Hour of Code

An Hour of Code is a movement to introduce students to the basics of computer science.
A movement to introduce students to the basics of computer science.

I’ve heard about it. I’ve supported the teachers in my school to try it. Now… it’s time for me to sit down for an “Hour of Code”. OK friends, maybe longer than an hour!

The Hour of Code movement is a grassroots movement that has already introduced over 100 million students worldwide to the basics of computer science. The program was started to give every student an opportunity to try computer science for one hour. In an hour anybody can learn the basics of “code” by participating in computer science activities.  Computer science helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity.  All skills that are important to pursue a 21st century career path. Our elementary school first participated in an Hour of Code in 2015 during Computer Science Education Week (held in early December each year).

Today, Hour of Code activities are available year-round (tutorials and activities). The one-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages.  The tutorials are self-guided, and all materials are free of charge. Planning guides are easy to read and available for every age and experience-level, from kindergarten and up. Schools can enroll their class and enjoy the fun. The tutorials work on all devices and browsers and there are also unplugged activities for groups that can’t accommodate the tutorials!  Code.org is the ultimate resource if you are learning about an Hour of Code or you are already working on it with your kids.

Hour of Code: One Hour Later….

Well, it was longer than an hour but……I worked on an activity to code my characters to dance! See Dance Party. No experience necessary, easy to do and fun! Can’t wait to have my grandkids try it!

Thinking about giving it a try?  Computer Science Education Week 2019 will be held December 9-15. Be part of the largest learning event in history. Certainly, worth a look. However, it you can’t wait until December, try some of the links. Have fun!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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STEM/STEAM in Classrooms

 STEAM aims to spark an interest and life- long love of the arts and sciences in children starting at an early age
STEAM aims to spark an interest and life- long love of the arts and sciences in children starting at an early age

We all know the importance of marketing in selling things.  It’s all around us every day!  A great marketing campaign that has entered the school doors is the STEAM movement. Yes, it may be the catchy name but kids, parents and teachers now think STEAM is cool! Some of us have known all along about the cool factor of science but now the word is out. Now, we are all “living and loving” science. And, that’s OK!

What’s STEAM All About?

The rebranding of Science and Math is a result of the need to better prepare students for higher education. Students in the 21st century workforce need to have the skills and knowledge to be innovators.  The acronym was first introduced as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is now often referred to as STEAM with the inclusion of an A for Arts. STEAM lessons include the following:

  • Makes connections between standards, learning objectives and assessments.
  • Focuses on real world problems
  • An integrated approach to learning
  • Crosses all 5 disciplines (science, technology, engineering, arts, math)
  • Teaches kids how to ask questions, experiment and be creative.  

STEAM projects aim to spark an interest and life- long love of the arts and sciences in children starting at an early age. Lessons are designed to teach skills to be good learners, therefore, the skills can be translated into almost any career. Teaching kids to think critically and solve problems will help them to thrive in the 21st century. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: September 2019

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela

Nine months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 13 September  posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 9 down and 3 more to go! Have a great month!

September 2019 Archives

September’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite September Posts

See some posts coming next month
See some posts coming next month
  • The Grand Canyon for Kids
  • Hour of Code
  • 3 Writing Strategies to Use Evidence

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Activities for Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 yrs.)

Learning to read is not easy and takes time.  Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read.  With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have readers of all sizes and abilities.  

I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level.  The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills.  Therefore, each level is important for reading success.  Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level.  Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Preschool Reader activities. Last week we started with our series with Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 years).  This week we continue with Preschool Readers (2 – 5yrs). 

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

  • Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, ask your child questions
  • When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
  • Talk about print everywhere. Talk about written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words.
  • Ask your child to find a new word every time you go on an outing.
  • Watch My Lips – Encourage your child to watch your lips and mouth while you make certain sounds. Have your child think about how his/her own lips and tongue move. You can say something like, “Can you feel how your mouth moves the same way at the beginning of the words sun, snake, and sour? Watch my mouth while I say them.” Exaggerate the letter s when saying the words.
  • Play sound games— Give your child practice blending individual sounds into words. For example, ask “Do you know what the word is? m-o-p?” Say the sound each letter makes rather than the name of the letter. Hold each sound longer than you normally would. This will help your child recognize the different letter sounds.
  • Trace and say letters while saying the letter’s sound at the same time. Use a pan filled with rice, sugar or beans to involve touch, sight and speech.  
  • Play word games — Use a dry erase board to play word games with your child. First, write out a word like mat. Then change the initial sound. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes fat and then when it becomes sat. Next change the final sound, so the word changes from sat to sag to sap. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from sap to sip.
  • Punctuate your reading.?! -. Discuss how punctuation on a page represents ways of speaking. You can say, for example, “When we talk, we usually pause a little bit at the end of a sentence. The way we show this pause in writing is to use a period.”
  • Dig deeper into the story — Ask your child about the story you’ve just read together. Try questions that require your child to draw conclusions. Say something like, “Why do you think Clifford did that?” A child’s involvement in retelling a story or answering questions goes a long way toward developing his or her comprehension skills.
  • Tell family tales — Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.
  • Storytelling on the go — Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in the car. Either one of you could start. Start with a beginning middle and end and work up to a longer story. A fun activity that stretches the imagination!

Every minute counts in becoming a good reader. Why not set a goal to try to do at least one activity a day? Be prepared to have days when it doesn’t get done. It’s only a goal. Most of all, enjoy the special time with your child.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Very Early Readers (Birth – 2)

Very Early Readers
Birth to 2 yrs.

Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 yrs)

Learning to read is not easy and takes time.  Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read.  With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have very early readers to advanced readers.   

I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level.  The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills.  Therefore, each level is important for reading success.  Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level.  Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Very Early Reader list activities. This week we start with our very early readers.

Very Early Readers (Birth to 2 yrs.)

  • Read together every day. Uninterrupted 2 minutes of time is time well spent.
  • Keep a book or magazine with you all the time to read with your child.  Every minute counts. 
  • Re-read a favorite – Kids love to hear books again.  Repeated reading helps kids read more quickly and accurately.  It helps promote their reading confidence. Research shows that repeated reading builds language skills.
  • Read with fun in your voice. Why not use different voices for different characters. A little acting can go a long way!  
  • Let your child choose —Give your child the chance to pick his/her own books. Letting children choose their own books nurtures independence and their own interests.
  • Read it and Experience it — Help your child make the connection between what he/she reads in books and what happens in life. If you’re reading a book about animals, for example, relate it to last month’s trip to the zoo. 
  • Make books and reading into something special by taking your kids to the library, helping them get their own library card, reading with them, and buying them books as gifts.
  • Have a favorite place for books in your home, or even better, put books everywhere!
  • Talk about what you see and do together.
  • Talking about everyday activities helps your child’s background knowledge, which is crucial to listening and reading comprehension
  • You can play games that involve naming or pointing to objects.
  • Say silly tongue twisters—Sing sings and read rhyming books. These help kids become sensitive to the sounds in words.
  • When you read aloud, read with expression.

Coming Next Week:  Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Coming in 2 Weeks: School Age Readers and Writers (5 to 9 years)

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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FREE Teacher PD Using Overdrive

Overdrive is a database to access free books for adults and kids.
Overdrive is a database to access free books for adults and kids.

I’ve written a post about Overdrive as a database to access free books for adults and kids. However, I was not aware that they also have collections of books on different subjects. One of the listed subjects is Education. The collection includes books for both teachers, parents and students. Books are in both digital and audio files.

Using your library card you can borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks from your local library. Just use your library card for your one time registration and you’re ready to go. Books can be borrowed from 7 to 21 days.

Sample: Overdrive PD Teacher Books

  • Building A+ Better Teacher                       Green                             2015
  • How Children Succeed                              Tough                         2013
  • Mathematical Mindsets                              Boaler/Dweck                2015
  • Montessori From the Start                         Lillard and Jessen              2004
  • Secrets of the Teenage Brain                   Feinstein/Jensen            2013
  • Teach Like a Pirate                                     Burgess                          2012
  • The Coddling of the American Mind       Lukianoff/Haidt              2019
  • The Teacher Wars                                      Goldstein                       2015
  • The Wild Card                     King/King                       2018
  • What’s Math Got to Do with It                   Boaler                             2015
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Student Teacher Professional Lending Library

Student Teacher Professional Lending Library
Student Teacher Professional Lending Library

Over the years I’ve collected a collection of education books.  Take a look at the list below and let me know if there are any books that you may find helpful in your placements. I can bring them to your placement on our next observation.  Access to your very own professional lending library! 

  • Brainstorm                                                   Siegel                             2012
  • Bright From The Start Stamm 2008
  • Classroom Instruction That Works        Marzano & Pickering          2001
  • Classroom Management                  Evertson & Emmer     2000
  • Drive                                                             Pink                                 2009
  • Engaging Children with Print                  Justice & Sofka             2010
  • How Children Succeed Tough 2013
  • How Young Children Learn                       Ostroff                            2012
  • Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons               Oczkus                           2009
  • Mindset                                                         Dweck                            2006
  • Mosaic of Thought                            Keene & Zimmerman              1997
  • Multiple Intelligences- Reading/Writing    Armstrong                      2003
  • Nonfiction in Focus                                     Kristo & Bamford           2004
  • Picture Books to Teaching Writing            Culham & Coutu            2008
  • Power of Repeated Reading                     Bamwell & Doyle           2008
  • Reading with Meaning                                Miller                               2002
  • Texts and Lessons – 65 Mentor Texts      Daniels & Steineke          2013
  • The Differentiated Classroom (2nd Ed.)    Tomlinson                      2014
  • The Fluent Reader                                      Rasinski                         2003
  • Thirty Million Words                                    Suskind                          2013
  • What Works in Schools                              Marzano                             2003
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Historical Dates: Sept. & Oct. 2019

Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.
Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed  by their teachers historical knowledge!

Knowing historical dates provides opportunities for students to learn history and build their general knowledge. Take a look and impress your students!

September

Constitution Week (Sept. 17-23)

National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15)

Sept. 2 Labor Day

Sept. 8 International Literacy Day

Sept. 8 National Grandparent’s Day

Sept. 17 Citizenship Day/Constitution Day

Sept. 22 Ice Cream Cone Day 

Sept. 23 First Day of Autumn

Sept. 26         Johnny Appleseed Day 

October

Fire Prevention Week (October 9- October 15)
National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 – October 15)

Oct. 4 World Smile Day

Oct. 8 Yom Kippur (10/08-10/09)

Oct. 9 Fire Prevention Day

Oct. 9 National Bring Your Teddy Bear To School Day

Oct. 14 Columbus Day

Oct. 25 Make A Difference Day (10/25-10/26)

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Great Calendar Resource

ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: August 2019

Happy New School  Year!
Happy New School Year!

Eight months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 10 August posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 8 down and 4 more to go! Have a great month!

August’s 2019 Archives

August’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite August Posts

See some posts coming next month
See some posts coming next month
  • Guided Reading for Parents
  • Student Teachers: Ready to Go!
  • 8 Social Studies Tools to Strengthen Instruction

Transitions Are Important For Kids

Transitions Are Important For Kids
Transitions Are Important For Kids

I’ve reached an age that I realize I definitly need transition time to make a change.  Perhaps I have always needed transitions but I only NOW realize that I need them. Maybe, it’s because I see some upcoming life changes. Whatever the reason, transitions seem to make my life easier lately.  As a parent and teacher I know the importance of transitions to make life run smoothly. More than once I experienced my lack of planning causing disruptions.  Those tantrums and unhappy faces could very well have been avoided with some good transition strategies.

Strategies to promoted self-regulation are necessary for a calm home and classroom.  So, recently I dug into my toolkit of strategies to ward off grandchild disappointment and keep everyone smiling.  

Transitions Made Easy

  • Give Extra Time– Allow extra time to move to the next activity. Less rushing helps keep you remember the importance of transition.
  • Set the Clock – Give time warnings of how much longer until we have to leave. I’ve found that using the timer on my phone is a great visual for kids. Seeing the countdown helps them have ownership to plan their final activities. Also, allowing kids to start the timer ensures that they are indeed listening to you. Be sure to include a few extra minutes of buffer time.
  • Be An Accurate Timekeeper – Telling them 2 minutes more but giving them 10 minutes more, because they were quiet,  teaches kids that 2 minutes is REALLY long.  That is until the next time when you REALLY mean 2 minutes.  IF you are ok with an extended time, try giving them a “few minutes more”.  Only give them a specific time when YOU are ready.  This simple tip will help them learn to self regulate their activities. 
  • Look Ahead – Think of possible transition bumps to minimize  unplanned “great ideas”. IF you think they are going to ask for more time to play or a particular toy, prepare an answer before they ask. 
  • Share Next Steps – Share the next steps in your schedule and try to make it sound fun. 
  • Say It With Pictures – Especially for younger kids, show them a picture of the next steps. Draw your simple pictures on post its.  Kids will love to play with them and they can be reused in the future.
  • Give Choices – IF you have multiple things to do and the order can be varied, give them a choice of what they want to do first.  Best to keep their choices simple, maybe 2 or 3 choices.
  • Kids LIKE Schedules – They may say they don’t, but they do!  Let them know in advance any planned activities to help them become more aware.
  • Distract, Distract, Distract – Plan a list of things to do to distract BEFORE your child has an issue (e.g. a favorite toy, box of crayons). Sing, count, tell stories, whatever will keep their mind busy. You may also allow them to hold a special item.  As a K-2 principal, I often allowed new kindergarten students to hold my “very special book” or “wear my Principal necklace”.  Prior to the book or necklace idea, I had once used my keys to distract a nervous 5 year old. Two hours later, the kindergarten teacher was finally able to distract the child long enough to  unclench his fingers from around my keys.  It worked, but certainly, not my best idea.  A little planning would have been helpful!

Not 100% guaranteed ideas but certainly worth a try. 

Good Luck!

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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IEP Vocabulary Basics

Special Education  vocabulary will help understand the process.
Special Education vocabulary will help understand the process.

The world of special education can by scary for parents navigating the process for the first time.  The following list contains special education terms, definitions and acronyms that are commonly used by schools during the IEP process .

  • Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related series are provided free of charge so that every child has the appropriate education for his or her unique needs.  It’s entitled under IDEA.
  • Due Process: Refers to the process where parents may disagree with the program recommendations.  Notice must be given in writing within 30 days.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The law (2004) guarantees that all students with disabilities received a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  It makes it illegal for school district to refuse to educate a student based on his or her disability.
  • Parent Consent: Term used by IDEA that describes that a parent has been fully informed (in native language) of changes to their child’s IEP. This informed consent must be obtained before a district assesses, makes a major revision to a child’s program, continues or stops services for a child’s disability.  You will be asked to confirm that you understand and agree to the change in writing.
  • Early Intervention (EI): Services for developmentally delayed children from birth to their third birthdays. The programs are designed to help prevent problems as the child matures. It’s mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Students must be educated in a classroom setting that is close to the general education setting as possible (IDEA mandated).

The IEP Process

  • Assessment or Evaluation: Term used to describe the testing and diagnostic processes that identifies strengths, weaknesses and progress.  An assessment plan is written to describe the results along with the determination and types of special education services recommended for student success.  IDEA gives only 60 days to complete the evaluation from the time a parent gives permission.
  • Annual Review: A yearly meeting is held of all IEP team members to review progress towards goals and update services if needed.
  • Individualized Education Team:  A committee of parents, teachers, administrators and school personnel that provide services to the students.  The team will review assessment results and determine goals, objectives and program placement.

The IEP Document

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP): The written document that states the child’s goals, objectives and services of special education services.
  • Developmental and Social History: A developmental and social history is a common element of an assessment plan. The history is created by input from parents, teachers, pediatricians and service providers.  
  • Observational Records: Information about a child’s academic performance provided by anyone who works with a child. The records are part of the assessment plan.
  • Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): A written plan of the early intervention services a child (age 0-3 receives). The plan is developed based on family-based needs and reviewed periodically.
  • Triennial Review:  An IEP meeting that takes place every three years. Testing is updated and a discussion on the continuation of special education services.  The meeting is often combined with the annual review.
  • Observational Records: Information about a child’s academic performance provided by anyone who works with a child. The records are part of the assessment plan.
  • Assessments or Evaluations:  Tests designed to provide an overview of a child’s academic performance, basic cognitive functioning, and current strengths and weaknesses. May also contain hearing and vision test results.
  • Present Levels: Part of the IEP that defines a student’s strengths and weaknesses, current levels of academic achievement and current levels of academic functional performance.
  • Student Baseline: A starting point of student’s ability level that is used throughout the year to measure a student’s skills. 
  • Performance-Based Tests: An evaluation test that is used to determine eligibility for special education services.  Common evaluations can include Woodcock Johnson or the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT).

