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Building Bridges: Making Guest Readers Work In Your Classroom

classroom-643047_1280.jpgThis is the first in a 3-part series about ways to strengthen communication between school and home/community.  If you don’t do so already, incorporate one or more of the strategies shared during the series and reply with the results below.

Looking for ways to get your students parents and caregivers involved in the learning process?  One way I’ve found very engaging is having parent or community volunteers come into my classroom and read to students.  Having your student’s caregivers come in to read provides lots of benefits for your students, the volunteers, and for you as a teacher.  Students, through read alouds, develop their decoding and fluency skills along practicing comprehension strategies.  Depending on how volunteers choose books, volunteers share parts of themselves as well as their interests with the kids.  They also contribute to buidling a positive classroom and school environment. As an educator, you see how their students respond when hearing another adults read, build positive rapport with the volunteers, and get a moment to relax during a long day of learning! You might even learn about some new series or author you can use in the class, which was always a great thing for me, especially in my early years of teaching.

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Teaching Students with SEBD

Children-using-digital-tablet.jpgAs any teacher is aware, there are many tiers of student groups in education. In most schools, students are separated by grade levels. In classrooms, they may be grouped by academic ability. In many special education classrooms, they are categorized by need. Special education teachers are familiar with the spectrum of needs for their students. One particular category is students with severe emotional behavior disorders. This type of disorder can manifest in many different forms. One student may be a loner and below typical academic ability. Another student may have multiple outbursts in a day, but be of average or above academic ability. The behaviors may be extreme. Behavior is not always indicative of ability though. Severe emotional behavior disorder can affect a student’s academic progress, interpersonal relationships, classroom behavior, and self-care. So, what happens when you are responsible for this type of student in your classroom? Ideally, you would want the support of guardians, administration, and co-workers. That does not always happen as we think it should. Here are some ways that you alone can make a difference in the student’s life.

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STEM Integration- Celebrate National Inventor’s Day

desk-912577_1920.jpgToday we will be discussing STEM and the process of implementing it into your teaching. Many schools are using STEM to enrich their students. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This is not a program that is implemented in schools, but a philosophy based on problem-solving. By doing STEM activities, you are promoting problem-solving skills. These components are vital to teaching 21st century skills that  involve your child’s ability to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate. You can build these skills and teach STEM through everyday activities. National Inventor’s Day is celebrated on February 11th. We will brainstorm ways to get ready! These activities are meant to be simple, yet exciting to your preschool all the way to your high school students. Students will learn that by working together through their answers it promotes life-long learning and leadership.

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Individual Learning Styles

Laptop Work-4.jpgLast week we discussed how to incorporate technology into your classroom. This week we will focus specifically on Individual Learning Styles and how technology can meet student needs. Technology allows students to work independently and as educators you need to discover ways meet their various learning styles.  

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What is the Goal of Reading Goals?

Working Hard-1.jpgGoals, contests and challenges can be a great way to motivate your students. It’s time to ring out the old and ring in the new by setting clear goals or resolutions for your classroom. In this post I will explore some options when implementing reading challenges or contests. These ideas will help to encourage learning and growing all year long. 

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Being Passionate about Reading

bigstock-Young-smiling-student-using-he-48119156.jpgReading can evoke many different feelings in people. For some, it is a delight. For others, a horror. Teaching reading skills is a requirement in any education system. There is research available that will support most of the ways we teach these skills. How do we instill in students a passion for reading though? I believe it starts at a young age before students become disillusioned over standardized testing. Some of my fondest memories of school involve the school library and teachers that took the opportunity to engage us in reading for the simple joy of it. I know of some local schools that are taking the last fifteen minutes of school to “Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.).” I support this fully. The students are only asked to maintain a reading log. No other expectations. I know some people would want to encourage formative or summative assessments to prove that students are truly engaged in the reading. I would ask that you envision fifteen minutes at your own job where you were only asked to read something of your choosing during that time. Would that not be a refresher? Here are some ideas on how to encourage students to be passionate about reading:

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Has Popcorn Reading Become Stale? Reevaluating A Reading Tradition in Classrooms

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How many of you reading this article can relate to the following as a student or teacher? I remember as a student loving to be called upon to read. The eagerness and excitement of reading aloud gave me a sense of pride [maybe too much at times], and because I was your typical high achiever in school, was frequently called upon to participate in this activity. I also remember the dreaded sigh when one of my classmates who wasn’t as fluent a reader was called. Snickers and sighs of boredom or surprised reactions after a spell of daydreaming were some of the responses I remember kids having in class. I wondered why but never really gave it much thought. Fast forward a few years and I am standing in the classroom teaching students reading skills. The culture of this particular school is to use popcorn reading as a strategy for developing fluency with the students. I’m long-term subbing and notice the students have been trained to do this activity. Certain students are noticeably more excited than others, and there were certain students who were always the last to read. I noticed that these students were also the ones prone to misbehavior. I wondered how to reel these students in without losing the enthusiasm the others had for popcorn reading?

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Warm up with these COOL Books

As we head intoipad-1126136_1920.jpg Winter Break, this is a great time to hook students on reading. By assigning students to read winter related books over the break, it gives them something to do to avoid boredom while motivating them to learn new things. There is something for all learners.  Here are a few of my favorites.

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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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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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