5 edtech resources that support literacy in elementary school

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Fall is the best time of year in Montana. The air is crisp, the colors are beautiful, and, as school has been in session for two months, students and teachers alike have settled into a nice routine. It is the time of year where we analyze the data from the first two months of school, tweak instruction to meet student needs, and accelerate our efforts to help our students achieve as much growth as possible. Just as in classrooms nationwide, Montana’s teachers place an intense focus on supporting literacy in elementary school instruction. 

As a veteran teacher of 17 years who has taught in both elementary and middle school classrooms, I have found that there are a number of powerful edtech tools available to support student literacy. My students love to be on the computers and get so excited when I say we are going to be doing a lesson online. However, I refuse to allow students to simply log screen time in my classroom. The tools and resources my students use must generate discussion and are often used in a team or partner setting, as I strongly believe that student interaction supports our instructional goals.…Read More

Committee for Children Joins Forces with Aperture Education to Integrate Assessments and Curriculum to Build Social-Emotional Skills

Charlotte N.C. – Aperture Education, a Riverside Insights company and the leading provider of social-emotional skills assessment and intervention solutions, and Committee for Children, the leading provider of social-emotional curriculum programs in the U.S., announced today that they will partner to offer four co-developed assessments to support schools in demonstrating the impact of evidence-based social and emotional programs. 

Built from the Aperture DESSA suite, these assessments complement Committee for Children’s Second Step® programs, which are research-based social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula developed to nurture SEL in children’s daily lives, both in and outside of the classroom. By having integrated assessment and curriculum tools, educators can gain valuable insights from reliable, real-time data about instructional effectiveness and the impact of SEL curriculum on students.

“As schools introduce social-emotional learning into their curriculum, it’s imperative to show how these investments translate into improved outcomes for their students. Years of evidence show how Second Step improves critical life skills and mental wellbeing,” said Riverside Insights CEO Vivek Kartha. “We are proud to collaborate with the Committee for Children and contribute to improving student outcomes by aligning our gold standard DESSA assessments with their world-class curriculum.”…Read More

Empowering staff and students with a sense of belonging

Key points:

  • When students feel supported, they’re more likely to share their struggles
  • Mental health partnerships can better support students and staff
  • See related article: How to build relationships with students
  • Get the latest news on student and staff well-being by visiting eSN’s SEL & Well-Being page

Belonging is a fundamental human need. We are all searching for a sense of connection with the people and places in our lives. Students and school staff are no different, so it’s crucial to ensure learning environments foster a sense of belonging.

When students have a strong sense of belonging, they are more likely to be engaged in school and to perform well academically. Unfortunately, new data shows that only 62 percent of high school students feel connected to others at school, and nearly one-third of students experience poor mental health.…Read More

The bookend model: Using SEL to support before- and after-school programs

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Incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) throughout the school day has risen in popularity over the last few years, especially to counteract the increasing rates of anxiety and depression in students since the COVID-19 pandemic. Lost in the discussion, however, is the importance of before- and after-school programs–the bookends of the school day. 

These before- and after-school programs dedicate a significant amount of time to activities that can help students develop social-emotional skills. In fact, a 2021 survey of program providers found that in addition to academic enrichment, 86 percent of programs give young people the time to interact with their peers and build social skills. Plus, students themselves report that 80 percent of the programs give the students time to talk with peers and adults about how they’re feeling. Yet, staff may not approach every interaction with intention to foster social and emotional growth.…Read More

5 tips I’m excited to share with first-year teachers

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I’ll never forget my first day as a teacher. I was so excited to begin my career teaching kindergarten students who were deaf or hard of hearing. My enthusiasm petered out when I saw green paint spilled all over my classroom. Overwhelmed and flustered, I hadn’t accounted for mishaps like this to be part of my lesson plan and was quickly faced with the realization that there were many things that happened in the classroom that weren’t accounted for in my lesson. Thankfully, one of my fellow teachers reassured me in the aftermath by saying, “You clean it up and try again tomorrow. Now you know not to put as much paint in the cup next time.”

Throughout my 26 years of teaching, I’ve heard similar accounts from other first-year teachers anxious to get their footing in their new roles, but more than anything, they wanted to connect with their students and students’ families. They wanted to avoid cleaning up spilled paint, searching for the right lessons or managing repetitive tasks that took time away from their students.…Read More

Schools are key to solving mental health equity gaps

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Kids are facing a crisis unlike anything the U.S. has ever seen as young people face staggering rates of anxiety, depression and suicide. While there isn’t one clear cause as to why this is the case—there has been a lot of unrest over the past several years—it’s essential that our systemic approach to mental health support shifts with these unprecedented times.

Equity gaps often prevent youths from accessing the care they need. It’s been reported that even before COVID-19, 1 in 5 children had a treatable mental health diagnosis but only about 20 percent received care from a provider. For many young people, living without addressing these underlying mental health challenges transcends into other areas of their lives—including academics and social behavior. These critical services must be accessible where kids spend the majority of their time: school. …Read More

Illustrative Mathematics Announces IM® 360 for K-12 Educators and Students

TUCSON, Ariz. /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Illustrative Mathematics (IM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a world where all learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics, announced today the upcoming release of IM® 360, its innovative new curriculum for grades K–12.

Guided and inspired by educators doing extraordinary things since its inception in 2011, IM is continually improving curriculum support for its problem-based instructional model based on feedback from school leaders, teachers, and students. IM 360 is the organization’s largest-scale curriculum upgrade to date, designed in response to the expressed needs of educators and learners in the K–12 math community.

“IM greatly values the dynamic relationships we have with school leaders and teachers across the country, which serve as the guiding compass for IM’s trajectory,” said Gail Hartman, IM’s Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Development. “This ongoing partnership and the feedback it generates about our products enable the IM team to identify areas for improvement, refine accordingly, and foster innovative solutions that are genuinely transformative for K–12 math classrooms.”…Read More

5 ways to update aging media centers

Key points:

  • Prioritize high-need schools and ensure technology is in place from the beginning
  • With updated media centers, schools can support modern learning goals and student activities
  • See related article: 4 ways we designed collaborative learning spaces

It’s been about two years since we received the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding that we needed to be able to update our aging media centers. Not only were the furniture and fixtures old, but most of the seating was made of cloth and nearly impossible to sanitize or disinfect.

We used this ESSER funding opportunity—plus some additional funding from other sources—to thoroughly review our current facilities across 27 different schools. We sought out the facilities with the highest need, knowing that some of them had been upgraded in recent years. Others, however, were still using furniture from 1972—the same year that the schools had opened.…Read More