As this year comes to a close, I want to thank you for making my first few months at EdGeeks unforgettable. I am so inspired by the pieces I get to write each day and by the questions I receive from engaged readers. I appreciate your readership and sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be taking the week off to share the holidays with family and friends, but fear not, I will return in 2012. Thanks and happy holidays to all!
Your EdGeek, Marisa
Before I go…here’s one last Lowdown!
It is interesting that Terry Doherty was the first person to ask me the question “Why is it important to you that we bridge the gap between home and school?” This guest blog post featured at Family Bookshelf, discusses the importance and implications of bridging the gap.
There has been buzz about the stand-up desk for awhile now and this post discusses the importance of movement for students in school, and how the stand-up desk can help! Many business professionals are using the stand-up desk to improve their work environment – well, school is a work environment too! Let’s get our classrooms on board.
On Wednesday, EdGeeks welcomed guest blogger Terry Doherty of The Reading Tub and Family Bookshelf. In her post, she discusses the importance of early literacy in the home and offeres simple ways for families to integrate literacy into everyday routines. Thanks Terry!
PenPal News is an exciting new project that is fusing technology with pen paling and bringing it into the classroom. You can participate by signing your class up to take part in the second round of the project’s free pilot program. The program is 6 weeks long and it will begin in February. Sign up here: http://www.penpalnews.com/PenPal_News/home.html
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to guest blog for Terry Doherty at the Family Bookshelf. Today, she is joining EdGeeks as a guest blogger and I am absolutely delighted to have her! Terry Doherty is such an amazing resource for EdGeeks. I absolutely love The Reading Tub and Family Bookshelf because they promote literacy in the home through reviewing and categorizing books and offering ideas about ways to encourage a love of reading amongst children. EdGeeks is so lucky to have Terry Doherty guest blog today on the importance of literacy in the home environment and some simple ways to integrate literacy into your daily routines.
Literacy Development in the Home Environment
If I say the word “literacy,” what do you see? A book? A teacher? A notebook? A cereal box? Your kids’ drawings? Toys?
Thank you so much to Terry Doherty for sharing these helpful tips, tools and ideas about literacy with us. Learn more about Terry Doherty here:
Last year I attended the CEC conference (Council for Exceptional Children) in National Harbor, Maryland. For me, the most exciting part of the conference was the Expo, a central location where companies offer information on new ideas, curricula, materials and technologies to support learners in the classroom. I spent hours at the Expo talking to people, trying out tech toys and watching demonstrations. One of my favorite stops was actually a stand that provided information on school furniture. At this stand, I got to try out a revolutionary piece of furniture, the stand-up desk!
There is a lot of hype over the stand-up desk, and there should be! It is a really great idea. The one I tried out was the Safco Alphabetter Desk. It came with a stool that you could sit or lean on if you wanted to. The best part of the desk was the fact that it had a hanging bar down below that you could rock with your foot. This gave it an almost rocking-chair feeling.
Benefits of The Stand-Up Desk
Outfitting a classroom with standing desks is not a cheap endeavor! That being said, you may be able to convince your school leader that it is well worth the investment. There are also grant opportunities available for teachers (which will be spoken about in greater detail in a later post). If outfitting your classroom with a standing desk is not feasible, it might be worth purchasing just a few stand-up desks to try out on a rotation basis.
I am most curious to learn how it affected students with sensory issues and/or behavioral challenges. Many of the behavioral challenges we see are directly connected to the inflexible structure of the traditional classroom environment. Not being allowed to move around freely for a prolonged period of time can have a detrimental effect on a learner. Stand-up desks might be the answer for some of them. What do you think?
I always love guest blogging! A few months ago, I met a new blogger friend, Terry Doherty. Today’s post was written for her blog The Family Bookshelf, which is connected to her website The Reading Tub. Make sure to check out both the blog and the site as a resources for book lists, reviews and ideas for creating a literacy-rich environment at home. A special thanks to my new friend Terry Doherty for supporting EdGeeks! Later this week, she will share ideas on literacy in the home…stay tuned!
Bridging the Gap Between Home and School
“Better parents can make every teacher more effective.”
-Thomas Friedman, NY Times
When things don’t go the way we want, we look for someone to blame. Right now, education in our country is not where we would like it to be. I have met some inspiring teachers throughout my career, as well as some who I have found…well, uninspiring. I can say the same of the families I have come across. There is always a range. I don’t think placing blame necessarily does anything for the problem – the problem is too large. What we can do in an effort to be proactive on the matter is try desperately to bridge the gap between home and school, which will support families and teachers in building a partnership rather than working independently.
I am a special education teacher by trade and the bulk of my experiences have been in Collaborative Team Teaching settings. A CTT class is wonderful for many reasons, but first and foremost because a team works together to provide support to a group of students. A teacher is never alone in regards to decision-making in a CTT class, because there is a team of teachers, related service providers and often paraprofessionals working together. I propose that we approach the parent-teacher relationship as a co-teaching experience.
Let’s take a logical approach to this issue. The hours in a student’s day are split between their home environment and their school environment. If families and teachers are working alone, chances are they are not thinking alike. Consistency is key in the success of a student. Consistency can be in reference to the teachers in a school, the adults in a family, but I’d like to think of the bigger picture…consistency between the home and school environments.
Fact: Working together to support a child has a greater effect than working alone. That being said, bridging the gap is easier said than done. Creating EdGeeks.com is my small contribution to the cause but let me put forth some ideas for ways that teachers and families can work together to improve a child’s education:
How Families Can Bridge the Gap
How Teachers Can Bridge the Gap
Why is consistency key to a student’s success in learning? Because without consistency, we send mixed messages to our youngsters. For example, when I taught second grade math, there was much confusion in regards to strategies for adding 2 and 3-digit numbers. The school’s curriculum guided students through a variety of strategies that did not include “stacking,” which is the good old-fashioned vertical way that many of us learned to add in school. Families would always come to me and say, “I taught my son/daughter stacking last night because that’s the best way.” It was challenging for me, but even more so for the students. They were learning one strategy at home, and then being asked to use the opposite strategy in school. Both their parents and their teachers were telling them that their way was “the right way.” This resulted in chaos, confusion and inefficiency for many students. I remember making that topic a “must discuss” during parent-teacher conferences that year. My co-teacher and I modeled the strategies for families so they could walk away understanding how to support their kids at home in math. I highly recommend choosing a focal point or a strategy to share at teacher conferences. Although it is a short amount of time, it can be valuable when focused.
Here are some other situations where a lack of consistency between home and school can be detrimental to a student’s success.
|Teacher Says…||Parent Says…|
|“It is so important that you get your homework in on time. If it is late, I will deduct 5 points.”||“Don’t worry about it, it’s not a big deal if it’s one day late. I’ll talk to your teacher.”|
|“I don’t care about spelling on your first draft, that’s why we edit.”||“You can’t hand in your writing with all of those mistakes.”|
|“You must always be sure to show your work when adding, even if you already know the sum.”||“Why are you wasting time…you already know the sum. Just write it down.”|
|“Your homework is to complete the worksheet.”||“Your teacher must have showed you what to do. What was the strategy your teacher gave you?”|
|“This is how you multiply two-digit numbers.”||“This is how you multiply two-digit numbers.”|
If you were a child, whom would you listen to?
Tough choice. Bridge the gap.
This post is about one of the most inspiring organizations in education today, 826 National. Learn about the work that is being done by 826 National and check out the creative gifts on sale at their store! If you are looking for a gift for a teacher or student, this shop has a lot to offer. Plus, all of the proceeds go towards the organization, which is helping a ton of children. Thanks Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari.
The Khan Academy is an amazing organization that provides videos of lessons in challenging-to-teach and challenging-to-learn subjects, particularly in math and sciences. This post features the Khan Academy and explains how teachers, administrators, families and students can use the videos to improve learning.
This post features an adorable company called Child’s Own Studio. This company takes children’s illustrations and brings them to life by creating 3-D, plush creations based on original drawings. This is a fun idea and makes a great gift!
This week, EdGeeks guest blogged at Edutopia about differentiated instruction. This article aims to illuminate how all education is special, not only special education. The piece de-constructs differentiation and makes it more accessible.
This is the second in a series of posts discussing organic materials and strategies for test preparation. This particular post is on reading comprehension test-prep and how to practice the skills necessary in a way that is naturally integrated into learning.
***Don’t forget to check out Teacher Time 123. I am on their site as the “Featured Teacher” this week and it is very exciting. Thanks so much for your support Teacher Time 123, and for your amazing site that offers tons of resources and helpful photos that spark creativity in the classroom!