Overlook/Titusville PTA

Announcements

  • Pta date

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  • Book fair Click here to get started! 

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  • Spirit days

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  • K-5 Hybrid: What You Should Know

     

    Hybrid Guide

     

    Click here for our "Operation Kidz-In" guide for maintaining safe and healthy schools! 

     

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  • PTA March Meeting

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  • Yearbook

     

     

     

     

     

    This year has been a year like no other, so why should our yearbook be any different? It will not be like what we’ve known it to be in the past BUT our children still should have one to remember this year and just how incredible they have been getting through it!

     

    > Please log into: www.MemoryMakersStudios.com

    > Scroll down and click on tab ‘Overlook/Titusville

    > Click ‘order my yearbook

    > Fill in your information (personalization is an additional charge of $5)

     

    Order online until April 23, 2021

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  • Message from Mrs. Wheeler

    Dear Overlook Families,

     

    Thank you for your patience and support as we have worked together to increase the in person time for our hybrid students. As you know, there have been many factors that have influenced what this change will look like when students begin attending four days on March 22nd. This letter will explain those changes and briefly introduce the staff members we are adding.

     

    First, students will not be changing their current classroom teacher. Sticking to this commitment does require a rotation of students on a daily basis to attend what we are calling the Overlook Wonder Lab. There will be one OWL room for each grade level and it will be staffed by a certified teacher. Students will be assigned to the OWL room for one day of the six day cycle. On their assigned day, students will report to their normal classrooms for attendance and a quick check in. The OWL teacher will then pick up the students who are going to the OWL room for the day from each of the classrooms on that grade level. This means that on their assigned day, students will be in the OWL room with students from all of the four grade level classrooms. The maximum number of students in any classroom space is 18 and includes the OWL classroom. Students will eat lunch with their homeroom class and attend their normal special on their OWL day. All students will be assigned to the OWL room one time a cycle and we will communicate with you which day your child will be assigned.

     

    While in the OWL room, students will be participating in reading and math activities as well as science and social studies activities. These activities will be additional to the instruction that they receive on the other five days of the six day cycle. The OWL room will also have chrome books for students to access some of the activities that they are already familiar with from their asynchronous learning days (Reading A-Z, Zearn). One way to think of this experience is as a whole day of intervention and enrichment.

     

    I am happy to introduce the following OWL teachers:

    ● Kindergarten: Mrs. Dara Brands

    ● First Grade: Ms. Sheryl Jones

    ● Second Grade: Ms. Lauren Cope

    Each of these teachers brings years of experience working with children and we are grateful to add their expertise and experience to our Overlook family.

     

    You may be wondering what will happen when your child misses the instruction that is happening in their homeroom. At the primary level, we are very lucky that our curriculum spirals and teachers are constantly differentiating and adapting to what children need. Much like if your child was out for a day, they will receive a review from their teacher on the following day but will not receive an entire repeat of the previous day’s instruction.

     

    Safety protocols will continue to be followed in all classrooms including masks, desk shields and social distancing in a 3X6 model. With all changes, there are sure to be questions. I truly believe that this provides the best model for our Overlook Owls and encourage you to reach out directly to me with any questions or concerns.

     

    Mrs. Wheeler

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  • At the most recent PTA Meeting on February 18, Mrs. Allison Lauchaire gave a presentation about the Equity Team. Please click the link to view her slideshow: Equity Team Update

     

    The equity team began five years ago in an effort to ensure that all students feel represented and welcomed in our school buildings. One of the goals this year is to increase parent and community voices in our work. This is an effort that goes beyond just our school and we want to ensure that all thoughts are heard and honored.


    To learn more or to join the Equity Team please email opstispta@gmail.com.

    Hands

     

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Blog

  • The Science of Learning and Development

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 3/1/2021

    The research is clear: Strong relationships with educators help students develop the cognitive skills they need to learn and thrive.

    Science

    By Edutopia

    Click here to watch the video. 

     

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  • 10 New Focused Attention Practices

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 2/1/2021

    Whether students are in class or at home, these quick breaks can help them find calm and prime their brains for learning.

    By Edutopia

    Elementary-aged girl stretches while sitting at her desk in her classroom

    The traumatic conditions of isolation, chronic unpredictability, and physical and emotional distance over the past year are affecting everyone, but children and adolescents are experiencing these effects as they are still developing. Toxic levels of stress can wear out their nervous systems, and they find themselves in elevated states of anxiety, depression, and sometimes hopelessness.

    Our children and adolescents who appear withdrawn, detached, oppositional, defiant, or aloof may often be exhibiting negative behaviors because they are in pain and are responding as their stress response and nervous system dictates. When we feel threatened or unsafe or when something feels unfamiliar, our response is reactive and reflexive. In such moments, students often don’t have the resources to self-regulate.

    When students are able to achieve a calm state, they can think clearly, problem-solve, and create stronger memories of what they are learning with increased attention. To help them find that calm, I recommend regulatory activities called focused attention practices, which provide a stimulus that students can focus upon, including deep breaths, sounds, visualizations, movement, rhythm, art, and sometimes taste.

    Focused attention practices prepare and prime our brains and bodies to create and hold a state of relaxed alertness. They can calm and/or energize the nervous system. They broaden and deepen our awareness while promoting emotional, social, and cognitive well-being for all students and can be integrated into procedures and routines in our classrooms and schools and students’ homes.

    10 FOCUSED ATTENTION PRACTICES FOR DISTANCE AND IN-PERSON LEARNING

    1. Fist Pumping: Have students stretch their arms out, palms up, to each side at shoulder height and hold their elbows straight, and then have them open and close their fists with an energizing breath. I have students do this for 30 seconds and then take a long slow deep breath and do it again for 30–60 seconds. Ask students to focus on their movement and breath. Ask them to flip their hands over and open and close their fists again for another minute. This exercise brings an oxygen flow to the brain and strengthens the nervous system.

    2. Crossing Movements: Have students make a fist with the thumb inside and raise their arms up and slightly out to each side, making a 60-degree-angle V. They inhale with their arms straight, and bend their elbows to cross their fists in front of their forehead on the exhale. Then they straighten their arms and inhale back into the raised-arms V, and then bend their elbows and cross their fists behind their head. Continue with this powerful breath exercise, which releases calcium deposits in the shoulders and improves blood flow to the brain. This is an energizing movement.

    3. Punch and Grab: Have students stand with feet about three feet apart and make fists. One arm at a time, have them reach in front of them, opening their fist on the inhale and closing it and drawing it back to their body on the exhale. They will move back and forth with a powerful inhale and exhale, opening and closing their fists and alternating arms as they pretend to grab something they need. This is much like a boxing movement with one arm at a time, at any speed that feels comfortable.

    4. Blossoming Flower: With the fingertips of both hands touching, students begin by opening their thumbs with a deep inhale and then exhale; as they continue to breathe, they open their forefingers, then middle fingers, the ring fingers; when they come to the pinkies, they pull their hands apart and take the biggest breath as their flowers bloom. As they open each pair of fingers, you can also ask them to say an affirmative sentence such as “I am peaceful,” “I am strong,” “I am ready,” or “I am getting there.”

    5. Frog Breaths: Standing up with their heels touching and toes pointed out, have students squat down and touch the floor with their fingertips. They should inhale when they stand, and exhale when they squat. Aim for 20 repetitions. This exercise energizes students and strengthens the nervous system.

    6. Balancing the Plate: Have students balance a light object such as a paper plate or cup, or even a book, on their heads and hold a variety of poses. They can try balancing on one leg, squatting down, walking, or bending forward as they steady their heads and seeing how low they can bend and still keep the object on their heads. You can try coming up with new poses with students.

    7. Dedicate This One: Have students create an image or write down a few words that they want to share with someone they appreciate. As they think of the person, they should breathe deeply for one minute, mentally expressing their love and their image or words with the thought of this person.

    8. Give Me Yours, and I’ll Give You Mine: Have students write down or draw a worry or concern they have and then fold up the paper and hand it to a friend. As they share their worries, have them breathe together for one minute, breathing in strength and love and breathing out this strength and love to their friend. Whether they share the worry is a choice; if you want students to share these with one another and with the class, you will need to set guidelines and agreements for everyone.

    9. Vision Quest: Have students focus on one specific object in the room or within the setting where they are. After focusing their attention for 30 seconds, have them broaden their gaze and create a gentler, more open vision of their setting. When they do this, their heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure will lower.

    10. Reveal: Bring an object to Zoom or the classroom that is covered with a towel or cloth. Hold the covered object with just a small part being revealed in front of the students, and with every deep breath they take, you slowly peel back the cloth, revealing a bit more of the object. After a few deep breaths, they should now see enough to begin guessing in the chat box or by calling out. You can ask how the object is related to your content or to social and emotional learning.

     

     

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  • 7 Ways to Infuse Your Curriculum With Hope

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 1/1/2021

    Young people dealing with the effects of the pandemic can be encouraged through lessons that inspire resilience. 

    By Edutopia 
     
    Science teacher instructing her class while all wear masks
     
    What is the purpose of school? Many might say it’s to prepare students for their futures. But what happens if students feel hopeless about the future?

    We know that many teens are currently feeling depressed, and what once was met with an eye roll is now met with collapse. In this crazy year, typical teenage stress is compounded with concern about Covid-19, election uncertainty, family strife, social isolation, and any number of legitimate challenges for our entire society. And since all generations are going through this simultaneously, teenagers have fewer adults around them to lean on because parents and teachers are sharing similar feelings of grief.

    It really stinks right now to be a teen.

    So I would argue that, at this time in history, the purpose of school is to help our students maintain hope. The purpose of our classrooms is to reach out our hands and pull our students up from the desolation that comes from feeling like there's nothing they can do to change things for the future.

    Sue Arzola, the principal at South Pointe Middle School in Diamond Bar, California, wrote her dissertation on leading education with hope and discussed her research with me via email. Her work was based on Charles Snyder’s hope theory, which she says examines hope as a “positive motivational state based on a sense of successful agency and the various pathways you take to make it happen.”

    In her dissertation, she stresses that, “especially during difficult times, as administrators and educators, we need to lead with optimism.” She goes on to say, “Hope engages both grit and perseverance as we strive to make our hopes or goals a reality. But hope also engages optimism and self-efficacy, as it includes the belief that the future will be better than the present, and within each of us is the power to make it so.”

    So, in this time when so many of us out there—teachers, parents, and students— are feeling hopeless, how do we reverse it? Can it be done?

    The answer, of course, is yes.

    In fact, schools can play an active and intentional role in developing hope. Much like a smile, hope is contagious. So our classrooms, whether virtual or face-to-face, should be infused with it. Teachers can provide lessons and units to help students recognize their potential influence on the world around them.

    STRATEGIES TO INSPIRE HOPE

    1. Use project-based learning: PBL is all about using what we are learning in school to make an impact on the world beyond school. It helps develop student agency by allowing teens to identify problems they most want to solve. It helps develop students who question by guiding teens to research multiple perspectives and come to their own conclusions. And PBL helps to develop communicators by honing skills like public speaking and persuasive writing.

    2. Teach positive current events: True, hope is different than positivity, but committing to making students aware of positive current events can help create an environment more likely to make students feel hopeful. Help offset the smog of negative news by showing students that there’s good out there, too. CNN’s The Good Stuff newsletter is a great resource.

    3. Study other kids who’ve made an impact: I’m not saying don’t teach about Albert Einstein, but maybe students need to hear about the achievements of someone their own age. School should be all about meaningful learning. Show students that there are teens out there moving the needle in their own communities.

    4. Teach history through the lens of improvement: History occurs in peaks and valleys, but teens haven’t been on this planet long enough to experience or study these patterns with great depth. Focus on teaching moments in history when civilization was pulling itself out of darker eras. Help students see the bigger picture, and help them recognize that our darkest pits are mere moments in time.

    5. Teach hopeful science: I am a California resident, and we’re living through a season of devastating fires. But my science teacher friend reminds me that after fires, the soil can be richer for life to grow. Find those examples in science that support the beauty after the storm.

    6. Promote student activism: Help teens find organizations that might be accepting student volunteers. Whatever their interests or strengths, students can be active in their communities. Doing good for others can help defeat hopelessness. From a local Humane Society to the New Voters Project, students can leave an immediate footprint that does a service for those around them.

    7. Embed mindfulness training: It’s difficult for students of any age to put hard times in perspective. They can’t regulate when to worry. Tweens and teens in particular feel more deeply and more sensitively than people do at other ages. Empower them. Help them to understand what they are feeling, and help them to build strategies to calm the storm in their hearts and heads.

    Hope is about the belief that you can make an impact. Hope is about allowing students agency in their own learning. Hope is about ensuring that students are looking ahead, identifying for themselves what needs to be improved, and giving them the skills and confidence to go out and do it.

    When I look at kids these days, I feel hopeful. When kids go to school, I want them to feel the same.

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  • Low-Tech Scientific Exploration for Students at Home A fifth-grade teacher shares ideas on how students can explore common phenomena with simple materials in and around their homes. By Pete Barnes

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 12/1/2020

    A fifth-grade teacher shares ideas on how students can explore common phenomena with simple materials in and around their homes.

    By Edutopia
     
    Boy sprays water from garden hose onto car and makes a rainbow.
     

    Technology is now an essential part of education, as the vast majority of schools are using it to provide remote and hybrid instruction during the pandemic. Even when at school, many students rely more on iPads, laptops, and learning apps than on textbooks, spiral notebooks, and the learning tools of the past.

    But technology has its limits. Wi-Fi goes down, apps sometimes don’t work, and students suffer when they stare at screens for hours at a time. (And that’s not to mention the fact that kids don’t all have the same access to technology.) Kids learning about science remotely, in particular, need opportunities to interact with their surroundings, observe and collect data, and draw conclusions about it.

    4 LOW-TECH ACTIVITIES FOR DRAWING SCIENTIFIC CONCLUSIONS

    I’ve done these activities with my fifth graders, but they can be adapted for most elementary grades, with appropriate parental supervision. Though these activities are designed to mostly avoid screens—one involves taking photos—some technology might come in handy at times: Students can report their findings by taking photos and/or uploading their findings using Padlet or other sharing tool, or answer open-ended questions on a Google Doc or Notability.

    1. Explore sound: Prior to engaging with this activity, ask students to think about this question: What solid material conducts sound the best? They will need a coin and a partner (most likely a parent or sibling in our current situation). Have students choose three or four long surfaces, like floors, walls, driveways, fences, or railings inside or outside their homes. The partner will tap steadily with the coin while the student places their ear directly on each surface. Students draw conclusions from the following:

    • How far away can you get from your partner and still hear the tapping?
    • Which surface do you think transmits sound the best? How about the worst? Why?

    Another way to survey the physics of sound is to have students put some water in a crystal wine glass, wet their finger, and rub it around the edge of the glass. Then they can answer these clarifying questions:

    • Do you hear a high-pitched sound as the glass resonates?
    • If you add more water to the glass, does the pitch go higher or lower? Why?

    Share this hint: Solids, like metal and wood, are much better than air at transmitting sounds because their tightly packed molecules transmit sound waves quickly. Heavier things vibrate more slowly, which creates a lower frequency vibration and a lower pitch sound.

    2. Investigate light: Prior to engaging with this activity, ask students to think about this question: Why do we see rainbows, and how can we bend light? They will need a CD or DVD. Have them tilt the CD or DVD against a bright light, and move it around until the tiny ridges reflect a rainbow. Ask them to draw conclusions from this question: Can you bend or refract light, but without the rainbow?

    Here are some other ways to direct kids to make rainbows at home:

    • Use a prism or a piece of glass with edges to create a rainbow when a bright light hits it.
    • On a sunny day, spray water from a garden hose, find an oil slick, or put a mirror in a glass of water to create rainbows.

    Share this hint: Anytime an object is magnified, like with a magnifying glass, eyeglasses, binoculars, or even a glass of water, it is because the light is bent or refracted.

    3. Inspect force and motion: Prior to engaging with this activity, ask students to think about this question: Which ball has the most inertia? Students can demonstrate inertia at home with several different-sized balls and a cardboard box (the size of a shoe box or larger). Direct students to place the box on the ground and then roll each ball toward the box using a bowling motion. Ask them to draw conclusions: Which ball pushes the box the farthest distance? Why?

    Another way to experiment with force and motion is to calculate speed. For this activity, instruct students to calculate the speed (distance divided by time) of their family members or friends in an outdoor race. Have students measure out 10 meters, or 10 yards, and time how long it takes each person to run the distance, and then calculate their speed. Encourage students to enhance the fun by doing one-legged races or backward races, or partnering up for a leapfrog race.

    Share this hint: Heavier objects have greater mass and inertia, which means when they are in motion they exert more force.

    4. Examine the mysteries of life science: Prior to engaging with this activity, ask students to think about this question: What makes things disappear once they die? They will explore the great outdoors (or at least a yard or park). Direct students to search their neighborhood or local park for mushrooms and other decomposers. They can turn over old logs or large rocks to find worms, beetles, and roly-polies (isopods) eating up dead matter. Ask them to take photos of all of the different kinds of decomposing matter they find, and remind them to be sure to record the dates and pay close attention to the signs of spring starting.

    Another life science idea requires students to make observations. Have students answer these questions in a nature journal:

    • What trees or plants in your neighborhood show signs of spring first?
    • What colors do you see blooming?
    • What about birds or other animals?

    Share this hint: Decomposers like fungi, worms, beetles, and bacteria break down dead things and add them back to the soil.

    Kids enjoy science, but they don’t always remember that science is all around them. Get them out there searching and collecting scientific evidence, and remote or hybrid school will feel a lot more fun.

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  • Moving From the Comfort Zone to the Challenge Zone

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 11/1/2020

    By Edutopia

    When we are faced with challenges, our brains are activated to learn new things—so long as a foundation of safety, belonging, and trust is there as well.

    Moving From the Comfort Zone to the Challenge Zone

    Click here to watch the video

     

    This video is part of the How Learning Happens series, which explores teaching practices grounded in the science of learning and human development. 

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  • Why Ages 2-7 Matter So Much for Brain Development

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 10/1/2020

    An illustration concept of a child internalizing knowledge

    Rich experiences—from play to the arts and relationships—fundamentally shape a young child’s development.

    By Edutopia
     

    When Albert Einstein was a child, few people—if any—anticipated the remarkable contributions he would make to science. His language development was delayed, worrying his parents to the point of consulting a doctor. His sister once confessed that Einstein “had such difficulty with language that those around him feared he would never learn.” How did this child go from potential developmental delays to becoming, well, Einstein?

    Part of the answer to that question is symbolized in two gifts that Einstein received from each of his parents when he was 5 years old. When Einstein was in bed all day from an illness, his father gave him a compass. For Einstein, it was a mysterious device that sparked his curiosity in science. Soon after, Einstein’s mother, who was a talented pianist, gave Einstein a violin. These two gifts challenged Einstein’s brain in distinctive ways at just the right time.

    Children’s brains develop in spurts called critical periods. The first occurs around age 2, with a second one occurring during adolescence. At the start of these periods, the number of connections (synapses) between brain cells (neurons) doubles. Two-year-olds have twice as many synapses as adults. Because these connections between brain cells are where learning occurs, twice as many synapses enable the brain to learn faster than at any other time of life. Therefore, children’s experiences in this phase have lasting effects on their development.

    This first critical period of brain development begins around age 2 and concludes around age 7. It provides a prime opportunity to lay the foundation for a holistic education for children. Four ways to maximize this critical period include encouraging a love of learning, focusing on breadth instead of depth, paying attention to emotional intelligence, and not treating young children’s education as merely a precursor to “real” learning. 

    ENCOURAGE A LOVE OF LEARNING

    Young children need to enjoy the process of learning instead of focusing on performance. Educators and parents can emphasize the joys of trying new activities and learning something novel. We need to help children understand that mistakes are a welcome, normal part of learning.

    This period is also the time to establish a growth mindset—the belief that talents and abilities are developed through effort instead of being innately fixed. Educators should avoid labeling children or making universal statements about their ability. Even compliments such as “You’re so smart” are counterproductive. Instead, emphasize persistence and create safe spaces for learning. Children will learn to love learning if we show enthusiasm over the process rather than fixating on results. 

    FOCUS ON BREADTH, NOT DEPTH

    One way to avoid focusing on results during this phase of development is to emphasize the breadth of skill development over depth. Exposing children to a wide variety of activities lays a foundation for developing skills in a range of fields. This is the time to engage children in music, reading, sports, math, art, science, and languages.

    In his book Range, David Epstein argues that breadth of experience is often overlooked and underappreciated. Focusing on excellence in a single activity may be appropriate at some point in life. But the people who thrive in our rapidly changing world are those who first learn how to draw from multiple fields and think creatively and abstractly. In other words, our society needs well-rounded individuals.

    Well-roundedness is especially important for children from ages 2 to 7. Their developing brains are ready to soak in a wide range of skill sets. This “sampling period,” as Epstein calls it, is integral. This is the window during which to develop children’s range. There is plenty of time for them to specialize later.

    DON’T OVERLOOK EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

    Yes, we want children to read well and learn the fundamentals of math. But we should not disregard emotional intelligence. The advantages of learning during this first critical period of brain development should extend to interpersonal skills such as kindness, empathy, and teamwork.

    Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson explain the importance of developing children’s empathy in their book The Whole-Brain Child. Empathy begins with acknowledging one’s feelings. Therefore, they suggest helping children in this age group to first label their emotions (“I feel sad”) and then tell the story about what made them feel that way (“I feel sad because I wanted ice cream and you said no”). Once children practice labeling emotions, educators can start asking questions that encourage them to consider others’ feelings.

    One way to encourage care for others is to include children in what adults do for others. Even allowing young children to help with chores can make them more helpful and considerate people.

    DON’T TREAT YOUNG CHILDREN’S EDUCATION AS MERELY A PRECURSOR TO “REAL” LEARNING

    Children’s brains can uniquely absorb information during this critical phase. If intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, children between the ages of 2 and 7 may be the most intelligent humans on the planet.

    Research suggests that some skills cannot be learned nearly as well after this first critical period of brain development. For example, research shows that children in this age range are best suited to learn the patterns of language development, enabling them to master a second language to the same level as a native language. However, once children reach age 8, their language learning proficiency decreases, and second languages are not spoken as well as native ones. The same age effect is found when learning musical abilities such as perfect pitch.

    It is noteworthy that Einstein’s parents did not enroll him in physics lessons—the field that would lead him to a Nobel Prize. Instead, Einstein’s father included him in his work as an engineer. His mother signed him up for violin lessons because she wanted him to love and appreciate music. Both activities worked to develop his young mind holistically. It is tempting to think of early childhood education as a precursor to “real” education. But these may be the years that matter most. 

     

     

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  • 4 Strategies to Help Students Feel Calm During Distance Learning

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 9/1/2020

    Boy drawing a picture with markers

    Ways to guide elementary students to regulate their emotions and feel connected to their teacher and peers so they’re ready to learn.

    By Edutopia

    As I work with families, educators, and students during this pandemic time, we’re trying to figure out how to do school in a way that feels safe, comprehensive, and doable with limited technology and internet accessibility. The traumatic conditions of isolation, chronic unpredictability, and physical and emotional constraint are affecting all of us at some level. How do children express their feelings of abandonment, loss, grief, and confusion? How do adults express these feelings? Often, our behaviors tell our stories, signaling the pain we can barely speak of or understand.

    The therapist Bonnie Badenoch says that “the shards of these accumulating experiences that linger in our muscles, belly, hearts, brains, and body systems gradually shape our perceptual systems and how the world looks.” We can plan distance learning curricula, create new ways of presenting content, and innovate our assessment protocols for virtual learning, but with so many unknowns in this time, students’ emotional and social well-being must be a priority.

    Below are strategies and mini brain-aligned practices intended for distance learning that prepare the brain and body for a calm regulated state, improved focus, and attention. They are ways to create touchpoints—moments of connection—and to release anxiety and build a strong sense of connection in a class.

    STRATEGIES FOR PROMOTING CALMNESS AND A SENSE OF CONNECTION

    1. Express Yourself: When we can share our sensations, thoughts, and feelings, we feel a sense of relief, safety, and calm, and artistic expression is one of the most powerful ways to regulate our nervous systems during stressful periods of time. The teachers I work with have used these questions before distance learning lessons, sharing them in packets sent home so students can have some time to express how they feel before the academic part of the lesson. These questions are also great discussion starters that families can use to explore children’s emotions. 

    • What are two images or pictures that pop up in your mind when you think of this pandemic? What do these look like, sound like, smell like and feel like? Can you draw them, write about them, or act them out?
    • What are two ways this pandemic has affected you and/or your family? Can you express them through images or words?
    • How does your world feel different now compared to six months ago?
    • We cannot see the virus, but imagine that you can. What does it remind you of, and how does it look? What are its colors, its lines? If this virus could talk, what would it say? What would you say to this virus?
    • If you could help create a better world as we go through this pandemic together, what is one change you would like to help create or see? What would your plan look like?

    2. Dual Drawings: Students working with a peer, the teacher, or a parent can create a shared drawing as each takes a turn and draws a line or shape and then passes the drawing to their partner to add their line or shape to the drawing within a specified amount of time. Each partner can add shapes, lines, and color and can observe how this shared activity produces a collaborative design. When I have done this, we usually create together without talking—when the time is up we discuss our creation.

    This activity can be shared with students through packets sent through the mail over a longer period of time. The teacher can begin the drawings and send them home to students as a weekly or biweekly design unfolds. Once students have the starter drawing, they can also mail it back and forth to each other, rather than sending it to the teacher. The key step of reflecting on and discussing the creations can happen throughout the process by having students write short journal entries about what they added and why.

    3. Dual Story Writing or Journaling: This activity designed for closure is similar to the dual drawings except we create a story together. This story could be created with images or words and could be a 30-minute, one-day or weekly family activity, or a distance learning collaboration. A student and a peer, the teacher or a parent can write a fictional story together, or create a dual journal by writing alternating entries to share experiences from their daily lives.

    4. Brain Scavenger Hunt: This creates movement, shared and expressed feelings, and connection, and it can be a family ritual or a part of distance learning if students have an internet connection and a device. I have played this through Zoom with fifth-grade students, asking them to find objects around their home that answer these five brain-aligned questions in a specified amount of time. We place our responses on a Padlet so everyone can share what they discovered.

    • Can you find something in your home that can change its shape, is malleable, and stretches like our brains when we learn something new? This represents the brain’s amazing neuroplasticity—our experiences structurally and functionally change our brains, and we are always growing and learning, repairing and healing.
    • Can you find something that feels calming and soothing to you? When we calm our nervous systems, we open up the regions of the brain that can self-regulate, think clearly, remember, and pay attention.
    • Can you find and share something in your home that stresses you out? What you can name, you can tame. For this question, students can draw a picture or write out their answer if it’s not practical to bring the actual object to the Zoom call—for example, if the stressor is the student’s sibling.
    • Can you find something in your home that creates a memory for you? What experience does an image, or an object invoke that creates feelings of joy or peacefulness?
    • Can you find and share something in your home that makes you feel smarter and more focused?
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  • Learning at Home

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 3/16/2020 11:00:00 AM

    Help Has Arrived

    Reposted from the Arlington Central School District Community Facebook group. Thank you Joy Novack Rosson & Rick Rosson for sharing this wonderful information!

     

    Help has arrived....

    Ok, so LOTS of parents are suddenly home with their kiddos...

    We have always home schooled after I was a classroom teacher for more than a decade, so I say WELCOME and let me help you.😉

    A few things to remember, this is a PERFECT time to make memories with your children and learn things beyond "normal" math and reading.

    This is a great time to really help your child dig in and spend hours doing or learning something that they love or are passionate about.

    Don't forget that there are TONS of documentaries on the streaming services that they might enjoy and learn a lot from.

    Here are links that I have gathered to TONS of free fun learning options for all ages from toddlers to AP students to adults. Some are always free and some are only free during this current situation👇

    I am making this post public, so feel free to share it far and wide.😍 If you know of a resource for FREE education (either permanent or only during this time) please share it in the comments.

    The San Diego Zoo has a website just for kids with amazing videos, activities, and games. Enjoy the tour! https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/

    Tour Yellowstone National Park!
    https://www.nps.gov/…/lea…/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm

    Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.
    https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/

    This Canadian site FarmFood 360 offers 11 Virtual Tours of farms from minks, pigs, and cows, to apples and eggs. https://www.farmfood360.ca/

    Indoor Activities for busy toddlers
    https://busytoddler.com/2020/03/indoor-activities/…

    Play games and learn all about animals
    https://switchzoo.com/

    Play with fave show characters and learn too https://pbskids.org/

    Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre with this virtual field trip.
    https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

    This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.
    https://www.thechinaguide.com/destinati…/great-wall-of-china

    Math and Reading games https://www.funbrain.com/

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

    This iconic museum located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/

     Read, play games, and hang out with Dr. Seuss https://www.seussville.com/

    300,000+ FREE printable worksheets from toddlers to teens https://www.123homeschool4me.com/home-school-free-printabl…/

    Geography and animals
    https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

    Math practice from counting to algebra and geometry http://www.mathscore.com/

    Fave kids books read by famous people https://www.storylineonline.net/

    Crafts, activities, mazes, dot to dot, etc, https://www.allkidsnetwork.com/

    High school chemistry topics https://www.acs.org/…/hi…/chemmatters/articles-by-topic.html

    Math and reading games https://www.abcya.com/

    Math and language games https://www.arcademics.com/

    Hands on Elem science videos https://www.backpacksciences.com/science-simplified

    Voice based learning... learn through Alexa https://bamboolearning.com/resources

    Fun games, recipes, crafts, activities https://www.highlightskids.com/

    ClickSchooling brings you daily recommendations by email for entertaining websites that help your kids learn. https://clickschooling.com/

    Math as a fun part of your daily family routine http://bedtimemath.org/

    Games to get "into the book" https://reading.ecb.org/

    Online history classes for all ages preteen through adults https://school.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive

    Biology https://www.biologysimulations.com/

     Elem Math through 6th grade https://boddlelearning.com/

    Educational games K-12 https://www.breakoutedu.com/funathome

    Digital archive of history https://www.bunkhistory.org/

    Test Prep for SAT, ACT, etc. https://www.bwseducationconsulting.com/handouts.php

    Geometry https://www.canfigureit.com/

    Resources for Spanish practice https://www.difusion.com/campus/

    Chinese learning activities https://chalkacademy.com/

    Music is for everyone https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Experiments

    Science, Math, Social Studies https://www.ck12.org/student/

    Grammar practice for middle grades https://www.classroomcereal.com/

    Daily free science or cooking experiment to do at home.http://www.clubscikidzmd.com/blog/

    Chemistry https://www.playmadagames.com/

    Reading passages for grades 3-12, with reading comprehension and discussion questions. https://www.commonlit.org/

    Vocabulary, grammar, listening activities and games in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin. https://conjuguemos.com/

    35,000 pages of online content on the cultures and countries of the world. https://www.countryreports.org/

    K-5th Science lessons https://mysteryscience.com/

    Tons of free classes from leading universities and companies https://www.coursera.org/

    Free printable K-8 Reading and Math activity packs (available in English and Spanish) https://www.curriculumassociates.com/supporting-students-aw…

    Digital learning content for preschool through high school https://www.curriki.org/

    A wide range of math content from middle school through AP Calculus. https://deltamath.com/overview

    Day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/…/learnathome.html

    3 Free Weeks of Maker Stations to keep your children creating at home! Each challenge includes simple instructions using materials around the house, QR code video resources, and a student recording sheet. bit.ly/freemakerstations

    Classes for older teens or adults https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/lp/t1/freemo…

    Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. http://discoveryk12.com/dk12/

    Printable board games, activities and more for phonics and reading all using evidence-based methods. Can be customized to any student's needs including creating flashcards for other subjects. https://dogonalogbooks.com/printables/

    K-8 online math program that looks at how a student is solving problems to adjust accordingly and build a unique learning path for them. https://www.dreambox.com/at-home

    Engaging reading game for grades 2-8 that combines strategy, engagement, and imaginative reading passages to create a fun, curriculum-aligned literacy game. https://www.squigglepark.com/dreamscape/

    Higher level math series... online video series with detailed solutions to more than a thousand publicly-released College Board SAT Math, Subject Test Math Level 1, and Subject Test Math Level 2 problems.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbQoCpvYRYRkRRvsObOPHaA…

    Foreign languages https://www.duolingo.com/

    Interactive video earth science based curriculum supplement. https://www.everyday-earth.com/

    A safe research site for elementary-level readers. They are offering -- free 24/7 access
    USERNAME: read (case sensitive)
    PASSWORD: read (case sensitive)
    https://www.facts4me.com/

    Resources for AP students including live reviews, live trivia, and study guides! https://app.fiveable.me/

    Educational brain breaks to help students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. Our site is best used for ages 4-8. https://fluencyandfitness.com/register/school-closures/

    Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. https://www.gonoodle.com/

    7,000 free videos in 13 subject areas https://hippocampus.org/

    Carmen Sandiego videos, stories, and lessons for all subject areas https://www.carmensandiego.com/resources/

    Math Videos with lessons, real life uses of math, famous actors https://www.hmhco.com/math-at-work

    Entertaining & educational videos for all levels and subjects
    https://www.izzit.org/index.php

    Online education program for toddler through high school... https://www.khanacademy.org/

    Free Printables for PreK-2nd Grade https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/…/Lite…/Price-Range/Free

    Free printables library with activities for children 0-6 https://www.littlesparkcompany.com/printables-library

    Free at-home kids yoga lesson plans https://littletwistersyoga.com/online-store/

    Magic Spell is a carefully crafted spelling adventure. https://brainbox.games/

    Resources for AP students https://marcolearning.com/

    Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and they show you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college. https://www.mathcelebrity.com/online-math-tutor.php

    Elem Math games, logic puzzles and educational resources https://www.mathplayground.com/

    Poetry and music https://www.thewell.world/mindful-mu…/mindful-poetry-moments

    3D printing projects and Coding projects, involving math and other K-12 subjects https://www.instructables.com/…/EdgertonCent…/instructables/

    Introductory and intermediate music theory lessons, exercises, ear trainers, and calculators. https://www.musictheory.net/

    Scads of free resources, games, learning resources, and lesson plans for teaching personal finance https://www.ngpf.org/

    Improve your typing skills while competing in fast-paced races with up to 5 typers from around the world. https://www.nitrotype.com/

    Illustrated recipes designed to help kids age 2-12 cook with their grown-ups. Recipes encourage culinary skills, literacy, math, and science. https://www.nomsterchef.com/nomster-recipe-library

    Online curriculum that builds better writers. https://www.noredink.com/

    80+ do at home science activities https://elementalscience.com/…/n…/80-free-science-activities

    Daily lessons and educational activities that kids can do on their own https://www.superchargedschool.com/

    Adaptive curriculum in Math and ELA for Grades K-8
    https://www.scootpad.com/

    Novel Effect makes storytime a little more fun for kids (and grown-ups too!) As you read out loud from print books (or ebooks!) music, sound effects, and character voices play at just the right moment, adjusting and responding to your voice. https://noveleffect.com/

    Quick & easy at home projects curated for kids 2 and up
    https://www.kiwico.com/kids-at-home

    Teaches students how to write a paragraph through interactive online tutorial http://www.paragraphpunch.com/

    PreK-12 digital media service with more than 30,000 learning materials https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/

    Curricular content hub specifically designed for K-3 students.
    https://pebblego.com/free-pebblego-capstone-interactive-acc…

    Science and math labs and simulations https://phet.colorado.edu/

    An online physics problem and video bank designed for conceptual, standard, honors or AP1 physics. https://www.positivephysics.org/home

    Prodigies is a colorful music curriculum for kids 1-12 that will teach your kids how to play their first instrument, how to sing in tune & how to understand the language of music! 21 for free https://prodigiesmusic.com/

    Free videos from around the world from grade 3-12
    https://www.projectexplorer.org/

    QuaverMusic is offering free access to general music activities to all impacted schools, including free student access at-home https://www.quavermusic.com/info/at-home-resources/

    For students to practice and master whatever they are learning. https://quizlet.com/

    ReadWorks is an online resource of reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. https://www.readworks.org/

    Critical Thinking resources for K-6 students https://marketplace.mythinkscape.com/store/redtkids

    Music Based Spanish Learning https://rockalingua.com/

    Science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology
    https://sepuplhs.org/

    The Shurley English program for grades K-8 provides a clear, logical, and concrete approach to language arts. https://www.shurley.com/

    Sight reading and sight singing practice exercises. https://www.sightreadingfactory.com/

    Music practice transformed https://www.smartmusic.com/

    Spellingcity is free right now with code VSCFree90
    https://www.spellingcity.com/

    Kid-friendly workouts — choose from Strength for Kids, Agility for Kids, Flexibility and Balance for Kids, Warm-Up for Kids, Cooldown for Kids, Stand Up and Move for Kids, OR create your own custom kid workout. https://app.sworkit.com/collections/kids-workouts

    A collection of hundreds of free K-12 STEM resources, from standalone models and simulations to short activities and week long sequences of curriculum materials. https://learn.concord.org/

    Course sets (Levels 1–5) that combine and thoroughly cover phonics, reading, writing, spelling, literature, grammar, punctuation, art, and geography—all in one easy-to-use, beautiful course. https://www.goodandbeautiful.com/

    At home OT, PT, and ST resources designed to build skills in children through movement and play. https://www.theottoolbox.com/

    Science projects that can be completed with or without Internet access https://sciencespot.net/Pages/classhome.html

    Keyboarding practice https://www.typingclub.com/ or https://www.typing.com/

    Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school where students directly engage in science phenomena as they solve problems. https://www.tytoonline.com/

    Short videos and readings that answer various burning questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions. http://wonderopolis.org/

    Math practice https://xtramath.org/#/home/index

    K-5 curriculum that builds deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students https://www.zearn.org/

    A quick start resource to help families pull together a plan for surviving the next 1-2 months at home with their kids, but it can also be a time of slowing down and enjoying kids as they learn.
    Preschool through 8th grade https://abetterwaytohomeschool.com/learning-at-home-everyth…

    450 Ivy League courses that you can take https://www.freecodecamp.org/…/ivy-league-free-online-cou…/…

    Spelling 1-4 grade
    https://www.spellingtraining.com/

    2,500+ online courses from top institutions https://www.edx.org/

    22 languages to learn https://www.memrise.com/

    Learn to code https://www.codecademy.com/

    Miscellaneous games for all subjects k-8 https://www.funbrain.com/

    Phonics and learning to read https://readingeggs.com/

    PreK - 5 games for all subjects https://www.turtlediary.com/

    Online digital coloring pages https://www.thecolor.com/

    Every course you could possibly want to homeschool preschool - 8 https://allinonehomeschool.com/

    Every course you could possibly want to homeschool for high school https://allinonehighschool.com/

    Phonics worksheets for kids https://www.funfonix.com/

    Free stories online ages 3-12 https://www.freechildrenstories.com/

    National Geographic Young Explorers is a magazine designed specifically for kindergarten and first grade students. Children can listen to the magazine being read to them as they follow along with the highlighted text. https://ngexplorer.cengage.com/ngyoungexplorer/index.html

    Learn all about earthquakes https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/

    Learn all about the periodic table https://www.chemicool.com/

    Farmer's almanac for kids... Date, weather, moon phase, etc. https://www.almanac.com/kids

    Guide to gardening for kids https://web.extension.illinois.edu/firstgarden/

    Website allows students to play basic games to reinforce math skills and compete against the computer or others https://www.mangahigh.com/en-us/

    Space science for kiddos https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/index.html

    Math Games, Logic Puzzles and Brain Builders https://www.mathplayground.com/

    Games, quizzes and fact sheets take kids on a journey through time. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/forkids/

    NGAkids interactives offer an entertaining and informative introduction to art and art history. https://www.nga.gov/education/kids.html

    News and more for kids https://www.youngzine.org/

    Randomly generates 356,300,262,144 story starters
    https://thestorystarter.com/

    Immerse yourself in cryptography https://www.cryptoclub.org/

    Math games galore https://gridclub.com/

    Tons of science experiments that you can do at home
    https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/

    An interactive way to learn history
    https://www.mission-us.org/

    Just explore, have fun, and learn some science along the way. https://thehappyscientist.com/

    Interactive games based on the book series
    https://www.magictreehouse.com/

    Work on the 8 parts of speech https://www.grammaropolis.com/

    Learn all about cells https://www.cellsalive.com/

    All sorts of learning here if you dig in https://www.google.com/earth/

    Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning. https://scratch.mit.edu/

    A wonderful, endlessly detailed way to get kids engaged in the world of art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/

    Tests kids’ geography skills. Using images from Google’s Street View, it plops players down in the middle of the street and asks them to figure out where they are. https://www.geoguessr.com/

    Allows students to type in any city, state, or country to view an archive of historical photographs and other documents. It’s a unique way to help them learn about history.
    http://www.whatwasthere.com//

    Short videos about numbers that help kids explore complex math topics and make math more fun. https://www.numberphile.com/

    A human visualization platform that allows students to explore the human body in really cool ways. https://human.biodigital.com/login?returnUrl=/dashboard

    Helps kids learn to appreciate the arts by providing them with the opportunity to play games, conduct investigations, and explore different forms of art. https://artsology.com/

    Lets kids play instruments online. Instruments include the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, and bongos. https://www.virtualmusicalinstruments.com/

    Crafts, activities, bulletin board designs, and finger plays for early education teachers and parents to use with kids.
    http://www.preschoolexpress.com/

    A large selection of fun songs to help teach preschool and kindergarten students https://www.songsforteaching.com/preschoolkindergarten.htm

    Resource section includes free flashcards, coloring pages, worksheets, and other resources for children, teachers, and parents. https://supersimple.com/

    Life skills curriculum for students in grades K-12. Their resources include strategies for teaching social and emotional skills. https://www.overcomingobstacles.org/

    Coding for ages 4-10 https://www.kodable.com/

    No need to travel to one of the Smithsonian’s zoos or museums — this website brings your child everything from live video of the National Zoo to the Smithsonian Learning Lab right to their screen https://www.si.edu/kids

    Cool Kid Facts gives your child access to educational videos, pictures, quizzes, downloadable worksheets, and infographics. They can use these to learn about geography, history, science, animals, and even the human body.
    https://www.coolkidfacts.com/

    This interactive website, hosted by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, allows your child to see the ins and outs of the U.S. government by taking a series of learning adventures with none other than Benjamin Franklin. https://bensguide.gpo.gov/

    This NASA initiative covers a wide range of topics including weather, climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants, and animals. https://climatekids.nasa.gov/

    Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education project from Washington State University. Kids can send Dr. Universe any question they may have about history, geography, plants, animals, technology, engineering, math, culture, and more.
    https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu/

    Your child can play games, learn fun facts, and find out how to turn coin collecting into a hobby. https://www.usmint.gov/learn/kids

    From rainbows to tornadoes and winter storms to tsunamis, meteorologist Crystal Wicker breaks down the fascinating world of weather. http://www.weatherwizkids.com/

    Kids Think Design explores careers in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, book design, product design, film and theatre, architecture, animation, and environmental design. http://www.kidsthinkdesign.org/

    This educational website hosted by the Smithsonian Museum takes a deep dive into ocean life. https://ocean.si.edu/

    Brainscape offers over a million flashcard decks for every subject, entrance exam, and certification imaginable. https://www.brainscape.com/

    The Theta Music Trainer offers a series of online courses and games for ear training and music theory.
    https://trainer.thetamusic.com/en

    Banzai exposes students to real-world financial dilemmas to teach them the importance of smart money management. https://www.teachbanzai.com/

    Innerbody explores the 11 bodily systems in depth. With interactive models and detailed explanations, this website will help them learn more about the internal mechanics of the amazing human body.https://www.innerbody.com/htm/body.html

    Alcumus is specifically designed to provide high-performing students with a challenging curriculum appropriate to their abilities https://artofproblemsolving.com/alcumus

    Find and fix learning gaps https://www.mobymax.com/

    Algebra games for kids https://www.dragonboxapp.com/

    Fractions practice http://www.mathchimp.com/freddysfractions.php

    Education for kids all topics https://www.ducksters.com

    Math and logic problems for ages 5 and up to adult
    https://www.aplusclick.org/

    Science podcasts to listen to with your kids https://medium.com/…/19-great-science-podcasts-you-can-list…

    Alaskan Wildlife cams http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewing.webcams

    Coding with Star Wars https://code.org/starwars

    Tons and tons and tons of games some learning some just fun https://www.crazygames.com/

    Crafts, projects, science, recipes for young children https://www.funology.com/

    Amphibian unit studies https://premeditatedleftovers.com/…/amphibians-unit-study-…/

    Engineering challenges with things you have at home
    https://thehomeschoolscientist.com/paper-structures-engine…/

    Online photograph jigsaw puzzles You can set the pieces from 6-1000+ https://www.jigsawexplorer.com/

    Toddler and preschool age ideas https://preschoolinspirations.com/

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  • New Studies Link the Arts to Crucial Cognitive Skills

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 2/11/2020 4:00:00 PM

    What happens to our brains ‘on art’? New studies—often backed by brain imaging technology—are beginning to dial in on the answers.

    Art education

    Click here to watch a brief video.

    New research reveals that the arts may prime our neural circuitry for a broad range of activities, boosting crucial cognitive and social skills like spoken and written language, focus, self-control, and empathy. In a 2016 study, for example, T. Christina Zhao and Patricia Kuhl demonstrated that babies exposed to simple melodies in a social setting developed a greater sensitivity to the rhythms of spoken language. More surprisingly, they noted, the processing of music was traced not just to the auditory cortex of the infants, but to the prefrontal cortex as well—the seat of higher-order cognitive faculties like attention and self-regulation.

    “We can see that the babies who have been through the music experience have greater abilities to...hold attention when that’s important, and to switch attention when it’s  appropriate to switch,” Kuhl explained in a TED talk. “In other words, music is affecting executive function.” 

    2019 study reached similar conclusions with professional musicians, finding that “executive attention is more efficient in musicians than non-musicians,” and improves as musical training progresses. 

    But those weren’t the only surprises in store for researchers. A major 2019 study tracked over 10,000 students in Texas as they participated in arts programs, concluding that they performed better on state writing tests, were better behaved, had more compassion for fellow students, and were more engaged in school. And a 2018 study showed that drawing had a dramatic effect on memory, outperforming writing, visualizing, and other retention techniques.

    We also referenced other studies, reports, and news stories as we produced this video: A comprehensive 2017 American Institutes for Research study on arts integration; 2016 and 2014 research on executive function; a 2013 study on the value of field trips to museums; a 2019 news story on the recent discovery of ancient cave paintings; along with the following older research: a 2009 report; this 2011 research; this 2008 research; and this 2004 research, among others.

    Comments (-1)
  • Six Scaffolds That Deepen Independent Learning

    Posted by Jenny Fox on 1/28/2020 12:00:00 PM

    When teaching problem-based lessons, use thinking scaffolds to propel students toward greater expertise and deeper learning.

     
     
    Scaffold Image
     

    When you want to conduct a problem-based unit, or push students to engage with a project or investigate a challenging topic more independently, thinking scaffolds—by way of targeted prompts, supports, and modeling—can be an important tool in your arsenal.

    In a recent, small-scale study, featured in a report by Emily Boudreau on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Usable Knowledge website, researchers identified a few intriguing scaffolds teachers can use to help students progress toward more sophisticated, deeper-level learning. In the study, which examines a high school STEM curriculum, cognitive scientist Tina Grotzer and a team of researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “noticed that as their problem-based curriculum progressed, students changed the way they approached problems. Rather than waiting for the teacher to give them answers, they made hypotheses based on existing knowledge, discussed their thoughts with their teams, and took risks—all signs of deeper-level learning,” Boudreau writes.

    Researchers concluded that the thinking scaffolds provided by teachers played an important role in encouraging this shift. “We know that experts pay attention to a very different set of patterns than novices often do. Novices get caught up in the surface features and can’t necessarily see the deep principles,” Grotzer told Boudreau. “It’s really important to think what kind of scaffolding helps people take steps towards greater expertise in their thinking and reasoning.”

    Here are the six scaffolds Boudreau identifies:

    1. Encourage students to think about context: Pose questions that push students to think about what they know—and what they don’t yet know. This helps them become more inclined to seek out new connections, patterns, and possibilities. For example, ask: What information did you base your conclusion on? Are you sure—what don’t you know yet about this?

    2. Make questions open-ended: Draw out their thinking by using generic probes, or targeted questions, to help students rethink ideas without correcting them outright. For example, ask: Can you tell me more about that? Can you explain that?

    3. Tap into students’ knowledge base: Encourage students to dig into what they already know from school, their own experience, and what’s happening right now. Notes study author Grotzer: “[This is a] pedagogical move that says all of the information and experience you have is useful and you can bring it to bear.” Ask: what do you already know that could help you here?

    4. Let students own it: Let students know that they should make their own choices. “The role of the teacher is not to make decisions about what to do next or execute,” Boudreau writes about working in this mode of independent inquiry. Teachers can model the way an expert might approach the problem, and ask: What’s next? How are you going to handle this?

    5. Cultivate risk-taking: Encourage a classroom risk-taking culture—where students are willing to try new things—by not immediately shooting down incorrect answers and being patient before you jump in and guide students back to a more productive course. For example, say: that’s an interesting idea, let’s explore it.

    6. Leave time to debrief: To encourage students to see themselves as active learners, rather than mere participants, encourage regular student reflection with questions about performance, results, and students’ thought process. For example, ask: how do you think your team is doing? How are you managing your learning? 

    Comments (-1)