Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Teacher 007 & Entity Analytics

                                             On the Hunt 

    So, you've almost graduated from teachers college and your are in your internship ....congratulations! Teaching can be a great career with the support of a principal and other peers. I had my internship for a year with a special education teacher, Mrs, M., who had her PH.D in Early Childhood. She was my inspiration for additional schooling. When I began teaching in the public school system, my mentor teacher, Mrs. L., a Native American, was absolutely fabulous. We had such a connection. Recently, I found out that my dad had Native American, Canadian and British mainly in his DNA, hmm... interesting! Anyway, no other mentor could ever fill her shoes. Mrs. L. was kind, fair and always a professional.

    So, now that your are a certified teacher, what should you look for in a new school?

   A new teacher needs to find a school that is the right fit for them. You need a school that (a) has the same philosophy as your own, and (b) is willing to learn from your experiences, or other new ideas that you might have read or written about.

   Your selected school should welcome you as one of their very own!

   Here are some tips for positions that might be a good fit. It is good to be wise in your choice, as your selection might be crucial to your teaching career. So...what kind of school should you look for when you hunt for a job?

  • There are so many teaching positions all over the world. 
   You might want to go to a different country that you know well, of course (knowing the language, and is the country safe?). Then, bring back a wealth of cultural knowledge that you could share with teachers, students and parents in US. Here are some places where you can apply.

Teaching Jobs Abroad

Teaching Abroad Direct UK

  • Philosophy - Do you agree with the school policies?
       Each school has a philosophy. Some schools lean more to progressive values and others have traditional methods. Most of us may have grown up with the traditional method. The progressive movement in education began about a hundred years ago. So, progressive instruction should be called traditional by now, but it isn't.

Progressive Approach

  Let's look at a type of progressive teaching method. The multiage approach, a Montessori type of learning, is utilized by the High Meadows School in Georgia. The multiage approach uses these types of pedagogy.
Students learn at their own pace.

Teachers and classmates support students in advancing social skills.

Students don't memorize data, but pursue conceptual, critical thinking skills.

Students learn together rather than independently.

The child’s learning is emphasized, and not so much the adult’s teaching skills.

  •  Professional Quality- Does the school system make a habit of finding and keeping great teachers?
   Some schools are constantly on the look out for new and great teachers to be. You can see how the employees and kids are being treated while you are there at an interview. Hopefully, we have the same answers.

 Are the teachers and kids happy and smiling?  Yes
 Do teachers have hall duty, lunch duty and bus duty? No
 Do kids have a longer lunch than 30 minutes? Yes
Are kids and teachers able to socialize, at times? Yes
Does every teacher seem to get support? Yes
Does the school use corporal punishment? No
Does the entire curriculum change every year? No way

   On the other hand, some schools continually hire (and for generations) within their own close clanish system. A couple of years ago, many states had statutes against hiring of family members and even close friends into the same public school system. This type of purposeful hiring places the rest of the community at an obvious, grave disadvantage. Not too long ago in one state, persons were asked to step down from their teaching positions, by law, if they were found to have held their position based on relationships to clans people. This statute no longer exists in that state, and a newly revised code, very much unlike the former, is now in place.

   Thanks to technology, there are now systems able to solve these and other type of public school mysteries. If a public school system isn't interested in any kind of entity analytics, there might be many secrets to hide. These are schools to avoid altogether. Luckily, technology can easily turn this wheel around with entity analytics sold by companies, such as IBM.

                                       What is entity analytics?

   Entity Analytic Solutions- Anonymous Identity Recognition and Relationship Awareness is able to identify who people in organizations are. The system can also show relationships between people and organizations, and many other beneficial tidbit types of information (IBM, 2007). The system can even be taylored to meet the needs of your school.

                 So, what about being employed by a clannish school system?

       Unless you are part of the clan, this teaching position might turn out to be a nightmare. If  teachers are hired based on relationship status, guess how the rest of their lifetime careers might be like? Need I say... easy? Well, think about it. How might they be evaluated by their childhood best friends or family members? How will they rate you, an outsider to the clan? How might they evaluate your child? Probably not too well, because the education personnel's main interest might not be in teaching your children to begin with.

      Well, let's look at this from the point of view of a business with Conflicts of  Interest Clause for Yelp business (2007).

   "Your contributions should be unbiased and objective. For example, you shouldn’t write reviews of your own business or employer, your friends’ or relatives’ business, your peers or competitors in your industry, or businesses in your networking group. Business owners should not ask customers to write reviews, or example, does not allow family and friends to rate a storekeeper's shop to avoid customer bias." Yelp, 2007

    ,,,And that is just only the beginning for schools. Schools deal with physical health, mental & emotional  health, intelligence and the whole child. Besides being biased, a clannish school system might bestow serious socio-economic and detrimental affects on the rest of the future community, which might ultimately impact the state. The workforce, for example, might be under-educated, low-skilled and with poverty line income.

   Unlike business, the lives and futures of the children can not ever be taken back. Just as business companies use entity analytics for their small business owners, this kind of big data could be lawfully utilized in schools for the benefit of the community, state and even the nation.

    I hope that this eye-opener of what is out there helps you on your quest for the best teaching job for you. No, finding a great job is not a bed of roses, There are very, very good schools, and then there are not so good schools. You can find a great one out there, if you know what to look for.

For more information about entity analytics, contact my brother and sister at.... just kidding!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Please Welcome Sharon Fabian, Teacher-Author

               Sharon Fabian is back with some middle school teaching tips for English Language Arts. I am so happy to have her here for the second time as a guest! ~Lynn
Sharon, Classroom inthe Middle
                        About Sharon
   Hi, I’m Sharon from Classroom in the Middle. For most of my teaching career, I’ve taught English and reading, mainly in the middle school setting. My primary focus has been on teaching language skills to students who need extra help. Now that I’m retired, I still focus on middle graders as I design and write language arts materials for middle and upper elementary school. I also enjoy having time to do some individual tutoring. 

                          Incorporating Parts of Speech into Writing and Revising Lessons

   Knowing the parts of speech helps kids with their writing and revising. Becoming familiar with the elements that make up a sentence gives them an awareness of more options when they are composing their own sentences and making revisions to their writing.

  On the other hand, writing and revising activities can be the perfect tool for teaching kids the basic parts of speech, as well as other sentence elements such as phrases and clauses. Choosing among a selection of verbs or thinking of ways to incorporate a subordinate clause into their own sentence can be an engaging activity that helps kids improve their writing and learn the basic sentence parts at the same time.

  Sentence construction activities are great for young writers who are still learning to compose sentences; sentence renovation activities help kids who already have the basic knowledge improve their writing skills.

Sentence Construction
   At the basic level, kids can practice filling in missing words in a sentence, either by selecting from a word bank or by coming up with their own words. A cut and paste activity using the word bank can make it more fun. A word bank with a mixture of several parts of speech to choose from will make the assignment a bit more challenging.

   Kids can get a close look at how parts of speech are arranged in sentences by analyzing a few mentor sentences. First, they can sort the words in the sentence by parts of speech, and then follow-up by writing sentences of their own that follow the same pattern.

   A challenging activity for more able students might be choose among several sentences to select the one that matches the pattern of parts of speech in a sample sentence.

   “Refrigerator magnets” provide another fun sentence construction activity. First the kids sort out the “magnets” by their parts of speech, and then use them to create various types of sentences, anything from “a sentence with one noun and one verb” to “a sentence with an adjective, an adverb, and a prepositional phrase.”

Refrigerator Magnets
 Revising by Adding or Replacing Words
   Revision activities often involve modifiers, especially adjectives, and adding adjectives to a sentence or replacing common adjectives with more interesting ones can help students to expand their vocabulary. For a bit more of a challenge, try adverbs as well.
   Students can also practice replacing words in sentences to be more exact, or just more interesting. Replace common verbs with fresh, vivid ones. Replace general nouns with more specific ones. Or, for a different activity, have the kids replace some of their nouns with pronouns and some of their pronouns with nouns to see how that changes the flow of their writing.

Revising with Phrases and Clauses
   Once your kids get to the point where they can begin to work with phrases and clauses, then things can really get interesting. Kids incorporate prepositions as they add phrases to their writing. They use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions to combine sentences. Students can experiment with different conjunctions to see how just using a different conjunction can change the whole meaning of their sentence.
   This is another good stage for incorporating mentor texts. For an example of narrative writing, give students a classic story that you can find easily online, such as a traditional fairy tale. Or for informational text, use a page from their history or science text. The first activity shown below was set up for “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and the second one for any page from a student text.

Analyzing mentor texts
   Revising activities can also be done with picture prompts or with “refrigerator magnets” similar to the ones used in easier sentence construction activities. For the picture prompts, ask students to revise a sentence about the picture by adding or replacing specific elements such as adverbs or dependent clauses. For the “refrigerator magnets” provide cutouts with a few basic sentences plus more words to cut out and use for revising.

Revising with Picture Prompts   Any of these activities can easily be set up with materials that you probably have on hand or can find online (such as the fairy tales), or if you are interested in ready-to-use printables, check out Sentence Construction and Sentence Renovation in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

                                Warm Regards, Sharon
Visit me at my blog and my store, both called Classroom in the Middle.

Sentence Renovation Activity Sheets

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Incorporating Parts of Speech into Writing and Revising Lessons pin

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wolk's Joy in School

   "Children typically spend from six to seven hours each day in school for nearly 10 months each year. During the school year, children generally spend more time interacting with their teachers than with their parents. What happens inside schools has a deep and lasting effect on the mind-sets that children develop toward lifelong learning." Wolk, 2008

   Wow, kids really spend so much time in school! I know that teachers try very hard to do the very best that they can to encourage their students. But, according to Wolk (2008), there are at least 11 ways that we can try to make school an even happier place for children. I would like to share with you some thoughts about Wolk's fascinating piece on 11 ways to make your classroom joyful. Most of us plan to do some of these activities each year. Yet, Wolk has some invaluable insights that we might all wish to add to our planning. Wolk's philosophy may stem from the humanistic style of learning.

    Nurture the Human Beings

   Yes, nurture your kids! Kids really want and need to be taken care of.  A humanistic teacher emphasizes these principals to include students:
a. self-directed learning
b. who'd like to learn and understand
c. self-evaluation
d. feelings are very vital and connected to if and how they learn
e. should learn in a setting that is not intimidating
(SUNY Cortland. Edu, n.d.)
   More information about the humanistic style of education can be read in the works of Carl Rogers, John Dewey, the "Father of Education" and others (see links at the end). In this way, children should find gratification in learning. Every teacher should take a considerable interest in what their children like to learn about, and then find or create lessons on the subjects or themes. Not every lesson can be made at once, but we can start out with a small repertoire and then build up our lesson plans.

    Allow an Hour of Exploratory Work

   What is exploratory work? Exploratory work allows children to be inquisitive. Each student works on a project that interests them. The teacher aids each student in developing inquiry-based learning skills. Asking purposeful questions is very much valued here. Students might be researching the work of Tesla, another might be learning about Japanese poetry and creating an original Haiku, and two learners could be studying the history of baseball. Exploratory learning shows students that school can be a place of interesting possibilities.

     Let Design Class Begin!
   Your students can participate in many original works. Your kids could use a variety of ways to show their knowledge. Students might use resources such as newspapers, picture books, murals, interviews, models, blueprints, role-plays, mock trials, songs, documentary videos and other activities.

   And, This is Mine...
   Hallways and classrooms should be filled with student work. There should be zero worksheets. Photographs or self-portraits of your students can be posted around the room or other places around the school.

      And...The Real Truth about Pipe Dreams and Tinkering About

   Even at school, kids should be permitted to daydream. Your students can be inspired to come up with wild, crazy, and even silly ideas! A creative teacher can stir up a student's imagination. So, there has to be much more freedom within the school schedule for this to happen. A rigorous school agenda is often much too prepared and organized. For this reason, there may be very little exposure to inspired ideas and innovations in the classroom. Thus, teachers should also be able to take chances, invent pedagogy and other methods of teaching (rather than the textbook way).

      Attractive School Spaces

   It is important to have your school, inside and out, to be as inviting as possible. From the campus grounds to the school's interior, learners need welcoming areas to work (and to tinker). For that matter, we teachers need a beautiful environment to work in, as well! A foyer with a mural or plants can make all the difference about how students (and teachers) might feel when they come into the school. Attractive outdoor spaces brings so much joy to kids. Spaces that have gardens, an intriguing playground (not the run of the mill plastic units) and places to walk and play are needed. Ask the kids if they prefer natural surroundings such as grass, vegetation and trees as opposed to plastic, metal and concrete.

    Let's Take It Outside

   More of the school day should be taught outside in nature. Students are then exposed to a little sun, breezy air, blue skies and maybe even a low sound of guitar strings. Need I say,  joy?

      Kinds of Genre

    Learners should be emboldened to read many types of books. Tell your kids about a variety of books that they might, after all, decide to read, such as westerns, mysteries, sports, animals, diaries and even, pop culture.

      Need Much More Time

   Principals should extend the time that students spend in the arts. Once time a week is just simply not enough! There is a great importance to art, theater, music, instruments and sports. First, some kids may show a talent in an area or two and wish to develop this gift even further. Others may just feel happier and healthier than they would be sitting most of the day.

    10. Reduce Quantitative Assessments

   Narrative assessments, portfolios of student's work, presentations and performances should be a valued part of any student report. Your learners can self-assess and talk about their work with you. They might discuss how they have improved in class and what they can work on for next time. Students may present their progress at a teacher-parent conference and... just the progress, of course!

   11. Have More School Days of Fun

   Caring relationships can be supported and developed by classes gathering together to go to sporting events, movies, potlucks, talent shows, school sales, plays, concerts and more.

   Lastly, many teachers would mostly likely agree with this following statement by Wolk.

      "If the experience of "doing school" destroys children's spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?"
                                                                                ~Wolk, 2008

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Please Welcome Sharon Skretting, Guest Author

   MAKING THE GRADE will be a regular feature on my blog, highlighting the “take away” ideas from current books, research and readings with the common theme of achieving best practice assessment in our classrooms. Let’s get started with this week’s highlights from the book:


by Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies

Take Away Ideas:

4 Steps to Setting Up for Successful Assessment Practices in your Classroom

   Before we teach any unit or lesson, we must first plan for success. These four steps will go a long way to ensure that your students are set up success in the learning process!

1. Determine the learning destination: organize outcomes into “big idea” categories.

  We need to start any learning journey in our classroom by sharing the "big ideas" with our students. Begin with the end in mind. We have to show them the target we want them to hit so they can hit it! Including our students in the process right from the start means they are expected to be supported as active learners.

 What does this look like? First we must start with the expect learning outcomes. If you teach younger grades, you will have predetermined these big ideas and have them ready in "kid friendly" language to share with your students. If you teach older grades and time permitting, you can involve your students in the process of organizing them into bigger topics for the unit, project or lesson. What are the "big ideas" that you want them to understand after participating in these lessons/activities? Making the destination clear from the get go will mean that your students can figure out a way to get there. Going through this process will also help you to see how you can group outcomes to teach together.

2. Research the expected quality levels, create rubrics and gather exemplars to share with students. (Freebie: Link to poster of common descriptor language here. As prompted, request permission.)

   Second, we need to communicate the expected quality levels with our students at their grade level. This means that prior to the unit, project or lesson, exemplars clearly showing different levels of achievement are shared with students. This is not a passive activity in which students are just "shown" examples of work. Let them explore them, have them work in groups to identify and sort what makes one level superior to another. Have students really dive in and find the qualities that differentiates and demonstrate critical thinking and good work from great work.

   Use consistent language when creating rubric indicators so that students clearly know what the expectations are. RUBRICS can help with this if they are crafted to describe what a student can do and what they need to do to move their learning to the next level. However, creating good rubrics is not easy. To help you out with that, I've made a FREE poster download for my subscribers. This poster outlines words that you can use at each level. If you'd like your copy and future free teaching resources, then just sign up!

3. Plan how you will collect reliable (repeatable) and valid (measures what you want it to) evidence of learning.

(Conversations, Observations, Products)

   At this stage, it is time to decide and communicate to students how they will be expected to show evidence of their learning. Best practice means that to have valid and reliable evidence we must triangulate or collect the evidence from a variety of sources. Our students do not all learn the same, nor should they have to show us evidence of their learning in the same way. We have to plan for that. After all, isn't the point of assessment and evaluation to really know what they have learned so we can help them to reach their learning goals?

 As educators, then, we must ask ourselves which products(tests, projects, assignments, etc.), interviews/conversations (teacher-student, student-student, etc.), and observations do I need to have so I can make a "no doubt" professional judgement about a student's level of achievement?

  This may involve planning several forms of formative assessments throughout a unit of study, gathering data that will inform our direction of assistance with each student, helping them celebrate their learning and address their needs throughout the process. Again, it is best to involve our students in the process of this decision making. Can they actively participate in deciding how to show you that they have learned the outcomes? (More ideas about ways to show evidence of learning in the FREE poster download).

4. Early in the course, collect a baseline of evidence so you and the student can see the progress and evidence of learning later.

   Gathering early evidence of learning is vital to establishing a baseline of achievement. This will establish a helpful reference for both student and teacher to "see" the learning that takes place throughout the course or unit of study. Think of this process as much the same as why a doctor takes your blood pressure and heart rate for your medical records. He or she then has it for referral to monitor your health over time. Having the baseline provides evidence as to whether your health is improving, staying status quo, or declining. In the education process, this baseline can inform our programming choices for a student and help them witness their successes while addressing their needs.

   Finally, I can't stress enough, that the authors of this book make the assertion that best practice assessment is only achieved when evidence is gathered over time and from a variety of sources. Assessment is a process that provides data driven instructional practice, whereas evaluation is the final professional judgement of the process. When approached in this manner, the research clearly shows that there is a higher level of  student learning results.

  The research of Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies, then, should inspire all of us to evaluate and improve our assessment practices for the good of our students.


Teacher, Author, Assessment Coach, HSD


Herbst-Luedtke, Sandra, and Anne Davies. A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High Schools. Courtenay, BC: Connect21earning., 2014. Print.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Please Welcome Corletia Dunlap Banks, Children's Author

                                                           About Corletia

   Hello, My name is Corletia Dunlap Banks and I am from Texas. My long time career started in the school district as a Teacher’s Assistant. I worked my way up and became an Administrative Assistant for a STEM High School program. While being an elementary school teacher's assistant, I created games for lesson reinforcements, bulletin boards found in catalogs and seasonal door decorations. When the other teachers saw these creations, they wanted me to do things for them too! So, when I had time, I made more items for them. Many teachers would pay me either with money or gifts. I then worked as a Campus Clerk and started a school newsletter. I wrote about activities, class events, accomplishments and general campus news highlights. I liked working in the school system because the hours, holidays and summers off were great for being a mother. 

   But, deep down, I felt that I had a calling. I waited for the release of my new creative side! I wanted to be able to do so much more for the kids whom I loved. First, I decided to start a business in publishing and photography. I've photographed weddings, funerals, and created special souvenir books. My husband loves photography as well, so together we'd often photograph events. I started brainstorming and researching online ways to make my creations for kids even better. 

   After being a mother of a grown son and daughter, and working with groups of children as a teacher’s assistant, I learned quickly that each child is very different and does not learn in the same way. So, I have focused my programs on Neil Fleming's VAK/VARK model (4 learning styles) which involve: 

1. Visual (V): using pictures, images, and spatial understanding

2. Aural  (A): auditory-musical, using sound and music

3. Read and Write (R): using words, both in speech and writing

4. Kinesthetic (K) : using your body, hands and sense of touch

                                                                       Fleming's VAK/VARK model

   Here are some other interesting ideas that I feel will greatly assist children with their reading skills.

1.      Identifying Tools

   “Tools” can be anything useful and necessary for everyday use and special use. We use some tools for eating; spoons, forks, knives, cups and some tools for playing; balls, bicycles, jump ropes, swings. At an early age children should be taught what the different tools are, what they look like, how they are used, and the difference between certain tools, as they are introduced to them and begin to use them. 

2.      The Importance of Tools

   If we did not have any tools for eating certain foods, we may not be able to eat what’s on our plate properly. If we did not have a ball and we wanted to play ball, that tool is missing, Think about what would happen for jump ropes, bikes and swings. Tools are essential in various forms and areas of our lives for living, work, school and other activities. Tools allow us to create, be active, cook and even teach. Many students need basic writing, reading, and math tools in order to learn efficiently. If those tools are lacking, a kid's learning process might be handicapped.

3.      Memory Recall

  After identifying and learning the importance of tools, I want the child to remember what each tool is, what it looks like, how it’s used, and the difference between certain tools. Also, students need to remember what might happen if those tools are missing. This approach gives kids a mental approach to remembering and understanding what they read. Most of my books are rhyming books which aid in memory recall using a rhythm and sometimes repetitive style of learning. 

A Final Thought

  I like to think of unconventional and creative ways of teaching children to learn and read, which keeps them interested and engaged. In this generation of diverse and colorful technology, incorporate some of those ideas, games and learning methods into your writings for children and in teaching them. Sometimes a book with no pictures, but attention-grabbing words and sentences will make a bigger learning impact on a child than a book with lots of pictures. Most of all, tell your kids, "Get Hungry for Books and Dare to Read!"

  Lastly, I would like to thank Lynn for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on her wonderful blog.  I hope I shared a little something that will give fresh, new insight to the way children learn and in the way that we teach them.

                                 Warm Regards,

                              Corletia Dunlap Banks 

   As of today, I have created a program for kids called, Educational Learning & Literacy Styles for Youth (Ellsy). My desire and motto for the Ellsy program is to encourage and engage children to “Get Hungry for Books and Dare to Read”.

    I published my first children’s book called,  “Sorry, This Book is All Out of Words”,  and learning styles are emphasized throughout the book. But, I also threw in some creative twists to aid in peeking each child’s imagination and interest in reading. The story includes a supplemental activity book, coloring book and a teacher's lesson plan to follow. I sell this cute story and other related items on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. See you there!


2U Inc. (2017). Learning styles: All students are created equally and differently. 
Retrieved from https://teach.com/what/teachers-teach/learning-styles/
VARK Learn Limited. (2017). VARK: A guide to learning styles. Retrieved from http://vark-learn.com/                

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Freebie for the next 30 days

Hi Teachers and Parents!

    I thought it would be terrific to have a freebie of the month, as much as I love free stuff. So, this month, download a packet of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy for Black History month or MLK Jr.'s Day.

                      You have 30 days or until 2/15 to grab your freebie! 

       After reading about and discussing MLK Jr., have your students download this mini lesson and participate in a cooperative game. But first, please look over the Common Core (listed below) to see if the objectives will suit the needs of your students.

Freebie for the Next 30-Days Only Martin Luther King Jr's Legacy US History

  This lesson includes:

directions to play a game, and use at a center
optional directions to the teacher,
optional video links,
links to printable lessons,
46 task cards,
short story of Martin Luther King Jr.,
and 2 student awards cards.

Your feedback is very much appreciated. Thank you!
 As always, I would love to hear from you.

        Get ready for a mid-February freebie. It is a mystery!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy

 “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” and "A lie cannot live.” Learning about Martin Luther King Jr.'s role in US history is exciting! Learners answer 46 questions after reading & participating in activities about MLK Jr.’s life, ideas and accomplishments.  This lesson
includes: directions to the teacher, MLK Jr. story and quotes, video links, links to printable lessons, 46 task cards, keys,  and 2 student awards cards.

TiePlay Ed. Presents...