Cassidy Taylor

Recent Posts

STEM: Engineer Girl!

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Mar 14, 2017 11:32:00 AM

The image above is not an accurate depiction of women in the sciences. When the statistics are examined and looking around the world of science and technology it becomes clear very quickly that there really aren't a lot of women working as professionals in these fields. In her February 23, 2015 post, "Teaching Science for All: Helping Women Fulfill their Potential", on the Stanford University Teaching Commons blog Teaching Talk, Mandy McClean points out, "less than one-quarter of bachelors degrees awarded in fields such as computer science, engineering and physics go to women." And it isn't due to the number of women enrolled in higher learning. A recent Forbes magazine report notes that males only outnumber females in higher learning nationally by 2 percent and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1998, women have outnumbered men in post-baccalaureate programs.

So what can K-12 teachers do to encourage girls to choose higher education and future careers in the sciences, math and technology?

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Common Core

Using Fiction to Help Teach Facts

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Sep 16, 2015 1:20:00 PM

Learning formulas, performing calculations, memorizing dates and seemingly random facts, cramming loose bits of information into a the brain. Those are the daily rituals performed by students in the hopes that they can remember what they have learned at least long enough to pass the test. To make the lessons more permanent, help students make a connection by using fiction to reinforce the rote facts. Pair novels, short stories, fables, or poems that are relevant to the concepts and facts that are being introduced to help give students another path to access the information and aid retention. Students can even write their own fiction as a way to further cement concepts.

Using literature also allows teachers to push the limits of student's learning by allowing them to imagine and play with the ideas in the fictional setting of a story.

Here are three fact heavy subjects with ideas and resources to help pair fact with fiction to transform memorizing into learning.

History and Historical Fiction

History has the reputation of being a boring subject in the eyes of many students. How can things that happened so long ago be relevant today? This is the perfect reason to integrate fiction in history lessons. Read or assign a novel, story or poetry that is either from the time period or set in the time period being studied. It is, of course, best to pick a work with children as the main characters.

Out of the Deeps
Anne Laurel Carter (author), Nicholas Debon (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781554690633
Like many children throughout Canada's history, Savino had to quit school when he was twelve to work and help his family. In Out of the Deeps, Savino spends his first day at the mine working alongside his father and Nelson, his father's pit pony. When Savino's headlamp goes out deep in the coal mine, Nelson leads Savino out of the danger. In 1944 the miners received their first paid holiday and insisted that their pit ponies receive a week's holiday too. In Out of the Deeps, Anne Laurel Carter captures a boy's first day at work in the mines and a special pit pony's first glimpse of daylight.

1492 New World Tales
Richard & Judy Dockrey Young (authors)
A collection of authentic stories from the years around 1492. These tales have been carefully crafted to sound as exciting and mysterious as they were when first told five hundred years ago by sailors around a lantern on a ship, shared by explorers reclining around a campfire, enjoyed by Native Americans in a grass hut, whispered inside a stone palace in the Totonac city of Zempoala, or fondly remembered by an adventurer back home in Europe.
Additional resources

Historical Fiction/Non-fiction pairings for the Middle Grades: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/the-top-10-historical-fictionnon-fiction-pairings-for-middle-grade-readers-by-susan-dee/

Teaching History with Comic Books: http://www.societyforhistoryeducation.org/F12Preview.html

National Geographic Book Pairs: http://nglibrary.ngs.org/content.php?pid=530739&sid=4366792

Math and Number Stories

Math class is notorious for memorization and rote lessons. Students spend each math class crunching numbers and trying to remember which formula or operation to use to solve the assigned problems. With just a small infusion of fiction, math can come alive and give students additional tools to aid in the recall and application of the facts.

Multiply on the Fly
Suzanne Slade (author), Erin E. Hunter (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781607181484
From pirate bugs to spittlebugs to lovely Luna moths, children will love learning about the world's insects in Multiply on the Fly! Following in the footsteps of What's New at the Zoo? and What's the Difference, this rhythmic book teaches multiplication in a way that will make children "bug" you for more. Teeming with fun facts, readers will multiply with a variety of insects, including daring dragonflies, hungry honeybees, and stealthy walking sticks.

Pythagoras and the Ratios
Julie Ellis (author), Phyllis Hornung Peacock (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781570917769
A Math Adventure! Julie Ellis and Phyllis Hornung Peacock team up once again to explore Pythagorean ratios in this humorous sequel to What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? Pythagoras and his cousins want to win a music contest, but first they must figure out how to play their instruments in tune, something that's never been done before. While trying to fix the problem, Pythagoras makes an important discovery--notes that sound pleasant together have a certain mathematical relationship. When Pythagoras applies this ratio to his cousins' pipes and lyres, the result is music to the ears. This book is good for your brain because: Mathematical problem solving, Ratios, Measuring, Musical Theory, History of Instruments.
Additional resources

Best Books on Math for Kids: http://www.the-best-childrens-books.org/math-for-kids.html (by grade)

Science/Technology and Science Fiction

Science and Technology while not always not as number intense as math includes concepts that are foreign to most students. They simply have no context within which to place the theoretical basis for most sciences. Adding fiction to the science curriculum can also help students explore the more thoughtful ideas and the creative imagining that are exactly how scientists work.

