• The Teachers Guide to Summer Break: Tips for Fun, Relaxation, & Professional Development

    The Teachers Guide to Summer Break: Tips for Fun, Relaxation, & Professional Development

    Students often think of school as a marathon, and even the slightest utterance of the word “summer” calls forth images of a beautiful bright banner that marks the finish line. For teachers, this is not the case. Even though summer does also provide a break for teachers, they don’t get to experience the same sense of freedom as their students.

    Being a teacher means keeping your body of knowledge in tip-top shape. Summer break equals a lot of preparation for the coming marathon, especially since teachers have to stay a few steps ahead of their students in order to guide the race over the course of the next school year.

    Here are some ideas and guidelines that are aimed at helping teachers keep up with their summer-training schedules: ...

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    Apr 27 2012
  • What Should High School Students Be Doing Over the Summer?

    What Should High School Students Be Doing Over the Summer?

    Lately I’ve been talking a lot with my little sister – a junior in high school – about her preparation for entering college.  Just listening to the classes she is taking next year (lots of Advanced Placement and Concurrent Enrollment) and what goals she has for her senior year (scholarship and college applications), I realized that even more than when I was walking the halls of our hometown’s high school, kids are feeling the pressure to become “college ready.” 

    I remember being in high school and worrying so much about my future life.  I was afraid that one bad grade would ruin me for good, and so I pushed myself very hard and achieved a lot.  I often felt overstressed, tired, and hopeless.

    Now, having actually experienced the rigors of college, I have had plenty of time to reflect on what I could have done to be more prepared for college while in high school.  My school counselor and teachers saw me as “college ready,” but I definitely was not – ...

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    Apr 25 2012
  • The Secret to Helping Students Improve Reading Skills During the Summer Break

    The Secret to Helping Students Improve Reading Skills During the Summer Break

    Let’s compare a classroom to a ship.  There are about 20 passengers (the students) and usually only 1 captain (the teacher).  The ship is small and modestly equipped, often requiring the captain to be creative with problem solving in order to keep the ship afloat.  It sets sail in late August and arrives at its destination early next June with only a few short stops to provide breaks from the sea.

    As the teacher and captain of the classroom, it is your job to make sure that over the course of this journey you are steering your students (or your passengers) through experiences that will help them master the right level of skills and techniques they need to survive their life of learning…their life on a sea of knowledge.  The problem that many teachers face is that their students often forget some important skills they learned throughout the school year during the summer break.  As this research states, math and reading are two of the subjects where skill-loss is greatest, along with spelling.  Children from low socioeconomic status families are impacted the greatest, often suffering 1-3 months of learning loss. 

    “For disadvantaged students, reading scores were disproportionately affected and the achievement gap between rich and poor widened.”  -- Professor Harris Cooper, Duke University Professor

    So what is the secret to skill retention during the summer slump? ...

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    Apr 24 2012
  • Is Writing Practice The Key To Helping Struggling Readers?

    Is Writing Practice The Key To Helping Struggling Readers?

    I’m intrigued by passion. It’s one of those weird emotions that people can never seem to decide is good or bad. There are valid arguments for both, but I tend to think it’s good (bad if taken too far). So, when a passionate conversation started over a link to our recent Orton Gillingham webinar in a LinkedIn Group, I couldn’t help but pay attention.

    As I watched the discussion progress I noticed several strong comments coming from one person: Bob Rose. And even though passion can be taken too far, I couldn’t help but wonder what was fueling his strong opinion that writing practice was the ultimate reading solution for every child. So, I contacted Bob Rose, and asked him to write a guest post explaining what he has learned about the importance of writing in regards to teaching children how to read.

    The following explains his teaching experiences and research. ...

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    Apr 24 2012
  • Motivating Readers: Collaboration, Challenge, Competence, and Choice – Webinar Q&A

    Motivating Readers: Collaboration, Challenge, Competence, and Choice – Webinar Q&A

    We recently had an excellent webinar presented by Sarah Collinge, M.S.Ed and author of: “Raising the Standards Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach.” Sarah’s presentation was on motivating students to read and she had tons of helpful tips!

    Here are some of the questions Sarah answered following her presentation:

    How can you get students to collaborate with each other about what they are reading when they are using programs such as Accelerated Reader OR if they are at different reading levels? ...

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    Apr 23 2012
  • Summer Learning Ideas that Help Narrow the Achievement Gap

    Summer Learning Ideas that Help Narrow the Achievement Gap

    Summer typically evokes images of vacations and fun, but what many people don’t realize is that this fun-filled break is responsible for more than half of the achievement gaps between middle-income and lower-income children. I repeat: summer is responsible for more than half of all learning discrepancies among students. One 3 month “happy-times” break is what makes all the difference for students of different economic classes. ...

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    Apr 18 2012
  • The Unknown Rules of the English Language

    The Unknown Rules of the English Language

    “No. Crème brûlée can never be Jell-O. YOU could never be Jell-O!” As Julia Roberts perfectly explains to Cameron Diaz in My Best Friends Wedding. Sometimes people want things to be different than they really are, but despite these good intentions, sometimes you just have to accept that crème brûlée will never be Jell-O.

    So… I have a really silly pet peeve. And it has to do with something trying to be Jell-O when it clearly isn’t Jell-O. I hate when people say that “ghoti” can be pronounced “fish.” It drives me crazy. Because… it can’t. I’m pretty sure it’s just suppose to be a riddle-ish kind of joke, but I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s annoying… just like I find riddles to be annoying. Because: “Ghoti” could never be pronounced “fish!" Sure, the people who say this is so have this grand explanation: ...

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    Apr 18 2012
  • The Essential, But Often Forgotten Aspect of Effective ESL Reading Instruction

    The Essential, But Often Forgotten Aspect of Effective ESL Reading Instruction

    Guest Post by Dr. Eugenia Krimmel

    As is made clear when working with a struggling reader or English Langauge Learner - reading is a complex language skill. Each aspect of reading has its own skill set and only when all of these skill sets are linked together are students able to achieve the ultimate goal of reading: to read to learn. But too often, one of these essential skill sets goes missing from reading instruction.

    Often educators teach reading skills to English Language Learners (ELL's) in a process paralleled to the process used for native English speakers (Robertson, 2009). The basis for this parallel is simple: ELL's and native English speaking children can learn from the same approach because they are all learning to read English for the first time. However, ELLs’ literacy assessments across the country show that as a group they are lagging behind their native English speaking peers despite being taught with the same approach (US Department of Education, 2011).

    In order to know how to decrease the disparity between ELL's and native speakers literacy skills, it is important to understand what effective reading instruction includes. ...

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    Apr 16 2012
  • ESL Teaching Strategies: 6 Tips for Using Repetition in the Classroom

    ESL Teaching Strategies: 6 Tips for Using Repetition in the Classroom

    This is a guest post provided by the English Skills Learning Center in Salt Lake City, UT.

    Is your desk covered in sticky notes with lists of things to do? How about your next trip to the grocery store? As literate learners, we often remember things by making a list. On the other hand, emergent readers remember things by oral repetition and all second language learners require repetition to obtain and retain new vocabulary and sentence structures. It allows students to produce more language and gives them time to think of what will come next. Especially when following through a textbook, it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that our students have mastered a topic and the vocabulary that goes with that lesson when we’ve really only scratched the surface of their retention.

    Here are six tips for using repetition in your lessons: ...

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    Apr 11 2012

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