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Heidi Veal @VealHeidi

Heidi Veal @VealHeidi

My name is Heidi Veal and at the heart of everything, I am a teacher. I believe education is a calling and I am honored to fulfill my calling to make a difference in the lives of the school community I serve. This is my 16th year in education and during those years taught multiple grades at the elementary level, served as a Response to Intervention Specialist, an Instructional Coach, an Assistant Principal at Lawson Early Childhood School, and now as a district Early Childhood Programs Administrator at the central office. I am passionate about Leadership, Ed-Tech, Special Education, and all things Early Childhood! I am a co-founder and co-moderater of #ECEchat and #LeadUpTeach, a founding member of the #LeadUpChat PLN, a co-organizer of #EdcampDallas, and blog here on EdWords, LeadUpNow, Ready Rosie, and with my husband Jeff on jhveal.com

Posted by on in Early Childhood

All Things STEAM logo

co-authored by Nancy Alvarez and Heid Veal

 

What do you picture when you imagine an ideal early childhood learning experience? Do you see young children sitting quietly at tables, independently completing school work or do you visualize them in various groups exploring, creating, pretending, tinkering, and communicating? The later is what the majority imagine and is what many would describe as developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners. When considering an ideal early learning setting, the young learn best when educators design purposeful, integrated experiences where students’ inquisitive nature and creativity are capitalized on to propel them towards foundational learning.

 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

STEAM play

What started as a dream has become a reality! One short year ago, our campus, Lawson Early Childhood School, began its journey from Dream to STEAM. Our campus recognized the growing need to provide uniquely designed STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) experiences for our 3, 4, and 5 year old students and began imagining what would later become a fully equipped STEAM lab. At the heart of our STEAM dream has consistently been the goal of developing our PreK students socially, emotionally, and academically while providing opportunities for them to explore, collaborate, problem solve, and question through play. Our global society necessitates a strong math/science background, and by building a STEAM lab for our young learners, we are providing foundational experiences and scaffolding academic vocabulary while fostering a love of learning through carefully designed, standards-aligned experiences that provoke creativity, problem solving, and collaboration.

Open-ended lessons requiring communication and critical thinking allow students to explore many solutions to a variety of problems. Our students benefit from opportunities to build lifelong math/science skills as they investigate the power of wind on a variety of objects using a wind tunnel, code Bee-Bots and Code-a-pillars, design structures and scenery with giant interlocking blocks to use as a setting to retell a story, build strong bridges with a variety of materials, and learn to persevere through trial and error with ramps and tunnels on a big magnetic wall. Through play and careful design, we are developing confident risk-takers while our PreK students explore STEAM for their first time.

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We design our STEAM lessons with a structured teaching cycle (thinking, planning, doing, reflecting) to ensure success in the STEAM lab. Each set of lessons is planned to meet specific academic guidelines. Higher order questions, visuals, “I can” statements, and reflection questions are built in so students acquire new academic and social vocabulary. STEAM lessons are introduced to teachers through flipped learning videos, giving them an opportunity to explore and ask questions about the lessons in advance.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Digital

I recently had the honor of participating in a Studentcentricity podcast episode hosted by the talented Rae Pica. I joined Warren Buckleitner, founder of the Children's Technology Reiview, and author, professor, and early childhood education expert Diane Levin to discuss the hot topic of digital devices in Early Childhood learning environments. The following are my take aways from the conversation. To listen to the lively Studentcentricity podcast click here and to read the full Take Aways from the podcast click here

Digital devices in the hands of our youngest learners can either enhance and help them develop  or hinder, possibly even hurt their development. The fact of the matter is digital devices are a part of our modern world. Even if a family chooses not to own a single device, their child/ren will still, inevitably, come face-to-face with a screen sometime in their young years. The truth is, if/when a child attends a school, they will have access to some version of a digital device be it a tablet, laptop, desktop computer, mobile device, or digital display board such as an interactive whiteboard.

Knowing digital devices are an inevitable part of the environments of young children, how can we be better equipped to guide them in their use of digital devices? I would like to suggest employing the Three C’s as defined by Lisa Guernsey in her 2007 book Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age 5. Guernsey asserts that when making choices about childhood device use, we must do so through the lense of Content, Context, and the Child. 

When focusing on Content we should ask ourselves, “How does this device or application help children engage, express, imagine, or explore? What content or information is the media tapping into or teaching?” Content is all about provoking a child’s curiosity, helping them access experiences and opportunities not readily available to them in their physical environment, and teaching or reinforcing new knowledge and skills. Several teachers at my school are effectively using devices to enhance content delivery and mastery by guiding students to use multiple apps together (app smashing) to create content rich, class-made digital books. Click here to learn how our young learners are creating digital books at my school.   

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Posted by on in Education Resources

interview “Great leaders make all decisions based on the best people”. -Todd Whitaker

It's an exciting time of year for schools looking to hire the best and educators alike in search of their dream job. And even though we are heading into the final half of the hiring season, quality candidates and exceptional schools are still in interview mode. Having been both in the hot seat as an applicant and as part of numerous hiring committees, we would like to offer practical advice directly from our own experience for those in the hunt for the best job in the world, Teacher.

We want to start by pulling back the curtain and letting you in on an simple, yet important truth about hiring. Every interview represents the committee’s desire to hire only the very best for their students. You might be thinking, duh! But there’s a great deal of depth to this. School leaders understand these wise words by Jim Collins, "People are not your most important asset. The right people are." Administrators and hiring committees know that their numero uno objective is to hire only the very best, no excuses, and let’s face it, getting The Job at The School you want to be at is competitive.We hope these tips help give you an edge over other candidates and set you apart as The. Best. Candidate. Here goes!

Your Experience and Hustle is Your Best Resume

Your proven track record should speak for itself, but the committee won’t know what it is unless you tell them. Some get nervous or shy in an interview because they feel like they are bragging, but in truth, no one can speak about your experiences and success like you can! Look for opportunities in the questions asked of you to share about specific examples, scenarios, and experiences. Be sure to highlight your competencies. Tell the committee about your unique skill set and how you leveraged those skills to implement a special program, spearhead an innovative initiative, and supported student success.  

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

JoBoys

Boys bring a certain level of verve to any setting. Day or night, they are ready for action and movement. Boys have a natural curiosity that fuels their hunger for learning about their wonderful world. They instinctively want to experience their environments in a kinesthetic fashion and are never truly satisfied with a “because I said so” answer to their questions. In short, they are explorers and doers of the best kinds, relentless in their search for adventure and always ready for a good ole’ ruckus. I know this is true not because I was a boy, but because I am the mother of two young boys, 8 and 4 years old, and I work with young boys on a daily basis as an administrator in an Early Childhood Campus. Maurice Sendak was never more honest and true when he penned the sentences “Let the wild rumpus start” and “Inside all of is a Wild Thing”. Sendak had a way of channeling the motives of our boy explorers!

Knowing that these are the hallmarks of healthy, growing boys why is it so many schools struggle to educate boys in a fashion that engage their full selves and optimizes their many innate talents and characteristics?

Below are my take-aways and suggestions for answering this question based on a Studentcentricity podcast hosted by Rae Pica, Getting Boys to Love School, that I participated in with speical guests Ruth Morhard and Richard Hawley, both experts on educating boys and gifted authors. 

When teaching boys please remember… 

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