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Colleen Cadieux

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Try Reversing the Golden Rule for Bucket-Filler Success!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Dec 27, 2012 5:30:00 AM

reverse the golden rule for bucket-filler success!We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But in the case of bucket-filling, a positive reinforcement program that works well in classrooms, the Golden Rule should be revised to “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them,” in other words, treat people the way that they want to be treated, or treat them in ways that are valuable to them.

You’re probably thinking, How in the world can I treat 23 students individually and personally at any given time? Hold on!  Essentially, all we are asking you to do is know your students. The more you know about what makes your students tick, the better able you will be to “fill their buckets. “

Dr. Donald O. Clifton’s book How Full is Your Bucket asserts that often it is what we recognize in others that actually helps them shape their identities and future accomplishments.  Constantly referring to a child as funny, or shy, or outgoing can reinforce what that child thinks of him or herself.  Teachers have the access and unique power—every day— to tell a child that he is a good writer, or a capable scientist, or an excellent athlete. These often unintentional individual recognitions, for better or worse, plant the seeds that can affect decision-making down the line. So make sure the seeds you plant are always for the better. (No pressure!)

The book outlines some key questions we’ve adapted for students to find out the best ways to fill their buckets:

1.By what name do you like to be called? Nickname?

2.What are your hot buttons—hobbies or interests you like to talk about a lot?

3.What makes you feel great when you’ve achieved something special? 

●Receiving a certificate with your name on it?
●A prize?
●Note from teacher?
●Note from Mom, Dad or Grandparent?
●Announcement to the whole school over the PA system from the principal?
●Pizza for the whole class?

These insights can help teachers decide the best ways to fill their students’ buckets, to make recognition individual and meaningful whenever possible.  Before long, you will see positive results in your classroom and you will have fostered a much more cooperative classroom climate.

Clifton reminds us that we all face a choice every single moment of every single day. We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. The choices we make can profoundly influence our relationships, our health and our ability to be productive in the classroom or on the job. He cites a Gallup poll that estimates there are “…more than 22 million workers in the United States alone who are extremely negative or "actively disengaged." This rampant negativity is not only disheartening, it's expensive: It costs the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone.”

Let’s do our part by starting early and modeling for our students what positive behavior looks like and even sounds like. Before long, they will understand what it feels like to be a positive, productive person, and it can make all the difference in the world to your classroom community.

Begin the New Year on a positive note! Download our Guide to Successful Bucket-Filler Techniques and let your imagination be your guide on how to best introduce this concept to your students.

Tags: download, Classroom Community, Bucket Fillers

Bucket Filler Ideas for the New Year. Transform your Classroom Community!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Dec 24, 2012 5:06:00 AM

Marygrove College Maaster in the Art of Teaching offers tips on bucket -filling You made it through to the holidays! Congratulations. Use your time off to relax and reflect on the things that you’d like to change when you return. But by all means don’t worry—that pesky behavior problem you’ve been dealing with in your classroom over the last six weeks does not need to persist into the New Year.

You’ve probably tried every behavior modification trick in the book, yet your classroom culture seems unaffected.  There may be one or two “repeat offenders” who always seem to command your energy, and the classroom as a whole usually suffers.  Right?  Time to grab a bucket.

If you have never tried bucket-filling, you are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to transform your classroom into a cohesive, caring team. There’s a great book, Have you filled a bucket today?  by Carol McCloud that is simply written and quite effectively introduces the concept to children.  To begin your bucket-filling program, read the story aloud to your class. Then, perhaps a week or two later, ask a student to read it again. This only takes a precious few minutes, and can be easily incorporated into your morning meeting. In fact, re-reading it is a great way to reinforce the basic concept.

Bucket-filling is all about recognizing the good things our students do, rather than focusing on negative behaviors. The beauty of bucket-filling is teachers can choose to do a little or a lot, depending on the unique needs of the classroom. Our free download from teachers, for teachers, offers lots of tips on how to implement an effective program that gets results.

But first, let’s back up and take a look at how bucket-filling first emerged on the scene. We can trace its roots back to the 1950s, when Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a psychology professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln became increasingly aware that the field of psychology at that time was based almost entirely on the study of what’s wrong with people.  Clifton published a book with Tom Raft in 2004, How Full is Your Bucket? based on many decades of research about how human behavior can change dramatically when the positive is emphasized over the negative.

Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Well, if it were easy, we’d all be humming “High Hopes” as we go to work each day—“Just what makes that little old ant…Think he'll move that rubber tree plant…”  The point is, positive feelings and attitudes need to be practiced, and honed. It is learned behavior, and can be habit-forming, not unlike remembering to take an umbrella when it rains. (And who hasn’t forgotten to do that from time to time?)

Clifton and Rath’s book was a New York Times Bestseller and workplaces soon began initiating bucket filler programs. Clifton found that people’s lives are shaped by interactions with others, and most of the time, we interpret them as either positive or negative. Carol McCloud realized its application for the elementary classroom, and the rest is history. McCloud lectures across the country on the virtues of bucket-filling, and she continues to publish on the subject.

The bucket and dipper metaphors are easy for children to understand, and Clifton’s research maintains that we each have an invisible bucket and dipper within us. When we use our dipper to fill other people’s buckets— by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions— we are also filling our own. Download our Guide to Successful Bucket-Filler Techniques and use your creativity to find unique ways to infuse this concept into your classroom community.


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Tags: download, Classroom Community, Bucket Fillers

Enhance your Writing Curriculum with Five Free Apps for Educators.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 15, 2012 5:35:00 AM

Marygrove MAT recommends five apps for educators.Like any skill, “mental muscles” become stronger when they are regularly pushed. And just like any sport or training program, a competent and inspiring coach is vital for growth. As a teacher, you know that you must hone your students’ muscle dexterity, but you know from experience that you need to do it in a way that engages them. This is no easy task.

In our last post we discussed the link between reading and writing skills, so we thought it might be useful to offer up a few apps for educators that will help you enhance your students' writing skills while engaging them with a medium (technology) they are excited about and comfortable with. Not a “techy?” No worries. You don’t have to be to use these five FREE apps for educators.

Check out these Five Free (or almost Free) Apps for Educators:

MindJet (Free)
Some of you may already use “clustering” or “mind mapping” (typically these words are used interchangeably) already, but just in case you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s what it looks like:

You give your students a nucleus word, phrase or topic; they draw a circle around this word and then, without stopping or overthinking, they begin to draw spokes from the nucleus word to new words that are triggered by it.

MindJet is an app that takes old-school clustering and mind mapping and goes digital with it.

Your students will get a kick out of seeing how many insightful, crazy and random ideas they have housed in their brains. More importantly though, MindJet can help with topic generation, in-class discussion and also defeat writer’s block.  

Mixed Ink (Free)
This app allows your students to upload their writing to MixedInk, peer review and give feedback directly inside the program.

Here’s a specific way you can use MixedInk in the classroom: Say you are reading To Kill a Mockingbird. You assign Chapter one on Monday, along with five reading comprehension questions that students are to have completed and uploaded to MixedInk for Tuesday.

In the next class, you put your students into groups of four and ask them to review and discuss each other’s answers for 20 minutes. Then, for the next 20 minutes of class, your students collaborate with one another to compile a group “remix” of their original answers by pulling specific language from one another’s posts to create a collective response.

Wordle (Free)
Wordle is about as user-friendly as it gets. Go to the website, type (or copy and paste) text into the box and hit “Go!” With the snap of a finger, your students’ text will be transformed into a well-polished piece of word art.

Here’s a Wordle activity you might try: Since we mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird, we’ll use this as an example. Let’s say you want your students to put together a list of character traits for Atticus Finch, Boo, Jem, Scout and all the other main characters. In addition to this, you want them to be able to support these traits by pulling out specific passages and using textual support. Once your students do this, have them Wordle it. Suddenly you’ve reinvented the task and made it fun and creative.

