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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How Has Technology Changed Younger Students?

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Great article by Katie Lepi on March 16, 2014

As mobile device usage has exploded, some people are questioning the proper use of these devices among children. Most teachers and parents agree that this technology is a valuable tool—but are students too “plugged in”? How much screen time is too much.

Devices in Schools
Teens acting as early adopters is no different when it comes to mobile device usage. More than half of all high school students carry a smartphone every day. A huge change from ten years ago when even ordinary cell phones were not that common among children.

Although schools sometimes struggle to manage smartphone usage in class, they are also embracing the technology as 17% of schools require the use of tablets or other devices in the classroom. Parents seem supportive of the technology with 90% saying that mobile devices make learning fun and 76% believe that tablets encourage curiosity.

Even though 71% of parents believe mobile devices provide irreplaceable learning opportunities for their children, 43% still say they need help finding the best apps for education, and 62% worry about the devices as distractions when not used properly. Perhaps, because of the concern over the possibility for distraction, only 52% state that schools make use of the advantages that mobile devices provide in the classroom.

Mobile Proliferation
Younger children are also being exposed to mobile devices more and more. Over half of kids between 5 and 8 years old have used a tablet, smartphone, or other touchscreen device. That number only drops to 39% among 2–4 year olds, and 10% among one year olds and younger.

Education vs. Entertainment
Despite the educational appeal, only 57% of families report tablet devices being used for learning and education. A more popular use is playing games, reported by 77% of families and 55% and 43% claimed for entertainment when travelling and watching TV shows or movies respectively.

There’s no doubt that mobile devices can be effective tools for teaching and learning, but teachers and parents should take care that the “good” outweighs the “bad.” Set clear expectations in the classroom for when and how the devices should be used. Teachers can also use these devices to monitor students’ progress in homework and subject mastery and communicate with parents any areas where their children may be struggling.

What are your thoughts? Is the rate of mobile adoption among children a good or bad thing?