July 25, 2013

How to transform direct instruction

Summer is the time to look over those unit plans. As you reflect and rethink lessons, here's something to consider: How can you turn direct instruction into experiences where students instead discover?
We all know that designing learning activities takes time and brainpower -- both often very limited during the mad rush of the school year. (And when we are short on time, we teachers much too often turn to direct instruction.) So for those of us who philosophically see ourselves more as "a guide on the side," rather than "a sage on the stage," it's in our pedagogical DNA to sacrifice some of summer and continue to develop such constructivist, student-centred lessons.
Let's first take this direct instruction on the topic of imagery: The teacher begins by presenting students with a definition for imagery and a few examples of it. Then the teacher instructs students to read a short story and underline examples of imagery.
Now, let's transform that scenario into a lesson of student-cantered discovery:
 First step: The teacher dramatically reads aloud a short story, asking students that whenever they can picture something -- see an image in their minds -- put a star by those words.
Second step: Then, students partner up and draw a picture to go with each star they have in common. After this, pairs of students team up (in groups of four) and share what they've drawn. The teacher asks them to also discuss in their groups how seeing these pictures in their minds made the story more interesting.
Last step: The teacher finally reveals that this is called imagery, and rather than provide a definition, asks the groups to each write a definition for imagery together. Each group then shares the definition with the whole class.
I taught high school students and used this very lesson. As they learned more complex literary devices (e.g. allusion, diction, irony), I would always strive to make the learning experience one where they did most of the talking and nearly all of the doing. On a side note, I'm not dismissing the value or importance of direct instruction; it plays a necessary role in the classroom. Just ask yourself this: Is there a balance between these three types of teaching in my instruction: direct, facilitation, and coaching?  And in case you need to justify to other faculty or an administrator why you are taking more time than a colleague down the hall to teach an idea/content/concept, there's plenty of research out there to support this constructivist approachn in the classroom. You could also remind them of this well-worn yet far from worn out quote by Confucius:
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

BY: Rebecca Alber

July 22, 2013

Röhner Dalton Consultancy

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July 20, 2013

July 19, 2013

Holidays: time for self-reflection

Congratulations with your well-deserved holidays.
Of course you can effort to relax the coming weeks. You need that period to re-load your batteries.
But before you start the new term, put some earnest effort and pure intention into self-reflection. 
You don't want to be one of those stagnant teachers that drably present the same organization. You are a Dalton teacher.
Times change, perspectives change, and you must change in order to adapt and remain relevant in the ever-changing world of education.

One of the best things about teaching is that every school year offers a fresh, new start.
Move ahead with the confidence that you are mindful and motivated to be the best teacher you can be! 
No one shall forbid you to be the best teacher in the world!
What else do you contemplate at the start of a new school year? How do you make sure to keep evolving and progressing as an educator? 
· Do I still enjoy teaching? If not, what can I do to increase my enjoyment in my chosen profession?
· How have my beliefs about learning and pedagogy changed over the years?
· What is my top teaching goal for the coming year?
· What can I do to be more proactive in my professional development?
· Which steps can I make to move forward optimistically and with a fresh 
· Am I being a cooperative member of our team of teachers?
· How can I increase valuable parental involvement?
· Which changes can I make in order to directly increase my 
students' learning?
· Can I find new impulses to make my class-management more effective?
· Which change in my classroom to surprise the children when they enter 
the first morning?

One of the best suggestions I can give to organize your self – reflection is to create a portfolio.  
A teacher portfolio is a collection of documents that together provide a record of your professional development. It presents materials that best illustrate your teaching approach and methods.          
Your portfolio should be selective rather than comprehensive. It is not a holding place for all your teaching materials.

July 18, 2013

July 16, 2013

New Dalton inspiration

This new inspiring book about Dalton education is available in
the Dutch, German and Polish language.
Röhner Dalton Consultancy is connecting the book to several
possibilities for a development - oriented Dalton inspiration.

July 13, 2013

Röhner Dalton Consultancy focusses mainly on assisting and coaching of individual Dalton teachers and teams.

Röhner Dalton Consultancy co-operates with  Dalton International.

Regularly giving of new substantive impulses is a prerequisite for a good Dalton school.

Such a development-oriented inspiration I like to work out with the team at your school.   It is a customized approach based on a ' Flash visit ' to all groups prior to a seminar. These short observations in the workplace provide not only a stimulating report for the individual teachers, but it is also the starting point for a study day.   The following topics/workshops, whether or not in combination, would be able to give further shape for a study day:

  • Optimize the classroom management
  • Working on the main line of independence, responsibility and collaboration
  • From  working independently to independent learning
  • Creating assignments based on individual differences
  • The effect of instruction
  • Arranging the free choice assignments based on multiple intelligences
  • Evaluating and reflecting with children
  • Reporting the work and progress of pupils on a Dalton way
  • Development of a  portfolio of pupils
  • Development of a portfolio of teachers

It is obvious that I like to work out the different possibilities together with you.

July 11, 2013


New platform for Dalton education, created by the editor of our books.

July 10, 2013

Daltonplan Pädagogik

Jetzt anfordern bei:
Arko uitgeverij - Daltonplan Media
Antwoordnummer 2416
NL-3430 VB Nieuwegein

July 8, 2013

Training independency

All things children can do themselves, the teacher must not do. (Hans Wenke)

You want to help the children in your classroom to be independent, and to help them making their own decisions.
But if you give them too much freedom, they may get confused, misuse the freedom or make the wrong choices.
On the other hand, if you use the benefit of your experiences during the years and make all the choices for them, you are destroying their ability to make their own decisions.
The effect will be that you make your pupils dependent on you and there is even the risk of making them rebellious and resentful.
If you want your pupils to grow up into independent persons, you need to create a balance. 
I suggest to use this school model I created for training independency step by step.

  1. Agreements about things the children can do themselves: toilet – drinking water – washing hands – how to use the classroom.
  2. Introduction and working with a ‘household assignment’.
  3. Agreements about the materials the children can take themselves.
  1. Making the choice for a sign for the block period, introducing of the rules.
  2. What can you do yourself without help: thinking yourself – try again – ask your mate. (making of action guides)
  3. Explain that the block period is only temporary and help is possible on a later moment
  1. The whole school makes agreements about which materials can be taken by the children themselves, how to handle if they make a mistake etc.
  1. Let them invent the rules : think again – read again – ask someone else – start with another part of the assignment (action guides)
  2. Learn them to analyse the problem : what kind of problem – did  I had a similar problem before – ask a real question – try to help step by step (action guide)
  3. Learn planning, try to anticipate and make a work planning
  4. Give attention to social problems: how to solve them – how to work together
  5. Agreements about the noise during the work (making of “noise cards”)
  1. First try yourself
  2. Start asking your workmate instead of walking around in the classroom
  3. Use your help signal if you couldn’t find the right help.
  4. Ask clear questions – don’t be impatient in trying to help
  5. Explaining is not the same as giving the answer
  6. Learn to explain step by step
  7. Investigate first what is known already
  8. Use a ‘help booklet’.
 My advice is to train the agreements during two weeks in all classes in school.
Material I mentioned here can be found on the Facebook site 'Dalton Material'.

July 4, 2013

Dalton in Poland

You can find a description about the development of Dalton education in Poland on the site of the Polish Dalton Association.
'Polskie Stowarzyszenie Dalton'.

Click here for the article

July 2, 2013

Dalton stimulates the ownership of learning

A pupil who takes ownership of their learning becomes a driving force in their own education. They direct their learning, and they take it upon themselves to work hard when necessary. They assume responsibility for their own assignment without needing to be persuaded to do so. Within the Dalton education we are convinced that this is an extremely valuable quality to learn early in life.
When we help pupils to develop awareness about their own thinking and learning processes, we are helping them to think about the effectiveness of the strategies they use in reaching the goals they have set.

Some important aspects to stimulate the feeling of ownership:
• Allow failure.
• Make the assignments manageable.
• Organize regularly evaluation and stimulate reflection.
• Give your pupils positive attention.
• Stimulate only personal competition and not group competition.
• Reinforce required strategies.
• Use role models.

In coaching this process we have two main goals: enquire and encourage.
Start with asking questions:
• What achievements does the pupil take pride in?
• Where do they have space for improvement?
• What does success mean to them?
• What is their most challenging assignment?
• What would be their ideal level?
• What would it take to achieve a particular goal?

By being their own boss, pupils get excited about their plan and work hard at achieving their goals. An educational coach helps to keep them on track, and is there to suggest solutions. Through regular meetings coaches provide students with the opportunity to evaluate and reflect the progress they have made on their goals, and devise new strategies for success.
Self-assessment and reflection against learning goals allow pupils to take ownership of their learning, in partnership with their teacher. Pupils are working towards becoming self-managing and self-regulated.

Dalton teachers are working with this strategy from the Kindergarten period upwards, and the expectation and experience is that all pupils have the capacity to take ownership of their learning.
A key point is that these skills have to be taught by all teachers in the school in a continuous process.