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Does Being Young Matter to Be a Great Teacher?

March 27, 2015

With most of young teachers, It is comfortable to ask, to discuss and to study. Freedom is felt in their class. Most importantly, they treat like an individual rather than a student. Many times some of students come to teachers and say that they are the teacher who made a difference. Although there are many reasons for the good lessons I teach, for the good days we had, one thought never goes away from my mind, which is the “because I am young” reason.

You can consider the following questions to be more specific:

Do you have a very good rapport with your students because you are young teacher?

Do you spend a lot of time working with your student because you are young?

Do your students say that they enjoy your class most and wake up earlier not to miss your class because you are young?

Do you inspire them, motivate them, and challenge them because you are young?

What would you say it is about you as a teacher that made difference for your students?

Make a Preschool Yearbook

March 26, 2015

Kids love to hear about themselves. And reading about themselves is even better! This personal yearbook will help them gather and record all the important moments and facts about their lives as they make the march towards kindergarten.

As your child works on her yearbook she’ll be practicing reading, writing, and math. And you’ll have something to look back on later when preschool is a distant memory.

What You Need:

Markers and crayons
Family pictures
Blank book or scrapbook
Tape measure

What You Do:

Start things off with a title page that includes your child’s name, age, photo, and signature. Then, consider these ideas for what follows:

Self portrait: Preschool brings a lot of change in drawing ability. Her pictures will likely move from cockeyed scribbles, to early human forms that look more like big blobs with matchstick legs, to pictures that are a lot more recognizable. At the beginning of the year, ask your child to draw a self-portrait. Leave a few of the following pages blank, so she can do the same thing at later points in the year. You’ll be surprised when you compare the pictures at year’s end!

Measurements: How tall is your child? Measure her height, record her weight, and write down her shoe size. For a fun twist, you can also write down more obscure data, like her arm span or the circumference of her head. Leave some room, either below each entry, or on a following page, for updates throughout the year.

Favorite Phrases and Expressions: Preschoolers say some pretty funny things. The next time your child comes up with a whopper, write it down on this page, with the date next to it. While, “No, I want to do it!”
may not seem so charming now, it will be fun to know later that your child used to say these things a hundred times a day.

Favorites Page: What’s your child’s favorite number? His favorite color? His favorite book and his favorite toy? Who is his best friend? Write down all of the things that make him who he is as a preschooler.

When I Grow Up: Ask your child what he wants to be when he grows up, where he wants to live, and what he dreams his life will be like. Don’t question his reasoning, just record. If he says he wants to “live on a spaceship and you can come, too” write that down as is.

Gallery: Not sure what to do with all that art work your child brings home from school? Glue it in for a permanent record of how she expresses herself at preschool age.

Album: Be sure to include pictures of big events, whether a birthday party, your child’s first soccer practice, a special Valentine’s Day project, or whatever else is a big deal for your child and your family this year.

Words I Can Write: At the beginning of the year, have your child write down any words he can write, unassisted. This may include just his name, or just his initials, or it may include much more. That’s fine. Leave the next few pages blank. As the year progresses, try this again every 3 months or so.

Tell Me a Story: Early in the year, have your child tell you a story or a joke and write down verbatim what she says. Do this again several times over the course of the year. If she’d like, she can illustrate her story.

Tools for Teaching: Managing a Large Class Size

March 25, 2015

Education budget cuts across the country are one cause of class-size increase in public schools.

Tip #1: Don’t Give Up on Collaborative Grouping
Students need opportunities to check in with each other around their learning, ask questions, guide each other and reflect together. And this is even more crucial with a large class. If a tight classroom space won’t allow for quick triads or quad grouping, use “elbow partners” — two students in close proximity. Do this often. As we know, with large class sizes, quiet students tend to get even less airtime. With less one-on-one time with small groups and individual students, teachers need to keep that large number of kids talking and being listened to. You can do a “turn and talk” even for just 27 seconds. Much can be discovered, wondered about, and solidified in that half a minute.

Tip #2: Find New Ways to Know Students
Unfortunately, the larger the class size, the more the relationships with students suffer. Consider creating surveys once or twice a week where students can answer questions on a likert scale and also ask questions of you. Invite students to write a letter to you about their learning, their accomplishments, challenges, and interests.

You can also rotate your focus every few days to 5 or 6 different students. That way, no one will slip through the cracks. Often with large class sizes, the squeaky wheels, so to speak, are the one’s that receive much of the teacher’s time. Make sure you check in regularly with your “proficient” students, and continue to create differentiated assignments for those gifted kids in the room.

Tip #3: Accept That Things Take Longer

Accept that presenting and discussing a unit’s learning objectives may have taken 20 minutes with that smaller class in the past, and probably takes twice as long with this larger group. Also, you might be lamenting over the days when you could whip around the room and spend a few quality moments with each student or group, or when you could offer immediate and thorough support. Unfortunately, if you did that now with 35 or more in the room, you’d find yourself out of time before coming close to accomplishing the daily learning objective.

Tip #4: Be Okay With Loud and Letting Go
We began to attribute silence to deep thought and high-level learning. It’s more often just a sign of kids being compliant. Take 37 kids and put them in groups! Give them a challenging task and some supplies. Let it be loud! Roam from group to group and if your door suddenly swings open to visitors from the district, let them get an eye full of engaged, enthusiastic learners!

As for the letting go, if you are still passing out papers, collecting supplies, stamping homework all on your own, stop. Assign students “jobs” immediately. By giving up these managerial tasks, you will have more time free to check in with a child who has been absent a lot, add a step to an assignment for that advanced student, crack a joke with the quiet one who avoids others, or pose a strategic inquiry question to the whole class.

Create a Clothespin Alphabet

March 24, 2015

All you need is clothespins and paint sticks, and your child will have some hands-on learning tools for spelling, alphabetical order, and sight word practice.

What You Need:

100 (more or less) spring-type clothespins

Two fine-point, permanent markers in different colors

Several paint sticks, or flat sticks about 18″ long from the hardware store

Plastic shoebox to store clothespins in

What You Do:

Create your alphabet. Use one colored marker to write a lowercase (small) letter on each of 26 clothespins. Label another 26 clothespins with uppercase (capital) letters in a different color.

Make extra clothespins for lower and uppercase vowels (A, a, E, e, I, i, O, o, U, u) and common consonants (like R, r, T, t, S, s, P, p, M, m, N, n).

Use a colored marker to draw a happy face on the left end of each horizontal paint stick. Your child will attach the clothespins to these paint sticks to make words. The happy face will help your child to remember to work from left to right. If the happy face is right-side-up, he can start by clipping clothespins by the happy face, and be confident that he is spelling in the right direction.

The time spent creating the tools for this activity will pay off wonderfully as your child explores all the ways to use these alphabet clothespins for learning.


Use the clothespins and paint sticks to practice spelling familiar names. Challenge your child: Can he spell his name using all capital letters? Using both upper and lowercase letters? How about his new teacher’s name, or the name of a family member?

As his teacher broadens the alphabet to include both lower and uppercase letters, have him try to find and clip matching uppercase letters beside each lowercase one.

At some point, your child’s teacher will talk about “alphabetical order.” In spare moments, like at the end of the afternoon, take out the clothespins and invite him to put them all in alphabetical order in time for dinner!

Practice new spelling and reading sight words from school with the clothespins. When your child starts to bring early reading books home, look them over together first, and practice making some of the short words you find with clothespins.

The clothespin alphabet is a hand-crafted, loving way to introduce your child to the alphabet and the many words a young writer can make and read!

7 Ways to Simplify Complex Content While Maintaining Sophistication and Nuance

March 21, 2015

Here are seven steps I take that promote comprehension of complex subjects.

Step #1: Ask dumb questions

You need to ask obvious questions (including ones that make you feel stupid) because it will provoke simple answers. If you act like you have a thorough understanding of a topic — when you don’t — the person you’re interviewing will use more complicated language.

To serve your ultimate goal of explaining new information to your audience, interview with a novice mindset.

Step #2: Create straightforward analogies

Ask additional questions to make sure you understand the answers to the questions you ask.

Compare and contrast an intricate subject to something well-known. How is it similar or different?

Verify that your analogies are accurate, and if so, they’re a great way to explain the concept to your readers.

Step #3: Get specific

Although hundreds of years of research have proven that non-adaptive controllers are extremely safe, you also have to be more conservative when you use them. Adaptive controllers allow for riskier maneuvers, like tight or fast turns.

Adaptive controllers are also easier to operate and useful if you want to experiment, save money, or both.

Step #4: Investigate

Ask experts what they wish someone would ask them or common misperceptions about their industry to get vivid answers.

Step #5: Eliminate jargon

Have someone else review your writing to make sure it’s accessible. One thing he or she can look for is whether or not the words you use are unnecessarily complicated.

Cutting unnecessary jargon and complicated language helps people understand your writing better — clearly define a term or eliminate it.

Step #6: Fact-check

After you’ve removed vague language and revised your text, ask the expert you spoke with to review your content or have someone else in that field check to make sure your writing conveys the proper message.

This step minimizes factually inaccurate information.

step#7: Pay attention to feedback

You may think your description was extremely easy to understand, but others may still have difficulty with it.

Conversely, your description may be overly simplistic, and experts may think you missed important aspects.

Listen to feedback to help guide your future work.

Teachers should be paid according to their students’ academic performance

March 20, 2015

Students’ academic performance strongly reflects their teachers’ paying performance. Admittedly, paying teachers according to their students’ academic performance may bring some disadvantages like devious competitions for more wages.

Firstly, paying teachers according to their student’s academic performance provide incentives to improve their teaching standard. Apparently, how well teachers are paid strongly influences their performance and teachers will pay more efforts to teach their students to improve students’ academic performance in order to get higher payments which will allow them live better. The higher payments will then encourage teachers to show more passions in their teaching. Besides, such method of wage measurement raises competition among teachers, which will also encourage them to make more efforts. For example, my high school sets up many different prizes for teachers and the main standard is the students’ academic performance in his or her class. Under the encouragement of the prizes, our teacher works harder than other high schools which have no or less prizes. If teachers are not paid according to the performance of their students’ academic performance, it is quite likely that they will pay less effort to teach their students.

Secondly, paying teachers according to their students’ academic performance encourages teachers to provide higher quality of teaching. It is obvious that higher quality of teaching brings better academic performance. Paid according to students’ academic performance, teachers will be encouraged to improve their quality of teaching. They will try to find better ways to teach their students and make fewer errors, which will make them better teachers. For example, in my high school, teachers’ bonuses are related to our performance. This encourages them to pay more attentions to their teaching styles and they often ask us for feedback in order to make improvements, which can lead to better academic performance of students. If teachers are not paid according to students’ performance, it is hard to figure out why they have to improve their quality of teaching.

Finally, paying teachers according to students’ academic performance is a better way of payment. It differentiates teachers who care about their students’ performance from teachers’ who don’t care about their students , only their wages. It is apparently a fair standard measuring for their students’ performance. The achievement of teachers should not be judged only by their working hours or positions but by the overall influence they have on their students. Teacher’s main job is teaching, providing knowledge to their students. So they should also be paid mainly according to their students’ performance.

Characteristics of a Successful School Library

March 19, 2015

1. Large, varied, and up-to-date collections. Collection size alone and books per pupil is meaningless if the information provided is out of date, or worse, inaccurate. Students need a full spectrum of resources for research.

2. One or more full-time qualified librarians. Qualified librarians hold a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

3. Library support staff large enough and skilled enough to free certified librarians from routine clerical duties and to allow them time to teach, to collaborate with teachers, and to engage in leadership activities outside of the library.

4. Free student and teacher access to the library during and beyond school hours. In other words, flexible scheduling.

5. Networked computers providing students and faculty access to catalogs, licensed databases, and the internet.

6. Budget adequate to support the previous five items.

7. Staff commitment to teaching.

8. Individual student library use well beyond scheduled class visitations.

9. Information literacy instruction integrated into the curriculum.

10. Media specialist who collaborates extensively with teachers.

11. Media specialist who is extensively involved in curricular, organizational, and operational school leadership activities outside of the library.

Profile of a Good School Librarian

March 18, 2015

To be effective in a school, the librarian needs to meet the following eight characteristics.

1. Resource Agents. The School library and librarian provide up to date diverse resources to meet the curriculum’s informational needs. The librarian provides instructional interventions by guiding students in their information choices through the effective use of these resources.

2. Literacy Development Agents. The school librarian engages students in an active and meaningful search process, enabling them to explore, formulate, and focus their searches, and providing a supportive environment (personal, physical, and instructional) for students to be successful in their research. Students understand that doing good research will lead to better knowledge of the curriculum content, as well as to academic success in their research projects.

3. Knowledge Construction Agents. The school librarian develops information literacy scaffolds for engaging students with information in meaningful ways, enabling them to construct and develop new knowledge and understanding.

4. Academic Achievement Agents. The school librarian is a dynamic agent of learning who helps students achieve better grades, particularly on research projects and assignments. An agent of academic achievement must be both a credentialed educator and librarian.

5. Independent Reading and Personal Development Agents. The school library plays a role in fostering independent reading, particularly in lower grades. Reading materials that target personal pursuits, pleasure reading, and reading for knowledge provide students with an important foundation. It is essential to promote and encourage reading literacy, academic achievement, and the development of independent, lifelong learners.

6. Technological Literacy Agents. The school library plays an important role in information technology by providing students with up-to-date software across multiple media. Lessons must go beyond teaching the effective use of software to include technical troubleshooting (disk, printing, Internet access) and problem-solving skills.

7. Rescue Agents. Students have many information crises: they need last-minute resources, help with technology, solutions to technical problems, and help developing these for projects. Indeed, even as a rescue agent, the library is opportunistic, responding to the multiple needs that arise from learning.

8. Individualized Learning Agents. The personal touch of a professional school librarian matters a great deal to students. Personal engagement with students is a critical component of an effective school library. School librarians who see themselves as informationlearning specialists play a vital role in learning.

12 Ways to Deal with Temper Tantrums

March 17, 2015

One problem that no preschool parent has ever been spared is that of the tantrum. Tantrums are unpleasant, and often quite embarrassing, but they are very normal, especially in children around the ages of 2-3.

Children of this age group are discovering a will of their own, but they do not yet have the language that they need to express themselves, nor do they have the ability to regulate their own emotions when they do not get what they want right away. Your job as the adult is to help them improve both types of skills.

Try some of the following ideas to help avoid tantrums, or at least make them less frequent and less intense:

1. Try the best you can to prepare ahead of time to prevent unnecessary problems. Children do need to learn to deal with small amounts of frustration, since they will encounter many times in their lives when they cannot get their way, but you should make your own life easier by avoiding situations that might set your child off. For example, do not start activities that your child enjoys if you will not have enough time to finish them. Never promise anything that you know you will not follow through on. Avoid beginning activities when your child is already hungry, tired, or cranky. Keep track of when your child tends to throw tantrums, including the time of day, the situation, and particular stressors that make a tantrum more likely, and try to keep these factors to a minimum.

2. If you see a tantrum building, try to distract your child by focusing his attention on something else. Young children respond quite well to music, so try singing his favorite song. Know that this strategy will not always work, but it’s worth a try.

3. Sometimes tantrums arise because young children are testing the boundaries of their new-found independence. Give your child some sense of independence by giving her choices. However, make sure to word the choices in a way that makes it clear that what you want is non-negotiable. For example, she has to get dressed right now to go to preschool, but she can pick the outfit she wants to wear. Allow her to do so, even if she does not end up with a matching outfit.

4. Once a tantrum begins, the best policy is usually to make sure that your child is physically safe, and then ignore him. Do not try to argue or reason with a child in the throes of a tantrum, as you will just be setting yourself up for a frustrating power struggle. Think about yourself – are you likely to listen to reason while you are in the grip of overwhelming emotions, or do you just need to vent?

5. Do not let yourself get angry about the tantrum to the point where you think you will lose control and say or do something that you will later regret. No matter how hard it may be, force yourself to stay calm. If you cannot do so, excuse yourself for a minute until you regain control.

6. Your children are always watching you, so make sure that you are modeling good behavior for dealing with your own frustrating emotions as they arise. Let your child know when something has upset you by labeling the feeling, and then show how you relax, such as taking five deep breaths, or saying that you need five minutes alone to calm down.

