School-wide efforts

September 12, 2013

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,...

August 21, 2013

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...

July 11, 2012

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.

For those familiar with...

February 15, 2012

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.

Our Rocket Blast carried the story...

February 1, 2012

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?

How much homework is good? If you've seen the documentary ...

August 2, 2011

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...

March 31, 2011

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...

March 14, 2011

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...

March 10, 2011

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)...

July 12, 2010

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.

Our kindergarten...

July 22, 2009

The elementary school my girls go to recently underwent a huge renovation to accommodate predicted growth in our area. In addition to the growth, about 100 kids are being redistricted to our school because the other local school is overcrowded. Our school will be opening with over 500 kids this fall, a much larger population than we've had in the past.

We'll have four or five...

June 30, 2009

I read with interest this story from the Washington Post that describes one family's experience with year round school.

As a Mom who juggles work and young kids, the transition to summer for my family is nothing short of absolutely chaotic. My house has become nothing...

June 24, 2009

Summertime always gives me a chance to reread some of the articles and reports that I can only skim through during busier times. This week, I revisited Teaching All Students to Read: Practices from Reading First Schools with Strong Intervention Outcomes from the Florida Center for Reading...

November 5, 2008

As I write this blog on Wednesday morning after our historic presidential election, I'm struck by an article I read on msnbc.com. Howard Fineman summarized what he saw as Obama's seven-prong approach to his campaign that served him well.

It was easy for me to see how well these same seven prongs could serve schools and...

October 7, 2008

Raising money is hard work, and our PTO's really feeling it. It's a combination of our fall fundraiser not doing as well as we hoped, and our considering postponing the spring fundraiser because of the financial pinch we all feel. It seems like every fundraiser goes back into the pocketbook of our school families. It might be time to take a break.

The money we raise as a PTO is used for...

August 20, 2008

My friend Kathy has a son with mild to moderate disabilities. Henry is going into third grade this year, and I just got an email from her:

"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So...

March 4, 2008

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger daughter.

A related (but...

January 30, 2007

A new report came out today, authored by reading expert Louisa Moats. In it, Moats takes a hard look at reading programs that market themselves as ones based on Scientifically Based Reading Research (SBRR). The report, "Whole Language High-Jinks," examines Reading...

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo