Posts tagged ‘Teaching’

Strategies for Teaching Reading

How can you prepare every student for reading success?Reading strategies are explicit, planned actions that help translate the printed word into sounds and meaning. Reading skills benefit every kind of student, but they are essential for emerging readers, struggling readers, English Language Learners, and students with learning challenges, according to Reading Horizons.

Here are some of the widely used practices:

Guided reading is an instructional approach that involves a teacher working with a small group of students who demonstrate similar reading behaviors and can all read similar levels of texts. The text is easy enough for students to read with your skillful support.


Direct instruction (DI) is a general term for the explicit teaching of a skill-set using lectures or demonstrations of the material to students. … DI teaches by passive learning, in contrast to exploratory models such as inquiry-based learning, discovery learning or active learning.


Mastery-Based Learning: In any situation where you’re given a set of labs, problems, or activities where your progression is dependent on successful completion of various tasks rather than seat time, you’re engaging in mastery-based learning–a teaching method premised on the idea that student progression through a course should be dependent on proficiency as opposed to amount of time spent on academic work.

As every teacher knows, classroom management is a consummate juggling act. To remain attentive to the needs of all students, teachers must engage the more advanced students while helping the struggling ones catch up. At any given point in a lesson, a teacher must decide whether to move through the material aggressively and add more challenges and twists to the problems presented, or build in more of cushion for those who are confused. Any one of these strategies is bound to leave some students feeling bored or confused. Mastery-based learning aims to help teachers in this respect by allowing students to move through coursework at their own pace.

Key features of mastery-based learning (MBL):

1. Curriculum design hinges on assessments
2. Assessments may take any form as long as they determine proficiency
3. Graduation to the next grade/level/topic is contingent upon successful completion of prerequisite assessment.
4. Curriculum is committed to the success of all students; students are not “allowed” to give up.

SOURCE: 5 Myths about Mastery-Based Learning The Knewton Blog


Recommended: The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers, by Jennifer Serravallo  

With hit books that support strategic reading through conferring, small groups, and assessment, Jen Serravallo gets emails almost daily asking, “Isn’t there a book of the strategies themselves?” Now there is.

“Strategies make the often invisible work of reading actionable and visible,” Jen writes. In The Reading Strategies Book, she collects 300 strategies to share with readers in support of thirteen goals-everything from fluency to literary analysis. Each strategy is cross-linked to skills, genres, and Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to give you just-right teaching, just in time. With Jen’s help you’ll:

  • develop goals for every reader
  • give students step-by-step strategies for skilled reading
  • guide readers with prompts aligned to the strategies
  • adjust instruction to meet individual needs with Jen’s Teaching Tips
  • craft demonstrations and explanations with her Lesson Language
  • learn more with Hat Tips to the work of influential teacher-authors.

Whether you use readers workshop, Daily 5/CAFE, guided reading, balanced reading, a core reading program, whole-class novels, or any other approach, The Reading Strategies Book will complement and extend your teaching. Rely on it to plan and implement goal-directed, differentiated instruction for individuals, small groups, and whole classes.

“We offer strategies to readers to put the work in doable terms for those who are still practicing,” writes Jen Serravallo. “The goal is not that they can do the steps of the strategy but that they become more comfortable and competent with a new skill.” With The Reading Strategies Book, you’ll have ways to help your readers make progress every day.





How interactive technology is changing the classroom and our children

If you walk into most classrooms in the UK today, you will soon notice the big screen in the middle of the room at the front.

If you walk into most classrooms in the UK today, you will soon notice the big screen in the middle of the room at the front.

It’s not a television or movie screen, but an interactive whiteboard, and it can be used for many activities within the classroom enabling the teachers and students to present, share, interact and most importantly collaborate with each other. The board itself connects to a computer and a projector, displaying whatever is on the computer screen.

When this technology first appeared in the UK in the late 1990′s it was referred to as an electronic blackboard, and, at a very low level, some are still used in this way.

Read the full story.

virtual-child-cover-bigHere is an alternative viewpoint: Virtual Child: The terrifying truth about what technology is doing to children

Children now use an average 8 hours per day of entertainment technology with profound impact on their physical, mental, social and academic development. One third of North American children enter school developmentally delayed, and child obesity is now a national epidemic. One in six children has a diagnosed mental illness, with child aggression and unmanageable behaviour increasingly the norm. One in six children cannot pay attention and require learning assistance. With research now showing causal links between physical, mental, social and academic disorders in children who overuse technology, schools and homes continue to escalate unrestricted use. Virtual Child offers parents, health and education professionals innovative tools and techniques to enhance child development and academic performance, while managing balanced use of technology. Modifications to home and school structure and environment, serve to ensure that every new millennium child will achieve a healthy, productive and sustainable future.

