Building Bridges: Partnering with Families to Support Reading at Home

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Feb 24, 2017 11:45:00 AM

This is the second of three articles about building bridges between the school and home/community.  Read the first post here.

In my early years working in an urban school district, I had caregivers come to me all the time asking for ways to help their kids at home after school.  These parents had varied education backgrounds, and I had to get really creative so I could meet the needs of some of my families. Some parents were homeless, spoke a language other than English, worked multiple jobs, or were stay-at-home and could only meet me in school (where I tutored) during after hours. How could I make sure to meet the needs of all these families without burning out or being time/resource consuming?  Below are some tips to give caregivers and to keep families involved and invested in your student's learning process.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Differentiation, Literacy

The Flier that Changed the World- Teaching Jo Ann Robinson in Black History Month

Posted by Rachel Tapling on Feb 23, 2017 11:38:00 AM

This is part three of a series on lesser-known heroines of the Civil Rights Era for Black History Month.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Writing, Literacy

The Flipped Classroom: Benefits Students with Special Needs

Posted by Reine L. on Feb 22, 2017 12:28:00 PM

How does Flipped Learning benefit students with special needs? In 2009, Cole and Kritzer wrote an article in Rural Special Education Quarterly, 28 (4), 36-40, titled Strategies for success: Teaching an online course explains that the reason the flipped model is considered a strength amongst educators is that it allows for a more efficient use of class time. “. . . In the flipped classroom, students can get the most out of class time by spending it on practical application, not on inactive lecture.” Cole and Kritzer add that lecture content can be provided through electronic means, and this modality allows teachers to improve the quality of their video lecture or short instruction to a manageable length with an emphasis on important points and less extraneous information. For example, teachers support and enhance lessons by assigning reading selections through an eBook library, such as Big Universe, on specific subject matter content material in areas taught throughout the quarter. In doing so, students read ahead and prepare for active learning in the classroom, whether a writing activity, classroom discussion, or project-based learning, this is just one example of the framework in a flipped classroom model.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Writing, Technology, Literacy

High Museum of Art - Curriculum Connection

Posted by Reine L. on Feb 20, 2017 12:31:00 PM

Students who have never been to an art museum may require some background knowledge about fine art and antiquities. Engage students by first assigning Art Museum, found in the Big Universe online library collection, this way students will begin to formulate some idea and begin to ask questions about art, such as: Who are the artists? What part of the world does the artists’ work come from? This nonfiction book has vibrant, full-color photos, and students read it as if experiencing an actual field trip experience!

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Literacy

Building Bridges: Making Guest Readers Work In Your Classroom

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Feb 17, 2017 12:36:00 PM

This 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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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Personal Experiences, Differentiation, Literacy

Teaching as Resistance: The Septima Clark Story

Posted by Rachel Tapling on Feb 16, 2017 12:08:00 PM


If only I could catch some of her spirit.”

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Literacy

Fact vs Fiction: A President's Day Lesson

Posted by Teresa Marchant on Feb 15, 2017 1:14:24 PM

With increased access to information, students need to understand how to select appropriate resources. President’s Day is a great a time to teach about research and the selection process. I teach my students this simple acronym RADCAB!  This helps them to remember criteria for finding information.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Common Core, Literacy

Teaching Students with SEBD

Posted by Kristie J. on Feb 13, 2017 11:10:00 AM

As 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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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Differentiation, Special Education, Literacy

Freedom Writing: Students Expressing Ideas About Current or Controversial Events

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Feb 10, 2017 11:36:00 AM

How can we support kids as they process their feelings about current or recent events happening in our world? Today's students had a front-row seat to school shootings, terrorism events, political conflict, and drug-related deaths for example within recent years, and they might have feelings of confusion, fear, or frustration. Educators have to navigate discussing these conversations and encourage students without promoting their personal views. Though it may be challenging to do, you can take these moments that have real impact students' lives and make it a teachable moment for students.  Here's how I've done this in the past when working with my students.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Writing, Technology, Literacy

"Hope is a Song in a Weary Heart"- A 3-Part Series on Lesser-Known Heroines for Black History Month

Posted by Rachel Tapling on Feb 9, 2017 12:08:00 PM

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rosa Parks

Harriet Tubman

Pauli Murray

Your students probably recognize the first three names of incredible and resilient leaders from previous studies of Black History Month, but do they recognize the fourth name?

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Writing, Technology, Literacy

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