Monday, March 28, 2011

Infusing Math Each Day
Builds Students’ Math Competency

”In this changing world, those who understand and can do mathematics will have significantly enhanced opportunities and options for shaping their futures. Mathematical competence opens doors to productive futures. A lack of mathematical competence keeps those doors closed.”
-- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
In her role as executive director of the Northeast Foundation for Children/Responsive Classroom, Roxann Kriete spends a fair amount of time in classrooms where she frequently observes Morning Meetings, a staple of the Responsive Classroom® approach. After one such day of observations, Kriete returned to her office excited to share how engaged students were. She talked enthusiastically about the vocabulary and language development she’d seen happening in their Morning Meetings, only to be taken back when a friend posed a question about her school visit:
Did you see any math going on?
“His question stopped me for a moment as I reflected,” Kriete said. “I had to acknowledge that I had not seen any math in the meetings I’d observed.”

In the weeks ahead, Kriete repeated the question she’d been asked to many colleagues who work with teachers. They related terrific stories of classes collecting, charting, and discussing data about aspects of classroom life. Colleagues also told her of activities that students clamored to “play” that developed fluency with math facts or encouraged deductive reasoning. But even those colleagues had to admit that it wasn’t all that common to see math skills embedded as part of the daily Morning Meeting routine.

Those conversations made clear a need that the Foundation has met with the publication of its latest book, Doing Math in Morning Meeting.

“We know that in math, as in all areas, we are powerful models and our students are astute observers who take their lessons and shape their own attitudes from their observations of us,” Kriete writes in the introduction to the book. “It’s critical that we find ways for our students to see us using math and enjoying doing so.”

In the pages of Doing Math in Morning Meeting, co-authors Margaret Berry Wilson and Andy Dousis have gathered dozens of ideas to create a practical guide that any teacher – even a self-proclaimed “math phobe” – can use to engage students and infuse math into their daily routines. The activities were chosen to match the community- and confidence-building purposes of Morning Meeting. The true beauty of the activities lies in the fact that they
  • are brief;
  • require few materials;
  • are easy to manage;
  • are varied;
  • emphasize familiar concepts;
  • emphasize questions with many correct answers; and
  • ensure feelings of mathematical success.
The book’s classroom-tested ideas for incorporating math will help teachers prop opens the doors to math pleasure and math competence among their students, added Kriete.


Add a copy of Doing Math in Morning Meeting to your school’s professional development library this month. It’s the perfect gift to your teachers for Math Awareness Month!


Morning Math
Principal Larry Davis emphasizes the importance of math by making Morning Math part of his school's morning routine. Two days a week during morning announcements, he poses "Mr. Davis Math Questions" to the students at his Florida elementary school. Now you can do the same in your school! Each week, Davis and Education World present two new sets of math questions for you to use to engage students and build math skills.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is It Time You Went to Social Media Bootcamp?

Everyone is talking about Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. If you aren’t taking advantage of those resources to tell your school’s stories – and to connect with students, parents, faculty, and alumni – you’re really missing out. Maybe you should go to social media bootcamp!

Administrators and some staff members at The Webb Schools in Claremont, California, recently attended a day-long social media bootcamp, and they’re glad they did.

“The days are gone where people will come to you for information. You have to be where they are, and they’re on social media,” Karen Bowman, the private school’s director of marketing and communications, told the San Bernadino Sun. [read more]

The school’s bootcamp was hosted by edSocialMedia, a company started as the natural evolution of four friends’ conversations about the direction of social media in schools.

Many of the bootcamps that edSocialMedia has led to date involved private schools where contact with potential students and alumni is crucial, said Jesse Bardo, director of edSocialMedia and a former admissions counselor and communications coordinator at Northfield Mount Hermon School. However, Bardo tells Education World, more and more public school systems are approaching the company about training their district leaders in the benefits of using social media to create connections with their wider school communities.

“What we are hearing is that not only are districts interested in facilitating better communication between their schools and parents, they’re also keenly focused on bringing social media technologies into the classroom to enhance and grow portfolio based learning,” said Peter Baron, an edSocial Media partner and founder of AdmissionsQuest.


“Social media happens every day, and it is happening with you or without you,” Bardo added. For those who are willing to jump in, he has some practical thoughts and tips:

Content is king. Using social media is not about Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. It is about the content you put up there. Nothing is going to happen if the content is not good.

Make connections and develop relationships. Creating good content is all about finding the right people willing to tell the right stories. Reach out and find those people on campus who are enthusiastic about social media and willing to share stories worth telling.

Don’t inundate. If you choose to use Facebook, post something new just three or four times a week. When you do post, be concise.

Show it rather than tell it. Whenever possible, let images – photos, art, or video – tell the story.

Don’t try to do it all. There are dozens of tools out there to help you connect with your wider school community. Instead of trying to use them all – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, and the list goes on – and spreading yourself too thin, choose one form of social media and become good at it. Do what you do best and then branch out from there.

Involve your fans. It is vital to involve your fans if you hope to create an authentic reflection of – and buzz for – your your school! If you are able to create authenticity you will experience the “fireworks effect” – those little bursts of attention that follow after you send out the initial big plume.

Highlight all that’s good about your school. Just because the football team is having a great year doesn’t mean that every post should be about the football team. Do that and you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with everyone else.

Make time for social media. Don’t think of social media responsibilities as “one more thing” on your plate that’s already piled high. Instead, think of it as simply adding one more short conversation to your day, except that this conversation is taking place online.

Don’t be afraid. You know you need to do this! Being afraid of social media just means you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build enthusiasm within your school and engage people outside its walls.


Social Media Bootcamps
edSocialMedia’s full-day workshop provides an in-depth introduction to social media technology for school leaders and administrators, complete with an opportunity for them to create content and get their hands dirty.

Designing Your Social Media Strategy
Social media strategies are not “one size fits all.” This webinar explores how to utilize popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr to build a successful social media strategy as unique as your school.

The Conversation Prism
This dramatic visual illustrates some of the social media tools that are available for use. The graphic is already out of date as new services evolve and emerge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Schools Make the Move to
Recess Before Lunch

Has your school joined with others that are putting recess before lunch? Principals who have done this say kids are calmer when lunch comes after recess, they throw away less food, and they return to their classrooms more ready to learn.

A growing number of elementary schools in Colorado’s Douglas County School District have jumped on the bandwagon and are seeing good results.

“Our decisions are always driven by what is best for our kids,” Principal John Guitierrez told the Denver Post last week. A recess-before-lunch pilot program at his school, Cougar Run Elementary, has helped teachers get kids back on track after lunch. The practice is resulting in an average of 10 minutes additional teaching time each day. [read more ]

Katie Bark, a dietician who is director of Montana Team Nutrition Program, told Education World that her group devised a recess-before-lunch program that was piloted at four elementary schools in the spring of 2002-03. Baseline studies showed that when recess was held before lunch, plate waste -- the amount of discarded food -- went way down and milk consumption went way up.

The team also noted that when students came in from the playground, the noise level in the cafeteria was high. Then they settle down. "And if they had a dispute on the playground, they tend to forget about it when they get to class," Bark said. [read more]


Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, Ed.D., founder of Peaceful Playgrounds, is another fan of recess before lunch.

“The playground is an essential part of any school and every community,” Bossenmeyer says. “Children spend many hours of their day occupying themselves with what the playground has to offer.” To that end, Peaceful Playgrounds offers a kit that can be used to transform school, church, or park playgrounds into colorful arrangements of games kids love to play. [learn more about the program]

The benefits of recess-first are many, Bossenmeyer adds. Among them are the following:
• Improved cafeteria behavior
• Calmer, more relaxed students in the cafeteria
• Students return to the classroom calmer and ready to learn
• Students eat more, drink more milk, and throw away less food
• Fewer discipline problems are encountered
• Fewer visits to the school nurse are recorded


Recess Before Lunch Can Mean Happier, Healthier Kids
Recess follows lunch almost as predictably as four follows three, because it always has been that way. Principals who have put recess first, though, have noticed children eat more and behave better after lunch.

Peaceful Playgrounds: Recess Before Lunch
The Peaceful Playgrounds website shares what principals and the research have to say about recess before lunch. Included: Information about the organization’s Peaceful Playgrounds Program Kit.

Schools Say Recess Before Lunch Helps Kids Focus on Meals, Learning
This Denver Post article details how a growing number of elementary schools in the area are scheduling recess before lunch, a policy the district has been encouraging since 2006.

Recess Placement Prior to Lunch in Elementary Schools: What Are the Barriers?
A study published in The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management provides useful information for school personnel and parents to consider.

The Benefits of Recess Before Lunch
This printable brochure concisely describes the benefits of recess before lunch and offers tips for making it happen in your school.


Kansas Schools Try Separate Lunches for Sexes
Middle school lunch periods can be a free-for-all of teasing, rough-housing, and flirting among boys and girls trying to impress or intimidate. But what if schools had separate lunch periods for boys and girls? That is not a hypothetical in Wichita, Kansas, where three middle schools have gone to single-sex lunches. Principals say the new lunch system has reduced misbehavior and helped students focus on eating.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Groovin’ Groceries Combines
Music, Nutrition Education

  • Two-thirds of K-8 teachers say students in their classes regularly come to school hungry and 63 percent say the problem has increased in the past year, according to a survey released last week. [read more]
  • In Maryland, state lawmakers are considering legislation that would require public schools to publish calorie information for all school-lunch menu items. [read more]
  • In Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, one teacher is leading the effort to provide healthier snack choices in the school’s store and vending machines. [read more]
Nutrition is certainly in the news -- and it isn’t only because March is National Nutrition Month. Statistics about America’s childhood obesity epidemic make headlines every week. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative is drawing needed attention to the issue. And schools are helping to lead the way when it comes to making nutrition education a year-round focus.


As Lori Cook wandered the grocery aisles with her 3-year-old son Nate, she was struck by the fact that he was already responding to cartoon characters on product packaging. “I didn’t realize it started so early,” Cook thought. “Then I wondered why there weren’t advertisements for healthy foods that would get kids equally excited.”

One of Cook’s first thoughts was that memorable cartoon characters combined with catchy music could help get positive nutrition messages out to kids. That’s when Cook -- an award-winning lyricist -- teamed up with two-time Grammy Award winner David Blamires to create the characters and songs that comprise the timely and very affordable Groovin’ Groceries program. (Recognize Nutrition Month by giving each of your teachers a copy of the CD! They are sure to find ways to work it into their classroom curriculum.) The Groovin’ Groceries characters sing and dance their way to lessons about the five basic food groups that are part of the USDA food pyramid. The program’s cast of characters includes
  • Bobby Broccoli and the Hip Hop Crops (hip hop music);
  • Banana Jamma and the Fruity Party (reggae music);
  • Betsy Bread and the Grainiacs (country music);
  • Max Milk and the Disco Dairy (disco music); and
  • Fiona Fish and the Lean Machine (R&B music).
Take a look -- and a listen!

Of course there are temptations addressed by characters such as Junk Food and the Sugar Monster (blues music) as well as a tune about the importance of exercise called Stinky Shoe – Peeyew! that gets kids plugging their noses and dancing about the room.

In addition to a music CD, the Groovin’ Groceries program also offers print materials, including stickers and -- soon to come -- a scavenger hunt perfect for a grocery store field trip and a Groovin’ Groceries placemat.

“Kids need help when it comes to making smart eating decisions,” says Lara Field, a pediatric dietitian who has endorsed the Groovin’ Groceries program. “Groovin’ Groceries is a fantastic way to promote healthy eating in a fun, entertaining way. The approachable reminders of how to make healthy choices in this well-designed program are a great way for kids to learn foods to choose and those to avoid.”


Groovin’ Groceries Program
Groovin’ Groceries Characters and Songs
Groovin’ Groceries Products