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School-wide efforts

Take note of chronic absences

This September marks the first-ever Attendance Awareness Month in schools and communities. Attendance Works, one sponsor of the month, is a national and state initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success starting with school entry. According to their site, absences of as little as 10% can have a real impact on a child's achievement in elementary school.

Getting mind and body ready for school

It's a fact. Good nutrition leads to healthy bodies and to healthy minds — minds and bodies that are ready to learn (and grow and play and do everything else that children do).

All schools seem to be moving toward more healthful lunch and snack choices. Some schools use the notion of healthy food in ways to support the curriculum while building community. Last year, about 80 schools in Washington, D.C. had school gardens.

Learning outcomes versus teaching tools

Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Dr. Shanahan wrote an interesting post We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged about the lack of comprehension strategies in the Common Core State Standards.

Third grade again?

If you've been following the news, you may have read about proposed state legislation (in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Tennessee) that would make students repeat third grade if they can't pass the state reading exams.

My teacher gives more homework

Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?

Revisiting silent reading

Those of us familiar with the 2000 National Reading Panel report remember that the report did not support teachers' use of silent reading in the classroom. The research evidence that it had any effect on reading achievement just wasn't there. Some school districts and teachers greatly reduced or stopped providing time during the instructional day for silent reading. Other teachers continued to provide daily DEAR or SSR time, citing the benefits of such a practice.

Estar aqui, estar listo

I had the good fortune to spend a few days in a classroom outside of Chicago. I spent lots of time watching one of those teachers you just hope your child gets. You'll get a chance to see Cathy in action when we add our clips to the classroom strategies section of our website. Until then, trust me when I say that this is a teacher who has created and nurtured a real community of learners.

Two ideas worth spreading

Ideas worth spreading is the tagline for TED, a website that provides "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." If you are not familiar with the TED site, you should go visit it! I've watched some truly amazing talks on there, ones that I think about for days afterward. Here are two new talks I watched recently that have really stayed with me.

Arriving late to the Read Aloud party

Who knew March 9 was World Read Aloud Day? I'm sure lots of people did, but sadly I didn't until very late at night on March 9. And besides the directions on the box of brownie mix, I'm pretty sure I didn't read anything aloud to my girls that day. As our girls get older, I'm finding it harder and harder to find that family read aloud time. Soccer schedules, Destination Imagination (DI) practice, and playdates all result in one rushed (and tired!) dinner — shower — bed routine. On top of that, both girls are highly engaged in their own reading these days.

Kindergarten Camp

ants on a log

Moms and Dads walked in, clutching the hand of a 5 or 6 year old who anxiously looked around the lobby. Nervous chatter, excited whispers, reassuring pats on the back, and a few tears. "Let's find your nametag!" Today was the first day of kindergarten camp at our school, a week designed to let our incoming kindergartners "kick the tires" on their new school.

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"A book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor