Having Fun with Analogies

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An analogy is a way of thinking about how pairs of words are related.   It’s a special kind of word puzzle that lets a student have fun and exercises their brain at the same time!  If you need a language arts activity to help keep your students on their toes, teach them how to create analogy puzzles!  They can be done at any time, and kids seem to always enjoy the challenge.     

Usually, an analogy exercise will be a set of three words and a blank line, which the student must fill in with the correct word.  The : symbol in the analogy means “is to,” and the :: symbol stands for “as.”  When the analogy is read out loud, students should be taught to read these symbols as if they were words.  For instance, the following analogy should be read like this:

boat: goat:: fan: man

“Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Analogies are a form of logic or step-by-step thinking to solve problems.  The most important thing you have to do is to make sure students understand the “thinking process” involved in the analogy.  You can teach them to solve the puzzle just by following these steps:

Step 1:  Decide how the first two words in the analogy are related.

Step 2:  Think how the other pair of words relate in the same way.

Step 3:  Choose a word that makes both pairs relate that way.

Let’s try it!  Look at the first set of words in the example again.  How are boat and goat related?  They rhyme!  Now, look at the word fan.  Can you think of a word that rhymes with fan?  We could use the word manMan rhymes with fan, so man would be a good choice to fill in the blank.  That’s how we solve the puzzle and come up with the analogy:  “Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Shurley English teaches a list of analogies called “The Big 10.”  The list shows different ways words can be related, and it’s very helpful as students learn to discover word relationships, using analogies.  Post this list in your classroom for quick reference: 

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Rain : train :: cup :  pup

This is the proper reading of this rhyming analogy: 

Rain is to train as cup is to pup.

stripe : zebra :: spot : leopard

This is the proper reading of characteristic analogy: 

Stripe is to zebra as spot is to leopard.

Read analogies often with your students, and go through the “thinking process” with them.  Then, have students complete brain puzzles.  Try implementing analogy activities like the one below as often as you can to help your students exercise their brains and have fun at the same time!

BONUS ACTIVITY: Analogy Puzzles

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Classroom Discipline Best Practices

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Discipline is one of the most pressing issues in our schools today, and in order for learning to take place, teachers must control and minimize time off task due to discipline problems.  Choosing an effective approach and using it correctly can make a big difference in whether a child feels safe or threatened and whether a child learns more appropriate behaviors or not once the discipline has been administered. 

Instead of waiting until bad behavior rears its ugly head, it is best practice for teachers to proactively teach discipline just like any other subject.  Lessons should include teaching positive behavior skills and how to achieve them during various situations.   As students’ knowledge, skill, and practice of good behavior grows, so does the chance of them having a lasting impact.  The goal is to help students develop self-control and begin to understand socially responsible behavior.

Usually, teachers discuss classroom rules on the first day of school and post them in the room as a visual reminder.  While this approach to rule setting can be quite effective in establishing a sense of order in a classroom (which we very much need), it does little to help children develop self-discipline, ethical thinking, or an understanding of how to be contributing members of a democratic community.  At its worst, it invites tension, blind obedience, or a constant battle of wills between adults and children in school. (Thorton, Mary Beth. Rules in School. Center for Responsive Schools, Inc. 2011)

Research suggests that when students and teachers work collaboratively during the early weeks of school to develop classroom rules, students generally view the rules in a more positive light.  They must understand that the rules are there to keep them safe and help them achieve their goals in school.  As a suggestion, you might start with a list of basic rules and then collaboratively work with students to rewrite and/or add to them.

When it comes to discipline, a teacher’s approach is extremely important.   Since all discipline problems are not alike, an effective teacher learns to match different approaches to different problems.  The key is to be aware of the various discipline approaches that have been developed, so here are some that you might want to use from Inspiring Discipline by Merrill Harmin (NEA Professional Library 1995). 

The Simple Authority Statement: With a simple authority statement, teachers can exercise authority with minimum distress and emotion. By employing this strategy, you also show students how a person can use authority respectfully and reasonably. The strategy calls for the teacher to voice disapproval authoritatively, promptly, and as unemotionally as possible.

Redirect Student Energy: By redirecting student energy, a teacher can end misbehavior without creating negative feelings. Instead of focusing on the misbehavior, this strategy calls on the teacher to turn student attention to something else, preferably something worth attending to. This is a useful approach when direct confrontation is either unnecessary or imprudent.

The Calm Reminder: A calm reminder can help students understand what they are supposed to do, in a way that does not communicate negative emotions.

The Next-Time Message: A next-time message can correct students' behavior without making them feel discouraged. The strategy calls for the teacher to tell students what to do next time, without focusing on what was done this time.

The Check-Yourself Message: A check-yourself message can remind students to manage themselves responsibly. The strategy involves the teacher telling students to check what they have done, implying that when they do so, they will see what corrections are necessary. This strategy can be used whenever students become careless.

The Silent Response: A silent response strategy gives students room to solve their own problems. This strategy also provides a way of avoiding hasty, inappropriate responses. A teacher using this strategy reacts to an act of misbehavior by making a mental note only and considering later what, if any, action is appropriate.

Clock Focus: A clock focus strategy can settle student restlessness and increase student powers of concentration. The strategy calls for the teacher to announce "clock focus," a cue to students to stand and watch the second hand of a clock make full circles, as many rotations as they choose, and then to sit and resume their individual work. The strategy can be used whenever students need to be settled down, particularly young students working at individual tasks.

The Visitor's Chair: By using the visitor's chair strategy, a teacher can position a student close-by without communicating disapproval. The teacher using this strategy asks a student to sit in a "visitor's chair" close to where the teacher is sitting or standing. Students know they can return to their own seats whenever they feel ready for responsible self-management.

Honest "I" Statements: "I" statements can help teachers communicate honestly without generating defensiveness or guilt. Honest "I" statements also help teachers model a valuable interpersonal skill. The strategy calls for the teacher to talk honestly about personal needs and feelings, making "I" statements, avoiding comments about what "you" did or "you" said. This approach is especially useful when upsetting feelings emerge.

The Undone-Work Response: An undone-work response is a useful approach when students fail to do required work. A teacher using this strategy avoids a blaming response and instead aims to create a growth-producing response. This approach can be used whenever a student has not completed work on time. 

In conclusion, teachers must always be mindful of their own role when it comes to disciplining a child. They must:  

  1. establish clear expectations,

  2. teach students how their actions can bring positive or negative consequences to themselves and others,

  3. use respectful strategies to stop misbehavior and restore positive behavior as quickly as possible,

  4. be kind, fair, and consistent,

  5. aim to create a calm, safe, and orderly classroom while preserving the dignity of each child.

When bad behavior occurs, teachers should take the necessary steps to get students back on track.  If the behavior is new, stop and talk to the student about it, using the list above to address the behavior.  If it happens again, chances are that the student has developed a pattern of this misbehavior.  The teacher should address the behavior problem as a pattern and use the list above to deal with the pattern of misbehavior.  Now, if the behavior happens again, it’s time for the teacher to involve the parent(s) and possibly the principal. 

Students will have many opportunities at school to learn from their mistakes, and the teacher plays a huge role in guiding them toward success both academically and socially.  Haim Ginnot, a school teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist, and parent educator, wrote one of the best quotes I’ve ever read, and I think it makes a great conclusion to this topic.  He wrote:

 

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

Shurley English 101: Teaching with Confidence

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So, you have purchased your Shurley curriculum, you open the book or access your digital teacher’s manual…and then it hits you! “What’s all this? How am I going to cover all of it? Can I even do it?” If you have had these or similar feelings, don’t panic. It’s going to be all right.

My post today is about confidence. Yes! You can teach with confidence, especially if you are just embarking upon your first journey with Shurley English. I realize that the sheer volume of information about English that we teach might be enough to send you to the edge. But, pull back. Breathe. Help is on the way.

Narrow the Field: First, don’t view the entire bulk of the curriculum in preparation for your school year. Look at it in terms of only a school day…in other words, narrow the field. By nature, our brains can get way too overwhelmed by all the text you find in Shurley. Believe it or not, when I first started teaching this curriculum, I only needed to stay a day or two ahead of my students. Sure…preview the student objectives because they are a guideline for WHAT you will be teaching during a specific chapter and lesson. However, the crux of the teaching is found in the References. They are numbered for you, so simply read the teaching scripts and the References found in only the first lesson you plan to teach. Make any notes you might think will be handy when you start working with the materials and teaching the kids.

Pre-learn the Jingles: Next, make sure you know the jingles that accompany the lesson before you actually teach them. You will reflect confidence to your student if you already know each jingle well. Spend the first minutes of every session practicing the jingle with your learner(s). If you have our Jingle Posters, chunk the verses a bit to make them more bite-sized. With a marker, draw brackets around each section you want to rehearse. It’s easier to add on new verses of the same jingle over several lessons.

Pre-read the Scripts: As you move into the Question and Answer Flow, pre-read the scripts before actually teaching. Start slowly. You don’t even have to do all of the sentences required during the same lesson at the beginning of your school year. You and your student(s) will gain momentum quickly! (If you find that you would like to supplement your sentence work, you can check out our Sentence Booklets for extra practice.)

Pre-determine Words: Finally, to help build your confidence in the area of teaching writing, again, preview the Builder Sentence Blueprints that occur every so often in the program. The first time you introduce the concept, make sure you have pre-determined some of your own words you want to use for composing your sentence. That way, as you invite your learners to volunteer answers for the spaces on the grid, you have a pre-planned word to use if everyone gets stymied. You will appear to be completely in control and very confident during what might seem like an intimidating exercise. 

The bottom line rule for growing in your confidence is more about a balanced ratio of pre-reading to avoid surprises and following the script when it is provided! You will quickly gain the confidence you need by rehearsing your lessons beforehand in the ways I have outlined above. Good luck! And, don’t forget, you can always call our office and speak with any one of our expert customer service representatives. If you just need to talk, or if you want a boost of confidence, don’t go to silence. Call us at 800-566-2966.

Go forth and teach confidently!