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Social & emotional

Include at Recess

Have you ever felt like recess is the hardest part of the day to support? Me too! Check out my latest vlog post to learn options for inclusion on the blacktop and beyond.

These ideas are from my book, Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?

Schedules and timers and lists … oh my!

What if I told you it was possible to make some (if not most) of your students feel more comfortable by just adopting a few EASY strategies each day, week, and month? What if I told you these strategies would not cost a thing and would also help you — as the teacher get a bit more organized? What if I told you these strategies could also help students learn new skills? Are you intrigued? If so, tune in to the latest episode of “Off the Page.” Be sure to share this one widely — these simple ideas can make or break a successful learning experience for some students.

Early Learning

Our world continues to grow increasingly complex. We all want our children to succeed, but what exactly does that mean? 

Is it introducing academics earlier and earlier? How do we assure a child’s healthy social/emotional growth? Can we help young children live with others who have different backgrounds than their own? Might this imply that children have the ability to put themselves in another’s position? 

Graphic Novel Conversion

Welcome Colleen Dykema to Book Life! Colleen is an award-winning ESL teacher and reading specialist with Arlington Public Schools. Her teaching career began in 1972, and since 2000 she’s worked with English language learners at Swanson Middle School. A great believer that “reading is our personal reward — our private space to grow and explore,” Colleen had an “aha” moment this school year about reading graphic novels.

Who Needs a Cape When You Have an Apron?

Welcome Jarrett J. Krosoczka to Book Life! New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, whose more than 30 published works include fabulous picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels, is also the creator of School Lunch Hero Day.

Same but different

A Washington Post columnist recently lamented the impact of the current polarized political climate in the United States. She said it was “contaminating” our children; that its impact was visible in various interactions.

Leadership and the Power of School Relationships

In the last few weeks I've visited five schools in four states. Each of them educates large numbers of students from low-income homes and students of color, and each is either high-performing or on an impressive improvement trajectory.

The schools are different in lots of ways, but one thing characterizes them all: Teachers, principals, and other administrators work hard at building trusting relationships that help create a sense of agency and purpose.

Here are three examples of what I mean:

"Falling Letters" Animated Short Depicts Learning Differences

The Swedish animated short, "Falling Letters (Bokstavsbarn)," (4:14 min) by Erik Rosenlund depicts a child who learns differently. In this case, some of the character's everyday actions turn out awkwardly or set them apart socially from peers.

The ending offers a heartwarming reminder of the power that parents, guardians, and teachers or helping personnel can have when simple support is needed for reassurance in trying times. The imagery can be especially valuable for young children who compare themselves with others and are saddened by their personal differences.

Response to the Joyful Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

Reader Question:

The Atlantic just published an article about the mistake American educators make by teaching reading in kindergarten. Shouldn’t we do what the Finns do: let kids learn to read when they want to and end up with high achievement?

Shanahan Response:

Decoding Dyslexia Utah Spells Out 15 Things Never to Say to Parent of a Child with Dyslexia

As school opens and teacher-parent conversations begin again, members of Decoding Dyslexia Utah offer advice on what they hope not to hear from educators or others.

DD Utah is part of a national grassroots organization that is working to stem what members describe as "limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities within our public schools."

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln