It’s still a little brisk here in Detroit, but we’re enjoying the spring sunshine April has brought us. Before we get too far into the month though, we thought we’d look back on five of the most popular blogs from March. Enjoy.
Reading Strategies that Transcend the Classroom
If the classroom is truly the training ground for life, it only makes sense that we would use reading strategies that mimic the way we read outside of the classroom, doesn’t it? In this blog, we share five of Rachel McCormack’s and Susan Lee Pasquarelli’s strategies that will help you make reading transcend the classroom.
Come on now, help a substitute teacher out
We thought we might have exhausted all things “classroom management,” but then we came across a simple classroom management strategy—one to help out the substitute teachers who cover for us when we can’t be there!
Are you providing effective feedback? Or are students ignoring you?
Have you ever wondered why you bothered to spend an hour responding to one of your student’s essays only to have them turn in a “revision” that was essentially the same essay you saw the first time around? Why does this happen? And more importantly, how can teachers prevent this from happening?
PlagTracker: a free plagiarism detector
Students plagiarize for a variety of reasons (many of them innocuous, many not). To help deter plagiarism, you might check out a new website we came across called PlagTracker. We suggest sharing it with your students.
Do your students have “the moves” to write a strong thesis statement?
We came across another cool website called Thesis Builder. Essentially it allows users to plug in a topic, an opinion on the topic, two supporting arguments and a counter argument. From this, Thesis Builder will generate a sketchy, but nonetheless discussion-worthy thesis statement. We think this would be a useful teaching tool.
Earning a degree from a college or university is a life-changing accomplishment. But until relatively recently, pursuing higher education was much less possible for non-traditional students: parents, working adults and those who happened to live in areas where commuting to a campus just wasn’t feasible.
The proliferation of Internet access and affordable technology has changed all that and we’re proud to say that Marygrove College was at the forefront of that movement when it began in the early 1990s.
Although online and distance learning programs have been around for more than two decades, many students still have questions about it:
What does the online learning experience look like? How does it work? How does it compare to the traditional classroom experience? Am I tech-savvy enough to learn through an online program?
We’d like to answer these questions and do it in an easily-digestible way—through an infographic that you can take with you, share and repost at your leisure. Check it out!
Known for excellence in teaching since 1905, Marygrove College has been offering the convenience of online MAT classes and the flexibility of its Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) online degree program since 1990. Marygrove's MAT degree provides teachers with the opportunity to link the latest developments in educational research to their own teaching practice. The MAT degree program is designed to empower teachers by focusing on the knowledge and skills required to deliver effective instruction to diverse learners from preschool through high school, including those with special needs.
Back in December we challenged teachers to enter our lesson plan contest for a chance to win a classroom party paid for entirely by the Marygrove MAT program.
We were impressed with the winning lesson plan—so impressed, in fact, that we are offering Mrs. Blackburn’s Operation Global Connection lesson plan as a free downloadable!
We want to thank everyone who entered our contest for inspiring us and sharing your passion and creativity!
What is Operation Global Connection and how did it begin?
When Mrs. Blackburn’s eighth grade social studies students trickled into class in late November, something was different: The desks were arranged in a circle and the classroom more closely resembled a “town meeting hall” than the traditional space they were used to.
As they settled into their new arrangement, Mrs. Blackburn briefed her students on their forthcoming project—one that they would be responsible for designing, implementing and publishing. Students were free to take the project in any direction they wished as long as it met Rhode Island’s GSE HP2, an academic standard that asks students to connect the past with the present.
Everything they did—whether it was researching historical photos, snapping new ones, writing essays or interviewing international students—would be guided by two essential questions:
- “Why does what happened in the past matter to me today?”
- “How will it affect my future?”
What did students do?
As a collective, the students decided to research how the history of their state, city, school and classroom communities have changed over time, and then make predictions about how they may change in the future. Students also thought it was worth considering how the values, history, and life in Cranston compared to life elsewhere. To find out, they used technology to connect with students in Greece, Russia, China, Kansas and Connecticut.
How were students assessed?
Although the project had a floating agenda that was set at the beginning of each class, students were regularly assessed through “exit slips” and mini-projects they submitted through Google Docs.
Exit slips asked students two questions: “What did you accomplish today?” and “How can I (Mrs. Blackburn) help you as we move forward? These had to be filled out and submitted at the end of every class.
- Writing short essays that required students to use research to respond to project-related writing prompts
- Filming video documentaries to catalogue the project’s development
- Creating online polls and questionnaires and compiling the results
- Using Padlet to discuss articles and better understand the lives of their global partners
- Using various online platforms like Wordle to brainstorm
At the end of three weeks, the project culminated in a nine minute video.
We hope that you and your students find the lesson plan to be helpful! You can download it by clicking here or on the icon below.
Exceptional teachers are easy to spot. We immediately know them when we see them, but articulating the difference between an exceptional teacher and all of the others isn’t so easy. Test scores and observations alone cannot define the teacher that stands out ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest: teachers like Christie Sabon, Marygrove MAT ’06.
Christie is a nine-year teacher with a passion for teaching students to read and write. She’s the teacher who always raises her hand to sit on review committees if it will improve her craft or benefit her students. Her dedication has earned her Teacher of the Year in the Farmington Schools district in Michigan. She even won a free one-year lease on a new car from a local dealership--that’s how much the Farmington community values its educators!
Talking with Christie takes you back to all the favorite teachers you’ve had in school. She is compassionate and kind, and so enthusiastic about her work. It doesn’t take long to realize that she views her job as “figuring out what makes her students tick,” and the reasons for her award become crystal clear.
“My second graders love to read the “Black Lagoon” series from [humorist, children’s author] Mike Thaler, so for National Reading Month this year we went all out and decorated the room like a jungle, complete with a giant alligator to greet you at the door!” Sabon says.
Not one to do anything half-way, Sabon says her students benefit the most from her modeling good behaviors; something she learned from the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Program.
“I always make sure my students see me reading at my desk, and writing in my own journal,” Sabon says. “Sometimes I read my journal entries to them…they are so curious about what I find interesting. My students really keep me on my toes—they ask me to read two picture books to them each day, and they hold me to it!” So she makes the time.
Sabon also credits the Marygrove MAT program with training her to interact with parents effectively. Good teachers know that success comes more easily when you involve parents in classroom goals. But forming positive partnerships does take extra time.
“I connect with parents every single week, whether it is through e-mail or a newsletter I send home with students,” Sabon adds, “It’s important to touch base with the home front; it is really appreciated…and my students like that I tell their parents about our adventures—it makes them feel good, too."
Sabon knows that informing parents of progress on individual/class goals and upcoming events is best practice in education, and the rewards are great.
Research supports it. Renowned Johns Hopkins researcher Joyce Epstein has been touting the virtue of frequent interactions between schools, families, and communities for years. She asserts that the more time teachers spend communicating with students’ families, the more likely students will receive messages about the importance of working hard and staying in school.
From what we hear, this is not a problem for students in Ms. Sabon’s class at Hillside elementary--Sabon’s students never want to leave her classroom!
So, we congratulate this Teacher of the Year who is not only very giving of her time, but is also generous with her endorsement of her alma mater. If you want to be a better teacher, Christie Sabon highly recommends earning an MAT degree as a way to improve your game. “Many of our teachers in the [Farmington] district are Marygrove MAT alums, and we are big fans of the program.”
Thank you Christie, and thank you Farmington Schools!
Hurry and register for summer classes, and get started on your way to becoming the outstanding teacher leader you always wanted to be! We are taking applications through Wednesday, May 2!
Many elementary schools in the U.S. employ the work of a reading specialist to develop and provide “prescriptive,” or targeted instruction for struggling readers. These certified teachers are crucial both to the individual student's reading progress and to the overall reading goals of the school. Since the reading specialist works in tandem with classroom teachers, the administration, and families— they have a unique role and perspective in ensuring students' success.
Qualifications and requirements for reading specialists will vary both by state and school district. However, most reading specialists have completed additional training and education especially designed for educators to provide targeted, individualized reading instruction to children that will bolster classroom instruction. Many reading specialists have attained a master's degree specifically in Reading and Literacy.
Our Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching program offers an Elementary Reading and Literacy master's degree designed for the working K-6 teacher. This program offers students the knowledge necessary to assess and instruct struggling readers, and teaches how to develop intervention plans tailored to the individual student.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, we’ve outlined “A Day in the Life of a Reading Specialist” below! We applaud the expertise these professionals represent, and the difference they can make in a child’s learning.
A Reading Specialist:
- Works in a clinical setting separate from the child's classroom.
- Focuses on the individual child through careful diagnosis and remediation of reading weaknesses.
- Is primarily responsible for students who have been determined to be at risk of failure via school, district, or state reading assessments, but may also spend time with gifted readers to extend their learning experiences through differentiated instruction.
- Collaborates with the classroom teacher to ensure the specific reading instruction is aligned with the current classroom curriculum.
- Creates curriculum and instruction for struggling readers that is individualized and strategic.
- Monitors the progress of the struggling reader regularly to ensure that specific interventions and instruction are being translated into improved reading ability.
- Connects with the student's family to support at-home reading and learning and provides ways for family and friends to help with the specialist's reading instruction.
A typical day may include:
- Conducting short, focused sessions with individual children or groups of children (usually 20-30 minutes) who need additional intervention as determined by assessment data.
- Assessing students who currently receive additional support in reading and entering this data into a reporting tool or maintaining a data spreadsheet.
- Updating the Principal or Curriculum Director on the progress of struggling readers or on the program as a whole.
- Participating in grade level team meetings or collaborating with individual teachers to coordinate classroom instruction with the targeted reading interventions.
- Maintaining anecdotal and performance-based records to carefully monitor student work and progress.
- Communicating with students' families via e-mail, phone, or in-person conferences.
If you have a passion for reading and would love to help students master their own abilities, a Reading Specialist position may be for you. The forecast for growth is especially good for these educators, as English Language Learners (ELL) and English as Second language Learners (ESL) populations continue to rise in the United States.
Contact one of our MAT Enrollment Specialists today at 855-628-6279 for information on how you can get your career on the path to success! We are enrolling now for summer, classes begin May 7!
Since the 1960's, Singapore has been a hallmark of math instruction. This country's students repeatedly rank at or near the top of the international mathematical rankings
and outperform their peers in other countries. The differences in "Singapore Math" are significant when compared to math curriculum and instruction
in the United States. These differences have prompted many US states and school districts to investigate and adopt curriculum based on the Singapore Math
concepts, hoping for increased student understanding and achievement.
What makes Singapore Math different?
- commitment to differentiation
- careful and comprehensive assessment to understand students' mastery of concepts
- slower pace to promote a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts
- increased amount of time to fewer concepts
- detailed instruction to introduce concepts
- student practice via questioning, model drawings, hands-on manipulatives, and problem solving
- connections across mathematical strands reinforce how mathematical skills are related
- multi-grade approach to math curriculum makes mastery at one grade level crucial to student success in future grades
- as foundational skills are developed, the instructional pace increases in the higher grades as students master complex concepts more quickly.
Teachers, parents, and school officials often mention the drawback of other math programs is that they are "an inch deep and a mile wide;" that is, they cover many concepts with very little depth. Singapore Math is completely different. The curriculum is committed to a detailed, deep understanding of fewer concepts as a way for students to truly master the skills being taught. This redundancy can be highly beneficial to students and makes it less likely that they will have to be remediated on similar topics in future grade levels.
Consider the curriculum's approach to a single activity for teaching the multiplication table of “8” to third grade students. This activity is part of a larger unit designed to teach and reinforce the multiplication tables in multiple ways. Teachers are encouraged to have students:
- Use centimeter graph paper to color in 10 rows of “8” and then write down the facts for multiplication by “8” in alignment with the arrays.
- Count by “8.” Since this may likely be a challenge to most students, teachers can explain (after initial practice) that students can add 10 and then subtract 2 each time in order to count by “8.”
- Circle the numbers on a hundreds chart that they land on when counting by “8” and identify any patterns present on the chart.
Often in elementary math instruction, multiplication facts are learned by rote memory with little emphasis on the associated mathematical patterns or relationships. What can be interpreted as redundancy in a curriculum based on Singapore Math is actually a method to promote deep understanding of a single concept. With other approaches for math instruction it may appear that students quickly learn and master the multiplication table for “8.” But do they truly understand the mathematical implications of the multiplication? With Singapore Math, they most certainly do!
Need some refreshing tips to encourage math literacy in your K-6 classroom? Simply download our free Math Literacy Guide, several pages of inspirational ideas for teachers, from teachers!
Are you putting off submitting your application to the Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program? Stop procrastinating! Our asynchronous course schedule offers some solid reasons for why you should get started in March, before summer starts.
Of course, spring is a very busy time for teachers, but there are some clear advantages to beginning the program while you still have a classroom full of students. First of all, you will be able to directly apply the theory and strategies you learn to your practice right away. Second, being able to physically demonstrate the new ideas and material to others helps you internalize it as a student. It’s a practical way to get started with your online learning!
What’s more, the first class you take is a leadership course which can give you the tools you need to analyze and assess your current school year, so you can make the appropriate changes for next fall. Teacher As Leader will require you to use the summer to work and plan out changes that will make the new school year even better. It’s perfect timing. So why wait?
Get credit for what you already do in your job!
If you take your first class in March, that means your third class would be an instructional design class from July to the end of August. (07/09/2012 – 08/25/2012). Teachers are usually working on their lesson plans at this time– so as we see it, you might as well get college credit for it! The Instructional Design course will help you prepare your lesson plans early, so you will know what materials you’ll need in advance, allowing you to take advantage of those summer Teacher Store sales in July and August! This is a real plus for your budget.
Remember, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish…and the sooner you start reaping the rewards of higher education. After all, you aren’t the only one who benefits from your hard work. Your students will also gain from your knowledge and expertise. The more you know, the more your students will know, too. If you begin classes in March, you will have completed the lion’s share of MAT coursework by the 2013-14 school year, (and be well-prepared for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) accountability standards).
Your time is valuable: Make use of your graduate-level credits!
If your state requires you to have graduate-level credits to renew your teacher certification, then it should definitely go toward something – like a master’s degree! A March start date also means that teachers can get the credits they need for teacher certification renewal. An upcoming deadline for some teachers is June 30, which is right around the corner.
Don’t wait another day: Earning your online Marygrove MAT degree will enhance your career in teaching. You can’t beat these real-world benefits:
- Entire program can be completed in as little as 18 months by taking one class at a time.
- Marygrove MAT program is hands-on; focused on the practical application of educational theory. That’s why our students prepare field-based, final Capstone projects, and not a thesis.
- Students attend class anywhere that has Internet access. At home, at your desk before or after work, or even on vacation!
- Homework can be done whenever it’s convenient for you!
If you’ve already made up your mind to earn your master’s degree—enroll for March and get a leg-up on next year. Don’t put off what can be achieved today—it’s your future. And the future of your students.
Enroll now by calling 855-628-6279! An enrollment specialist is waiting to help you.
There are many long-held assumptions that "girls don't like math
" or "boys don't like to read
." A recent blog by Andrew Meltzoff and Dario Cvencek on NBC’s Education Nation
takes a look at gender stereotypes, and raises questions about how we may be socializing our children in this country to prefer one subject over another. While there is compelling research that suggests boys and girls do learn differently, there are no definitive conclusions that both genders can't succeed in any area of learning.
There are things teachers can do to promote learning for all, regardless of gender or subject area. It is a suitable and appropriate role for teachers to help students understand that their academic and cognitive abilities are not predisposed from birth. This understanding and concerted myth de-bunking can help students be more adaptable and open to a variety of learning approaches and instructional methods. They may also be more willing to take academic risks.
- Girls who have more confidence in their math and science abilities, and have had teachers explicitly emphasize these abilities, are more likely to enjoy and excel at their math studies. Long term, they also are more likely to opt for math and science electives in high school while also considering a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career.
- Boys who learn in a boy-friendly, print rich environment will understand that reading isn't just for girls. Teachers need to research and provide books that are interesting to boys (non-fiction, science fiction, mystery, action) to demonstrate that no matter what they like to read; there are many great titles available.
Teachers should provide direct feedback on a student's performance and work production. When feedback is both explicit and prescriptive and focuses on the learning process, specific learning strategies, and a students' effort—achievement increases. This feedback will help to improve persistence during a difficult task, increase performance, and support students' beliefs about their abilities.
- Direct feedback during math or science instruction will help to support girls' learning by providing explicit instruction on their performance and the logical/mathematical processes likely accompanying a math or science task. When teachers place emphasis on the strategies that were used and whether or not they were successful, girls will understand the sequential process of math and science learning.
- In order for any student to be a successful reader, he must be able to independently apply a variety of comprehension strategies during reading. Teachers need to provide direct feedback to boys regarding their use of these strategies. Particularly when reading fiction texts, boys should be engaged in conversations regarding their use of comprehension strategies and whether they enhanced their overall understanding.
Teachers can expose all students to a variety of opportunities and possible careers that break gender stereotypes. Students need to understand that your gender doesn't determine what you enjoy learning or what your future career may be. Exposure to these beliefs in elementary school will shape early understanding for both boys and girls.
- There are many prolific female mathematicians and scientists available as examples for girls (including Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, and Sally Ride). Profiling these successful women will help to demonstrate to girls that there are a variety of STEM careers available to them that take advantage of their math and science abilities. Teachers should explore how to use the text and website, Math Doesn't Suck, by Danica McKellar which demonstrates that math can be both easy and relevant.
- The website "Guys Read" is a place where boys of all ages can discuss boy-centric books, provide literary reviews, and learn what some of their favorite male authors are currently working on. Created and maintained by Jon Scieska, this terrific website focuses on books and genres that boys like most, while providing substantial support and encouragement for boy readers.
Let us know your thoughts about gender and learning--we acknowledge that we are just scratching the surface of this very complex issue.
You can learn how to motivate every reader in your classroom by viewing our FREE webinar on Goal-setting and Reading Fluency, today!
In her cornerstone text for teaching reading
, The Art of Teaching Reading
, Lucy McCormick Calkins says there are “only a handful of things” that everyone agrees as being essential for teaching reading. “Perhaps the most important of these is the fact that children need to listen to the best of children’s literature read aloud to them
.” Calkins explains that the benefits of read alouds
aren't exclusive to younger students. Rather, all readers, regardless of age, can benefit from strategic read alouds
as part of their reading instruction
Many times, as children become older and more proficient readers, the emphasis on read alouds in the elementary classroom wanes. Teachers may tend to have students read to themselves more than reading to them, yet there are multiple benefits that teachers can find in reading aloud to their students:
- Teacher read alouds are an opportunity for students to learn and practice advanced comprehension skills, regardless of reading ability. Advanced comprehension skills, including synthesizing, inferring, and evaluating, are crucial to an intermediate student's reading success. When strategically taught during a read aloud, the burden of physically reading the text is lifted. Students are able to practice the comprehension skills within the teacher's gradual release of responsibility, which is key as students begin to implement these skills within their independent reading. Additionally, struggling intermediate readers have an opportunity during a read aloud to practice grade level comprehension skills without having to access grade level text.
- Students will be exposed to new authors or genres of text. Many students have a list of favorite authors, book series, or literary genres once they are in fourth or fifth grade. Using read alouds, teachers can provide exposure and pique interest in books students wouldn't necessarily choose on their own. It is also a great way to highlight similarities between certain authors or discuss the plot across several books in a series. Each read aloud is an opportunity for teachers to add to a student's reading repertoire.
- Discussion during a read aloud session promotes collaborative learning and increases comprehension. Teachers can establish multiple cooperative structures so that students can talk in pairs, between small groups, or as a whole class about the reading. One such structure, think/pair/share, asks students to first independently consider a comprehension question, share their answer with a partner, and then participate in a small group or whole class discussion about their thoughts.
For more ways to engage students of all ages for optimal reading comprehension, download our best practices guide on K-6 Reading Comprehension, today!
In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, take an opportunity over the next week to impress your students with Thanksgiving trivia, and enjoy being the “know-it-all” at your Thanksgiving table!
•In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month (and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in 1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week. The decision sparked great controversy, some even referred to it as “Franksgiving,” and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.
•Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts.
•According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, one of the country's oldest farmers' organizations, Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, including "pemmican" (a nourishing, high-protein combination of crushed berries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures and other wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrims adopted these uses for the fruit and gave it a name—"craneberry"—because its drooping pink blossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane.
•The American tradition of college football on Thanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself. The newly formed American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sport resembled something between rugby and what we think of as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football games were taking place on Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups between schools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000 fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lions game on Thanksgiving has become an annual event, taking place every year except during the World War II years (1939–1944). For more fun facts, visit history.com, a treasure trove of educational information.*
From the entire faculty and staff of the Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching Program, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.
*The preceding text is culled from History.com, Nov.14, 2011.