I remember it vividly. I was in 4th grade. My classmates and I were all huddled together watching the first woman astronaut and the first teacher go into space. The Challenger was all we had talked about all week as we just finished a unit on space where we had created a diorama of the solar system. I remember painting styrofoam balls for reach planet and how I had them connected with string and paper clips from the top of the box, while tenfoil covered the walls. More vividly though, I remember the Challenger exploding before our eyes, teachers crying, and a feeling of hopelessness wash over many that day. For days after I heard on the news about the faulty o-ring that had possibly caused the unfortunate accident and of the loss of these great heroes, including S. Christa McAuliffe, a teacher.
Over Spring Break my family got the opportunity to travel to Florida and visit the Kennedy Space Center, home to NASA. It was exciting to see the launch pads, the rovers that had been on Mars, the shuttle, and learn about the future endeavors and great things to come. So much innovation! So much more to explore. But I also got to see the memorial for the teacher lost long. I have to admit, I got teary. In Christa McAuliffe's memorial case it displayed her words, "I teach. I touch the future."
You see, at that time I wanted to be a teacher. Ever since I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a teacher, actually. I wanted to light the spark in a child's eye when learning would take place. I wanted to touch the future. Now almost, 20 years later in the field of education, I still want to touch the future.
Like space exploration, I feel like in education there is so much innovation! So much more to explore. Are we looking at all these possibilities and using what we know?
At that time Pluto was the 9th planet, which now we know from further exploration that Pluto really is a dwarf planet. At that time, I was reading from the same basal text book like all the other children even though we were at various reading levels and had various interests, which we know from further research that books that children choose and are at their just right level help them achieve and learn more. At that time, dioramas were being used as "projects" even though we know "projects" are quite different than "project based learning" which is way more effective.
One thing I loved about the whole experience at the Kennedy Space Center is that they kept learning and growing and every "voyage" they learned something new. I wonder if we do that in education enough. With every class of students, do we try some new research based practice, and then learn from it? Or do we do the same lesson over and over again throughout the years thinking that we are still being effective.
This is a worry I have as a leader in education. I have seen innovation where students are empowered in their learning, setting goals, keeping e-portfolios, recording/photos and documenting their own learning, working collaboratively in groups to bring about change and service in their community, assessing their own writing, publishing it with great audiences, using their math skills for real purpose projects like creating a coffee shop in a school... but then I have also seen the opposite. Children given little choice, doing worksheets and busy work, asked to recall information, reading in a basal, writing to a prompt with little choice and no audience...
My hope is that education begins to rely more and more on truly touching the future. Our future needs our belief. Our future needs our exploration. Our future needs our care most of all to take risks to ask these questions, to pursue their passions, to use their skills to make a difference in this world. Our children, our future, our the next great scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, artists, activists, and changemakers. Let's touch them. Let's touch them by learning from each voyage, supporting them at school and at home, so they can reach their full potential and truly reach for the stars!
Spring break is a time where you can really spend some quality time with your kiddos! Let's take advantage of this...
Spring break can be a huge vacation or just a time spent at home - a staycation, going on walks, having nice conversation, and doing crafts or reading together. Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to reconnect with your child during this time.
The older my children get, the more I realize how time truly flies and the gift of time. I am trying to be mindful of who I surround myself, the stress I allow, and how I take care of myself... and it is isn't just for myself, but for my children. Life is not easy. We have different stresses that pull us in different directions. Parenting alone is hard enough and then stress on top of that can sometimes really leave our buckets feeling empty.
Empty buckets aren't helpful to our children. Our children need us and even though I am looking forward to Spring break with my children, I also know I need to have a full bucket for them. I want this Spring break to be so memorable for my children but also for our family. My attitude going into it can determine this... are we going to have a great one, or am I going to let the stress of everything going on in my life, shadow the break?
Preparing for Spring Break is and going into mindful to enjoy our children whether we are in Disneyworld or just solving a puzzle at home together.
Here is a great article I found that also may help prepare us for this GIFT of time with our children.
Last week we celebrated reading here at Winans all week during our "I LOVE TO READ WEEK". We read lots of books, had guest readers in, celebrated at an assembly, had a parent education night, and more! What some may not know is the huge importance of writing in this connection to reading. Reading and writing truly go hand in hand. In fact, some children learn to read through writing! So, how does a parent support raising a writer?
For parents there is so much we can do from the beginning, in the area of writing.
Below are just a few ideas to grow a writer:
• Encourage writing at home. Have your child create a special “writing spot” with paper, staples, art supplies and writing folder.
• Celebrate writing! Hang it up, have them read it to others, take a picture and send it to family, give stories to family members as presents.
• When your child brings his writing home, respond first not to the score, but to the content of what your child is writing and ask him about the process.
• Use writing at home for real purposes: birthday cards, thank you notes, shopping lists, “to-do lists,” invitations and letters to family members.
• Model. Write in front of your child, share the purpose and importance.
• Read! Reading stories allows your child to hear the language of good writers and the joy of reading increases motivation for both reading and writing.
• Listen and tell stories! Immerse your child in conversation, storytelling and talk!
• Start a writing journal. Bring it on trips and adventures.
• Use proper terminology like author, illustrator, character, ending, caption and headline.
• Let children make decisions about what to read or write much of the time, whether to display it and let them take more ownership.
• Help in the classroom with publishing pieces and make sure you attend when those teachers invite you in for a “writing celebration”! (Zemelman, Daniels and Hyde, 2005)
Much of writing comes from the heart. Focus your comments on your child’s ideas rather than on their conventions or spelling first and foremost. When talking with your child about their hard work, always remember to bring a positive first. Give them a compliment! Then, focus on one skill or area where he/she needs help. There may be many things your child needs to work on, but please just focus on one at a time.
Remember we are always working to change the “writer” not the “writing.” Please don’t mark up your child’s paper. Please don’t correct him/her every word. We want to teach them skills that he/she will use and apply to the next piece of writing.
The most frustrating part as a teacher of writing is to have a frustrated writer! Help your child by making writing a fun experience. As a teacher, it is much easier to teach a child how to use finger spaces, proper punctuation, and look around the room to find a word to spell than to teach them to generate ideas.
Children don’t begin frustrated. Most start out as a ball of ideas eager to fill the paper. They have ideas and stories happening all the time in their little heads and we must help them as parents and teachers to write them down on paper so we can keep these moments, these thoughts forever!
Especially at the beginning, we must stop focusing on spelling and handwriting. Remember spelling and handwriting only really matter when they get in the way of the reader understanding the idea. Spelling will come as children begin to read and see more words. Help them to sound out and use words in their environment, but once again the ideas are where the real power comes from! A punctuation mark or wrong spelling of a word never changed the world, but ideas have!
As your child’s first and most important teacher, grow your writer by providing a rich writing environment, encouraging the ideas and stories your child tells and remembering writing is a process. For it was Ernest Hemingway who said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Happy growing and happy writing!
This week we are celebrating reading at Winans with our "I LOVE to READ WEEK". I myself can't help but think about all the amazing books that have taught me and changed me over the years. I would not be the same person I am without Charlotte's Web, Little Women, The Giving Tree, and so many more...
As a lifelong learner, I am also a veracious reader and can't imagine my life without books. That is why so much of my life has been dedicated to ending illiteracy. My work with non-profits in getting books to babies and books to children who live in socially economic disadvantage homes and have little access to books, building a library in Ecuador, building little free libraries, my doctoral research around using closed captioning on TV to help children read, developing summer reading programs... it is a passion of mine to end illiteracy. More than that, it is a goal of mine to create a world of readers, because when we can read our possibilities are limitless.
Why do we read?
This is a question I also asked my classroom full of students and a question I love to ask whenever I begin professional development with teachers, and now I ask you?
Why do you read?
Many people read to learn, to laugh, to calm, to escape, to take another perspective, to open their mind to new possibilities... there are so many reasons!
Sometimes we read just to share in the experience with ones we love most. Currently, our family is reading a "Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. Our family tries to read books together that are appropriate and soon to be motion pictures (which this one comes out this weekend). My son read it, my daughter read it, and now I am reading it and they can't wait for the movie. They also can't wait until I finish it so we can discuss and I love that.
The Appreciation by Anna Quindlen at the beginning of the book is just too good to not share and may also get you all thinking about reading this book before the movie comes out. I will put a few paragraphs here:
The most memorable books from our childhoods are those that make us feel less alone, convince us that our own foibles and quirks are both as individual as a fingerprint and as universal as an open hand. That's why I still have a Wrinkle in Time that was given to me when I was twelve years old. It long ago lost its dust jacket, the fabric binding is loose and water-stained, and the soft and loopy signature on its inside cover bears little resemblance to the way I sign my name today. The girl who first owned it has grown up and changed, but the book she loved, though battered, is still magical.
Anna Quindlen goes on to talk about how the main character Meg reminds her of herself and how by reading this story of strength and perseverance, she too believed she could be strong and persevere.
Books have this power! It is quite incredible.
I am grateful today for books. I am grateful today for this time with my children. I am so grateful today we can read together. I know it is just a "wrinkle in time" that I have left to share these moments with my children as they are growing so fast.
I hope you too, take the time to read fabulous books with your children while you can in this little "wrinkle in time" where we can be our children's first and most important teachers.
Happy "I LOVE TO READ WEEK"!
As a parent and an educator, my heart goes out to those in Parkland, Florida who are experiencing horrible pain. Unfortunately, this violence in our schools has happened in too many communities around our country. It is so sad and a stark reality, unfortunately. At Winans this year and across our district we have made great efforts to educate ourselves with an Active Shooter training as you probably saw in the recent Livingston Enterprise article. We also have created a safety committee that meets regularly to look at our emergency crisis protocols and rethinking all our safety procedures. We have practiced lock down drills, improved building safety, and will continue, too.
Research tells us that in order to learn, children need to feel like they are in a physically safe and emotionally safe environment. We do this here at Winans and welcome parent involvement. Many of you have come to talk to me and I thank you for your questions and ideas. The more we work together, the more we can do to help our children feel this physical and emotional safety which is so crucial. We even have one father who has recently volunteered to come be another loving adult at lunch and lunch recess from now on to add to this community. This is a perfect example of community working together to show support of our children. That parent asked, What can I do?
As a nation right now, I think we are asking what can we do? I am asking that. Our staff is asking that. I know many of you are asking that. It is a question we need to keep asking...
Today I challenged all our staff to reach out to five students they may not know, learn their names... be another person in their lives that notices them, cares for them, wants to listen to them. Our children need to feel that each and every day. It may not stop the next tragedy, but maybe it will.
Here are some resources below that also might help you in talking to your child.
The National Association of School Psychologists has published: “Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers,” which is a helpful resource to help talk about school-related tragedies with your child. Our schools have assistance available to students that may need additional emotional support through our school counselors, and other professional staff.
Talking To Children About Tragedies and Other News Events
Healthy Children.org https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Talking-To-Children-About-Tragedies-and-Other-News-Events.aspx
Talking to Kids
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers (PDF)
National Association of School Psychologists
"Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers" https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers
Disaster Distress Hotline - a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a tragedy. The Helpline will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Hoping for a lovely week ahead as Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday of all! Not because of the romantic or commercialism built up around it, but because of why it began and the reminder it gives us all. For me Valentine's Day is a reminder to all the love in the world and a time for self-reflection on all the ways I can give more love to others around me.
As a parent, I think at times we can become so busy in the everyday motions of life and even the stresses that take our minds and hearts away from what matters. We have so much going on and our little ones many times take the brunt of our lack of time, or in many cases lack of love... it sounds bad, but for children our time is really what they crave and shows them that we love them.
If you have ever read "The Five Love Languages for Children", you may discover that your child has a certain love language. The five love language are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. One of those five is the primary love language of your child. If you don’t speak that language, your child will not feel loved. This does not mean that you speak only the primary love language. No, you give heavy doses of their primary love language, then you sprinkle in the other four. To learn more you can read the book or check out the website below.
Here is a great start this week on how we can use words to tell our children we love them!
64 Positive Things to Say to KidsMay this list inspire you to turn to your child and say something like:
This list comes from this article: https://bouncebackparenting.com/64-encouraging-things-to-say-to-kids/
I invite you to learn more about your child's love language, even have a heart to heart with them and see if they know it. I just asked my kids and they can tell me. It is amazing how well they know themselves. And it is truly amazing once you know your child's love language, how you can grow your relationship with them. All of our children of course need our time, our touch, our service, our positive words, and a gift, but some need one more than the other. Thank you for taking the time to have this heart to heart and learn more about your child.
Today is the 100th Day of school here at Winans and has always been one of my favorite days for sure. Students are bringing in 100 items, counting by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's all the way to 100, reading stories around 100, and even sharing pictures of them where an app shows them all wrinkled and white haired at 100!
