Parent engagement

May 20, 2013

It drives me CrAzY each year when kids enter into third grade, and it becomes clear that we have to review previous content to get them up to speed. It is such a loss of valuable learning time! If I have to spend so much time reviewing content from the prior grade, for me it begs the question: "Do I have a different definition of mastery than other teachers?" If students have two months off,...

May 20, 2013

Memorial Day is coming up soon — marking the unofficial start of summer. Parents and teachers know how hard it can be for children to remain focused as the school year ends and summer starts.

Summers that don't include books and reading for children most often results in the "summer slide" — the loss of reading skills gained during the previous school year.

Barbara Heyns'...

May 9, 2013

A friend and colleague was telling me recently about a project that her son was working on and the power of a book they shared had on his thinking.

Each of the third grade students was to research one state; Rafe chose Alabama. I'm sure he identified the usual things about it like the state flower (camellia), its capital (thanks to the Rafe's scrutiny, I was reminded of the importance...

April 11, 2013

We're back from our big family trip to Germany, and it was everything we hoped it would be. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was how carefully Anna kept up with her travel journal. She's a writer at heart, so it feels very natural to her to capture her experiences on paper. She's been using the same travel journal for years, and it's really fun to look back at her first entries and...

March 1, 2013

March is a windy month that begins with a playful celebration of some things that may be considered peculiar: green eggs and ham; a green Grinch; oobleck; a socially concerned elephant; Sneetches — with and without stars; a turtle named Yertle; a hatted cat; truffala trees; and even a...

February 6, 2013

We recently wrapped up our 5-webinar series on Parent Engagement. We developed the series to support charter members of the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, a key community-based effort of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. We've archived the entire Parent...

January 10, 2013

As we begin a new year, let's hope it's memorable for all the right reasons unlike its predecessor. There are positive signs pointing to it.

We all remember superstorm Sandy. Images of destroyed homes, schools, businesses, and libraries will be long remembered — and most of us are on the outside looking in. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to try to find normality when you're...

December 18, 2012

How do you explain the unexplainable? It's impossible for adults to fathom what happened in a quiet Connecticut town, much less try to articulate to children why or how it could have happened.

I don't think there's anyone who hasn't been moved by the news. But beyond the debates around mental health issues or gun control laws, I've been stymied as to what can be done more tangibly...

October 10, 2012

Everyone has been there in real time or vicariously. It sometimes feels like its reached epidemic proportions. There are all kinds of reasons, none of them good. Each incident has numerous victims who come in all sizes and ages.

I'm talking about bullying, of course. And because bullying is so prevalent, October has been designated as National Bullying Prevention Month sponsored by...

August 31, 2012

I'm very excited about a new project I've been working on. It's a series of webinars focused on Parent Engagement, produced by Reading Rockets in partnership with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. You can read more about the series here. You can also see...

August 15, 2012

Happy back to school time for all you teachers, Moms and Dads! If you're reading my blog for the first time, welcome! I blog weekly-ish about all sorts of things related to reading, writing, parenting, teaching, volunteering, and more. This is a "no teacher bashing, no parent bashing" zone created with the recognition that we all find our own path in a way that works for us. Along the way I'll...

April 20, 2012

This week my 5th grade daughter came home with math homework that involved finding the surface area and volume of pentagonal prisms. She needed help with it, and it was really hard! It was hard because I hadn't worked problems like those for years, and even when I did, I'm not sure how easily I did it. We got through the homework okay (after a looooooong time and several Google searches) but...

March 28, 2012

All of us who have worked with young children have worked with kids who struggle. Many of us have worked directly with kids with learning disabilities (LD). PBS NewsHour is putting together a terrific series about kids with LD as part of the American Graduate project. I encourage you to read, watch and share! Among the...

March 16, 2012

Books entertain, educate, inform, engage, and more — more than we may realize. Readers meet others and see themselves in them. They may feel validated, see change, or may be changed by a book.

A recent piece by Katia Hetter exploring how children's books help families explore diversity...

March 14, 2012

I recently read a post about providing opportunities to connect families with their child's education that I really liked. Peggy Ashbrook's post Involving families in early childhood science education from the NSTA Blog provides several ideas and resources for...

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 ...

January 26, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week is typically the first week of May. But January can be long, cold, and drab with mid-year assessments and paperwork taking up too much time. This seems like a good opportunity to remind all teachers just how important and wonderful you are! Every day you stand before very special people, and every day you have the power to ignite a spark that will last a lifetime....

January 12, 2012

What do a red cape, a magic wand and a light sword represent? Each seems to be a sign of magic, heroics, something more than mere human, right?

What happens when the writers who hold these objects come together in one room? They become the superheroes and spokespeople to let the world know about the importance of reading.

These are the Super National Ambassadors for Young...

August 17, 2011

I recently had dinner with some teacher friends who are preparing for the new school year. The conversation turned to "New School Year Resolutions." With their permission, I thought I'd share three of the resolutions with you and also find out what sorts of teaching (or parenting) resolutions you're making at the start of this school year.

1. Choose read alouds from multiple...

May 2, 2011

A very happy teacher appreciation week to all educators! Teachers deserve far more than a week's celebration, but setting aside this designated week gives parents and PTOs an opportunity to pool resources and volunteers and recognize teachers for all they do.

At our elementary school, we do something every day this week (schedule...

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"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl