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Testing, Tutors, and Summer Camps

It is that time of the year again when you need to be sure to have tutoring set up for your children.  Even if it is tutoring for enrichment, it will benefit your child.  It is also time to start thinking of summer camps and programs for your child.  Next month most places will open up enrollment.

It is also time to be sure that your high school student in 10th and 11th grade have taken the PSAT and SAT.  Be sure to have your child take the SAT at least three times in order to really see a growth pattern in their scores.  Now is the time to take charge of this because school counselors don’t always follow through with students and families in regards to testing on a regular basis.

This school year is almost over in regards to instructional days.  So many days in May and beyond will be dedicated to testing.  This is also the time of year that many districts are implementing new programs and many of these programs have pre testing components which will also take away from instructional time in school.  Be sure that you are reviewing work, even class work with your children daily.  You need to see what is happening and how comfortable your children are with the information they are learning.

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Report Card Pick Up and Free College Applications

It is that time of the year for most districts in NC for students to get report cards and time where high school students can apply for colleges for free.  Please be sure to meet with your children’s  teachers.  It is vital to meet with them during this time because things are going to start picking up in class and with homework at this time of the year.  Also, you want to find out what you can do as a parent to enrich your child’s academics.

If you have a junior or senior be sure you talking to their counselor just as often as you check in with their teachers.  As a matter of fact when my oldest daughter was in high school I had my calendar set to touch base with her counselor and with the teachers in classes that she was on or above grade level.  For the classes I was concerned about and she was making B’s and C’s I contacted those teachers daily.

Also, take advantage of free college applications dates and for any SAT preps and testing sessions that are happening in your district. The more they take the prep classes and take the SAT the better the score will be.  I had my oldest daughter take it three times.

Stay on top of things so that you won’t get any surprises at grading time.

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Teacher Summertime Burnout

Summertime burnout is very different from your periodical burnout sensations that you have throughout the school year. Over the summer you find yourself reevaluating why you chose to go into education in the first place. You also feel that you spend more time preparing things that will very possibly be changed by the time the school year gets started. For teachers the summer is not a break.  The summer is when they take a few weeks to rejuvenate and then begin planning. With all of the demands and challenges that teachers face throughout the year, the only way to keep their head above water is to map out time during the summer to get a jump on things for the Fall.  Many will use the summer creating lesson plans, finding resources to support lessons, researching ways to make their instruction more engaging, and simply brainstorm thinking outside the box things to really pull in every child.

These things lead to summertime burnout.  By the end of July many teachers undoubtedly begin to count down the weeks and/or days before they have to report back to work for beginning of the year meetings and classroom set up(which is almost a certain to be done after hours due to mandatory meetings throughout the school day). There are many ways to avoid the summertime burnout as a teacher.  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go into the summer with a mapped out schedule of times you will devote to preparing for the upcoming school year

2. Consciously find time to disconnect to school and pamper yourself

3. Map out a schedule for the upcoming school year so you will not over extend yourself with voluntary committees and school activities

4. Write down in a journal one reason each day you became a teacher and what you have to offer our children

These things are simple to do and will definitely help keep you in a positive state of mind. Avoid the summertime burnout and get excited about the newness of this upcoming year!

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Selfie-related wording dropped from Wake County policy According to Wake Ed and News and Observer

Wake Ed

May 26, 2015

Selfie-related wording dropped from Wake County policy

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NEA Preventing Summer Slide Article

6 Ways To Use Reading to Prevent the Summer Slide

reading_summer_slideEducators and researchers have long recognized what has come to be known as the “summer slide,” the loss of learning that can take place during the summer months if students do not engage in educational activities. Experts say much of the reading achievement gap seen in 9th grade students nationwide can be traced back to unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years. Reversing the summer slide, however, can be as simple as reading more books. In a recent study, Professor Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his colleagues found that “giving kids 12 books to read over the summer was as effective as summer school in raising the students’ reading scores.”

Teachers play an important role in helping to create a culture where reading is valued and given priority, even in the summer months. As educators, we can start with six simple action steps to encourage reading over the break:

Read, read, read. Simple as it might sound, making reading a priority in our own lives establishes the credibility necessary to inspire our students to be life-long readers. Some of my favorite reads in 2014 – 2015 include All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr), A Man Called Ove (Backman), The Book Whisperer (Miller), Unbroken (Hillenbrand), The Maze Runner (Dashner), Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlein), and Dracula (Stoker). A fun way to stay accountable to your students is to have an ongoing policy or a sign in your classroom that states: Ask me what I’m reading right now.

Partner with your local public library. Libraries are wonderful resources for summer reading programs. Chances are a quick look at your local library’s website will yield strong results. Ensuring all students have a registered library card, promoting opportunities for students to visit the local library during the school year through field trips, after school programs, or evenings “meet-ups”, and partnering with your local library teen liaison can help build momentum moving into summer. Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies completed a study confirming “what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills.”

Check out Scholastic.com. Scholastic is leading the way in helping to build literacy by inspiring kids to embrace reading with the same excitement they show for video games, social media, and sports. Programs like Book Trust are helping students make gains by providing students living in poverty access to quality books at no cost. Getting involved is as easy as donating $1.  Learn more about Scholastic’s Book Trust program.

Give books as gifts. I wrote an article  last year about giving pencils out to students, no strings attached, any time they ask or need one, no matter how many pencils it may cost. It created quite a stir and broke some records at Teaching Tolerance for blog hits. The same idea applies to books. As resourceful teachers, we can find ways to gather books throughout the school year. As an end-of-the-year gift, why not give a kid a book to read over the summer? Even better, get students involved in book clubs that agree to read one book during summer break. Especially for students returning to the same campus, book clubs can help maintain momentum and provide positive accountability for summer reading. Positive peer pressure works even better than teacher encouragement. Students can also get involved in classroom book exchanges, where they swap used books with each other.

Set aside time at school for sustained silent reading. Consider the obvious: Kids do what they enjoy doing. The more kids read self-selected books, the more they will develop a fondness for – and take ownership of – reading. School is one place we can set aside time for kids to read. Demands on teachers are higher than ever; however, we still have some control over what kids do in our classrooms. Simple policies like making sure students always have a book on hand and requiring them to read in class whenever they finish early can drastically increase the minutes kids spend reading each week.

Author Donalyn Miller writes extensively about “stealing minutes” in her book The Book Whisperer. Even in small stints, time set aside for reading can make a difference in kids’ attitudes and affinity. Stealing minutes is as much a life skill as an opportunity. (Miller’s test scores are always high despite her unwillingness to engage in test prep madness.) Teaching kids to look for opportunities to read will benefit them long after their time as students.

Create an email contact list and send encouraging emails once or twice during the summer. A summer email can remind and motivate busy families to add reading to the weekly schedule. Consider sending a couple of emails sharing with families what you are reading and encouraging/reminding them to get that library card, visit a used book store, hit garage sales, etc. for inexpensive books. You can recommend titles, provide reviews of what you are reading, and even plan a date to meet up with families at the local public library for a “check-in/check-out” (check in with each other to check out books) session. Simply communicating with families can make a big difference in how much kids read over the summer.

Chad Donohue teaches English, writing, and social studies at Park Place Middle School in Monroe, Washington. He also teaches composition and public speaking at Northwest University in Kirkland and blogs regularly for Teaching Tolerance.

 http://neatoday.org/2015/05/19/6-ways-to-use-reading-to-prevent-the-summer-slide/

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Summer Time Activities for Your Children!!!

Now is the time to find summer programs for your children.  Look for a balanced program one that incorporates fun with learning.  Also, use the summer to explore other talents and interest that your child may have.  It may be the perfect time to get them involved with music, theater, or volunteering in your community.  Make a conscious effort to have them read out loud to you and you read out loud to them for at least a total of 20 minutes a day.  If you will be traveling a lot I suggest getting some eBooks downloaded and have them read on the road. You can also make up some reading and focus games while traveling. For example, I Spy the letter A or who can read the signs the fastest or how many blue cars/trucks do you see.  These are activities that will help keep their minds actively learning.

Summer time doesn’t have to mean a time for kids to lose momentum for the upcoming school year it is a time to enhance their talents and academic strengths with thinking out the box modes of teaching them so that they are eager to begin the next school year. Show them that learning is fun and happens outside of the classroom as well.

Summer Time!!!

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