When we sit down to write blog posts, it’s almost never our intention to pat ourselves on the back. We prefer to write about real-word issues, like how to making reading inspiring, tips for starting new school programs, and the history of blended learning.
Six Things Principals Are Thinking When They Get Pitched EdtechOctober 20, 2017 in New Tech, Opinion
A guest post by Sara Shenkan-Rich, Principal of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Daly City, CA.
As a principal, I get pinged by edtech providers almost every day. Everyone has a new solution that is going to “disrupt” my school. Most of the time we ignore the emails and phone calls, but every now and again something breaks through the noise and catches my interest. When we talk to edtech companies to learn about what they have to offer, there are a few main questions that I am thinking about as I listen to their pitch.
1. Which of my million problems does this solve?
Being a principal means first and foremost being a problem solver. I have to tackle everything from getting substitute teachers in when someone is out sick, to dealing with discipline issues for students, to helping families connect with social services when they are in a moment of crisis.
Ask 100 people if it’s important for a child to learn how to read, they’ll all say “yes.”
Ask them when a child should develop these literacy skills, there may be a little discussion about it, but it’s safe to say we all agree that by ages nine or ten a child should be able to read on their own. It’s called reading proficiency and it’s been a hallmark of our education system since its inception. Continue reading »
Kansas Bets on Blended Learning to Boost Reading SkillsSeptember 20, 2017 in Company, New Tech
Reading is an issue that many communities are grappling with at the statewide level; in the past 5 years, 36 states have adopted legislative or funding programs specifically targeting improvement in early reading.
We’re very excited to be part of a unique and innovative approach by the state of Kansas called the Reading Roadmap, a collaboration between the Department of Education and Department for Children and Families that takes a very bottom-up approach to school support, and focuses on close alignment between what happens inside and outside the classroom. Continue reading »
School Year Results: BookNook Makes Better Readers!September 8, 2017 in Company, Learning, New Tech
The results of BookNook’s 2016-17 school pilots are in, and they show that our platform is making a difference in young readers’ lives.
With schools back in session in most of the country, teachers are beginning the annual ritual of assessing students’ reading levels. There are few pieces of information that are more important in determining how best to teach to students than understanding where they are with their reading. Unfortunately students—particularly students of color and economically disadvantaged students—tend to move backwards over the summer.
We can confidently predict what teachers will find: in the average American classroom, most students will not be reading at grade level. National statistics have been more or less stuck for over 20 years, showing that the majority of fourth and eighth graders aren’t reading at a proficient level, with a particular spike among students in traditionally disenfranchised communities.
After our first year of piloting BookNook as a school year intervention, we are excited to report that we have a solution that appears to significantly help students get back on track. We began with 6 partners in the San Francisco Bay Area in late October, and expanded to 22 in February/March, adding partners in Dallas and Atlanta. Even working across just a fraction of the school year, we were very excited by the results we saw by June.
Sara Shenkan-Rich, principal of Alvarado Elementary School in the San Francisco Unified School District was among our first 6 BookNook adopters. She had this to say:
5 Things To Remember When Starting a New School ProgramAugust 30, 2017 in Classroom Fun
As anyone who has launched a new school program can tell you, there is no guaranteed blueprint to success. Here’s 5 ways to ensure you stay on the right track.
1. Plan for the unexpected
You may think that you’re totally prepared to start your program but, realistically, you’re bound to run into some hiccups along the way. School schedules can change on a dime, staff can move to different classrooms, and the space you planned to use for your program may turn into the school’s new storage solution.
Remember, schools are complex places and even the most well thought out plans need tweaks throughout the school year. Continue reading »
Summer Learning Loss—sometimes called Summer Slide or Summer Melt—is a phenomenon that educators know all too well. After spending the school year working hard and improving math and reading skills, an alarming number students go off on summer break and give up a big chunk of those gains.
Not only losing forward momentum over the summer but actually going backwards is a huge problem, particularly because numerous studies have shown that this phenomenon disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged children and children of color. Continue reading »
Shake Off the Summer: 7 Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Reading AgainAugust 18, 2017 in Classroom Fun
School is back in session, and some of your students kept up their great reading habits and others may have chosen to put their books down. Regardless of their summer reading, these tips will help to get them all in focused on reading this school year.
1. High interest texts
Read books that are going to keep your class engaged. These can be wonderful read aloud books (Need some ideas? Scholastic counts down the 100 best read aloud books) or something that the will appeal to students personal interests. Don’t be afraid to pull in nontraditional texts, such as magazines, comic books, or blogs. Continue reading »
I’ve spent my entire professional life in search of scalable ways to improve economic opportunities for young people.
I began in higher education, working in scholarships at the University of California, Berkeley, trying to make a world class public education affordable to students regardless of their family’s income. It was a phenomenal and humbling experience to work alongside some of the most brilliant researchers in the world. I’m proud that we more than doubled the number of students receiving our scholarships, but we were just one campus taking in 10,000 freshmen a year–and were intervening very late in students’ lives. What about the young people who never made it through high school, let alone to a top tier university? Continue reading »
When you start to talk about “blended learning” with educators, parents, and students, you are bound to get reactions ranging from enthusiastic to trepidatious to a confused laugh and a head shake. All these responses are natural! It’s not a term that always comes up, and frankly, when it does it can have as many definitions as it has definers — but don’t worry! As with anything, the more you learn about blended learning, the more you’ll come to understand and appreciate it.
So what is it? Where does it come from? Why should we use it? The short answer is you probably already do, and have throughout your entire life. The long answer is a bit more fun and nuanced – like blended learning itself – so let’s take a closer look. Continue reading »