terminologies that open the doors to understanding the story behind a students needs? In some cases it is. However, as teachers we forget at times that we are working with children who see the world very differently from you and I.

    At times this world is unfamiliar, unpleasant, frustrating, and out of control. As a teacher who works closely with students who are defined as at risk I ask myself, What is the missing piece in the puzzle that is hindering a childs ability to achieve to their full potential?

    Before endeavouring to devise a plan of action for my students, I feel it is important to see the student as a member of the greater learning community. This understanding takes shape in three-steps:

    1. Recognizing and knowing the individual,2. Appreciation of the qualities and strengths

    that this individual has, and3. Accepting and promoting this individual

    within the classroom community of learners.

    If we plan an inclusive approach so all students are seen as individuals with a thought that is important, an action that is recognized and an idea that is appreciated, we open an emotional connection that allows the student to feel that they are with the in crowd.

    Researchers of neuroscience at the Harvard University - School of Education have found that

    the emotional thought is the platform for learning, memory, decision-making, and creativity. As teachers, if we connect the student with acceptance, appreciation and respect their individuality, we get them ready to learn. This opens up avenues to progress individually and to collaboratively relate to peers in a positive way. Learning, whether within the realm of academic content or social skills, simply does not happen unless the classroom is inclusive, safe and affectionate for those who are at risk. To feel part of the in crowd makes one feel positive and good about themselves, regardless of the difficulties that they may face.

    The following tips are starting points to initiate an inclusive classroom:

    Delivery of Content: Incorporate high interest topics which

    students can relate to Present knowledge in steps to ease the

    fear of learning new material

    Student Empowerment: Plan activities that lead to making a choice Allow different modes of delivery of

    content, and assessment Communicate that assessments are a

    means to improve their skill set over time, and not the only means to prove their abilities.


    Open opportunities for students to share their work and express appreciation of each others efforts.

    Its more than peer feedback, but to be able to hear praise of ones work boosts self-image and self-confidence.

    Being with the in crowdYasmine Hashmi, Secondary Learning Support, ICS Zurich, answers some frequently asked questions about students at risk.

  • Prague 2012Keynote Speakers

    Tom Daccord is an educational technology specialist and the author

    ofBest Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers by TeachersandThe Best of History Web Sites. A veteran "laptop teacher" who instructed in a wireless laptop environment for seven years, Tom has been featured in the Boston Globe ("Making Tech Connect," December 29, 2003) for his contributions to teaching with technology. Tom has worked with schools, districts, and colleges in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia and presents on educational technology at various national and regional conferences. A former social studies teacher, Tom currently serves as President of the National Council of Social Studies Technology Committee and is a

    featured speaker at the 2010 NCSS Conference. He is creator and co-webmaster ofBest History Web Sites, an award-winning portal, and The Center for Teaching History with Technology, dedicated to helping K-12 history and social studies teachers effectively incorporate technology into their courses. Tom also createdTeaching English with Technology, designedto guide K-12 English and Language Arts teachers in their use of technology in the classroom. Tom serves as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) project consultant, is an advisor to Massachusetts Computer Users in Education (MassCUE), and is a board member of the Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (MASCD). A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Montreal, Tom has taught in Quebec, France, Switzerland, and the United States.

    Tom Daccord

    For more information about ELMLEs annual conference and feature speakers, go to www.elmle.org

    Registration is now open for teachers, presenters and exhibitors. Thinking of pres