Monthly Archives: March 2015
- BCT Staff
- early childhood education
- Educational news
- homework tips
- Local Events and News
- Motivation and Study Skills
- motivation and tutoring
- Special Education
- study tips
- Technology in Education
- Test Prep
- Tutoring Announcements
Although I have always preferred real books to the e-versions, as a middle school English teacher, I have incorporated a lot of technology into my classroom including Newsela and Google Classroom. However, with the upcoming SBAC state testing coming up in April and May, I see that sometimes my students struggle with reading digital versions of material. They are more likely to skim and not take the time to highlight and annotate their reading. In addition, it is more difficult and time consuming to go back to pages when answering comprehension questions.
Newsela.com is a great news website that can give students the ability to practice reading nonfiction news articles digitally. Students can annotate and highlight online with 4 different colors. They can also take quizzes that follow the article which ask students to go back in the passage and highlight certain things as well as answer inferential questions.
Another website that allows students to practice reading a wide variety of texts is called StudySync.com. This site includes a large digital library of literature, poetry, short stories, speeches and nonfiction texts. Students have the ability to highlight and create notes that they can store in a virtual binder. StudySync is Common Core aligned and offers writing prompts that allow students the opportunity to read carefully and apply what they have learned to write a paragraph or essay. The writing component motivates students to read more closely as they will have to apply their knowledge rather than just spit back information in a multiple choice format.
I think by using these websites at home and in the classroom students can learn to feel more comfortable and confident with digital reading that will not only prepare them for online state testing but also for digital reading in their future careers.
I recently attended an English Teacher Professional Development regarding the use of educational podcasts in the classroom. If you are not familiar with podcasts, they include episodic series of audio shows broadcasted or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.
Podcasting in education is one of the latest trends, and at first, as a visual learner, I was skeptical of its true benefits. However, after the professional development put on by SMMUSD, I could see how it would be a very valuable tool and plan to try it in my English class.
The most important benefit that I think middle and high school students could gain is the training to listen carefully and take notes. This is similar to what they will have to in college. At first, it is scary as they speakers often speak very quickly, and if the teacher does not provide background on the topic, the students may feel lost. For students, who have attention issues, focusing on a podcast where there is no visual stimulation can be challenging. The teacher can pause the podcast frequently to ask higher-level questions or have students summarize key points to help alleviate this problem.
Some other benefits of podcasting include:
- They can stimulate creative conversation and debate.
- Students can download the information to a device and listen to it over again on their own time.
- Teachers can record their classes and lessons so students can review lectures.
- If a student misses class, they can listen to the podcast.
- Subscribing to a podcast will automatically notify students of new podcasts and enable the to share information.
- Students can listen to the podcasts over while they are doing other things such as walking or relaxing at the beach. It is a mobile learning tool.
- Students can create their own podcasts to share their research or ideas.
What are some downfalls to be careful of?
- Students may not pay attention during class if they know they can listen to the podcast later.
- They may try to prepare for exams based on podcasts alone
- They may listen to podcasts that contain inappropriate or inaccurate information.
Overall, I think podcasts are here to stay and with careful planning, consideration, and structure, they can become a useful educational tool in the classroom as well as in the home.
No, you are not alone! Now, is the time of year between February and April when students struggle the most in school. As a teacher, I think there are two main contributors:
- Class material is becoming more challenging and more complex
- Students are starting to feel physical and mental burn out
- Students can become overwhelmed and not able to manage their time efficiently with many after school activities.
So what should you do if your child/teen’s grades suddenly start to drop? Instead of yelling or accusing them of not studying, spending too much time with friends, social media, etc, the best approach can involve having a calm discussion to get your child to open up and for you to learn what may be the cause of the drop in grades.
Some areas to focus on might be :
- Are you having a hard time concentrating?
- Are you taking notes?
- What part of the class is most difficult for you? (homework, listening to the teacher, working in groups, etc.
- Are you having issues with the way the class is taught?
- Where did things change? Did something get harder for you?
- Are they having issues with friends or with a specific teacher?
The next step is to talk to the teacher regardless of the age of your child/teen. You might want to find out about:
- Child’s weakest area(s)?
- Copy of Distribution of grades
- Suggestions to help improve their grade
- Was there a noticeable change at a certain date/time frame?
Once you know more about the causes of your child’s academic struggles you can take action to either help him/her yourself or call in a private tutor. Beach Cities Tutoring also has tutors who specialize in study skills to help your child learn to study, stay organized, and prepare for tests.
I know I have written a few blogs regarding the new state testing, otherwise know as Smarter Balanced Assessments, but I wanted to post some resources that would help you and your child/teen prepare for the test. Our tutors can also help with test prep but here are some good starting points. Most testing will occur in May and late April.
This site is directly from the test makers. The Smarter Balanced Assessments are aligned with the Common Core Standards for grades 3-8 and 11 in both English Language Arts and Math. The purpose of the full length tests is to get a feel for the year end assessments. They contain a variety of questions types of difficulty levels as well as performance tests. The practice tests include accommodations and supports that were not previously included.
Associated with the test makers.
Associated with the test makers.
This site is independent of the SBAC but also has great sample Common Core type questions and is organized by grade and subject level.
Here is another independent site that offers common core standards test specifically for math.
Common Core Math prep from Khan Academy