Monday, February 27, 2017

Top 5 Habits of Successful Students

5 Habits of SUPER Successful Students | What Traits do Effective Student Demonstrate?

1. Successful Students Communicate by Actively Listening, Asking Questions, and Seeking to Understand! Developing your (Voice) language skills, Oracy is the first habit that students must polish and practice! Oracy is the ability to express, thoughts, ideas, and questions fluently and grammatically in oral speech.

2. 
Successful Students reflect on strengths and weakness, they practice academic skills daily and work to improve ability by taking academic risks! Developing your FULL Potential is about doing your best and acknowledging your weakness! 

3. 
Successful Students Dream Big! Developing your passions for learning, academic challenges, and embrace growth through struggle, risk, and failure!

4.  
Successful Students are provocative, organized, responsible and set SMART academic goals! Self-improvement starts with a plan, seeking what helps you get "with-it" and on the right path is ongoing and ever changing. 

5. 
Successful Students develop positive friendships! They surround themselves with positive people! Discovering who your Real Friends are takes building your own character! Cooperate, share, be grateful, and enjoy your educational journey. 

Over the years, we have seen many reforms and changes within
education, but the skills that an individual student requires have very much remained the same. Whether a public school in the US, a college in the UK, or an educational facility in Australia, we believe that there are five critical skills required by students in order to see success in their education. Whether they need to learn it themselves trial and error or they can be taught it by the adults around them including teachers, these are five things that will allow each student to succeed.

  • Discovering & Developing your Voice 
Self-Advocacy (Discovering Their Voice) - Essentially, self-advocacy in an academic setting is the ability of the student to speak up for themselves and their needs to further their learning and understanding. Most students will struggle at one point in their academic careers; students need to develop their own compensatory learning skills, it starts with quality questioning to deepen understanding, thinking strategies to develop background knowledge, self-assessing techniques to gauge strengths and weakness, and the ability to learn new skills to meet more complex requirements. Often, there is a common misconception that self-advocacy relates to knowing one’s rights! Self-awareness of strengths and weakness of one’s own character and personality as it relates to academics is critical part for self-advocacy and academic success. However, for self-advocacy to work effectively a student must acknowledge and know their responsibilities first and foremost, their self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses helps define academic needs, because this awareness is as important for the communication of what is really needed as well as knowing how to succeed. 


"I speak not for myself but for those without voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated." Malala Yousafzai


“Self-Advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination.” http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/self.advocacy.htm

Ultimately, there are a few different elements that make up the whole notion of self-advocacy and discovering one’s voice;

• Firstly, the student must understand their needs and this mostly comes from self-awareness

• Then, the child must know what support is required for these needs to be addressed; for example, it might be accommodation within the classroom or extra tutoring

• Finally, the child then must communicate their needs to others

As an example, let’s say that a student has dysgraphia where they struggle with the written word. If the student has a geography class where there is an abundance of note-taking, they will get left behind if they doesn’t follow the three steps above and ask for help. In action, the student must first understand their needs in that they won’t be able to keep up and take sufficient notes. From here, they must realize that the only solution is to ask for help. Therefore, they explain to the teacher that they have trouble writing and need to use voice recognition software. If the teacher agrees, the needs have been addressed successfully. If the teacher rejects this option, the student must understand that they can talk to others about the problem.



"When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." Malala Yousafzai


How Does it Help? - When students discover their voice, it allows solutions to be found for potential issues. As soon as a student recognizes how they can excel in school, they are more likely to speak up for their needs and get the grades that they want. Often, it is the parent that asks for the solution like the voice recognition software we saw above but there are additional benefits if students are taught to find their own voice. For example, they will build confidence to then resolve challenges the parents don’t know exist. Furthermore, the student is allowed to independently take control of their own learning and this leads to self-empowerment.

In the long-term, these benefits could be huge because it means that the student isn't relying on anyone when it comes to their education. Instead, they are driving their own train as opposed to riding on someone else’s whilst questioning wherever possible to clarify or deepen understanding. Over time, this self-advocacy will get stronger and it will provide benefits outside of education. Even after the student has completed their education, they will be able to speak their mind and resolve issues in the workplace. 


"My motto in life is 'Take risks;' you don't have a voice if you don't. You have to venture outside your boundaries. That's what life's all about." Kelly Wearstler


For parents and teachers alike, this is a skill that can be taught and it starts with simple conversations so the student knows their strengths, weaknesses, and that asking for help is perfectly fine and required for success. When students do speak up, they should then be praised and commended. Special education students and struggling students need to be adding self-advocacy goals to IEPs, 504 plans, SST’s, parent’s school communications, and progress reports. When students have active role models in place, they are more likely to achieve this highly effective skill for success. 

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." Confucius

  • Discovering & Developing your Potential 
Study and Learning (Discovering Their Potential/Power) - For the second skill we have for you today, we are going to be discussing the importance of teaching students the skills and language of learning. With this in mind, we want to help students to find their course in life and the relevance of learning. Once students understand the importance of learning, they will be in a position to learn for the rest of their lives which includes the workplace. Essentially, we want students to understand the relevance because this will help them to find their course. 

"I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don't know anything about." Joel Osteen

Nowadays, students seem to have the “I’M Done Mindset", they want to be done as fast as possible with academic tasks, not concerned with learning new information or truly understanding it. The other common learning approach, “Is It Good? Is It Good???” Mindset, which isn't necessarily effective learning either so much as looking for constant approval. If students remember parts of certain concepts without learning deeply, this knowledge cannot be applied anywhere else in life and this is where part of the problem lies. As a very basic example, a student might learn that ‘4/2 = 2’ but if they don’t understand the theory behind it, they won’t be able to work out ‘8/4’ or ’16/8’ because their main focus is on remembering rather than learning. 

"Playing it safe and taking no risks is a shortcut to poverty."
Jordan Belfort

For students these days, there seems to be a phrase that is uttered all around the world - ‘yes, but how am I going to use this later in life?’ and this comes back down to the idea of relevance. In truth, relevance is a rather difficult notion and very few educational books or studies mention it. However, we define the term as something worth knowing whilst also providing interest. Whenever relevance is provided by the teacher, the student can perceive these two factors. As soon as the student finds relevance in a subject in education, they are more willing to engage with the teacher as well as all the other students and this is where they can find their course. As well as engagement, their motivation should also increase somewhat which will lead to more success rather than sitting at the back of the classroom not knowing how algebra can help them in life. 

"What you learn at university is a good discipline but has little relevance to a real job." Chris Liddell

In terms of applying this to students, there are two main ways that this can be achieved - utility value and relatedness. With utility value, it is all about piquing the interest of the student before providing the relevance. By telling a student that an activity will help them with their long-term goals, they will show an interest and then it can be explained. With this in mind, it very much answers the ‘what will I use it for?’ question. Rather that just being interesting to them, this will allow teachers to show students that the knowledge is also worth knowing for their futures.

For relatedness, it looks to answer the question of ‘why does this apply to me?’. All things considered, this can actually be achieved by the teacher. If the student values the teachers and values the content that the teacher is providing, the student will realize that it will also be important for them. When students see the effort it takes to provide relevance, they are more likely to pay attention and find their course.

  • Discovering & Developing your Path

Time Management and Organization (Discovering Their Path) - When you consider life, it can be tough and children realize this at a very early age. As children reach their teens and even into early adulthood, they start to realize that life is stressful. When this happens, they tend to sit back and take whatever life throws at them. For example, work experience and similar work programs are something that younger students must do because it gives them an introduction into the working world. Instead of finding somewhere they would like to work, they tend to sit back and take what’s given to them. However, they often aren't happy with where they will be working for a couple of weeks and they complain about how unfair the whole process is. Within education, students often complain about how ‘unfair’ life is but all of this can be prevented with one change - becoming proactive.

When students are proactive with their learning and with their life, they don’t have to suffer experiences and jobs that they don’t wan’t to suffer. Instead, they can go out there, get the qualifications they need, get a job in the right industry, and eventually finish in their dream job; this cannot happen if they sit back and watch the world pass them by and this is where teachers can help. As soon as students learn the value of being proactive, they realize that they are in control of their lives and they can be helped to find their passion.

