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What Ever Happened to The Editing Process?

What Happened to the Editing Process? Is it just me, or are kids these days being asked to pump out a ton of writing each month? Writing is not about quantity, it is about quality. There are different types of writing exercises that teachers can work on with students such as: the free write, the quick write, writing in response to literature, writing in response to a prompt, genre writing and more! While quick-writes can be a great way to produce a small amount of writing each day, it is also important to be sure that students have ample opportunities to take their work through the editing process.

Why Teach Editing and Revision? Editing and revising a piece of original writing can be frustrating at times but it is always gratifying in the end. There is a sense of pride when you feel like you’ve really fleshed something out and given it your all! Too often, children spend time writing and then put their work into the depths of their writing folder. What happens to those stories? Do they ever come out of the folder again?

There are important lessons about work ethic, persistance and patience naturally embedded in editing and revision. If we do not teach our students to use the process of reflection to strengthen their work, then we are not encouraging them to reach their potential. No one does their best work on their first try! We can always benefit from re-reading our work, catching errors or deciding to eliminate or expand certain parts.

How to Incorporate Editing and Revision Into Your Classroom? If you want to incorporate editing and revision into your classroom but you just aren’t sure how, try this! When you plan out your writing unit, leave an extra 3-5 days at the end of the unit to  teach your students to edit and revise. In any given unit, students produce multiple pieces of work. The first step to editing is to choose your piece. Here is a suggested 4-Day plan for giving your students time to practice editing and revising their work.

Day 1: Choosing a Piece! Students scan through the pieces in their folder and decide on which piece they want to edit. It can be a favorite piece or a piece that demonstrates strong writing skills. If a student is struggling to identify their piece, have them work with a partner to narrow down their options. 

Day 2: Editing! Choose a few focal points and develop a simple checklist that students can use, then model how to use it. For example, maybe you want to work on spelling, punctuation and word omissions. Give students a copy of the checklist and let them edit their own piece.

Day 3: Revision! Choose a few focal points and develop a simple checklist that students can use, then model how to use it. For example, maybe you want to have students work on sequencing, making sure the writing matches the task and adding details to strengthen their work. Give students a copy of the checklist and let them revise their own piece.

Day 4: Peer Editing and Revision! Pair up students or create peer groups so that students can use the same checklists from Days 2 and 3 to work through a peer’s piece. I always like to create feedback sheets or use post-its to be sure that students are helping each other in a more meaningful way.

Remember, the most effective way to teach writing is to make sure you are always writing yourself…that way you can offer more authentic modeling experiences for your students. For example, if you have written 5 pieces over the month, then you can really model how to identify which piece you want to publish. If you actually choose one of your own pieces to publish, then you can really model how to edit your piece for spelling, missing words, etc.

Parents: If you notice that your child is pumping out writing and never really working on one piece for an extended period of time, you may want to step in. That can mean that you offer a suggestion to the teacher ex: “I have been meaning to ask you how you are teaching editing and revision so that I might help my son/daughter at home.” It can also mean that you provide experiences for your child at home. Perhaps you work with them to edit and revise an old HW assignment or a creative writing piece they have done at home.

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Paraprofessional Possibilities

I was walking down the street the other day when I ran into two people who used to make me smile everyday! One of them was a paraprofessional (I’ll call him Superman) who I had the privilege of working with for two years. The other (I’ll call her Wonder Woman) was a paraprofessional who I got very close with but sadly did not get the chance to share a classroom with. Superman was a role model for me in his ability to develop strong relationships with his students, yet always focus on fostering maximum independence. Wonder Woman’s dedication and selflessness made her a major inspiration for me while I was developing my teaching practice. Seeing them reminded me that I have not yet written about the power of paraprofessionals.

Sadly, so many teachers have had negative experiences working with paraprofessionals. I lucked out because in my first few years of teaching, I worked at a school that had some incredible paras. I spent three years as a special education teacher in an inclusion program for students with motor impairments. Each year I worked with a team of between 5 and 8 adults. The team was comprised of two teachers, at least one student teacher and 3-5 paras. While this could be overwhelming at times, building a community of adults was such a valuable force in the classroom. It gave children a chance to work with various adult personalities and it made our teaching stronger. Building a strong team takes work though!

Sometimes paraprofessionals are assigned to a classroom to offer support all of the students, but many paras are assigned to support a specific student. As a teacher it is important that you understand your paras role. Is it to support one or all students? Is it to  assist a student with mobility, health or academics? These are the questions that a teacher needs to ask!

If you work with a para who is assigned to one specific child, don’t ask or expect them to be an assistant teacher…let them focus so that they can be successful at their job! It would be like asking a second grade teacher to teach one section of eighth grade science during their lunch break. We see the most growth when we are given the opportunity to focus. Whether you are working with a para for one student or all students, it is crucial to develop a respectful relationship and to make sure that you offer the guidance they need to be successful. Here are some tips to building a great relationship with your para(s):

  1. Have lunch with your para as often as possible. Talking about things that are not school-related will allow you to build a friendship that can be incredibly valuable for the classroom community.
  2. Invite your para to co-teach a lesson if they are an expert in a field!
  3. Always remember that your success is intertwined with the success of your para(s).
  4. If you find that your para lacks focus or is not doing their job, have an open and productive conversation about it. Offer your guidance. Sometimes making a checklist of daily tasks for yourself and your para can help build strong routines.
  5. Use theme days and special events as a time to build community. We always dressed up as a team for theme days. I remember one year for book character day we dressed up as the crew from Little Red Riding Hood.

I’m not going to stand here and say every paraprofessional is a miracle worker. That would be like saying ever teacher is a superhero and regrettably, that is not true. However, there are paraprofessionals out there who are miracle workers in the right environment. As teachers it is our job to nurture the adult relationships in our classroom communities and to do whatever we can to support those around us.

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Guest Blog: Flashcard Learning

Today, we welcome Isabell Collet, creator and writer of a new blog called Flashcards Guru. Collet shares some tips and tools on using flashcards for learning with children. Flashcards are a strange tool in the world of education. We all used them to help us learn the times tables growing up, but for fear of encouraging rote memorization of information, many teachers do not support the use of flashcards today. Collet offers new insights on how to use this age-old tool to boost learning (rather than rote memorization) for children. If you are interested in learning more about flashcards, I recommend checking out her blog.

Flashcard Learning with Children

by, Isabell Collet – Creator of Flashcards Guru

Are you a parent? A teacher? An educator? Then I assume you are always on the lookout for new ways to teach and engage. Educational games and practices pop up constantly and it can be hard to weigh the benefits or to determine the right way to use a learning tool, simply because there is so much information out there and so many products competing for attention. My goal today is to help you untangle some of the information on the web surrounding this study tool.

Flashcards for children are quite popular as a playful means to introduce children to new words, images or concepts. This does not match the image many have of adult flashcards, which are often associated with meaningless drill. In reality, the concept of flashcards is the same for all ages and it is probably one of the oldest and most basic ideas: Repetition. What differs, naturally, is the approach we take to learning (or teaching) at different ages. Learning at a young age holds a more playful element. The great thing about flashcards is that you can introduce them to a child early on as a learning game, which over time might evolve into a natural form of studying.

How to go about introducing flashcards? As previously stated they are an all-age learning tool; even toddlers can ‘study’ with them. The traditional format is two sides with one asking a question and the other depicting the answer. A spoken word accompanied by a picture can be used to properly target language development in younger children. Repeating words to children so they mimic them is already the most natural form of early teaching; adding a pictoral clue offers great visual stimulation in addition to the auditory learning. When you are using flashcards with your child, you can add written words over time. Tying text to image can help develop skills in reading and writing comprehension. Once a child reaches a more advanced stage it is important to go beyond mere recognition of words and sounds and towards actual production and application of the word in question.

When flashcards are first introduced and later, once their application progresses, there are many ways to keep the process engaging for a child. A central element should be the choice or creation of the flashcards, something the young learner can easily become involved in.

How can we engage children through card creation? Card creation can be a great activity for older children. It can help them understand how to go about building their own learning tools later in life. It is also a first step towards learning the material that will be covered with the flashcards. Children can be involved in the creation process in a number of ways. If there is no ‘required learning’ or you simply want to introduce cards as a learning game, you can ask for your child’s input on a subject to study. Encouraging kids to make their own choices allows them to take ownership over their learning. Once you have made a choice, you can get creative on the card creation process. Your child likes to draw? Allow him/her to draw the question side of the card. S/he is learning to write? Help them spell out the answer. When images are involved (and they should be wherever possible, because they enhance the visual learning flashcards promote) you can pick them with your child. Find images to color in or give your child magazines, newspapers, and/or coloring books to choose and cut out images from and add these to the flashcards.

As long as you are the primary educator and have a firm grasp of the subject matter and its boundaries, compiling flashcard material is fairly easy. Motivating a child to condense material covered in school into flashcards can be difficult, because it may seem like an arduous task. To facilitate the evolution from voluntary learning to required flashcard learning, start small. Children in elementary school won’t need to cover complex or even very detailed material. A first project that will encourage automatic learning is to ask your child to write down a few important words or sentences that s/he took away from that day’s/week’s lessons. Over time you will have a nice collection and a great starting point for your flashcards. When you have these pointers on what was important it will be fairly easy to add the details or expand to related concepts.

How to keep learning with flashcards interesting. One way to make flashcards engaging is to use them to play a fast-paced, quizzing game with other learners. Once the material has been covered by all children, quiz your child with a classmate, friend or sibling to offer more enticement to remember. In the digital age, there are also a vast number of apps available that introduce children to digital/mobile learning. The choices are numerous and you may be faced with the difficult decision on what is best for your child. Choosing the right app takes time and consideration. Ask yourself the following two questions: What is my learning goal? How would I like to reach it? The answers are important because they determine both the content and the features of the app you will download. A child learning about colors and animals will have different needs than a child studying for a school exam. If cost is a factor, be on the lookout for (temporarily) free apps or free trial/light versions. (Important: Consider that these apps will often contain ads that, while usually targeted at the young audience, may not be child-appropriate.) You should always open an app repeatedly and test it yourself – watching out for things like ads before involving your child.

Thank you to Isabell Collet for sharing tips and tools on using flashcards with children! It is always fun to have guest voices on EdGeeks!

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If you eat marshmallows on the morning of the test, everything will be okay

A friend of mine from New York just travelled to Glenpool, Oklahoma. While shopping at Walmart, she snapped a photo of this cereal box. I wish she had taken a photo of the entire display, which she later reported was full of “testing day cereal boxes.”

A short post today, just to raise awareness of the fact that General Mills seems to be in full support of standardized testing. The fact that a major company would capitalize off of the overly exhausting testing of small children makes me feel a bit sick. The icing on the cake is that this cereal has marshmallows in it! So, now the message to parents and children is: If you eat marshmallows on the morning of the test, everything will be okay.

If a cereal company is going to benefit from standardized testing, I just wish it was all organic. Are we scared yet?!

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Guest Blog for Edutopia – Collaborative Team Teaching: Challenges and Rewards

Today is an exciting day because I have a guest blog piece on Edutopia! I love writing for Edutopia because their approach to sharing information is so proactive and they truly value the role of the teacher. As an organization, Edutopia celebrates strong teaching and shares about what works in education. Special thanks to Edutopia for having me!

Collaborative Team Teaching: Challenges and Rewards

What does CTT stand for? Some people think it’s “creative thinkers thinking,” or “cool teachers teaching.” Others say it’s “conflict tackling together.” While CTT means all of the above, it stands for “collaborative team teaching” and refers to the idea of a co-teaching partnership.

Over the years, I have taught in seven co-teaching partnerships in a wide range of classroom environments. This is the path for many dually certified special education teachers in New York City as the push for inclusion continues to spread. My partnerships have led me on an emotional rollercoaster, yet through thick and thin, my belief in inclusion and collaborative team teaching has remained constant. Though we are making strides in the right direction, we are still in the process of identifying what works in co-teaching.

Having co-taught in first grade, second grade and sixth grade, I feel confident in saying that the greatest challenge is finding a working model for middle school co-teachers. While teaching first and second grade, I had one co-teacher for the entire school year. Whatever challenges came our way, we certainly didn’t lack the time to work them out. During my time in sixth grade, I co-taught ELA, math, science and social studies. Teaching with four co-teachers leaves little time for co-planning or problem solving. Many middle schools use stronger co-teaching models where the special education counterpart teaches two subject areas or one subject and small groups, but even in those cases, co-teaching in middle school presents challenges.

What Makes a Strong Partnership?

Strong co-teachers provide seamless instruction for their students. Both teachers must come to a mutual agreement that they are equals in the classroom, and students must perceive both teachers as invaluable members of the classroom community. This can be particularly difficult for teachers who have taught alone for many years. Sometimes we don’t realize how many decisions we make alone in our classroom on a daily basis. Making decisions as a team is key to a strong partnership, but it is often an adjustment for veteran teachers.

Strong co-teachers also eliminate the “mommy/daddy” issue in the beginning of the year through a series of open conversations. The “mommy/daddy” issue refers to when a student says something like “. . . but she said I could!” in order to manipulate a set of co-teachers. This happens quite often at first. Strong co-teachers do not always agree on everything, but they realize that the time for disagreement is not during class.

Finally, strong co-teachers solve problems together. In fact, that is the best part of co-teaching; you’re never in it alone!

Benefits of Co-Teaching

Having two minds facilitate a classroom community allows students to connect with different personalities. Co-teaching allows more opportunities for small group and one-to-one learning, and stronger modeling during lessons. The co-planning process encourages two teachers to bounce ideas off each other in order to deliver the strongest, most creative lessons. I always enjoyed using my partnerships to model behavior and positive peer-to-peer interaction for students. When students experience their teachers working together, they understand the power of respect amongst peers.

Let’s not forget the most important part: it is nice to have another adult in the room! One year, I taught with a co-teacher, a student teacher and four paraprofessionals. While things got a bit hectic at times, I loved the community we were able to develop in our class. Teaching is overwhelming, but co-teaching can provide a support system so that we can do our jobs, yet remember to have fun along the way.

Common Challenges of Co-Teaching

Co-teaching has its benefits, but be sure to understand that it has its challenges as well. The most common complaint I’ve heard from colleagues in co-teaching partnerships is that it is difficult to work with someone whose teaching style and philosophy differ from your own. In my own experience, success is less dependent on similar philosophies and more dependent on an open mind and willingness to compromise. If you are in a co-teaching partnership with someone who views learning and teaching differently, make sure to talk about it. Look at it as a chance to widen the scope of your practice by incorporating multiple styles into your teaching.

Another common challenge is in regards to the inequality that often forms in the classroom. Special education teachers often struggle to present themselves as equals to their students, and this becomes even more evident in the middle school setting. Elementary co-teachers share a classroom all day, but a middle school special education teacher can feel like a guest in a general education teacher’s space. It is crucial to have conversations with your co-teacher surrounding these issues. Setting up the classroom with your co-teacher in September can help build a strong foundation for an equal partnership. Practicing a variety of co-teaching models also helps foster equality.

A challenge that followed me through many of my partnerships was the issue of grading. Do you grade all students together? Does the special education teacher grade all students withIEPs? Does the general education teacher truly understand the purpose and implications of an IEP? These are all important questions to ask. I have found that it works best when you discuss this issue at the beginning of the year. While more time-consuming, grading all students together as co-teachers is the most fair and consistent way to grade. Grading together allows the special education teacher to share his or her expertise in IEP goals with the general education teacher, and it allows the general education teacher to weigh in on IEP goals for his or her students.

Five Tips to Becoming a Strong Co-Teacher

  1. Say this mantra: “All students are our students.”
  2. Come to planning meetings prepared (with an agenda) to maximize co-planning time.
  3. If you feel something, say something! Open communication is the key to a successful partnership.
  4. Realize that the success of your class depends on the strength of your co-teaching relationship.
  5. Use a variety of co-teaching models to help maintain equality.

“Inclusion is not a place, but instead a process.” – Anonymous

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An NYC 4th Grader and a California Parent Demonstrate the Power of Writing

Over the past two weeks, parents, teachers and students from across the country have been reaching out to EdGeeks to share about their experiences with standardized testing. In an attempt to engage conversation, support families, share knowledge, and bring about change, EdGeeks will share these pieces with the public. Today, I am featuring two very different voices.

This first piece is an original poem written by an NYC public school student in the fourth grade.

This original student poem was submitted to EdGeeks by a local, NYC parent.

Thank you BBJ! You are a strong writer and a brave fourth grader for sharing your thoughts with the world. I also want to take the opportunity to let you know that many of the teachers I have been hearing from would disagree with the line, “taking tests is a ‘gift’ to teachers.” I thought it was important for you to know that not all teachers enjoy giving tests…in fact many of us want the testing to stop too:)

The following is a letter written by a parent in California. The goal of the letter is to opt her child out of standardized testing. She decided to share this letter as a sample for other families who are considering opting out but don’t quite know where to begin.

This letter was submitted to EdGeeks by an elementary school parent in California.

Feel free to email any submissions or questions to marisa@edgeeks.com. Remember, this is a place to share proactive voices in an effort to bring about change. Thank you to all of my readers who have been submitting their work. You inspire me daily:)

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Guest Blog: My Ideal Classroom (Emma Savino, School Psychologist)

I want to welcome back guest blogger Emma Savino! Savino is a school psychologist and today she will share about the importance of social development in school, and how to effectively utilize support staff (ex: school psychologists, social workers, etc.) to bring these skills into the classroom. In her piece, she proposes two models for collaboration.

My Ideal Classroom

by, Emma Savino, M.A., C.A.S.

Being relatively new in this field, I find myself struggling with the traditional set-up of public schools. I initially got into the field of school psychology because I wanted to work with children. I loved that I could conduct evaluations AND counsel students. Now that I’m actually in the field, I find myself doing mostly testing for special education placement and state mandated re-evaluations. The job does vary depending on the district, however, testing is often prevalent, leaving little time for counseling and staff support. I find that the school psychologist can be underutilized due to the caseload of assessments

Because such a heavy emphasis is placed on test preparation and academic performance, there is little time to teach students how to be happy, productive individuals. Children often miss out on important skill building opportunities like social problem solving, learning how to develop strong relationships and building coping skills. It is important to remember that just as we have to work hard to do well in school, we have to work hard to be happy and well balanced.  Strategies to develop this way of life can and should be taught in the classroom.

Classrooms need to be therapeutic because kids need help solving problems and managing their behavior. When a child breaks his leg, we bring him to the doctor. We don’t expect him to mold a cast or build some crutches independently; we go straight to a professional. Providing tools and seeking help from mental health professionals is important too.  This shows children that they do not have to handle their problems and worries alone.  Creating a supportive environment will allow for trust and shared understanding. The best part is, these professionals have years of training and are there to support you. In fact, they live and breathe in your own school!

