U-Turn Teaching: Strategies to Accelerate Learning and Transform Middle School Achievement
Publication Year: 2012
Help middle schoolers engage in the classroom before it's too late!
The middle school years mark a critical point in a child's educational journey. For many educators, these years are the last chance to put in place strong, positive learning patterns.
U-Turn Teaching is founded on Rich Allen's “Green Light” education strategies, in which every activity is designed to proactively support learning. This book builds on what researchers have discovered about how the adolescent brain learns best, and shows how those discoveries directly relate to effective classroom teaching. Now you can engage all students, even unmotivated ones, and help them make a U-turn by applying these four principles of brain-based learning: Build and maintain trust; Create a collaborative community; Take a TEAMing approach; Prime the positive environment
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Rich Allen dedicates this book to those people who prompted the key
U-Turns that put him on his present professional path:
Linda Brown, Dave Edwards, Eric Jensen, and Don Freeman.
Jenn Currie dedicates this book …
To my students ~ past, present and future; you are the reason for my U-Turn.
To my mom and Dave ~ for your unconditional love, support, and encouragement through this exciting journey.
To my husband, Scott ~ for your patience, tolerance, and understanding as I took so much time away from ‘us’ to pursue this dream. I know it wasn't always easy taking the backseat as I tap, tap, tapped away upstairs. And, ultimately, I want to thank you for your dependable encouragement and support. You never doubted my ability, even when I often did. For that, I am grateful.
To my dearest friends Chris Straub and Darlene Waldorf ~ your unwavering support over the last nine years has been a HUGE contributing factor to my success. Thank you so much for listening to my rants and raves, your shoulders to cry on, your laughter that fills my soul, and your brilliant brains to pick. I'm so indebted to you!
Copyright © 2012 by Corwin
All rights reserved. When forms and sample documents are included, their use is authorized only by educators, local school sites, and/or noncommercial or nonprofit entities that have purchased the book. Except for that usage, no part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
All trade names and trademarks recited, referenced, or reflected herein are the property of their respective owners who retain all rights thereto.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Allen, Richard, 1957 Sept. 28- author.
U-turn teaching : strategies to accelerate learning and transform middle school achievement/Rich Allen and Jenn Currie.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4129-9646-4 (pbk.)
1. Middle school education. 2. Middle school teaching. 3. Motivation in education. 4. Effective teaching. I. Currie, Jenn, author. II. Title.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
12 13 14 15 16 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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Foreword: The Story of Jenn[Page vii]
Seven years ago, Jenn Currie—a middle school teacher of nine years—was close to burning out. Exasperated with state mandates and exhausted by unmotivated, disrespectful students, she was about to throw in the teaching towel. But then she discovered the theories behind brain-based learning and began to understand why her classroom was so chaotic and unproductive. She realized her traditional teaching strategies weren't creating conditions that help the human brain to take in, process, and remember information—in fact, the way she was teaching was sometimes actually hindering the learning process.
This revelation was the catalyst for Jenn to make a U-turn in her teaching practice. Starting from scratch, she has developed a radically different TEAM-based approach to teaching founded on Dr. Rich Allen's Green Light education strategies. In Jenn's new classroom format, every activity and strategy is designed to proactively support learning—and the results have been phenomenal.
Her rural, low socioeconomic, push-in classroom is now significantly outperforming all others in Grades 4–8 in her district, with students consistently scoring well above average on state assessment testing. From being a battleground, Jenn's classroom has done a complete U-turn to become a dynamic, collaborative environment where students are deeply engaged in learning while working in teams.
Moreover, Jenn's new strategies have virtually eliminated behavioral problems, enabling her to spend more time actually teaching, to the extent that she is able to complete the required state content standards ahead of schedule. Her classroom is a well-oiled machine where students trust, encourage, accept, and motivate each [Page viii]other to the point where they take responsibility for their own learning and that of others. As their teacher, Jenn's role has morphed into that of a coach—guiding and encouraging from the sidelines to strengthen the learning process.
This dramatic, cultural shift has instilled a love of learning in her students. Jenn's foundational methodology leads to student success both in and out of the classroom. Her students aren't just academic achievers; their new classroom culture turns them into self-reliant, considerate, hardworking citizens. Previously disinterested, unmotivated, and disruptive middle school students—who arrived with thick files and warnings from other teachers—now love school and are achieving beyond their and their parents' wildest dreams.
[Page ix]Finally, Jenn's teaching U-turn has reignited her love of teaching. She now positively looks forward to having difficult students in her class, confident that she holds the keys to unlocking their potential.
This book is designed to help other middle school teachers replicate Jenn's strategies and results in their classrooms. Jenn and Rich hope you have the courage to try something different and make a U-turn in your teaching—in the process, creating life changing moments for you and your students.[Page x]
Who am I?
I am the one person who always greets them with a smile.
I am the person who cheers loudest when they succeed.
I am the person they trust to catch them when they fall.
I am the person who will not let them fail.
I am the person who believes in them.
I am … their teacher.—Jenn Currie
The authors wish to thank the following people, our highly experienced project team, for their deeply valuable contributions to the development of this manuscript:
- Karen Pryor, editor—for once again giving so much of her time, energy, and brilliant writing insights to all aspects of this manuscript. If this book makes sense and is useful to our readers, a great deal of that comes down to you and your wonderful way with words. Thank you, over and over.
- Wayne Logue, illustrator—for once again adding that critical extra layer of visual impact, which is so essential to communicating our message. We love sharing with the world your inspired, stimulating, and creative images, and we are deeply grateful to have had the honor of working with you. Thank you.
- Cheryl Dick, researcher—for once again helping us connect the dots, bringing together our ideas and the research that validates them. Without you, they would have been simply whimsical notions floating freely in the wind. With you, they have been grounded in what truly works in education. Thank you.
Corwin wishes to acknowledge the following peer reviewers for their editorial insight and guidance.
Ellen E. Coulson
7th grade U.S. history teacher
Sig Rogich Middle School
Las Vegas, NV
[Page xii]Jane Hunn
8th grade general science teacher
Tippecanoe Valley Middle School
Middle school teacher
Louise Radloff Middle School
6th grade science teacher
P. S. du Pont Middle School
About the Authors
References[Page 175]2010). High-impact teaching strategies for the ‘XYZ’ era of education. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.(2005). The educator's guide to preventing and solving discipline problems. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development., & (1996). The mind map book: How to use radiant thinking to maximize your brain's untapped potential. New York, NY: Penguin.(2011). Teaching boys who struggle in school: Strategies that turn underachievers into successful learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.(2003). Classrooms that work: They can all read and write (, & (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.2005). Differentiation in action: A complete resource with research-supported strategies to help you plan and organize differentiated instruction- and achieve success with all learners. New York, NY: Scholastic.(2008). Releasing responsibility. Educational Leadership, 66(2), 32–36, & (2009). Productive group work: How to engage students, build teamwork, and promote understanding. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development., , & (2008). Students at bat. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 8–14., & (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.(2009). Duct tape teambuilding games-50 Fun activities to help your team stick together. Asheville, NC: Life Coach, Inc.(2008). Brain-based learning: The new paradigm of teaching ((2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.2001, July 3). The affective component of pain in rodents: Direct evidence for a contribution of the anterior cingulate cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA98(14), 8077–8082. doi:10.1073/pnas.141218998. Retrieved from http://emotion.caltech.edu/dropbox/bil33/files/%20Johansen%20et%20al.pdfhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.141218998, , & ([Page 176]1981). The responsive classroom discussion: The inclusion of all students. In A. S.Anderson (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest (pp. 109–113). College Park: University of Maryland Press.(2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.(2011). The highly engaged classroom. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory., & , (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development., , & (2008). Making thinking visible. Educational Leadership, 65(5), 57–61., & (2004). Why zebras don't get ulcers ((3rd ed.). New York, NY: Henry Holt.2011). Differentiation and the brain: How neuroscience supports the learner-friendly classroom. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press., & (2008). Energizing learning. Educational Leadership, 65(5), 26–31.(2003). Worksheets don't grow dendrites: 20 instructional strategies that engage the brain. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.(2008). Giving students ownership of learning. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 26–30.(1999). Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dendate gyrus. Nature Neuroscience, 2, 266–270. doi: 10.1038/6368 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/6368, , & (2008). Joy in school. Educational Leadership, 66(1), 8–14.(2008). Reaching the fragile student. Educational Leadership, 66(1), 67–70.(
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