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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Grade 3 Tier 2 Vocabulary Word List

Grade 3 Tier II Vocabulary Word List

[PDF]Grade 2 & 3 Tier 2 Vocabulary List
Grade 2 & 3 Tier 2 Vocabulary List. # Word. Definition Synonyms. Word Work. Introduced. Week of/ By. 1 restate. To state again or in a new way reword.

[PDF]Grade 2 & 3 Tier 2 Vocabulary List - Johnstown School District
Grade 2 & 3 Tier 2 Vocabulary List. # Word. Definition. Synonyms. Word Work. Introduced. Week of/. By. 1 restate. To state again or in a new way reword.

[PDF]BUSD Grade Level Academic Vocabulary - Berkeley
The BUSD Grade Level Academic Vocabulary List is designed to help Berkeley. Unified ... CCSS references three tiers of words that are vital to academic achievement: ... different settings: 1) professional families; 2) working class; 3) welfare.

[PDF]Tier 2 Vocabulary Words for High School - Manatee School for the Arts
Tier 2 Vocabulary Words for High School ... The Academic Word List (AWL) was developed by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics ... Page 3 ... disposal • solely • deny • identical • submitted •grade • phenomenon • paradigm • ultimately ...

[PDF]Vocabulary Instruction
13. Stages of Reading. Development. Late grade 2. Grade 3+ un-re-li-a-ble un-reli-able .... List some ways you provide for ongoing practice and multiple ... for choosing vocabulary words from text. Tier 3.Tier 2. Tier 1. Known,. Common words.

[PDF]Robust Tier 2 Vocabulary Cards: Level 1 - Really Good Stuff
The Really Good Stuff® Robust Tier 2 Vocabulary ... grades 2-3 and should be added and expanded upon. ... target word, and review the provided list on.

[PDF]Source List for Terms - Amazon Web
Grade 3 Tier II Vocabulary Word List

Word: Additional
Meaning: Add; more; extra.
Example: The salesman told Mr. Taylor that this iPhone 9 will cost him an additional amount of 150$.

Word: Agreeable
Meaning: willing or ready to agree or permission
Example: This type of furniture is more agreeable than the fancy one which is quite expensive.

Word: Argue
Meaning: to present reasons for or against a thing
Example: Celena wasn't going to argue with him because she knew he ate her chocolates.

Word: Arrange
Meaning: to place in proper, desired, or convenient order
Example: You may stay in the room with your daughter while I arrange the lunch.

Word: Assist
Meaning: to give support, aid or to help
Example: Do you want me to assist you in completing this assignment?

Word: Attract
Meaning: to get the admiration, attention by physical or emotional forces.
Example: This pink watch will definitely attract Sara because of its color and appearance.

Word: Careless
Meaning: not giving much attention to work or something
Example: The loss resulting from careless work is very serious.

Word: Cause
Meaning: a thing that acts, happens, or exists due to something
Example: We all serve the same cause of protecting those who are weaker than us.

Word: Climate
Meaning: weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year
Example: The climate of Pakistan is very appropriate to grow crops.

Word: Coast
Meaning: the land next to the sea; seashore
Example: He lived up the coast in a cottage.

Word: Compare
Meaning: to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences
Example: I always used to compare my grades with Allen.

Word: Construct
Meaning: to build, form, or create by fitting parts or elements together systematically
Example: He tried to construct his own house within four months.

Word: Continent
Meaning: One of the major land masses or areas of the earth, usually regarded as Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
Example: There are total seven continents of the world.

Word: Contrast
Meaning: to compare in order to show differences between two objects, people or places
Example: There is an amazing contrast between clouds and the clear blue sky.

Word: Credit
Meaning: 1. to give honor or respect to someone
   2. to give money back to an account or having an amount of money in an account
Examples 1: The credit goes to all the team members who played really well throughout the game.
Examples 2: He did all the shopping through his credit card.

Word: Culture
Meaning: a particular set of customs, morals, ethics and traditions from a specific time and place
Example: People have learnt a lot from the culture of ancient Greek civilization.

Word: Dangle
Meaning: to hold something so that it hangs and swings loosely
Example: The child dangled the doll by its arm.

Word: Defend
Meaning: 1. to guard from attack; keep from harm or danger; to protect
    2. to protect (a goal, etc.) against scoring by an opponent
    3. to support, maintain, or justify
Example: 1. The American army knows how to defend their country.
   2. Germany defended quite strongly against Brazil in the final match.
   3. Eric will defend the case of his brother in the criminal court.

Word: Describe
Meaning: to give details about something to someone.
Example: The teacher asked the students to describe their personalities in their own Words.

Word: Details
Meaning: to describe or give information about something
Example: He provided all the details of the task to me carefully.

Word: Develop
Meaning: 1. to grow or to become more advanced
    2. to cause something to grow, or to build improvements on land
Example: 1. To develop yourself, you need to bring some serious changes in your lifestyle.
2. The government has promised to develop the transportation system more convenient for          
     the public.

Word: Diagram
Meaning: a graph, chart, drawing or plan that explains something by showing how the parts relate to each other.
Example: The teacher explained the digestive system with the help of a diagram.

Word: Disappointed
Meaning: to let someone down or fail to fill his expectations for you.
Example: He disappointed his parents by getting involved in a crime.

Word: Division
Meaning: to divide; separation; distribution or partitioning
Example: The country was divided into four different provinces.

Word: Effect
Meaning: Effect is defined as a result of something or the ability to bring about a result.
Example: Her statement had a surprising effect on Dean.

Word: Elect
Meaning: The definition of elect is chosen, but not necessarily acting in the position yet.
Example: The higher management will elect the new Class Representative very soon.

Word: Endangered
Meaning: in danger, at risk, said of something where there is a strong possibility something bad will happen to it.
Example: A strange viral disease has endangered the lives of those living in the town.

Word: Event
Meaning: The definition of an event is something that takes place.
Example: Michael Jackson will perform in the grand event in Paris this year.

Word: Examine:
Meaning: Examine is defined as to analyze, inspect or carefully study.
Example: The doctor will examine the patient in an hour.

Word: Example
Meaning: 1. Example is defined as something or someone that is used as a model.
2. The definition of Example is a punishment that warns others to follow rules.
Example: 1. The teacher gave students an Example of solar system to help them understand the term ‘rotation’.
2. That serious road accident became an Example for all other kids in the neighborhood.

Word: Experience
Meaning: Experience is defined as something that happens to someone.
Example: He has literally learnt from his past experience of driving rashly on highway.

Word: Fatal
Meaning: The definition of fatal is something that causes death or that leads to failure or disaster.
Example: The polluted water being used for drinking in rural areas is fatal for human health.

Word: Flexible
Meaning: The definition of flexible is someone or something that bends easily, is easily persuaded or can be changed easily.
Example: A rubber band is far more flexible than a spring.

Word: Furious
Meaning: The definition of furious is full of anger or rage.
Example: The man got furious when he saw his car hit by a truck.

Word: Gathered
Meaning: Gather is defined as to bring or come together in one place.
Example: Everyone in the neighborhood gathered on the streets after they felt a terrible earthquake.

Word: Gist
Meaning: a central idea or the main point
Example: Equality must have been the gist of his speech.

Word: Infer
Meaning: Infer is defined as to conclude from evidence or assumptions.
Example: We should infer that the details in the document were all approved by the company.

Word: Intelligent
Meaning: The definition of intelligent is someone or something that is bright, informed or shows sound judgment.
Example: He considered to be an intelligent student in the class due to his strong ability of solving mathematical problems.

Word: Invitation
Meaning: The definition of an invitation is a request for a person's attendance at an event.
Example: He sent an invitation of his birthday party to all the relatives.

Word: Irritate
Meaning: The definition of irritate is to exaggerate or annoy, or to cause itchiness or discomfort in or on the body.
Example: The constant noise in the factory irritate the workers all day.

Word: Marine
Meaning: Marine is defined as something related to water or the sea.
Example: The life of marine animals is totally different from those living on land.

Word: Mend
Meaning: To mend is defined as to fix or repair, or to get better or resolve a disagreement.
Example: The carpenter told that it is easier to mend instead of replacing it altogether.

Word: Multiply
Meaning: to increase in number, amount, extent, or degree.
Example: The army decided to multiply the number of troops sent for war.

Word: Nervous
Meaning: The definition of nervous is fearful, frightened or anxious.
Example: She felt nervous after hearing the sad news on the television.