Services

  • Occupational Therapists: A professional that provides consultation and support to staff to improve a student’s educational performance in the areas of fine motor, gross motor and sensory integration development.
  • Speech-Language Pathologist (specialist): A professional who assesses possible delayed speech and language skills and provides direct services.
  • Physical Therapist: A professional who provides consultation and support staff on a student’s education performance related to gross motor development.  May provide direct services. 
  • School Psychologist: Provides consultation and support to families and staff.  Often involved in the student assessments.  May also be the chairperson of the IEP committee.

Great Special Ed Links

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  • IEP Questions and Answers

IEP Questions and Answers

Understanding the IEP in the Special Education Process
Understanding the IEP in the Special Education Process

When parents learn that their child has been found eligible for special education services, it’s only natural that they have many questions. The world of special education can be overwhelming for parents.  The IEP process, new vocabulary, timelines, rules and meetings are ALL unfamiliar and can make a parent feel useless in the process.  However, parents are a very important part of the process because YOU know your child the best.

Two areas to learn about in the special education process is vocabulary and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  In this post we will review the IEP and in the next post we’ll review special education vocabulary.   

  • What happens if my child is NOT eligible for services? If the group decides that your child is not eligible for special education services, you should receive this in writing along with an explanation of why your child has been found “not eligible”. You will also be given information on steps to take if you are not in agreement with the decision.
  • What do I do if my child is not eligible for special education services but still needs additional support? K-12 schools are required to provide additional supports to regular education students through a process called Response to Intervention.  See your child’s teacher and/or principal about services that may be offered to support your child’s success.
  • What is the next step if my child is eligible for special education? The next step is to write what is known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  After a child is found eligible, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop the IEP.
  • What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? An IEP is a written statement of the education program designed to meet a child’s needs.  It has two purposes: To state the services that the school district will provide for your child and to set reasonable goals for your child,
  • How do I prepare for the IEP meeting? Start by making a list of your child’s strength and weaknesses.  If your child is already receiving services, reach out and ask the specialists for their input.  Find out what services they think are necessary.  Keep a notebook jot down notes of things you would like to say at the meeting.  This notebook can be used for the notes you take at all your meetings.  
  • What happens during an IEP meeting? You will be part of a group of professionals that will discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses prepared to work with a group of people to develop the IEP.  Your child’s evaluation results will be discussed (if this is an evaluation year).  Strengths and weaknesses will be noted, and team members will make suggestions for program placement, goals and services needed. Don’t be shy about speaking up, even though there may be a lot of other people at the meeting. Share what you know about your child and what you wish others to know. (Good time to use your notebook). After everyone has shared their thoughts and concerns, the team will decide on the type of special education series your child needs.  This will include the type of setting, goals and randy related services that your child will need.
  • Will my child be re-evaluated? Yes. Under the IDEA, your child must be re-evaluated at least every three years. The purpose of this re-evaluation is to find out if your child continues to be a “child with a disability,” as defined within the law, along with your child’s educational needs. Although the law requires that children with disabilities be re-evaluated at least every three years, your child may be re-evaluated more often if you or your child’s teacher(s) request it.
  • Will I receive a copy of my child’s evaluation report and a determination about your child’s eligibility? Yes, you will get a copy of your child’s evaluation report prior to the CSE meeting.  You will also get a copy of the IEP after your CSE meeting either the day of the meeting or by mail.

Remember, as your child’s parent, YOU are an equal member of the process.  More importantly YOU have the final say in your child’s IEP.  Catch your breath, take notes and ask questions. You’ve got this! Next post is Special Education Vocabulary.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: July 2019

Teaching is the one profession that crates all other professions.  Unknown.  This quote honors all teachers!
This quote honors all teachers.

Seven months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 12 July posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 7 down and 5 more to go! Have a great month!

July’s 2019 Archives

July’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite July Posts

 See some posts coming next month
See some posts coming next month
  • Gifted Learner Resources
  • Understanding IEPs Starts with Vocabulary
  • 10 Answers To Understand Your Child’s IEP

RTI/MTSS: 3 Great Teaching Resources

A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS)  includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.
A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.

RTI/MTSS (Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support are an important part of intentional teaching.  This multi-level system integrates assessment and intervention to maximize student achievement. The four essential components of an MTSS/RTI framework are screening, progress monitoring, multi-level or multi-tier prevention system, and data-based decision making.  Each of these categories use multiple data sources to identify students at risk to provide focused instruction.

