The State of Charter Schools

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by Dr. Charice Hayes, CEO All 4 One Tutoring

About a month ago, I read a report about how NAACP delegates and the National Board called for a decision to delay the expansion of charter schools. A task force was assembled called the Task Force for Quality Education. The Task Force gathered nationwide data on the state of charter schools and traditional public schools. Here is what the Task Force found:

  • From a Stanford University report, 37% of charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools.
  • Predominate white schools in predominate black communities discipline black students out of the schools.
  • Funds are drained from public schools. The money does not follow the student.
  • A lot of charter schools follow the franchise business model. A board operates the schools under contract, and the teachers are considered at-will employees.

As an organization, All 4 One Tutoring LLC we have tapped into providing services to charter schools. We run a very successful after-school program at the Empowerment Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. We help fill in educational gaps and do activities and projects that help prepare students for college along with helping them have a smooth transition into high school. My take on the report is that I agree that the charter school sector needs to align financial transparency with consistent accountability.

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What Are You Going to Do Winter Break?

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by Dr. Charice Hayes, CEO

I’d thought that I should contribute/write the last couple of blog posts of 2017. It’s been an exciting and yet another progressive year for All 4 One Tutoring. I will write about that in our last post of 2017 next week.

Right now, a lot of students (whether college or school-aged) are on winter break. Parents, I’m sure that you have some wonderful activities planned for your child(ren). 🙂 College students, I’m certain that you’re excited about starting the next semester on your journey of earning your college degree in addition to getting a little rest after taking finals. 😌 I’d like to give you some ideas and things you can do over the winter break that will be fun but still incorporate learning.

Well, I think that one of the most important things you can do over the winter break is visit your local public library.

Yes, you can read books there and check audios, books, and DVDs out. However, most public libraries have scheduled engaging activities each month. Some libraries have activities for specific age groups.

I know it’s the holiday season and the malls and stores will have GREAT after Christmas sales. However, use your mall and store trips as a real-life learning experience. Parents of school-aged children, you can create math/story problems in your shopping experience. College students you can create/do something as well. Here are a few examples:

1. Macy’s has a Ralph Lauren shirt on sale for $19.99. You look at the price tag and the shirt was originally $49.99. What is the percent of decrease in the cost of the shirt? (This problem is typically geared toward middle-schoolers.)

2. Macy’s has a Ralph Lauren shirt on sale for $19.99. You look at the price tag and the shirt was originally $49.99. How much money will you save? (This problem is typically geared toward elementary students.)

3. Macy’s is one of your favorite stores, and you want to know why customers buy the things they do. You can research shopping behaviors and understand how products are priced. (This is typically geared toward college students who are majoring in business administration, marketing, fashion merchandising.)

Now, you’ve received all of these nice things for Christmas, and you have to make room for them. You may be getting ready to bring in the new year and want to clean your closet and drawers out. Winter break may be the perfect time to do so. While you’re cleaning out your closets and drawers, think about donating your unwanted items to a charity.

Usually around the holidays and winter break, I see a lot of people at the movie theater. Well why not use this activity as a learning experience? Parents of school-aged children, you can have your child(ren) discuss/write about the setting, the plot, the characters, and what he/she enjoyed the most about the movie.

I know a lot of you have, will receive, or give video game consoles for Christmas. Yes, some of the games are educational and engaging (e.g. Minecraft). However, why not spark some interest in creating your own video game and/or app? This would be an awesome thing to start to think about and begin the planning stages on winter break.

I hope that I’ve really sparked your interest in doing some, if not all, of these activities. You can even take the ideas I’ve given you and cater them to your liking.

Bridging the STEM Gender Gap in the Classroom

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by Laura Pearson

@laurapearson1

Despite scoring higher than their male peers in problem solving related to engineering and technology, girls continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. While this is an issue well beyond the scope of an individual classroom, teachers have an important role to play in balancing the STEM gender gap.

Throughout elementary and high school, girls participate in science and math at approximately the same rate as boys, with some exceptions. While girls are just as likely as boys to take advanced classes in mathematics and chemistry, they’re less likely to enroll in computer science or engineering courses. And that same trend carries over to higher education.

Although the overall statistics look roughly equitable, with women earning 50.3 percent of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, women’s participation varies significantly across different fields. While women account for more than half of all bachelor’s degrees in the biological sciences, they only receive 17.9 percent of computer science degrees, 19.3 percent of engineering degrees, 39 percent of physical science degrees, and 43.1 percent of mathematics degrees, despite representing nearly 57 percent of all college students.

According to Scholastic, girls’ participation in science starts dropping off in junior high, and the trend continues into high school and college. Since data shows that the difference isn’t in ability, researchers believe there’s something else at play. The National Science Foundation suggests much of the STEM gender gap can be attributed to a sense of belonging; specifically, that a lack of exposure to successful women in STEM causes girls to doubt their own abilities and opt for fields with larger proportions of women instead.

Elementary, middle, and high school teachers play a critical role in keeping girls in STEM.
By intervening before a stereotype threat takes hold, it’s possible to build girls’ confidence and keep them on track toward in-demand careers. Rather than teaching girls in a different way than boys, teachers should craft an approach that makes STEM welcoming and accessible to all. Here are a few ideas to get started:

1. Highlight potential career paths in STEM. Students can’t always connect the schoolwork in front of them to its real-world applications; even if they do understand its value, they likely aren’t aware of the full scope of career options available to them.

2. Incorporate lessons about accomplished female scientists and engineers in curricula. Research shows that exposure to same-gender experts provides girls with a sense of belonging. Rather than restricting lessons to historic women like Marie Curie, discuss women who are making a difference in today’s world.

3. When planning cooperative exercises, distribute class groups to have an equal balance of boys and girls. Assigning at least two girls to a group eliminates the feeling of being outnumbered, which can encourage increased participation.

4. Make sure lesson plans around STEM topics don’t only include stereotypically masculine topics. At the same time, teachers shouldn’t cater exclusively to female students and risk alienating males. Instead, opt for topics with broad appeal and real life relevancy. For example, a lesson plan that bridges a popular career with math, science, English, social studies and home economics skills. For more ideas, try Science Buddies’ topic selection wizard.

Diversity is essential for producing innovation in science and technology. When STEM fields draw upon a broad pool of perspectives and life experiences to solve complex problems, progress is made that much faster. When it comes to girls in STEM, the problem isn’t ability, but rather persistence in a field where they’re the minority. Overcoming the challenges of being a woman in STEM requires girls to feel confident about their place in science and engineering, and teachers are primed to plant those seeds of success.

Image via Unsplash

Study: Transitional kindergarten students are better prepared for school

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by Sarah Tully 


  CREDIT:LILLIAN MONGEAU/EDSOURCE TODAY
Children who attended transitional kindergarten performed better on language, literacy and math skills when they started kindergarten, compared to their peers who weren’t in the program, according to a new report.

The American Institutes for Research on Tuesday released its first report that examines the impact of California’s transitional kindergarten program, which was created through the California Kindergarten Readiness Act in 2010.

Transitional kindergarten is a unique, state-funded program that allows children to get an extra year of schooling before kindergarten if their 5th birthdays fall between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. Lawmakers added the new grade after they changed the cutoff birthdate for kindergarten, which required children to turn 5 by Sept. 1 in order to enroll. About 83,000 children attended transitional kindergarten, also known as TK, in 2014-15.

“This study finds that transitional kindergarten does appear to provide students with an advantage in terms of their kindergarten readiness,” said Heather Quick, one of the study’s authors and the principal investigator.

When they started kindergarten, children who attended transitional kindergarten were academically as much as five months ahead of their peers, who were a similar age, the report shows. Researchers found that transitional kindergarten students had higher literacy skills, such as identifying letters and sounds, and more advanced math skills, such as counting objects and completing word problems, than those who did not go to transitional kindergarten.

The study also found that transitional kindergarten students had “greater executive function” – skills, such as remembering the rules and controlling impulses. However, the study found no major differences between the two groups in social and emotional skills.

The study examined assessments and teacher surveys from two groups of kindergartners:

1,562 children who attended transitional kindergarten and whose birthdays were between Oct. 1 and Dec. 2.

1,302 children who were ineligible for transitional kindergarten because their birthdays were between Dec. 3 and Feb. 2.

All children in the study attended kindergarten in 2013-14 at 164 elementary schools in 20 districts.

Quick said researchers wanted to compare children who were close in age. More than 80 percent of the comparison children attended some type of center-based preschool, such as private campuses or Head Start.

“We’re not trying to pit TK against preschool,” Quick said. “What we can say is that TK appears to have an impact on student learning compared with the business-as-usual scenario. That is, what kids would have received had they not gone to TK.”

  AMERICAN INSTITUTES FOR RESEARCH

A December 2015 report shows that children in transitional kindergarten performed stronger academically than a comparison group by the time they got to kindergarten. Click on the graphic for a larger image
The report highlighted a few major differences between transitional kindergarten and preschool.

Transitional kindergarten teachers must hold bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials, while preschool teachers often don’t have degrees. The California State Preschool Program, for example, requires only a permit that is obtained after completing 40 college units.

“Many of the TK teachers taught kindergarten so they are very familiar with the curriculum,” Quick said.

Also, transitional kindergarten is part of the K-12 school system, which means that classes are run largely by public school districts on elementary campuses.

“There is likely to be more alignment between TK and the school’s K-3 experience than between other early education programs and the K-3 experience,” the report states. “This close alignment may help TK be more successful in increasing students’ kindergarten readiness.”

The report says that school district leaders may look at the results of the study when deciding whether to expand transitional kindergarten for younger 4-year-olds. A state law change earlier this year allows school districts to use their own money to pay for transitional kindergarten for more 4-year-olds – those who turn 5 after Dec. 2.

Leaders from Early Edge, a group that advocates for early education, praised the report for showing how transitional kindergarten can work.

“Children in transitional kindergarten are getting a significant boost in kindergarten readiness,” Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California, said in a statement. “AIR’s research confirms that California made a smart investment in TK. Now with new clarity in law about funding for expanded TK, districts are encouraged to offer an additional option to young learners and their families to build a strong foundation for success in school.”

Erin Gabel, the deputy director of First 5 California, said the report “validates the investment California has made in that cohort of children.” She said she hopes it will encourage legislators and others “to think more broadly about early learning as a strategy to close the achievement gap.”
EdSource reporter Susan Frey contributed to this report.

10 Back to School Tips for Teachers Using Google Docs 

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From “Te@chThought” on 8/14/2015

  
1. Collaborate with colleagues

Use Docs to collaborate with your colleagues on joint lesson plans or training materials in real-time, and to create shared calendars for cross-classroom activities.

2. Keep a running record of staff meeting notes

Take meeting notes in a Google Doc and share the notes with your fellow staff. Staff members can access the notes from any device at any time, as well as add comments or suggestions to the notes.

3. Improve your students’ writing skills

For group assignments, you can have students work collaboratively on a writing project, and give them ongoing and simultaneous feedback. Need visibility into which student did what? Use revision history to hold students accountable for their work.

4. Set up a peer review system

Give students responsibility for providing feedback on another student’s work by “Suggesting” changes and leaving comments in Docs. Students can also easily tag each other in comments to notify peers, or use the chat feature to communicate with other people who are viewing the same document in real time.

5. Share or publish student work

Multiple sharing settings allow you to publish student work by sharing it within your class, within your school or district, or by making it public on the web. You can even share a student’s work with their parents to showcase their accomplishments.

6. Translate letters home to parents

For convenience, you can use docs to translate letters, permission slips, and newsletters home to parents and guardians. Access Google Translate right from Docs and make translating a breeze.

7. Gift your students easy reference tools

Teach your students how to easily utilize reference tools with Google Docs’ built-in access to a dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia.

8. Liven up your assignments with visuals and graphics

You can search Google Images, Time Magazine, and stock photos directly from within Docs to add images and gifs to your assignments.

As an added bonus, you can make the text in images and PDFs editable by simply opening them within Google Docs. (YouTube example)

9. Work with any file type

We know that sometimes your students and colleagues use Office files, but don’t worry because Google Docs is compatible with other document software, making it easy to work with any file type regardless of which is used.

10. Work on the go or offline

Work on the go: Download and use the Google Docs mobile app to make last minute tweaks when away from your desktop or laptop.Work offline: Google Docs offers offline creation and editing, too. Enable offline syncing in order to download files to your device and edit them offline. When an internet connection is reestablished, Docs will automatically sync and update your files to the cloud.

The Flipped Classroom

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CEO Charice Wofford

More and more educators are experimenting with “flipped teaching.” This form of teaching occurs when students learn new material online via video lectures remotely (usually at home). What is acquired (learned) online is reinforced in the classroom with teacher guidance usually through collaborative work.

The traditional classroom is when new content is presented in class, then an assignment (homework) is given for reinforcement. Is this form of learning more adaptable than the traditional classroom? What are your thoughts?

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