Conversations centered on healing from the Covid-19 pandemic have taken center stage in many educator circles. All learners have had to figure out how to come back together after a lengthy separation. Learning spaces look very different as social distancing measures are practiced. Even though spaces look different, students and teachers are finding ways to create classroom community and bring healing to families through learning.
Finding healing through learning develops resilience and healthy communities. Research shows that humans learn best through times of engagement and times of rest. This holds true for adults and children. This rhythm is also vital for creativity and curiosity. Combining creativity and curiosity through engagement allows children to chase after their dreams of becoming literate. Literate children flourish and create healthy communities.
One example of this can be seen at Friendship Central School. Students, faculty, staff, parents, and community workers engaged in a community reading of the book The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, throughout the month of March 2021. Partnering with Read to Them, the school participated in the One School, One Book program. Children and families created several projects that showed their understanding of the book. Staff frequently participated by reading aloud to students. Middle school students completed project showcases while high school students competed in a door-decorating contest. The excitement throughout the building and the community lifted spirits and opened spaces for unity among the Friendship Community.
By: Michelle Rickicki, CA BOCES Professional Development
Continuing our push to create more relevant and timely resources, we are putting many more kits on the booking system. The kits we created in January have been flying out of the warehouse and we are doing our best to keep up with the demand. We have several areas of need on which we are focusing, including play-based learning, social emotional learning, movement and balance, and fairy tales.
For play-based learning, we’ve added Magna-Tiles (teaching spatial relationships, math, logic, and problem-solving through creative building), foam “wooden” lumber pieces, multi-cultural block play family sets, and friends with diverse abilities posable play sets.
Social Emotional Learning kits are working their way onto our warehouse shelves. We’ve started by adding Grab and Write SEL Prompts for Grades K-2, and 3-5. Great for daily writing or group conversations, the cards cover topics such as friendship & teamwork, self-control and more.
For movement and balance, River Stones are now available. They are designed to improve coordination and balance. Jumping or stepping from stone to stone develops a child's confidence in their ability to judge distances and are a great sensory and gross motor activity. We also now have scarves and ribbons movement sets.
Creating a bridge between STEM and ELA, Fairy Tales Problem Solving Kits are available to book, including Rapunzel, The Gingerbread Man, and Little Red Riding Hood. In addition, we have the Happy Architect Fairy Tales kit, wherein creative play and storytelling are all rolled into a beautiful set of wooden toys.
LET’S BOOK SOME KITS!!!! Go to our resources page here to look at the new kits, older kits, and streaming resources. Keep checking back as we add more items to assist teachers in their craft and students in their learning.
By: Alexandra Freer, CA BOCES Learning Resources
The current school year can be considered anything but traditional and causes some to look forward to a time when things can go back to ‘normal’. Others see the current situation and departure from ‘normal’ as a way to continue personal growth and development regardless of the situation and demonstrate the ability to be innovative and responsive to any situation. One such individual is Andover High School Social Studies teacher Harold Brown. Having lived what some would consider a non-traditional life, Mr. Brown is well prepared to face challenges head on and accomplish the mission of educating his students regardless of the time, place, setting, or circumstances.
The ability to both recognize and respond to present situations is a hallmark of being able to succeed, and Mr. Brown possesses this ability in abundance. Maybe the awareness to positively respond and be dedicated to improvement is the result of the experiences he has had during his life. Growing up in a military family and contributing twenty years of his own life to military service, combined with almost two decades of teaching in both parochial and public schools, have enabled Mr. Brown to understand what it takes to adapt to situations and continue to push towards a clear objective. Regardless of where his experiences have come from, they have equipped him to be prepared for the current state of education today. His continual desire for personal learning and his attendance of multiple professional development opportunities are indicative of the growth mindset and the thirst for knowledge that Mr. Brown possesses and works each day to instill in his students. His teaching style is a true manifestation of his personal belief that one should go into education to enjoy the subject matter and his passion for history is easily recognized and displayed throughout his classroom. His willingness to learn things has been evident this year as he has worked to adapt his instruction in many ways, whether it be incorporating the use of Breakout rooms or using communication and chat platforms to keep his students learning and engaged. No matter the application or format he is, always seeking ways to help his students develop their skills while connecting to the content.
While this year has been anything but typical and has been subjected to so much change and expression of opposing viewpoints on multiple topics, the focus Mr. Brown has on preparing students for achievement and increasing their learning has not changed and remains a constant regardless of instructional model or format. This year may be viewed as a blessing since it has provided so much material and sources that can be examined for reliability, bias, and propaganda and given Mr. Brown the opportunity to be innovative and utilize various technologies to showcase to students the many aspects of the world in which they live. For a social studies teacher there is no better situation and circumstances than those which polarize our society providing opportunities to present students with the chance to learn the most desirable and pursued objective of Mr. Brown, for students to think for themselves!
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development
Do you teach 4th-12th graders that struggle to meet the reading and writing demands in your classroom?
“Adolescent literacy encompasses the skills that must be taught to all students so they can meet increasingly challenging reading and writing demands as they move through the upper grades (i.e., comprehension, vocabulary, writing skills), as well as what needs to be done for those students who fall behind who may need intervention instruction in foundational literacy skills (i.e., decoding and fluency).” https://keystoliteracy.com/blog/adolescent-literacy/
Click on the links below to find strategies that can be used across content areas:
● Build Background Knowledge-○ http://www.adlit.org/article/19865/
“Background knowledge is essential to the comprehension of more difficult text, and reading easy nonfiction that explains the critical concepts is an ideal way to expose all students to the essential background knowledge they need to understand their textbooks.” http://www.adlit.org/article/19865/
● Explicit Vocabulary Instruction-
“...researchers argue that the most common approach to teaching vocabulary — providing students with a word list on Monday then quizzing them on Friday — doesn't work. Kids don't really learn and remember words unless they see them many times in print, use them many times in their classroom discussions and written texts, and continue to see, hear, and use them subsequently.” http://www.adlit.org/adlit_101/improving_literacy_instruction_in_your_school/vocabulary/
● Discussion Protocols-
“Research demonstrates that oral communication in the classroom is an important precursor to both reading fluency and comprehension, yet it is often neglected in secondary schools (Horowitz, 2007). According to classroom observational studies, students are often silent in class (Nystrand&Duffy,2003). http://www.adlit.org/adlit_101/improving_literacy_instruction_in_your_school/vocabulary/
● Choral Reading-
“Some research has begun to show that fluency building—and by extension lessons and strategies for prosody, including choral reading—are also effective with high school students (e.g., Kuhn & Schwanenflugel, 2019; Paige et al., 2012; Rasinski et al., 2005).”https://www.timrasinski.com/presentations/Choral_Reading_Prosody_Secondary_Classroom.pdf
For additional strategies or questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Jessica Rose, CA BOCES Professional Development
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