We have come far in just 100 days. It is an exciting time where students are working hard and making great progress.
This year I am thinking a lot about the hundred languages of children. You see for last November at this time I was able to be part of the first Inclusion Study Group in Reggio Emilia, Italy. If you've never heard of this town or the Reggio Emilia Approach to education, there is much online where you can learn more. Essentially, this is a town named Reggio Emilia that created a thinking around student centered approaches to learning. The approach has highly influenced progressive educators around the world. It was a chance of a lifetime that I got to visit this town and visit these schools that believed in inclusion practices and the hundred languages of children. I personally grew so much learning about these innovative progressive ideas that are child-centered. It stretched my mind and thinking, especially around early childhood and inclusion practices.
You can learn more here if you are interested : http://www.aneverydaystory.com/beginners-guide-to-reggio-emilia/main-principles/
So today and every day is about how we are growing to learn more how to meet our students in a student- centered approach. Are we doing that in education? Are we looking at where are students are now and where they need to go and how can we support this learning through provoking their natural curiosities and their interests? As parents? As educators? Are we doing all we can to reach the child? There is never just one way.
Here is a poem that I think you'll enjoy today and hopefully inspire you to find away, even with in our most challenging moments.
The Hundred Languages
No way. The hundred is there.
The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
Ways of listening
Of marveling, of loving
A hundred joys
For singing and understanding
A hundred worlds
A hundred worlds
A hundred worlds
The child has a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
But they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
Separate the head from the body.
They tell the child;
To think without hands
To do without head
To listen and not to speak
To understand without joy
To love and to marvel
Only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child;
To discover the world already there
And of the hundred
They steal ninety-nine.
The tell the child;
That work and play
Reality and fantasy
Science and imagination
Sky and earth
Reason and dream
That do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.
It was so great to see so many families turn out for Math Night last week. When we work together we can truly raise children who can and love to do math! If you were able to come, many of the games you played in the classroom had to do with building number sense and basic math facts. If you weren't able to come, know that your child has many games they play all the time in the classroom to increase their number sense. The reason for this is that in first and second grade this number sense (which includes knowing those basic math facts) will be so important as your child is met with more difficult math problems in school and in everyday life.
Many parents wonder about how to best help their child learn these basic math facts and help build a solid foundation of numbers sense (remember number Sense is the ability to recognize numbers, identify their relative values, and understand how to use them in a variety of ways, such as counting, measuring, or estimating) and what the typical development is… and what about flashcards? Research tells us that typically the developmental continuum for solving basic math problems and improving computational fluency moves from concrete to abstract, so from using fingers, to objects, to pictures, to symbols, and then to memorization. A child in first grade using their fingers can be still very developmentally appropriate, especially when he/she is already counting on from the larger number. By the end of second grade, students should be fluent in their facts to 20, which requires that students are typically not relying heavily on their fingers as tools.
A respected colleague of mine I used to teach with always said, “The most important thing that I stress is that for most kids, simply memorizing facts with flash cards is not going to help them really learn or understand the facts. Learning math strategies will help them the most!” Research based practices also support this statement.
Our teachers at Winans teach a variety of strategies to teach basic math facts rather than just relying on flash cards or time tests. Although these methods might be effective for practicing, maintaining knowledge, or improving computational fluency, they are not the most effective methods for a student to understanding math facts.
Below are some strategies for teaching mastery of basic facts. These are what many first and second grade teachers I know teach students and recommend to parents in order to help with this basic fact understanding.
Here are some strategies for teaching mastery of basic facts:
When you add zero you add nothing. Make sure this understanding is in place.
Adding one (counting up)
Adding one means saying the larger number, then jumping up one number, or counting up one number. This happens every time you add one. It never changes. Never recount the larger number, just say it and count up one. Examples: 6+1=say 6 then 7, 44+1=say 44 then 45.
Adding two: Count up two
Adding two means saying the larger number, then jumping up or counting up twice. Examples: 9+2=say 9 then 10 then 11, 45+2=say 45 then 46 then 47
You also have to teach or review the commutative property. The answer will be the same regardless of the order you add the two numbers. 9+2=2+9 Order doesn’t matter.
Adding 10 means jumping up 10 (think of a hundreds chart). The ones digit stays the same but the 10’s digit increases by one. Examples: 5+10=15, 10+7=17
For older students you can relate this to higher numbers: Example 23+10=33, 48+10=58
Adding 9 makes sense if students understand adding 10. It sounds more difficult than it actually is. Remind students of the jump of 10–5+10=15. A student would say (in their head) “5+10=15.” The five and 15 are naming the same number of ones. With the nines, a student must count down one in the ones. A student would say “5+9=14.” Work with lots of examples until the idea is understood:
5+10=15, 5+9=14, 7+10=17, 7+9=16
Adding 9’s another way
It should be pointed out to students that when adding nine, the ones digit in the sum is always one less than the number added to 9. For example 7+9=16, the 6 is one less than 7. Another example, 5+9=14.
This works exactly the same only a child must think 2 less. Using the examples above students would say; 5+10=15, so 5+8=13, 7+10=17 so 7+8= 15 (2 less)
To add double numbers there are a couple of strategies that might help students. When you add a double you are counting by that number once. For example: 4+4= think of 4, 8 counting by fours. Practice skip counting by each number in turn: 2-4, 3-6, 4-8 etc. This gets harder with the higher numbers but skip counting is an important skill for students to have.
Doubles occur everywhere in life. For example: an egg carton is 6+6, two hands are 5+5, 16 pack of crayons has 8+8, two weeks 7+7, legs on an insect (3 on each side) 3+3.
To use the near doubles strategy a student first has to master the doubles. Then, if the double is known, they use that and count up or down one to find the near double. Example: 4+4=8, 5+4=9 (count up one) Or: 4+4=8, so 4+3=7 (count down one)
Doubles plus two
This method works when the addends differ by two. When this occurs it is possible to subtract 1 from one addend and add one to the other addend. This results in a doubles fact that has already been memorized, 7+5 becomes 6+6.
Adding five has a strategy that is helpful but not completely effective as it is a bit tricky. You can decide if it is helpful or not. To add fives look for the five in both numbers to make a 10 then count on the extra digits. Examples: 5+7=(10+2)= 12, 5+8=5+5+3=13 Students who can see the five in 8 should have no difficulty. Students who can’t visualize numbers will find this hard. Most students can be taught to do this with some extra work.
Also, as a teacher and a parent I remind myself whenever a child in my class or even my own child is not catching on as quick as I hoped maybe I need to stop and think about this individual child and how that child learns best. Howard Gardner, a Harvard researcher, believes that there are eight intelligences – or ways kids learn best that include: musical, spatial, logical-mathematical, linguistic, bodily, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalist.
So, for instance maybe a math fact song would work if your child is musical. Does your child love the outdoors and is more of a naturalist? Go on a walk and collect sticks, use the math strategies with the rocks by the river. If he/she is artistic, get out the paint and have her create a number story and visually see the connection. Have him/her draw pictures and eventually move to symbols like tally marks, which are faster to draw and count. Is your child interpersonal and craves the social interaction with another? Play games and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive.
As you saw at our Math Night, there are many math games that teach the basic math facts, which require only a typical deck of cards or regular dice. Here are just a few ideas you could try:
Mental Math with Playing Cards (Number Sense)
Predetermine the “rule” of the game, such as “Add 5” or “Double it.” Prepare a deck of cards by removing all the face cards and jokers. Then have the child turn over one card at a time and apply the “rule” then give the answer.
Find Ten (STRAND: Number Sense-Addition: Finding Tens)
This is a math game similar to Concentration. In this game, children try to make a 10 by turning over combinations of cards that total 10. Variation: Use jokers or face cards as wild cards.
Other games include playing the card game War with two cards instead of one, Yahtzee, and rolling two dice adding them together. Board games such as Life, Monopoly, Trouble, Uno, or Candyland, as I mentioned during our raffle at Math Night, are always an effective tool to use to teach, maintain, reinforce, and most of all keep math learning fun!
Although research has failed to identify any difference between girls’ and boys’ math skills, studies have found that girls often receive less encouragement in math than boys. They also are affected more than boys when having female role models/teachers in their lives who display anxiety about math. So, if you have a daughter this time playing these games and encouragement may be even more important!
The fact that you are willing as a parent to reach out and learn strategies in order to help your child, boy or girl, master basic math facts may have more of an impact than you may know. Your eagerness and positive approach on math could ultimately alleviate years of anxiety and produce a child who loves math, enabling your child to enter and find success in fields of technology, science, engineering, and math in the future if your child so chooses. As your child’s first and most important teacher, with your continued support and encouragement in math, your child will go from counting on their fingers to counting endless opportunities.
I have only been here in Livingston, Montana at Winans Elementary a little over 5 months. It has been a transition for sure. I probably couldn't have chosen the most opposite place from Quito, Ecuador. I probably couldn't have chosen a more different position than being an administrator at an international school to Winans Elementary. But I did, and every day I wake up I choose it. The students at Winans deserve a principal who cares about them deeply and will do anything to make sure they succeed and most of all believes in them.
Over twenty years of education I have learned, researched, and taught beside incredible educators. I have been fortunate enough to have learned under amazing mentors and principals and superintendents. I have worked in public schools, private schools, international schools, and studied all over the world and my beliefs about education have evolved and each day I continue to grow and learn more. I will never ever know it all. In fact, the more I learn, the less I know.
What scares me most in education are those who choose not to learn. I think we owe it to our children to always be questioning everything we are doing always and using evidence based research based practices to improve. Change may be hard, but what is harder is staying and doing what isn't working or doing what has always been done.
Below I share my beliefs. It is vulnerable to put your beliefs out in the open, but it is important. If positive leadership is going to take place, others need to understand the beliefs that drive a leader. I hope by doing this, we can have a better understanding of where I am coming from, what I am about, why I care so much, and I why I won't settle for less than this.
I Believe...My Education Philosophy
By Dr. Joy Brooke
I believe all children can learn.
I believe children learn best in a nurturing, joyful, and safe environment.
I believe children will rise to high expectations when these expectations are clear, manageable, and personalized.
I believe children can and should set individual goals and work toward them.
I believe children should ask questions and never stop.
I believe children should love to learn.
I believe children should find curiosity in everything.
I believe children learn through play and play is the most important work.
I believe when children love school they learn more.
I believe when a child acts out it, is a cry for help and we must listen and find out the root of the cause.
I believe every child is unique, special, and gifted in their own way.
I believe children can always grow with the right support.
I believe all children’s differences should be valued and celebrated.
I believe the laughter of children is the sweetest sound in all the world.
I believe all child have the right to amazing learning opportunities.
I believe the relationship between the teacher and child is the most important factor that effects learning in the classroom.
I believe our most important job is to give children the skills and confidence to change the world for the better.
I believe all teachers can learn.
I believe teachers learn best in a nurturing, joyful, and safe environment.
I believe teachers will rise to high expectations when these expectations are clear, manageable, and personalized.
I believe teachers can and should set individual goals and work toward them.
I believe teachers should ask questions and never stop.
I believe teachers should love to learn.
I believe teachers should find curiosity in everything.
I believe teachers learn through play and play is the most important work.
I believe when teachers love school they learn more.
I believe when a teacher acts out, it is a cry for help and we must listen and find out the root of the cause.
I believe every teacher is unique, special, and gifted in their own way.
I believe teachers can always grow with the right support.
I believe all teachers’ differences should be valued and celebrated.
I believe the laughter of teachers is the second sweetest sound in all the world.
I believe all teachers have the right to amazing learning opportunities.
I believe the relationship between the teacher and child is the most important factor that effects learning inside the classroom.
I believe the relationship between the parent and the child is the most important factor that effects learning outside the classroom and the school community should do all they can to support this relationship to grow a positive community.
I believe it takes us all working together to make a difference in the lives of children everywhere.
How lucky we are to be part of our child's learning journey and as a parent be their first and most important teacher. Report cards come home on Thursday. This is your chance to look over it with them and talk to your child about their strengths and what he/she would like to work on at school. Maybe it is reading, writing, math, spelling, or on their social and emotional health. Help them set a goal and support them! We are halfway through the year and still, oh, so much to learn! We can do it!
For example, if your child wants to be a better reader, set aside 20 minutes or more each night where you read aloud to your child and/or where your child reads aloud to you! Do you have just right books at home –no? We can help. Tell us and we can get you books! We are working on an at home reading program here at Winans by partnering with our PTO and have been doing a book drive around the community to get more books to send home. This is actually the last week of the book drive at all the banks in town. Please if you have any books your child no longer wants at home, bring in books, so we can get them in the hands of our students here at Winans who don’t have books in their home! And please, if you need books in your home, we can help you right away due to the generosity in this community! Just let us know. Until then… more to come on the At Home Reading Program we are trying to begin!
