• Overcoming the Six Biggest Challenges of the New School Year

    Overcoming the Six Biggest Challenges of the New School Year

    As teachers and students approach a new school year, the phrase “back to school” starts running rampant. But, if you stop and think about that phrase, it sounds so regressive. The word ‘back’ implies a return to the past—a repeat of the previous school year. Of course, no two school years are alike. But leaving that aside, you should never go “back” to school—whether it’s for a new school day, week, term, semester, or year. School is a place we go to learn and progress and move forward … not back. 

    In order to help you move forward this school year, we had educators across the country complete a survey ranking the biggest challenges of the new school year. Based on their responses, here are the top six challenges along with articles and webinars addressing how to remedy each one. ...

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    Aug 22 2013
  • Avoid This Common Mistake When Selecting a Common Core Reading Program

    Avoid This Common Mistake When Selecting a Common Core Reading Program

    As the smells of sunscreen and chlorine start to give way to the smells of new textbooks and freshly sharpened pencils, teachers are shifting their focus to planning for the new school year. And even though this year’s classes have yet to begin, teachers and administrators already seem to be showing signs of extra stress and concern from trying to work under the weight of Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

    The schools I am working with are bringing in new programs that are attempting to cover all the areas of the English Language Arts Standards. While I understand the desire to go for the one-size-fits-all approach, doing so may lull educators into a false sense of security that they are covered for the CCSS, when in reality, if they are not careful, this will perpetuate the very problem the CCSS are trying to remedy.

    Louisa Moats, Ph.D., an internationally recognized reading expert, recently recorded a podcast that seeks to merge what we know about effective reading practices with the Common Core State Standards. In the podcast, she addresses the very same concerns I have heard educators raise in my work with their schools. She points out ...

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    Aug 12 2013
  • Six Necessary Components of Effective Differentiated Instruction

    Six Necessary Components of Effective Differentiated Instruction

    Is differentiated instruction really necessary? The answer is no. Differentiated instruction is not necessary UNLESS… you want success and growth for each of your students and a greater level of fulfillment from your teaching career.  Sarcasm aside; is it possible to meet the needs of every learner in your classroom? Many teachers have asked this question. In one study, teachers identified the challenge of meeting the individual needs of diverse learners as one of their top three concerns.

    I have said multiple times that effective teaching is both an art and a science. At no time is this more obvious than when a teacher is designing a learning environment that will meet the needs of each individual student as well as investing the time to improve and refine teaching abilities and dispositions that will make her the best teacher that she can be. This is a refining process that can span an entire teaching career.

    So, let’s talk differentiated instruction.

    Necessary Components of Differentiated Instruction: ...

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    Aug 08 2013
  • Not All Professional Development is Created Equal – Selection Criteria for Teachers

    Not All Professional Development is Created Equal – Selection Criteria for Teachers

    One potential perk of being a teacher is the famed ‘summers off’ phenomenon. Of course, if you ask any teacher what they do in the summer you will inevitably hear about some form of professional development (PD). Those of us who have been around for awhile have spent a fair share of PD time in a required workshop thinking about all of the things that have to be done or feeling that the subject and/or approach is anything but new or not relevant to our setting. Lack of professional development opportunities does not seem to be a problem rather, a lack of high quality professional development opportunities.

    In some cases, teachers may not have a choice concerning what kinds of professional development in which they participate, but, if you are a teacher looking for PD that will really make a difference in your teaching and increase student achievement, here are some things to consider: ...

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    Jun 26 2013
  • Wading Through the Paperwork of Reading Assessments to Pinpoint Student Needs

    Wading Through the Paperwork of Reading Assessments to Pinpoint Student Needs

    By Guest Writer, Ali Parrish (@MsParrishClass http://techieteacher-charactercoach.blogspot.com)

    Today is one of my favorite days of the school year. It's one of the few days when I get to assess all my students' reading abilities one-on-one. I love our personal reading meetings when, like a doctor listening to symptoms of a patient, I "diagnose" their reading level, "monitor" the strategies they are currently using and further "prescribe" what they need in order to improve their reading.

    Reading assessments take a good amount of time and produce a lot of paperwork but the results of the assessments clarify how students can make huge strides in their reading and comprehension. One hurdle that we need to overcome however is transferring the students' identified needs that the assessments produce into actual reading lessons in the classroom and reading results in their day-to-day lives.

    Reading assessments produce piles and piles of paper that teachers may have to wade through to get to what their students really need. ...

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    Jun 10 2013
  • 8 Ways You Can Use Vine to Teach Reading Comprehension

    8 Ways You Can Use Vine to Teach Reading Comprehension

    By Guest Writer, Betsie Jonas (Reading Horizons Social Media Expert)

    As a social media junkie, I have used Vine in my personal life many times, and I have thought about how it could be used in education. Does it have a place in the classroom?The answer: Yes.Twitter and Vine (Twitter’s video sharing site) can be great resources in the classroom.

    If you don’t have a Twitter account, you should get one. You can sign up and make a private account, where no one can view your updates, unless you approve them. You can set up one for your classroom that can be used for in-class activities that can be viewed only in the classroom. You can also allow parents to follow the account, and tweet reminders of homework, permission slips, report cards, etc. You can set up a Twitter account at www.twitter.com. It is easy and free.

    If you haven’t heard of Vine, I will fill you in. ...

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    May 29 2013
  • How Have Books Influenced Your Life?

    How Have Books Influenced Your Life?

    Since the end of another school year is approaching, you may be expecting an annual post about the importance of summer reading as it relates to student progress. As a proponent of reading during all seasons of the year, I heartily endorse reading during the summer months for students as well as teachers. However, I am hoping that this post will inspire you to examine the influence that reading has had in your own life as well as the potential influence that reading can have in the lives of your students over the course of a lifetime.

    Have you ever stopped to think about the influence that reading has had on your life? I mean, have you really contemplated the effect that reading has had on your personality, your day to day actions, and/or your beliefs? Consider it. To expedite your introspection, here is the dictionary definition of the word influence: ...

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    May 21 2013
  • Top 3 Challenges Facing Teachers & Educators

    Top 3 Challenges Facing Teachers & Educators

    For 29 years the insurance company MetLife has been surveying teachers across America to identify challenges involved in public school education. In the fall of 2012, one thousand K-12 public school teachers (with an average of 15 years of experience) and 500 principals participated in the survey. Data from the latest survey was published in February of this year. It may not come as a surprise that teachers are concerned about decreased budgets, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and engaging parents and the community in the education of children.

    Here are some highlights from the report: ...

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    May 14 2013

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