Professional Learning for Busy Educators
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Surprising Tips That Help Kids Learn to Read

Surprising Tips That Help Kids Learn to Read | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it

"Parents, do you know how to read? More precisely, do you know how to read to kids?

Almost every adult who cares for young children knows that sharing books with them is an important way to promote their reading skills. But research shows that subtle features of the way adults act during story-time make a big difference in children’s literacy—and that most grownups aren’t using these simple but effective techniques."

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Professional Learning for Busy Educators
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5 Questions That Promote Student Success in High-Poverty Schools

5 Questions That Promote Student Success in High-Poverty Schools | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Leaders in high-performing, high-poverty (HP/HP) schools know that success requires more than just high-quality teaching and learning. The entire school, as a system, should work together to develop a common instructional framework that provides a vision of what success looks like. When a ship loses its compass, getting to port becomes a game of chance. It's no different for a school. When a school, particularly one characterized by high poverty and low performance, lacks an instructional plan or framework, progress will be anything but systematic, and more than likely patterns of low performance will continue.

Through the collaborative efforts of the leaders and staff, HP/HP schools focus on three kinds of learning: student, professional, and system. These learning agendas influence each other, and leaders in HP/HP schools make the most of this connection to facilitate sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Professional learning is the adult learning that takes place within a school, while system learning conveys how the school as a whole learns to be more effective. In other words, as people within the school learn, the system learns.
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 26, 8:30 AM
"Focus on three kinds of learning, student, professional, and system." Read on for the details.
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Assessment in Making - @Edutopia

Assessment in Making - @Edutopia | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Maker education is being increasingly integrated into classrooms of all grade levels. It's an approach that draws upon philosophies and pedagogies of the past (constructivism, constructionism, inquiry, hands-on, and project-based learning) and integrates methods from the present (design thinking, effectuation). It reimagines a progressive approach to learning through modern affordances. It democratizes the tools of creativity and empowers the learner. It develops a maker mindset that that has been described as "playful, asset- and growth-minded, failure positive, and collaborative" (Martin, 2015).

Traditional direct instruction focuses on content knowledge, while maker-centered learning orients around the learner's context. It's a framework for learning that can be applied to any content. It allows the learner to actualize his or her own ideas. In any subject area, with any materials or equipment, maker education is a tool or vehicle for learning that focuses on the how: the process, the social-emotional skills, and the application of problem solving, collaborating, and persisting. Yes, there is absolutely content, but maker ed creates a meaningful context for students to engage with content on their own terms.

Anyone who works with young makers sees this level of engagement, collaboration, and creativity. Indeed, there has been an explosion in the number of makerspaces in schools. But as with any new education model -- particularly one with roots outside of education -- there are serious questions that arise:
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Where Preschool Doesn't Cost a Dime

Where Preschool Doesn't Cost a Dime | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
BRISTOL, England—Any child in England who has turned 3 by Sept. 1 is guaranteed 15 hours a week of free childcare or preschool for 38 weeks a year, or 570 hours total, paid for by the national government.

“We don’t think of it as socialism at all,” said the Oxford University professor Edward Melhuish, who studies child development and was instrumental in conducting the research that largely led to England’s current policies. “We think of it as common sense.”
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3 Strategies to Improve Student Writing Instantly

3 Strategies to Improve Student Writing Instantly | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
"But Miss Parrish, I can't think of anything to write!"

Haven't we all heard similar lines in our classrooms? We see hesitant writers sit with a pencil in their hands and a paper on their desks, almost as if they have been handicapped by the task we asked them to do.

How is it that some students have so much to say when talking out loud, but when a pencil is put into their hand they suddenly hesitate, struggle and have nothing to say? How can you help those hesitant writers eliminate the "handicap" or barrier that suddenly appears when asked to write?

The answer is to simply have them produce "writing" without technically "writing" at all. That's right, the way to get hesitant writers to produce as much "writing" as they do "talking" is to have them do exactly that -- talk.
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7 Important Creative Thinking Skills

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
We were on a call with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting.

