20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools

notesNearly everyone enjoys music, whether by listening to it, singing, or playing an instrument. But despite this almost universal interest, many schools are having to do away with their music education programs. This is a mistake, with schools losing not only an enjoyable subject, but a subject that can enrich students’ lives and education. Read on to learn why music education is so important, and how it offers benefits even beyond itself.

1. Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: Students who have early musical training will develop the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.

2. A mastery of memorization: Even when performing with sheet music, student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in education and beyond.

3. Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to want to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.

4. Increased coordination: Students who practice with musical instruments can improve their hand-eye coordination. Just like playing sports, children can develop motor skills when playing music.

5. A sense of achievement: Learning to play pieces of music on a new instrument can be a challenging, but achievable goal. Students who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement.

6. Kids stay engaged in school: An enjoyable subject like music can keep kids interested and engaged in school. Student musicians are likely to stay in school to achieve in other subjects.

7. Success in society: Music is the fabric of our society, and music can shape abilities and character. Students in band or orchestra are less likely to abuse substances over their lifetime. Musical education can greatly contribute to children’s intellectual development as well.

8. Emotional development: Students of music can be more emotionally developed, with empathy towards other cultures They also tend to have higher self esteem and are better at coping with anxiety.

9. Students learn pattern recognition: Children can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills with the help of musical education. Playing music offers repetition in a fun format.

10. Better SAT scores: Students who have experience with music performance or appreciation score higher on the SAT. One report indicates 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math for students in music appreciation courses.

11. Fine-tuned auditory skills: Musicians can better detect meaningful, information-bearing elements in sounds, like the emotional meaning in a baby’s cry. Students who practice music can have better auditory attention, and pick out predictable patterns from surrounding noise.

12. Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity: Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a child’s imagination.

13. Music can be relaxing: Students can fight stress by learning to play music. Soothing music is especially helpful in helping kids relax.

14. Musical instruments can teach discipline: Kids who learn to play an instrument can learn a valuable lesson in discipline. They will have to set time aside to practice and rise to the challenge of learning with discipline to master playing their instrument.

15. Preparation for the creative economy: Investing in creative education can prepare students for the 21st century workforce. The new economy has created more artistic careers, and these jobs may grow faster than others in the future.

16. Development in creative thinking: Kids who study the arts can learn to think creatively. This kind of education can help them solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.

17. Music can develop spatial intelligence: Students who study music can improve the development of spatial intelligence, which allows them to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures. Spatial intelligence is helpful for advanced mathematics and more.

18. Kids can learn teamwork: Many musical education programs require teamwork as part of a band or orchestra. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie.

19. Responsible risk-taking: Performing a musical piece can bring fear and anxiety. Doing so teaches kids how to take risks and deal with fear, which will help them become successful and reach their potential.

20. Better self-confidence: With encouragement from teachers and parents, students playing a musical instrument can build pride and confidence. Musical education is also likely to develop better communication for students.

Helping Child to Read


Be Involved and Patient

Learning to read is the culmination of a great many learned skills and developmental processes. Learning to read is a long-term program. At times, there is no visible progress. At other times, they make dramatic daily progress. In all cases, show patience, confidence, and be encouraging of new skills. Learning to read is like a marathon that involves climbing up mountains and over diverse terrain: it is not a sprint and every child needs support along the way. And like a marathon, there are many stages, each with it’s own challenges. From phonics through advanced reading comprehension and critical thinking, there are new challenges at each stage.

Learn about learning to read

There are many great books and websites on learning to read. While you don’t need to become knowledgeable about all the latest theories about learning to read, there are some basics which you should understand. While there are many sources, my favorites are SEDL or Todays Learners. Time4Learning has an excellent free newsletter that provides useful insights into how children learn to read and how parents can help teach them. It points to websites, articles, resources, and books with more info on specific steps or issues in learning to read. Once you understand the basic steps, you’ll have a “map” or “schedule” of the terrain that your marathon mountain climbing effort will need to cover. If your child’s development differs significantly from the schedules, you should consult with specialists since along the way, many children are found to have different sets of strengths and weaknesses which sometimes require some specialized help or intervention. Most differences provide interesting insight into what makes your child special and do not change the overall program significantly.

Learning to Read has a sequence

Just as children start by playing T-ball before playing baseball with “pitched” balls, there are specific steps in learning to read. Trying to teach the steps out of sequence can frustrate your child (and you). For instance, prior to successfully learning phonics, the child should master a set of pre-reading skills including understanding basic print concepts, discerning the sounds, understanding that words are made up of sounds which they need to think about as interchangeable parts (ie phonemic awareness), and memorizing the alphabet. To help parents understand the steps in learning to read, look at The Reading Skills Pyramid. And while most children do follow this sequence, be aware that each child is different and that there are a great number of variations. It is great fun to realize, even in the prereading phase, how much ground is already covered once a child can play rhyming games, understanding thousands of words of vocabulary, and likes hearing you read bed-time stories out of a book.

The First Steps in Learning to Read is Multimodal

Learning to read is easiest if you involve all the children’s learning styles and modalities. They should see the words on wall posters, have toys in the shapes of letters, draw or trace the letters, play letter games on the computer, watch educational programs (Sesame Street) that introduce the letters, and of course, listen to stories in books. Most children love learning that their name can be written down and are highly motivated to learn to recognize their own name. Each of these different activities helps develop prereading skills.

A Program to Becoming a Successful Reader

Time4Learning is a great example of a reading curriculum. Let’s look at the range of activities that are taught as children learn to “decode words” and build basic “reading comprehension skills”. These steps are primarily achieved in the years up to third grade. At the preschool level, lessons teach verbal comprehension, build vocabulary skills, develop phonemic awareness through rhyming games, and build other prereading skills. By kindergarten, the program is teaching phonics with more vocabulary, comprehension, and listening exercises (recognizing word families and syllables). From third to eighth grade, reading comprehension skills are the main focus with grammar, word roots, punctuation, and critical thinking as major strands.

Writing Skills Should be Developed Simultaneously

Most programs, including Time4Learning, now include a writing program from the earliest ages. There are two reasons for this renewed focus on writing: one, research shows that writing skills helps build reading skills. Secondly, employers (and standardized tests) are increasingly focused on strong writing skills. Teaching writing starts at the prereading level where there are “tell a story” exercises using paint programs. The level progresses incrementally so by third grade, the children are using outliners and graphic organizers to organize thoughts prior to writing. The goal is for them to construct sentences and paragraphs into coherent clear essays.

Helping your Child Learn to Read – Summary

Parents enthusiasm for teaching their children to read should be channelled into useful daily activities. Meaningful education is a marathon and not a sprint; it is not always smooth “road work” but involves working through diverse terrains. Be very dubious of any “magic shortcuts”. The first step is for parents to learn the basics of the steps in learning to read. Once you understand the overall path, you’ll see how to use the broad array of tools such as learning toys, computer programs, rich daily conversations, daily reading sessions, and a comprehensive curriculum.

Top 10 Best Selling Homeschool Books 2015 Part-2

6 – Home Learning Year by Year, by Rebecca Rupp

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School
Homeschoolers can design their own curricula, assembling resources and using approaches that best suit their own children’s needs. A structured plan to ensure that your children will learn what they need to know when they need to know it, from preschool through high school.

7 – Homeschool Your Child for Free, by LauraMaery Gold

Provide a solid education at home without breaking the bank.

Introduced in 2000, Homeschool Your Child for Free gave countless parents the plan and peace of mind to get their kids’ education on the right track. Now, authors LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski have revised and updated their popular guide, offering their expert homeschooling advice and information, plus new tools and resources to help you and your child succeed:

• Complete curriculum plans for a comprehensive education, from preschool through high school
• Where to find free online courses; NEW!
• Ways to partner with public schools; NEW!
• Legal guidelines and compliance requirements for home educators
• Keys to graduating a homeschooler; NEW!
• Developing personal finance management and life skills; NEW!
• Teaching tips and motivators from successful homeschoolers
• Career and vocational guidance; NEW!
• And so much more!

8 – Homeschooling : The Teen Years, by Cafi Cohen

Homeschooling : The Teen Years
The teen years are when many homeschooling parents start to question or abandon their efforts. It’s a precarious time, with challenging academics, pressing social issues, and the prospect of college looming. Parents can now breathe easy: this guide calms the teen-time jitters and even offers hope to those just turning to homeschooling now that their child is about to enter high school. With brief “how we did it” testimonies from other parents sprinkled throughout the book, author Cafi Cohen offers sage advice with the turn of every page. A columnist for Home Education Magazine and Homeschooling Today, two of the most respected periodicals on the subject, Cohen has also homeschooled her two children into college. To comfort doubters, she begins with 10 reasons for homeschooling your teenager (work experience, limited peer pressure, and family togetherness, among them). She goes on to devote long chapters to traditional subjects such as math and history, and even gets to those you might not have considered, like driver education. Her suggestions for parents new to homeschooling: decompress slowly, study only one subject a month at first, and read at least one book on learning styles.

9 – Deschooling Gently, by Tammy Takahashi

Deschooling Gently

Deschooling Gently will help you whether you are new to homeschooling, or if you are experienced, but are in need of new approaches. Discover the best way to educate your children at home, not through rote process, but by learning how to find the answer within yourself. This plan will provide confidence to trust your own educational decisions, a clear understanding of your children’s needs and how to meet them, the ability to make calm and wise decisions about your children’s education, a solid footing for starting the homeschool journey, and most importantly – concrete ideas on what to do now to make your transition to homeschooling smooth and painless.

10 – Homeschooling For Dummies, by Jennifer Kaufeld

Homeschooling For Dummies
This friendly guide leads you step by step to homeschooling success. If, like many parents, you’re wondering whether homeschooling can be the solution you’re looking for, then you’ll be happy to know that the answer is yes.

Relaxed/Eclectic Homeschooling

“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

For the family who practices “relaxed” or eclectic homeschooling, mornings are often used for more formal, “have to” work, and afternoons are used for hobbies and other special projects. There are no specific times set up for each subject, but instead the child is expected to meet certain educational goals.

For help, the eclectic homeschooler may rely on regular classroom standards for their child’s grade level (for example, studying multiplication in the 2nd grade, California missions in the 4th grade, and U.S. history in the 9th grade). They may also use standardized tests to measure their child’s progress.

The advantage of the Eclectic method is that the parent feels that the “important” subjects are being covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips and classes that fit their needs and interests

  • Reading: Read one chapter a day from a book the child has chosen. The parent will also often read challenging books to the children at night, like Jane Eyre, Phantom of the Opera, The Three Musketeers, and other classic children’s books.
  • Writing: Eclectic families usually center their writing around journals, essays, letters to friends and the occasional report. Some families also participate in a “young writers” club, available through their support group.
  • Math: Each child will have the math materials that best suit their learning style. One child may use math software, one child may use math manipulatives like rods, shapes and counters, another child may use a math textbook. The parent then evaluates the child’s retention by periodically making up a sheet of problems that review all the math concepts the student has learned.
  • Science: The emphasis is on hands-on experiments which the family does at home or through community science classes (like those put on by MadScience.com).
  • History/Geography: The family will use workbooks, software, educational games and historical fiction. Some families also make up time-lines and history notebooks like those used in the Classical and Charlotte Mason approaches.
  • Special Interests: Afternoons are generally spent doing special projects, pursuing hobbies, and participating in community classes and teams like soccer, gymnastics, Boy Scouts and 4-H.

SAFE but not SORRY- learn safe driving

Drivers’ education is intended to supplement the knowledge obtained from government-printed driving handbooks or manuals and prepares students for tests to obtain a driver’s license or learner’s permit. This is important because every driver must own a license for safe driving according to the rules. But is it the only significant thing?

Well, here is what you need to know about safe driving. Everyday a number of people leave from their house for work, school or vacation only to spend their day out and reach home safely. But this is a hard fact that many of them do not even reach back to their respective homes because of any mishap that might happen on the road. And this may happen to them, to us and to YOU!

Sohere comes the most effective and efficient driving school, Drive2pass in Calgary, a car fitted with dual controls, which has pedals or other controls on the passenger side are used by this school in the safe hand of the well equipped instructors working for educating teen and adult drivers for safe and defensive driving.

Some detailed statisticsshow that motorcyclists account for just 1% of total road traffic, but 19% of all road user deaths. Drive2passeducates for the steps both drivers and riders can take to reduce the casualties on our roads. And yes, it is true accidents happen due to one or both persons’ inattentiveness. So all the collisions involve at least one of the drivers having fallen victim to inattention, inattentive driving can cause a major harm to your life and to the life of other drivers and pedestrians. Also it may happen because of improper understanding of rules and regulations, the big black book of rules that is offered by this Drive2pass School with the easiest Driver Education course.
These instructions are intended to warn the drivers about the dangerous conditions in driving such as road conditions, driver impairments, and hazardous weather. Instructional videos may also be shown, demonstrating proper driving strategies and the consequences for not observing the rules properly.

Drive2pass provides road safety information and education to drivers for road safety with the main aim of encouraging safer behaviour to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year.

Driving and learning to drive is easy, required and given you learn from an expert and a knowledgeable trainer. The instructor must have all round knowledge in the field of driving and also be well adjustable with almost all kinds of students. Students can be of any age from young notorious teenagers to middle aged nervous learners. The instructor must make sure that he/she has good communication skills and can be good and also strict at times when things tend to get out of hand. Leadership qualities like resourceful, motivational, and empathetic also the best in the field is a must to be a good instructor. At drive2pass one can have training of driving under the best of instructor in Calgary. Make your driving experience worth and count, join at the top driving school in Calgary, and join at drive2pass driving school.

The Lowest Paying College Majors

You’re headed to college (perhaps of your own volition or it was something you parents insisted upon) and even after all of the careful consideration as to which institution you would attend, there’s one thing you still haven’t quite figured out yet – what you want to do with your life. You weren’t one of those lucky kids who knew what they wanted to be since the age of twelve and you weren’t even one of the rarer few who stuck to that dream all through high school. Nope, you have no idea where your future lies and that’s okay.

A lot of students don’t really figure out what they plan to do with their lives until they get to a school like Arizona State University or opt for online courses with AU Online. However, you are going to have to select a major sooner than later and while you’re thinking about it, take a look at the lowest paying majors you might want to avoid.

Declaring for one of these will prepare you for occupations that don’t bring much in the way of compensation in the real world. Unfortunately, most of them are centered around the arts, education, social work, and human and community services. All of which are pursuits that should hold more value in our society than they evidently do.

Early Childhood Education

The lowest paying major out there involves the theory of teaching young children eight years of age or younger and helping them learn as they progress through the different stages of growth. It might be tough to imagine how our children may develop without individuals devoting themselves to making sure their early maturity for cognition and learning are successful. But workers in this field earn the least salary at around $30,000 a year to start with just a small bump to around $38,000 at mid-career.

Social Work

Social workers are a vital component to the welfare of our communities and the people who live in them. This work can incorporate everything from community organization to mental health to crisis counseling to psychoanalytics. People in this field are advisers, advocates, and crusaders for those who are less fortunate and are sometimes left behind or fall through the cracks of society. There is a lot of responsibility in social work but not much in the way of pay with a starting salary of just over $33,000 and a typical bump later on nearing the mid-40’s.

Culinary Arts

You watch Food Network almost religiously, you can name every restaurant Bobby Flay owns, and you love making food more than you love eating it. You may be thinking of pursuing a culinary arts degree with big dreams of being the next Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri. Well as much as you love food, you may be relegated to eating Top Ramen and Chef Boyardee once you’re out of school as the starting salary of this type of work is only $33,600. That number can rise as you get into culinary management or you find yourself a plum chef job at the right eatery or fine dining establishment.

Drama and Theater Arts

Let’s face it. Most out of work actors start out as waiters. A theater arts degree is basically preparing you for a career in food service and hospitality. Of course there are success stories of actors and actresses making it big everyday and most of them waited tables on their way up. So get ready to memorize more house specials than lines of dialogue.

5 Well Paid College Majors

Wouldn’t it be great to enter into a high-paying position straight out of college? If this is the reality you want to look forward to, then you need to do some serious planning before you attend ACU online. First, you need to consider the location you want to live in and the school you want to attend. If you’re interested in San Diego State University, you can browse through their courses to see which high paying college majors are available.

But which college majors come with great paychecks? Let’s take a look at five options you can choose from.


It still pays to become an engineer, with median salaries ranging between $65,000 and $101,000, and median mid-career pay being between $115,000 and $168,000. You’ll find a variety of sectors available in the engineering field that pay top dollar, including nuclear, petroleum, electronics, chemical, computer science and communications engineering. Once you become an engineer, you can increase your pay by obtaining a Professional Engineering license. This will make you cream of the crop, since only 10 percent of engineers are actually licensed.

Computer Science and Mathematics

Interested in working with Apple, Microsoft or Google? Then you’re going to need a degree in computer science and mathematics. On this career path, the median starting salary is $62,900 and the median mid-career salary is $107,000. Even more good news is that you don’t have to get a degree from a fancy college – there are tons of graduates from lesser-known colleges that get hired by Microsoft.


Those who are really good at math can enter into a physics degree program. Obtaining this degree will enable you to get a job just about anywhere. The median starting salary with this degree is $55,800 and the median mid-career salary is $102,000. You can work in a high school, college, museum, publishing firm, military, foreign and domestic governments and labs. The best tip to keep in mind is to get into an internship early on, rather than waiting until you’re a senior.


A career in finance can be a very rewarding one – it’s why thousands of students obtain a degree in economics. The median starting salary for positions in this field is $52,100 and $98,500 for median mid-career salary. Keep in mind that in finance, it’s more about the career field you enter into that dictates you earning power, not your major. With this degree, you can work in nonprofit, government, education, law, research, consulting, pubic policy work and financial institutions.

Management Information Systems

Corporations are always looking for ways to gain a competitive edge, which is why they invest heavily in data analytics. With a management information systems degree, you can learn to understand data collected by these companies and better help them to improve their productivity and efficiency. The median starting salary in this field is $56,800 and the median mid-career pay is $96,300.

Getting a college degree is about increasing your chances of living a comfortable lifestyle. A great salary is key for making this a reality. If you want to potentially earn six figures, maybe you’ll find one of the above majors to be of interest to you.

Five ways you may pass written essays in exams

Written essays in exams are often found in liberal arts courses such as history, religious education and so forth. They are supposed to show your full understanding of a topic, so try to concentrate on the points you are making over things such as spelling and grammar. Usually, a marking guide will only penalize students that make systematic errors, such as frequently using “there” instead of “their.”

1 – Write a quick selection of notes on scrap paper

Draw lines between your notes to show how they connect. Use this guide as you make your points in your essay. It will help to keep you focused on your main points so that you do not deviate or over-write certain sections.

5 – So long as your handwriting is legible, it doesn’t need to be neat

You are not going to get extra marks for how neat your writing is, and it is imperative that you write fairly quickly. So long as your writing is readable (easily readable is better), then it doesn’t matter how neat your writing is. If you are worried about the state of your handwriting, then write bigger because it is often easier to read even scruff writing when it is bigger.

3 – Put a single line through incorrect words

This is wildly important for two reasons. The first is because anything else looks very messy and may break the flow of your work. The second is because a single line through incorrect words and sections is all that is needed. Scribbling parts out and using Tippex/fluid paper/correcting fluid is a massive waste of time.

4 – Do not be afraid of fragmenting your work a little

It is not ideal, but the aim is to get all of your points into your essay as quickly as possible. This sometimes means that you may have reached your conclusion or moved onto another section before realizing that you have missed a bit.

There are two ways you can fix this. If you have written your conclusion, you may enter it after your conclusion and then use markers such as numbers or margin notes to point out where the paragraph should sit in the essay. If you have not written your conclusion, you should start a new paragraph, call back to the points you made earlier (the ones related to your new paragraph), and then make your additional point.

5 – Research what “A higher use of English” means

The essaywolves.com team is a review site of different types of an essay service, and they often note how some UK traditions seem to seep over into the US. One of these traditions seems to be the idea of a higher use of English. It is often something that is paraphrased on marking guides. It means you demonstrate an understanding of a more advanced use of English. For example, if you were to use the phrase “of which” in the correct grammatical sense, it may be considered a higher use of English.

How to help your child research their future career

Beyond question, parents are the best architects of their child’s future. And they are the no 1 influencer on their child’s career decision.

Are we a parent wanting to know on the know how’s, but less equipped with information? Here are few tips.

Make it simple

What could be the ideal career choice for my child? The answer is surprisingly simple.

Being good observers, we would have observed certain specific interests in our children, which they want to peruse for a long time.

The first key is to make them take up higher studies and career aligned with this interest.

Reach out

In the growing years, school is the second home for the children.

Getting in touch with their school teachers is yet another simple way to assess their true potential.

If a child has more than one choice or difficulty in narrowing down on their career choices, reaching out to mentors is an effective alternative. Mentors could even be a family friend or a professionally trained one.

We can go for psychometric analysis to have a detailed study on the child’s non-academic skills or strengths.

There are many online education sites that provide a good support.


Both government and private start up education and career guidance sites offer rich information to plan on a child’s career.

National Career Service and National Skill Registry are portals giving information on the various career choices and skills. While the former is available across sectors and provides career counseling and detailed information on the nature of jobs the latter is specific to IT/ITes sectors where our children can register their skills.

Increasing our research and getting to know on other established or start ups, downloading related apps on the mobile to be quickly in touch with the changing trends helps us a lot.


The end of Higher education embarks the new journey of career. And to assist our children’s bigger dreams, we need to be aware of the financial assistance that would come handy in time.

The National Scholarships Portal is a Government initiative that has a host of information on the different scholarships awarded.

There are many online sites that actively serve as a single point of contact for multitude of scholarship offerings.

Further Apprenticeship for various disciplines is yet another area that we need to be aware of, whereby we can help our children to take up hands on training.

Beyond being ordinary

If we identify our children of having bestowed with a vision to achieve greater success with their own innovative thinking, then we – the parents should be the first to support them.

Not being in the normal flow invites many criticisms and advices that normally tend to discourage our children from persuading their odd dreams.

The greatest parental duty would be analyze and help our children understand the pros and cons of the chosen track.

Remember, every support starts at home and let’s remain a special parent to them.

Points To Effect Medical Assistant Salary In A Positive Way

As a basic startup work, medical assistants are known for taking patient’s medical records. They are trained separately to keep the information confidential and discuss the notes with only other medical personnel. Well, if you can perform the tasks well, then medical assistant salary will enhance.

What are the basic educational qualification?

If you want to bag medical assistance as your job prospect, then you better start off with the degree program from affiliated schools and colleges. This is defined as the basic startup step for the aspiring students, who want to make it big in the field of medical assistance.

What is the basic salary pay scale?

As per the latest pay scale of a medical assistant, the salary lies with the experience of the assistant. However, the basic yearly salary lies within $24,000 to $30,000. However, if you have good experience and with advanced certificate, then salary range will increase a lot.

How to increase basic salary package?

As a starter you need a bachelor’s degree or a diploma degree to stand in the medical assistance industry. However, if you want to increase your medium salary to a completely new height, then you better grab advanced or post graduate medical assistant certificate under your name.

Is experience matters a lot?

In the field of medical assistance, experience truly matters a lot. If you only have advanced degrees under your name and from affiliated universities or schools, then you cannot expect to have great salary. Experience along with advanced certificates makes the perfect combination for high salary.

What are the areas to serve?

Medical assistants are known for serving doctors of both private sectors and governmental agencies. Hospitals, nursing homes and even medical centers are some of the basic areas, where you are likely to get the best medical assistant job. The services are based on administrative and clinical duties.

7 Skills That Should Be Taught In Every Class

classroomstudentsTeachers come under fire all the time for “not doing their job” from people, who don’t really understand what the job is. Under the current system of education, a teacher is responsible for teaching the curriculum in their subject area and getting students ready for state testing. They’re pushed by administrators and politicians to adhere to a strict base of knowledge instead of focusing on the things that really make a difference. If every teacher could bring the following 7 Skills That Should Be Taught In Every Class to the table, then the American education system would be in a better position.

1. Handling Rejection And Failure

Too often, the system seeks to protect children from rejection and failure. Many have decried the “every kid gets a trophy” mentality of our society, but apparently, that’s the way society wants it because there haven’t been many signs that change is on the horizon.

In a 2012 column from Huffington Post, author Michael Sigman writes “America’s ‘everyone gets a trophy’ syndrome has become a national joke. ‘A’ grades, which once conveyed excellence, are now given to 43 percent of all college students, according to a study by grade-inflation gurus Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy. This is an increase of a staggering 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988. The study also reveals how easy it is to buy college credentials: a scandalous 86 percent of private school students, it turns out, get nothing lower than a ‘B.’”

Sigman makes a good point. Every politician, on both sides of the aisle, decries how poorly the US education system is doing — most recently President Obama in his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the MLK “I Have A Dream” speech — yet apparently students today are getting better grades than they ever have been. Either we’re not as bad off as everyone would have you to believe, or we’ve lowered the bar (extremely low) so that today’s students won’t have to deal with the possibility of failure or rejection.

Teachers have fought against this mentality for years, but they’ve been boxed in by administrators, who are too afraid of the legalities behind failing a student, even when the student deserves it.

2. Accepting Nothing Less Than The Best

Going back to Sigman’s column, an “A” at one time meant excellence. Today, in many classrooms across the country, it simply means a student is the best of their group. “A” work today, in some schools, would have garnered a “B” or a “C” 25 years ago.

And as Signman points out, this does nothing but harm to the youth of today. “Grade inflation promotes ego inflation, the opposite of healthy self-confidence,” Sigman said.

In The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, author Jean M. Twenge adds, “We want to encourage effort, especially among young kids … But the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ mentality basically says that you’re going to get rewarded just for showing up. That won’t build true self-esteem; instead, it builds this empty sense of ‘I’m just fantastic, not because I did anything but just because I’m here.’”

When teachers are allowed to set high expectations and force their students to live up to them, great things can happen. When they’re too terrified to fail students because of what may happen to their job or the fear of “how this will reflect on me,” they become unwilling culprits in an ongoing political movement to neuter kids of all intelligence.

3. How To Empathize With Others

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Different from sympathy, you don’t just “feel sorry” for someone over something they’re going through. You’re instead able to step out of your own selfish experiences and understand it as if it’s happening to you. Many students are not taught to empathize with others at home or in class in spite of it being an essential part of bettering the human experience.

Preetha Ram, co-founder of OpenStudy and Dean of Science at Emory University, said it well: “I think what we need to teach our kids is compassion. I use this word over some of the other ones that occurred to me: emotional balance, resilience, kindness, ethics, morals.”

Ram continued: “I was privileged with an audience with the Dalai Lama and my kids were with me, and he looked at them and said to me, ‘What the western educational system does well is to teach children science and technology; they need more than that. What they should also teach (the children) is compassion.  Children learn this from their mothers, but you should also be teaching it to them in school so that they can live their lives with balance.’ He then went on to talk about how half the problems of the world would not exist if people had more compassion in their hearts. How this would lead to emotional resilience and the ability to withstand stress. So teach them compassion, to be good people, not just smart people.”

Unfortunately, many teachers find it difficult to teach empathy without stepping over the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable to share in the classroom. For example, religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) play a major role in developing one’s moral code. To teach empathy, one walks dangerously close to breaking down the walls between church and state. It can be very difficult to pull off without offending someone, and the constant threat of litigation is something with which all schools must balance.

4. Business Application

Every subject, from literature and creative writing to math and science, is relevant to one’s placement in the world. Many students don’t believe this fact until they’re further along in their education, and too often we allow them to go along believing it because there is so much emphasis on teaching to the test and sticking with curriculum that we simply don’t have the energy to explain relevancy.

That’s fine. Business needs to get more involved in education to help students see the practical application, and to their credit, they are.

Michael Haberman, in a column for Huffington Post, writes: “Through training delivered by business professionals and through workplace experiences, students learn about professional expectations and behavior: how to communicate with their colleagues, function as a team, network, dress professionally, and use office technology.”

It’s only natural when you think about it. Teachers spend a lot of time in school before they ever step foot in the classroom. If you look at the typical path of a high school teacher, there is four to five years of school, rigorous testing, and ongoing professional development, all wrapped around the school environment. They never have a chance to get out in the private sector and see what many students are in for once they graduate high school or college. If business wants more qualified candidates, then they have to be involved.

5. Critical Thinking, Analysis, Research, And Problem-Solving Skills

Critical thinking, analysis, research, and problem-solving skills are only as effective as the level of expectations that a teacher places on a student and the administrative backing that said teacher gets in holding the student to those expectations.

When a school adopts the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality of awarding “C” grades (or better) to improve graduation rates, everyone loses. Most teachers understand how important problem-solving is to their subject area, and they do a fine job of teaching it in the early stages of a child’s education.

But if a child is allowed to coast into adulthood, he is fundamentally flawed and cannot grasp higher level information. That’s when the burden really starts to weigh on upper level teachers. They don’t have time to go back and teach fundamentals when they’re tasked with a loaded curriculum of complex information.

If schools can collectively make it their goal to teach critical thinking, analysis, research, and problem-solving skills, to students every day of every class through a student’s entire educational career, then success is inevitable. But it’s simply too tough of a task for one teacher and one teacher alone because these skills can be applied in so many different ways depending on the subject.

6. Written And Oral Communication

Again, the duties of communication should not fall on English and speech communication teachers alone. They’re a shared responsibility, and that is a fact you won’t have to spend much time arguing to a typical teacher. They get it. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to teach a student with severely impaired communication problems.

Students, who don’t know when to speak. Students, who don’t know when to listen. Communication problems affect every subject, and can make it impossible for a student to get a good job down the road.

7. Social Skills

For the record, students need very little help in socializing with their peers. They do it all the time via phone calls, text messages, chat sessions, and the occasional face-to-face when they can look up from their phones long enough to mutter a few words. However, they still need guidance when it comes to context, age groups, and formal-versus-informal settings, and schools are in a good position to demonstrate social settings in which communication expectations change depending on the level of formality.

Social skills are a great opportunity for a student to put his best foot forward and show well-roundedness.

None of the skills listed above should be confined to one subject area. They are required curriculum in the education of life, and while teachers can make headway by thinking of ways to incorporate them into subject areas, it’s still a village thing, as in it takes one to instill students with a better sense of what is expected in life. What skills do you think MUST be taught in every class? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 Effective Study Habits

Below are the top three study habits that will help students retain and recall much-needed information.

Studying Hard Image by © Randy Faris/Corbis

  1. Study with a Friend – Studying with someone who has the same class as you, has its benefits. The two of you can exchange ideas and tips, so that remembering the material becomes easier. When there is a second opinion, the tough concepts usually become simpler. Another benefit of having someone else study with you is that both of you can teach each other the material so that you can explain them on your own, without books or notes.
  2. Use Flashcards – This is a simple straight forward way to remember information. It is especially effective for vocabulary, short definitions, and keywords. First, gather all that you need to know and write them on separate pieces of flashcard paper, or if you don’t have any, use printer or card stock paper. It can work just as well. Every time you have completed the pack, shuffle them to prevent you from only remembering them because of their place in the pack. Do not be afraid to pull them out at any time of the day. The extra study time would help a lot.
  3. Recite aloud – hearing yourself repeat the concepts and terms can help to retain in the material quickly. First, review the information straight aloud from your textbook or your notes a few times, four would be great. Next, remove the material from your eyesight, make sure that all of the papers are put away to avoid cheating the process. Then, recall the main points out loud. After you have done that, open your books to see if what you said was correct. Redo the entire process about three times, or until you can recite the work easily and without flaws.

Studying can be one of the most stressful things to do, especially during finals week, but it does not have to be. Using these study tips can make exam week a breeze. Do not forget to take breaks between subjects, or every half an hour. Either listen to some calming music or take a walk outside.

10 reasons why public school is better than homeschool

  1. Most parents were educated in the under funded public school system, and so are not smart enough to homeschool their own children.
  2. Children who receive one-on-one homeschooling will learn more than others, giving them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. This is undemocratic.
  3. How can children learn to defend themselves unless they have to fight off bullies on a daily basis?
  4. Ridicule from other children is important to the socialization process.
  5. Children in public schools can get more practice “Just Saying No” to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
  6. Fluorescent lighting may have significant health benefits.
  7. Publicly asking permission to go to the bathroom teaches young people their place in society.
  8. The fashion industry depends upon the peer pressure that only public schools can generate.
  9. Public schools foster cultural literacy, passing on important traditions like the singing of “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg…”
  10. Homeschooled children may not learn important office career skills, like how to sit still for six hours straight.

Typical Unschooling Schedule


Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do-by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading and history. John Holt, school teacher and founder of the unschooling movement, told educators in his book, What Do I Do on Monday,

Pat Montgomery, homeschooling advisor for over 50 years and founder of Clonlara Private Day School, defined unschooling in a speech she made to parents at a homeschooling conference in August 2001, titled: Unschooling: Catch the Spirit.

Unschoolers embrace that freedom and believe strongly that learning happens naturally and effortlessly and they trust in their child’s ability to direct their own learning.

The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest.

The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade level assessments and may have a difficult time if they re-enter the school system.


For help, unschoolers turn to other homeschoolers and to the community. They set up classes and clubs together. They trade private lessons with other homeschoolers. They do not take tests and do not teach to state-mandated standards or schedules.

Every unschooler’s schedule is different and will follow the interests of the child for that day.


  • Mornings: Children wake up when they are rested and decide for themselves what they would like to do that day. Some unschooling parents give their children a list of chores to do and suggestions for different activities for the day. Many unschooled children establish goals for themselves and work with their parents to set up a schedule that will help them achieve that goal.
    Each day will be different. One day, the child may be hungry to learn new spelling words, so they will do spelling first thing in the morning. On another day, the child may be excited to set up a special science experiment and may run to the kitchen first thing to begin their project. Unschooling parents have a tendency to leave educational materials out for their children to “discover”— they may leave the microscope out on the kitchen table, or a new book on the coffee table, or a new cookbook in the kitchen. They direct their children’s learning by stimulating the child’s interest in a particular project or subject.
  • Afternoons: Many unschoolers spend their afternoons out in the community; volunteering at the library, working at a part-time job, or taking private lessons. Unschoolers have a tendency to pursue their interests passionately and in-depth for a time and then move on to their next interest. They also have a tendency to stay up late, engrossed in a good book.

“Multiple Intelligences” Homeschool Schedule

Multiple Intelligences is an idea developed by Howard Gardner and Harvard University’s “Project Zero.” The belief is that everyone is intelligent in his or her own way and that learning is easiest and most effective when it uses a person’s strengths instead of their weaknesses.

etjFor example, most schools use a linguistic and logical-mathematical approach when teaching, but not everyone learns that way. Some students, the bodily kinesthetic learners for example, learn best by touching and not by listening or reading. For example, an active, hands-on learner, who has a hard time sitting still to read, may prefer to listen to audio versions of classical children’s books, while drawing or building things. Or, you may have a voracious reader who learns best by reading and then writing essays to show what she knows.

Most successful homeschoolers naturally emphasize their children’s strengths and automatically tailor their teaching to match the child’s learning style. Successful homeschoolers also adjust their learning environment and schedule so that it brings out the child’s best. For help, the family using the “multiple intelligences” model would turn to books about learning styles.

The goal in “Multiple Intelligences” homeschooling is to adapt scheduling and materials so that they bring out and work with the child’s natural strengths.

  • Reading: One child may begin reading at age five, another child may not be ready until age seven. One child may learn best by being read to or by listening to audio tapes, another child may carry a book around all day.
  • Writing: One child may like to write with a pen or pencil, one child may prefer typing their work on a computer, and another child may feel frustrated by the writing process and prefer to give oral reports of what they’ve learned.
  • Math: Some children learn well from workbooks, other children prefer using hands-on manipulatives like beads or fraction rods. Still others, do math quickly and easily in their head and feel frustrated when forced to answer problems on paper.
  • Science: Almost all children learn science best by having plenty of hands-on experiences.
  • History/Geography: Children learn best by “doing,” so families plan activities where the child can experience for themselves the clothing, food, and music of a particular era or culture.
  • Music/Sports/Arts: Families expose children to a variety of experiences, watch to see which activities spark their children’s passion, and then support their children in that activity.

Top 10 Best Selling Homeschool Books 2015 Part-1

1 – First Year of Homeschooling Your Child, by Linda Dobson

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right StartAre you considering homeschooling for your family? Today, many parents recognize that their child’s school options are limited, inadequate, or even dangerous, and an increasing number are turning to homeschooling. But where do you start and how do you ensure the highest-quality educational experience, especially in that pivotal first year?

This comprehensive guide will help you determine the appropriate first steps, build your own educational philosophy, and discover the best ways to cater to your child’s specific learning style, including:
·When, why, and how to get started
·The best ways to develop an effective curriculum, assess your child’s progress, and navigate local regulations
·Kid-tested and parent-approved learning activities for all age levels
·Simple strategies for developing an independent child and strengthening family and social relationships
·And much, much more!

2 – Homeschooling 101, by Erica Arndt

Homeschooling 101: A Guide to Getting Started.

So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, Homeschooling 101 offers you a step by step practical guide that will help you get started and continue on in your homeschooling journey. Erica will walk you through all of the aspects of getting started, choosing and gathering curriculum, creating effective lesson plans, scheduling your day, organizing your home, staying the course and more! This book is a must read for new homeschoolers who need tangible advice for getting started!

3 – The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas, by Linda Dobson

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12
As a homeschooling parent, you’re always looking for new and creative ways to teach your child the basics. Look no longer! Inside this innovative helper, you’ll find kid-tested and parent-approved techniques for learning math, science, writing, history, manners, and more that you can easily adapt to your family’s homeschooling needs.

4 – Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome, by Lise Pyles

Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome Packed with inspiring ideas and tips that can be used with any curriculum and on any budget, Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome explains how to design a varied study programme built around the child’s own interests, making use of simple material as well as computers and on-line resources. Parents planning to homeschool their child with Asperger Syndrome will appreciate Lise Pyles’ encouraging and practical advice, including step-by-step instructions on how to assess and improve body language and social skills, accommodating the child’s need for ritual or perfectionist tendencies, and how to develop handwriting and coordination skills.

5 – How to Work and Homeschool, by Pamela Price

How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips, and Strategies from Parents

Do you want to home school, but you need to keep working? Maybe you’re already homeschooling, but you would like to start a business? Perhaps you’re homeschooling, working, and volunteering, but need to create space for yourself? How can this possibly be done? How do other parents manage?

Methods & Styles of Homeschooling

No matter how you choose to homeschool, your children will do fine. You can choose a method or a set of methods to fit the specific needs of your own children. Thin, too, about your interests of your family. Some methods are better suited to those who enjoy being outdoors or traveling. Some suit the creative families best. Others have a religious aspect, while some are more regularly social.


Charlotte Mason Method
This approach advocates reading good books from original sources and spending lots of time in nature. Materials.

Classical Education
Many Christian and other families prefer a liberal arts education for their children, including lessons in Greek and Latin, as well as formal instruction in logic.

Distance Learning
Companies and schools that provide teaching assistance as well as learning materials. These schools vary widely in their choice of method, let alone formality.

Eclectic Homeschooling
Some like to pick and choose among various methods, enjoying the flexibility it affords.

Enki Education Method
Enki is it’s own wonderful thing. Besides drawing from the best of Waldorf, Enki also draws from Montessori, the United Nations International School, Theme Studies and even the discovery learning of John Holt.

Montessori Homeschooling
Maria Montessori advocates observing your child, removing obstacles to learning and providing children with real, scaled-to-size tools to use.

Resource Centers & Cottage Schools
Mini-schools are springing up among homeschoolers all over the world.

Studio Teachers
Young entertainers and athletes often need especially accomodating tutors, willing to travel with them.

Thomas Jefferson Education
Jefferson hypothesized that literacy and self-government work hand in hand and was a key component to self-preservation.

Hiring a tutor makes a family (and the tutor) fall under the tutoring laws of a state’s education code, rather than under homeschooling laws, especially if they intend to hire a tutor full time.

Umbrella Schools
Independent Study Programs, Distance Learning Programs, Virtual or Cyber Schools, Charter Schools, Learning Centers

Unit Studies
Available free or for sale to homeschoolers. Also how to make your own.

Natural learning is letting your child lead the way.

Typical School-At-Home Schedule


School-at-Home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate.

Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades and record keeping. Some families use the school-at-home approach, but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials.

The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out.

The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children.

The school-at-home family follows the schedule established by the curriculum they purchased. For help, school-at-home families contact their curriculum provider. Their children may also turn assignments into the curriculum provider for grading and evaluation.



  • 8-9:00 a.m. Children change clothes, tidy house and have breakfast.
  • 9-10:00 a.m. Reading (using spelling books, writing assignments, and free reading).
  • 10-10:30 a.m. Math (using a text book and work book).
  • 10:30-11:00 a.m. History on Monday/Wednesday (using a text book), Science on Tuesday (using a text book that includes occasional experiments), and Geography on Thursday (using a work book).
  • 11-12:00 noon Electives (usually a foreign language audio program, an art course, or another elective that was included in the curriculum).


Typical "Classical" Homeschooling Schedule (For children under age 10)


The “Classical”approach has existed since the Middle Ages and has produced some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn the three R’s. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study and research take place.

All the tools come together in the Rhetoric stage where communication is the primary focus. For help, homeschoolers following the classical style will read books about this method, find Web sites about classical homeschooling, and possibly join a classical homeschooling support group.

Classical homeschoolers have a unique way of creating “History Notebooks.”These notebooks are very popular with Eclectic homeschoolers too. Many Eclectic homeschoolers will borrow this way of teaching history and will add it to their own Eclectic curriculum. The most popular book on the Classical approach is “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.


  • 5-6:30 a.m. Parents rise, children rise, showers, dressing, early morning chores.
  • 7:00 a.m. Breakfast, morning family meeting or worship.
  • 8:00 a.m. Daily chores from a pre-determined list.
  • 8:30-9:30 a.m. General lessons where children:
      • 1) recite memory work
      • 2) practice reading
      • 3) practice oral narration
  • 9:30-10:15 a.m. Mother reads aloud to all the children (child’s choice)
  • 10:15-11:30 a.m.
    • 1) phonics instruction
    • 2) copy work (the student will copy verbatim a written piece, like the Constitution, that is at their level).
    • 3) history notebook and time-line (For the time-line the children keep a running time-line where they can note names of people and events that they are currently studying. The history notebook is laid out by date and children add information from their copy work, photos from their field trip to the Civil War re-enactment, or their entry into the National History Day Competition.
  • 11:30 a.m. Prepare lunch and straighten house.
  • 12:00 noon Lunch and mid-day chores.
  • 1:00 p.m. Naps and quiet time.
  • 2-2:45 p.m. Mother reads aloud (Children may do arts & crafts at the same time). Children finish up their oral narrations.
  • 2:45-4:30 p.m. Finish up academic work from the morning, play time, walks, field trips, library, and volunteering.
  • 4:40-5:00 p.m. Prepare supper, straighten house.
  • 5:00 p.m. Supper and evening chores.
  • 6:30 p.m. Evening family worship (optional).
  • 7-7:45 p.m. Father reads aloud to the family.
  • 7:45-8:30 Family activities (like games).
  • 8:30-9:00 p.m. Prepare for bed.
  • 9:00 p.m. Bedtime

Typical “Classical” Homeschooling Schedule (For children under age 10)


The “Classical”approach has existed since the Middle Ages and has produced some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn the three R’s. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study and research take place.

All the tools come together in the Rhetoric stage where communication is the primary focus. For help, homeschoolers following the classical style will read books about this method, find Web sites about classical homeschooling, and possibly join a classical homeschooling support group.

Classical homeschoolers have a unique way of creating “History Notebooks.”These notebooks are very popular with Eclectic homeschoolers too. Many Eclectic homeschoolers will borrow this way of teaching history and will add it to their own Eclectic curriculum. The most popular book on the Classical approach is “The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.


  • 5-6:30 a.m. Parents rise, children rise, showers, dressing, early morning chores.
  • 7:00 a.m. Breakfast, morning family meeting or worship.
  • 8:00 a.m. Daily chores from a pre-determined list.
  • 8:30-9:30 a.m. General lessons where children:
      • 1) recite memory work
      • 2) practice reading
      • 3) practice oral narration
  • 9:30-10:15 a.m. Mother reads aloud to all the children (child’s choice)
  • 10:15-11:30 a.m.
    • 1) phonics instruction
    • 2) copy work (the student will copy verbatim a written piece, like the Constitution, that is at their level).
    • 3) history notebook and time-line (For the time-line the children keep a running time-line where they can note names of people and events that they are currently studying. The history notebook is laid out by date and children add information from their copy work, photos from their field trip to the Civil War re-enactment, or their entry into the National History Day Competition.
  • 11:30 a.m. Prepare lunch and straighten house.
  • 12:00 noon Lunch and mid-day chores.
  • 1:00 p.m. Naps and quiet time.
  • 2-2:45 p.m. Mother reads aloud (Children may do arts & crafts at the same time). Children finish up their oral narrations.
  • 2:45-4:30 p.m. Finish up academic work from the morning, play time, walks, field trips, library, and volunteering.
  • 4:40-5:00 p.m. Prepare supper, straighten house.
  • 5:00 p.m. Supper and evening chores.
  • 6:30 p.m. Evening family worship (optional).
  • 7-7:45 p.m. Father reads aloud to the family.
  • 7:45-8:30 Family activities (like games).
  • 8:30-9:00 p.m. Prepare for bed.
  • 9:00 p.m. Bedtime

What are some critical perspectives on use of the Internet in schools?

IMAGEOne criticism of the use of the Net in schools is that it will distract from or replace the teaching of basic skills like literacy and mathematics. Some warn that in the rush to wire up classrooms, school districts may divert money away from other, perhaps more valuable purposes, such as buying textbooks. Others caution that the educational value of the Internet just hasn’t been proven yet.

Still other critics complain of the possibility of student access to inappropriate and distracting information, such as pornography or online games. While most schools use filtering systems to keep out inappropriate materials, none are perfect — many sometimes block sites that are useful and allow sites that are harmful.

Careful planning and supervision should address these critiques to some extent. Teachers should be sure they know why they are using the Internet for a given lesson. They should carefully supervise their students using the Net and make sure that an Acceptable Use Policy  has been put in place and is being complied with. The AUP should set down the “rules of the road” for school use of the Internet and require students to follow them.

Helping Your ELLs (English-language learner) Adjust to New Surroundings


Although there are no specific teaching techniques to make ELLs feel that they belong in a new culture, there are ways for you to make them feel welcome in your classroom:

Learn their names


Take the time to learn how to pronounce your ELLs’ names correctly. Ask them to say their name. Listen carefully and repeat it until you know it. If a student’s name is Pedro, make sure you do not call him /peedro/ or Peter. Also, model the correct pronunciation of ELLs’ names to the class so that all students can say the correct pronunciation.

Offer one-on-one assistance when possible

Some ELLs may not answer voluntarily in class or ask for your help even if they need it. ELLs may smile and nod, but this does not necessarily mean that they understand. Go over to their desk to offer individual coaching in a friendly way. For convenience, it may be helpful to seat ELLs near your desk.

Assign a peer partner

Identify a classmate who really wants to help your ELL as a peer. This student can make sure that the ELL understands what he or she is supposed to do. It will be even more helpful if the peer partner knows the ELL’s first language.

Post a visual daily schedule


Even if ELLs do not yet understand all of the words that you speak, it is possible for them to understand the structure of each day. Whether through chalkboard art or images on Velcro, you can post the daily schedule each morning. By writing down times and having pictures next to words like lunch, wash hands, math, and field trip, ELLs can have a general sense of the upcoming day.

Use an interpreter

On-site interpreters can be very helpful in smoothing out misunderstandings that arise due to communication problems and cultural differences. If an on-site interpreter (a paid or volunteer school staff position) is not available, try to find an adult – perhaps another parent who is familiar with the school or “knows the system” – who is willing to serve this purpose. In difficult situations, it would not be appropriate for another child to translate.

ELLs can make unintentional “mistakes” as they are trying hard to adjust to a new cultural setting. They are constantly transferring what they know as acceptable behaviors from their own culture to the U.S. classroom and school. Be patient as ELLs learn English and adjust.

Invite their culture into the classroom

Encourage ELLs to share their language and culture with you and your class. Show-and-tell is a good opportunity for ELLs to bring in something representative of their culture, if they wish. They could also tell a popular story or folktale using words, pictures, gestures, and movements. ELLs could also try to teach the class some words from their native language.

Use materials related to your ELLs’ cultures

Children respond when they see books, topics, characters, and images that are familiar. Try to achieve a good balance of books and materials that include different cultures. Visit our recommended bilingual books section.

Label classroom objects in both languages

Labeling classroom objects will allow ELLs to better understand their immediate surroundings. These labels will also assist you when explaining or giving directions. Start with everyday items, such as “door/puerta,” “book/libro,” and “chair/silla.”

Include ELLs in a non-threatening manner

Some ELLs may be apprehensive about speaking out in a group. They might be afraid to make mistakes in front of their peers. Their silence could also be a sign of respect for you as an authority – and not a sign of their inability or refusal to participate. Find ways to involve ELLs in a non-threatening manner, such as through Total Physical Response activities and cooperative learning projects.

Involve ELLs in cooperative learning

Some ELLs are used to working cooperatively on assigned tasks. What may look like cheating to you is actually a culturally acquired learning style — an attempt to mimic, see, or model what has to be done. Use this cultural trait as a plus in your classroom. Assign buddies or peer tutors so that ELLs are able to participate in all class activities. Also, check out these cooperative learning strategies you can use with ELLs.

Help your ELLs follow established rules

All students need to understand and follow your classroom rules from the very beginning, and ELLs are no exception. Teach them your classroom management rules as soon as possible to avoid misunderstandings, discipline problems, and feelings of low self-esteem. Here are a few strategies that you can use in class:

  • Use visuals like pictures, symbols, and reward systems to communicate your expectations in a positive and direct manner.
  • Physically model language to ELLs in classroom routines and instructional activities. ELLs will need to see you or their peers model behavior when you want them to sit down, walk to the bulletin board, work with a partner, copy a word, etc.
  • Be consistent and fair with all students. Once ELLs clearly understand what is expected, hold them equally accountable for their behavior.

Connecting the Classroom with the Internet of Things

“Line up to enter the classroom, then pick up your materials from the table at the front.” “SLANT in your seat—sit up, listen, answer questions, nod, and track the speaker.” “Pass papers to the end of the row.”

Connecting the Classroom with the Internet of Things

These directions serve as the soundtrack to the 1025 hours the average American student spends in classroom instruction each year. More than 308 of these hours are likely lost to interruptions, based on estimates by instructional design textbooks such as Teaching Strategies. In fact, this text suggests that 1 out of every 5 minutes spent in American classrooms is consumed by “anticipated interruptions”—transitions, materials distribution, and starting or ending class.

What if new tools could help teachers get these hours back? Each minute teachers spend managing large group procedures takes away from time they could spend on the hard work of teaching, such as differentiating instruction or developing students’ socio-emotional skills.

Connected devices, an emerging trend in computing technology, may offer the potential to relieve teachers of some of this administrative burden, allowing more time to focus on students’ learning needs. By embedding internet connectivity in everyday devices, the “Internet of Things” connects our physical and virtual worlds, enabling computers to provide real-time insights without requiring user input. Early visions of “smart” devices may not seem relevant to schools: refrigerators making grocery lists, cars scheduling their own maintenance, or fitness trackers nagging users to work out. But connected devices that reduce the teacher’s role in managing procedures could transform the classroom experience.

As students take their seats, for example, attendance could be logged automatically using a device such as the Nymi, a wearable “smartband” that uses ECG patterns to authenticate identity. A beacon might push a warm-up exercise directly to students’ smart surfaces. Teachers, freed from managing many classroom procedures, now focus more fully on students—and perhaps focus more incisively too. Neurosensors, akin to InteraXon’s Muse, could provide insight into students’ cognitive activity using EEG technology that measures brain activity like one might measure a pulse. Identifying which students are expending a higher amount of cognitive energy on an exercise would allow teachers to dedicate attention to students who need it—not just those who ask for help the loudest.

When it comes to keeping students on task, teachers could send a “haptic” vibration—similar to silent notifications on mobile devices—to a student’s wearable or tablet, redirecting her attention or behavior in a way that limits public embarrassment and reduces direct confrontation. Educators with years of experience often develop an intuitive understanding of such complex behavioral dynamics, but a connected classroom could provide insights even to the teacher just starting out. Imagine how pattern recognition software or data analytics might add to a teacher’s contextual understanding, mapping the record of behavioral incidents against a student’s heart rate or the classroom temperature.

Incorporating just a few connected devices could allow teachers to tap into the capabilities of personal computing or the mobile web to more quickly or naturally address anticipated interruptions—without their attention buried in a screen. By shifting processes and procedures to the background, the teacher would have fewer responsibilities as an active manager and more time to craft the learning experience.

Admittedly, to effectively incorporate this next iteration of technological advances, education providers will have to work through complex issues such as privacy, digital literacy, and technology infrastructure. For example, some are already concerned about the rise of the quantified student and what happens when a student ID is linked to a student’s health record or family financial information. This makes it particularly important to design data collection around teachers’ need for specific, actionable knowledge, and to convert it into realtime indicators. But rather than discouraging adoption, these complexities suggest the importance of early investment in incremental change, experimentation, and community feedback.

Schools and districts who start crafting their digital culture and infrastructure today will be better able to take advantage of the capabilities offered by the 26 billion connected devices Gartner anticipates will exist by 2020. Beyond the “table stakes” of providing wireless connectivity, those who want to lead adoption should consider a few ways to revisit today’s assumptions about technology in schools:

  • Kill the computer lab. A single physical location is not only less relevant in our digitally-saturated world today—it can also reinforce a central, top-down approach to hardware purchasing decisions. If connected devices aim to enhance the classroom experience, then schools should empower teachers to select the hardware that best fits their classrooms, as modeled in programs like Digital Promise’s Teacher Wallets pilot. This shift means that districts and schools may need to rethink the budget process for technology, experimenting with teacher-driven, grant-based models like that piloted by Idaho’s West Ada district.
  • Build a digital platform. A variety of devices will provide more tailored classroom use, but it can also complicate access and security, as some Oakland schools found in their blended learning implementation. If each teacher uses different apps and devices, a student might have to remember over eight different credentials, but a common platform for these learning apps enables single sign on (SSO). Further, it also allows centralized information security, with data standards and systems monitoring.
  • Start with teachers. Districts and preservice training programs might consider how to build greater familiarity and digital literacy through webinars or “tech expos.” Once teachers are aware, they have the opportunity to experiment with use cases, like Peter Bakke, a science teacher who uses the If This Then That (IFTTT) app with his phone’s GPS functionality to log the time he spends in the school building. As part of his reflection on each unit, he analyzes spiking hours to help identify where instructional strategies might need future adjustment. (Personal interview, December 2014) And as he builds familiarity with the technology, it is likely that he will ultimately integrate the same functionality into his classroom.

Advances in emerging technology offer educators a chance to move beyond some of the challenges that have traditionally hindered effective technology use in the classroom, freeing teachers not only from their physical screens but potentially from administrative tasks too. Where many technologies remain a bolt-on to the classroom, connected devices could enhance teachers’ core craft—and may even prefigure a different and exciting breed of “edtech.”

How can I best use the Internet in my classroom?


The broad range of resources, the dynamic nature of the content, and the lack of time and location dependency of the Net create a great deal of classroom potential, but how can these best be utilized?

To help simplify how you can use the Net in your classroom, this section will focus on three processes that commonly take place in classrooms: communication and collaboration, research, and publication. These are by no means the only events that take place in a class, but they exemplify typical events in a teacher’s or student’s day.

Communication and Collaboration


Communicating with peers is an integral part of the learning process. Typically this communication takes place in the classroom, and consists of interaction between the teacher and the students in that room.

The Net provides the ability to expand that conversation to other classes of students, additional teachers, and content experts. These conversations and resources are not always necessary in a class, but the ability to increase the range of interactions, the variety of perspectives, and the breadth of the approaches students can take to solve a problem can only enrich the learning environment.

There are some sites on the Web that are specifically created to help expand communication among teachers and students. Here are some examples.

The Net also provides a great opportunity for students to interact with each other, and to collaborate on projects. For instance, classes of students working on research papers can debate topics and exchange information through e-mail. This type of collaboration expands the range of opinions and ideas that students are challenged with as they complete projects.

In addition to the wide range of experts and collaborations that are available online, the Net offers flexibility by reducing strict time dependence for interaction among students, teachers, and experts.

Research is by no means a new topic in schools, but again the Net offers students and teachers a new way to approach information and materials. One of the immediate benefits that the Net offers has been discussed earlier — the proliferation of resources and materials that are now available to teachers and students through the Web.

The Net also offers two very new approaches to research in the classroom; that is, the wide availability of real data and simulations. The use of real data has always been a part of education, but with the introduction of the Net, the amount of data that is available in the classroom has grown greatly. With the Internet, students have access to global data sets. This, in conjunction with the Net’s communication capacity, creates potential for very interesting projects.

Another aspect of researching is the ability to conduct experiments and evaluate the results. Most schools are equipped with labs and give students the opportunity to experiment. The Web does not replace hands-on experimentation, but it provides access to simulations of activities and resources that may be too expensive or unsafe for use in a classroom.

images A student’s final project should reflect his or her knowledge of the subjects and facts learned for a particular class. The Net allows teachers and students to think about the completed project differently than before — as something that can be viewed by people around the world, and that can potentially add to the Net itself as a useful resource. Because of its visibility on the Net, the project can also generate feedback far beyond the grade given by the teacher.

By engaging students — particularly those who find traditional teacher-centered learning difficult — the Internet can help the students be more productive. The opportunity to create a Web site and make one’s ideas public is very attractive for many students, and the tasks involved in Web design allow many talents (such as graphic-design, musical, and computing skills) to emerge. When students are excited about learning and expressing their ideas, their performance almost always improves. And since publication of student material online provides a much larger audience for it, it gives an additional reason for the students to take care and do their best, since potentially anyone could see the results.

As you consider the use of the Net in your classroom, the important thing to remember is the educational objective you want to achieve with your students. The Net can broaden students’ access to information, increase their communication with others, and provide a powerful medium for publishing work. The objective of, say, a history lesson is not how to use the Net, it is to understand history, but the Net is a powerful tool that students and teachers can use to help that understanding.

What can the Internet do for my classroom?

imageSchools and classrooms are dynamic, interactive, social places, where teachers and students communicate, share information, and challenge each other’s ideas. Teachers guide student learning by posing problems, encouraging student questions, and offering opportunities for students to find solutions. The resources and interactions in a classroom depend on the curriculum the class is working on and the beliefs of the teacher and school.

So how can the Internet assist students and teachers in reaching their educational objectives when schools are already such dynamic places? One answer to that is, “The Internet doesn’t matter.” Let’s think about that for a second. When second graders are learning about the history of their town, it doesn’t matter if they have an Internet connection. What does matter is talking to the residents of the town, the local historian, the fireman around the corner, and their parents. Teachers always make decisions about what resources students have access to and which resources will encourage and help them reach the educational objectives of the lesson they are studying. As you continue to learn about the Net and how it can be used in your class, you will see that the same idea applies. There will be times when technology and the Internet make a lot of sense, and there will be times when technical resources are not needed. Teachers, as always, should select the resources they think best suit their objectives.

The Internet basically expands the resources available and decreases the time and location dependencies that can be limiting factors in schools. It offers powerful and varied ways for students and teachers to interact, manipulate data, and conduct research.

The Internet is not an approach to education, but rather a tool that can be used with almost any educational theory. It makes additional information resources available, it enhances dynamic communication, and it makes collaboration easier by reducing the need for collaborators to be in the same place at the same time (they can simply e-mail each other at their convenience). Let’s look at each of these enhancements — expanded resources, dynamic resources, and reduced dependency on time and location — one by one.

1.Expanded Resources:

Consider some of the non-Internet resources that are traditionally available in schools: libraries, video, film strips, and CDs, to name a few. Because of budgetary and physical restrictions, schools can only have so many of these. There are documents, artifacts, and books that students in a typical school will never be able to access. In addition, many schools are working with outdated textbooks and materials.

But the Net provides access to an amazing number of constantly updated and expanding resources and an incredible wealth of information.

2.Dynamic Resources:
Many educational resources and technologies are either static or broadcast media — meaning that information is simply delivered to students, without offering any opportunity for them to interact with it.

imageThere are times when it is appropriate to simply deliver information to students. However, much of the time, teachers wish to encourage students to interact with resources and other students. The researchers who developed the Netwanted to ask critical research questions, locate resources based on those questions, and then discuss their findings with fellow researchers. The Net made it possible to do that. Teachers and students have that same opportunity on the Net today. Students can research information on the Web, discuss what they find with classmates or, if they’re using e-mail, with students in another class or an expert in the field they are studying, and when they conclude their research they can publish theirwork on the Web. (However, effective use of this interaction and research opportunity depends on expert teaching. The range of resources and options students have access to on the Net is staggering. Specific focus and guidance from the teacher is critical.)

3.Reduced Time and Location Dependency:
The Internet eliminates the need to be in the same place at the same time as the person or resource you are interacting with. There are technical requirements such as a computer with an Internet connection, but other than that, the world is at your door. The potential to have all the educational resources you need at home, at school, or anywhere you have a computer is now there. This is not to say that the interaction and dynamic of a classroom are going away; rather, they are growing. Away from school, students can ask questions that come to mind by sending e-mail to friends, teachers, or content experts; they can research materials at various Web sites; and they can submit their work for review from anywhere at any time. The potential to expand students’ learning time is tremendous.

5 Alternative Teaching Methods

Traditional schools ““ with their lectures, homework, and report cards ““ aren’t for everyone. Here are five alternative approaches to education.

1. Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman in Italy to earn her physician’s degree, developed the educational model that bears her name while teaching a class of 50 poor students on the outskirts of Rome in 1907. Dr. Montessori, who previously worked with special needs students, rejected the notion that children were born as “blank slates.” Rather, she believed that children were born with absorbent minds and were fully capable of self-directed learning. Montessori developed the framework for a prepared educational environment in which children, empowered with the freedom to choose how they would spend their time in school, would seek out opportunities to learn on their own. Her pioneering work formed the basis for the Montessori classroom, which endures primarily in preschool and elementary school settings today.

Montessori believed that children enjoyed and needed periods of long concentration and that the traditional education model, with its structured lessons and teacher-driven curriculum, inhibited a child’s natural development. Montessori students are free to spend large blocks of the day however they choose, while the teacher, or director, observes. Dr. Montessori was a major proponent of tactile learning. Classic materials, such as the Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, and the Alphabet Box ““ a set of wooden letters that children are encouraged to hold and feel before learning to write ““ remain staples of Montessori classrooms.

Montessori classes typically span three-year age groups.

The lack of grades, tests, and other forms of formal assessment helps ensure that classes remain non-competitive. The first Montessori school in the United States was opened in Tarrytown, New York, in 1911. The New York Times described the school as follows: “Yet this is by no means a school for defective children or tubercular children or children who are anemic. The little pupils in the big sunny classroom at Tarrytown are normal, happy, healthy American children, little sons and daughters of well-to-do suburban residents.” Today, the Montessori method is employed in roughly 5,000 schools in the U.S., including several hundred public schools. A 2006 study comparing outcomes of children at a public inner-city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools provided evidence that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills. Among the many celebrities who can attest to the value of a Montessori education are Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

2. Steiner/Waldorf


In addition to creating the field of anthroposophy, which is based on the belief that humans have the inherent wisdom to uncover the mysteries of the spiritual world, Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner developed an educational model that focused on the development of the “whole child” ““ body, soul, and spirit. Influenced by the likes of Goethe and Jean Piaget, Steiner believed there were three 7-year periods of child development, and his educational approach reflected what he thought should and should not be taught during each of these stages.

Steiner founded his first Waldorf school (the term Waldorf is now used interchangeably with Steiner to describe schools with curriculums based on Steiner’s teachings) in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany, for children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. The original curriculum spanned 12 years and aimed to prepare students “for living,” with an emphasis on creative expression and social and spiritual values. Within 10 years, Steiner’s school in Stuttgart was the largest private school in Germany. When the Nazis closed German schools during World War II, Waldorf teachers fled to other countries, contributing to the methodology’s increased post-war popularity.

The curriculum that defines the Waldorf method has remained relatively unchanged in the last 90 years. Steiner believed the first 7 years of a child’s life, a period marked by imitative and sensory-based learning, should be devoted to developing a child’s noncognitive abilities. To that end, kindergartners in Waldorf schools are encouraged to play and interact with their environment instead of being taught academic content in a traditional setting. Steiner also believed that children should learn to write before they learned to read, and that no child should learn to read before the age of 7. From age 7-14, creativity and imagination are emphasized. During this stage, Waldorf school students may learn foreign languages, as well as eurythmy, an expressive dance developed by Steiner, and other performing arts. By age 14, students are ready for a more structured environment that stresses social responsibility.

Some critics of the Waldorf method argue that it borders on religion. According to the curriculum, students learn about Christian saints in second grade and Old Testament figures in third grade. Despite those concerns and the restricting demands of standardized testing, there are more than 800 schools that employ some variation of Steiner’s teaching method throughout the world. Rudolf Steiner College, which was founded in 1974 in Fair Oaks, California, serves as the center for anthroposophical studies and the training ground for future generations of Waldorf teachers.

3. Harkness


The Harkness method isn’t based on a specific curriculum or a particular ideology, but rather one important piece of furniture. Developed by oil magnate and philanthropist Edward Harkness, a large, oval table is the centerpiece of any classroom that employs the Harkness method of teaching. Students sit with their classmates and teacher around the table and discuss any and all subjects, from calculus to history, often in great detail. The Harkness method represents a significant departure from the traditional classroom setup of a teacher at a chalkboard lecturing to students seated in rows of desks. Individual opinions are formed, raised, rejected, and revised at the Harkness table, where the teacher’s main responsibilities are to ensure that no one student dominates the discussion and to keep the students on point. No conversation is ever the same, which can help teachers avoid the burnout that might result from teaching the same lesson from year to year.

In 1930, Harkness gave a multi-million dollar donation to Phillips Exeter Academy, a private secondary school in New Hampshire, under the condition that the money be used to implement a new educational method that would involve all students in the learning process. Part of Harkness’ endowment paid for the hiring of 26 new teachers, which enabled Exeter to shrink its average class size. This was imperative, as the Harkness method is most effective in classes of 15 students or less. “The classes are now small enough so that the shy or slow individual will not be submerged,” Exeter principal Dr. Lewis Perry told the New York Times in the early years of the program. “The average boy, similarly, finds his needs cared for. In short, the Harkness plan is best defined as an attitude. It is a new approach to the problem of getting at the individual boy.” The method was effective from the start; Exeter reported a decrease in failing grades of 6 percent during the first three years of the Harkness approach.

The intimate setting of the Harkness table forces students to take responsibility for their own learning and encourages them to share their opinions. In addition to learning about topics being discussed, students also learn valuable public speaking skills and to be respectful of their fellow students’ ideas. Studies have supported the method’s effectiveness in increasing students’ retention and recall of material. It takes time to delve into subjects using the Harkness method, which is one reason, in addition to class size limitations, that it hasn’t become more popular in public schools.

4. Reggio Emilia


Reggio Emilia is an educational approach used primarily for teaching children aged 3 to 6. The method is named after the city in northern Italy where teacher Loris Malaguzzi founded a new approach to early childhood education after World War II. Malaguzzi’s philosophy was based on the belief that children are competent, curious and confident individuals who can thrive in a self-guided learning environment where mutual respect between teacher and student is paramount. While the first Reggio Emilia preschool opened in 1945, the approach attracted a serious following in the United States in 1991 after Newsweek named the Diana preschool in Reggio Emilia among the best early childhood institutions in the world.

Reggio Emilia schools emphasize the importance of parents taking an active role in their child’s early education. Classrooms are designed to look and feel like home and the curriculum is flexible, as there are no set lesson plans. Reggio Emilia stresses growth on the students’ terms. Art supplies are an important component of any Reggio Emilia classroom and traditional schools have an atelierista, or art teacher, who works closely with the children on a variety of creative projects. Reggio Emilia teachers often keep extensive documentation of a child’s development, including folders of artwork and notes about the stories behind each piece of art.

“It’s about exploring the world together and supporting children’s thinking rather than just giving them ready-made answers,” said Louise Boyd Cadwell, who was an intern at two Reggio Emilia schools in Italy in the early ’90s and then wrote a book about the teaching method. “Reggio Emilia is about full-blown human potential and how you support that in both intellectual and creative terms.”

5. Sudbury


Sudbury schools take their name from the Sudbury Valley School, which was founded in 1968 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Sudbury schools operate under the basic tenets of individuality and democracy and take both principles to extremes that are unrivaled in the education arena. In Sudbury schools, students have complete control over what and how they learn, as well as how they are evaluated, if at all. At the weekly School Meeting, students vote on everything from school rules and how to spend the budget to whether staff members should be rehired. Every student and staff member has a vote and all votes count equally.

The Sudbury philosophy is that students are capable of assuming a certain level of responsibility and of making sound decisions; in the event that they make poor decisions, learning comes in the form of dealing with the consequences. While many public and private schools are constantly looking for new ways to motivate students to learn, Sudbury schools don’t bother. According to the Sudbury approach, students are inherently motivated to learn. One Sudbury educator uses the example of an infant who learns to walk despite the fact that lying in a crib is a viable ““ and easier ““ alternative as support of this belief.

Sudbury schools, which have some similarities with the “free schools” that gained popularity in the U.S. during the 1970s, do not divide students into different classes by age. Students regularly engage in collaborative learning, with the older students often mentoring the younger students. Annual tuition for the Sudbury Valley School, which welcomes students as young as 4 years old, is $6,450 for the first child in a family to attend the school.

Make Your Brain to Thank You With Some Art

Saelee Oh, painting a mural for Donut Friend in Los Angeles.

Saelee Oh says she thinks she became an artist because it reminds her of how it felt to be a little kid. “It was always what I liked doing most back then, so when I make art, it takes me back to a time in my life when I was willing to use my imagination. When you let go and draw or paint, you channel this part of your brain that’s somewhere between meditation and dreaming. Or like dancing. Your brain gets loose and intuitive, rather than thinking logically.”

Research suggests that Saelee may be on to something. Last year, a study focusing on participants in a hands-on art workshop found that making art greatly improved their “psychological resilience”—which helped them resist the effects of stress and actually made them feel happier—while increasing “functional connectivity” between many areas of the brain. While fully engaged in the act of creation, the participants were able to reach a powerful mental and bodily state the study refers to as “flow,” which engaged both cognitive and motor skills. Plus, another 2014 study revealed that the act of drawing actually helps develop gray matter density in the brain.

If making art is so good for us, why do so many of us stop drawing after childhood? Oh thinks that it might be because “we get intimidated, or the fun gets taken out of it. Maybe we start to think it needs to look realistic, or it starts to feel like work. But every human is an artist and creator—it just comes out in different ways. For some people, it’s that they cook, or build things. Or it’s through their children—they’re literally creating life.”


It’s totally normal to feel intimidated by art-making, especially if you haven’t done anything other than doodle since you were a kid. (Though Oh says you should trust that doodle impulse—if you draw mindlessly, you’re already halfway there.) So she has a few ideas about how to get started:

1. Create a space that nurtures your artistic side. Oh says she likes to light some incense and makes sure her space is totally clean and uncluttered. If she feels like she needs to hear her thoughts, she tries to make sure she’s alone and in silence so she can focus on left-brained decisions. If she’s already in the “flow” of drawing or painting, she puts on music, podcasts, or audiobooks that can help her do so “mindlessly.”

2. Get ideas from your dreams. Oh likes to keep some paper next to her bed so she can jot down notes or draw interesting images that reveal themselves in her dreams. “Those pictures and symbols are important messages about what’s going on with you.” Sometimes Oh draws actual images direct from her dreams, because they are much more interesting and original than anything her waking mind could come up with. (Alternately, if she notices that she’s been dreaming a lot about non-artistic things like fixing washing machines or using Photoshop, at least she knows she’s been working way too hard.)

3. Be okay with needing to warm up in the beginning. “In the beginning, it sometimes does feel horrible. I struggle, I have doubts in my mind. But just like exercising, after awhile, I get in the zone and it starts to feel fun.” If you’re still not sure what to draw (and you can’t remember your dreams), start with an object, person, or animal from your everyday life.

Add more to the background, and let us know what this horse has to say. Or, if it’ll help you to draw with a friend, use this pair of images. You complete one of these creatures, and your friend completes the other.

If you want to make it more fun, don’t let your friend see your creation until you’re done.

4. Share your picture with the world. Inspire your friends to change their worlds by enjoying the health benefits of creativity.

Why Alternative Education Needs to Go Mainstream

Research shows that alternative education—small learning communities, individualized, personalized instruction, a low student-teacher ratio, and support for pregnant or parenting students—works to get dropouts back on track. But ironically, notes creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, current education reform efforts like the federal No Child Left Behind Act are “rooted in standardization” even though we know that a quality education should “be about personalization.”

Robinson, whose lecture on how schools kill creativity is the most watched TEDTalk of all time, was part of a forum on dropout prevention hosted last week by the HeART Project, a Los Angeles-based arts education nonprofit. If what we now call “alternative education” methods became mainstream, said Robinson, “we wouldn’t be discussing the dropout rate.” He also debunked the myth that students who drop out are reacting to the system as a whole: “For any student, the classroom they sit in is the education system and that’s what they’re dropping out of.” But the kids who get into quality alternative programs fall in love with learning because they’re getting an individualized experience—and the support they need to address particular life challenges, like being a teen mom or being homeless.

So how do we make the alternative mainstream? Robinson and the rest of the forum’s attendees, a who’s who of alternative-thinking L.A. education influencers, say that change begins at the classroom level. Every teacher has the ability to take the time to build relationships with students, make her classroom an engaging environment, and connect students with “real world opportunities in local creative industries and higher education.” School-wide solutions, like ending 40-minute block scheduling or team-teaching subjects like math and art, depend on having a school principal with a strong vision and a willingness to ditch current school customs.

6 Myths About Homeschooling Debunked


For the most part, I think I’m pretty open-minded, and try to see past stereotypes to individuals rather than groups or labels. However, there’s one group I know I’ve been highly judgmental of without really thinking too much about it — homeschoolers.

For years, the mere thought of anyone choosing to homeschool their child left me appalled (at the thought of doing so myself) and pretty well resigned to the fact that they were crazy eccentrics of some type. But as they say, with age comes wisdom, and as I’ve aged, given birth to children, and seen and heard the horror stories that happen in our nation’s public school systems, I’ve definitely changed my thinking about the practice. Also, lately I’ve met a diverse and dynamic assortment of women who homeschool their children, and to my surprise, they’re totally cool.

I think in general, it’s a group that’s largely misunderstood and plagued by myths. In order to explore some of these stereotypical views, I recently caught up with Rebecca Grado, a licensed intuitive psychotherapist and author who homeschooled her own children, to debunk six of the top myths about homeschoolers.

1: All homeschoolers are crazy eccentrics.

Actuality: A popular misconception is that homeschoolers are children of religious fanatics who want to keep their offspring separated from the evils of the world, or hippy-dippy folks who have opted out of mainstream structures. The truth is that people from all walks of life and all areas of the world homeschool these days. As more parents are breaking through the misconceptions of homeschooling, and recognizing the incredible opportunities available to their children, they are opting for the method.

2: Homeschooled children are lonely and isolated.

Actuality: No matter what path we choose for our children, we will be confronted by challenges. Ensuring that our homeschooled kids stay connected to other children their age is an important issue that needs to be addressed and not dismissed. Because there is not a built-in community of peers as found in the traditional school system, it’s important for parents of homeschoolers to provide play dates and activities with friends. The concern that our child might become isolated and lonely is valid, but it is also easily remedied by signing them up for activities like scouting, martial arts classes, sports, or 4H.

3: Kids who are homeschooled won’t be able to function in the “real world.”

Actuality: Homeschoolers spend their days in the real world, interacting with those of different age ranges, cultures, and economic levels. The misconception is that they’re sitting at home all day cut off from the world. In fact, they’re shopping, banking, interacting with others, and it’s through these interactions, that they learn to respect others, form friendships, resolve conflicts and cooperate with others. Many studies show that homeschoolers are actually better prepared to handle the realities of life because they are more confident and self-assured. They exhibit greater leadership skills and a stronger work ethic.

4: Kids who are homeschooled will never get into college.

Actuality: Homeschoolers are more likely to attend college (74% vs. 46% of traditional students.) More colleges like Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, and Yale are actively recruiting homeschoolers because they recognize the unique qualities that they offer — they are self-motivated and self-disciplined. Homeschoolers have higher GPA’s than their counterparts, and they score 15-30 percentile points higher above public school students on standardized test scores. They also score higher on college admission tests like the SAT’s and ACT’s.

5:  Homeschooling is just an excuse for kids to goof off all day.

Actuality: Homeschoolers can accomplish in a few hours what takes a typical classroom a week or more to cover. There is so much busy work and wasted time in the traditional school system. A common question among new homeschool parents is, “What were they doing in school all day?” Once these parents know how little time it takes to complete the course curriculum, they’re left wondering what was being taught during the 6-8 hours their kids were away (especially given the mountains of homework coming back each evening.) So what do homeschoolers do with all of their free time? They explore subjects that pique their interest. They visit museums and points of interest around their communities. They work ahead, read books that appeal to them, and experience the freedom to explore in depth topics that are only minimally covered in the classroom. They also have the time to do what kids are supposed to do — play.

6: Even if I wanted to homeschool my kids, I wouldn’t be qualified.

Actuality: One of the biggest misconceptions of homeschooling is that as a parent you have to have all of the answers in order to be qualified. Many parents don’t feel they have the education to tackle this task. Most school districts provide the course curriculum for your child — and that includes the syllabus, tests, and the answer keys. Your child learns to work independently, and when needed, you job is to help them look up key information and answers to questions. With the right resources and commitment, you have everything it takes to succeed.

Music Education Learning Objective


A music education major at the University of Mount Union allows you to pursue a rewarding career as a music educator.

At Mount Union, students have the opportunity to participate in numerous performing organizations offered on campus and gain hands-on experience in the classroom through student observation, pre-student teaching and student teaching.

Upon graduation, you will be prepared to pursue a license from the State of Ohio to teach music to students in kindergarten to grade 12 in public and private schools.

Music Learning Objectives:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to select the best methods and materials for meeting the objectives of the learning experience.
  • Students will acquire and demonstrate the ability to compose and/or improvise at a basic level in one or more musical languages.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to build a conducive learning environment.
  • Students will become aware of diverse culture, develop curiosity about American society and about other societies and the art, and will acquire the ability to place music, including music of various cultures of the world, repertoires beyond the area of specialization, and music of their own time, in historical, cultural, and stylistic contexts.  (can this sentence be simplified?)
  • Students will acquire an understanding of the common elements and organizational patterns of music and their interaction, and the ability to demonstrate this understanding in aural, verbal, and visual analysis.
  • Student will demonstrate a working knowledge of appropriate historical and stylistic performance practices.
  • Students will work independently and cooperatively on a variety of musical problems by combining their capabilities in performance; aural, verbal, and visual analysis; composition and improvisation; and history and repertoire.
  • Students will acquire and demonstrate keyboard competency.
  • Students will demonstrate the understanding of basic interrelationships and interdependencies among the various professions and activities that constitute the musical enterprise.
  • Students will acquire knowledge and skills sufficient to work as leaders and in collaboration on matters of musical interpretation, including rehearsal and conducting skills as appropriate to the particular music specialization and degree program.
  • Students will write and carry out lesson plans that clearly articulate the purpose and objective of each lesson.
  • Students will develop skills to become lifelong learners in the musical art, both as participants and as audience members.
  • Students will acquire and demonstrate sufficient understanding of musical forms, processes, and structures to use this knowledge in compositional, performance, scholarly, pedagogical, and historical contexts, as appropriate to their specialization and degree program.
  • Students will form and defend value judgments about music.
  • Students will acquire experience in a secondary performance area.
  • Students will acquire and demonstrate technical skills requisite for artistic self-expression in at least one primary performance area at a level appropriate for the particular music specialization and degree program, including an overview understanding of the repertoire in the primary performance area, an ability to perform from a cross-section of that repertoire, the ability to read at sight with fluency, and the ability to perform in a variety of solo and ensemble settings.
  • Students will acquire a basic overview understanding of how technology serves in the field of music as a whole and a working knowledge of the technological developments applicable to their area of specialization and degree program.

How to Make a Classroom Management Plan

Students need to feel comfortable and safe in order to learn most effectively. All educators need to manage their classrooms in such a way that they create this sort of environment. Whether you teach preschool, elementary, high school, or college, knowing how to make a classroom management plan will help you be intentional in the rules and structure of your classroom.

Making a Plan

  1. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 1.jpg
    Understand what a classroom management plan is used for. A classroom management plan is designed to help you get and maintain control of the classroom. It helps teachers know how to deal with unwanted behavior such as showing up late, a rude attitude, or incomplete assignments. By thinking these things through in advance, you will be better able to respond in these situations instead of responding in the heat of the moment.
  2. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 2.jpg
    Write it down. For each of the following sections, write your answers. Be as specific and detailed as possible. Format it in a way that makes sense to you and that you’ll have the easiest time in following it.
  3. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 3.jpg
    Determine your philosophy. Many classroom management plans begin with the teacher’s philosophy of motivation.

    • Behaviorist theories of motivation are based on the ideas of psychologist B.F. Skinner. His theory revolves around the idea of reinforcement for behavior that you would like to be repeated and punishment for negative or unwanted behavior.
    • Cognitive theories of motivation focus on beliefs and attitudes. In the classroom setting, teachers can manage the classroom by understanding what motivates students to do well, helping them identify their learning goals, interacting with students in a positive manner, and breaking down obstacles to learning.
    • Humanistic theories of motivation are based on the teachings of Abraham Maslow. He believed that each person inherently wants to grow and reach the next level. His hierarchy of needs represents the different levels available for each person to achieve: physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
  4. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 4.jpg
    Incorporate school policies and procedures that are aligned to the PBIS Plan. Build off these and incorporate your own policies, procedures and rules to create a positive classroom environment for your students.
  5. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 5.jpg
    Consider preventative methods of classroom management. Classroom management is not just about punishing students who behave poorly. It is also about practicing preventative measures that help you get control of a classroom before someone misbehaves.

    • Set the tone on the first day of class. Start building relationships with your students by being friendly and getting to know each other. Share the rules and consequences so they know up front how you expect them to behave.
    • Create a positive classroom environment. Encourage students to participate and acknowledge their contributions. Treat one another with respect.
    • Utilize a variety of teaching methods. Students learn in different ways. Use a mixture of lecture, small groups, activities, games, and multimedia.
    • Set your procedures and routines within the first two weeks. Review these when needed especially after Winter and Spring Break. Stick to a routine. This lets students know what to expect each day in class. While moving away from the routine periodically can be effective for special days, doing it often causes students to be unprepared.
  6. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 6.jpg
    Define classroom rules. It is important that you follow these rules, too. Set the example for students and let them know they can trust you to keep your word. List these in your plan.

    • Focus on some themes or big ideas. For example, respect and integrity are common values in classroom settings.
    • Get specific. Big themes are helpful, but only if they are translated into specific behaviors. For example, respect can be demonstrated through showing up on time, not interrupting others, keeping cell phones and other electronic devices put away, and paying attention.
    • Create the rules together. At the very least, explain your rules and then discuss them with your class. This allows them to contribute and gives them some ownership of the class.
  7. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 7.jpg
    Explain consequences for breaking those rules. Communicate consequences up front so students know what to expect when they behave inappropriately. These can be explained the first day of class, put on a poster in the classroom, or included in the course syllabus. Be as specific as possible. Then be sure to follow through.
  8. Make a Classroom Management Plan Step 8.jpg
    Write a contract explaining your rules, consequences, rewards, procedures and expectations to the students and the parents. Have the parents sign and return a copy of this contract stating that they understand and have read the contract.

8 Things Teachers Do To Cause Boredom

When students get bored their minds drift.


And while some settle on daydreaming, tile-counting, and general inattentiveness, other students are drawn to more…ahem…destructive pursuits.

For where there is boredom, there is misbehavior percolating just under the surface, ready to pounce.

Although there is a lot you can do to counter the onset of boredom, understanding what not to do is the first step to avoiding its negative effects.

What follows is a list of the most common things teachers do to cause boredom. By steering clear of these eight attention killers, your students will spend more time on task and be far better behaved.

And you’ll be a more effective teacher.

1. Sitting too long.

Although it’s important to increase your students’ stamina for both paying attention during lessons and focusing during independent work, if they’re made to sit too long, you’re asking for trouble. Good teachers are observant and thus learn to know precisely when to switch gears and get their students up and moving.

2. Talking too much.

Students need room to breathe or they’ll form an unspoken mutiny and turn your classroom upside down. Talking too much is especially smothering. It communicates that you don’t trust them, teaches them to tune you out, and causes their eyes to glaze over. The more economical and concise you are with your words, however, the more attentive your students will be.

3. Making the simple, complex.

Many teachers misunderstand the oft-heard mandate for more rigor. They take it to mean that they need to make their instruction more complex, more involved, more verbose—which is a major reason why students don’t progress. Our job, if we are to do it well, is to do the opposite. The most effective teachers simplify, break down, and cut away the non-essentials—making content easier for students to grasp.

4. Making the interesting, uninteresting.

Most standard grade-level subject matter is interesting, but your students don’t know that. In fact, many assume, based on their learning experiences in the past, that it’s boring. It’s your job to show them otherwise. It’s your job to give them a reason to care about what you’re teaching. So many teachers just talk at their students, forgetting the most critical element: selling it.

5. Talking about behavior instead of doing something about it.

Teachers who struggle with classroom management tend to talk endlessly about behavior. They hold class meetings. They hash things out. They revisit the same tired topic over and over, much to their students’ eye-rolling chagrin. Effective classroom management is about action. It’s about doing and following through and holding students accountable. It isn’t about talking.

6. Directing too much, observing too little.

Most teachers are in constant motion—directing, guiding, handholding, and micromanaging students from one moment to the next. This is not only remarkably inefficient, but it dampens enthusiasm for school. Instead, rely on sharp, well-taught routines to keep your students awake, alive, and responsible through every transition and repeatable moment of your day—while you observe calmly from a distance.

7. Leading a slow, sloppy, slip-shod pace.

Good teaching strives for a focus and efficiency of time, movement, and energy. The day crackles and glides cleanly from one lesson or activity to the next. As soon as one objective is met, it’s on to the next without delay. Moving sharply and purposefully forces students to stay on their toes, their minds engaged. Boredom never enters the picture.

8. Failing to adjust.

Regardless of what you’re trying to squeeze in by the end of the day, or how important it seems, the moment you notice heads wilting, you must make an adjustment. It’s never worth it to plow through. Sometimes all your students need is a moment to stretch their legs or say hello to a friend. Other times, you’ll simply move on to something else.

Classroom Management Quickies Mistakes often made by new teachers

New teachers often –


Have not figured out what exactly they want and don’t want – a root cause of much of what follows.
Overpraise students for doing what is expected.
Don’t know the difference between praise and acknowledgement and when each is appropriate.
Fail to do effective long-range and daily planning.
Spend too much time with one student or one group and not monitoring the entire class.
Begin a new activity before gaining the students’ attention.
Talk too fast, and are sometimes shrill.
Use a voice level that is always either too loud or too soft.
Stand too long in one place (the feet of clay syndrome).
Sit too long while teaching (the posterior of clay syndrome).
Overemphasize the negative.
Do not require students to raise hands and be acknowledged before responding.
Are way too serious and not much fun.
Are way too much fun and not serious.
Fall into a rut by using the same teaching strategy or combination of strategies day after day.
Ineffectively use silence (wait time) after asking a content question.
Are ineffective when they use facial expressions and body language.
Tend to talk to and interact with only half the class (usually their favorites, and usually on the right)..
Collect and return student papers before assigning students something to do.
Interrupt students while they are on task.
Use “SHHHH” as a means of quieting students (one of the most annoying and ineffective behaviors).
Overuse verbal efforts to stop inappropriate student behavior – talk alone accomplishes little.
Settle for less rather than demand more.
Use threats to control the class (short term, produces results; long term, backfires).
Use global praise inappropriately.
Use color meaninglessly, even to the point of distraction (I know you’ve seen this happen).
Verbally reprimand students across the classroom (get close and personal if possible).
Interact with only a “chosen few” students rather than spreading interactions around to all students.
Do not intervene quickly enough during inappropriate student behavior.
Do not learn and use student names in an effective way (kids pick up quickly on this and respond in kind).
Read student papers only for correct answers and not for process and student thinking.
Ask global questions that nobody likely will answer.
Fail to do appropriate comprehension checks to see if students understand the content as it is taught.
Use poorly worded, ambiguous questions.
Try to talk over student noise (never, ever, do this, because when you do, you lose and they win).
Are consistently inconsistent.
Will do anything to be liked by students.
Permit students to be inattentive to an educationally useful media presentation (this happens a lot).
Introduce too many topics simultaneously (usually the result of poor planning).
Sound egocentric (if you have to get your jollies from your students, there might be a problem).
Take too much time to give verbal directions for an activity (an inability to focus and explain effectively).
Take too much time for an activity (usually the result of poor planning).
Are nervous, uptight, and anxious (if this is persistent, you need help).
Overuse punishment for classroom misbehavior – going to an extreme when other consequences work better.


Why Laughter Makes Classroom Management More Effective

Bringing laughter into the classroom is so close to my heart that it makes me apprehensive to write about.

I feel like I’m giving away a family secret. Or that I’m somehow betraying the trust of the hundreds of students I’ve had over the years, and the close bonds we’ve shared.

laughter and classroom management3You see…

Laughter is one of the ways I’ve turned disparate groups of students into my dream class.

I know it can do the same for you.

Laughter has the rare ability to soften hardened hearts, open shuttered minds, and endear students to one another. It is the key that allows a teacher to reach her hand out to the difficult, the unmotivated, the awkward, and the unhappy…

And have them reach back.

laughter and classroom management3Here are a few more reasons why you should bring more laughter into your classroom:

Your students will love you for it.

When you make an effort to add humor to your lessons, routines, and activities, you instantly become more likeable to your students–which causes them to want to be around you, to please you, and to get to know you better. This, in turn, gives you powerful leverage to influence their behavior.

It’s a common language.

Although it can take time for some students to come around, all students like to laugh. Laughter is the one thing guaranteed to build camaraderie and knock down social and emotional walls, binding students from different backgrounds together into one happy classroom.

It’s easy.

It takes little or no planning to bring more laughter to your classroom. All you need is a willingness to try. Your students will appreciate any effort to be funny. They’re primed to laugh. So be your silly self, tell a joke or two, and show your best–or worst–dance moves.

It builds togetherness.

I’m dubious of community circles—at least in the way they’re commonly used. Hashing out grievances can lead to resentment and more things to complain about. Sharing a laugh and having a good time together, however, soothes old wounds and alleviates hurt feelings better than anything else.

It motivates students to behave.

Humor can help you create a classroom your students love being part of. This, along with strict accountability, provides a strong motivator for students to behave. No student wants to wallow in time-out while their classmates are sharing a laugh with the teacher.

It eases tension.

Many classrooms buzz with tension. You can feel it as soon as you walk through the door. And before long, you’ll see it too: excitable, irritable, and misbehaving students. Laughter, however, can relax an uptight classroom—releasing tension, calming vibrating knees, and bringing joy to the room.

It encourages hard work.

When students are happy to be in your class, you can ask so much more of them. They appreciate a classroom they enjoy coming to every day, and they’ll want to repay you for it. It’s human nature. We reciprocate those we feel indebted to.

It reaches the hard to reach.

Humor has the power to help you make personal connections with students, particularly with those who are hardest to reach. When I look back on the most challenging students I’ve had over the years, I can often point to the use of humor as a major factor in helping me turn them around and guide them in the right direction.

The Straight Scoop

There is a common belief that if you use humor in your classroom, you’ll lose control of your students.

But here’s the thing.

If you already have poor classroom management, then yes, it’s true. Trying to be funny will backfire on you. Behavior will likely get worse.

But if you have solid classroom management skills, then bringing more laughter into your classroom will make you even more effective.

And that’s the straight scoop.

7 Tips for Better Classroom Management

In my mind, the first and most basic obligation of a teacher is to see the beauty that exists within every student. Every child is infinitely precious. Period.

When we start from this vantage point, classroom management — and its flip side, student engagement — comes more easily. It’s an outgrowth of students feeling loved and respected.

This video, shot in the first few days of my classroom in 2010, and the seven tips below will show how I try to put these ideas into practice.

1. Love your Students

Love them — and stand firmly against behavior that doesn’t meet your expectations or reflect their inner greatness. Too many students have internalized a profound sense of their own inadequacy, and it is incumbent upon us to remind them of their infinite value and counteract the many messages that they receive to the contrary. By loving our students unconditionally, we remind them of their true worth.