For the teachers, this can be achieved by encouraging proactive behavior - especially through adversity. For example, a new student might feel as though they have no friends and they could be asked to write down a list of solutions. No matter how big or small, they can write down a list of things that they could do to resolve the situation. Over time, the student can do these things and see if they work; it doesn’t matter how old the student is, this is something that can be done. Whenever they perform one of these tasks, they can then be encouraged for taking a proactive approach. Although we have used making friends as an example, this could be absolutely anything. For older students, they could be encouraged to email the company of their dreams for an interview, to start attending revision sessions so they achieve a better grade, to talk to their teachers about where they could improve and reach a higher grade.

When students do not take this approach, they can never find their passion which means that they end up in a job they don’t enjoy and all because they aren't proactive. If this approach is achieved, they will be proactive in their search for better grades and this will be a fantastic mindset to have later in life. In education, there should be a focus on what teachers can do to give each student the right mindset to achieve in life and we have seen this with the three skills we have discussed so far. With these three skills, every student should be able to find their voice, course, and now passion - this will put them well on their way to success but we have two more to show you.

  • Discovering & Developing your Passions 
Persistence and Resiliency (Discovering Their Passion) - Next up, we want students to find their interest, passions, and strengths in life and this leads on from the previous point. As we said, students sometimes end up in jobs or careers that they don’t enjoy and this is because they never find their passion or interest. As soon as they do find these three skills, they have a much greater chance of finding not only success but also real enjoyment.


When we use the word ‘intrinsic’ with motivation, this means that a student might have a fascination with a particular topic as well as the relevance of the topic on the world. When they master this topic, they feel a great sense of accomplishment and there is always a slight sense of calling to it which keeps them returning time after time. Essentially, this is what we are discussing with helping students to find their interest. For example, an intrinsically motivated student might say that literature interests them or that they feel good when they excel in math.

Above all else, we should be looking to encourage this with all students because it lasts a long time and happens to be self-sustaining. When this level of motivation is built, it lays the foundations for success because it makes learning a lot easier than it ever has been for that student. When students are forced to choose subjects they have no interest in, the motivation is lost, they feel no pull towards the subject, and the thirst for knowledge doesn’t exist. Why? Because it simply isn't an interest for them and we are pulling them in the opposite direction to where they want to go. In fact, this could be seen as extrinsic motivation which means that the drive is only there to see a reward at the end or to avoid a punishment as opposed to fulfilling their desires.

If we can get every student in the country to engage in an activity because it is rewarding for them, we would see more success and we would have a country of happy students and future employees. Of course, we can do this in the classroom by listening, encouraging, and using lessons that are completely free from grades. When there is no reward in terms of a letter from A-G, the only thing that is important for the student is enjoyment and intrinsic motivation is required for them to keep turning up to class. Unfortunately, we are only just starting to realize that we are all unique individuals that have different interests and passions in life. For many years, people have been forced to go down routes that they didn't enjoy but this is no longer the case.

Now, we have students that have found their voice, course, passion, and interest. However, this implies that they are alone on their journey through life which is why we have the final step of teaching synergy.

  • Developing & Discovering your Real Friends
Positive Interdependence (Developing Real Friends: Companions/Colleagues) - When we use the word ‘synergy’, it means that the sum of the smaller parts will never be as great as the whole. If we break this down, it means that we can't get to the top of any challenge alone. We may contribute in a large or small way to school success but the real goal is share the journey and strengthen  yourself and others. However, this contribution becomes magnified if we all work together with others on an unselfish goal. Within synergy itself, there are various different factors that become important such as valuing differences, respecting them, building on strengths, and compensating for weaknesses. Ultimately, synergy is utilized through the process of creative cooperation.

‘Synergistic communication’ is a term that is often used within discussions such as these and it requires the mind and heart to open up to new possibilities. When a group of individuals come together, it takes time to transform these individuals into a team - one unit. However, when the group does bond, it often leads to a close-knit community where the respect that each member has for each other generally allows issues to be overseen and understood. Whenever there is trust in a group of people, this leads to communication and cooperation. Whether the unit wins or loses, they remain together through it all and this is important in the classroom. Towards the end of the education system, you will find that teenagers, who have spent the majority of their lives growing up together, have deep respect for even those who they didn't become close friends with.

