EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Just One More Little Show, Mommy... Pleeeease?

    You can't deny or hold it back. And, who would want to? Technology is part of life in our society... more so every day. It changes the way we communicate, socialize, conduct business, and handle daily tasks. Children need to be prepared to function in this type of society. We ease them into it with the software we choose and the time we provide for them on computers and other devices. By the time we get a child in our early childhood classroom, he may already have logged thousands of hours of ...

    by Debra Pierce
    Wednesday, 01 April 2015
  • Reading in the classroom

    Popcorn Is for Eating -- Not Reading

      Popcorn – or round-robin – reading is a technique that’s probably been used by teachers since there were books and classrooms. The intentions behind it are to increase reading ability, to help students feel comfortable speaking in front of others, and to “catch” students who aren’t paying attention. I won’t speak to the last of those because it’s beside the point and perhaps a topic for another post. But regarding the first two intentions, it turns out teachers have been wasting their – ...

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    by Rae Pica
    Tuesday, 31 March 2015
  • I Am a Teacher! ( Screamed My Heart)

    I overheard a conversation today. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but given my profession, I was immediately drawn in.  My son and I were waiting for our late breakfast.  We took a sick day off today – due to South Texas weather, which I am publicly blaming, mind you.  I am sitting directly behind a young couple with a small baby boy.  They are sporting NFL jerseys – Dallas Cowboys – guess they are still mourning their loss with you, Mr. Ruvalcaba.  As the young mo ...

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    by Maggie
    Tuesday, 31 March 2015
  • High Stakes Testing and Children with Special Needs

    March madness is entering its final days, and I am not referring to basketball. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) high stakes standardized tests that align with Common Core are wrapping up round one in Illinois. But unlike the NCAA college basketball tournament, there will be a second round of PARCC in May. For many children with special needs, this tournament of testing can’t end soon enough. The story of two sisters, ages 9 and 11, illustrates the abs ...

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    by Laurie Levy
    Tuesday, 31 March 2015
  • Vulnerability Develops Classroom Connections

    There’s something really powerful about demystifying learning in front of students. If we’re serious about the power of ideas like grit and growth mindset, this demystification process is a prerequisite for increased student success. But how do we do that? Planning is an incredibly important part of teaching, but in hindsight, I think I often spent too much time planning in the wrong direction. As a teacher, especially as a young teacher, I thought I was successful if I could make my ...

    by Aaron Hogan
    Tuesday, 31 March 2015
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Posted by on in Early Childhood

You can't deny or hold it back. And, who would want to? Technology is part of life in our society... more so every day. It changes the way we communicate, socialize, conduct business, and handle daily tasks. Children need to be prepared to function in this type of society. We ease them into it with the software we choose and the time we provide for them on computers and other devices.

baby on phone at restaurant

By the time we get a child in our early childhood classroom, he may already have logged thousands of hours of screen time. He may have started accumulating these hours as an infant, with baby videos and TV. Mom may have found it easier to give him her phone with a movie, than interacting with him in the car or a restaurant. Popping in a DVD while making dinner worked really well, and soon it expanded to time after dinner. He also had some games to play, too. Soon it would easier to do this just about any time or most of the time… and the child probably learned just the right buttons to push (pun intended) to get the devices turned on.

Screen activities were now part of his life and had begun to overshadow other activities, like playtime with Mommy and Daddy or other children, and playing outside. He wasn’t missing these other things and was now actively preferring a screen.

boy on video game

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Posted by on in Tools, Shortcuts, Resources

 

Reading in the classroomPopcorn – or round-robin – reading is a technique that’s probably been used by teachers since there were books and classrooms. The intentions behind it are to increase reading ability, to help students feel comfortable speaking in front of others, and to “catch” students who aren’t paying attention.

I won’t speak to the last of those because it’s beside the point and perhaps a topic for another post. But regarding the first two intentions, it turns out teachers have been wasting their – and their students’ – time with the practice. Moreover, popcorn reading often creates results that are the opposite of what’s intended: a hatred of reading and students who feel humiliated and/or stupid.

So why does the practice continue? Could it be because it’s always been done? That’s never a good enough reason – and certainly not when there’s so much research determining that it’s ineffective and even harmful. There are also wonderful alternatives to the practice! You’ll find several listed in these two articles from Todd Finley and Julie Adams:

“11 Alternatives to ‘Round Robin’ (and ‘Popcorn’) Reading”: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/alternatives-to-round-robin-reading-todd-finley

...

Posted by on in Education Leadership

I overheard a conversation today. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but given my profession, I was immediately drawn in.  My son and I were waiting for our late breakfast.  We took a sick day off today – due to South Texas weather, which I am publicly blaming, mind you. 

I am sitting directly behind a young couple with a small baby boy.  They are sporting NFL jerseys – Dallas Cowboys – guess they are still mourning their loss with you, Mr. Ruvalcaba.  As the young mother leaves the table for some condiments, I see him get on his phone and make a phone call.  The conversation will strike a familiar chord – as we were all there – in those exact GPS coordinates many moons ago.  (I landed a job with McDonalds at 17)

“Yes, Hi – was calling to see if you’re hiring? I called yesterday.”

(I can only guess what the other person is asking or suggesting based on his replies)

“No, I don’t have that kind of experience.”

...

Posted by on in What If?

March madness is entering its final days, and I am not referring to basketball. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) high stakes standardized tests that align with Common Core are wrapping up round one in Illinois. But unlike the NCAA college basketball tournament, there will be a second round of PARCC in May. For many children with special needs, this tournament of testing can’t end soon enough.

The story of two sisters, ages 9 and 11, illustrates the absurdity of the educational policy surrounding PARCC and other high stakes tests. The older sister has special needs, so her parents wrote a letter on her behalf requesting that she be permitted to opt out of taking the test. This request was repeatedly denied by her school district until the Superintendent personally intervened on her behalf. According to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), she was supposed to refuse the test herself every time a section of it was presented to her.

Meanwhile ISBE policy permitted her younger sister, for whom the test might be annoying and time wasting but not harmful, to opt out on her own. After her computer froze during a practice test, losing all of her work, she declared to her third grade teacher, 'That's it. I'm opting out of taking this test.' And it was as simple as that.

If her older sister were capable of making a similar declaration, her parents would not have submitted a written request. But they knew that she might not be able to summon up the right words or the courage to refuse to take the test. Thus, her anxiety and challenges with verbal communication would have trapped her into taking a test that would do great harm to her.

There are many good reasons why she and other children with special needs should be permitted to take a different assessment, or no assessment at all.

...

Posted by on in General

There’s something really powerful about demystifying learning in front of students. If we’re serious about the power of ideas like grit and growth mindset, this demystification process is a prerequisite for increased student success. But how do we do that?

Planning is an incredibly important part of teaching, but in hindsight, I think I often spent too much time planning in the wrong direction. As a teacher, especially as a young teacher, I thought I was successful if I could make my students think that I knew the answer to every question imaginable and that it was easy for me (undoubtedly baggage from growing up thinking that I wassmart, not that I worked hard to be smart). As a teacher, I spent a lot of time in the name of “preparing” that was really me investing in protecting myself and finding my identity in places I shouldn’t have been looking for it.

Whether you take this as far as I did or not, I think many educators value this idea of having everything together so much that it may be hurting our chances with students.

We all know that learning is messy. If we’re failing to show our students this part of the learning process, we’re failing them.

Maybe teachers are scared off by this because of the vulnerability required. That could definitely be the case. I think what deters more teachers might be this fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen when I get into showing my students how I learn? What if I get stuck revising a passage in front of 5th graders? What if I can’t conjure up the right phrasing for a particular sentence in front of freshmen in high school?

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