Our students know how we feel about them. If we don’t like them — or if we see them as a behavior problem — they know it. Even if we don’t say it, they will know it. And then that student is justified in resenting us, for we have failed to see the beauty that exists within that child. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

2. Assume the Best in Your Students

If a student chose not to meet one of my classroom expectations, they needed to know that I loved them but not their misbehavior. They needed to know that I cared for them and would not accept their poor choice because it would ultimately hurt them and didn’t reflect how wonderful they truly are.

For instance, a minute and a half into the first day, I gave one student a verbal warning for whispering to another student as he was searching for his seat. Assuming the best in this young man, I told him, “I know you were probably talking about your seat, but you can’t even talk about that, so that’s your verbal warning. Go back to your seat and silently start your work.” By assuming that he was trying to do the right thing — find his assigned seat — I affirmed that he wanted to meet the expectations. And yet I was firm with him that his choice to whisper after he had been told to silently begin his work was not OK. Similarly, at the end of class, I kept behind a student who was sighing to herself over the course of the period. By letting her know that I wouldn’t accept her subtle expressions of boredom or frustration, I also let her know that I thought she was great and her expressions of negativity wouldn’t fly because they’d hurt our collective learning environment — and because they didn’t square with the wonderful person I knew her to be.

3. Praise What and When You Can

Call attention to the things your students are doing that meet your expectations. The power of this is stunning for a number of reasons. Here are two:

  • It enables you to restate and reinforce the expectations for student behavior in a non-negative way. By narrating on-task behavior, you enable students who may have misheard you the first time to hear exactly what you expect of them. It’s easier for students to meet your expectations when it’s amply clear what those expectations are.
  • It shows your students that you’re with it, that you’re very aware of what’s happening in the classroom. When they see and hear that you see and hear pretty much everything, they know that you mean business and that even their smallest actions matter.

4. Do Sweat the Small Stuff

In those first few minutes, hours and days in the classroom, you are essentially creating a world. And you want a world in which students do things that will keep them or put them on a path to a life replete with meaningful opportunities. Behaviors or actions that will detract from that world should be nipped in the bud. If you only “sweat” major misbehaviors, students will get the sense that minor misbehaviors are OK. If, on the other hand, you lovingly confront even the smallest misbehaviors, then it will be clear to students that, inside the four walls of your classroom, things that detract from what you’re trying to achieve – even in small ways – just don’t fly.

5. Identify Yourself

Tell your students about who you are and why you’re there. A classroom where each student deeply trusts the teacher has the potential to be a great environment for learning. To build that trust, tell your students who you are and why you chose to be a teacher. Tell them about your background, what you did when you were their age, and why you want to be their teacher. The more your students know about you and your intentions, the more they’ll trust you to lead them.

6. Forge a Class Identity

Begin the year by forging a positive, collective identity as a class. During the first few days, I often complimented my classes as a collective. For instance, I’d say something like, “Period 3, everyone I’m looking at is meeting expectations.” In many instances, I praised the entire class so that they began to feel they were part of something special in that room. They began feeling a sense of pride at being members of Period 3.

Conversely, I often chose to redirect individual students rather than the whole class. Instead of saying, “Period 3, I’m tired of hearing you talking when you shouldn’t be” — which would introduce an oppositional tone, creating a divide between teacher and students — I found more success correcting students individually.

7. Have a Plan

Your lesson plans need to be crystal clear. You need to begin each day with clarity about what students should know and be able to do by the end of the class period, and every second of your day should be purposefully moving you toward that end.

In addition to clarity about student knowledge and achievement, you should have a clear sense of the behavior you expect at each point in the class period. When you see them making the choice to behave as you expect them to, narrate it. And when you don’t see it, confront those misbehaviors clearly, directly and with love.

I’m glad to know that the videos of my first few days in the classroom have been helpful. I’m also hyper aware that my lessons and my execution of them are far from perfect. I look forward to hearing how others create a strong classroom culture. Please share in the comments area below.

How Will Modern Technology in School Change Learning


The basic structure of school hasn’t changed in a long, long time. There are those who think the time is right for serious education reform, and much of the debate centers on whether or not technology belongs in the classroom. Modern technology in school is nothing new. Recently, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a new Smart Schools Commission in order to figure out how to invest $2 billion allocated for learning.

Well, here are a few ideas about how to best implement modern technology in school!

1) Create New Computer Programs for Teachers

Any teacher will tell you that creating a lesson plan every day of the week is a lot of work. Add that to the endless stack of homework, papers, and tests that need grading–oh, and don’t forget the report cards–and you have an underpaid, overwhelmed workforce.

But modern technology in school can help slash a teacher’s workload. New computer programs can be used to internally track a student’s progress. When students complete homework assignments via the program, their grades are automatically recorded and made available for the teacher. This could eliminate the need for testing as well. Students who have been suspended could easily obtain their lesson plans and homework online.

But how could we ensure that each student had access to these computer programs?

2) Provide Students with Tablets Instead of Books

Books pose only one problem, but it’s a gargantuan one. They cost lots and lots of money. Not only the initial investment, but they only last so long before the information needs to be updated or the book itself begins to fall apart. How many books does a single student need over the course of school year? Consider the cost of a single school library!

There was a push to institute one laptop per student policies not long ago, but modern technology in school doesn’t require expensive laptops. Our educational system should find a way to institute standardized tablets that are optimized for students. They can be updated wirelessly, and can hold hundreds of books. Additionally, they can also hold the aforementioned computer programs capable of tracking a student’s progress. But then again, they can also…

3) Make Use of Learning Apps

A lot of mobile phone app developers have reached the conclusion that learning should be fun. When it is, students are more likely to retain information.

Take the language-learning app Duolingo, for instance. It teaches languages through what is essentially a game. If you miss a question, it’ll provide you with a problem you’ve already solved in order to provide encouragement. Duolingo uses a point system. Accumulate enough, and you level up. Master a lesson, and you can move on to the next. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and better yet–it works.

Building on the idea of computer programs tracking the progress of students, apps like these could be used to allow students to learn at their own pace. Those who find themselves ahead of other students would then be able to provide assistance to classmates–once again helping out the teacher. This wouldn’t only build the confidence of students, it would also foster competition and generate interest in subjects students typically find boring.

4) Encourage Information-Based Software

We’ve all heard about Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Wolfram Alpha. They’re available whenever we need a question answered, and they’re becoming smart enough to answer those questions more accurately than ever before. Why not use education reform to encourage students and teachers to use this tool? Modern technology in school has never been so kind.

With the Amazon Echo, perhaps we’ll soon seen an electronic assistant in every classroom. How long before they have video capabilities as well? If a teacher needed to step out for a minute, she could instruct the Echo to keep an eye on the students by having it alert another teacher, hall monitor, or disciplinary aide if a student misbehaved. If there was a school shooting, the Echo could alert authorities immediately and let anyone trapped inside the building know exactly how to escape.

Modern Technology in School

Implementing modern technology in school creates the foundation for even faster education reform in the future. After all, computer programs and apps are able to conduct thousands of experiments in a single day simply by following the patterns of students and teachers. They can therefore figure out what works and what doesn’t in a short period of time–a steep contrast to the years and years that it would traditionally take. The possibilities are endless.

How does modern technology supports the idea of language learning ?

imageWhile I am writing new posts for this blog I am asking myself the question:

What does it mean to teach a second language and how does technology support the idea of language learning?

Some might suggest that these are two unrelated questions, but for me learning languages, teaching languages, and technology go hand in hand. This article serves as the introduction to a series of interviews with technology representatives working with language teachers over a period of many years. I recorded these interesting interviews at the BeTT, educational technology event, in London, 2014. My readers, I look forward to publishing these language & technology ideas from those whose opinions influence the use of technology in second language learning.

Trying to answer the question I keep asking myself makes me think from a different perspective.

What does it mean to teach second language and how does modern technology supports the idea of language learning?

  • Constant evolution of the teacher

I am a language teacher. Teaching is something about which I am passionate.  It is in my bones. Many years in the classroom with students has taught me many things but the most beneficial skill has been learning a lot about myself and my needs for personal development. All my attitudes towards my teaching philosophy are influenced by this constant evolution of myself.
This constant evolution includes taking note of the changing world, the realities of the 21st century technology environment, the students who are growing up “digital”, and finding new ways of using the digital resources and devices at our disposal to teach languages in the classroom.

  • Language education in different countries perspective

Different countries do have different education systems, different numbers of second languages taught at schools, different motivation to teach foreign languages. Motivation for language teaching and different attitudes are mirrored in the national curriculum. For example schools are more language focused in Europe where children start learning English. It’s massively important in European countries to learn English, there is no question about it. Every time you switch on the TV or go online you are bombarded with English language pop music and culture. In the UK the external motivator for teaching a second language isn’t naturally there to the same degree that it is in other countries. There is no obvious language you need to learn and that’s a challenge for language teachers. In Malaysia the situation is different. What most people consider as standard are at least three languages tought at schools. Make your own examples from your country and share them with us. These examples tell us a lot about the second language teaching motivators. They have a direct impact on the teaching methods and teaching attitudes of individual teachers.
Different needs for learning a second language influence the selection of digital sources and in some way influence the role of technology as a motivator. For example technology could be used in schools to give students a positive attitude toward learning languages, to learn the rules, and to explore other cultures.

  • Languages are all about connecting with people

Does it make sense? The most important reason for using a second language is communication and communication involves people. We are learning grammar not to know grammar per se, but to communicate with people in a comprehensible way. We are not learning pronunciation to twist our tongue but to communicate in a way that people understand us. I can continue in this manner with other known language skills but I think you get the point.
The most powerful connection is the real one, and not the one simulated in classroom. Learning a second language without real connections is like learning swimming without water. But how can I expose my French learning students with the real communication far away from France or Canada? Yes, you know what I am thinking about, right? TECHNOLOGY. Combining computer classrooms, students devices, language labs with real-time conferencing software and fellow schools in different countries.   That’s something that innovative teachers are using nowadays in language classrooms. Do you have an  internet connection in your class and some digital devices? Maybe it’s time to find the proper cooperation with a school abroad?

There are so many good reasons to remember why we are teaching our students second languages, although it may seem to be obvious. It could definitely be helpful when picking up the right technology tools for our classroom. If you are using technology, ask yourself the question:

What does it mean to teach a second language? All the answers you get will help you to find the right digital device and “perfect time” & “perfect way” of technology supported language teaching.

Keep visiting us to listen the language&technology related interviews with technology representatives.

Veronika, trainer, passionate teacher, blogger, member of smartclasscommunity team


Using Music In The Classroom


Music is an amazing tool for teaching languages, especially to children. Good songs will bounce around in a learner’s head long after their lesson is over. Young learners pick up vocabulary, grammatical structures, and the rhythm of the language simply by doing what they already love to do…singing.

In addition, music can serve a variety of functions in your classroom, at home, or even in the car. Music can set a mood. Music can signal a transition from one activity to another (for both the teacher and the student). Music can be a bonding experience. Here are some ways you can use music in your classroom.

Play music in the background from the start of the lesson
Just as you take care to make your learning environment visually appealing and stimulating, you should also note the effect that music has on the atmosphere in the classroom. Entering a classroom can be intimidating for people of any age. For young children, it can be particularly daunting. Music can really help to make your classroom warm and inviting.

Start a typical lesson with a welcoming song like “Knock Knock Hello” playing in the background. It signals to the students that it’s class time. Greet students at the door and invite them to come into the classroom and sit down. As they get settled, they’ll usually start singing or humming along to the song.

With super energetic classes, try soothing music in the background at the beginning of class, such as any of the lullaby medleys from the Super Simple Songs – Original Series CDs, some classical music, or your favorite quiet music. With more reserved groups, try playing upbeat, even silly music, to start class. Music can set the tone of the class right from the start of the lesson.

Play music to signal transitions to the students
Children react to music in a way that they don’t react to anything else. When a song comes on that they recognize and like, they’ll notice right away. Use songs to welcome students to class, say, “Hello,” lead into circle-time activities, signal when it’s time to clean up, practice ABCs, read a story, or other classroom activities. The students know exactly what to do when they hear the music and respond right away. Even when you don’t play music as a cue, the students become so familiar with the language from the songs (“Clean up,” “Make a circle,” “Please sit down,” etc.) that they will quickly follow the teacher’s directions.

Play music to signal transitions to the teacher
Plan your classes so that music accompanies the whole class. Use an iPod, or other MP3 device, to make playlists so that you don’t need to change CDs during class. Before a 50-minute class, make a digital playlist of about 70 minutes worth of music (50 minutes worth of class-time music plus 4-5 songs to use as back-ups if you need to change activities or have extra time).

If you don’t have a digital music player, all of the Super Simple Songs CDs are designed to work great in a class playing from start to finish. Each CD starts with a hello song, an active song, language theme songs, and then finish with a goodbye song and a lullaby. You can just put the CD on and let it play. When you get to a section of the lesson where you need to concentrate on an activity, just turn the volume down and leave the music playing quietly in the background.

When planning your lessons, think about how music can help you move from one activity to the next. Here is one idea:

When the hello song starts, stand up and start singing. When the hello song finishes and the get-up-and-move song (such as “Walking Walking” or “Seven Steps“) starts, sing and act out that song. When that is finished and “Make A Circle” starts, come together and make a circle. At the end of the song, everyone is seated in a circle. Next, have some relaxing classical or other instrumental music come on signaling to you, the teacher, that it’s time to start your planned activity, and signaling to the students that it’s time for them to settle down and listen to the teacher. When the activity is finished, forward to the next song on your playlist (maybe the “Clean Up!” song or another active song) and that will signal to everyone what is happening next.

Planning your classes with musical cues not only helps the students recognize what is happening next, but it helps you as a teacher move smoothly between activities.

Play music to manage the energy level of the class
You never know for sure what kind of energy level young children are going to come to class with. One day, you have a class full of children bouncing off the walls with energy (often on rainy days when they can’t go outside to play), the next day, the same kids seem like they are moving in slow motion. Music really helps to calm down a rowdy class, or give a lethargic class a needed boost of energy. The lullaby medleys, found on all three of the Super Simple Songs – Original Series CDs can help create a calming environment in class, or try the slower-paced “Learn It” versions of some of the songs on the CDs. Sometimes, when a class is full of energy, they need to let it all out before settling down, so play a super active song such as “Walking Walking,” “Seven Steps,” “Count And Move,” “The Hokey Pokey Shake (Sing It)“, “We All Fall Down,” or “The Pinocchio.” When the song is finished, most kids have burned off their excess energy and are ready to settle down and concentrate.

Play music to introduce new language
Songs are a great way to teach new language to youngsters. Even when children don’t fully understand all the lyrics, they are excited to try to sing along. When you have songs with simple lyrics that kids can dance and do gestures to, the children sing and learn SO quickly.

You can use songs as part of the learning experience for any of the language themes you introduce in class. For example, when teaching about colors, sing “I See Something Blue” and “I See Something Pink.” For practicing counting, try “Five Little Monkeys” or “Count And Move.” If you are learning about likes and dislikes, sing “Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?” or “Do You Like Spaghetti Yogurt?

Whatever the theme, songs can help you teach vocabulary in a way you just can’t do with other activities. When you are singing and dancing, you interact with the language in so many ways. You are practicing listening comprehension, you are vocalizing, you are interpreting the language with movement… and all in a way that is fun and non-threatening to young learners.

When you use songs that can be taught through gestures, very little pre-teaching is necessary. Teachers can seat the students in a circle, teach some very simple gestures, and then play the music while everyone follows your gestures. Most kids will sing along right away, but even the kids who aren’t ready to sing will be able to participate with gestures.

Play music to review language
Singing songs is a fantastic way to quickly and easily review language you’ve previously practiced in class. One of the great things about using music to learn is that people just don’t forget songs. If you were to hear a few words from a song you haven’t heard in 20 years, chances are, you could sing the next line with no problems.

In each lesson, try to include a song or two to review language that you have learned previously. The children love to sing some of their old favorites and it’s great to see the amount of language they’ve amassed. Occasionally, have an all-singing, all-dancing class and sing ALL of your favorites.

Music is such a powerful learning tool. If you don’t use much music in your classroom, give it a try…it will make an immediate impact. If you do use music, think of ALL the ways you can be using it to make your classroom a warmer, more effective learning environment.


Have you ever wished you could just pack up and hit the road? I have too, but we are not able to do that at the moment.  Some families feel like they can’t travel as they would like because their children are in school.


There are plenty of families who are hitting the road, despite having school aged children, or perhaps because they do have school aged children. These families are homeschooling their children, their homes just happen to be on wheels and move around the country.

Just as there are many different types of homeschoolers, there are many types of “roadschoolers”.   Some families follow a completely traditional school model; they just do it on the road. They carry school books and sometimes even have virtual classes by connecting to other homeschoolers via the internet.

Other roadschoolers follow a different traditional homeschool method. They use the internet to provide curriculum. Some internet homeschool curricula, such as Time4Learning, provide all lessons on line, without requiring downloads or carrying CDs or DVDs around. Because a family would have access to an entire year of curriculum they can pick and choose what they will study by where they are in the country, using lessons that correspond to wherever they are travelling at the time.

Some roadschoolers are unschooled. They essentially let the road be the guide of what their children will learn. One roadschooling family thinks that unschooled has negative connotations and chose to use a term like lifeschool because in the process of experiencing life they children are gaining an education.

This family uses the internet for research, museums along their travels for further subject matter to study. They also use national parks and monuments as a great source of materials for their children to learn. Imagine travelling to Washington, D.C., and having such great resources as the Smithsonian as your child’s educational material for a week or more.

Not all families completely pull up stakes and take to the road to roadschool. Consider how much more interesting studying the Civil War would be if you took a family vacation to battlegrounds, museums, and forts that had some significance to the Civil War. History comes to life when a child can experience a location instead of just dryly reading about it.

Other homeschooling parents use time on the road to homeschool. For example, if one child has a piano lesson across town and all of the children in the family have to travel with her. Car travel time is a great time to get older children to read to younger children, have your children read signs, or to listen to audio books. Travel time can also be used for foreign language practice times.

This type of roadschooling also works if you are travelling to a field trip. Use the time en route to make sure the children understand what they are going to experience on a field trip as you travel to the field trip, and use the time returning home to discuss what they saw on the field trip and how it relates to other things they might have studied.

Roadschooling in the largest sense, when a family picks up roots and travels the country is legal, just as homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. One way to make sure that there are no issues with legality or truancy is to follow the homeschooling laws in the state of one’s permanent residence. Keep in mind, however, that some states require that you follow their laws regarding homeschooling if you stay within the state for more than two weeks. If you intend to participate in roadschooling over a long period of time it would be worth speaking with a legal defense association specifically aimed at homeschoolers.