Within the classroom, achieving synergy can be tough because there is a fine line that it shares with chaos. At times, synergy can be inches away before madness ensues and it looks as though the class takes a step backwards. For there to be synergy in education, the right chemistry is needed and this needs to be complemented by the right amount of emotional maturity.

Once students know the value of being in a team, they realize that they don’t have to face the world alone and this is important moving forward. Often, groups of students remain friends long into their adulthood and this is because they gain strength from the group as well as overlooking weaknesses, understanding one another, and using them as inspiration for creative ideas. Considering we already know that these students have found their voice, because this was the first skill we saw, they can thrive in a group as opposed to being drowned out by the other voices.

For the teacher, there should be an encouragement for working together in groups and activities that require teamwork. If you walk into a classroom on the first day of the school year where the students don’t know one another, it can be awkward as nobody really wants to take the baton of conversation. As soon as you get some group tasks on the go, the class learns to trust and work together for the greater good. As we saw earlier, they will soon realize that their results will be better if they learn to work together and this can be carried forward into later life. In the office or whatever job they pursue, they will know that teamwork is often the greatest contributing factor to success and they will use this knowledge.

Summary - There we have it, the five critical skills needed for students to see success. As long as they find their voice, course, passion, interest, and companions, there is no reason why they cannot succeed. As we said a little earlier, the education system should be about preparing students for what might come in the future and these five skills are a great way to do this. Once they learn these skills, they have everything they need to be successful in life not just in their educational career.

As we so often see, teachers are essential to this because they have the ability to lay the groundwork for the skills. In their position as teachers, they have a powerful job and can ensure that these skills are learned at the right times. If a whole classroom can move forward as a group, be proactive in their approach, and find their interests and passions, that is a whole classroom of employees that will go into their desired fields and see success!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Developing Oracy with Daily Dialogue Practice!

Why teach Oracy? Oeacy is missing or under represented from most published ELA curriculum, it is a critical skill that at risk students must develop to thrive in any academic environment! Oracy is the ability to express oneself fluently and grammatically in academic situations. The ability to use rich language is an indicator for academic success. Oracy is the critical academic skill that is neglected in most academic ELA reading programs. Oracy is a key academic skill for students to engage completely with school curriculum.


Oracy in the Classroom: Strategies for Effective Talk | Edutopia
Teaching oracy means putting more intention behind how you guide and organize your students' talk. When they gather for group work or ...

Oracy: The Literacy of the Spoken Word | Edutopia
Teaching oracy is instrumental to better reading and, in particular, writing. In developmental terms, humans acquire oral language first -- a ...

Developing oracy skills | Class Teaching
 Some simple strategies that can be tried out to develop oracy skills: ... number of oracybased teaching ideas – developing dialogue toolkit.

Why teach oracy? | University of Cambridge
 Through our own research and that of others, we know there are some very effective ways ofteaching oracy skills, which are already used by ...

Oracy Assessment Toolkit : Faculty of Education
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to help young people develop their abilities to use spoken language effectively. Employers ...

Explainer: what is oracy and why should every child be taught it?
Through the work of School 21's teachers, our own research and that of others, we know there are some very effective ways of teaching oracy.

Developing oracy - Learning Wales
Developing oracy. Activity 3.6. In reading and writing, the learner's skills are influenced more by the teacher's skills as a teacher of reading and writing than by ...

Teaching Oracy: Using video to develop speaking skills in the classroom
This article looks at why teaching oracy is so important and examines how video can be used to develop speaking skills to great effect.

Oracy in English Teaching - jstor
Oracy in English Teaching. 1. The word "oracy" was coined in 1965 in connection with the work of a research team on speech in the Birmingham Uni-.

Developing Oracy - Developing literacy In ESL Learners
Learners who are subjected to multiple exposures of both teacher-centered and ... Literacy domino effect – Oracy develops listening, reading and writing skills

Oracy Formal Classroom Communication! 

Polite Formal Greetings

Student Greeting: “Good Morning, Sir/Ma’am/”Professor” or “Good afternoon, Sir/Ma’am.”

Teacher Greeting: “Good Morning, 
Young Scholars, Good Day Erudite Ladies and Gentleman” or “Good afternoon, Young Scholars, Erudite Ladies and Gentleman.”

Student-to-Student Greetings: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, may I share an Idea with you.”

Student-to-Student Greetings: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, may I ask you a question, Take a moment of your time, Could you give me a few minutes of your time?” 


“Greetings scholar Vanessa, It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Greetings scholar Vanessa, I am pleased to meet you.”

Polite Formal Academic Requests

Student Request: “Greetings Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Professor”/”Mr. Taylor, your Erudite Scholar Vanessa, request your time and assistance on an academic challenge ”

Teacher Reply to Request: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, how may I offer assistance on your academic challenge ”

Student response when complete: “Thank you, Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor for your time and assistance.”

Teacher response: “You are very welcome 
Vanessa, you are indeed a curious scholar!” 

“Scholar Vanessa, would you mind collecting the…., please?”

“Scholar Vanessa, would you mind coming in twenty minutes early tomorrow, before the class starts?

“Scholar Vanessa, I would be grateful if you could share more information about the …”

“Scholar Vanessa, we would be most grateful if you could ….”

“Dear Scholars, We need someone to go to the …”


Polite Formal Academic Dialogue

Teacher responses concerning student work: “Vanessa, to be sincere, this needs some improvements, your are brilliant when you devote yourself, and do your best.”

“Are you quite satisfied that this is your absolute best effort? I have concerns that this is rushed or not a comprehensive attempt!”

“I’m not very fond of rushed work and I know your are very capable of creating exceptional work.”

“I’d prefer if you try this problem again and show me all your thinking by trying to clarify why with to math models.”

“I’d prefer you use….”

“Does this work meet your high standards or expectations?”

Everyday Polite Request

Teacher: Scholar Vanessa, Would you ask …. whether he/she has the …, please?

Student: “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor, can you remind me when it is one o’clock so I do not miss…?

Student Lavatory Request: “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please go to the lavatory?”

Teacher: “Yes, you certainly may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please get a drink of water?”

Teacher: “Yes, you indeed may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please…. ?”

Teacher: “Yes, unquestionably you may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please take a mental break

Teacher: Yes, Pleases allow yourself to take a break from your concerns ... !Academic Oracy Dialogue Practice!

Polite Formal Greetings

Student Greeting: “Good Morning, Sir/Ma’am/”Professor” or “Good afternoon, Sir/Ma’am.”

Teacher Greeting: “Good Morning, Erudite Ladies and Gentleman” or “Good afternoon, Erudite Ladies and Gentleman.”

Student-to-Student Greetings: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, May I share an Idea with you.”

Student-to-Student Greetings: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, May I ask you a question, Take a moment of your time, Could you give me a few minutes of your time?”
“Greetings scholar Vanessa, It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Greetings scholar Vanessa, I am pleased to meet you.”


Polite Formal Academic Requests

Student Request: “Greetings Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Professor”/”Mr. Taylor, your Erudite Scholar Vanessa, request your time and assistance on an academic challenge ”

Teacher Reply to Request: “Greetings scholar Vanessa, how may I offer assistance on your academic challenge ”

Student response when complete: “Thank you, Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor for your time and assistance.”

Teacher response: “You are very welcome curious scholar Vanessa!”

“Scholar Vanessa, would you mind collecting the…., please?”

“Scholar Vanessa, would you mind coming in twenty minutes early tomorrow, before the class starts?

“Scholar Vanessa, I would be grateful if you could share more information about the …”

“Scholar Vanessa, we would be most grateful if you could ….”

“Dear Scholars, We need someone to go to the …”

Polite Formal Academic Dialogue

Teacher responses concerning student work: “Vanessa, to be sincere, this needs some improvements, your are brilliant when you devote yourself, and do your best.”

“Are you quite satisfied that this is your absolute best effort? I have concerns that this is rushed or not a comprehensive attempt!”

“I’m not very fond of rushed work and I know your are very capable of creating exceptional work.”

“I’d prefer if you try this problem again and show me all your thinking by trying to clarify why with to math models.”

“I’d prefer you use….”

“Does this work meet your high standards or expectations?”

Everyday Polite Request

Teacher: Scholar Vanessa, Would you ask …. whether he/she has the …, please?

Student: “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor, can you remind me when it is one o’clock so I do not miss…?

Student Lavatory Request: “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please go to the lavatory?”

Teacher: “Yes, you certainly may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please get a drink of water?”

Teacher: “Yes, you indeed may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please…. ?”

Teacher: “Yes, unquestionably you may”

Student “Excuse me Sir”/”Ma’am”/”Mr. Taylor May I please take a mental break

Teacher: Yes, Pleases allow yourself to take a break from your concerns ... !

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Closing the Word Gap - Using Brain Based Think-Alouds

Closing the Word Gap - Using Brain Based Think-Alouds

Back in the 1960s, educators, researchers, and psychologists all
noticed the difference in learning and the retention of knowledge for children of diverse Socioeconomic (SES) groups. During this time, there was an obvious correlation between those in poverty and the education levels being experienced. Over the years, we have seen numerous methods to try to combat this and offer all children an equal chance at success in life. So far little real impact! Students from low SES groups are not only at-risk living in poverty but their exposure to language and words is severely limited! Closing the enormous language and word gap is a critical factor when your intervention goals are helping all students thrive academically! 

Before any such comprehensive language intervention can be effected, there has to be a big change in our thinking, we spend too much time focusing on big data, SES data, and Standards based “TESTING” data. We love our mountains of fresh ineffective data, starting with RTI data, we identify special needs students with data, evaluating students IQ with data, placing students in ability groups using data, but this focus on data needs to be changed. Instead, educators need to look toward to the everyday academic language that the children are using and being exposed to - over time, the targeted growth of this language could then be formally assessed to make real changes to student outcomes in school.

Reading Boot Camp is a Teacher developed and initiated RTI program to help close this language gap in the poorest SES students with great successes!

After participating in reading interventions programs like Reading Recovery, the results of children from low SES families were being compared with the results of children from the highest SES families. Throughout the implementation of such programs like SFA, Scholastic Read 180, and Reading Recovery, all children that participate saw their vocabularies and language ability expanding rather quickly but there is a problem. Despite short term improvements on assessments, they were only temporary because the vocabulary and language would only expand after direct instruction. Much like the ‘teach a man to fish’ proverb, the children were simply being given the best fish and thrived while being instructed.

As mentioned, two pools of children were being assessed and researchers and educators soon noticed that the many of the low SES children’s growth was still much slower than that of the other groups. With such a disparity clear to see, it was then decided that research would investigate exactly when children are impacted most by language development and when the changes occur. If they could see when the development trajectories begun, they could work towards a solution.

Eventually the research discovered, that up to 98% of a child’s early vocabulary could also be found in their parent’s vocabulary so the child’s time at home was proving to be incredibly important. Interestingly, it wasn't just the vocabulary that children took from parents as it also included stature, activity levels, interaction styles, and more. By the age of three years, children had vastly different vocabularies, growth, and interaction styles. Over the years to come, these gaps would widen and the trajectories would point further away from each other.

After initial tests, one study in particular continued and followed just under 30 families. Just as the experts predicted, the vocabulary and data seen at age three went on to predict their future performance at school with accuracy. At the age of three years, the vocabulary growth became strongly associated with the child’s performance at the age of ten years. As these studies continued, they started to notice that it wasn't just a small gap between the two groups of children either. By the age of four, the children from working-class families had around 13 million more words of cumulative experience than those in welfare families.

Importance of this Data - Why is this so important? For so long, we have been concentrating on what happens in the high school years and in the build-up to adulthood, ignoring early childhood education that starts at home. Head start, private daycare and preschools, preschools in public schools and kindergarten should stop teaching kids as first graders i.e. test takers in training, and look at developing socialization, manners and oracy (oracy, the ability to express oneself fluently and grammatically in speech.). We do not value the youngest among us, they are seen as a low priority for public funding, why? Both sides have never put real effort into comprehensive early childhood education.

