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The Open Classroom

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.44.51 AM.pngThe open classroom, by definition, is an approach to elementary education that emphasizes spacious classrooms where learning is informally structured, flexible and individualized. Open classrooms’ focus on students’ “learning by doing” and this concept resonates with those who believe that a formal, teacher-led classroom prevents a student from being creative and reaching their full potential. Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.39.28 AM.pngThe central theme of an open classroom generally does not function with daily class lessons given by the teacher that follow a detailed curriculum in preparation for standardized tests. In contrast, the setting of an open classroom provides help from the teacher, and it is designed with planned objects, books and interest centers where students learn at their own pace. Specifically, teachers structure the classroom and activities for both individual students and small work groups. For instance, students are exposed to reading, math, science, history, and art on the philosophy that children learn best when they are interested in the content and are able to understand the importance of what they are learning using project-based learning, or interest centers.

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Oxford’s Storytelling Schools

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 3.55.24 PM-1.pngThe digital phenomenon and technology has an extraordinary effect on people, but little research has been done in the field of educators that gives an implicit message so that students are able to communicate and relate to other human beings and not just their gadgets. Stories lead to learning, and according to the curators of the Storytelling Schools programme, “Storytelling is the ‘something’ I and others have all been looking for, for a long time. It’s good because it’s cross-cultural and it’s accessible; it’s about being human and it’s deep.” The tools we have acquired to enhance teaching are important, but what is even more valuable is teachers who provide literacy education in the classroom that gives each child personal power as we guide, motivate, entertain, educate, inspire and influence others through the artful use of story.

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Autism Memory and Multi-Tasking

Screen Shot 2017-01-08 at 1.49.10 PM.pngIn an article from Science News, August 15, 2011 entitled Inflexibility May Give Pupils With Autism Problems In Multitasking which discussed primarily deficiencies, namely, how students with autism stick rigidly to tasks in the order they are given to them. According to the research, the students had difficulty with ‘prospective memory’ or remembering to carry out their intentions, thus it was concluded that this attributed to the challenges they face. My mind immediately shifted to what I have observed in schools and which brought me to share a few techniques that may enhance memory and multi-tasking with Autism students. One of the most important aspects of teaching a student who has Autism is the idea of what is going on in their world and how to multi-tasking in order to focus on a variety of tasks throughout the day.

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National Science Fiction Day

Screen Shot 2016-12-29 at 2.34.11 PM.pngNational Science Fiction Day is celebrated each year on the 2nd day of January by science fiction fans in the United States. National Science Fiction Day, an “unofficial” holiday as it corresponds with the birth date of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It has been shown that science fiction is a popular topic amongst children. Subsequently, on science fiction day teachers can encourage students to watch some classic fiction movies, T.V. shows, or begin to read a science fiction novel. Upon further exploration, encourage students to visit the Museum of Science Fiction website located at: http://www.museumofsciencefiction.org/welcome/

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Essential Oils for Teachers and Students

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.55.40 AM.pngWhat are Essential Oils? Essential oils are extracts from leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of various plants. The oils are distilled into extremely concentrated forms and contain active ingredients that are thought to have beneficial effects. The use of essential oils as treatment for various ailments is known as aromatherapy.

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Making Assessments Fun, and Low Stress for Students

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.40.51 PM.pngWhen incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction.  Here are a few examples that may be used in the classroom during the formative assessment process to collect evidence of student learning. Observations, Questioning, Discussion, Exit/Admit Slips, Learning/Response Logs, Graphic Organizers, Peer/Self Assessments, Practice Presentations, Visual Representations, Individual Whiteboards, and Constructive Quizzes.

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Forefathers’ Day, the Forgotten Pilgrim Holiday

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 6.05.26 PM.pngForefathers’ Day is a holiday celebrated yearly in Massachusetts that began in 1769. As recounted by the historian John Seelye, Memory’s Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock, this location was identified as the landing place many years after the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth on the 22nd of December and established the first colony at Plymouth in 1620.

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ESSA: Chiefs For Change in School Improvement

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.51.31 PM.pngIn May 2016, Chiefs for Change addressed school improvement strategies under ESSA in a booklet titled: Implementing Change: Rethinking School Improvement Strategies and Funding Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA requires that seven (7) percent of Title I funds is set aside as a school improvement innovation fund.

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ESSA Increases Education Technology Funding

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 9.23.49 AM.pngA new competitive grant program within the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, will fund the development and research of evidence-based innovative technology approaches to student learning. These grants are an additional resource made available to schools. This is an opportunity to begin or expand a grant program in addition to the general availability of new funds in the marketplace.

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Goodbye, Core Academic Subjects, Hello, ESSA’s Well-Rounded Education

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Teachers have felt tied up in knots, for more than a decade, due to the threat of No Child Left Behind, NCLB, sanctions for failing to meet unrealistic proficiency levels. Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, opens up many opportunities for states and local school districts to develop curriculum programs for a “Well-Rounded” education for all students. The term “Well-Rounded” appears 24 times in the law, and includes everything from Arts, Physical Education, Science, Civics and Government, Music and Foreign Languages – all of which are programs eligible for federal funding under ESSA.

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