Roadschooling can be anything from brief studies during commute time, to a way of life where a family picks up roots and hits the open road for an extended period of time. Technology is a great way to enhance education during travel time. With smart phones, computers, tablets, and mobile hot spots, learning can happen anywhere and anytime.

Educating Through Technology

Once upon a time homeschoolers might have been considered old-fashioned. This is probably because of the stereotype that homeschoolers are generally homeschooling for religious reasons, sitting around a dining room table doing copy work from historical icons, and learning to read from old public school readers. Like all stereotypes there is probably some basis in truth but today’s homeschoolers are breaking out of that stereotype.


Today’s homeschoolers are often at least as technologically advanced as their traditionally educated counterparts. Part of the reason this is true is because homeschooled students are not sitting isolated in their homes poring over outdated textbooks but are studying the latest available material by means of technology. Many homeschooled students are taking part in distance learning, self-guided learning, and online curricula.

Distance learning

Distance learning or distance education is a method of presenting educational material through correspondence work, or lectures presented on the internet. It allows students to have access to professors and other specialists that might not be available locally. Students generally use the internet to attend classes and are not required to be present at the school at all.

There are many different variations of using technology for distance learning. Some courses are broadcast at a certain time on the internet and all students are expected to log in, similar to an online meeting site. This type of distance learning is called synchronous or live learning. Other courses are uploaded to the internet for the students to use when they have the time. This type of distance learning is sometimes called asynchronous distance education.

Self-guided Learning

Self-guided learning is similar to distance learning. Some universities offer free courses online. While the courses are usually offered not-for-credit, they still represent a large body of information. Most of these courses are online, free, and often contain both video and searchable lecture notes. An example of this type of educational material is MIT Open Courseware. By searching the internet for open course ware it is seen that a number of prestigious universities offer similar open course ware.

Another option for self-guided learning is Khan Academy. Courses available there are not offered for credit. In fact, it might even be considered free online tutoring as many complex topics in math and science are broken down into easily digestible, short lectures.

While this coursework is offered on the internet for free and is a great way for a student to gain knowledge, it is generally not offered for credit. However, there is no argument that this work is an attractive addition to homeschool transcripts and can be a great preparation for taking college entrance as well as CLEP tests.

Online Curriculum

Online curriculum for homeschool students is offered from Pre-K through 12th grade. Sometimes it is difficult to see the difference between distance learning and online curriculum. Probably the main difference is that with online curriculum most of the instruction is presented online as well as most of the coursework. This online curriculum type of learning generally does not have a “live” instructor that the student answers.

Much of the testing is done by the program in the form of multiple choice or fill in the blank answers though in higher grade there are often writing assignments that parents will have to grade for their for their homeschooled students. Online curricula can be used for core education as well as supplemental coursework. One example of an online curriculum is Time4Learning.

Other Options

There are many other opportunities for homeschooled students to take advantage of technology in their educational endeavors. The internet is, in some cases, taking the place of the library. Since many families no longer buy sets of encyclopedias the internet is a great research vehicle. There are many subject specific sites that provide instructional material as well as educational games. Homeschooled students often do not have access to the same textbooks that traditionally educated students do, so learning to use technology affords homeschooled students with opportunities to learn and expand their horizons that they might not have otherwise.

Is My Child Learning Enough?

One of the big questions most new homeschoolers ask is, “How will I know if my child is learning?”


When a child is in public school he or she is constantly tested. Each week there are spelling tests, there are chapter tests on a regular basis, and in many states there is standardized testing. Many parents of public school students decide that if the grades coming home on test papers and report cards are good, then their child must be learning.

When students are pulled from a traditional school setting and placed in homeschooling it is sometimes difficult for the parent to know if the student is actually learning enough to keep up with their grade peers. A big problem is that homeschool students tend to not be tested as often as public school students. But is it really a problem and is testing the only way to know if a student is learning enough?

How Long?

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a child is learning enough in homeschool because homeschooling generally takes much less time than traditional education.   Homeschooled children generally do not spend as much time on a particular topic as traditionally educated students because they are neither ahead nor behind their classmates. Part of the reason for this is that your homeschooled child is receiving one-on-one attention. They do not have to wait for others to catch up, nor are they holding up other students back if they need to spend more time on a topic. If the student understands the topic then he or she can move on right away.

Traditional education is set up for a traditional school year, in many states that is approximately 180 school days. That is, for each subject an hour of instruction per day for 180 days, or 180 hours per subject. Now, consider this question: Is a public school hour of instruction really an hour? Students must move from class to class, spending time talking to peers, going to lockers, and moving between classrooms and even buildings. A traditional school hour of education might be as short as 45 minutes by the time moving, getting settled, and ready to actually learn are taken into account.

Homeschoolers can take almost all of that transition time out of their day. The commute from math at the kitchen table to history on the sofa takes considerably less time than moving from one end of a building to another and climbing a flight of steps or two.  When was the last time you heard of a traditionally educated student actually finishing a complete textbook in a year?  It is safe to say that a homeschooled student can probably cover more material in a school day than traditional educated students can. It is not unusual for a homeschooled student to complete the entire course in a homeschool curriculum.


Homeschooled students generally do not take as many tests as public school students do. Consequently, less time is spent teaching “to the test”. Teaching to the test limits a student’s exploration of a subject by limiting them to the material that will be tested. Testing is not necessarily a true measure of understanding of a topic.

In fact, standardized tests can be detrimental to students who are from different backgrounds and upbringings. Consider, for example, a standardized test question that asks reasons for the Civil War. Since the Civil War is viewed differently by different ethnicities, as well as different locations, a question designed to show understanding of the reasons behind the war might not realistically test a student’s knowledge.

Another problem with standardized testing is that some students are very test savvy, understanding how to take tests well even if they do not understand the subject matter. Other students are poor test takers and do not do well under the pressures of timed tests. A low score by a poor test taker is not a true measure of their knowledge or learning ability, only their testing abilities.

You’ll know!

It sounds cheesy to say that you will know if your child is learning but the reality is that you will know if your child is learning. You can see it on their faces, you can tell by their attitude, and you will see forward progress.

If your student begins their homeschool day ready to go to school, moves quickly through their assignments, and is hungry for more information, it is safe to say that the student is learning.

If your student can not only give you the instructed materials on a multiple choice test, but can hold a conversation about the material you will know they understand the material. When a student can play the part of the teacher, either giving a speech, or teaching other children in a subject, then that student will have sufficient knowledge of a subject to move on to new material.

Finally, as the parent as well as the teacher it is possible to see the student in all stages of learning. You will not have to depend on a report card, or a test score. You will see your student work through the instructional material, watch them answer questions, and be able to judge for yourself if your student is actually learning.

Strategies For Teaching ADHD Students At Home

Strategies for Teaching ADHD Students at Home


According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not considered a learning disability.  But the reality is that many students who have ADD/ADHD have other associated issues which do hinder their ability to learn according to the traditional education plan that exists in most public schools.  Even without additional learning disabilities students with ADD/ADHD and their teachers often need adaptive strategies to make learning less difficult.

Three of the issues that teachers, and this includes homeschooling parents/teachers, have to deal with in students with ADD/ADHD are:

Distractibility.  Students with ADHD find it difficult to concentrate on any one subject for extended periods of time.  One way parents/teachers can deal with this is to keep lessons short.  Help the student to break down larger tasks into a series of smaller tasks.  Math is one of those large tasks that lends itself to being divided into more manageable pieces.  Instead of instructing the student to “do their math” it would benefit both the teacher and the student to have a short term goal of completing the instructional portion of the math assignment then taking a break.  After a short break allow the student to refocus and complete a small number of math problems.

In a homeschooling environment it is possible to control the environment for the student.  There are not 30 other students who contribute to the distraction.  Noise can be controlled in the home.  Additionally, homeschooling is very flexible and this helps homeschooled ADHD students spend more time, or less, on a subject depending on their needs.

Hyperactivity.  ADHD students sometimes seem like they are “driven” to be in constant motion.  This can be difficult to deal with in a traditional classroom setting.  For the home educator it is easier because the student’s motion does not disturb anyone else. If the student needs to hop around the room on one foot while reciting the multiplication tables then allow it.  Sometimes the act of moving and learning at the same time can be a very useful tool because it allows the student to both burn off excess energy and commit things to memory.

There are several techniques that can be used to help your ADHD student drain off excess energy.  One family allowed their student to use an exercise ball as a seat instead of a chair.  The student was allowed to gently bounce on the ball, or rock back and forth on it.  Even when sitting relatively still the student still needed to make minor balance adjustments and that allowed him to use some of the excess energy.

Another thing to do is to keep the student’s hands busy.  Conventional wisdom says that the student is not paying attention if she is doodling or using modeling clay but the reality is that ADHD students seem to be able to do more than one thing at a time, and even benefit from being allowed to do more than one thing at a time.

Easily Frustrated.  ADHD students seem to become easily frustrated.  They often do not like repetitive lessons, reading lessons, or lessons that require a lot of writing.  Remember that ADHD is not considered a specific learning disability.  However, ADHD students do tend to learn differently.  Their brains tend to process things very quickly and so repetitive lessons seem like a waste of time.  Reading requires doing only one thing at a time (reading) and comprehension tends to be reduced if the student is distracted.  As for the ADHD student disliking writing, many ADHD students have poor handwriting and are frustrated by the speed at which ideas in their heads can be translated to paper.

Part of the way to get around this frustration is to allow the student to use adaptive technologies, and these can be easily accommodated in a homeschool environment.  Instead of having the student actually read a book allow her to listen to an audio book.  This allows the student to focus on the story with their ears while doing something else with their hands, or jumping up and down.  Teach keyboarding skills early because it is easier for a student to get the ideas out of their heads and onto paper if they can process that information at the speed of typing as opposed to writing.

As for repetitive lessons such as spelling, instead of having the student practice spelling words all week and take a test at the end of the week, why not let the student take the test first?  Then have the student work only on the words that he was unable to spell.  It makes for less repetition, and allows the student to process the lessons in shorter bursts.

Finally, allow students to work at a pace that is adapted for their learning abilities rather than trying to make the student adapt to traditional lesson plans.  Use technology where possible.  Online curricula allow the student to have some control over the rate at which information is presented.  Homeschooling ADHD students works well because it allows for learning to occur on their terms instead of trying to make the ADHD student adapt to an education model that is a poor fit for them.

Fighting Educational Doldrums

There are times during the year when students are very excited about learning.  One of those times is when school starts in the fall.  Even parents seem to feel the excitement of a new school year and the bright, shiny, new school supplies.  By this time in the school year it is possible that students are less excited about school and this happens not just for public or private school but for homeschooling as well.

While there are many ways to overcome the educational doldrums of this time of year for homeschoolers, there are three worth particular mention.  While these may work in traditional education, it is important to note that homeschool has flexibility in some areas where traditional school might not.

Special Projects

After school has been in progress for a couple of months students often feel like it is just an endless series of studying, and chapter tests.  One way to break that cycle is to allow the student the opportunity to complete a special project.  Many subjects lend themselves to independent study and research.  And don’t think that it only has to encompass one subject.  These special projects can also be adapted to the age, abilities, and interests of your student. It is an opportunity to go beyond the standard homeschool curriculum. Here is an example for a high school student.

Suppose the student picked the Renaissance Period.  While it is easy to see that this might be a history project, consider that that period was rich not only in history, but art, literature, and music.  It was an important time for textiles, important time for science, and a challenging time for religion.  By choosing a time period that is so rich it is possible for the student to touch on many subjects as they relate to the main subject of the Renaissance.  If the student’s interest lies particularly in music or art, allow them to direct their research to those subjects.  The final project can include reports, art work, and perhaps a presentation as the student teaches and presents what he or she learned.

Allowing the student to direct his/her own education for a short period of time allows them to feel control, and lets them branch out from the week in and week out occurrences of worksheets, questions, and chapter tests.

Varying Schedules

While many student, especially young ones, benefit from a regular schedule, homeschooled students have the opportunity to have a schedule that fits their individual needs.  As students enter high school they often find that their biological clocks seem to shift.  It is more difficult for them to concentrate early in the morning, and harder for them to go to bed at night.  As parents we tend to want them up early and to school pretty quickly thereafter.  Fortunately, the schedule that homeschooled students need can be accommodated fairly easily.

One of the benefits of a flexible schedule for homeschoolers becomes very apparent for students who have a particular interest.  Consider a student who is very interested in science.  That student is not necessarily going to be ready to move on to another subject after an hour or so.   One student had a great interest in science and did all of her other subjects the first two days of the week to get them out of the way.  She then concentrated her studies in science to the last three days of the week.  By doing that she was not interrupted in the middle of a project or experiment, and it allowed her to get deeper into the subject than if she had only an hour at a time.

Another student had an interest in becoming a veterinarian.  Each morning she spent doing her coursework, and each afternoon she went and “shadowed” the local veterinarian.  Not only was it great experience for her, but it gave her a depth of understanding that could never come from just book learning.  Having the ability to vary the schedule students to specialize and work past the boredom that might come with a more regimented schedule.

Year-Round Homeschooling

Another way to avoid the educational doldrums of late fall is to homeschool year-round.  You might think that homeschooling year-round might make your child be bored more often.  The reality is that by homeschooling year-round you student is not required to take breaks when everyone else does.  Fall semesters usually have a Thanksgiving break of approximately a week, and then about three weeks later there is the Winter/Christmas break which lasts about two weeks.  The problem with this is that students sometimes need a break earlier than Thanksgiving week.

By going all year long homeschooled students have enough days in a “school year” to take short breaks when they need to instead of when other people think they need to.  Sometimes that means taking a three or four day weekend.  Sometimes that means taking a whole week.  At our home we call these short breaks “mental health” days.  They allow us to unwind after particularly difficult chapters, or if we just need an opportunity to collect and regroup.

Amazingly, one of the best ways to fight the educational doldrums is to allow the schoolwork to be geared to the student’s needs instead of trying to mold every student to the same schedule.  Whether that is by allowing the students to control some of the subject matter, or allowing them to choose to do coursework in their own schedule, or by allowing a longer school year so that you are not working from break to break, but making breaks where your student needs them.

Whats A Homeschool Cruise All About?

This time last week, I was standing on a small wooden bridge over a creek and taking pictures of the multiple iguanas who were perched in the pine trees above my head. My family continued our walk through the woods and discovered a “poisonwood tree” that will make your skin bleed just by touching it, and for which there are no known medicines to treat the wound. Then we spent hours splashing in the crystal-clear water on the beautiful beach and marveled at nature’s beauty all around us, before heading off to a fancy dinner where my husband ordered escargot and the kids drank chocolate milk in wine glasses with their meal of gourmet lasagna.


Where was I last week? In the Bahamas, on the 8th Annual Homeschool Cruise, of course! And for this first-time cruiser, what an adventure it was! I was hoping to find something different from the stereotypical party-cruise experience, and I discovered that a cruise is what you make it, and a homeschool cruise even more so.

Travel and Sightseeing
Adventure was definitely on the agenda, as we drove to Florida to board the ship at Port Canaveral. Our ports of call were Freeport and Nassau, and the cruise line’s private island, called Little Stirrup Cay. We weren’t terribly impressed with Freeport, which is mainly an industrial port anyway, but we loved Nassau. The city was bustling with activity, and down near the port there were hundreds of tourists shopping for Bahamas trinkets in the straw markets, although the city has an impressive array of upscale shopping that was crowded as well. We decided to walk a bit and see some of the city, and we stopped to tour the Pirate Museum, which was well-worth the admission since we all learned a ton about the pirate history of the area.

Kids and Water
Just what is it about kids and water? The whole family had a wonderful time on the beach at Little Stirrup Cay, but our kids also took advantage of the pool onboard the ship. They swam every single day! On one of the upper decks, the ship also had an assortment of water slides, something for every age group, and the kids never seemed to tire of it. One of the slides went out over the side of the ship before curving back to land safely on deck!

Learning Opportunities
A case could be made that simply going on a cruise for the first time is a learning experience, but there were opportunities for education along the way. The Pirate Museum we toured is a great example, and so was the Nature Tour of Little Strirrup Cay, where we learned about the iguanas and several herbal remedies growing in the wooded areas of the island. There were plenty of other shore excursions to choose from, and kids can learn a ton just from snorkeling! Our group leader gave each homeschooler a packet of information printed especially for students by the tourism council in the Bahamas, so the kids could learn about the different islands, local customs, etc.

Overall, I was impressed with the homeschool cruise and my family definitely had a good time. My only suggestion is that there ought to be more chances for the homeschoolers to get together, beyond just seeing one another in the dining room each evening. But there was definitely not a lack of things to do, and sometimes it was hard to choose! If we wanted to strictly enjoy a relaxing vacation, we could do that. If we wanted to toss in some educational experiences, that was possible too.

I would surely recommend this program to others! Next year’s homeschool cruise is already accepting bookings, and you can learn all about it at www.homeschoolcruise.com. Maybe I’ll see you on board next year!

Common Core And Homeschooling

Many schools are experiencing the implementation of Common Core.  Parents are finding out that the regulations that determine how the child will be educated might be more involved than they might have thought.


Homeschooling parents have considered themselves immune to the effects and regulations of Common Core because, after all, they are educating their children at home.  But is it realistic to believe that homeschoolers can avoid the broad umbrella of Common Core?

There are a number of ways that Common Core may affect homeschoolers, both directly and indirectly.  The following information is by no means exhaustive.

Data Collection

Currently homeschool students seem to be off the radar in many states.  By right and by choice homeschooling families tend to want to keep their students out of the system.  However, one of the components of Common Core is that it allows for a database of student information which begins in kindergarten and continues through the student’s entry into the workforce.

In states where students are not required to register in any way to homeschool the amount of data collected on that student will be minimal.  However, for states that seek more control over their homeschoolers, those homeschoolers will be providing information for that database.  While it may not seem like much, this database is accessible by outside sources which might not need to access student’s names and other personal information.


Standardized Testing

Homeschooling students in many states are not required to submit to standardized testing.  In a number of states homeschool students who are not associated with church schools are required to participate in state testing.  Homeschool students who are required to participate in state testing will have a fundamental freedom removed from them.  Because they will be tested according to state standards, which are aligned with Common Core Standards, homeschool students will have to study homeschooling curriculum that will prepare them for those tests.

This removes the freedom to choose certain curricula.  Homeschoolers pride themselves on their ability to choose the curriculum that is best suited for their student’s learning style and also their philosophical reasons for homechooling.  By having to study curricula that are aligned with Common Core the homeschoolers are being forced to participate in a system that many of them oppose.

And College Entrance Exams

At a point in the foreseeable future college entrance exams will be rewritten and adapted to fit the curriculum that is being taught in public schools.  The curriculum in public schools across the country will be aligned to Common Core Standards.  Part of the reason Common Core is being enacted is to make the curriculum all across the country standard.  Because of this, it makes perfect sense for the college entrance exams to reflect this.

Just as with standardized testing in elementary school, middle school, and high school, college entrance exam requirements will, by default, require that homeschoolers conform to learning the body of knowledge that will allow them to do best on these exams.  If they choose to study homeschool curricula that do not currently conform to the Common Core Standards, or do not adapt to align with those standards they will be penalized for this lack of conformity by potentially lower test scores.

Finally, from the standpoint of someone who does not mind data being collected on their children, and consequently their families, and who does not mind that curriculum choices are being made for their children without their input or their control, it might seem odd that anyone would object to the implementation of Common Core standards and requirements across the country.  However, there is a whole group of people, generally homeschoolers, who do not believe that the state or the federal government have the right to control how their children are educated.  Neither the state nor the federal government should have the right or ability to collect, store, and disseminate information on the student or family.  Common Core might seem like a step toward Big Brother and away from the freedoms that they enjoy as homeschoolers.

Online Schools – Reaching out to people everywhere!

A middle schools education is very important and vital to a child’s future progress. Its importance in laying the foundation for a bright career in the future cannot be overstated. With the traditional schooling system being unable to deliver and exorbitant costs burning a hole in the average American’s pocket, it’s time to explore new options. That’s where online schools play an important role. They now offer you options that were once beyond your reach. Not only that, they offer you access to these options at very affordable costs. By leveraging the Internet and advanced information technology, online schools in America have slowly been changing the way we manage our education system.

Whether real-time or asynchronous in nature, students and teachers have access to an environment within which frequent exchanges of information can be organized with minimal effort. As more and more online middle schools in Hawaii and other states offer students such online learning platforms, the interaction between educators and learners is all set to receive a big boost. The student-teacher ratio too, has been of a primary concern to parents in America. Such solutions offer viable alternatives that will overcome such obstacles as well.Students no longer have to vie for the attention of the teacher in a classroom because an online environment offers one-to-one interaction.

In an endeavor to stand out among online middle schools in Alaska and other states, Forest Trail Academy pays special attention to the entire process of learning in that we always encourage our students to be lifelong learners and always strive toward achieving academic excellence. We understand the importance of information in today’s world and that is something we would like our students to comprehend as well. In a world that’s completely dependent on technology, it has become imperative to leverage technology in one’s favor. Those who understand and are capable of achieving this are theones who are poised to be successful in the future.
Finally, bringing down the financial burden that is placed on American families by the educational system in the current scenario is one of the major factors that have helped the growth of online schools in the country. Federal budgets are already strained and there’s only so much that the government can do. In the end, it is up to us to ensure that our children do not suffer as a consequence. In a way, traditional schools may be able to learn a thing or two from online middle schools in Hawaii and the rest of the country regarding the efficient use of technology to bring down costs drastically.

The interaction between students and teachers gets a big boost in such an environment that’s based completely on the Internet when compared to a more traditional school setting. While students are offered the opportunity to interact online with peers, teachers and counselors, online middle schools in Alaska and the rest of the country also allow for complete flexibility in scheduling such appointments.

All things considered, if you’re looking to enroll for an online course then www.foresttrailacademy.com is the answer. We’ve got a whole range of K-12 courses designed to suit your every need!

The Pre-School Preparation

One of the anticipated moments of life is the time when newly parents get to experience the joy of their child. It has always been a tradition that the parent always ensures that their children get the best of everything , most importantly when it comes to early education. As the realization becomes widely evident parents these days are taking every measure in the book to begin their child’s early educational development. This is where the child must be introduced to a pre-school environment that prepares the child to begin their future days in school. Eventually leading to an overall performance and a visible of the child.

Pre-school approach has also witnessed a potential change over the years and it now focuses more on activities that the child can participate. These activities prepare the child from an overall perspective and give them an edge before they take their further steps. It is also important that in their early days of growth, the child builds a good rapport with their parents. It is very essential to have a good parent-child equation, it helps the child in shaping their attitude.

The preparatory list never ends, with changing time there is always an evolution of process and that is how it must be. But the basics will always be the same, the cute trials and tribulations a child must go through would make them well-prepared to face every kind of challenges in the upcoming future.
The Garodia Group has been nurturing education since 1969, for excellence in National Early Childhood Care & Education. Garodia group conceived One Education Initiatives Pvt. Ltd. to spearhead the belief that right nurturing can tap a child’s potential and thus, seek partners who strive to build an interactive, sustainable model that generates value for today, and thereby to build responsible citizens for tomorrow.

One Education Initiatives Pvt. Ltd. (OEI) is an educationally focused company, which delivers educational solutions to multiple segments in society. Beehive is an integral part of vision to build global citizens for tomorrow. Concept of Beehive was initiated in the year 2011 with an aim to provide quality preschool education and it envisions as a niche player in the domain aiming to carve out and support a sustainable education model.

Beehive endeavors to build a system where augmenting its working procedures directly adds value to children. This unique value proposition philosophy is called as ‘FLOWER TO FLOWER METHOD’. Beehive incorporates ‘Learning by doing’ enabling little ones to grasp fundamentals of each activity through their receptivity and creativity.

AIPMT: Tips and strategies to crack the medical entrance exam

AIPMT is one of the toughest and prestigious medical entrance exams in India. It is conducted by CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) annually where lakhs of medical aspirants compete to get admission in top medical colleges in India. AIPMT entrance test is to gauge the suitability of students to pursue medical programs. When you are appearing for AIPMT, you should be equipped with study tips and strategies that can help you to crack the exam. Here are few essential tricks just for you:

Create a study plan: When you are preparing for one of the toughest entrance exams, you need a solid study plan. Not creating a study plan, when your exam is approaching can potentially screw your overall performance in the exam. So create a study plan and take control of your success at the AIPMT exam. You should create a study schedule depending on your level of preparation and accordingly allocate time on different topics. Ensure you cover all important topics in the AIPMT syllabus.

Clarity on fundamental concepts: Knowing the fundamental concepts of Biology, Chemistry and Physics is essential to score better in the AIPMT exam. In case you are not clear with any of the key concepts, make it a point to clarify from your teachers, friends or post on a medical forum and get your answers. Another important thing is to keep yourself abreast with the syllabus content of NCERT 11th and 12th Standard Biology, Chemistry and Physics textbooks.

Take online tests: If you are all gearing up for the AIPMT exam, make it sure you take up 2-3 sets of AIPMT mock tests online. Without solving mock or previous papers you will not able to understand clearly how to approach a paper effectively. And taking online test is not enough, you will need to analyze what is your performance level, areas where you do mistakes, and your strengths.
Make proper use of your time: When you have limited time period, ensure you make proper use of your time. Divide your time and allocate time accordingly to cover all aspects of the syllabus. Always try to cover stated syllabus portion within the time limit and don’t get stuck at one topic.

Take break from time to time: Studying all the time can be exhausting, so take break from time to time to allow your mind to relax.Take up any of your favorite activities whether it is singing, listening to music, reading a book or whatever you love and unwind your mind. Taking break is a great way to refresh your body, mind and soul.

Be positive: Studying for 12-14 hours a day can be too much and can get you agitated. So maintaining cool is essential to stay positive and focus on your exam. Whenever you feel you are out of good mood, do a little meditation so that you can restore calmness. Positive attitude can go a long way in making you nearer to your dream.

Five Frequently Asked Homeschooling Questions

Families who are considering homeschooling often have many questions.  Below you will find frequently asked questions posed by new homeschooling families.


1.  Is homeschooling legal? 

In the United States, absolutely yes!  All fifty states recognize some method of educating children at home.  Some states offer free public school online, others recognize church or umbrella schools.  Some states do not require parents to even notify the state if they intend to homeschool.  The first suggestion if you are considering homeschooling is to check with your state Department of Education and see what the regulations are for pulling a child from their existing traditional education situation and placing them in a homeschool situation.  If the child has not attended traditional school it may require a different set of notifications.  Homeschooling is legal, but it is extremely important that each family be in complete compliance with their state’s homeschooling laws since those laws differ from state to state.

2.  Where do I find curriculum?

There are several options for finding a homeschool curriculum.  One of the best ways to find out about what curricula are available is to ask other homeschooling families.  Each will have their own favorite curriculum or combination of different curricula. Some families go to homeschool conventions where curriculum vendors present the best of their wares.  Other families search the internet for all or parts of their instructional material.  In states where a free, online public education is offered, the department of education might even provide books, materials, even use of a computer.  Libraries are a great source of educational material, especially where literature and history are concerned.  For early elementary students there are many sources for basic math, spelling, and penmanship worksheets that can be printed from the internet.  Don’t forget to include educational games as part of the curriculum for everything from multiplication tables to spelling and keyboarding games.

3. Is homeschooling expensive?

Homeschooling does not have to be expensive.  Sources of educational material are wide-spread.  For families unwilling or unable to spend a lot of money there are free and low cost curricula to be found online.  The other end of the spectrum are the all-in-one box curricula which may be quite costly, however they do offer many services including lesson planning and grading as well as record-keeping and an interface with the department of education.  Essentially, homeschooling can be as cost effective or as expensive as a family chooses.  There are many options between the two extremes that will accommodate families in all economic circumstances.

4. What if I can’t teach a subject?

Not every parent will feel comfortable teaching every subject.  While most parents will feel comfortable teaching the basics to younger students, when it comes to advanced composition, calculus, or chemistry many parents feel like they are not qualified to teach their students. Other courses such as foreign languages or music instruction often require more teaching than a parent might feel comfortable with.  The answer to this dilemma is to out-source.  Check with local homeschool support groups to see if a co-op offers group classes.  Check with the library to see if they offer courses.  Many times college students earn money through tutoring so check with your closest college or university to see if tutors are available.  Often checking with fellow homeschoolers will show a need and you might join with other families to fund a course.  There are always people who are willing to pass on their knowledge, some for free, some for a fee.  Ask around!


5. Do colleges accept homeschooled students?

In the past colleges might have been hesitant to accept homeschoolers because they were unsure of the amount of preparation homeschoolers might receive.  However, that has changed for the most part.  Colleges find that homeschoolers are generally well prepared for college courses, performing better on standardized tests and required less remedial work than some traditionally educated students.  Colleges also find that homeschool high school students often take dual credit courses which provide both high school and college credit.  Homeschool students tend to be self-starters and are accustomed to studying and preparing projects.  In fact, many institutions of higher learning seek out homeschool students because they find that homeschooled students measure up very competitively with other students.


There are, of course, many questions regarding homeschooling and how to begin the process of homeschooling.  Families looking to homeschool need to be legal with their state and local department of education.  Families should look for instructional materials that teach to the student in the way that the student learns.

Support is very important, online searches will provide information on local or regional support groups.  Support groups are a great source both for finding curricula, and for making sure you are legal with the state. Many online curricula provide online forums or help to assist homeschooling families.

The internet and local libraries are great places to begin researching the questions new homeschooling families may have.   Homeschooling is a growing trend and as more families choose this educational option there will be more people with experience to answer those questions

Playing Games With Recess

Education in America will make you crazy. There is hardly a part of it that is not corrupted by ideology and contaminated by sophistical thinking.
What could be simpler to understand than recess? When you’re talking about little children, you’re talking about puppies. They need to run around until they fall down laughing on the grass. Exertion to the point of exhaustion—that may be the most important thing they do each day.
Well, if you know anything about our Education Establishment, you know they schemed to get rid of recess. Oh yes. That’s the way their minds work. (Recess would calm the kids down, take away their anxiety and ADHD. They might want to study; and maybe they wouldn’t need all that  Ritalin and Title I intervention. Apparently, some powerful people didn’t want those results.)
 Consider, there are public schools that have not had a recess in three decades. That’s pathetic. But here’s where it gets really twisted. What was the reasoning behind this ban?
According to Slate, “Every minute of the school day has been scrutinized for its instructional value—and recess, a break from instruction, often didn’t survive the scrutiny. It was, by definition, a waste of time.”
When the Atlanta public schools got rid of recess, their superintendent famously and foolishly said, “We are intent on improving academic performance. You don’t do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars.”
Atlanta, of course, is Ground Zero for one of the country’s biggest cheating scandals. There’s surely a connection. You have ideological commissars pursuing secret agenda that don’t value academic achievement.
The arguments against recess came down to this: What, you want the kids to play kickball when they’re failing math? 
Yes, that is exactly what an intelligent school wants.
Research indicates that children “learn more efficiently  when information is spaced out—when it is distributed over time….High performing East Asian schools have famously long school days—but much of the extra time is taken up by recess, not instruction.”
“Repeated studies have shown that when recess is delayed, children pay less and less attention. They are more focused on days when they have recess. A major study in Pediatrics found that children with more than 15 minutes of recess a day were far better behaved in class than children who had shorter recess breaks or none at all.”
Who could have guessed?
 Besides, all they’re doing in most public schools is wasting time. They pretend to teach arithmetic with Reform Math, which doesn’t work. They pretend to teach reading with Whole Language, which doesn’t work. They pretend to teach knowledge with Constructivism, which doesn’t work. So you have schools that are dedicated to wasting time, hours and hours of time every day. If officials ordered a 15- or 30-minute recess, they might have a blemish on their record of totally wasted days.
  But that was the thinking for several decades. According to a newspaper article in 2000, “Nearly forty percent of the nation’s 16,000 school districts have either modified, deleted, or are considering deleting recess…School districts in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and Connecticut are opting to eliminate recess, even to the point of building new schools in their districts without playgrounds.”
Slate recently reported: “Numerous surveys have found recess time declining… The numbers show a clear trend: The more minority students a school has, and the lower the income level of their parents, the less time allotted for recess—nearly half of poor children go all day without it. They don’t even have anywhere to have it: In Chicago, nearly 100 elementary and middle schools have no playgrounds at all…”
 Isn’t that a clear case of ganging up on the people who can least defend themselves? Next, the Education Establishment will claim these kids are doing badly because of low budgets!
 So, does anyone believe that our Education Establishment really thought that recess is unnecessary. Rather, isn’t it more logical to suspect that getting rid of recess was just another component in the overall strategy of dumbing down the schools, much like getting rid of phonics and multiplication tables? In any case, dumbing-down is what the policy accomplished.
Finally, saner minds started to notice and there is now a reaction. And our Education Establishment is now boldly, if somewhat fatuously, rediscovering the obvious.
The new science of recess says that recess isn’t a waste of time at all. “Having recess is much, much, much better than not having recess,” says Anthony Pellegrini, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota who’s written extensively on the subject. “That’s unequivocal, I feel. That’s a no-brainer.”
The American Association of Pediatrics recently issued an impassioned statement on the “play deprivation” experienced by children in poverty.  That’s good news for children squirming in their seats.
 As a final note, Montessori schools and classical academies tend to incorporate physical movement into their routine pedagogy. One of the most successful phonics programs has children jumping up to sing songs.
Keep their brains active. Keep their bodies active. The need for all this has never been in question. The question is why we have so many people trying to subvert the most effective approaches.

Distracted Students – What Are Their Test Scores Really Telling Us?

As I sat down to write this article, I heard a quiet beep from my cell phone indicating I had a text message and within minutes I received a notification that a friend commented on my sister’s Facebook photo.  We live in a world full of distractions.  We often welcome those distractions.  But how harmful can distractions be in a classroom full of fifth graders?


My fifth-grade students were recently given an eight-minute math computation benchmark test.  During those eight minutes, no fire alarm was sounded and there was no celebrity who ran in the classroom screaming “Color War!”  But the room was far from silent.  My class clowns made the occasional rooster crow and unnecessary hacking cough with a few chuckles to follow.  Another student decided to use the louder of the two pencil sharpeners to sharpen his pencil for one whole minute.  Another student smacked her bubble gum and three more students kept shushing everyone around them with a clear look of frustration on their faces.  This was obviously not the ideal testing situation.  Every day in schools around the world students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular subject matter…. but what if they were distracted?  What if their test score is a reflection of how distracted they were as opposed to how much they know?  Every day our children are held accountable for their test scores and we can only hope for an accurate representation.  Our schools, our teachers and their future depend on it.

The next day the scores came in.  I was disappointed.  I spent the entire year teaching them fractions, decimals, multiplication and division and this is what they have to show for it? They performed so well on classwork, homework assignments and quizzes!  Ah, the distractions.  I decided to give them a second chance.

This time there would be no distractions.  I am not going to get into the specifics here of how I did away with the distractions because each teacher and school has a different and unique system that works for them.  You can have a Principal or proctor present, perhaps separate the class clowns, rearrange the seating, maybe create a behavior management system or an incentive program… whatever you decide.  But suffice it to say that this time, less than a week later my 5th graders would receive the same test with the same time limitations but without the distractions.  The results were shocking.

Most students at least doubled their scores.

When Suzie took the test the first time, she scored with 21 points which placed her in the “average” category.  The testing company suggested continuing current programming.  This was fine.  With this score, no one is concerned or worried about the academic performance or the future of this student.  But I knew she was much smarter than that.  When she took the test the second time in a distraction-free environment, she scored a whopping 56.  The testing company suggested that I consider her need for enrichment individualized instruction.  Now that’s my Suzie.

When Mike, Sam and Gloria took the test the first time they scored below average.  The testing company suggested that I further assess and consider individualized programming.  Mike scored a 17, Sam scored a 15 and Gloria scored a 13.  These were not my brightest students but I didn’t think they were below average.  After all, they had a B average on all classwork, homework and quizzes.  When they re-took the math computation test, all three students swiftly jumped from the “below-average” category and swan dove into the “average” category.  Mike went from 17 to 29, Sam scored from 15 to 30 and Gloria went from 13 to 26.  That’s more like it.  I knew these were not below-average students.

There were two students with red flags next to their names on the first test.  David who scored an 11 and Zack who scored a 1.  David is a sweet student who was suffering from the distractions.  Zack is a bright student who loves attention from his peers.  They both scored in the “well below-average” category.  The testing company suggested that I “begin immediate problem solving.”  My jaw dropped.  I knew that David was particularly sensitive to noise and that Zack was especially mischievous but “well below-average?”  No way!  These students are capable of much better.  This was not an accurate representation of what they know.  The second time they took the test, David jumped from an 11 to a 22.  He skipped right over the “below-average” category and safely nestled himself in the “average” category.  That-a-boy!  Zack leapt from that sad 1 point to 18 points.  He was now at the upper end of the “below-average” category.  The biggest improvement of any student.

But there was an unspoken question.

What if I didn’t give my students a second chance?  I made them well aware that I didn’t have to and that most of the time in life, they won’t receive second chances.  I did this because I wanted them to understand that it didn’t matter whether they were the student creating the distractions or the student suffering from the distractions.  Everyone was negatively affected.  Everyone was initially misrepresented by their own scores.  We discussed what it means to responsible for our actions and how our actions affect others.  Sometimes, even in the 5th grade, we need those reminders.