3 Great RTI/MTSS Resources

  • RTI Action Network: Great guidance resources to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI.  Their goal is to help educators have access to quality instruction and early identification resources.  
  • Intervention Central – One of the oldest and most extensive resources in the world of RTI.  Many tools and resources are easily accessible for both academic and behavior interventions in the classroom.
  • Center on Response to Intervention: Provides free resources to teachers, schools and districts to help struggling learners and implement Response to Intervention to attain learning standards.

Many schools maintain a yearly goal to continue to explore resources to help understand, implement, or refine their MTSS/RTI programs.  I hope you find the resources above helpful.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Behaviors and Future Academic Success

Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life
Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life

Did you know that the kindergartners that start school this September will be the high school graduating Class of 2032?  Yes, that’s right!  I bet many of you are already thinking about how old you will be that year. However, in 2032, will our schools have prepared them for their careers?  Truthfully, we do not even know what those jobs will be.  So, for now, let’s concentrate on the behaviors that will help them get to the Kindergarten Graduating Class of 2020.

Behaviors Discovered in Research:

report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of skills, knowledge, and school-readiness behaviors — some of which give them a big advantage. Through its Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS), which tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, the NCES aimed to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:

  • Pays attention well
  • Learns independently
  • Persist in completing tasks
  • Organizes belongings
  • Adapt easily to change
  • Shows eagerness to learn new things
  • Follow classroom rules

It is true that we don’t know the career path that our little ones will take, However, the above skills will not only help your child in their future career but in everyday life.  Enjoy the journey!

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DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

Top Reading Resources for Kids!

The best way for kids to become good readers is to read, read, read!  This post includes a variety of resources that will keep them engaged and provides hours of fun. The resources are both free and kid-friendly.  They include reading resources for all levels from beginners to advanced readers.

Great resources to get kids to read!
Great resources to get kids to read!

https://www.starfall.com/h/

Site includes a variety of resources for many areas.  Perfect for preschool, K-2 , special ed and English Language Development. A paid membership is needed for access to all resources but there are many FREE.

https://pbskids.org/

Quick fun activities and games to help them learn to read and write.

https://www.funbrain.com/

FREE educational games and online books for kids preschool through grade 8.  The interactive games develop skills in math, reading, and literacy.

http://teacher.scholastic.com/clifford1/

Clifford, The Big Red Dog: Interactive Storybooks!

http://funology.com/

Funology is the best place that kids can do alone or with their parents.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/

The Exploratorium isn’t just a museum. It has lots of online interactive activities.

http://www.thekidzpage.com/

Thekidzpage.com website for kids! Hundreds of free kids games, puzzles, activities, coloring pages, clip art & more for children, families, parents, teachers.  

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Comprehension Questions Help Early Readers

Asking questions helps strengthen a child’s reading comprehension.

Parents often wonder how to help their child with reading.  The comprehension question often comes up when they see their child reading the words but are not sure if they understand what they are reading. So, how can you help them when you are not a reading teacher. 

The important part is asking questions to start your child thinking about their reading. It’s totally fine to repeat the same or similar questions after each story. It helps your child learn to think about their reading; before they read, while they read and after they read.

Quick Comprehension Questions

  • Does anything in the story remind you of something that has happened to you?
  • What questions pops into your head about what you read?
  • There are some great pictures in the book. Can you tell me about one of them?
  • Can you summarize what you read?  What happened overall in the story?
  • What were the names of some of the characters?  Did you have a favorite character?  Why?
  • What do you think the title of the story (chapter) means?
  • Can you think of another title of the story?  Why would that be a good choice?
  • Do you think other kids would like this story?  Why?

Remember to balance your questions with fun.  After all, don’t we all just want to read without interruption sometimes? Think of it this way.  Every question is one more and better than none.  And every question or discussion is helpful.  Enjoy!

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections’ June 2019 Newsletter

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.  WB Yeats
It’s the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Did you light a child’s fire for learning?

Six months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All _____June posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 6 down and 6 more to go! Have a great month!

June’s 2019 Archives

June’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite June Posts:

See some posts coming next month
  • Performing Arts and Kids
  • Jokes for Kids Develops a Sense of Humor
  • Comprehension Questions Help Early Readers
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Summer Reading Can Be Easy

Summer reading is important for kids.
Summer Reading is Important for Kids

In most schools, at the end of each school year, your child completes a final reading assessment and the results are sent home to parents.  This information will tell you whether your child is reading at, above or below grade level expectations.  The letter or number tells you that your child can read at this level independently (without help from an adult). Once school begins again, your child’s teacher will be teaching skills at the next reading level.  Summer reading is important to strengthen your child’s reading ability. 

So, what can parents do to support their child’s reading growth over the long summer?  The summer reading goal for parents is to help their child NOT lose ground on their child’s reading level.  Research has consistently shown that readers, particularly struggling readers, lose ground over the summer.  The summer learning loss is particularly greater between students from low -socioeconomic and high-socioeconomic families.  A quick and easy way to maintain your child’s reading level is the ABC/123 strategy.

ABC/123 Every Day

The ABC/123 Strategy involves spending less than 5 minutes a day and ask your child 6 simple questions about what they read during their 10-minute reading each day. Using the acronym Ask, Build, Connect (ABC) parents have a quick, fun way to support your child’s reading growth.

2 Easy Steps

Ask your child 1,2, or 3 questions in each of the 3 categories (A, B, or C) listed below for a total of 6 questions daily. Feel free to ask all 6 questions in the same category, if your child is engaged in discussion.  However, it is important not to eliminate the categories since each category is important for kids to think about when reading.

  • Ask questions – Questioning is at the heart of comprehension.  Children benefit from questions that help them focus their reading and clarify more clearly what they are reading. Ask questions about details, plot, characters, opinions.   The main idea is to get them to remember or find details in their reading.
  • Build VocabularyVocabulary is key to reading comprehension.  As children learn to read more unfamiliar texts, they must learn the meaning of new words that are not part of their oral vocabulary. Ask them to tell you words they found that were new to them.  Talk about their meaning and other words that could have been used instead of the author’s choice.
  • Connect with the WorldHelping your child make connections with what they read helps them “think” about their reading.  Ask them questions on how the story interested them or how it was like another book they read. Encourage them to also think about how the book may connect to the world.  Older children will create many connections and will be more specific on details. 
Isn’t education All about reaching the kids?

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Creativity is Enrichment for Kids

Think CREATIVITY and enrichment this summer.
Think CREATIVITY and enrichment this summer.

Summer vacation is here and how do we encourage kids to keep learning?  The quickest and easiest way is to pick up some math or reading workbooks and assign pages for them to complete.  Although that may be tempting, finding some activities to get kids thinking and learning is  effective to strengthen kids creativity. 

Why Creative Activities?

Creative children believe the world is full of possibilities.  They look at obstacles as challenges to find another way to the end.  This type of thinking is a valuable learning experience. It makes kids confident active learners.

Here’s a list of 5 activities that can be easily adjusted and repeated to get you started. Be creative by making changes to fit your child’s age level, interests and your time schedule. 

Creativity at Home and Traveling

  • Stock a dress up box with clothes and costumes. (Scarves, hats, belts, material) Adding accessories that go with a career like magnifying glass, helmets, stethoscope also are great.  Don’t miss out on After-Halloween sales!
  • Pantry Shopping- Allow your kids to fill a grocery bags with items (remove breakables for little ones). They can pretend to be grocery shopping, having a meal or use them to build towers or mazes. Endless possibilities!
  • Build blanket forts.  After the fun of boiling it, why not give the structure a name?  A castle, a mall, grocery store, the ideas are endless. 
  • Start simple drawings together that you can finish or color. Allow your child to start drawings for you. 
  • In a restaurant, play with small items from your purse or table items.  Items such as sugar, salt packets, straws, paper clips and coins can help to keep kids occupied while waiting for your order.  
  • Plan activities during your car ride on a schedule.  At mile markers or time, take a new activity out of your travel bag.  Include items like inexpensive books, toys, games etc.  Be strategic to give our a “GREAT” activity at times in the journey when you NEED it the most.  For older kids, they can pack their “travel bag” prior to the trip.  The trick is to schedule taking out a new item. Without a schedule, kids will use all the activities in the first hour and your trip is bound to be much less enjoyable.  Building some suspense may make even the smallest activity a little more enjoyable.  Happy Travels!

Developing a child’s creativity is lots of fun for both you and your child.  Enjoy the journey! 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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