How do we make classrooms and schools more therapeutic? I’ll propose two models: the ideal and the realistic. As a caveat, my ideal classroom could only exist with adequate funding, staffing and in the absence of high stakes standardized testing (hence the word ideal).

My ideal classroom would be similar to the CTT (collaborative team teaching) model that is currently a staple in many special education settings. A school psychologist or social worker would co-teach with a classroom teacher (either part time or full time, depending on the needs of the class.) While this proposed model would help all students, this set-up may be most appropriate for students with behavioral and emotional challenges.  However, teachers can pick and choose techniques that fit their classroom demographic best. This model would allow for:

  • Behavior modification and intervention to occur in the moment.
  • Instruction and behavioral interventions to exist simultaneously.
  • Psychologists to plan, manage and collect data for individual behavior plans.  This way, the psychologist can target and address specific behaviors, rather than blindly implementing interventions that do not zone in on the real problem and are unsupported by data.
  • Daily whole or small group counseling to address issues in the classroom allows for a free flow of discussion and a team approach to problem solving.

The first model is unrealistic for most schools at this point in time. Here are some ways teachers can self implement or utilize support staff in a traditional classroom setting:

  • If you are experiencing behavior problems in the class, determine what time they occur most.  Ask a support staff member to push-in and intervene during these times.
  • Collaborate with your psychologist for behavior management strategies.
  • Take suggestions from others. Simple changes to the classroom environment (i.e seating, lighting, use of positive language) may improve behavior more than you think!
  • Incorporate weekly social skills lessons into your teaching and include support staff in the planning process. Take it a step further and invite your school psychologist/social worker into the classroom. This will help students identify staff they can seek out if problems arise during the school year. Having weekly sessions also allows for rapport building to start immediately.

Final Reflections by, Marisa (Your Resident EdGeek): 

A special thanks to Emma Savino for this thoughtful guest post! Last year, I taught sixth grade at a school with two incredible social workers. They were constantly in the classroom supporting our students. While the state was busy testing our students in reading and math, our social workers and teachers were busy collaborating to support students in becoming thoughtful, caring members of our school community. Sadly, there is little importance placed on social growth in schools, and no test that measures it…but I could not agree more with Emma that school environments need to be more therapeutic.

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If You’re Not Using Figment, You Should Be

 

I’ve always believed that when you hear about something more than three times in various situations, it’s time to investigate further. A few months ago, a parent I know asked me if I had used Figment with my students. Next, I stumbled across the Alice’s Tea Cup pop-up cafe/bookstore and as soon as I entered, I noticed a Figment bookmark right under my nose. More recently, I was Skyping with a faraway teacher-friend who mentioned Figment to me in passing. Finally I decided that I better investigate this “Figment business” and see what it’s all about…and boy am I glad I did. I will be sharing about Figment with every teacher, parent and student I know. And as for EdTech entrepreneurs, keep reading to find out how to use Figment as a model…

What is Figment All About?

Honestly, Figment is my dream come true. Writing has always been my favorite area to teach and learn. Figment addresses 21st Century Learning by bringing the idea of the writer’s workshop online. It is a friendly, online community of writers (and readers of course) who want to share their own work and read the work of others. This may not seem so unique, there are other forums where writers can share their work. What is so special about Figment?

Figment is Special Because:

