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How to Embed Foundational English Skills In Meaningful Work

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“Many teachers are seeking ways to better help their English language learner students, who often have additional challenges to overcome. These students are learning English alongside all the content standards, and some have had their education disrupted by life transitions. The challenges that face them are many, but there are strategies to help them develop language and academic skills.”(more)

4 ways to tie summer reading to the real world

E-School News – Kathy Powers

“Want to hear the story about the most embarrassing moment of my life? My students sure did. I tell that story, much to the delight of my fifth graders, to teach a way to approach plot in narrative writing. Stories are powerful instructional tools, and as humans, our brains are wired to respond to them. Storytelling, which can teach us about ourselves, about possibilities, and about culture, is such a powerful learning tool that it is even being used to teach robots. Though cultural literacy is tricky to teach to middle schoolers, cyber resources—perfect for summer—are now available to help; and nothing tells the story of our culture better than the Smithsonian Institution. I cannot bring all of my students to the museums in D.C., but now, through technology, I can bring the Smithsonian to them through the Smithsonian Learning Lab. The Lab offers more than a million digital images, recordings and texts from across the Smithsonian along with interactive tools to collect, customize and augment them.”(more)

Secret Teacher: we’re not reading – so why do we assume children will?

The Guardian – Staff Writer

“On the rare occasion that the staff in our English department surface from their marking pile long enough to enjoy a cup of tea together, I’ll ask everybody what they’re reading. The answer is usually the same: nothing. Teachers only read the bits of books they have to teach – and even then it’s often one chapter ahead of their students. If there’s a bit of a text they don’t understand or think is boring, they just remove it from the photocopied version before class. It means that teachers are effectively editing texts, and some are not familiar with reading entire books.”(more)

How To Dress Macbeth: A Literary Adventure with Project-Based Learning

Education World – Ryan Tahmaseb

“As a middle school teacher, I’m always looking for ways to get students out of their seats and moving around—to make learning physical. They want this, too. This is why I’m always excited to teach Shakespeare. The language begs to be performed. Macbeth is one of my favorites, and it doesn’t take much to spark the interest of my seventh graders. I just turn out the lights and introduce the idea that this play is cursed: “You cannot say the title of this play in a theater, or else something bad will happen to you.” They look at me like I’m crazy when I start to share a few details of the legend. By the end, however, they are all smiling nervously at each other. And once we start reading and performing scenes, they are hooked. There’s blood, deception, and witchcraft. I mean, come on.”(more)

A Counterintuitive Approach to Improving Math Education: Focus on English Language Arts Teaching

Education Next – Susanna Loeb

“Recent education reform efforts commonly aim at improving teacher effectiveness. One study of three large districts finds that they spent approximately $18,000 for professional development for each teacher each year. Numerous education agencies, such as the District of Columbia Public Schools with its IMPACT effectiveness system for school-based personnel, and the state of Tennessee with its Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model, have invested substantial resources in teacher evaluation and feedback.”(more)

Could PD lead to better student writing?

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“Certain teacher professional development could have a positive impact on academic writing by English learners in grades 7-12, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine. Students of teachers who participated in the Pathway Project, which includes 46 hours of training in the “cognitive strategies” instructional approach, scored higher on an academic writing assessment and had higher pass rates on the California High School Exit Exam than students whose teachers did not receive the training.”(more)