Editor's Note: Recently, Shannon McClintock Miller, educator and author of The Library Voice blog, featured Velocity on her page and shared her excitement about the 60-day free trial.
At ISTE last June I was introduced to Velocity® a dynamic, online literacy program for K-5 students that optimizes the way education is experienced by letting technology empower and enhance both teachers and students. I loved how Velocity transforms classrooms into 21st-century learning stations, making it perfect for 1:1 instruction and other learning environments. Velocity makes learning fun with special little characters and unique "worlds". They engage and motivate a love of reading and challenge students with new skills on grade-level and beyond. Velocity also fills in the instructional gaps of individual students.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any reader in possession of a good book must be attentive. If those words sound familiar, then you know what I am talking about. If they are new to you, then you have a very important work of literature to include on your “I'd better read this” list.
Paying attention is a consummation devoutly to be wished in most circumstances, from successfully implementing a recipe in the kitchen to driving a horseless carriage, sometimes called a motorcar. By so doing, we are more likely to accomplish our goal, whatever it might be, whilst avoiding the less-than-pleasant circumstance of inconveniencing others.
The need for attention is especially compelling for young learners, whose minds have not yet accumulated the sense or sensibility of their elders. Please do not mistake my urgings, for like you, I recognize the importance of attending to the task at hand, no matter what it might be.
A few weekends ago, I was playing music with some friends and we tried out the old standard, “Teach the Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Singing the lyrics reminded me that the teaching mandate goes two ways; the parents need a little guidance along the way as well as the children. The same applies, I believe, to education. Teachers need good teaching, and the basic principles of educational practice are essential for effective professional development (PD).
"Teaching poetry to kids of any age is a blast.
Simile? Think of your least favorite subject and your least favorite chore and combine them with “like.”
Personification? Give that chocolate-chip cookie a tone of voice as it calls you to eat it.
Metaphor? If your sister were a dog, what kind would she be?
During my 20 years of teaching high school English and Social Studies, however, I found the power of metaphor stretched far beyond poetry. When extended, a metaphor is more than a descriptive tool; it becomes a system for comprehending and articulating complex concepts.
At the end of October, I attended and spoke at the annual International Dyslexia Association (IDA) meeting in Dallas. IDA remains the best interdisciplinary conference for all professionals, advocates, and families concerned with reading, writing, and language difficulties. IDA meetings, over the past three decades, are where I’ve obtained my real education.
This meeting was as informative as ever. We heard from neuroscientists, psychologists, directors of interdisciplinary research centers, researchers in language acquisition, experienced clinicians, education advocates, teacher educators, public school literacy leaders, and families affected by learning difficulties. Through diverse perspectives, one theme stood out for me: We will serve students and families better if we are informed by the facts. Romantic ideas, though appealing, will not serve the needs of students or teachers. Let’s examine a few beliefs that we’re better off without.
Traditional algebra word problems have a bad rap and for good reason. Students are hardly enamored with content of the typical word problem, and its relevance to the real world is questionable at best. Amdahl and Loats (1995) captured this sentiment in their amusing tour of beginning algebra:
“Folks who write math books live very different lives from you and me. They seem to spend a lot of time on trains, for example, which leave cities you and I rarely visit, in hopes of meeting their buddies on trains at destinations in-between….They launch rockets across rivers, build bridges, and agonize over how tall various trees are. After a couple of years of math classes, you’ll be uncomfortable hiking through the woods without your calculator handy.” (p. 104)
What is "Deep Reading"?
Consider a simple insight with large implications: Human beings were never born to read. Reading or written language is a cultural invention that necessitated totally new connections among structures in the human brain underlying language, perception, cognition, and, in time, our emotions. The reading brain circuit emerged, which became a vehicle like no other for ever more elaborate connections, which gave literate humans an evolving platform for the development of new thought. Reading represents one of the most important epigenetic breakthroughs in the history of the species; our very history was made possible by it.
The reason for this blog’s title will become clear in the next two paragraphs.
It is, as you undoubtedly remember, a phrase uttered by Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. This fantastic work of Charles Dodgson—pen name Lewis Carroll—is well worth reading, if you haven't done so, or re-reading, if you have. The first two paragraphs alone are so short and elegant as to warrant memorization, and they include the thoughtful observation, “...and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’”
When we think of the growth mindset, the two characteristics most often mentioned are intelligence and effort. What is just as relevant, but often overlooked, is intellectual curiosity. Sophie von Stumm and her colleagues have described it as “the hungry mind” and “the third pillar of academic success,” which are perfectly appropriate. You might want to take the time to read their scholarly work, or considerably less time to read a commentary on their study.
Much has been said about the state of American manufacturing in the last year, and a series of recent reports present an intricate picture that takes us beyond some of the confusion and common misconceptions. Except for the understandable decline in manufacturing during the recent recession, manufacturing productivity since 2000 has been surprisingly robust. Ball State University’s report even suggests that growth in manufacturing going forward is steady and on an upward path. With all of the news of outsourcing in areas such as textiles, furniture, and apparel, how can this be?
When most of us hear the word brilliant, we think of rare individuals who are exceptional in ways that set them apart. But what if that kind of thinking has held us and our children back? What if we reframed our focus in education to discovering, cultivating, and nurturing the brilliance in every child?