Voki (Free)
Voki allows users to create a personalized, speaking, blinking, moving avatar. Your students determine what it will look like and what it will say. “How in the world can I use this to help my students become better writers?” you say. Like we said in our last blog, students benefit from modeling, that is, from hearing someone—or in this case, something—read to them. 

Most of your students are beginning writers, so they’re still going to be negotiating grammar, style and sentence clarity. To inexperienced writers, their work—even if it is rife with grammatical mistakes and sentence-level issues—still makes sense to them. It’s only when someone (the avatar) reads their work out loud that they begin to hear and see their mistakes.

WriteCheck (Varies with subscription)
It’s early in the school year, but very soon you’re going to have to have the old talk about plagiarism.

Style guides are a necessary evil, but we’re going to offer something to supplement them: WriteCheck. This app will analyze papers against billions of web pages and over 140 million other student papers. Students can pay $6.95 for a one-time plagiarism and grammar check that includes three resubmissions, or they can upgrade to a five-paper (basic) or 20-paper (volume) package.

Do you have a favorite app that you use in your classroom? Please share!

Tags: apps for educators, reading strategies, writing skills

Five Effective Reading Strategies You Can Use Now.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 11, 2012 4:31:00 PM

Take Five reading strategies to boost comprehension in your classroom!The following five effective reading instruction strategies not only work with any curriculum, but in an era of budget cuts, it’s good to know that these strategies can easily be deployed with no additional funding.

Five Effective Reading Instruction Strategies

1. Empower your students by giving them choices. Research suggests that children who get to choose at least one item to read per day show not only increased engagement, but also an increase in reading comprehension skills. Allowing students reading choices has a big payoff!

2. No text should be taught in isolation.
“Across the Curriculum” has become the mantra of contemporary education—and for good reason. If knowledge and skills overlap and spill over from one class into the next, they explode with energy and real life application! Students can see those connections and articulate them through in-class discussion and authentic group activities

3. Writing that Transcends the Classroom.
Say you were learning to play Beethoven’s 14th Sonata on the piano. Before fumbling through the piece on your own, one of the first things you would probably do is listen to the way that an expert has performed it to get a sense for the nuances of its rhythm, mood and feel.

The same goes for writing. Writers, just like musicians need a model. Worksheets and fill-in-the-blank exercises are just that—exercises. They may show students where to place the commas, but they won’t show them how to use language in a rhetorical way. Empower your students by giving them opportunities to read, hear, and discuss good writing, then apply these strategies to their own writing choices. It will be rewarding for both you and the students to see them take ownership of their own work and see writing as exploration!

4. Read Out Loud and Read Aloud.
As we mentioned above, one of the most effective reading comprehension strategies is modeling. It’s a benefit to the whole class to hear other students read. Research has shown that when students read out loud, it helps the brain orient to rhythms, cadence, tone, expression and context. Reading to your students helps in much the same way. Children and adults of all ages benefit from read alouds.

5. Reading Clubs
.The more children engage with each other about what they are reading, the more excited they get about the process. Set up book groups and literature circles each week, allowing students to chat freely about their ideas, suggestions, and opinions. It boosts reading comprehension skills and provides a positive social cognitive environment to enhance understanding and explore concepts!

Looking for a few new ways to improve reading comprehension in your classroom? Download your own free copy of the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching’s Guide to Best Practices in K-6 Reading Comprehension today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B


Tags: effective reading comprehension strategies, reading comprehension, curriculum

Hot job in education: The Curriculum Specialist.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 5, 2012 5:34:00 AM

The Curriculum Specialist is a hot job in education.A curriculum specialist is a teacher leader who is committed to the creation and alignment of curriculum and high quality professional development. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that curriculum specialists will experience a higher than average growth rate through 2020. This projected growth is a positive indication of the importance that school districts are placing on the position of curriculum specialist. 

A professional seeking one of the thousands of curriculum specialist jobs across the country can expect to perform many duties including:

Organizes, develops, and coordinates curriculum design. Although school districts primarily adopt published curriculum there is also the need for development of additional curricula. This might be designed to supplement the adopted curriculum or to supplant portions that don't align with the standards. The development of curriculum should be thoughtful and deliberate and involve classroom teachers.

Plans and leads professional development. Those that perform curriculum specialist jobs will lead a variety of professional development opportunities. These sessions may cover curriculum design and implementation, instructional strategies, and assessment methods. The professional development should be made available in a variety of settings such as an entire staff, grade levels, or one-on-one with individual teachers.

Leads teachers in standards based analysis of adopted and created curriculum. Any published curriculum should be carefully analyzed for its alignment with instructional and achievement standards. If there are portions that don't align with the standards, the curriculum specialist can facilitate the creation of supplementary curricula.

Collaborates with teachers to adapt curriculum. Teachers are expected to meet the needs of a variety of learners and should be able to use the adopted curriculum with all students. A curriculum specialist can work with teachers to modify and adapt the curriculum to extend the curriculum for students needing additional challenges and to differentiate for learners who need additional support.

Analyzes assessment data. The curriculum specialist should work with a team of administrators and teachers to analyze classroom and school-wide data to determine effectiveness of curriculum and instruction. There is a correlation between achievement, instruction, and curriculum. The team of administrators, teachers, and the curriculum specialist should work together to disaggregate the data and determine areas for growth.

The Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (CIA) program will help to prepare you well for a curriculum specialist position.  The CIA coursework is designed to encompass all of the critical thinking, leadership skills, and knowledge required to qualify.  If you would like more information, contact an enrollment specialist at (855) 628-6279, today!


Learn more about our online Master's Degree Program

Tags: curriculum specialist, curriculum design, careers in education, hot jobs, Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching

The RAFT strategy is a lifesaver for differentiating writing!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 31, 2012 5:30:00 AM

Marygrove MAT outlines the RAFT strategy for differentiating writingThe RAFT strategy in education (Santa, 1988) is an effective tool for activating prior knowledge and differentiating writing in a variety of content areas.  This strategy requires the writer to assume a specific role, address an intended audience, follow a certain format, and adhere to a chosen topic. Since students have an enormous amount of choice, the RAFT strategy for any classroom subject is an ideal vehicle for students to demonstrate their deep understanding of complex ideas and concepts. 

The RAFT strategy begins with an easy to remember acronym that explains the components of the writing.

Role Who are you as the writer?
Audience Who are you writing for?
Format What format will the writing take?
Topic + strong verb What is your topic for the piece? What is the purpose?

The strong verb listed with the topic is an option that some teachers choose to employ. You can have students choose a verb such as formulate, design, persuade, convince, critique, apply, or convince to provide further definition for the writer.

Although the four components work together in harmony to help the writer develop the piece, they each have individual qualities central to the quality of the writing.

This component challenges the students to adopt a point of view different from their own. This analytical thinking can be a challenge to move outside of themselves and their formed opinions. Some of the most powerful RAFT writing comes when a student writes from a completely opposite view of his own. You can also assign students to take the role of a historical figure, a person currently in the public eye, or someone in a specific occupation.

Whether we like it or not most student writing is written for a single audience, the teacher. The RAFT differentiation strategy gives students the opportunity to craft a piece for a specific, intended audience. You can be as creative as you want about the audience. They could write for a group of students, decision makers such as a city council, or a certain group in history. 

The format of the piece allows the student to stretch their writing into different genres and forms. Students could craft a number of formats including an essay, a persuasive letter, an advertisement, an advice column, a journal entry, or a news release.

The content is simply what the student will be writing about. When planning the RAFT activities you may find it helpful to start from this point. Once you determine what the topic is, which is often most closely related to the subject area, you can plan the other components.

It is important to remember that the RAFT strategy in education is a great tool for engaging knowledge and thinking about many different subject areas. Since the components can be designed to fit every content area, the possibilities for the strategy's use are limitless.

The most important thing to remember with this differentiation strategy is that you can adapt it to best fit the needs of your classroom and your students. There's no right or wrong, just the guidelines for a solid strategy that allows your students to have a different perspective on their own writing.

There are a variety of online resources available if you would like more information about the RAFT strategy in education, including:
Writing Fix - sample RAFTs, RAFT generator, rubrics, and useful forms
Read, Write, Think - professional development model, sample RAFTs, strategy in practice
RAFT Writing - PowerPoint presentations, technology integration ideas, templates, and sample RAFTs.

Download a FREE copy of our Best Practices in Reading Comprehension for more strategic tips on developing successful students!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: differentiation, RAFT strategy, K-6 writing strategies

Quickwrites add a twist to what your students did on their summer vacations!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 28, 2012 5:33:00 AM

Marygrove MAT suggests the quickwrite strategy for returning students!A quickwrite is a popular literacy strategy that can be used to promote writing fluency, encourage thoughtful reflection, and is a way for teachers to gain a better understanding of student thinking. Students are expected to respond within two to 10 minutes to a prompt or question with a thoughtful reply that connects to prior knowledge and previous learning. There are many engaging ways to make this simple, effective strategy work in your classroom. 

Students can participate in quickwrites to:

  • Make personal connections to the learning.
  • Apply critical thinking skills.
  • Synthesize previously mastered concepts.
  • Gain a purpose for further reading.
  • Organize ideas for writing.
  • Develop new ideas.
  • Reflect on key concepts.

To implement the quickwrite strategy into your instruction:

  • Share with students the purpose of quickwrites in general and the specific goal of the current prompt.  Make sure you explain that this is an informal writing application. Students should simply be responding by writing whatever comes to their minds. It isn't an exercise in organization or grammar. The student's thoughts, ideas, and voice are the focus.
  • Give students a short amount of time (2-10 minutes, typically) to write uninterrupted. Monitor their work but don't interrupt their writing. As they proceed with the quickwrite don't address spelling, grammar, or other writing mechanics.
  • When their writing session is over give students an opportunity to share their piece. Although you could have students engage in large group sharing, structuring the sharing into partners or small groups is more time effective. Prompt them to share one specific thing from their writing instead of simply reading the piece aloud. 

This strategy has multiple applications across all content areas, and is especially beneficial at the beginning of the year to model reflection when you ask your students to recap their summer vacation. For years, students have been asked to write about their summer vacation as they return to school in the fall. Using the quickwrite strategy to extend this traditional activity can help students focus their thinking and gain experience with your writing expectations.  

Ideas for your students’ summer vacation quickwrite:

  • Write for six minutes about a specific place you visited this summer. It can be an out of town vacation spot, your favorite place to play, a local adventure location, or any other place you went this summer. Explain what you saw, what you heard, and what you smelled. Use vivid details to take the reader there.
  • Write for eight minutes about something new you learned this summer. Did you master a new skill, begin a new hobby, read a new book?  Think of one thing that you learned this summer and explain how you learned it and why it is important to you.
  • Write for five minutes about a new person you encountered this summer. You might know this person's name, you might not. You may have spent days with this person, perhaps just minutes. Choose a person that you met this summer and explain the circumstances of the encounter.  
  • Write for ten minutes to compose a letter to your future self about your summer vacation.  Choose your future self at a specific age or time. Maybe the end of this school year, the beginning of college, or perhaps at 50 years old. Tell yourself about the summer vacation that just ended. Think about what made your vacation unique: What was the best part? What did you learn? Who was important in your life? How did you feel about coming back to school?

What other quick writing strategies have you found to be successful with your students?  We’d love to hear from you.


Tags: quickwrites, writing strategies, summer vacation

Practice what you preach- sneak in a good summer read before school starts.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 25, 2012 10:22:00 PM

Marygrove MAT encourages teachers to sneak in a summer read before school starts!If you’re one of the lucky teachers who won’t go back to school until after Labor Day, there’s still time to squeeze in a couple of good summer reads! Teachers who are able to share their own personal love of reading with their students can instill a love of books that carries on throughout their lives. Make sure you share some of the titles that you’ve read with your students, and ask them to share theirs! Talking about books fosters an increased interest in reading, so make time for it in your classrooms this year!

Three great summer reads for teachers:

The Summer Book (Jansson, 2012) This beautiful story, set on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland, examines the connection between a young girl and her grandmother in her final months of life. They spend the summer together in companionship and exploration while discussing things that matter to everyone, regardless of age.  
Heart and Soul (Binchy, 2009) An uplifting tale of friends, family, patients and staff at a heart clinic in Ireland, this book will provide intersecting stories that all tie together in the end. Dr. Clara Casey is tasked with establishing the clinic and is faced with a variety of challenges including funding, demanding patients, and family life. Dr. Casey’s story plays out among the accompanying tales of patients and staff and celebrates the story's setting of modern day Ireland.
Learn Me Good (Pearson, 2006) This is the story of Mr. Woodson, an engineer who loses his job and decides to try his hand at teaching math. The book is actually a series of emails that Woodson writes to a friend still working for his former employer. A quick read, you'll find yourself laughing at the funny subject lines, names at the closing of each email, and how true-to-life the hilarious stories are. 

Reading for pleasure is important but you can also choose books that benefit you professionally. These two titles are quick reads that can make a fast impact in your classroom.

Two great professional summer reads for teachers:
Opening Minds (Johnston, 2012) A thorough analysis of the words teachers use with students demonstrates the power language holds. Peter Johnston makes the case for carefully choosing your words and how small shifts in word choice can affect a student's perception, sense of self, and emotional, moral, and social development.
What Keeps Teachers Going? (Nieto, 2003) This collection of vignettes about teaching and learning serves as an inspiration to everyone in the field of education. The author examines lessons that can be learned from veteran teachers who have served in the classroom a number of years and maintain a hopeful enthusiasm.

Get more intimately involved with reading and words—download our FREE quick guide to explicit word analysis instruction for a refresher on the power of words and word play! Have a powerful year!


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Tags: Reading, summer reads, explicit word analysis instruction

Top 10 Reasons for Teachers to go to Graduate School.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 24, 2012 1:21:00 PM

Marygrove MAT outlines top ten reasons why teachers need grad school!Whether you've just completed your teaching credential, or have some teaching experience under your belt, you may be considering whether or not it's worth your time to look into graduate schools. There are a variety of excellent reasons why most teachers go back to school to receive some form of higher education.  

If you're considering a graduate degree, here is a list of 10 reasons why it's a good career move for teachers.

  1. Career Advancement.  There is a need for teachers with extra education and specialized career training.  Not only is grad school a requirement for any teacher desiring to work in administration, it is also necessary for specialized niches - such as heading up literacy programs, ESL instruction, technology departments, and certain areas of Special Education.
  2. Inspiration. If you've been teaching for a while, your engine may be running out of steam. Graduate schools offer an intellectual arena for teachers who love their jobs but need something to spark the inspiration embers. It is a great opportunity to stay current with the latest in teaching practices and theories, as well as new administrative policies. Even teachers with the best of intentions can struggle to keep up on those things on their own time.
  3. A Higher Paycheck. As much as it might be nice to think none of us teach for the money, extra money in the bank has never been a source of complaint. Having a graduate degree can significantly increase your salary. We should note, however, that sometimes it is better to seek a graduate degree after you have tenure at a school where you are happy and plan to stay. For new teachers, or teachers who want to change districts, having a graduate degree can sometimes decrease your chances of getting a job when districts are under budgetary strains.
  4. Increased Retirement. Just remember, the higher your paycheck, the more you are putting into your retirement fund. When you look at that collectively over the period of a decade or two, it can make a significant difference.
  5. You Love To Learn. Hopefully, part of your desire to become a teacher was that you love to learn, and want to inspire others to feel the same about the learning process.  Graduate schools keep your intellectual sphere in expansion mode.
  6. To Diversify. Getting a graduate degree offers you the opportunity to add to your skill set. For example, if you are naturally good with technology, or want to improve differentiated teaching skills with ESL students, you can get a graduate degree/credential in an area that has always interested you.
  7. It's Easier Than Ever. Many teachers are also spouses, parents, grandparents, coaches, etc. so attending grad school can seem like an impossibility. But with the variety of online grad school programs, that can be custom designed to meet your schedule, it is easier than ever before.
  8. Become a Professor. If you have found that teaching K-12 really isn't for you, graduate school is your ticket to teaching adults. With a master’s degree in your subject area, you will be able to teach at a junior college and/or some state colleges.
  9. Get a Better Job. Perhaps you want to work for an elite private school, or a charter school with strict teacher requirements. A graduate degree will make you more appealing to any institution looking for candidates with a little something more.
  10. You Just Want To. Sometimes, we just have to fulfill a long-time need. If having a master’s degree is something you've always wanted, go for it!

Graduate schools offer a wonderful opportunity to advance your career, increase your annual earnings, and re-stock your inspiration supply. Check out Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching program. It’s not too late to enroll for fall, but hurry and contact an enrollment specialist at (855) 628-6279 or apply online for FREE right now!


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Tags: back-to-school, graduate school for teachers, higher education

Put a fresh spin on your reading log for students this year.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 22, 2012 3:35:00 PM

Marygrove MAT encourages teachers to make reading logs interesting for students!Nobody doubts the value of literacy in education. Parents want their children to read, teachers want their students to read, even students want to be able to read.  But mention the word "Reading Log" and you might hear a universal groan from parents, students, and teachers alike.

Still, there are wonderful ways to add to the at-home reading process and make the log a source of creativity, active involvement, and interaction! It never has to be a chore.

Reading Comprehension Requires Reading Practice!
There's so much more involved in reading than a good story. Reading is a complex brain process that develops over time with listening, thinking, and speaking. For young children, listening to an adult read allows their ears and brain to become familiar with language. Vocabulary, rhythm, cadence, tone, rhyme, sentence structure, event sequencing - all of these become unconsciously familiar as children listen to their parents, guardians, siblings, and teachers read out loud.  Studies show that it takes hundreds of hours of reading time for children to develop the pre-literacy skills that will facilitate the reading process in school.

If parents dedicate just 20 minutes a day to read with their child, the results will become evident in the child's unfolding literacy skills. Plus, as all parents know, time is fleeting.  There are only so many years we can sit and read with our children as we cultivate one of life's most valuable skills.

Kick Start the At-home Reading Log - Make Reading More Exciting.

Most reading logs are pretty basic. They are a black-and-white printed piece of paper with three to four columns of information about the books, or materials, children are reading at home.  Children fill out the title, how long they read, and parents sign it. The teacher collects it, a grade is given, and the log is handed back. Not very exciting.

On the other hand, there are some great ways to make the reading log into a fun-filled and engaging activity! Below are some ideas on how to spruce up the reading log practice and make it appealing for students and their parents!

Skip the traditional reading log format.

  • Consider flexibility. Some days, 20 minutes might not be available, other days 30-40 minutes might slip by as a child and parent read together. Perhaps a weekly total is more realistic.
  • Creativity can be key: Make the reading log an art project.  Make it unique.  Switch it around every month. Create seasonal themes. Let older students design their own reading logs - with certain parameters about organization and legibility of course. You may be surprised with what they come up with. 

Use interesting formats that bring different reading elements to the table. Some examples:

  • Incorporate the log into the book: Children can make a book mark reading log that remains in the book until they're done.  Students are constantly reminded of their progress, rather than having another disconnected piece of paper for their parent to sign.
  • Focus on Reading Comprehension: Reading comprehension only happens when readers learn how to interact with reading materials. Create a log where children answer the 5 W's about each piece they read, or use different daily questions to help them connect with what is happening in the story, or how it relates to something in their own life. It's reading, writing, and critical thinking all in one.
  • Engage. Have students think of one or more questions, depending on their age, that they would ask the author about the section they just read.

There are some great online reading log sources.  Check out Enchanted Learning Reading Log Formats, or this printable PDF reading log for older students that asks different questions for each day.

The best at-home reading logs boost reading comprehension by getting students to engage with their reading material. Reading logs should help to make the reading process exciting, desirable, and something to be proud of. Give yours a fresh update this year!

Need more ideas on how to improve reading comprehension? Download our FREE Best Practices Guide now!

Download the K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: reading comprehension, Literacy, reading logs

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