  • The interface is highly engaging for middle school and high school students.
  • There is an educator feature where a teacher can create a private group where his/her students can share their writing, interact and offer each other support.
  • This kind of friendly environment, where community members follow you, heart your work and share feedback is encouraging to young writers.
  • It offers a unique opportunity for a group of friends, classmates and/or the public to offer feedback that can help young writers grow.
  • It offers a solution to teachers who want to give meaningful feedback to their students, but don’t have enough time during class. I imagine I would use this to add comments from my home computer.
  • This writing community is a step in the right direction for encouraging non-techie teachers to take the plunge and incorporate technology into their teaching.
For EdTech Entrepreneurs:
Here is your model! Having attended multiple conferences and spoken to a variety of educators ranging from tech guru to tech terrified, I’m telling you, use Figment as a model. Figment is less intimidating to educators than other technologies for a few reasons:
  • At Figment’s core is a model that is used IN THE CLASSROOM: the writer’s workshop. Teachers are more inclined to feel comfortable with a tech tool that supports what they are already doing in their classroom.
  • It’s interface is engaging for students, yet simple for teachers.
  • The Educator Page is inviting and the video uses animation to literally teach an educator about all of the different Figment features
  • While learning this new technology may take a little time for a tech newbie, in the end it will save time (especially in the area of giving feedback) and peak engagement.

Figment Groups

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EdGeeks Goes Back to School

Recently, I reached out to some local public school PTA parents to see how I could best support the families at their school. One school, PS 165 invited me to come speak about EdGeeks at their April PTA meeting. Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting the PS 165 Parents’ Association. Being back in school and speaking with parents brought back memories. This experience reiterated the value of the parent-teacher relationship and reignited the passion I have for sharing information with families.

At the meeting, I introduced EdGeeks and explained how many of the posts come from questions submitted by parents and teachers. I also created a list of resources for NYC families. What I found most interesting was how engaged the parents seemed in the list of resources I gave them. The Internet can be quite daunting. If you google “Struggling Reader,” or “Math Games,” it can take hours of research to sift through the trash and get to the resources that will actually help. It reminded me of the fact that even a simple list of websites can go a long way for eager parents.

The families at PS 165 seemed excited about submitting questions to EdGeeks, and I hope you are too! I invite students, families and teachers to submit any and all questions to marisa@edgeeks.com. If I have the answer, I’ll create a post about it because chances are, if you have a question about learning or teaching – you are not alone. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll do the best I can to pull together resources that CAN help you.

Someone recently said to me, “You are more than just a Twitter handle,” and of course I laughed. Sometimes I forget how much of my life has moved online. Visiting PS 165 grounded me by reminding me of what a difference a human conversation can make. Thank you to the wonderful families at PS 165. I look forward to speaking with more local parents in the near future.

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A Call to Action: Submit your work to show that you are Pro-Learning

Calling All Teachers and Parents:  I recently came across a group of parents in NYC (Change the Stakes) who have chosen to Opt Out of standardized testing. I have been moved by the actions they have taken to ensure that their children get the best possible education. Although I am pretty sure we can all agree that creativity, high engagement, imagination and innovation are key factors in learning, not all of us are ready to Opt Out. There has to be something in between…a way for people to show their support without putting their children or their jobs at risk. That is why EdGeeks is creating the Pro-Learning project. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with the direction in which education is heading, then let’s do something about it together. I was a classroom teacher for years. I was busy. I was tired. I was frustrated, and perhaps scared of the consequences…but to bring learning back into classrooms, we must bring the voices from the field together to raise awareness about the issues surrounding high stakes testing. That means teachers, students, families and administrators should begin engaging in or leading conversations in their community. If you are not ready to Opt Out, read below to find out what you can do to show your support.

Not sure where to start? I really like this one pager from Change the Stakes. It gives a ton of information and provides a network for NYC families.

http://changethestakes.wordpress.com/

For students, teachers and parents who are concerned that standardized testing and test preparation has impeded authentic and creative learning in the classroom, here is something simple you can do to show your support! 
  • Give your students (or your child) a meaningful HW assignment: “Create a piece of writing or art which captures a moment when you felt that standardized testing or test preparation got in the way of your learning.” Submit all work to marisa@edgeeks.com to be published on EdGeeks. Please feel free to submit your own work too. We are collecting pieces from students, teachers and families. 
I knew I needed to do something last week when an 8-year old asked me, “Will you still love me if I get a 1?” (True story!)

When did you know? Complete this sentence by leaving a comment: I knew I needed to do something when…

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