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Play-Based Kindergarten & Common Core Writing

Children-using-digital-tablet.jpgMuch has been written about the faults or potential failings of the common core writing guidelines for kindergarteners. Specifically, that students in Kindergarten are asked to do too much, too soon, and may not be ready—which is not only developmentally inappropriate, and could cause long-term trouble with motivation and self-efficacy. However, many of the concerns can be noted as implementation and interpretation problems. It certainly isn’t outlandish to expect: If Play-Based Kindergarten is the research-based and developmentally appropriate standard, then why emphasize literacy benchmarks at all? Because the didactic and rote- based, worksheet –emphasized structure of poor teaching is wrong no matter which standards you use.

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Beginning a Classroom Word Study Program

test_frustration.jpgIf you incorporate a Word Study program into your classroom, then gone are the days of the Friday spelling test! The concept of word study is that students learn strategies or patterns that will transfer to many words. Students are no longer required to memorize lists of unrelated or meaningless words. When I taught first and second grade, I utilized phonics and encouraged phonemic awareness. Little did I know I was using a new way of spelling called “word study”!   

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Differentiation: Environment

desk-912577_1920.jpgDifferentiation is a one word description for a method to reach every student and provide them with access to the curriculum that fits their learning style and their interests. There are four areas that differentiation can occur: product, process, content, and environment.To me, environment is the most important. It is an essential part of effective classroom management and provides the foundation to every other area that can be differentiated. Plus, it can easily adapted to every classroom with no need for specialized technology or huge effort on your part. I have definitely embraced a differentiated environment in my own classroom by using the following guidelines:

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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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