Why You Should Support Feminism, Whether You Have Kids Or Not

June 9, 2016

A few weeks ago, one of my “friends” posted a link titled “I Am A Mother Of Two Children And I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism.” The title surprised me, so I clicked.

I want to tell the author that her sons are not threatened by feminism.

I want to tell her that chivalry is, of course, a great thing to teach her sons, because it goes hand-in-hand with kindness and respect.

I want to tell her that chivalry involves not just opening physical doors, but metaphorical ones as well. That welcoming a woman into a space dominated by men and validating her presence there is more important than offering to take her coat.

The World’s Most Prolific Father In History

June 20, 2016

Raping and pillaging the countryside doesn’t come without some lasting effects. As emperor from 1206 to 1227, Genghis Khan prioritized the expansion of the Mongolian Empire. Leading the Mongol Invasion, he united distant tribes under a single empire. He did this through a campaign of violence and slaughter.   

The Mongols swept across the continent. They were known for their ruthlessness and crushed every town and village they came across. Khan and his army could not afford to leave able-bodied men in the towns they conquered. Khan could not risk allowing these communities to launch a defense against the Mongols. So, each time his army captured a town, he had them slaughter the men. The only men they left alive were skilled craftsmen and engineers because they could be adopted into the army where they would build catapults and other weapons. 

America’s First Female President (Sort of)

May 27, 2016

When Edith Galt met President Woodrow Wilson in 1915, she had no real interest in politics. But when the recently widowed president began courting her, she soon found herself discussing state matters at length. 

The couple married after just a few months. But as first lady, Edith eschewed the traditional ceremonial duties of a president’s wife. She delegated those matters to her secretary in favor of examining politics with her husband. She rarely left his side and even worked on decoding secret transmissions during World War I. 

The U.S. Tried To Export Jim Crow Laws During WWI

May 18, 2016

Congress declared war with Germany in 1917. With the United States entering the Great War, the military needed soldiers, and they were not in a place to be turning anyone away. And though President Wilson declared that “the world must be made safe for democracy,” black America couldn’t help but note the hypocrisy in that statement. After all, what kind of democracy would allow local governments to deny the voting rights of an entire race? 

How Do We Make More "Math People"?

July 31, 2014

We’ve heard it a number of times before. Americans rank low when it comes to math scores and numeracy. As a general rule, we are not “math people.”

This week the New York Times article “Why Do Americans Stink at Math” by Elizabeth Green explored how the U.S. has repeatedly tried and failed to implement more effective and innovative methods to teach math skills to American students.

Electronic Books in the K-12 Classroom

December 9, 2013

In the very near future, schools and students across the country will be regularly using e-books in the classroom. Technology is influencing K-12 education as never before, and the e-book is becoming a very useful teaching tool. Digital devices and downloadable textbooks are changing the classroom experience for many students.

What exactly is an e-book? At one end of the spectrum, you have PDFs of printed titles, while on the other end you have electronic resources, which may have animated characters, interactive quizzes, or online games that accompany texts.

Is Close Reading an Instructional Strategy or a Goal?

October 29, 2013

Is close reading the critical, thoughtful, and purposeful reading you are trying to get kids to achieve? Or is it a method or way of achieving critical, thoughtful and purposeful reading?

Close reading is purposefully reading a text while paying attention to the author’s word choice, sentence structure, and layers of meaning. It also involves reading the same text multiple times, each time studying a different aspect in order to analyze techniques the author used to communicate a point. But did you know close reading is not just academic? We actually conduct close readings in our everyday lives. 

Common Core “Shifts”

October 15, 2013

The Common Core is a big source of anxiety for ELA teachers everywhere.

Yes, the Common Core is more nonfiction. But it’s also asking students to perform a deeper analysis of any text, fiction or nonfiction.

Common Core is about creating experiences for students to experience the content themselves. It’s about students making meaning about what is in the world based on what is on the page.

Using Biographies in the Common Core

October 15, 2013

With new focus on informational texts, students will be assessed on their abilities to make connections between historical events. Such higher order thinking skills will be required of students starting in the second grade.

One great way to teach this standard is through biographies. Though biographies, students get a more personal understanding of how the circumstances of a particular period affected people’s lives. The connection is built right into the form!

Comprehension and Close Reading

October 14, 2013

To read and comprehend well requires students to develop their thinking about reading and to engage in close reading.

Common Core State Standards Reading Anchor Standard One requires students to “Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.” This is what it means to comprehend a text.

This notion of close reading is related to Walter Kintsch’s model of reading that builds a text base. (1998, 1988, 1974) The key evidence of comprehension is that students can cite textual evidence to support inferences drawn from a text. When students can do that, then they have comprehended the text.

Another Reason to Go Digital

October 1, 2013

In case you’re not yet convinced of the need for digital instruction tools, have a look at the newest Time Magazine article on the subject. L. Rafael Rief, president at MIT, argues that digital courses have better results at preparing students to apply their coursework in practice.

While Rief’s experience is with university students, it would be remiss to overlook the application of digital instruction in K-12 education. If in fact digital instruction can support students in learning the basics, teachers will be more free to challenge students with application and higher level thinking skills.

Easy Ways to Welcome ELL Students to the School Library

September 30, 2013

Many school libraries are faced with the challenge of serving communities with ever larger populations whose native language is not English.  However, few school libraries have materials in a language other than English.

We all know that libraries are more than just a place to borrow books. Libraries are a place where community members can gather and find the resources they need. So making ELL students feel at home in the library is a great step toward helping them become successful students.

STEM Friday: How Do Animals Use Their Mouths?

September 27, 2013

This week’s STEM Friday featured book is How Do Animals Use Their Mouths? by Lynn Stone.

Grasping, biting, digging, poking, chewing, calling… animals use this mouths for a lot of different activities!

What makes this a great STEM book? 

More than just another animal book, How Do Animals Use Their Mouths? explores the structure and function of body parts in various animals. This understanding is key in early science education. The text introduces the concept in a straight-forward, accessible manner.

How does this book appeal to young readers?

Animal books are always a big hit with young readers. Simple sentences and great color photographs showing animals in action will keep kids turning pages.

Pros and Cons of Dual Language Books

September 26, 2013

If you’re working with students who are learning a new language, it’s possible that you may have come across a number of dual language books. These books pair texts in English and Spanish, allowing the reader to switch between the two as they see fit.

But do dual language books work? Here’s a quick look at the benefits and drawbacks of dual language books: