Focus On Literacy

By |October 17th, 2013|

Children who enter kindergarten with a small vocabulary don’t get taught enough words particularly, sophisticated academic words to close the gap, according to the latest in a series of studies by Michigan early learning experts.

The findings suggest many districts could be at a disadvantage in meeting the increased requirements for vocabulary learning from the Common Core State Standards, said study co-author Susan B. Neuman, a professor in educational studies specializing in early literacy development at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Vocabulary is the tip of the iceberg: Words reflect concepts and content that students need to know,” Ms. Neuman said. “This whole common core will fall on its face if kids are not getting the kind of instruction it will require.”

In an ongoing series of studies of early grades vocabulary instruction, Ms. Neuman and co author Tanya S. Wright, an assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, analyzed how kindergarten educators choose and teach new words, both in the instruction that teachers give and in basal reading books.

Ms. Neuman and Ms. Wright found limited vocabulary instruction across the board, but students in poverty the ones prior research shows enter school knowing 10,000 fewer words than their peers from higher income families were the least likely to get instruction in academically challenging words.

The Michigan studies are “immensely valuable in calling attention to the problem, and to the way early literacy instruction fails to overcome the verbal gaps between demographic groups,” said E.D. Hirsch Jr., the founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation and a professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Hirsch has written extensively about the essential role of background knowledge, including the words [...]

Best Practices – Reading and Writing

By |September 27th, 2013|

Teaching Children’s Litature
Students’ oral and written communications are products of their interactions with people, their environments, and, of course, their life experiences. Teachers begin to “even the playing field” by exposing all students to a wide variety of children’s literature from the first day of kindergarten. Hearing, reading, and responding to children’s literature expands students’ knowledge, vocabulary, and sense of story structure, all of which are transferred to their speech and writing.
Once you realize the positive effects of a literature-based classroom, you must decide not only when to read, but also when not to read. Literature read to, with, or by students can be used to:

start the day
ease into Writers’ Workshop
teach specific language arts skills
illustrate points about behavioral or social issues in the classroom
calm the class after lunch or recess
demonstrate concepts from math, science, or social studies lessons
communicate hard-to-explain ideas in an effective manner
celebrate a birthday or holiday

Good books should be shared with students several times each day. While countless ways exist to weave books into lessons, teachers don’t always need a content connection. One of the most powerful reasons to share a book is because it is personally meaningful to you. Books you love will become books your students love. Conversely, when students love books, their writing blossoms.

Of course, children’s literature can also be the perfect lead-in for mini-lessons or other skill instruction during a writing workshop. For example, consider the following titles and how they can be used to launch instruction:

Aunt Isabel Tells A Good One by Kate Duke shows how to illustrate dialogue.
Everybody Needs A Rock by Byrd Baylor provides a model for writing a how-to in an almost [...]

Technology Impact on Education

By |September 27th, 2013|

Technology has сеrtаіnlу changed thе way wе live. It has impacted different facets оf life аnd redefined living. Undoubtedly, technology plays аn important role іn еvеrу sphere оf life. Several mundane manual tasks are now automated, complex processes саn bе carried оut wіth ease аnd efficiency.. Thanks tо technology, our classrooms have also changed fоr the better.

Technology in the classroom often equals –


In essence, compared to 20 years ago, technology has revolutionized the field оf education. But have you ever thought of just how technology has changed education?
Technology as a Teaching Aid:
Computers offer  interactive audio-visual mediums. For example PowerPoint presentations аnd animation software arе used tо present information interactively in the classroom.  Projectors аnd screens offer viewing оf information bу а large number оf students. Audio systems make іt possible fоr teachers tо reach а larger number оf students. While thеѕе teaching aids may not have have led tо improvements іn student attendance, those that are in class are more attentive and concentration levels tend to be higher.

Technology has made student life easy:

Technology aids in student expression,  software is used tо make presentations аnd projects, and the size of technology…wow – it’s now possible to carry nothing but a table where 10 years ago backpacks full of books would have been the norm.   It wоn’t bе wrong tо say thаt application оf technology has made а student’s life easy.
Easy storage of information:
Computers enable vast quantities of information to be stored quickly and easily – and on devices as small as your finger.  Remember the days of writing on a chalk board while your students copy the same information on a piece of paper?…not any more.  In comparison, chalk, chalk [...]

Common Core Tip # 35

By |September 26th, 2013|

Where are you with your shift to the Common Core? While some are focused on the standards’ content, others are turning their attention to the processes and conditions needed for these standards to take hold, and social and emotional learning is gaining more traction.

This year’s theme for our work is “How can we create the conditions for deeper academic discussion and collaboration?” Many of you may have already created a definition for academic discussion, but have you spent any time  focusing your attention on collaboration. OUSD is focusing on creating the conditions for learning not only for students but also for adults, believing that if you create the conditions for adults they will be better able to support students. For this reason, Oakland teacher leaders and principals brainstormed the conditions that were present when collaboration was thriving for adults in their schools. Here’s what they shared:

What Effective Collaboration Looks Like:

Active, interested listeners; respectful and patient with others; accepting of others’ ideas as well as conflicts and disagreements; effective communicators
Come to meetings prepared, and be reflective when there
Time is allotted for collaboration, feedback, and FUN
There is a role for each person and all are accountable to the group
All voices given equal weight
All members trust one another and have the best interests of others in mind
Commitment to the goal(s) of the group

This list applies to student needs as well. Deep, meaningful student exchanges won’t happen unless we create an environment in which it can take root and thrive. So what can you do to create conditions for the kind of deep collaboration described above?

Research and the results of many Caring School Community program implementations have shown that building relationships between [...]