Author Chris Rowan is a frequent guest on CBC public radio and featured on CBC TV’s Doc Zone, Cris Rowan is known world-wide as a child development expert in the area of technology’s effects on children. As CEO of Zone’in Programs Inc. Cris Rowan has developed a ‘System of Solutions’ to address the issues of technology overuse by children. Zone’in Products, Workshops, Training and Consultation services are widely used and respected by parents, as well as health and education professionals in health units, child development centers, schools, clinic and hospital based settings. Zone’in Products include Zone’in, Move’in, Unplug’in and Live’in educational programs to enhance child health and academic performance. Zone’in Foundation Series Workshop topics include sensory processing, motor development, attachment and addictions, technology overuse, attention and learning, productivity school design, and early intervention. Zone’in Training certifies pediatric occupational therapists as Foundation Series Workshop instructors. Zone’in Consultation services provide education and training to promote Balanced Technology Management initiatives in home, school and community settings.

Rowan recently developed the Balanced Technology Management (BTM) concept which promotes managing balance between activities children need for growth and success with technology use, and has created BTM initiatives for six target groups: parents, teachers, health professionals, government, researchers and technology production corporations.

Rowan is a prolific writer and has published numerous articles on sensory and motor development, printing literacy, attachment, addictions, attention, learning, and the impact of technology on child development. Rowan authors a monthly Development Series newsletter with a readership of over 40,000 parents, health and education professionals. Rowan has authored the following policy initiatives Unplug – Don’t Drug: Routine Technology Screening Prior to Behavior Diagnosis and Medication, Schools Operating Safely – Child Behavior Management Policy and Procedures, Creating Sustainable Futures for Children of the New Millennium, and Linking Corporations to Communities – Technology Production Corporate Funding Opportunities for Schools and Communities.

Related Reading: The iQRite Touch Frame is the world’s first kitset touch frame designed for a wide range of applications and any surface or digital display technology.

A Model School: Coyote Ridge Elementary

This is a repost of an article originally published in The Post Register in July 2006.

My author visits in the Roseville/Antelope area were most enjoyable.”

Teachers need to model effective learning behaviors. Students examine the instructor, then learn and grow through reflection, imitation, and interpretation. As with human beings, schools also can be held up as role models.

Since the ideas presented in my last TalkBack, about school newsletters, prompted numerous responses from grateful and concerned educators wanting to hear more, I’ve decided to highlight a model school. The goal here is to enhance the many good practices that are already being implemented inlocal classrooms.

Coyote Ridge Elementary is one of California’s Distinguised Schools. I worked closely with it’s principal, Michelle Harmeier, a few years ago while performing author visits in the Dry Creek Joint Elementary District. The district lies in the suburban Roseville/Antelope area of northern SacramentoCounty, and southern Placer County.

Coyote Ridge is a school with a vision. Strong partnerships between students, parents, staff, and the community enrich the core curriculum program.

Program highlights for last school year include: improving academic achievement in the areas of English/Language Arts and Math; enhancing co- curricular and enrichment programs; building assets in students and staff; and implementing an Accelerated Reader program.

9781935249511_p0_v1_s260x420What Effective Schools Do is designed as guide to assist educators with activities for implementing a continuous school improvement system through application of the seven correlates of effective schools: 1. High expectations for success 2. Strong instructional leadership 3. A clear and focused mission 4. Opportunity to learn/time on task 5. Frequent monitoring of student progress 6. Safe and orderly environment 7. Positive home-school relations The ten chapters provide a comprehensive description of practices that enable educators to build and sustain a school culture that accommodates the learning expectations and needs of all students. The correlates of effective schools represent the knowledge educators need to successfully teach all children. Taken together, the correlates are more than just theory; they are what effective schools do.

Reading practice quizzes are the foundation of the Accelerated Reader program. They help teachers measure students’ comprehension of books they read independently, with an adult, or have read to them. The objective of this program is to help teachers motivate and monitor reading practice. They ensure a successful, positive experience if the student has read a book at the proper reading level.

The district’s web site includes a School Calendar, a , an Accelerated Reader Book List, and an Accelerated Reader Book Level List, for Coyote Ridge Elementary.

My author visits in the Roseville/Antelope area were most enjoyable. Harmeier acted as a liason for four schools, and I visited one each day. The students engaged in whole group readings and Q & A sessions with me, followed by breakouts with small groups in the different grades. In the individual classrooms, I heard and critiqued student creative writing. After I left, teachers had me interact with different classes as students wrote in questions and posted their material on my children’s literature and literacy website.

Such author visits, literature studies, and book discussions can be used to help students deepen their understanding of their own cultural backgrounds, as they connect to the backgrounds of others. Students and their families learn that people like themselves are found in print. Making sense of print takes on a new dimension for all involved.

Such partnerships are also going on in Idaho Falls. Brian Arave, Director Community and Foundation Relations for School District 91, deserves special thanks for his enthusiastic outreach. My family looks forward to many more meaningful experiences as the school year begins.

What most schools don’t teach

Learn about a “superpower” that’s not taught in 90% of schools. Help out at

Starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg,, NBA All-star Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi. Directed by Lesley Chilcott.

Need subtitles or translations? See hello-world-programming-kids1


Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners

“Computer programming is a powerful tool for children to ‘learn learning,’ that is, to learn the skills of thinking and problem-solving…Children who engage in programming transfer that kind of learning to other things.”–Nicholas Negroponte, the man behind the One Laptop Per Child project that hopes to put a computer in the hands of every child on earth, January 2008

Your computer won’t respond when you yell at it. Why not learn to talk to your computer in its own language? Whether you want to write games, start a business, or you’re just curious, learning to program is a great place to start. Plus, programming is fun!

Hello World! provides a gentle but thorough introduction to the world of computer programming. It’s written in language a 12-year-old can follow, but anyone who wants to learn how to program a computer can use it. Even adults. Written by Warren Sande and his son, Carter, and reviewed by professional educators, this book is kid-tested and parent-approved.

You don’t need to know anything about programming to use the book. But you should know the basics of using a computer–e-mail, surfing the web, listening to music, and so forth. If you can start a program and save a file, you should have no trouble using this book.

Purchase of the print book comes with an offer of a free PDF, ePub, and Kindle eBook from Manning. Also available is all code from the book.

Young People’s Pavilion: Barack Obama “We Are One People”

51c0jhmKFGL._SY300_Barack Obama’s meteoric rise from little-known state senator from Illinois to the first African-American president of the United States is one of the most amazing success stories in history. From his childhood in Hawaii all the way to the White House, this title includes revised and updated information through the historic inauguration of the 44th president.

In Barack Obama: “We Are One People” (African-American Biographies (Enslow)) [Library Binding], Michael A. Schuman delivers a straightforward biography of our president that is a cut above most nonfiction series books.

An excellent resource, this will be welcome by those who are too young to read Obama’s two memoirs, for school reports as well as casual reading. The book is filled with biographical information about Obama’s life. It is moving and readable title for middle school collections. For high schoolers, the uncomplicated prose may have special appeal to report writers who are also reluctant readers.

Below are some suggested prompts for teachers to give students, for writing assignments about this book:

Tell about the influences in Obama’s early life that developed his personality and character. What were his talents? What were some experiences that might have foreshadowed that the young Obama would become president of the United States?

Describe Obama’s major accomplishments. What failures or obstacles did he encounter?

Write about Obama’s personality and character. What are his well-known traits and ideals? What are some little-known qualities that you learned about? Did the author characterize him as perfect, or give you insights into his mistakes and faults?

If you could meet Obama today, what two important questions would you ask him? How do you think he would answer?

Write a persuasive paragraph answering the following question: Would you recommend Barack Obama: “We Are One People” to a friend? Give specific reasons to support your position.

This book should be read by anyone who wonders who is this president, where does he stand, and what is in his past and present.”
–Children’s Literature

With writing that is clear and well researched, and information is very accessible, Barack Obama: “We Are One People” is a very good resource for upper elementary and older readers in need of high interest material.


Read this alternative viewpoint about Barack Obama from Richard Larsen in the Idaho State Journal.

Pell Checkers

Spelling Checkers.

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot see.

Eye ran this poem threw it.
Your sure real glad two no.
Its very polished in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.


Integrating Technology in the Classroom

800px-Technology_in_classroomStacey Roshan, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Bullis School—a private school for students grades three through 12 in Potomac, Md.—faced the problem of trying to keep her students engaged as she walked them through the difficult mathematics curriculum. During her previous three years at the school, Roshan notes, students were routinely stupefied by the traditional classroom lecture and often left class with more questions than answers.

“They wanted so much more time in the classroom to work on problems,” Roshan says.

To meet the needs of her students, Roshan made radical changes to her lesson plans. Using Camtasia Studio, a screen recording and video editing program, Roshan uploaded her lectures to iTunes and assigned them as homework. “We’ve kind of reversed the whole dynamic of the class,” she says. “Instead of lecturing in class, I lecture to them when they’re at home, and we work problems together [in the classroom]. I liken it to an English classroom where the kids go home and do the reading and then they come into class and have this lively, engaging discussion.”

Educators must constantly study new, emerging technology tools. Such inquiry and the results will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information and findings on best practices. I  partner with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning.  A recent study shows that emerging technology has a positive impact in the classroom. However, integrating technology into, for example,  a high school classroom,  is much more than a one-step process.

“You can’t just slap a netbook [computer] on top of a textbook and say, ‘Great, now we have technology,” says Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy organization.

Wise says that digital learning starts with teachers, whose performance is enhanced by technology—not the other way around.

Below are some ideas on how to  successfully bring technology into the classroom.

According to of U.S. News and World Report:

By assigning online course content, using adaptive software for students with special needs, and utilizing online student assessments and other digital tools. Educators, as well as parents, students, librarians, and community leaders, can learn about classroom innovations and get new ideas

According to tech writer Drew Hendricks:

It’s frustrating to be in a classroom where there are students at very different levels and needs to a degree where it’s impossible for one teacher to cater to each student as they deserve. A teacher’s job is just as much about knowing the students and understanding how to improve an individual’s learning abilities as it is about teaching students about algebra, photosynthesis, or how to use a semicolon correctly. Studies have found that a technology rich classroom is the perfect place for that level of specialized learning. When teachers and students are trained to use the technology, there are many tools to help track growth, give extra resources, and accelerate learning based on each student’s unique pace. The first step to improving education as a whole is realizing that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all education that will work for every student. From there, technology can offer tools for defining unique education.

One of the major benefits of introducing technology into the classroom is the effect it has on the students. In traditional teaching (lecturing, working from a textbook, and taking notes, for example), it’s easy for students to fall into a passive role. Even the best students who have a natural passion for learning can have trouble paying attention to a teacher’s lecture. But when technology is involved, students are more likely to be engaged in learning. Students need to press buttons, think out problems, and manipulate the tools they have to achieve a goal. Educational technology can improve focus among students and it caters to students who learn independently and to those who are more collaborative.

Here are 3 Tips on Integrating Technology into the Classroom:

1. Plan ahead: There has to be a comprehensive strategy in place to implement technology into the school system, Wise says, and the teachers have to be involved in the planning stages.

2. Try something new: The Digital Learning Day website includes a number of teacher “toolkits” with lesson ideas and devices for enhancing lessons with technology. One tool mentioned is the website Animoto, which allows students to create and upload videos, such as oral book reports. There are also lists of ideas for digital learning, which have been submitted by other teachers.

One idea that has seen great results, say Wise and Hall, is the “flipped classroom.” With this setup, they explain, the lectures and homework are reversed. Students will listen to a webcast or recording of the teacher’s lecture at home, and then they will come to class and work on projects and problem-solving activities related to the lecture with the teachers. With this system, says Wise, “The teacher is able to engage with each student and immediately determine what their needs are.”

3. Become an educational designer: As technology evolves, so must the teachers. “For the last 100 years, teachers have essentially been the sage on the stage,” Wise says. “They’re the only access point of knowledge.” But now, Wise says, teachers are more like designers, who get to choose and develop what kinds of content their students access and which technologies they use. Wise says that with new content technologies, too, teachers can quickly see assessment results of their students. “They have tools so that instead of seeing 25 students sitting in front of them looking the same,” Wise says, “they now know that this student needs this particular assistance, and this student needs that something else.”

[These high school classrooms are the most connected.]

[Experts give parents tech tips on embracing ]

[Some schools rely on in-house tech experts to train teachers.]

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