Word: Occur
Meaning: To occur is to happen or to be found.
Example: It was expected that the road accident will occur sooner or later.

Word: Opposite
Meaning: Opposite is someone or something that is the reverse of something else.
Example: These brothers are quite opposite to each other in studies.

Word: Passage
Meaning: Passage is moving through something, being granted permission to move through something.
Example: The passage along the park was quite narrow.

Word: Patient
Meaning: 1. The definition of patient is waiting calmly for long.
2. Patient is defined as someone under medical care.
Example: 1. The trainer told the team to be patient and confident during the competition.
2. The old man was a patient of asthma since last two years.

Word: Peer
Meaning: 1. a person or thing of the same rank, value, quality, ability, etc.
2. To peer is defined as to look closely or intently at something that may difficult to see.
Example: 1. Young children are easily influenced by their peers.
2. She pulled the wardrobe open and turned to peer over her shoulder.

Word: Persuade
Meaning: The definition of persuade is to convince someone to do or think something.
Example: He thought that he will persuade his father to get him a new car.

Word: Pleasant
Meaning: The definition of pleasant is someone or something that is agreeable, enjoyable or likable.
Example: The weather of Los Angeles is quite pleasant since last couple of weeks.

Word: Prank
Meaning: a mischievous trick or practical joke
Example: People usually make prank calls to annoy others.

Word: Predict
Meaning: The definition of predict is to say what will happen in the future.
Example: Many people were able to predict the winner of the final match in the World Cup.

Word: Purpose
Meaning: Purpose is defined as to plan or aim to do something; the reason behind doing something
Example: His purpose for flying back too early was just to attend the funeral of his grandmother.

Word: Recognize
Meaning: Recognize is defined as to identify someone or something known before.
Example: He will definitely recognize you in the next meeting as his memory is quite sharp.

Word: Region
Meaning: a large part of the surface of the earth
Example: Few years ago, that region was purely suitable for agriculture purposes.

Word: Repair
Meaning: To repair is defined as to fix something.
Example: He knew that the mechanic will repair the car in an hour.

Word: Ridiculous
Meaning: The definition of ridiculous is something that clearly can't be true, and that is as silly or foolish as to be worth making fun of.
Example: It was ridiculous to live in a five bedroom house especially when you need only two bedrooms.

Word: Scar
Meaning: The definition of a scar is a mark left on the skin after it heals, or a sign of mental or physical damage.
Example: There was a huge scar on the left cheek of his face which makes him look ugly.

Word: Scatter
Meaning: To scatter is to spread something around in different directions or different places.
Example: The toys were left scattered on the floor after the birthday party.

Word: Shiver
Meaning: Shiver is defined as to shake or tremble.
Example: She used to shiver a lot in cold weather conditions.

Word: Signal
Meaning: 1. Signal is defined as to communicate or indicate.
2. in radio, television, cell phones, etc., the electrical impulses, sound or picture elements, etc. transmitted or received
Example: 1. There are different kinds of traffic signals on the roads in each country.
2. There were no signals on the cell phone during his flight to London.

Word: Similar
Meaning: The definition of similar is two things that have characteristics that resemble each other but are not exactly alike.
Example: The two statues in the mart looked quite similar to each other.

Word: Slumber
Meaning: The definition of a slumber is a deep sleep.
Example: She fell into a deep slumber soon after she went to bed after a tiring day.

Word: Solution
Meaning: The solution is the method of solving a problem or the correct answer to a puzzle, problem or difficult situation.
Example: He was quite quick in finding the solution of the problem in the class.

Word: Starve
Meaning: Starve is defined as to die or suffer from hunger, or to have an intense want for something.
Example: Most of the animals in jungle either starve or get killed.

Word: Stumble
Meaning: The definition of a stumble is an act of making a minor mistake or of tripping or missing your step while running or walking.
Example: After that serious injury, he used to stumble while walking.

Word: Tackle
Meaning: To tackle is to take something or someone on or to stop someone from moving forward with a ball in a sporting game.
Example: He knew how to tackle the ball so it was quite difficult for the opponents to score.

Word: Tentacle
Meaning: The definition of a tentacle is a flexible arm used to touch and grab things, or the sensitive hairs on a plant leaf.
Example: The biologists tried hard to study the tentacles of the unique plant they found under water.

Word: Typical
Meaning: The definition of typical is a characteristic or behavior that is normal and expected for a given person or thing or in a given situation.
Example: Alex used to have a typical irritating attitude in the class.

Word: Unite
Meaning: Unite is defined as to join or bring together.
Example: There is always one friend who loves to unite everyone on special occasions. 

Word: Unusual
Meaning: The definition of unusual is something rare or out of the ordinary.
Example: It was quite unusual for him to do over speeding.

Word: Valuable
Meaning: The definition of valuable is something that is worth a lot, either in terms of money or in terms of being useful or loved.
Example: Museums usually contain precious and valuable items.

Word: Vehicle
Meaning: The definition of a vehicle is a type of transportation or a way that something is conveyed.
Example: Andy loved to see different vehicles on the roads when he was a kid.

Word: Volunteer
Meaning: The definition of a volunteer is a person who donates his time or efforts for a cause or organization without being paid.
Example: I used to volunteer a lot for various charity events in my neighborhood.

Creating a Successful School Improvement Plan

School Improvement Plans (SIP) are the first step in turning around
failing and low performing schools. They must target improving student outcomes, parent engagement, and teacher training. Without highly motivated, trained and engaged teachers and supportive parents, your School Improvement Plans (SIP) are useless. For 100 years, schools and education-in-general has been the introduction to academic life that all children need in order to gain the qualifications needed to succeed as adults. As well as teaching specific academic subjects, education also looks to provide children with enrichment opportunities and life lessons to set them up for a successful productive life. Moreover, times are changing which means that schools need to be even more flexible, a school improvement plan that offers students the best academic service possible is an ongoing erudite process that takes a comprehensive team effort. Sadly, many schools turn the (SIP) process into window dressing that never impacts students academic or social enmotional outcomes. 

Currently, there are some key areas that provide concern for all stakeholders of schools and these are the barriers to school learning and teaching. For the most part, the success or failure of a school nowadays can be attributed to whether there has been a specific plan in place that looks to address barriers to learning and teaching. If these issues are not addressed, improvements cannot be made and the whole system collapses in on itself.

Barriers to Learning and Teaching - If a school improvement plan is to be successful, common educational and even psychosocial issues need to be addressed and this includes first and foremost learning problems due to poor language skills (word poverty), attention issues, language delays, reading difficulties, attendance problems, life transition issues, anxiety, abuse, health, family problems, and more. For the education industry, these are the biggest areas of concern because they have a huge impact on not only the learning of individuals but the learning of whole groups and classes.

In addition to this, there also needs to be a way of countering external stressors. For example, some children may not have sufficient clothing, food, or security at home whilst others face inadequate support systems and have to experience hostile environments at home. Of course, this has a huge impact on their experience at school so what are the best ways to handle this in a world where any sort of interference into personal lives is deemed immediately negative?

Finally, schools find it difficult to meet the needs of students with cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these, and that substantially affects a student's school life and academic success. Students with learning disabilities, as well as mental or physical disabilities, are everyone's responsibility in a successful school. Not only is it a case of devising a special curriculum for such students, there is also the case for caring, serving, and accommodating students with disabilities. In recent years, we have seen an increase in students stress, poor student conduct, eating disorders, oppositional defiance, and school phobia. What’s more, there are significantly more young people experiencing severe depression, suicidal thoughts or self harming behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorder which presents new challenges for all involved.


All things considered, these are the major issues that schools face right now and they happen to be the biggest areas for concern for governing bodies and those in charge of educating the next generation. Later, we will be providing a five-step guide to creating a successful school improvement plan but it is first perhaps necessary to address the main questions that need to be asked in order to improve schools.

What is Missing? - For most people, the most fundamental question is ‘why aren't schools doing a better job in addressing emotional, learning, and behavior issues? However, it isn't as easy as this because, if something could be done, you would suggest that it would have been done a long time ago. Instead, we need to draw attention to what is perhaps the root cause of such problems - the fact that school policy and daily practice marginalize any attempts to fix said issues.


With this in mind, all programs and special projects that have been designed as a learning support service find themselves as ‘supplementary’. For example, the simple fact that all planning and implementation is done on an ad hoc basis, including when attempting to address these key barriers, is a cause for concern. Furthermore, the support staff required are normally operating independently of the main stakeholders which leads to an over-reliance, for small groups and individuals, on specialized services. Finally, fragmentation occurs when students are assigned to different programs who all work independently from one another. When this is allowed to happen, it drives up the cost of the whole process and the maximum results cannot be achieved.

