Base Teams

Base teams are teams of 3-5 students in your classroom who may do any of the following:
· Relay homework to students within their team who missed a class
· Help take attendance by noting who is missing from their team
· Take notes and provide them to students who missed a class
· Complete group projects
· Complete various classroom duties

Students love working with one another. Establish a routine on the first day of school that shows students how certain tasks will be completed in your classroom during the semester. They can create their own rules and procedures, vote for how to complete certain tasks and determine roles within their team. Students will feel good about the trust you place in them, and you’ll feel good when you can say, “base teams” and students move into their teams and get busy. In addition to all of the great content you teach, students will learn an incredible amount about team work, communication, accountability and responsibility.

Leadership Development for July 31, 2008

And Now for the Day's Current Events

It’s great if you can make your classroom material relevant to your students’ worlds, but what if you could also make your students’ worlds relevant to your classroom? It’s amazing to discover the diversity of students’ habits of learning about the world around them. Some pick up a newspaper each day, others listen to their parents’ conversations about the news, some hear tid bits of news on the radio during their commute to school, and others, when told about a recent occurrence, respond with a quizzical look and reply, “Oh really? I had no idea.”

Encourage your students to be students of the world by announcing that at the beginning of each class (or every Friday, or at the end of each class, or every Monday and Friday…whatever works for you) the class will have an opportunity to share current events they hear about. This will give you great insight into how students get their news, what they care about and how they react to various topics in the news. You might even be surprised by how often they pick up on something that directly applies to your course!

Classroom Engagement for July 31, 2008

Write and Speak Good

You’re right, you’re right. The above title should probably be “write and speak well.” Whether you’re an English teacher or not, students benefit from you modeling appropriate word usage. So take a few minutes to polish your skills. Here’s a quick and fun website to visit as often as you like. You can even subscribe to its useful RSS feeds.

Professional Development Tip for July 31, 2008

Sales Skills

Whether a person’s job title includes the word “sales” or not, chances are, we will all sell something during our time in our respective careers. While we may not all sell products, we’ll have to sell employers or co-workers on an idea of some sort. As an educator, who taught you how to “sell” (or really communicate) your ideas for changes and improvements? Maybe no one did. So give your students a jump start and a little practice in the safety of your classroom.
1. Complete a short lesson on basic sales tips. Use the following resources for your students to look at or for you to gather information:
b. Here are five steps found at: for generating a sale:
i. Attention: You have to get the attention of your prospect through some advertising or prospecting method.
ii. Interest: Build their interest by using an emotional appeal such as how good they will look to their boss when they make this deal that will save the company thousands of dollars!
iii. Desire: Build their desire for your product by showing them its features and letting them sample or test-drive it.
iv. Conviction: Increase their desire for your product by statistically proving the worth of your product. Compare it to its competitors. Use testimonials from happy customers.
v. Action: Encourage the prospect to act. This is your closing. Ask for the order. If they object, address their objections. There are then many variations of closing techniques that can help get the business.
c. You might even look for a few useful videos on and have your students watch them.
2. Ask your students to choose an object or idea they might work with in a future career.
3. Guiding students with the information and resources you’ve given them, have your students develop a “pitch” for the product or idea they’ve chosen.
4. Have the salespeople deliver their pitch in front of the entire class or act with a few people at the front of the room as though they are making a house call.
5. Celebrate your students’ success and encourage them to look for ways they “sell” ideas each day.

Career Development Tip for July 31, 2008

Classroom Engagement: Whole Foods Help Students Succeed

When it’s time to celebrate success or there’s a special classroom event, carefully consider the foods you share with your students. It’s best not to use food as a reward. If you are rewarding behavior, a non-food item is preferred so as not to teach young people to make a habit of rewarding themselves with food: this can lead to unnecessary weight gain. The surgeon general of the United States has described obesity as the number one childhood health problem. The U. S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that “childhood obesity is more serious than any infectious disease epidemic we have ever faced.1” Consider this startling statistic: 80% of obese adolescents remain obese throughout their lives. 1 The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood. William Sears et al.

Countless studies support the fact that healthy eating contributes to better scholastic performance in the classroom: higher grades, better handling of complex tasks and more attentive students who participate in class.

When celebrating with food: think whole foods (the outside aisles of the grocery store): fruits, nuts, whole grains, low fat yogurt, etc. The more students eat wholesome foods, the more they will crave it and the better they will feel. And maybe they’ll even save an apple for the teacher!

Leadership: Turning Resistance into Cooperation

Each one of us faces conflict in our daily lives, whether we like or not. Clearly, some of us like it more than others. There are those of us who try to avoid conflict at all costs but alas, it is inevitable. When we are equipped to handle conflict, it becomes much easier to manage. Here are some steps to turn resistance into cooperation. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it perfect the first time, it will get easier with practice. Have an attitude that allows you to be influenced:

1) Ask for what you want.
2) Listen to understand.
3) Reflect back your understanding: summarize or paraphrase to be sure you know what was said.
4) Focus on underlying interests: what does the other person really want?
5) Confront covert resistance by perception checking: state your observation.
6) Suggest a test or a trial run to enhance cooperation (and make a date to check back on the test).
7) Identify the cost of noncooperation: tell another what happens when they don’t cooperate.
8) Confront and clarify mixed messages: don’t let a mixed message slip away without addressing what was meant.

Professional Development: How to Gain Credibility and Respect

The first step to gaining credibility and respect is to take yourself seriously and respect yourself. Be congruent in both your verbal and non-verbal communication. Value who you are and what you have to say so much that others won’t even question whether what you’re saying is worth listening to.

Verbal communication:
· make statements
· avoid trivial modifiers and disclaimers
· show a sense of humor
· share information appropriately.

Non verbal communication:
· take up more space
· hold your head straight and high
· use direct eye contact
· speak with sufficient volume

Exploring Career Options


What if there was a way that your students could virtually learn about and explore career options? Believe it or not, if you visit, that’s exactly what you’ll find! The site is a recruiting platform that allows job seekers to "experience" their next career through video. Sometimes lauded as the “YouTube” of careers, has 2,300 career videos and nearly 150,000 job postings in five countries.

Their mission includes changing the way on-line recruiting happens through career videos, innovative technology and out-of-the-box marketing strategies for clients and candidates with the objective of increasing their quality of life.

Direct your students to and encourage them to really experience a career of choice!

Public Speaking Strategies

Isn’t it amazing that more Americans are afraid of public speaking than death? Wouldn’t it be great to help alleviate those fears through activities in the classroom? Often times a student’s first public speaking experience is in a lengthy presentation in front of an entire class. It is helpful to allow students to have shorter, less stressful experiences in public speaking that add to their confidence and natural curiosity about sharing ideas in front of a group.
Here is one activity for students to take a small step into public speaking.
1. Ask students to take one minute to brainstorm simple everyday topics. Examples might be bubble gum, video games or summer vacation. Instruct students to write down each idea on a separate slip of paper and collect the papers.
2. Next ask students to choose a partner. Share that in just a moment they will select one of the topics from the brainstormed list. The partner that goes first will have one minute to share all that they know about that topic with their partner.
3. Once the student has finished with the first topic, instruct the same partner to draw a new topic to discuss in the next one minute segment. The change for the second minute is that the person must sit on his or her hands while talking. Once that partner finishes, repeat the same activity with the other partner.
Following the activity, facilitate a lively discussion about what the students experienced.
Discussion Questions:
1. What kinds of feelings did you experience during our activity?
2. How did it feel to speak about your topic when you could use your hands?
3. How did it feel the second round without using your hands?
4. Listeners, what differences did you notice in your partner’s speaking ability during each round?
5. What’s the difference between verbal and non-verbal communication?
6. What role do our gestures play in communicating with others?
7. What other discoveries did you make about speaking in public today?

