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A few weeks ago, I received the call that no one ever wants nor expects. My brother called me during a meeting, and I sent it right to voicemail. I have the voicemail translation feature, and I briefly saw that he was the caller and didn’t call back. Then he called again at 11:30. Again, I let it go to voicemail, but then listened to the first message, and was miffed. Surely the message of “Jason, Mom’s house has burnt to the ground,” couldn’t be. But it was. My mom had lit a memorial candle for my late father and fell asleep, waking up in a sea of flames. She was actually rescued by a police officer, as she was so disoriented from the situation and had panicked looking for pets. Sadly, the cats did not survive, but Mom did, unscathed, with only smoke inhalation and a burn the size of a pencil eraser.Almost everything in the house was lost, a few knick-knacks and a handful of items on the second floor left at best. Looking at the big picture, though, Mom is okay, and most of the stuff inside was, well, stuff, much of which can be replaced.
What does this have to do with school?
Every year, schools across the country partake in National Fire Prevention Month. The activities range from checking out the gear on a fire truck to essay & poster contests to the local fire department passing out smoke detectors and issuing reminders. To be honest, I’ve also thought of this to just be a part of the yearly motions of school, along with bullying prevention week, red ribbon week, and every other week you can run off of the top of your head just as, when it comes to being a parent, you really don’t have a connection until it directly affects you. I’m still amazed that my mom is okay, and, from now on, I’ll always think about the effects of candles in the house.
Here’s to a safe school year; being prepared is a part of it....
When it comes to rewarding children for good behavior or a job well done, educators need to be mindful, since going overboard can actually lead to serious problems down the road.
Positive affirmation can encourage your students to work hard, and it can be good incentive in this digital age where things like smartphones, tablets, video games, and social media all compete for the attention of the youth. In light of these realities, rewards definitely have a place.
Even so, there is evidence that rewards, particularly as it relates to food, can potentially have unintended negative consequences that could follow children well past their early years.
Fortunately, there is a way to strike a balance so that you can keep your students motivated both to do well and to be on their best behavior....
As a proponent of choice reading, I am always looking for ways to get books into the hands of my students and have them build their reading list, and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s week than having your students speed date books? Inspired by the speed dating scene in New York where single people met potential dates over a brief, timed conversation and ranked them, speed dating books is a way for students to quickly put their hands on several books in order to find one of interest.
To kick off each semester, my students speed date books. I’ll give our media center specialists a little information about my class, and they go to work pulling high-interest books. When we arrive in the library, several books are arranged on tables and students find a table and sit with their guided note page. I set the timer for anywhere between two to four minutes depending on the students, and the book dating begins. Students make notes on first impressions of the cover, the inside jacket blurb, and possibly even the first paragraph or two. The timer buzzes signaling students to move to another table and start the process with another book. We may repeat this process between five and ten times depending on student interest and the time of year. After students have completed the process, they will rank books deciding which book to begin reading immediately and which ones to add to their reading list.
I have experimented with book speed dating several ways. Books may be grouped at tables by genre helping students learn different types of genres and seeing the variances within a genre. Faculty members may choose books which have been personal favorites for students to browse or students may each submit a couple of their favorite books for others to choose from. Today my students will speed date books on Valentine’s day complete with chocolate and candles. The possibilities are limitless.
As a follow up to speed dating, I carry the analogy further by discussing dating the book. A book may start slow but grow on you as the more you read it, so I encourage students to not give up too quickly on a book. Sometimes, however, the book does not live up to the hopes and expectations of a student, and students have permission to break up with a book and try another one. Life is too short to trudge through a book without connecting to it especially for choice reading when there are so many other choices....
Our students don't know the world without the Internet. They spend days and nights on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat but hardly know how to translate all the information into learning. Gen Z doesn't necessarily think critically about what they find online, and we, as educators, should teach the academic side of the Internet to them.
Why is it so important?
- Surveys demonstrate that many students don't understand how to use online sources to support their arguments.
- Studies show that young people don't focus on the credibility of sources they use: they can't explain why they choose certain websites, authors, and publications.
- Online research skills are among must-haves for students' progress through college life and future career.
Educators can help students to evaluate online information efficiently. Its volume keeps growing (500+ new websites appear every minute), and it's significant for young people to know how to separate the gems from the garbage and become critical consumers, not just viewers.
So, how can we help youngsters do efficient online research and navigate information easily?...