7 Important Creative Thinking Skills

Infographic by and courtesy of Diane Bleck – DoodleInstitute.com
These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too:
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Teacher absolutely nails it with new homework policy

Teacher absolutely nails it with new homework policy | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
The war against homework has begun.

A massive pile of homework after a long day at school is enough to make any kid go insane. Even the best students will half-ass their way through their take-home work. One teacher has had enough.
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Free Technology for Teachers: Remember to Sleep - A Lesson for Students

Free Technology for Teachers: Remember to Sleep - A Lesson for Students | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
As the new school year gets going there will be plenty of students and teachers who are adjusting to a new sleeping schedule. It can be tempting to stay up late to get "just one more thing" done. We're actually better off going to bed and getting up early than we are if stay up late trying to get something done. The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep is a TED-Ed lesson that teaches us about the importance of sleeping on a steady schedule.
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Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator: When Students Ask “Can I Friend You?”: An Ethical Response Guide.

Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator: When Students Ask “Can I Friend You?”: An Ethical Response Guide. | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
I was excited to check out this Tweet from @TaliCSM the ed director at Common Sense Education about how to ethically respond to a student friend-request. It took me to educator Keegan Korf’s blog post where in short, she shared that she only “friends” former students, and warns them that inappropriate behavior will result in defriending.

Keegan’s simple and sensible policy mirror’s the practice of many educators I work with, know, and respect.


I replied to her Tweet explaining I had a different view.


I don’t like blanket policies and I don’t believe the only relationship to have with young people is teacher-student. I learn so much from students.

What I loved was Keegan’s excitement around the conversation and willingness to gain another perspective. This is how we develop and grow our thinking.  
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 22, 8:10 AM
Use this article to reflect on how you would act in this very real scenario. You may or may not agree but it would be prudent to have guidelines in place. It will only take one student to ask and that probably will happen. Check your school or district policies first.
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20 Tips to Help De-escalate Interactions With Anxious or Defiant Students

20 Tips to Help De-escalate Interactions With Anxious or Defiant Students | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it

"A National Institute of Health study found that 25.1 percent of kids 13-18 in the US have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. No one knows how many more haven’t been diagnosed. Additionally between eight and 15 percent of the school-aged population has learning disabilities (there is a range because there’s no standard definition of what constitutes a learning disability). Nine percent of 13-18 year-olds have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (although the number one misdiagnoses of anxiety is ADHD), and 11.2 percent suffer from depression.

‘We are 50% of every interaction with a child, so we have a lot of control over that interaction.’


“So basically we have this gap in teacher education,” said Jessica Minahan, a certified behavior analyst, special educator, and co-author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students. She spoke to educators gathered at a Learning and the Brain conference about strategies that work with oppositional students.
Minahan is usually called into schools to help with the most challenging behavior. She finds that often teachers are trying typical behavioral strategies for a group of kids for whom those strategies don’t work. However, she says after teachers learn more about why kids are behaving badly there are some simple strategies to approach defiant behavior like avoiding work, fighting, and causing problems during transitions with more empathy."

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Table Talk Math: Finally a Math Resource for Parents is Here!

Table Talk Math: Finally a Math Resource for Parents is Here! | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Table Talk Math

TableTalkMath.com has been started to send a weekly newsletter to interested parents who want to engage in a discussion involving math. Maybe it’s a funky picture that begs questions; perhaps it’s a conundrum that a child (and the adult) will have to ponder before making a decision of which is better; it could be a question of mental math and how each person around the table went about solving it. Either way, the goal is to have a low bar of entry into a curiosity-building math prompt that all can enjoy, even if it’s only for a few minutes a week.

Included in every newsletter will be a prompt, some tips to get the conversation going, and hopefully a few words of advice from the creator/contributor. As parents, you want what is best for your child(ren) and this is one more small bit of support.

To sign up for the newsletter, head over to tabletalkmath.com and register today. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @TableTalkMath and @jstevens009 for an occasional post that gets me thinking. If you have a contribution that you would like to see featured, email me at stevens009@gmail.com.

John Stevens
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Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers

Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Welcome to your first year of teaching. This year will test you more intensely than just about anything you’ve done up to now. It will deplete all your energy, bring you to tears, and make you question every talent or skill you thought you had. But all these tests, if you approach them the right way, will leave you better and stronger than you are today.

Advice is available everywhere you look, and some of it is very good. Still, with everything you have to do right now, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it all. And the fact is, a lot of those tips won’t work very well if you fail to follow this one essential rule:

Surround yourself with good people.

By finding the positive, supportive, energetic teachers in your school and sticking close to them, you can improve your job satisfaction more than with any other strategy. And your chances of excelling in this field will skyrocket. Just like a young seedling growing in a garden, thriving in your first year depends largely on who you plant yourself next to.
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 15, 10:23 AM
"Surround yourself with good people."
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Free Technology for Teachers: Displaying YouTube Without Distractions

Free Technology for Teachers: Displaying YouTube Without Distractions | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
In my previous post I shared the idea of using extended display mode to choose what is and isn't displayed on the projector in your classroom. If one of the things that you want to display is a YouTube video, you'll want to make sure that you don't accidentally display the "related" videos that appear on YouTube. You can avoid displaying related videos by using one of the following free tools. None of these tools will bypass your school's filter nor will they let you download videos.
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25 Reading Strategies That Work In Every Content Area

25 Reading Strategies That Work In Every Content Area | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Reading is reading. By understanding that letters make sounds, we can blend those sounds together to make whole sounds that symbolize meaning we can all exchange with one another.

Without getting too Platonic about it all, reading doesn’t change simply because you’re reading a text from another content area. Only sometimes it does.

Science content can often by full of jargon, research citations, and odd text features.

Social Studies content can be an interesting mix of itemized information, and traditional paragraphs/imagery.

Literature? Well, that depends on if you mean the flexible form of poetry, the enduring structure of a novel, or emerging digital literature that combines multiple modalities to tell a story. (Inanimate Alice, for example.)
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 14, 9:36 AM
This is a great resource.
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Free Technology for Teachers: Wonderville - Science and Technology Games for Kids

Free Technology for Teachers: Wonderville - Science and Technology Games for Kids | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Wonderville is a great website for kids on which students can find games, videos, comics, and hands-on activities for learning about science and technology. The gallery of activities, games, videos, and comics is divided into three categories; fun science, awesome tech, and cool jobs
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10 Things You Can Do On Google Classroom - Simplek12

10 Things You Can Do On Google Classroom - Simplek12 | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Teachers love Google. So you likely shouldn’t be surprised that everyone has been talking about Google Classroom on Twitter recently. I watch social media closely and it’s my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

Google Classroom, described on the Google website as “designed hand-in-hand with teachers to help them save time, keep classes organized, and improve communication with students.” You receive access by signing in with your school Google account. Google Classroom is a one-stop Google shop for teachers, including lists of helpful products, training, and resources for students and teachers.  In fact, some of the world’s best Google training for teachers comes from SimpleK12, and you can check out upcoming Google Classroom webinars here, many free.
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 26, 8:27 AM
"Why teachers use a Google Classroom is obvious. How to use it less so." In WPS, T's have access through their Google account. Start here if you are not aware of the possibilities.
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5 Reasons to Read for Reluctant Readers

5 Reasons to Read for Reluctant Readers | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Teachers may offer up a killer classroom library and carve out class time for silent reading, but these two things do not guarantee prolific reading, or even moderate reading from your students. One of my goals when I was teaching high school was this: to have students fall in love with reading while they were in my classroom (or at least like it a little more).

So how do you motivate secondary students in a deeper, lifelong reader way? It's not just about helping a student find that right book, as teachers often see as the ultimate mission, but it's about giving reasons for reading -- and really good ones. Because let's face it, there's plenty of stuff we all have to read that we may not be crazy about, but we know it's good for us. The following motivators are inspired by educator Kelly Gallagher's book, Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School.
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7 Characteristics of Great Professional Development | TeachThought Professional Development

7 Characteristics of Great Professional Development | TeachThought Professional Development | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
As the end of the school year draws to a close, administrators start pulling together their PD plans for the summer in preparation for the next year. Meanwhile, teachers sit anxiously by with the dread that can only come with the anticipation of the dreaded PD days that their contract says they must attend. It’s not that teachers don’t want to grow and improve their craft. They do, and they find it refreshingly professionalizing when they get to. It’s just that this ain’t their first rodeo. They’ve been made to sit through pointless professional development in the past and they lament that they’re thinking “how long will this last and what will I have to turn in…and when is lunch?” as they trudge toward the library down the hallway that so obviously lacks the normal student energy they’ve used as fuel for the past 9 months. But it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, if we do things well, teachers are likely to come away from their professional development energized and excited.
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A New Program and a New Approach to Homework

A New Program and a New Approach to Homework | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Homework has been getting a lot of attention in the media. My Twitter feed is full of articles and blogs discussing the research on homework, particularly at the elementary level, and how counterproductive it can actually be. As a parent and teacher, I find this conversation is particularly interesting.

As a parent, I marvel at the amount of work my own children–2nd and 4th grade–bring home on a weekly basis. Selfishly, I feel homework at the elementary level is an intrusion into the limited time I get with my kids in the evenings and weekends. My children spend 6+ hours in a classroom with their teachers each day. I want the 4+ hours they have after school to be dedicated to exploring other interests–sports, instruments, playing in the backyard, building random art projects out of old boxes, and reading. In the long run, I think this break from academic tasks beyond the classroom will actually keep students more engaged at school.

Because I clearly saw the value of not assigning homework elementary level, I had to take a closer look at why I was assigning homework at the high school level. Wasn’t the argument for needing a brain break after a long day at school just as valid for teenagers? Don’t teenagers also need time to pursue other interests and spend time with their families?
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 25, 8:44 AM
Currently a very hot topic(at least on the Internet). Here is one parent/teacher's opinion and her approach.
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How You Can Support The New Kid In Your Class - @TeachThought

How You Can Support The New Kid In Your Class - @TeachThought | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it

"It is not uncommon to have new students in the middle of the school year.

These students are often new to an area–new city or state, for example. In the coming months, you may have some students joining your class(es) who are new to town. As you can probably imagine, the first day and even the first few months into the school year can be rough for a new student. Learning to navigate new hallways, making friends, finding ‘their place’ amongst established natives, adjusting to the curriculum… there is a lot of anxiety and pressure during this transitional time, and there is equally a lot you can do to help ease the process of settling in. That first day at school doesn’t have to be a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” Here are the top 5 ways you can help out “new kids” in your class—let the countdown begin:"

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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 23, 8:17 AM
Most are considerations that experienced teachers do but it is important to think about each new student's background and plan for the first day(s). This is a good reflection piece.
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How You Can Bring Creativity Back Into Your Classroom With Project Based Learning (EdSurge News)

How You Can Bring Creativity Back Into Your Classroom With Project Based Learning (EdSurge News) | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it

"Think about it: when was the last time a creative task held your focus? Perhaps when you needed to solve a complex problem with a personal solution? Make a drawing? Build something? Many people have a sense of satisfaction after finishing something, that feeling of “I did my best work! I put my all into it, and now I release it into the wild.”

Now, imagine kids getting that feeling every time we introduce a new concept or ask an essential question. Students are full of gifts and abilities—they all have a unique perspective on the world, and should be given opportunities to share that perspective and their gifts. 

According to a study from Adobe (which an accompanying infographic shown to the right), 82% of college-educated professionals wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students. As teachers, if we use technology solely for its own sake, we do students a disservice. Technology can allow students to show off their creativity. Conversely, students can show their creativity even without using technology. How wonderful it would be to connect students’ creativity, talents, and interests to content knowledge!

But where to begin? Let’s think about it through the lens of project-based learning."

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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 22, 8:04 AM
Students illustrate their mastery of the content with or without technology; student choice; encouragement of creativity by S's; teachers stepping back. Some of my takeaways from reading this about Project Based Learning.
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5 Surefire Ways to Engage Students the First Week of School

5 Surefire Ways to Engage Students the First Week of School | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
In a recent blog post, the author Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips and Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily shares 5 surefire ways to engage students during the crucial first week of school.
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 23, 8:25 AM
Engagement and James Alan Sturtevant. Need to read.
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10 Team-Building Games That Promote Collaborative Critical Thinking - TeachThought

10 Team-Building Games That Promote Collaborative Critical Thinking - TeachThought | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
Yes, there are mounds of curricula they must master in a wide breadth of subjects, but education does not begin and end with a textbook or test. Other skills must be honed, too, not the least of which is how to get along with their peers and work well with others. This is not something that can be cultivated through rote memorization or with strategically placed posters.

Students must be engaged and cooperation must be practiced, and often. The following team-building games can promote cooperation and communication, help establish a positive classroom environment and — most importantly — provide a fun, much-needed reprieve from routine.
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Sylvianne Parent's curator insight, February 16, 4:17 PM

Il est difficile pour les élèves dysphasiques de développer ses habiletés sans enseignement explicite. Dans le cadre d'un jeu, l'engagement et l'intérêt peut être un élément facilitateur.  À explorer!

Victor Ventura's curator insight, February 23, 8:06 AM

Team building is important to you and your students. Check these strategies out.

Steve Whitmore's curator insight, August 22, 8:03 AM
Team building games and projects are a great way to develop social skills for kids.  Here's some that have been around a while and some newer ones.  Resistant teens respond well to these. 
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10 TED Talks Every Educator Should Listen To — Emerging Education Technologies

10 TED Talks Every Educator Should Listen To — Emerging Education Technologies | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
As an educator, you’re likely greeted with inspiration daily, whether it comes from your friends, students, or colleagues. Another place to find inspiration is through online TED talks. Start by listening to the following TED talks that will help you in your career as an educator.
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How Self-Directed Learning Can Benefit Every Student

How Self-Directed Learning Can Benefit Every Student | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it

Students teaching themselves? Who ever heard of this? Is this even possible? What exactly do we mean by self-directed learning, anyway? I love the following definition from Blake Boles.


What it isn’t:


“isolated, unstructured, or unchallenging learning.”


“classrooms and teachers as the root of all evil.”


What it is:


“purposefully choosing what and how you’ll learn.”


“an understanding and embrace of your personal learning style.”


“all types of learning—including highly structured learning—are valid when you consciously choose them.”


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David W. Deeds's curator insight, August 15, 6:41 PM

Good stuff! Thanks to Juan Doming.

Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 16, 9:41 AM
My 1st thought was regarding teachers-how they should focus on self-directed learing to refine or explore their skills. Who is in a better position to make decisions about their PD than the teacher herself/himself. The improving teacher is rewarded as well as their students. The best teachers are life long learners and are not governed by school or district expectations or contracts. 
Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 20, 1:14 PM
I am going to see if there are any connections between this article and "Learn Like a Pirate" which I just started reading. There is immense value to self directed learning and hopefully, once ingrained, should be a life long habit.
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Teachers study new ways to learn science

Teachers study new ways to learn science | Professional Learning for Busy Educators | Scoop.it
In a muggy classroom at Mission Bay High School this week a group of third-grade teachers built weather vanes out of paper cups and plastic straws, and planned lessons around the theme that weather is predictable and observable.

It was an easy conclusion to draw on the hot summer day. And it’s exactly the kind of connection that educators want their students to make under the state’s new science standards, which stress first-hand observation and inquiry.
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Victor Ventura's curator insight, August 14, 9:52 AM
I was encouraged in many ways when I read this article: teachers learning together in advance of a 2018 implementation, "lighthouse" schools, new ways to teach science, in conjunction with CCSS in Science, etc.