Leadership Development Tip for July 10, 2008

Learning and Socializing in a Fast Paced World

It seems today, learning has become work and frankly socializing can feel that way too. Finding time to really explore something that interests you can feel like another task to check off the list.
How about combining the two and having some fun just for you? One solution from a group of friends in Indianapolis, Indiana was to get a jump on holiday decorations and presents. They scheduled monthly meetings and gave them a high priority. (We all know how life seems to creep in on good intentions.) The group selected projects that were inexpensive so money wasn’t a barrier to participation. Each month a different friend hosted the gathering and chose a project from the list that was created by the entire group. They sent out an email reminder two weeks before the event with a list of supplies needed to participate in that month’s get-together. The friends began purchasing supplies together when time allowed which added another opportunity to spend time with each other. At the meeting, the host was responsible for teaching everyone how to accomplish that month’s activity. The outcome was lots of laughter, a head start on the holidays, a new skill learned and sometimes a gift only a parent could love.
Holiday presents and decorations might not be your priority, so how about applying their idea to your profession? Your group might gather to create bulletin boards, classroom activities or visual models to name just a few ideas. Remember you deserve time to relax and re-energize. Add some fun into the great work you do. It will definitely mean a better you!

Professional Development Tip for July 10, 2008

Out of the Bag

This review activity is great fun for your students and establishes a review procedure that students become familiar with so you can use it with ease over time.
To succeed with this strategy, assemble a durable bag and three different colored balls (foam, racquetball, rubber, etc.). Place the balls in the bag. During review time, without looking, students choose a ball out of the bag and answer a review question that corresponds with the ball color.
Here are a few sample questions:
What is one new concept you learned today?
What idea challenged your current thinking?
What new connections did you make between our topic today and your life?
How does what we learned today connect to what we learned yesterday?
The questions should be open-ended enough that you could ask multiple students to respond. You might want to avoid right/wrong questions unless you think there could be discussion among students about which answer is really correct.
The benefit of this strategy is that is provides a consistent activity for review. Once established, you don’t need to introduce and explain the activity. You can just pull out the bag and list the questions. Let the fun begin!

Classroom Engagement Tip for July 10, 2008

20 Questions About Careers

Young people are curious about everything. Whether they ask a million questions or sit quietly in your class, they’re all curious about something. Our hope is that they’re really curious about what they might do beyond high school. You can help develop the attitude of an eager learner by creating a spin on the game “20 Questions” with your students. Here’s how:
1. Go to Click on Occupational Outlook Handbook. Click the link for A-Z Index. Click on a letter to find careers or do a search for careers. It contains pertinent data and information about many careers that currently exist. Print off one different career summary for each student in your classroom. Select careers that vary in educational requirements, salary range, working conditions, etcetera. And of course, promote your specialty by printing a few careers that have some connection to what you teach.
2. Instruct students to select a career summary and allow them two minutes to review the information. Instruct them not to share the paper with anyone.
3. Announce, “In a moment, you’ll be asking questions about a career another person in the room holds. The catch is, you may only ask 20 questions and they must be able to be answered with “yes” or “no”. When I say “go”, you have one minute to jot down a few questions you might ask. GO! (You might provide a couple sample questions to get your students started.)
4. Say, “When I say, ‘career,’ find a partner, select one person to ask questions first and begin. The object is to see if you can identify the career your partner is holding. You have three minutes for each person to get through their 20 questions.”
When both students have completed their 20 questions, ask how many students were able to guess their new career. Depending on the time available, have students share their career with the entire class or in small groups and state how that career uses the content from your classroom.
Enjoy providing relevance around the questions that your students ask!

Career Development Tip for July 10, 2008

Hard Decisions and Elastic Options

This is a great team activity that demonstrates how leaders sometimes have to make irreversible decisions based on best available knowledge at the time.

Set-up: Divide students into teams of three. Give each team 5 rubber bands (same size) and a sheet of Post-It® pad paper.

Announce that the goal for each team is to use the rubber bands to propel the Post-It note as far as possible. Each team will get one chance to launch their Post-It note. Nothing but rubber bands and team member fingers can be used. Rubber bands can be cut, broken and tied, but nothing can be added such as tape, pencils, staples, etc. All three team members can be involved in launching the Post-It Note.

Give each team 10 minutes to come up with their solution and be prepared to demonstrate in front of the group.

Have each group attempt to launch their Post-It Note. Record the length of each and announce the winners.

Use the following processing questions. Have multiple students respond to each question.
What happened as your team determined the design of your rubber band launcher?
Were there any disagreements about the design?
What was most challenging about choosing a final design?
How did it feel to make a decision – like cutting a rubber band – that you knew you couldn’t undo?
What kinds of decisions are leaders faced with where there is uncertainty about the outcome but the decision is irreversible?
What did you learn from this experience that could apply to those situations as a leader?

Enjoy the activity!

Leadership Development Tip for July 3, 2008

Get more from Power Point®

The transition from overheads to LCD projection has allowed many of us to simply type our notes in Power Point® slides and use the software as mechanism to deliver content – lots of it. A movement is underway to transform the use of Power Point and reclaim the role of educator not just content provider. Here’s a great You Tube video of Garr Reynolds, author of the book, “Presentation Zen” making the case at a Google meeting for better, more engaging presentations.

Of course, the act of taking notes is still a useful learning activity. This tip shouldn’t be seen as a condemnation of using Power Point to provide notes, rather a suggestion to use Power Point for more than providing notes.

Classroom Engagement Tip for July 3, 2008

Invite your school counselor

Too often the distance between classrooms and the guidance department creates an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. Get to know your school counselor(s). At the recent ASCA annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, school counselors reaffirmed commitment to a national model for their own counseling programs that include career and leadership skill development for all students. (Check out an executive summary of model from the ASCA website)

In short, school counselors can be a tremendous resource for your efforts to create a more relevant classroom. Here’s a few ideas to engage your school counselor:
1. Ask your school counselor to share resources and information about careers, post-secondary options and leadership development.
2. Seek to involve your school counselor in planning events like career day or guest speakers in your classroom.
3. Invite your school counselor to teach or co-teach a series of sessions on preparing for careers or leadership skill development.

School counselors balance many activities that make their daily schedules busy, if not hectic. Nonetheless, student instruction and teacher assistance are high priorities for most professional school counselors. Make the effort to engage yours.

Professional Development Tip for July 3, 2008

Get to know the Career Clusters model

There are a lot of ways to categorize and organize career options for students. Some models are based on how schools have organized subjects (math, philosophy, arts, science), or based on dimensions of the careers (creative, physical, people-oriented), or based on the level of education needed (professional degree, college degree, technical degree, high school). While these categories all have usefulness (more in the past than in the present and future realities this author would argue), a new model has emerged over the past decade that seems to be generating great interest because of its usefulness and adaptability – the Career Clusters model.

The Career Clusters model organized careers into 16 loosely defined clusters of related industries. Here are a few, for example: Arts, Audio-Visual Technology and Communications; Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and Architecture and Construction

Within these “clusters” you can find careers that use all subjects, have all dimensions and require all levels of education.

Why have Career Clusters become so popular? We’d offer these three reasons:
1. It is an easy way for students and parents to make sense of the universe of careers
2. Exploration can be based on student interest in a broad area
3. There is no implied judgment about “better” or “worse” careers – all clusters hold promise

If you’re not familiar with the Career Clusters model, take some time to explore the website (Full disclosure: at RC we believe so much in the Career Clusters model that all of our career development products are based on the model)

Career Development Tip for July 3, 2008