Why books in the home? Research tells us over and over again that 20 minutes extra a day can transform a child’s reading life. Make sure the books are interesting and at a “just right” level where your child is only needing to use their strategies (sound it out and look at the letters, skip the word and come back to it, ask what makes sense, use the pictures for clues, etc.) a few times throughout the book. Instead of telling your child a word, remind them to use a reading strategy! Also, if they need to work on fluency (becoming faster) make sure they have access to books that are just a little bit easy, so they can read over and over again and build confidence. And always, you can help your child be a better reader by checking for understanding. Just by stopping and asking your child what is going on in the story you can see if your child is comprehending- the whole reason why we read! Sometimes we don’t need to even ask though… if your child is sharing interesting facts, laughing about what is in a book, crying because something is so sad… we know our child is understanding. Listen to them talk about their books as that is what readers do! When they begin to have strong opinions about books this is when we know as parents we have properly supported our readers along the way. For becoming a better reader isn’t just about saying the words correctly, it is about living a life where we have thoughts and ideas about books, authors, and ideas and new learning to share.
If your child wants to be a better writer, make sure he/she has access to paper, a journal, or just a spiral notebook. Students who spend more time writing, will become better writers! Emphasize ideas with your young writer! Research tells us again and again that conventions such as capitals, punctuations, etc. should be last as our focus, but ideas is where we want to spend the most time with our young writers. A punctuation mark or period never changed the world, but ideas have! A lazy day at home is a perfect time for your child to create books even if their first book starts as a picture with a few scribbles… this is beginning writing. Help them to expand the story over pages by first touching each page and telling about their story with their words (for storytelling is the foundation of all writing). Then help them to go back and try to put their ideas down on paper. Once again, don’t emphasize the conventions of writing- that can be done when the story is done… help their ideas flow and help them organize their ideas. And good writers, read! Ask most authors and they will tell you, it is through their own life events and other stories they have read that help them have ideas on what to write about.
If your child wants to be a better speller, number one thing you can do as a parent is make sure they are reading! There is so much research to support that the best spellers are the children who spend the most time reading. It makes sense as the brain sees a word 30 times and then often remembers it. Get books in your home! Give time to your child to read. Give them books that they are interested in. Let them choose where they read and you will see their spelling improve!
If your child wants to make a goal in math, it will depend what area of math. For many students in first and second grade a strong foundation in number sense is crucial. If he/she doesn’t have a strong foundation in number sense, then your child can often struggle in other areas of math. Number Sense is the ability to recognize numbers, identify their relative values, and understand how to use them in a variety of ways, such as counting, measuring, or estimating. Number sense includes number meanings, number relationships, number size, and the relative effect of operations on numbers. How do you help your child improve in number sense? There are so many ways. One easy way is just to constantly playing mental math games of adding or subtracting or missing numbers. Playing games is a great way too! At math night on Jan. 25th, I will share how games like Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Uno, Life, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Sorry, and even a simple card game like War can help your child work on number sense skills. Until then, here are some other ways!
Maybe your child is doing well academically, but wants to work on making new friends or regulating their emotions. As a parent this is a realm that can be hard to navigate because we often aren’t sure how our child is doing in this area unless we see them with these friends in our home environment and even then, school and home is so different. If you are wondering about this part of your child’s development, I encourage you to ask your child’s teacher about how they are doing. Ask your child’s teacher if your child is a good friend, how she’s getting along with others as a partner or in a small group situation, and if she/he ever gets emotional and can regulate by calming and taking breaks on their own or needs some support with this. As a parent, talking to your child about who they played with, who they were kind to today, who they helped out today, and how they were respectful, responsible, and ready puts the responsibility on them. How do you make friends as an adult? Do you give compliments, ask others questions about themselves, listen, smile, check in with them on something they shared with you days before…. These are all strategies we can teach our children as well!
I am sure there are so many areas which your child has improved in… celebrate! Maybe there is an area your child wants to grow in… encourage! As a parent we can have great influence over our child’s learning just by talking, listening, and encouraging their hard work. Remember if you are at all concerned about your child's learning journey, please contact your teacher to learn more. They are with your child all day and can give you great insight into their school day.
Thank you for all you continue to do for your child each and every day. We are halfway there, let's celebrate, set goals, and continue to support one another on this incredible journey we get to share with our child. First grade will never happen again. Second grade will never happen again for your child. Treasure it all and let's do all we can do support our wonderful children.