Solar System Forecast
Kelly Kizer Whitt (author), Laurie Allen Klein (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781607185413
Below-freezing temperatures, scorching heat, and storms bigger than the planet Earth are just some of the wild weather you will encounter on your trip through the solar system! Get your fun facts along with your forecast for each major planet, as well as a moon (Titan) and a dwarf planet (Pluto). Get ready for some out of this world fun with Solar System Forecast!

Forensic Scientist
Tim Clifford
ISBN: 9781606943717
Use forensic science to solve a mystery in this graphic high interest book.
Additional resources

http://bioteaching.com/using-fiction-to-teach-biology/

Fiction for teaching science concepts to elementary students: http://www.scsk12.org/scs/trpages/site/science_fiction.html

Storytelling in Science: http://www.ngcproject.org/blog/storytelling-science-using-fiction-engage-girls-stem

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing, Literacy

Gaming Your Way to Digital Literacy

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Sep 4, 2015 9:25:25 PM

Many students spend a lot of time on the computer using social media and gaming. Prepare them for the online reality by creating a short unit on digital literacy and computer safety using the most common sense medium - games. Use the unit to fulfill a portion of the digital literacy requirements in Common Core. There is also a growing movement seeking to evaluate students' digital literacy skills more regularly and in line with other subject areas so getting a unit together now that can be revised is a practical idea for teachers as well. And no worries, there IS educational value in gaming. Check out "A Graphic That Itemizes The Educational Value of Video Games" at teachthought.com.

In addition as part of the digital literacy unit, why not create a list of links to games that are not only fun but educational and send it home with students. A report from Classroom Aid offers a comprehensive list of sites that have games with an educational slant. A joint study from NYU and CUNY shows that educational games can boost motivation in learning especially when played with others.

There are even games online that can be used to help teach digital literacy. Media Smarts offer games that help introduce students to key concepts in media and digital literacy.

Here are four books that you can assign from Big Universe to help introduce the subject of digital literacy to help illustrate how important it is to protect personal information and to understand how the internet and computers really work.

Computer Investigation
Elizabeth Bauchner (author)
ISBN: 9781422289488
The digital age we entered in the twenty-first century has rapidly become an age of digital crime. Cybercrimes like spoofing, phishing, and hacking are on the rise, and computer forensic technicians are on the case. Even traditional crimes like murder, fraud, and child abuse can be both facilitated by computers and solved through computer investigation. Computer Investigation helps readers understand how cybercrimes are committed, and how investigators help solve them and bring the perpetrators to justice. Readers will also gain a few tips for protecting themselves online and protecting their computers from intrusions and hacks.

Video Games
Jeanne Sturm (author)
ISBN: 9781604723335
This book describes the most current and popular video games, the history of video games, how they work, and the impact they might have on our future.

CYSM 3 - The Case of the Video Game Smugglers
Bruce Lansky (author)
ISBN: 9781442469013
Twelve-year-old amateur sleuths Hawkeye Collins and Amy Adams love to solve mysteries. They interview suspects and examine crime scenes looking for clues. Hawkeye and Amy share all their clues with readers, so readers can solve the mysteries too. As soon as the readers have come up with a solution, they can read Hawkeye and Amy's solutions in the back of the book (in mirror type) to find out if they've cracked the case. Each book contains 8 to 10 clue-filled mysteries that are exciting to read--and hard to put down. We're excited to present the first four titles in this series--redesigned to introduce the fun of solving mysteries to a new generation of readers. Hawkeye, Amy, and Sergeant Treadwell must catch the crooks who stole the video game their computer club just invented. At the airport gate, Hawkeye sketches suspects who could be smuggling the flash drive. With only seconds to spare, he and Amy pick out the thief... How does Hawkeye spot the smuggler, and where is the flash drive hidden?

Using Technology, Information, and Media-Book T
Saddleback Educational Publishing (author)
ISBN: 9781612473338
Thirty-six activities and lessons (Lessons 37-72) teach students information literacy, understand how the information is organized, identify the best sources of information for a given need, locate those sources, evaluate the sources critically, and share that information. Includes: Defining Types of Information; Sharing Information; Defining Media; Creating Newsletters; Defining Technology; Blogging. 16 graphic organizers & assessments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Technology, Literacy

Getting out of the Literature Rut: Remodel Classroom Reading Lists

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Sep 3, 2015 8:05:04 AM

Just like house designs and interiors become dated, so do classroom reading lists. Literature lists that haven't been revamped for a while can cause teachers to become complacent in teaching the material and students resistant to reading the titles. When teachers use the same material for too long it shows and students are quick to pick up the cues. Although classics are just that, over the years most books loose the ability to connect with readers due to changes in cultural and social context and the use of archaic language. For these reasons (and more) classroom reading lists should be updated regularly in order to keep students engaged and lessons relevant.

Just like when remodeling a house, it is absolutely fine to keep some timeless classics. These can be compared to the framing of the house and therefore essential to remain; unless of course there are other issues with the material. The rest of the list can then be gutted, ripped apart and redesigned to make it more useful and relevant to students and the curriculum. And just like a home remodel; the remaking of key literature lists can seem daunting. But in the end, when done correctly, the rewards more than make up for any inconvenience. To help make the process easier, below are tips for helping remodel classroom reading lists.

Three Handy Tips for Remodeling Classroom Reading Lists

1) There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are a multitude of reading lists already out there. Take and look and borrow some or all of the suggestions. Many of these lists are also updated periodically making it easy to keep up to date as well.

Some available book lists to get started:

Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/best

ALA lists: http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet234

Association for Library Service to Children: http://www.ala.org/alsc/booklists

International Literacy Association: http://www.reading.org/Resources/Booklists.aspx

BooksintheClassroom.com: http://www.carolhurst.com/toc.html

2) Ask for suggestions. Ask parents, students, colleagues and friends what should (or should) not be included in the updated literature list. Not only will there be some amazing suggestions, it will also help to gauge what other selections it may (or may not) be wise to include. And don't forget to ask Librarians at school and the public library; they live for these kinds of questions!

3) Remember to include diversity. Make sure to have a wide range of literature on the list. Include both fiction and non-fiction. Short annotations of each book on the list can also help students make a connection from the books on themselves, larger life lessons and to the curriculum.

Where Can You Find The Books?

Big Universe offers thousands of online titles for students of all ages.

Resources

Getting Students to Read: 11 Strategies for getting Students to Read What is Assigned. "The Use of Reading Lists" https://www.canadacollege.edu/inside/CIETL/getting_students_to_read.pdf

Georgia Department of Education. Guidance for Developing Model K-12 Reading Lists. https://www.georgiastandards.org/Common-Core/Pages/Guidance-for-Developing-Model-K-12-Reading-Lists.aspx

 

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Differentiation, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

Let summer be inspiring

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Jun 22, 2015 10:54:19 AM

Be inspired! Use the summer to explore new ideas, review past lessons and engage in activities to feed the mind, body, and soul. Learn just for the pure joy of learning. Take important things learned and use them in dally life. Take chances. Try new things. Try again on something that has been a challenge. These are the underlying messages in Italian educator, Cesare Cata's list of 15 "homework" assignments for his students this summer that has gone viral in his native Italy and is beginning to get attention here in North America.

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Local Summer Learning Opportunities Kids Will Love

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Jun 9, 2015 4:00:26 AM

Help students overcome the deadly summer slide and have fun while they are at it! And since the focus is local, children will grow academically as they learn about the community in which they live.

Summer learning doesn't have to be a drag. There are plenty of opportunities for students to continue to learn over the summer while at the same time having a good time.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Integration Ideas

Summer Learning: Geology and Geography on Vacation

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on May 29, 2015 4:48:21 AM

Summer vacation can be a time of intense learning. Children have a chance to relax, explore, and submerge themselves into hobbies and other activities that give them a sense of satisfaction. Playing outdoors and other summer activities are full of learning; even when adults don't recognize it immediately. Help prepare students for summer adventures that pack an educational punch by providing a list of fun, educational, summer ideas for parents and send it home. Remember to share the information with students in the classroom as well.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Differentiation, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing

Travelouges and Adventure Journals: Keeping Kids Writing Over the Summer

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on May 20, 2015 5:53:21 AM

A lot of students travel in the summer. They go to the beach or to the mountains. Kids go camping with family or maybe even to summer camp. Families travel far from home and close to home. They visit familiar places like a grandparents or a totally new place like a foreign country. Use these adventures to keep students writing over the summer and prevent summer slide.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing, Technology, Literacy

Science Like a Girl: Exploring Women in the Sciences

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on May 18, 2015 7:41:44 AM

The image above is not an accurate depiction of women in the sciences. When the statistics are examined and looking around the world of science and technology it becomes clear very quickly that there really aren't a lot of women working as professionals in these fields. In her February 23, 2015 post, "Teaching Science for All: Helping Women Fulfill their Potential", on the Stanford University Teaching Commons blog Teaching Talk, Mandy McClean points out, "less than one-quarter of bachelors degrees awarded in fields such as computer science, engineering and physics go to women." And it isn't due to the number of women enrolled in higher learning. A recent Forbes magazine report notes that males only outnumber females in higher learning nationally by 2 percent and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1998, women have outnumbered men in post-baccalaureate programs.

So what can K-12 teachers do to encourage girls to choose higher education and future careers in the sciences, math and technology?

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Growing Food, Growing Bodies

Posted by Cassidy Taylor on Apr 19, 2015 4:48:44 PM

The birds are singing, the frogs are chirping and the plants are beginning to grow. It's the perfect time to get students outside and try some truly hands-on learning. Use the warm days and the itch to get outside to teach students the basics of food production and nutrition through an inquiry unit that combines explores gardening and nutrition. The best part is that the inquiry unit can be modified for any age group and used year after year.

Here are three ideas to get help get you started:

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Technology

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