Five-Step Plan - As mentioned previously, we have five key steps that need to be taken if a successful school improvement plan is to be constructed;


1) Vision - Before anything else can happen, you need to put an end goal on your improvement. If you could have your way, what would the school look like when finished, what practices would be in place, how would it differ to right now? Of course, this will be different for every school in every location so it needs to be unique with your goals in mind.

When we use the word ‘success’, we use it quite loosely because it is a subjective word. For some schools, they will have higher ambitions than others depending on the resources available to make the plans happen. Therefore, you need to spend some time defining success and then a vision can be created from this.


2) Comprehensive needs Assessment - In order to get to the end point, you need to know exactly where you are starting from. If you phone a friend and ask for exact directions, they will need to know where you are right now otherwise they cannot help. Therefore, you will need to conduct an honest assessment of your current position and practices.

Within this assessment, you should consider your strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need overall improvement. If you need a starting point, try looking through classroom walkthrough information, student achievement data, and, if you want the most honest of opinions, complete surveys of children, administrators, teachers, and even students. Ultimately, all of these stakeholders will want to see improvement in the school so will be willing to offer honest evaluations.

At this stage of the process, you need to be as honest as possible because no improvement can be made otherwise. If a chef believes that their food is the best of the best even though the customers and experts say otherwise, there is no way that the chef can improve if they aren't honest with themselves because they will think that everyone else is wrong. If you are going to make good decisions for the future of the school, you need to obtain a full picture of the school’s current state.

In a recent book, published after an extensive study, a research team attempted to discover what all high-growth companies had in common and why they were seeing more success than their competitors. Within every single company that they assessed, it was found that they would ensure every planning process started with ‘brutal facts’ and ‘reality checks’. Why? Because the path to the end goal will become glaringly obvious once you are honest and determine the absolute truth of what is occurring.

3) Goals - Using your vision that was created in step one, you can take your needs assessment and find some objectives. As well as having one huge goal that defines ‘success’, you should then break this down into numerous smaller, achievable goals. As well as long-term goals, make sure that you have some short-term goals too as this will allow you to see whether you are on the right path or not.

For example, your needs assessment may point out some key discoveries regarding your students. As well as an overall ‘what is the point in this’ mindset, you could find that students aren't finding lessons engaging enough to stay interested and keep paying attention. If you wanted to address these, you would set a number of goals;

Change lessons so that topics relate to real-life scenarios

Keep learning personalized so students understand the need

Ensure all understanding before switching topics via formative assessment

If you have limited time and resources, limit your goals to things that can be achieved in a short period of time. If possible, order goals in terms of importance and then get started because these are the ones that will have the largest impact. Once you start achieving goals, no matter how small, you know that progress is being made and you will be on your way towards the ultimate objective.


Sadly, some schools follow this five-step plan but they fail at this step because they try and solve everything at once. When this is attempted, only minimal effort is going into each change instead of focusing on one and then making progress this way. With just one aim to believe in, this can be reached before then turning to the next important objective on the list.

4) Action Steps - So far, we have a vision, an honest assessment, and some goals but this isn't enough alone. After finding out what you want to achieve, you need to lay out exactly how you plan to get there. Without actionable steps, there is no way to make progress. When you go on a road trip, you know your starting point and you know your end goal. However, you also lay out a plan so you can get there in time and the same can be said for a successful school improvement plan.

Unfortunately, this is another vital cog in the machine that schools tend to miss out and this leads to frustration and a distinct lack of improvement. For the most successful school districts, they map out how they are going to reach their end goals in the shape of strategies for all employees and ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction. If you imagine the school as a train with all the staff at the front, it isn't going to go anywhere is everyone is pulling in all different directions. Therefore, everyone needs to be reading from the same book at all times and the management has to keep them in line.

5) Include Stakeholders - Finally, we have something that is frequently forgotten and that is to keep all stakeholders included. When strategies are collectively established, they are proven to be more successful so leaders need to listen and keep an open mind. Going back to the study discussed previously, businesses that see the most success make sure that all stakeholders have a voice that can be heard. With this in mind, you should be including teachers, students, parents, administrators, and community leaders.

Summary - If you take the advice provided here and take actionable steps towards your goals, you will be well on the way to success. Of course, you will need to avoid the common mistakes we have discussed but, with this five-step plan, success is viable and achievable!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLANs: WHAT WORKS?

Highly Succesful Schools, Develope and Revise School Improvement Plans Yearly! (SIP)

Turning around a school's low or failing academic performance requires trust, faith, smart hard work, and quality engagement from parents, students, administrators, and teachers. Turning around a school's low academic performance starts with a comprehensive needs assessment that guides and informs short and long-term school improvement planning.

"In the real world, there is never enough money to meet all needs. Needs assessments are conducted to help program planners identify and select the right job before doing the job right." 

Researching strategies that work, setting BIG goals, vertically aligning critical developmental benchmarks, monitoring progress and reporting data. A School Improvement Plan (SIP), is a working document that all shareholders use to plan and implement High-quality instructional practice and increase engagement to raise achievement for all of its students. The School Improvement Plan defines the school's SMART goals and objectives to increase engagement and raise achievement for all students. These plans are only effective if they are used as a working document that all stakeholders are invested in. They should be the driving force behind real change in every community, school, and classroom. Hope is not a tactic for academic success, without explicit short and long term planning schools are constantly chasing their tails or looking for the quick fixes. 

  1. ALL Stakeholders are Part of the Process (Parents, Students, Administrators, and Teachers Must ALL buy in!)
  2. Family and Community Engagement and Support
  3. Comprehensive Needs Assesment with Honest Reporting 
  4. School Mission Statment and Grade Level Mission Statements, Beliefs and Big SMART Goals are shared, promoted and celebrated!
  5. Effective and flexible school-based leadership 
  6. Comprehensive ongoing progress monitoring (Student achievement data drives instruction)
  7. High-quality instructional practice
  8. High-quality professional development
  9. SIP is a Working Document that is Revised Annually 

  10. [PDF]School Improvement Planning: What's Missing?Our specific concerns are about how current school improvement planning .... assessing whatt ends to be missing in school improvement planning guides.

    [PDF]Strategies for Community Engagement in School Turnaround
    =Mar 10, 2014 - report to describe State and school district efforts to turn around ... academic achievement, attendance and behavior . ... for families, required parent volunteer time and workshops to help ... strategies that included parent/community liaisons, teacher/parent ... student achievement at schools engaged in the.

    [PDF]Turning Around Low-Performing Schools (PDF) - U.S. Department of ...
    We have worked to raise academic standards, promote accountability, ... turn around low-performing schools and help students in them get a better education. ... student performance standards, aligning teacher development, curriculum, .... around low-performing schools requires that state and district leaders take active ..

[PDF]Comprehensive Needs Assessment
Comprehensive. Needs Assessment. Title I Statewide School Support/Parental. Involvement Initiative.

[PDF]Conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment - Virginia ...
A needs assessment is the first step in developing a schoolwide or school improvement plan. It is a process of looking at data and information about the school to develop a clear picture and understanding of what is and has been occurring at the school.
[PDF]school improvement: a systemic view of what's missing and what to do ...
barriers to learning and teaching, we clarify what is missing in school— improvement planning“ We move on to outline the type ofcomprehen~ sive, multifaceted ...

[PDF]Turning around, transforming, and continuously improving schools - Eric
by H Adelman - ‎2011 - ‎Cited by 12 - ‎Related articlesauxiliary services and usually as an afterthought. For our policy analysis of the problem with this trend, see. School Improvement Planning: What's Missing?

[PDF]School Improvement Planning - A Handbook for Principals - Ontario
people who are developing a school improvement plan will find useful during the planning ... version of the handbook—as both an HTML and a PDF file. In this ...


[PDF]School Improvement Planning Process Guide - Office of ...
Jan 1, 2005 - School Improvement Planning. Process Guide. Prepared by. The School Improvement Office. Robert MacGregor. Assistant Superintendent ...

[PDF]School Improvement Plan - Aberdeen Public School
0. 2015-2017. Central High. School. School Improvement. Plan .... administrators have joined to form aSchool Improvement Planning Committee.

