Category: Education (page 1 of 6)

Screentime in the Classroom: A Benefit or a Distraction?

Parents and teachers alike are sometimes worried that kids and students are spending far too much time looking at screens, and far too little time actually learning and reading. Naturally, the value of a screen depends on what is being displayed, but parents and teachers have a point. Children almost always expect to see smartphones and devices as sources of entertainment, and will oftentimes interpret screens used as educational tools as no more than entertainment with poorer quality.

The solution to this problem requires some creative thinking along with adults willing to give kids some room to experiment. Everyone is headed for the same destination. We just have different ways of getting there.

Creativity

Children are naturally creative. This is one of the reasons why they are drawn to screens in the first place. Games, animation, and the freedom of choice are the three things screens give them. What adults should do in order to channel those interests productively is show kids how to be creative without a screen.

What if students could learn to make games and animation themselves? What if they were allowed to discover new things without looking them up first? Such experiences could inspire them to try newer, potentially greater things.

Educational Tools

Much emphasis has been put on STEM education of late, otherwise known as a combination of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The biggest obstacle to these subjects is the fact that not all adults understand them, and even fewer can describe how to use electronic devices in order to effectively teach them.

Computer programming is a great example of this. Educators have placed a decent amount of value on teaching children how to “code.” Meanwhile, there are only five states with an official computer curriculum in the United States. How can children use screens productively if they provide no educational value?

Reading

Electronic books were invented decades ago, but were recently perfected within the last 10-15 years. It is now possible to carry the contents of an elementary school library around in a device the size of an actual book. How many educational institutions are taking advantage of this technology? If students and kids were looking at a screen with quality reading material on it, would that be preferable to random videos and distractions? How might carrying hundreds of books around all day change the life of the average elementary or junior high school student?

Screens are becoming an increasingly important aspect of education. Given how much smartphones and tablets are being used throughout the world on a daily basis, it’s only fitting that they become integral parts of the classroom. It is then up to educators and parents to ensure that what is being displayed on those screens is beneficial for the growth and development of the children using them.

Steven Virgadamo Offers Parents Tips on Fall Semester, Lunch and Student Focus

By the time November rolls around, many parents are frustrated that an elementary school child is not eating well at school. Many have already succumbed to that ever-tempting “lunchables” and a bag of chips. Never forget that a child’s meal is a building block to their health and academic success in school.

Here are a few tips to packing a nutritious lunch that kids love:

  1. If you are packing a sandwich, use whole grain bread. The bread must have 3 or more grams of pure fiber to be“true” whole grain bread.
  2. Package the lunch to look like the popular off-the-shelf items like “lunchables.” Cut sandwiches into fun shapes like hearts and flowers.
  3. If your scholar won’t eat a sandwich, try nutrient dense muffins. You take any basic muffin recipe and use gluten free flour and coconut sugar. Add veggies like carrots, celery etc.
  4. Be sure to include fruit like grapes, apples and bananas.
  5. Make a trail mix – nut free of course – but you can include things like raisins, dried apples, berries and you can even add some dark organic chocolate chips.
  6. Ditch the juice and replace with water. Add some food coloring if you need to make a more desirable presentation.

Meals rich in fiber are proven to satisfy hunger which will allow young scholars to focus better on school work. Whole foods for scholars will instill overall well-being and lifelong healthy eating habits. Most importantly, practice what you preach. If your children see you eating well, they too will grow up eating well.

Education Technologies of the Future

Technology continues to be an ever growing aspect of our lives. While it is not so surprising to see how it impacts certain parts of our daily lives, most seem quite shocked when they hear how technology continues to have a major influence in the world of education.

Learning within the classroom is constantly changing as technology shapes the way that people are able to study and grow. Virtual reality and adaptive learning in general is continuing to make its presence known across the country in classrooms.

With technology steadily improving, virtual reality classrooms are now used to help with the learning process. This type of technology in the field of education is able to help draw students in, and get them involved with hands on learning. This type of virtual reality technology sometimes even has the capability to take over as the teacher itself. Many online schools and courses are able to use this type of technology where students have access to it any time of day right from their computer or mobile device. This helps to permit learning at any time of day or not right from the comfort of their home.

Educational robotics have continued to become more popular and will steadily trend upwards in the future as well. The Lego Group, which invented the first educational robotics, set the pace when they developed the Mindstorms brand in the eighties. Today, many companies have bounced off of this idea and created other aspects of educational robotics for various different subjects. Just a few examples of these include Ozobot, Cubelets, or Dash and Dot, which all allow students to tap into their creative side and learn.

Intelligent mentoring is also very accessible and will continue to grow even more popular in the future of education. These types of intelligent tutors via technology take the place of a normal teacher and are able to assist in the learning process of students. A fantastic example of this is Duolingo which is a foreign language program that helps students learn a brand new language. The mentoring system is able to pick up on any type of errors the student makes and helps to correct them so they are able to understand what they did wrong. As technology continues to thrive and become more widespread, intelligent mentoring will grow.

Not Letting Kids “Go Dark” from Faith During Summer

Originally published on NCEATalk.org

The following article is a re-posting of John Jimenez’s blog, NOT LETTING KIDS “GO DARK” FROM FAITH DURING THE SUMMER.

All around the country, the end of the school year is here. And to most children, that means only one thing: summer vacation. The normal routine is broken up for two and a half glorious months of sleeping in, summer camps, family trips, play dates with friends, or whatever unique joys summer vacation brings to a child’s life.

This regular break from regularity is a wonderful thing, but often children can see it as a break from everything they normally do, including the practice and growth of their Catholic Faith. Many parish ministries and religious education programs “go dark” for the summer, and of course, if a child is in Catholic school, that regular connection with the Faith is dormant for the summer months.

As parents, though, we don’t want our children to take a break from their Faith during the summer. We don’t want them to take nearly 25% of every year to stop praying, learning, or growing closer to God. But we may find ourselves more on our own, without as much help from the school or parish during the summer. Thankfully, Catholic Brain does not go dark for the summer; the following are some ideas of how it can help.

Building A Summer Faith Routine

The break in routine during the summer gives the opportunity for some special religious opportunities. We can take our children to visit local shrines, participate more in service projects, or even make a pilgrimage. But in order to help our children continue to make the Faith an integral part of their daily lives, many people find making some summer routine helpful.

One simple thing to do is make use of the daily Scripture presentations from Catholic Brain. Each morning children can start their day by reading a child-friendly translation of the day’s readings at Mass, followed by a simple five-question quiz. This allows them to join the mind of the Church in pondering God’s Word throughout the summer.

The saints are our constant companions throughout our journey in life. Each day children can learn about the Saint of the Day. This way, throughout the summer, they will be able to make many new heavenly friends. In the morning, at meals, and before bed, children can be encouraged to ask that day’s saint to pray for them. By incorporating the daily Scripture readings and saints, the Catholic Faith can continue to be part of the rhythm of our children’s daily lives.

“Faithful” Screen Time

One of the things that many children spend more time doing in the summer is watching television. Catholic Brain has many wonderful videos for children, about the life of Jesus or other Bible stories, about the saints or virtues. If children will have more screen time this summer, perhaps it can begin with one of the videos found on the site. Have them share with you what they learn each day.

Of course, there are all sorts of things that can be found on Catholic Brain, from games and other activities, to printables and music. The extra time this summer gives children an opportunity to search the site on their own and find things that interest them.

Summer Catechism Study Program

One of the best opportunities Catholic Brain is offering this summer is its eight-week Summer Catechism Study Program, beginning June 18, and running through August 10. This child-friendly approach to the truths of our Faith is built to become part of daily life.

The 38 videos correspond to the 38 lessons in the Baltimore Catechism, and are accompanied by activities, games and quizzes. Children can track their progress by earning badges throughout the program and each child will earn a certificate of completion when they finish. They will also take a final quiz, and those with the highest scores can win Catholic Brain store gift cards, trophies, and free Biblezon tablets. Best of all, the program allows kids to end the summer with a deeper understanding of the Faith than they began it with. Just go to the Catholic Brain site, and click on the pink “Summer Catechism Study Program” tab to sign up!

Funding Within the Catholic School System

Currently, Catholic schools are facing a financial crisis, brought about by an unmet need for funding. Government funding and donations from philanthropists do help, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the costs associated with educating each school’s children. This leaves the bulk of funding to come from the only other available source: tuition. While that seems like the obvious solution, the ways in which tuition is applied may be doing more harm than good.

The Dilemma with the Current Tuition Model

Catholic schools are caught in a tough spot right now, due to their dependence upon tuition to fund the system. Currently, tuition is based on the number of children attending the school. In the per student model, a family with five students will be paying five times more than a family with just one child. The problem with this is that the family with five children is already paying a higher percentage of their earnings to provide those children with other necessities, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. Unless they’re wealthy, that family will see the burden of tuition as an added hardship.

The problem doesn’t just affect that one family. Looking for ways to cut corners, even a devout Catholic family may find themselves forced to send their children to public schools. The burden of tuition may be lifted, but the children aren’t getting the education that the family wants for them. As more families make this same choice, enrollment in Catholic schools will suffer. Ultimately, Catholic schools will become more akin to elite private schools, where only single-child families will enroll.

A New Tuition Model

While the situation seems dire, there is a solution that has been proposed and it’s one that embraces the giving nature of the Catholic faith. The idea is to switch from a per student tuition model to a per family model, which would have every family paying the same for tuition. It would lighten the burden on families with multiple children attending the school, allowing them.to pay one smaller tuition.

In general, families would be paying just a few hundred per year as opposed to the thousands of dollars they would otherwise have to pay. This also means that single-child households may be paying a little more. However, an increase of a couple hundred is still far more easily managed than tuition costs of $5,000 or more per year.

It seems obvious that the current method for funding Catholic schools isn’t sustainable as a long-term solution. By amending the way tuition is applied to each family, more children will be able to remain in their school of choice. That’s better for the children, for their families, and for the Catholic schools seeking to provide a better educational experience.

 

Source: https://catholicexchange.com/blueprint-for-change-funding-catholic-schools

Helping Students Develop a Unique Mindset and the Ability to Think Critically is the Calling of Every Teacher

Effectively motivating your students and providing them with engaging educational programs and activities is at the forefront of every teacher’s mind. However, it would not be beneficial to teach them so that they are unable to learn on their own. Teachers should obviously aid in a student’s learning, but also help in the development of a unique mindset and the ability to think for oneself, thus being able to learn outside of just a classroom setting.

Doing this can be somewhat challenging, as you’ll essentially have to “fool” them into taking part in activities that almost force education. This, however, sounds much harsher than what you can actually do. Inspire unique thought by asking open ended questions and encouraging all to take part in a discussion. Assign projects that require students to combine their current sets of skills with new ones learned over time. Develop a framework within your regular teaching schedule that does not take away from current methods, but adds a twist to them every now and then.

One great way to develop unique mindsets in the classroom is to ask your students to theorize something. This can be done over a short or long period of time in which their theories may prove true, or false. Have them test and modify these stances as things progress. This is a great activity to expand one’s knowledge and learn that a theory is just that; something that can be proven false no matter how passionate one feels about it.

Encourage reading, but do not demand it. Younger students are often forced to read, whether it be sections of a science book, or a certain number of chapters in a fictional work. This poses the risk of creating disdain towards the idea, making children and young adults unwilling to read during their own time. While certain activities and classwork will require reading to some extent, explain the benefits of doing so on your own. Allowing your students to read without any external pressure can do wonders for their classroom engagement in addition to improving brain power.

Create activities in which your students must work together to achieve an end goal. Collaboration is a great way to learn one’s own value in any given situation. Rather than creating some type of hierarchy, assign equal roles and allow your students to enjoy their unique value applied to the task at hand; another great strategy in building confidence as well.

Teach them to embrace any mistakes made. Almost no task will be done perfectly throughout their education, and that is perfectly acceptable. It’s an age-old saying that holds true merit: “Everybody makes mistakes.” To discredit yourself because of any type of mistake is to demean your own worth. Teach your students to make these mistakes without pointing any fingers, and explain the benefits of allowing oneself to stride through missed opportunities. To dwell on a mistake provides no value, but they should learn from any made.

Though these are just a few strategies you can introduce to your students to help them develop unique mindsets, they can be extremely valuable both in, and outside of the classroom. As Alice Wellington Rollins once said, “The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.”

Education Research: What to Know for the New Year

Educators and those within the education industry are well aware of the constant changes and innovations that occur on a yearly basis. New studies may be released promoting certain teaching strategies as opposed to others, or detailing the types of environments children seem to thrive in that contradict a traditional setting. Regardless, professionals with years of experience under their belts understand the most important aspects, and those that are the most truthful. Below are a few findings Chalkbeat has compiled that all educators should take with them heading into 2018.

 

Teacher Certifications Come with Ramifications

 

Vetting teachers before hiring is obviously a crucial aspect of the employment process in education. However, overly strict rules often limit adequate, trustworthy teachers from joining, and thus benefiting the school they wish to work at. Similarly, certifications exclude teachers of color, which is often extremely detrimental in the sense that students of color have been shown to benefit more from educators of the same ethnicity.

 

Another downside of certifications is that they are often state-regulated, which means teachers are very limited in terms of where they want to teach. While it may be rare for an educator to move across states, the option should always exist. Certifications effectively render that impractical.

 

Unions may not be beneficial

 

Steven Virgadamo, with 35 plus years involved in implementing school improvement programs in nearly all 50 states, believes that having a group of educators more interested in protecting their jobs can sometimes be counterproductive to student performance, unless of course job security is tied directly to student test performance. The needs of the students and their families should never be placed secondary to the needs of the teachers.

 

State Tests Show Results

 

Mandatory statewide testing has always been seen as a somewhat controversial practice, but they have been shown to provide results. The University of Chicago found that students who took state tests later showed improved grades, a higher acceptance rate among colleges, and a consistent college tenure. But, with more testing came more displeased students, suggesting that teachers who may be great at improving test scores may lack in providing a happier educational environment.

 

Staying ahead of the curve in educational trends can be difficult, but knowing what works best, and what has worked in the past can equip teachers with the necessary tools to help their students succeed, as well as improve their personal teaching methods.

The Catholic Church in the US

Some say the Catholic Church is in decline and yet others say it is a Church in hospice. It is true the U.S. Church has experienced about a 3% decline in the last ten years confirmed by two massive PEW studies … and a decline in religious vocations, but don’t be too quick to rush to judgement without carefully considering the data. Most of the Church closures are old inner-city parishes where the demographics are changing. Many of these inner city parishes were established in close proximity in the late 1800’s as each was founded to minister to a particular immigrant population – Irish – Italian – Polish etc. Today, 49% of Catholic adults have a graduate college degree, make an above average income and very few experience protracted periods of unemployment. And, most do not live in the inner cities.

Catholics in the suburban parishes are doing just fine … and there has been no aggregate decline in the number of baptized Catholics who routinely attend Mass in the last 50 years. All these demographics correlate neatly with Catholic fertility rates … the aggregate baptized Catholic population fluctuates over decades between 23% to 27% of the U.S. population.

Catholic schools continue to maintain a presence in the inner cities to serve the urban poor and often the new immigrant population because they are Catholic and education is a path to breaking a cycle of poverty.

Spring and Getting Your Students Outside

If you are a teacher feeling the strain of third quarter and searching for the elusive fourth quarter of your school year to arrive, there is hope. Although you have been trapped inside with your students, the spring weather gives you opportunity to get your students outside, either during class projects or for homework. Here are ten outdoor assignments, categorized by subject matter, that both teachers and students can enjoy:

 

English Language Arts

 

  1. Write haiku poems which are usually about elements of nature. A haiku is a succinct style of poetry that should have only three lines and include exactly five, seven and then five syllables per line.
  2. Try poetry written in the imagist style to capture specific, simple pieces of nature. This assignment works especially well when studying American Literature because of the origins and history of imagism.
  3. Practice using descriptive language and literary devices to describe the outdoor setting. Teachers could require students to include their observations from all five senses and to use a set number of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, alliteration and symbolism.

 

Science

 

  1. Search for unique rocks, and then categorize them as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic. Teachers could encourage a chart or table be designed and presented.
  2. Teach students how to safely catch and preserve or to catch and release insects; then practice classifying each insect based on its taxonomy.
  3. Ask for observations in a journal or report that describe the habitat of squirrels, birds or other animals in the area. This assignment could also include students classifying the animals or studying the entire ecosystem.

 

Math

 

  1. For preschool classes, help students collect a designated number of rocks and leaves with which to practice counting.
  2. For elementary classes, ask students to gather a certain number of items, then practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the assortments during whole-group instruction. You could also demonstrate using fractions with their outdoor collections.

 

Social Studies

 

  1. Assign students a diorama showing their grasp of a historical event, and have them make a list of supplies they need; then go outside to gather a portion of their supplies.
  2. Have older students observe others at a park and report back on social structure, group behavior, gender roles and social norms. Adapt this exercise as needed for various sociology and psychology topics.

 

Indeed, springtime provides a unique season for students to explore and learn hands-on. Perhaps you are a teacher trying to engage students who learn best in a kinesthetic or tactile way; here’s your chance to add to your typical lessons and interest students even more. Encourage your students’ development by trying these creative and fun academic exercises.

 

Avoiding Teacher Burnout

It is estimated that 15.7 percent of teachers leave their jobs every year. Burnout is one of the top reasons that people quit their jobs. Fortunately, teacher burnout is something that can be prevented.

 

Take Care Of Your Health

Being a teacher can be physically and emotionally demanding. Fortunately, you can prepare your body for these demands by taking care of your health. Make sure that you eat a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Try to sleep for seven to eight hours every night. Additionally, you should schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise in your day.

 

Maintain Your Social Life

Many people completely devote themselves to teaching. They spend all day in the classroom. When they go home, they spend all of their time planning for the next day. While teaching will take up a lot of your time, it is important for you to maintain your social life. Devoting all of your time to teaching will eventually lead to burnout.

Hang out with your family members and friends. Plan a weekend trip every now and then. Spending time with the people you love will help you recharge and focus.

 

Have Fun With Your Class

Teachers do not have to be serious all of the time. Making learning fun will make things better for you and your students. Sharing stories, brain teasers and puzzles are great ways for students to have fun while they are learning. In fact, many students get more out of stories, puzzles and brain teasers than they do out of long lectures.

 

Find Support

Sometimes, all you need is the support of your co-workers, family members and friends. They can help guide you and tell you about what you need to do to alleviate your stress. Your support team can also help you complete some of your daily tasks.

 

Set Limits

As a teacher, you may feel as though you have to complete everything on your to-do list. However, it is okay to say no sometimes. Do not feel obligated to take on additional tasks that you know that you do not have the time to do. If you have too much on your plate, then tell someone. Setting limits is one of the best ways to avoid burnout.

 

Teachers have a time-consuming and demanding profession. That is why teacher burnout may seem inevitable. Fortunately, taking the time to properly plan and care for yourself will help you avoid burnout.