The language imperative, we don’t realize just how much of an impact the lack of exposure to rich language has and will have in the early years. By the age of three, the different academic trajectories of children vary greatly. By the age of six, eight, and ten, they are half-way through their journey and the differences are plain to see. With this, an intervention was needed but it wasn't just to fix the lack of word knowledge. Instead, it was to overhaul the entire approach to learning and using language and practice and experience with oracy. .

In terms of behavior, the preschooler years are essential because children have no other alternative but to follow in the footsteps of parents. As soon as they gain a sense of independence, they get opportunities to experience and diversify a little but a significant amount has already been decided at this point. For someone to equalize the early experience of children, it would require hours and hours of hard work. As we leave this task and keep putting it off, the workload grows and grows until it is too late to have an affect. For this reason, intervention is more important than ever before and we have a solution for you today. Brain Based Think Alouds!

Think-Alouds - When we read a passage of text, there are numerous things that we do subconsciously. With think-alouds, this has often been described as ‘eavesdropping on someone’s thinking’. Essentially, the teacher will read a passage of text as per normal but they will completely verbalize the things they’re doing at the same time. Therefore, all the students get to see how sentences are constructed and the meaning of each word. Whether it is with a whole class or in a one-to-one session, this is an incredibly effective method and one that is being adopted all around the world.

The Process - Before starting anything, model your thinking as you read. When you reach a piece of text that might be confusing for some students, whether it is the sentence construction or new vocabulary, make a point of assessing it so it is understood before moving on. After this, you can create a set of questions with the aim of supporting thinking aloud. For example; do I understand exactly what is happening within the text, what were the important points of reading, how does it fit with what I know already, what do I know, what can I learn about the topic, and is there anything I can do to understand better?

Within the classroom, teachers can then encourage students to use the technique so they can better understand exactly what it is they are learning. Wherever possible, feedback can be given. Instead of just learning text, the students get a real understanding of what is being said and why the writer has chosen certain techniques. As you read aloud, they will read along in their heads whilst you think aloud using the pre-determined questions.

Advantages - Now we understand exactly how it works, why should we be using it? Firstly, we should note that it enables students to monitor their thinking which improves not only their reading but also their comprehension and the retention of knowledge. Furthermore, students will learn to read ahead to clarify, re-read sentences, or look for the context clues necessary to understand a piece of text. Without doing this, they simply read the words as individuals rather than connecting them to understand their meaning.

Finally, it allows the reading process to slow right down to the point of understanding a piece of text. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, reading each word with pace doesn’t allow for full understanding. When students aren't aware of what they have just said, it means that they will never use these words in the future because they don’t know where to use them. Instead of just reading, thinking aloud gives students the tools to use these words in the future and therefore expand their vocabulary.

Examples - In truth, this technique could be used with all pieces of text whether it is fictional or non-fiction. With fiction, the students will be allowed to gain a better understanding of what is going on and this has all sorts of positive implications. For example, they will have a clearer picture in their minds because they see the scenery as clear as if it were a movie. Rather than guessing, they then understand the characters and the story and where it all leads.

For non-fiction, their understanding improves dramatically. Once again, they fully understand the topic whether it is the pyramids in Egypt or the rainforests in Brazil. Not only will they understand the topic when reading through with the class, they will have the vocabulary to explain it to others. If their parents ask what they learned at school, they will have the knowledge and correct language to discuss it with ease. Over time, these words become ingrained and can then be used for various other topics. More than anything, this gives the student freedom and more control over their language rather than being limited.

Life of Martin Luther King - For students of appropriate age, this is a great read with students because Martin himself was a lover of books and big words. Later, he would go on to rely on his vocabulary when inspiring a nation and bringing people to action. In this book, the students will get a picture for exactly how he uses these words. If you want to go deeper with the students, you can also explain how he used the power of language rather than turning to weapons.

Abe’s Honest Words - Next, we have a book that gives a general overview of the life of Lincoln. As well as using commanding images, this book also relies on the power of language and is bound to be a book that lasts in the memory. Nowadays, you will also find some great resources for further reading and comprehension.

Clementine’s Letter - Finally, we also suggest this illustrated book because of its humor, spontaneity, and likeable characters. Although the book is significantly different to the other two suggestions we have, it uses the power of language along with humor and this can be an important learning step for students. Once they learn how to combine language and humor, they will be better positioned for the future.

Differentiated Instruction - Sometimes, this technique may not be applicable to younger learners, those with a lower reading ability, or second language learners. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be forgotten altogether. For the younger learners, you could start with younger books and the basic principles of our language before then progressing as they age.

If you have children with a low ability or who have English as their second language, there are some things you can do and it starts with small groups or even one-to-one sessions. With nothing else to distract them and no way of hiding amongst the crowd, they can focus on their own learning and the teacher can control their progress. Also, the students could be asked to do their own think-alouds before then comparing notes with their friends. Whenever there is a task involving a comparison, the students normally enjoy it because it involves interaction with others and they get to learn from friends.

Conclusion - From the 1960s, many things have changed in the world but the difference seen in young students has not. In the early years of any life, the involvement of parents is critical and this will lead children onto different trajectories. However, teachers can impact this by utilizing exercises such as think-alouds. Rather than letting students read and not understand, they will have the tools to control their own learning. If this technique is used regularly, the students will be on a level playing field and their vocabulary growth rate will continually increase as they progress through education!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Daily Math Review Test Prep Grade 1-8 CCSS

Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Daily Math Review and CCSS Test
Prep Worksheets! Math skills are learned best when practiced in a spiraling distribution over time. Daily math review that is embedded with performance task that range from simple to advanced exposes students to ideas that need to reinforced and exposure to a variety of math tasks that must be mastered in the future. Use the daily math reviews to help advanced students or struggling students accelerate learning. 1000's of Math Grade Level Math Problems! 

Grade 1 Daily Math Review and Grade 1 Test Prep Review

Grade 2 Daily Math Review and Grade 2 Test Prep Review
Grade 3 Daily Math Review and Grade 3 Test Prep Review
Grade 4 Daily Math Review and Grade 4 Test Prep Review
Grade 5 Daily Math Review and Grade 5 Test Prep Review
Grade 6 Daily Math Review and Grade 6 Test Prep Review
Grade 7 Daily Math Review and Grade 7 Test Prep Review
Grade 8 Daily Math Review and Grade 8 Test Prep Review 

Daily Math Vocabulary Review! 

Kindergarten 
Kindergarten CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards Kindergarten

1st Grade

1st Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 1st Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 1st Grade M-Z
2nd Grade

2nd Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 2nd Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 2nd Grade M-Z
3rd Grade

3rd Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 3rd Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 3rd Grade M-Z
4th Grade

4th Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 4th Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 4th Grade M-Z
5th Grade

5th Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 5th Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 5th Grade M-Z

6th Grade

6th Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 6th Grade A-L
Vocabulary Cards 6th Grade M-Z
7th Grade

7th Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 7th Grade A thru M
Vocabulary Cards 7th Grade N thru Z
8th Grade

8th Grade CCSS Vocabulary Word List
Vocabulary Cards 8th Grade A thru L
Vocabulary Cards 8th Grade M thru Z
Secondary 1 Math

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Staar Test 2017 STAAR Math, Reading, and Writing

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and high school STAAR PDF printable practice test with answer keys

Grade 3 Staar PRACTICE Test 2017 GRADE 3

Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Grade 4 Staar Test 2017 GRADE 4

Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Grade 5 Staar Test 2017 GRADE 5
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Grade 6 Staar Test 2017 GRADE 6
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Grade 7 Staar Test 2017 GRADE 7

Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Writing: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Grade 8 Staar Test 2017 GRADE 8

Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Mathematics: 2016 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Reading: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Science: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Social Studies: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Social Studies: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

High School  Staar Test 2017
Algebra I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Algebra I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
English I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading |2013 Writing
English I: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading |2013 Writing
English II: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading |2013 Writing
English II: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 Reading |2013 Writing
Biology: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
Biology: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
U.S. History: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013
U.S. History: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013