[PDF]Best Practices for School Improvement Planning - Hanover Research
Section I: Essential Components of a School Improvement Plan . ..... 6. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/reports/sihande.pdf. [3] Park, S., et al.,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Growth Mindset and Stoic Philosophy of Mind

Self Improvement Philosophies - Growth Mindset and Stoicism

"When it comes to success, there are no shortcuts’"― Bo Bennett

“Non est ad astra mollis e terris via" - "There is no easy way from the earth to the stars” ― Seneca

If you stop for a minute and just let these quotes soak in, it can be

extremely powerful. In truth, you have probably heard this before or some variation of the words and this is because it speaks the truth. When it comes to life, there really are no shortcuts and you have to work hard for everything that you earn. Let’s face it, school, career, and life can be extremely tough and there are many hurdles that we have to overcome which is why it is only "the stoic" that make it look easy. Making it to the top for many takes herculean sticktoitiveness! Academic hurdles can stop many people from pursuing advanced education or advanced careers, this impacts future finances, life success, and even lifelong happiness. Americans spend $23 billion a year seeking success and happiness "self-improvement", 1000s of books, DVDs, seminars, and coaching. 


"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." Helen Keller


Over the years, we have seen many sages and gurus come out and say that they have the definitive guide to business or education success. Of course, many of them were simply attempting to make a quick buck from those who had ambition but didn't quite know how to use it correctly. However, there is one philosophy that has been in existence for 2,000 years and this is something you may not have heard about - stoicism and the modern phycological counterpart, growth mindset. Within this theory, it suggests that the key to lasting happiness and success is adopting the correct mindset or philosophy. However, let’s not take this as a given; let’s delve into exactly why this is true. 

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca


Growth Mindset - Currently, there is a buzzword or truism in education - ‘growth mindset’. Whether you are a teacher or a student, this is something you may have heard because it is a philosophy that has attracted a lot of attention. First developed by Carol Dweck, growth mindset is a theory that revolves around self-perception; this means the opinion that one holds about one’s self. For example, do you believe that you are intelligent or unintelligent? Although this is a simple example, there are many others including whether you think you are a good parent, teacher, friend, etc. 


“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” ― Seneca

Fixed Mindset - In Dweck’s work, she explains that there are two different types of mindset that one may have - fixed or growth. When someone has a fixed mindset, it suggests that their qualities, such as certain talents or intelligence, are completely fixed. Instead of attempting to develop their skills, people who have this fixed way of thinking prefer to document their intelligence. In most cases, there is also a general belief that effort doesn’t really play a role in success because talent is the key factor. In the classroom, students convince themselves that they are ‘dumb’ or even just slow learners which leads to a shying away from challenges. All things considered, this can be detrimental because when an exam is failed, for example, the student will convince themselves that they just aren't good enough to pass as opposed to revising and taking the test again. 

“Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?” If so, he says, “You may be outscored but you will never lose.”
― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Growth Mindset - On the flip side, Dweck rediscovered the stoic philoshphy "growth mindset" which is where people believe that they can improve their basic abilities "intelligence/skills" as long as they work hard and persist in pursuing their goals in spite of obstacles.  At birth, people are given a starting point in terms of intelligence and people with the growth mindset say that this starting point can be improved over time with great effort, hard work, determination, and a stoic philosophy. When this mindset is in action, it creates a passion for learning because they know that they will reap the rewards. For students with this mindset, there is a belief that perseverance, reflection and revision of beliefs, and working on challenging and difficult academic problems is all worthwhile because it can pay off with deeper skills and knowledge. Rather than saying ‘I’m just not good at algebra’, the student sees struggle and failure as an opportunity to from their mistakes and make faster progress and improve a skill. 

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." ― B. F. Skinner

Education - As we can see, the differentiation between the two mindsets in education is a vital component for success beyond the school years. Just as we said in the beginning, ‘there is no shortcut to success’. Essentially, this means that the students with the fixed mindset are going to get eaten alive in the real world because they don’t believe in self-improvement and development of self is a lost cause.

Although many will say that it is ‘too early’ for someone’s mindset to be altered, the reason why it has made such an impact in schools of late is because people who leave education with a fixed mindset struggle to change later in life. If a student can be encouraged to think about learning with a growth mindset, the affect on their academic improvement will be phenomenal. Suddenly, they will realize that ‘wait, I have to work hard if I really want to achieve!’. 


“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” ― Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

For the teachers, it is all about encouragement for students and trying to transform those who have the fixed mindset which can be so damaging. In fact, research has suggested that students achieve better results when they believe that learning and hard work will improve their skills. As well as learning more, there is also an argument for faster learning as well as a more thorough type of learning with this mindset. For many, this doesn’t come as a surprise because it is the key to lasting happiness and success. 


“So what should we say when children complete a task—say, math problems—quickly and perfectly? Should we deny them the praise they have earned? Yes. When this happens, I say, “Whoops. I guess that was too easy. I apologize for wasting your time. Let’s do something you can really learn from!”
― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Teaching the Mindset - At first, there were many challenges for teachers in knowing how this mindset could be taught but there is now sufficient evidence to show that it can be taught intentionally. For example, teachers could openly praise effort in the classroom as opposed to focusing solely on achievement. Rather than saying that a student must be very smart, teachers are now encouraged to praise hard work and effort. 



“After seven experiments with hundreds of children, we had some of the clearest findings I’ve ever seen: Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance. How can that be? Don’t children love to be praised? Yes, children love praise. And they especially love to be praised for their intelligence and talent. It really does give them a boost, a special glow—but only for the moment. The minute they hit a snag, their confidence goes out the window and their motivation hits rock bottom. If success means they’re smart, then failure means they’re dumb. That’s the fixed mindset.”
― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success


Stoicism - As so many self-improvement philosophies do, the growth mindset has a foundation in stoicism. Essentially, stoicism is a term that reflects the learning that takes place through logic and rationalism as opposed to feelings and comfort. Over the years, there has been many misconceptions regarding stoicism and this is because the term is often simplified so far that it becomes inaccurate. For example, many have said that stoicism means that one must reject pleasure but this simply isn't true. According to early Stoics, we will all be fine as long as we align ourselves with logic because everything thereafter will fall into place. 



“Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence—like a gift—by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” ― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential

Embracing Adversity - When it comes to philosophy itself, the topic is also the victim of many misconceptions. For the most part, people believe that it involves men and women sitting around a table questioning life and the aim/purpose of us all. In this false suggestion, philosophy is purely theoretical but there is also a very important practical element that needs to be discussed. When philosophy is used, there is an underlying aim to make our time on Earth that little bit easier and more productive. In some regards, it could be considered an instruction manual for our own lives which has been written and edited by the leaders throughout time.

Of all the philosophical theories, stoicism happens to be one of the most useful because, as we saw earlier, it discusses the idea of aligning one’s self with logic. At the same time, it trusts that we are spending our time focusing on the things that we can change as opposed to the events to which we have no control. Once again, comparisons can be drawn to how there are no shortcuts to success. If success is to be earned, we all have to focus on the events that we can change.

In life, we will all have tricky times to overcome whether it is happening right now or is some years away. No matter how hard you try, there will be adversities that take your full attention but stoicism explains how these obstacles can be overcome before then turning them in our favor. With a growth mindset that has been taught at an early age, this process becomes a whole lot easier.

The Connection - Immediately, you should be able to draw the link between the growth mindset and stoicism because they are very closely related. As stated earlier, the growth mindset comes from stoic foundations because students have to make a decision. Will they take the fixed mindset and decide that they cannot improve their key skills? Or will they realize that there are certain things that we can control and one of these few things is ourselves? On the one hand, there is a focus on controlling the wrong thing but, on the other, there is a stoic mindset in that we can control our own destiny as long as we are willing to spend a little time becoming a more informed person.

In truth, it isn't hard to see why the growth mindset is making waves in education because it promotes a confidence in one’s ability and allows students to make up their own minds regarding their academic choices, career choices, and future path when they see hard work is part of life. If they want to become a scientist and need to improve their math skills, growth mindset tells them that they need to work hard to learn everything that they will need to know rather than deciding that it ‘isn’t for them’ after failing one test. Then, stoicism is needed to overcome failure and push through any adversity that comes their way. If an exam is failed or they are rejected from their dream job after school, they will know exactly how to bounce back.

Summary - In conclusion, we may not have control over external events even if they affect us in the worst ways possible. However, what we do control is how we react. If you happen to fail an exam, job interview, or even in a relationship, you need to react in the right way in order to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go again. If we teach the younger generations that the key to lasting happiness and success is the growth mindset, we may just have adults that are happy and successful, whilst willing to put in the hard work, in the future!