He wrote about Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. I agree that the book provokes some thinking about how we teach writing and even thought about using it for my graduate course in writing! What I took from the book was a reminder that we need to encourage high quality - not longer sentences and stories. There is power in even one sentence. Even a short one. It's the content that makes it rich - not the length of the sentence.
1, Speak It!: Speak It! is a great text-to-speech solution that can allow students with reading disabilities to get a little help with reading when they need it. 2, Dragon Dictation: Dragon Dictation works in reverse of the two apps we just listed. Instead of
reading text out loud, the application writes down spoken text. For students who struggle with
writing, it can be a great way for them to jot down ideas or get help learning.
3. Flashcards for iPad: This app makes it easy to study words, spelling, and other things that
young and LD readers might need help with. 4. Alphabet Zoo: Alphabet Zoo is a great tool for helping young readers to recognize letter
sounds. Using text and pictures of animals, kids can build their reading skills while having fun. 5 . The Writing Machine: By correlating pictures and words, reading text, sounding out letters,
this tool helps students develop early literacy abilities with greater ease. 6 . WordSort: One of the top educational apps out there, this game helps kids to learn how to
identify parts of speech, like nouns, adverbs, and verbs, as well as emphasizing grammar skills.
7. Blio: Blio offers all the same features of any basic e-reader, and also a few things that make it
unique. Through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view, the app helps
those with reading disabilities make sense of the text, something many other similar apps don’t
offer. 8. iStoryTime: There are numerous titles to choose from in the iStoryTime series, all of which allow kids to have the book read to them or to get help reading it themselves. 9. MeeGenius! Kids’ Books: MeeGenius is another series that’s perfect for practicing reading skills. Those with trouble reading can use illustrations and helpful word highlighting to get help, or just have the book read to them until they’re confident enough to do it on their own.
10. iWrite Words: Named by The Washington Post as one of the best apps for special needs kids, this game-based program helps youngsters learn to write their letters through a fun and engaging 11. 11. Sentence Builder: Through this application, elementary school children will learn how to build grammatically correct sentences, with a special focus on using connector words.
12. Word Wizard: Lauded by The New York Times, this word-focused app lets kids hear the sounds of letters and words through a movable alphabet while also engaging them in spelling practice and games.
I DID NOT DO THE RESEARCH for this post...so give credit to the sources including onlinecollegecourses.com I did, however, check out the content :)
I've spent a lot of time this past week reviewing journal articles and text book chapters that are worthy of my graduate students' precious little reading time. It's an awesome responsibility as they are balancing the demands of multiple courses and a semester long mega-project with a student. I know they struggle to "get it all done" and "keep it all in balance."
At times, my mind wanders to those I know and love who also live very busy lives balancing the complex needs of growing professionally and managing personally. I know they too struggle to "get it all done" and "keep it all in balance." At other times, my mind wanders to those I know and love whose lives have slowed due to illness or frail health. They too struggle to "get it done" and "find balance."
All this reflection time has me pondering what is really important? What is necessary and will help us grow as learners, teachers, students, parents, partners, friends and people? Our days here on earth are indeed busy and, indeed, are few; thus, it is important to determine what is important and how we can all make the most of our moments!
At Chenery Park, and at other places around the country, there are upscale dining places with training wheels teaching manners to a new generation of children. Think Emily Post for a new generation! At Cherery Park, the five one-hour sessions cost $285!
While I really was thinking I could start a retirement teaching business chain focused on this, I would also want to sell Tshirts with this quote!
“If you want to be invited back on a play date,” she explains, "be polite."
While you should read the whole article, there are a couple of areas that are worth noting as at least I rarely read about education research about teachers! Much of this year's research was on three “core areas” – merit pay, charter schools, and the use of value-added-growth-models in teacher evaluations.
In the area of merit pay, cconsistent with prior research, there were no discernible effects on testing outcomes with individual or school-wide bonus programs; but, there was some impact on teacher retention.
In the area of charter schools, looking at the mechanisms that contribute to inconsistent performance of these schools is critical, not only for guiding the authorization of new charters, but also, more importantly, for improving all school.
In the value-added model in teacher evaluations – 2012 might be remembered as the year in which a second batch of teacher-level value-added scores were published in a major newspaper. they had in their classes. It is interesting to me that there IS a LOT of research going on in this area; yet nothing, so far, is a clear model. (see here and here, here, here, and here, for example).
Twas the day after Christmas
And in every room,
Not a creature was moving,
In spite of the need for a vacuum.
The children had gone home
To their lives full of potential,
With screw drivers and tape measures,
Signs of their new endeavors.
While I in my sweatpants
Took on the rest of the stack
Of case studies and papers,
Waiting for me to unpack.
When what to my wandering mind should appear,
But fresh happy memories
And thoughts of those I hold dear.
They've changed oh so much,
This family of mine,
There are new faces filled with hope,
Empty spaces filled with memories,
Once quieted voices filled with laughter,
Once lively loved ones moving slowly,
Familiar cookies and calories,
New versions of biscottis and calamaris.
I tried hard to focus,
But at times it was challenging,
For all of us, are changing.
Thoughts of those who are
Fighting for life.
Thoughts of little ones,
Far out of sight.
Thoughts of those
Who have left us,
Mixed with images of those
Traveling to share in spite of the fuss, Thoughts of those who are stressed,
By work or the need for it,
Thoughts of those trying to create perfection
Of those who are depressed,
Thoughts of those who are worried,
Scared or in need of love.
I will soon forget most of the gifts
Bought and received.
I suspect what I will remember,
Will be the momentary happiness we achieved.
It's a good thing my grad students
All write like pros,
Today their papers are mixed
With new memories and their grades laced with bows!
Last year, I wrote this free verse poem to synthesize my feelings. Most of it is the same as last year....but because REVISION IS WRITING as my new pencils say (THANKS JESSICA) I am doing a little bit of revising before I repost!
I sure could use just one more day...
One day to clean, prepare, cook, wrap, share with others..
I guess I feel like this almost every year,,
I should have started earlier...baked and frozen cookies in November...
Shopped in August...
Wrapped in November (during the "vacation" Cleaned every week all year through...
Or Gotten someone to help me clean...:)
I guess I (and most other people on earth)
Feel like Mary probably felt that first Christmas 2000+ years ago...
Not quite ready in all the little ways I might wish to be...
But ready in my heart
To give and accept the love and hope this season offers to all of us...
SO even if your presents are not all shopped for..
Even if they are not all wrapped...
Even if those gifts you WANT to make are still in your head...
Even if your cookies are burned and there is flour on the floor..
Even if only half your cards are written..
Even if you are not sure what you sent out..
Even if you wish you had......_______________.....
Even though I am sure you, like me are concerned..
Even if your are consumed with prayers for those hurting this season
Even if your heart is heavy.. Even if your future is blurry...
I wish for you
A holy and peaceful Christmas Eve
A joyous and peace-filled Christmas Day
A season when your family, whatever it looks like
Not only tolerates
But also grows in love and understanding
And acceptance of us all as imperfect beings
With the potential for limitless love..
It's PEACE I wish for most of all
In our world
In our families
In our hearts
The smallest of gifts are the ones I treasure. There is a needlepoint mailbox, lovingly stitched by my mother in law, with the message, "May all you news be good." I still tear up as it goes on the tree. There are the hangers my daughter lovingly scoffed from a store going out of business that make my walk in closet look picture-perfect. There is a scissor device my son found probably at the end of the check out line at Home Depot that I use EVERY single day.
This year has been a very difficult one for so many people. There have been many small challenges, and many huge, life changing tragedies and thus I really find my desire for even a token package at an all time low. In fact, I do not "want" anything you could find in any store.
My kids are already pretty great (even if they do stress me out at times) and what I really want most is the opportunity to spend some quality time with them. My husband (who can make me batty when he wants to bargain shop in the middle of the holiday shopping mess) fixed my car and cleaned the kitchen floor this week, so what more could I want besides time for wonderful dinners on the porch? My life is already rich with "things" money cannot buy: little children, big children, laughter, love, faith, hope.
My "want" is not for anything that could be put in a box or tied with a bow. I "want" to embrace the moments as they come, and when they come. I "want" to showgratitude, to do acts of kindness, to have hope, to find peace of mind and to sharesome good news.
So, the kids think we just "go home" after school, like they do, and maybe do a little homework. What they miss is that we go over their work; assess how what they did today so we can differentiate tomorrow; plan differentiated lessons; prepare for differentiated tasks; think about differentiated assessments; obsess over what we might do for a reluctant learner; wonder if we should call / contact a parent; contact multiple parents; answer endless emails; fill our APPR binders with evidence ....the list is long.
When you ALSO teach grad school courses, the semester ENDS for students when they hand in their final projects. They leave smiling and head off to celebrate leaving their professors with bags and bags of projects. Now, my husband proposes that I should just toss them out and randomly assign grades; however, I could NEVER do that. SO, I will be, for the foreseeable future, reading every single word in more case studies than you can imagine taking breaks only for family time, a bit of wrapping and a little cookie making at some point (nourishment).
Long ago, a child ran up the attic stairs carrying a ceramic Christmas tree, a "homemade" but treasured memory from Grandma's house. In spite of parental warnings about the fragility of such "things," the artifact "disolved" into dust as the "tree" hit the floor. Sadly, I cannot remember the words that flowed from my mouth in the moments that followed; I wish I could take whatever I probably said back. I am sure there were some "I told you sos" interspersed with some "how could yous."
Tonight, as an Ebayed replacement earned a spot of honor in the house, an older and wiser me assembled its pieces, I thought about the real message in this gift. "Things" can be replaced, my heart screamed as I placed that ol' tree on top of a CFL lightbulb. "Things" change and in the end "things" evoke memories but do not make them.
In light of the at times overwhelming sadness of the weekend and the week ahead, I am reminded that things, even lovingly restored cars and fine diamonds, are things. It is sad when we lose them and we can shed tears of sadness; yet, they are "things." The people in our lives are a different story. The people in our lives make unique and ever changing memories that cannot be replaced. This tree is now a light in the darkness and a reminder of the fragility of life.
Even in the wake of tragedy, schools continue to be one of the safest places for children to be on a daily basis. Below are some conversational tips from Dr. Michele Borba personally shared on her Twitterfeed today. I trust Michele with my own child’s well-being, and consider her a personal friend and colleague. I hope you find her thoughts helpful.
· Turn off the TV and media on the school shooting when kids are present. Image can negatively impact children regardless of your zip code. · Talk to the kids tonight or as soon as you see them. Open with “What have you heard?” Kids need the right facts. YOU not their peers provide the best source. · Kids need to know it’s OK to share their feelings. It’s normal to be upset. Be calm and give only age appropriate information. · Don’t give more information than the kid is ready to hear. More importantly, let your child know you’re there to listen. · Don’t expect to help alleviate your kid’s anxiety unless you keep your own in check. Kids are calmer if we are calmer. · Please don’t think because the child isn’t talking about the events that he/she didn’t hear about it. · Give the information in small doses. Listen. Watch their response. Kids need processing time. Kids don’t need to know all the details and numbers. End with “I’m here for any questions you may have at anytime.” · Here’s a great way to curb anxieties: Find proactive ways to alleviate fears about the tragedy. Tonight, offer condolences, draw, write letters to victims as a family. · Stick to family routines. This soothes the stress and helps kids know that despite tragedy, that the world goes on. The sun will come up tomorrow. Hug! · Draw kids’ attention to heroism in the tragedy. Use police, teachers, doctors, etc so kids see the goodness in the heartbreak. · Kids respond to tragic news differently. Let your child know their feelings are normal. Help he/she express them. Follow his/her lead. · Tonight is the first talk. Keep ongoing dialogue. Don’t explain more than they are ready to hear. Kids process and will want more later. · T.A.L.K. oTalk to the kid about the tragedy in an age-appropriate way oAssess kid coping skills oListen, give some information and listen some more oKindle hope that the world goes on · Ask your teen: “What are your pals saying?” Don’t assume they are NOT affected. Ignite their social justice. “What could we do?” · Plan what you’ll say to your kid about the tragedy to boost their confidence and calmness. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” or “Good question. Let me find out.”
It was early in the morning and I couldn't sleep. Thoughts of so many things were still racing in my head. There was the pressing illness of someone close to me weighing heavily on my soul and the hearts of those I love. The community that surrounds Sandy Hook Elementary was in my thoughts. As I turned on the computer, I was linked to this post from Kylene Beers. The comment said all teachers should read it. They should http://kylenebeers.com/blog/2012/12/15/on-monday/comment-page-1/#comment-1599
Yes Kylene, we will be there tomorrow morning bright and early and we will give them security, time, ways to process all that had happened and they help them learn that each of us has the ability to get through tragic moments even when we doubt we will ever get over them.
The hustle and bustle that might typically mark the end of the Hanukkah and imminence of Christmas is likely to be somewhat quieter today as we spend time holding close those dear to us. We're all likely to spend more than a few moments in thought and prayer for all directly impacted by the horrific events at a Connecticut elementary school yesterday. As I sit here in quiet prayer this morning, I am reminded that each and every one of us is changed, in some way, by this horrific event. There will be many "whys" and even more "what ifs" along with changes in how we "make schools safer." In schools, malls and theaters everywhere, we will look a little closer at everyone who enters our safe havens for learning and having fun. In our homes, we will hug our children a little tighter and hold them a little closer. Under our trees and along with the last lights on our menorahs, there may be fewer gifts; yet, a few more reminders that people, not gifts, are what the holidays are all about. It may seem strange to quote a cartoon character on a morning like this when sadness stifles our "hustle and bustle"...but it is what comes to my mind.... “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas [and Hanukkah], perhaps, means a little bit more.” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I had an interesting conversation with someone today who thought that holiday trees were not-rooted in religious tradition. The whole conversation left me 1) thinking about my own not yet present tree and 2) how holiday "symbols" evolve and change.
So I did some reading: http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees
and then got another persepctive challenging my own: http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees "Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness."
Then I did some thinking!
1) While I do celebrate Christmas and for me, the tree is a symbol of the religious holiday, I do not yet have a tree adorning my house. Perhaps soon a huge artificial tree will make its way from the attic and find someone willing to assemble it, soon. While I really wish it was a "real" formerly live tree, I did "cave" a few years ago and agreed to this mammoth symbol of Christmas that requires a ladder for assembly!
2) Until them, I will think about the idea that around 1900. "Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.".....hmmmmm, an these days, they are even bigger! I will also think about the idea that "early 20th century saw Americans [were]decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies." Ours (when assembled) will have our family ornaments mixed among some non-LED and some new sparkly LED lights. It WILL be up before the the 25th AND the shopping WILL BE done, for that I am sure!
3) I'm going to find that person and tell them that perhaps, however, they are more "right" than I thought. Perhaps,, for some, the idea of a tree or evergreens in the house is more about winter than religion! While trees, like many other symbols, have roots in the Christmas holiday tradition, the "green" roots are deep and the holiday tree roots are not quite so deep. Besides, the look and "feel" of trees has already changed! Perhaps, I should consider leaving the plastic mammoth up all year and decorating it for every holiday? That might save some December stress?
I so clearly remember the morning 2 little boys in my car made me late for school because we drove an extra mile in search of that "100,000" on the odometer! Since them, I've had quite a few cars turn over that number, and I always think of their excitement. Recently, my car turned over 111,111 and if I had been at a place where I could have done so, I would have taken a picture of that - for them and for the other numerologists in my life!
I suspect both of them will notice today, 12.12.12. What a date. The last time this century we will have a triple play, so to speak, of a date! Do something memorable today! Write a chapter of that book? Call a friend? Perhaps a random act of kindness?
Even if you are not into numbers, it will be a LONG time before it is 12.12.12 again!
Long ago (back in November) Peter DeWitt wrote a blog post for Edweek about kids and teachers taking risks. I've thought a lot about that lately as talked to parents during conferences because learning to read is one of the biggest risk taking activities we ask young kids to do! We ask them to navigate a "code" that can mean different things in different settings. We say that "read" can say "reed" or "red" and it just depends on what else is happening around it!! They look at us like we are nuts when we say that "write" and "right" both say "rite" but that "rite" is always "wrong!" So, we say, "Just take a chance," or "try it," or "make a stab at it!" While we really mean what we say, we also really want them to "get it right!"
It's the same with teachers. We have to try new ways of teaching, implement new curricula, and embrace new ideas. We're taking "risks" all the time as we traverse untraveled waters; yet, we really are expected to "get it right" every time!
I first heard the news on my way to school. It was dark and the fog had settled into the valley so I wondered what I had really heard. Then, later, the NYTimes confirmed that longer school days are on the horizon for many as soon as next year in programs to assess their effectiveness of preparing students as 21st Century learners.. http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/do-you-think-a-longer-school-calendar-is-a-good-idea/ I've been thinking about how jam packed our school days are - and more so lately than ever before. We, teachers, complain a LOT about "not having enough time" to get "it" all done; thus, it really is no surprise that longer school days and longer school years are on the horizon. I guess you need to be careful what you say in remarks about trying to implement the Common Core Standards and APPR and all the rest of the initiatives!
There are a few things we need to consider as we move in this directions:
1) Kids and teachers will need "coffee breaks" - real ones like the professionals who work in offices take- rather than rushed energy bars while conferencing. We'll need a stocked refrigerator and a spot to heat coffee and tea during the longer day. We may all need rest time, too.
2) Kids and teachers will need real lunch hours with quiet meals and perhaps even restaurant style service rather than life in a cafeteria that could give anyone a headache. We'll need to have more protein and fresh veggies along with nutritious snacks to sustain our energy. Schools might look at ways to have this available for kids as they want / need it. 3) Kids and teachers will need to have more physical education and "free" choice play time scheduled. Perhaps, personal trainers could come to school to work with teachers and help them deal with the stress of their days. Soccer and basketball coaches could come to school for clinics. We could have craft time and puzzle time.
4) We can schedule soccer, scouts, karate and all the other myriad of after school activities into our longer day and thus the evenings can be about family time.
5) We can teach kids to play outside and play with their friends.
6) We might even teach them how to clean up the classroom after themselves.
7) We might even be able to get all the homework done at school. (That would be a good thing as homework is very stressful for many families!)
8) We'll need more teachers, for sure. We'll need teachers with stamina and energy!
9) Let's not just ADD hours but rather rethink how and what we do in school AND at home in order to prepare kids for the lives they will be living as 21st Century citzens.
"The CCSS come at a time when teachers and administrators are suffering under the weight of accountability, and that is unfortunate, because the 6 shifts of the CCSS have the potential to have a positive impact on schools and that should not get lost in the political debates. Those Six Shifts are: • Informational Texts • Knowledge in the Disciplines • Staircase of Complexity • Text Based Answers • Writing from Sources • Academic Vocabulary... If you step outside the political debate, the Six Shifts of the Common Core offer us an opportunity to teach students the necessary skills they need to survive in this world."
It was a tough week for many people I know and there are a zillion papers waiting for feedback in my in-box; however, thanks to the much maligned social network, Facebook, I received the equivalent of a picture postcard as I scanned on a "break" to refuel for more reading and writing.
While I appreciate that Facebook has led to many sad situations for many people, I suspect it's benefits outweigh it's bad aspects. While far apart, we might still connect and share the small moments of wonder in each of our lives. To be honest, I'm lousy at sending cards and my gifts are often wrapped by American Express; yet, I am reminded this morning of the great potential of a kind word or beautiful image.
I might reuse this as a virtual "Christmas" card - I wonder if I will have to pay Tracey royalties on her photo?
I'd love to be cute and start a long post with, "My name is Anita and I am FINALLY a writer;" however, I have more than a ZILLION student papers to read this weekend (and will be missing in action) and just want to share this link before I head off for Friday's festivities at school because this link "made me think" this week. http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/11/28/tln_curran.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW
The article talks about "blogging" as a means of making students feel and act like writers in the 21st Century. It refers to technology as an important component of the Common Core. Yes, yes, yes yes yes.......thanks to blogging, I FINALLY feel like a writer!
Apparently, Delaware switched to computer-adaptive testing for its state assessments three years ago It made result available more quickly and students spent less time TAKING tests.
According to this article,
"Nationally, two coalitions have received federal funding to develop English/language arts and mathematics tests for the common standards. Both coalitions—the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC—have said their assessments will feature high-tech, interactive questions that incorporate video and graphics and are designed both to identify what students know and to be more engaging. Both assessments will be given online, but Smarter Balanced will use adaptive testing, while PARCC will use what are known as fixed-form tests, which feature set questions that generally do not change."
So I wanted to know a bit more about adaptive assessments and how they work and this article went on to say, " The range of proficiency among kids in a grade is huge,” says Jon Cohen, the executive vice president and director of assessment for the Washington-based American Institutes for Research, which is already delivering statewide adaptive tests in several states and has been selected by the Smarter Balanced consortium to do pilot and field testing and to create the adaptive-test algorithm. “With a typical test, a kid who is struggling is not going to see many items they can get right, and a kid at the top is not going to see many items they’ll get wrong,” he says. “Kids on the ends get a less precise score.”..... "Computer-adaptive assessments aren’t scored on the basis of how many right or wrong answers a student gets. A student’s score depends both on the number of items he or she got right and the difficulty of the items presented."
AND BEFORE WE ALL JUMP ON THIS BANDWAGON....a little something from Diane R. http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/06/the-problem-with-computer-adaptive-assessments/ ":My kid doesn’t like online adaptive assessments. She likes knowing there are 50 questions in 40 minutes. She hates tests that give you many more difficult questions when you answer correctly. The test seems to go on forever. So, one time she decided to hit buttons randomly and get a bunch wrong. Then the computer spit out fewer, easier questions, and she was able to finish the test at last."
Stacy @raisealithuman shared this link this morning on Twitter reminding again that I am thankful for the Twitter PLN part of my "new life" http://commercialfreechildhood.org/screendilemma
YET, the link is to research about young children and technology - particularly screen technology. This new debate about the role of technology is our lives and in our schools is huge and growing bigger every day. I'm going to have to read this more closely, but then I'm going to back to write more on this.....it's probably a bigger impact on kids than we think, even today.
I've never been a fan of those wanna-be-in-a-parade balloons that spring up in yards as turkeys are carved. Bigger than life Santas, Snoopies, snowmen, and snow globes line up besides Kris Kringles and Kermits and intermingle with houselights during long December evenings. Yet,, during the day, these giant deflated decorations lie in colorful heaps on brown lawns like spent party goers recovering from a hard day's night.
Late Saturday, however, I met an adorable reindeer who challenged my feelings about "blow ups"as I shopped in a (non-mall-type) store filled with antique pink-tinsel-trees and rarely-seen-anymore-trinkets (like the Sinclaire dinosaur). Perhaps it was the environment that dredged up memories of my youth, but this fellow was quite the crowd pleaser as he sat with a friendly smile in the shop window. He did not need to deflate until, as his box described, he went into hibernation to await the next season! If I ever opened a "shop" and needed holiday decoration, I would skip the pink trees; however, "he" would be there!
"Let's go around the table and say what we are thankful for," he implored as we gathered. I suspected he had already been thinking about his response; yet no one protested a public display of thanks. I wondered silently, "How do you put in a few words so many things?"
We verbalized sincere but predictable thanks for our families and for acts of kindness. We articulated thanks based on the storm including trees not falling on the house and trains finally being restored. We acknowledged the paths we had traveled such as having food on the table and freedom from Black Friday stress. I silently reflected as they laughed at the witty thanks and chided those who got mushy.
I was grateful that Aunt Lu's tarnished silverware and Grandma's threadbare napkins provided us with reminders of those who can no longer gather with us. I thought about the fights to live longer and how those battles can change families. I quietly gave thanks that my mom was strong enough to come for dinner. I smiled as I wondered how long it would take before I took "heat" for skipping the mashed potatoes Uncle Jer would have expected. I was grateful that the storms of life had left us battered and bruised but not broken. I was filled with hope for the future as I gave thanks for the faces on the other side of the table. I remembered God's promise of opening doors after closing windows.
As they finished up their public displays of thanks, I suspect each person had their own prayers of thanks and hopes for the future swirling in their mind. New faces, old smiles, laughs, tears, and quiet gratitude surrounded that old table; it was just the way it was supposed to be.
I found this REPOST from a CNN article about Parent-teacher Conferences. It already seems to be hidden on the CNN site (at least I have not found it yet). BUt it's a good one - no matter what side of the dest you are on!
(CNN) - For many parents and teachers, it’s the first opportunity of the school year to sit down face to face and discuss everything from curriculum to issues that arise in the classroom. Here are some tips from both sides of the desk on how to make the most of a parent-teacher conference. Do your homework
Talking to your child before the conference to find out if he has any questions or concerns of his own can give you ideas of what to address with the teacher. A good next step: having a physical list of questions.
The National PTA says that the “questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher.”
It’s an idea echoed by Ryan Koczot, an award-winning middle school teacher in North Carolina. “Parents should come to the conference prepared (notepad, pen, list of questions)—just like teachers should be prepared (information on the child, progress report, questions for the parent).” This will help get everyone on the same page. Join forces
Several teachers have told us that the best results follow when parents and teachers work together. According to Debbie Geiger of Scholastic.com, “The goal of both the teacher and the parent should be the success of the student, but sometimes parents have a hard time discussing tough issues.”
Geiger suggests starting off by complimenting the teacher on something that he or she seems to be doing right—a piece of advice echoed by the National PTA. This can set a positive tone for the meeting and help foster cooperation later on.
If there’s a problem that has developed between your child and a particular subject or teacher, look for ways to address it together. “Be a team player,” suggests New Jersey middle school teacher Donna Spoto. “Let the teacher know that you are on his/her side.” Open lines of communication
Divorce, remarriage, foreclosure, moving, a new baby: These are just a few of the personal issues that can affect a student’s behavior and work on campus.
A 7th grade social studies teacher in Tennessee said that one area where parents fall short is letting teachers know of problems in a student’s life outside of school. “When parents don’t tell us what’s happening, we can’t adjust accordingly.”
Spoto agrees that “stress and emotional issues definitely affect a student’s work.” By informing the teacher of possible causes, you will help the teacher better understand the child and be more equipped to appropriately instruct him. Aim for action
Coming up with an action plan to address academic or behavioral concerns can benefit the parent, the teacher and the student long after the conference is over. The National PTA recommends establishing a series of steps that both you and the teacher agree on. A couple ideas to consider: what your short- and long-term plans are, and how you’ll measure progress.
One of the first actions you can take after the conference is going over key points and discussion topics with your child. “Depending on his age and maturity level, he may need help understanding what problems—and solutions—were covered. Most kids also want to have a clear idea of what’s expected of the teacher, the parent(s), and, most importantly, from [them],” writes Kristin Stanberry of Greatschools.org. Keep in touch
Once an action plan is in place, try to determine how you’ll follow up with the teacher in the weeks and months ahead. Will it be through written notes, a phone call, or another conference? Koczot says that an email or phone contact at school can help the parent “check in on their child weekly or in a couple of weeks to see how they are doing.”
And it’s not a bad idea to inform your child that you’re keeping in touch with her school. “When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort,” according to the National PTA.
For a while now, the words COMMON CORE STANDARDS have been sneaking into educational conversations. "They're coming," whether or not we like it is the message I retained. Yet, I want to know what they mean on all levels so that I can be sure I am advocating for students, teaching, and learning within the standards. If we know what they mean, we can most effectively implement the changes in a proactive manner rather than just consuming programs and assessments because they say CCS on the package! I really have had to do a lot of research to figure out exactly what they mean for me and for the students and teachers I interact with every day.
I suspect that ASCD will be an important place to follow the implementation of Common Core State thanks to a grant from the Gates Foundation as it has developed a Common Core resource page (11) with alot of information, and plans for ongoing meetings and study. There is even a hash tag to follow on Twitter at #ASCDcore (13).
In the NY Times online today, there was an opinion piece by SARA MOSLE that is worthy or reading and thinking about in light of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a set of national benchmarks for the skills public school students should master in language arts and mathematics in grades K-12.
While I STRONGLY encourage you to check out the NY Times pieces, here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite.
"The Common Core dictates that by fourth grade, public school students devote half of their reading time in class to historical documents, scientific tracts, maps and other “informational texts” — like recipes and train schedules. Per the guidelines, 70 percent of the 12th grade curriculum will consist of nonfiction titles."
What schools really need isn’t more nonfiction but better nonfiction, especially that which provides good models for student writing. Most students could use greater familiarity with what newspaper, magazine and book editors call “narrative nonfiction”: writing that tells a factual story, sometimes even a personal one, but also makes an argument and conveys information in vivid, effective ways. What Tom Wolfe once said about New Journalism could be applied to most student writing. It benefits from intense reporting, immersion in a subject, imaginative scene setting, dialogue and telling details.
In my opinion, students need to read quality nonfiction and fiction texts across a variety of genre including historical and narrative non fiction in order to learn how the genre works. However, students need to be empowered to READ the genres they love in order to have to fluency, comprehension and confidence to take on any text they are handed on a random Monday morning in the spring!
Today, I am giving thanks for the many blessings of my life. I really do have a great family (even if they drive me batty at times.) I have the best job(s) in the world (even if my work day is 15 hours long every day.) I have dear friends and relatives for whom I would do and give anything (even if I see them rarely.) My own children are finding their own unique paths in this world using their own gifts. I have young children in my life to provide me with hope for the future and elderly people I see every day who remind me of my roots.
This year, especially, I am aware of how fragile our existence, families, homes, friends are when compared to the forces of our world. I will keep in my prayers those whose lives have been turned upside down while I hope on tightly to those I hold dear.
This week, in preparation for this day of thanks, I spent a few days clarifying misconceptions about the roots of this holiday.
Columbus did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims. He did not come over with the Pilgrims. He never went to Massachusetts, ever.
The Pilgrims did not share the first Thanksgiving with Martin Luther King even though they were both seeking freedom. The Pilgrims came for religious freedom. Martin Luther King is remembered for his fight for freedom for all people to live and work together in our country.
There were no stores around in those days and people had to make their own clothes and grow their own food.
They did not have belts to hold up their pants or elastic to hold up their socks, so they used strings and garters.
Boys wore dresses until the age of 6 or 7 and girls wore petticoats and dresses, every single day.
The first Thanksgiving table did not look like this!
I did not expect this morning's Twitter feed to be full. After all, it's a short week for teachers! As they say, we have to work only HALF the week! In truth, I'll be doing my "preobservation" lesson plan and lots of other work this "weekend" after the holiday; however, only those who live with teachers really know "the rest of the story!"
So as I head to the preThanksgiving treadmill.....here is a link to an article my Michele Molnar that I'm THANKFUL to share.
In preparation, my mother polished silver and moved furniture to assure all was ready for guests. She dried bread, ground berries, and made pies days in advance. I too have done a bit of "preparing" for Thanksgiving.
I got a kind note from a grad student today as well as a thank you note from a parent. Please know that those gifts are treasured and I am thankful I have the best job in the world (even if I am still rereading report cards on a Sunday night!)
Peter Johnston's Opening Minds has been ON MY MIND. It was a required text this semester; however, I am confident my students did not find it nearly as thought-provoking as I did! Truth be told, this fall, I have thoughts of Peter sitting behind me with a notepad "critically" recording my conversations with kids!
Perhaps the dichotomy grows from the slow pace of the book I did wonder if Johnston took an "article" and stretched it! It is also possible that differences grow from my own very critical view of my own professional and personal interactions! Admittedly, I usually reflect on what I could do better rather than on what went well in a lesson or even in a parent conference!
Admittedly, I usually think about how I might have interacted more effectively with friends and family.
I am reflecting on this book as someone whom interacts with lots of children and parents. Even in a theoretical text, there are "bumper sticker" quality messages for all of us who interact with people!
I’m proud of you can have the same effect as saying I’m disappointed in you.
Our language choices have serious consequences for children's learning and who they become as individuals and as a community. Clarify the reason for you praise by being specific and purposeful. "I like the way you......." Think before you talk. Teaching is like jazz. You are constantly improvising.
It appears to me, at this point in my life, that living well and adapting to the constant changes of life requires a good jazz set and the ability to make the best of what you have at that moment.