7. After the tantrum is over, let your child know that you were not happy with his behavior, but then find something positive to say, such as how proud you are of how quickly he was able to calm himself down. Say, “I’m so glad that you are feeling better now,” give him a hug, and then channel him into an activity to avoid dwelling on what just happened.

8. If your child has tried to hit, kick, or bite someone else, respond to that particular behavior, not to the tantrum. Remind him that hurting others physically is never tolerated and deliver the normal consequences for these behaviors.

9. Do not embarrass your child by making fun of his behavior. Do not hold a grudge and bring up the tantrum again in the future.

10. Despite how tempting it may be to give in and let the child have her way just to end a seemingly never-ending tantrum, do not do so. You will be teaching her one major lesson: that throwing a tantrum will eventually get her exactly what she wants if she holds out long enough. Think about the long-term consequences of teaching her this lesson. Tantrums are certainly unpleasant when children are young, but consider a tantrum in an older child or teenager. It is best to set patterns as early as possible so that your child learns that screaming and crying is not the way to get what she wants, from you or anyone else.

11. It may be embarrassing to have a child throw a tantrum in a crowded place, but try to remember that your concern is your child and not strangers. As calmly as you can, pick up your child and take him to a quiet place, such as the car, so he can calm down. Let him know that as soon as he calms down, you will be able to return to what you were doing. Do not show impatience or anger through your facial expressions or tone of voice. Try to stay impassive and let him know that he is not getting to you.

12. Tantrums may be the only way that your child feels that she can get your attention. Make sure that you are giving her lots of positive attention for good behaviors, and that you are setting aside as much time as possible, even just a few minutes every day, to spend alone with your child, only focusing on her.

Most of the time, tantrums are nothing to worry about. If you set your limits firmly and do not give in to the desires underlying the tantrums, children should learn fairly quickly that throwing tantrums do not work.

Second Grade Emotional Development

March 14, 2015

1. They want to be independent.

The drive for independence really ramps up in second grade. Children this age are immersed in their school life, becoming more social, withdrawing from adults, and have improved logic and reasoning to help guide them. They are starting to build an identity, which is a long, complex process.

What you should do : Be supportive and open-minded. Your child wants to create his own identity, not one that you create for him.

2. They evaluate themselves and care what others think of them.

Second graders might accept that they’ve done something wrong or made a mistake, but they’re afraid of being judged as bad or stupid for it. They are aware of general characteristics such as smart and dumb, ugly and cute, and they may complain that “nobody likes me.”

What you should do: Look for opportunities to give compliments and build self-esteem. If your child doesn’t have good friendships, try setting up a playdate. It’s not too late to help your child make new friends.

3. Boys and girls handle their feelings differently.

Second graders are emotional creatures and they want to talk about their feelings, but they still have trouble expressing themselves. Boys refuse help and try not to cry. Girls cry more and look for emotional help from others.

What you should do: Try to get your child to speak openly about his feelings, and be sympathetic. Remember that what seems silly to you might be the center of your child’s world.

4. They have physical reactions to stress.

Although second graders are experiencing amazing growth in body and mind, they are still prone to nausea, thumb-sucking and pants-wetting when they are stressed out. Because of their growth, they put pressure on themselves to act more mature and do better in school.

What you should do: Find out what your child is stressed out about, and help him through it. If he has an embarrassing episode, don’t make a big deal about it, and help him move on.

5. They have a sense of justice.

Although it’s common for kids to complain that something’s unfair or someone’s cheating, kids this age may start showing a legitimate understanding of fair and unfair.

What you should do: When your kid complains, ask questions. Give him a chance to articulate his opinion. Who knows? He might actually be right!

6. They begin to empathize.

Not all second graders, but some, show signs of empathy. If he sees a classmate hurt himself on the playground, he may wince in pain. If he sees someone being picked on, he’ll feel sorry him. And if he sees someone laughing or showing great pleasure, he’ll feel happy.

What you should do: Smile. Your little one is growing up. Kids who empathize generally make strong friendships and are well-liked by peers.

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