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?