Calendar Check: 21st Century

21st Century ReadinessUntil Race To The Top came along, there was a growing consensus that we needed to turn the orientation of education away from the adults’ past and toward the students’ future. Most of these efforts went under the umbrella of “21st Century Skills.” It seems like Race To The Top has pushed 21st Century Readiness off to the side. Not true at all! In fact, 21st Century Readiness is codified in the NYS Teaching Standards.
Very plainly, highly effective teachers attend to 21st Century Skills and preparing students for their future. Just look at NYS Teaching Standards 3.5. The NYS Teaching Standards are things all teachers in the state should be doing and 21st Century Readiness is in there! In addition to being included in the Teaching Standards, preparing students for their future is the right thing to do! Continue reading

Guiding Principle #3 of the Responsive Classroom®

SocialClassroomResponsive Classroom is an approach to teaching and learning that builds joyful, respectful and challenging elementary classrooms.  The approach is founded on 7 Guiding Principles that drive our 10 teaching strategies:

  • Morning Meeting
  • Creating Rules with Students
  • Effective Teacher Language
  • Interactive Modeling
  • Logical Consequences
  • Guided Discovery Continue reading

Wait! You Mean We Can Use Paddles In the Classroom???

Girl-With-PaddleYes…whiteboard paddles that is!  Let’s recap our last couple of blogs.  Ok, so you’ve gotten that checking for understanding (CFU) thing down, right?  You’re calling on non-volunteers to get a better sense of whether or not students truly understand the material.  Your students may even perk up for a minute or two when they hear those popsicle sticks clanking in the metal can or they see you shuffling those name cards.  You call on a few students, hoping their responses represent the larger classroom’s understanding, and then you continue with your instruction as your students return to slumping in their seats.  Continue reading

Historical Thinking: Change ≠ Progress or the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

QuoteMy mother always had handy any number of aphorisms that she would lay on us kids as we were growing up.  Whatever the context, her repertoire of pithy pronouncements could be counted on to sum up the situation in a few words:

  • If you act as good as you look, you’ll be OK.”  Translation: “You look very nice, sweetheart.  Now behave yourself!  If you don’t, I’ll hear about it and it won’t be pretty.” Continue reading

The Costs of Childhood Obesity

State Comptroller DiNapoli released a report in October of 2012 on the soaring health care costs related to childhood obesity.  Since 1980 the rates of childhood obesity have nearly tripled in the United States, and 17% of youth under the age of 18 are obese in NY according to the NYS Department of Health (DOH).

Starting in 2007 schools were required by SED law to report body mass index (BMI ) of students in grades K, 2, 4, 7, and 10 to the DOH. The data collected by DOH, in counties other than NYC, showed that on average about 20% of students in grades 7 and 10 were obese and 36% were overweight or obese.  The report showed student weight status by county and listed Oneida as having the highest percent of overweight or obese students. Continue reading

Sheltered Instruction part 2: Building Background

SI artIf you have been reading the English Language Learners entries in this blog, you know that “sheltered instruction” is a framework for teachers, particularly non-ESL teachers, to improve both language and content learning of their ELLs. The second of eight components of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is “Building Background”. Many teachers know the importance of activating prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson or unit, and use strategies such as KWL, picture walks, or anticipation guides to prime students brain to more effectively accommodate new learning. This process is more challenging with ELLs, many of whom do not share the linguistic, cultural, or educational background of their native English speaking peers. Continue reading

Fact or Fiction? Nonfiction Squeezes Out Literature in the ELA Classroom

BooksIs the recent debate in the media over whether literature is being squeezed out for nonfiction demands in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts (ELA) really a controversy or just misinterpretation of the CCSS? Literature vs. Nonfiction Edweek Blog

Recent criticism of the CCSS for ELA focuses on the piece of the standards that suggests an alignment with the 2009 reading framework of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  Continue reading

The Driving Question

QUESTIONThe Driving Question is our theme for January.  What is the Driving Question and how is the Driving Question similar to the Essential Question and the Guiding Question?

The Driving Question does just that…it drives the project, moves it forward when one is wondering, why am I doing this project?  Developing the Driving Question can be the most difficult part of preparing your project.  You want the Driving Question to be broad enough to encompass the entire project and a question that stimulates deep thinking, creativity and problem solving.  So it is very similar to the Essential Question. Continue reading

In the midst of plenty…

As we enter the New Year, so many of us are fortunate to be surrounded by adequate resources, support networks, and intact abilities enabling us to make healthy, beneficial decisions. But as educators we are all acutely aware of students and families who struggle to make ends meet, each day being a fight for survival.  Researchers document that families in situations of poverty have different experiences and outlooks than the “middle class” and that the brains of students coming from poverty are impacted and different.

Looking at two researchers that we in Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment have studied, they approach poverty and its impact on the educational achievement of students from different angles.  In our studies and work, we have noted that even though the researchers come from different disciplines and perspectives, the resulting implications and suggestions for educational practice lead to similar strategies. Continue reading

Leveled Literacy Intervention

FounPinnFountas and Pinnell are making resources for Leveled Literacy Intervention more accessible to teachers by allowing teachers to gain online access for each system. Go to, under Fountas and Pinnell, where you will find a tab labeled “New F & P Online Resources”. When you go under this tab, you will register under first time user. However, you will not have a product code for K-2 systems. So, you need fill out this form first. Once you have the product code, you will then be able to register for online access to all the lesson resources K-2. Continue reading