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The Connected Classroom

Information On and From EducationPlus' LearningLab

educators at csd (EdPlus) Educators just like you are doing amazing things through online and blended learning opportunities, providing students experiences that are far beyond what’s possible in the traditional classroom.  As educators, we must prepare students to live in a world without physical boundaries and help students learn how to work with others, virtually or otherwise. You are invited to participate in a multi-session academy that explores the facets of online teaching and learning. Learn more …

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The annual EducationPlus LMS Academy focuses on the changing role of the Library Media Specialist in K-12 education. This six-session long learning opportunity will assist LMS personnel in teaching and connecting the standards of AASL, ISTE and the NETS along with the Missouri Learning Standards.

Registration is now open for all library media specialists and those interested in media literacy in K-12 education who wish to grow their professional learning network. One session of the academy is a day at the Midwest Education Technology Community Conference, which has sessions dedicated to LMS and media literacy. Educators will examine problem based activities and lessons pertaining to web and media literacy, plus explore digital citizenship and literacy curriculum resources. Best practices in copyright and fair use are important aspects to the academy discussion.

All sessions take place on Wednesdays, from 4-7 pm at EdPlus (except for the full-day at METC).

2015 dates: October 7, November 4, December 2
2016 dates: January 6, February 10 (METC @ St. Charles Convention Center), March 2

Learn more and register here.

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STL RPDC 2015 Logo UpdateBlog post by Marlow Barton,
MELL Instructional Specialist

Does the state of Missouri strike you as “global” or “international”? If not, it may surprise you to learn that one of the fastest growing populations in Missouri public schools in grades K-12 is English Language Learners (ELLs). Kansas City houses the largest concentration of ELLs with nearly 12,000 ELLs in their school systems, St. Louis comes in second with nearly 10,000 and the Springfield and surrounding southwest region is third with nearly 6,000.

The top five languages spoken in these homes are Spanish-Castilian, Bosnian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Somali.

According to the Department of Education, during the 2012-2013 school year, the ELL population grew by 259% while the native English speaking population slightly declined. Last year alone, nearly 28,000 ELLs across the state of Missouri were tested for English Language Proficiency and the majority of these students are primarily in grades K-3.

How can Missouri schools best serve this growing population? The answer is constantly evolving. When a student enrolls in a Missouri public school they are given a “Home Language Survey”. If the family indicates that a language other than English is spoken in the home, the student is given a language proficiency screener. The scores from this screener determine if the student will receive direct English language instruction services. If so, the student begins ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) services with a certified ESOL teacher.

A common question about teaching ELLs is “Do the teachers know all the languages of their students?” The answer is no. Thankfully, there are many methods for teachers to use without speaking the exact language of their students. ESOL programs and instruction differ across the state. Some districts pull ELLs out of the regular classroom for individualized instruction while other districts employ a “push-in” program bringing the ESOL teacher into the regular classroom. Other districts combine these methods. Co-teaching with an ELL teacher and general education teacher working together to provide comprehensible input is common while some use the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). Interactive learning strategies, such as Kagan for ELLs, are helping to boost academic achievement as well.

Missouri is also a part of the WIDA (World Class Instruction and Design) Consortium which provides many tools to help teachers who instruct ELLs. One tool is called the “Can Do” Descriptors. This chart provides a “snapshot” of what a student can do at their current proficiency level and then the teacher can get an idea of how to take them up to the next level.

The ELL students in Missouri have many linguistic/cognitive and social/economic advantages over monolingual students because they are “bi-cultural and bi-literate” (Gusman, 2015) and they add a “cultural richness” to the classroom learning environment (Cole, 2014).

To learn more about ELL programs in the St. Louis area,
contact Marlow Barton at EducationPlus.

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Along with facilitators Steffanie Forbes and Laura Jackson from LEGO Education, participants worked through hands-on activities that covered modeling in science, math, engineering and literacy today. They learned new practices in robotics and simple machines that will provide opportunities for their students to demonstrate and build their 21st century skills. Plus, LEGOS!

july lego

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STL RPDC 2015 Logo UpdateBlog post by Tricia Buchanan,
Special Education Improvement Consultant

Coming up for the 2015-2016 school year, we have developed a five-part series on early childhood topics that will focus on top issues in the world of students pre-K through first grade. The topics include:

Classroom Management and Family Involvement
This workshop will focus on integrating parental involvement in the world of classroom management by establishing a mutually supportive relationship to provide consistency, respect and a continuity of expectations for the student.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for Early Childhood
Experts in education, industry and national security all agree that there is a national imperative to graduate students with a thorough understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But many parents and teachers wonder, at what age is it appropriate to start teaching STEM? And how can we implement these concepts into early childhood education? The answer is: it is never too early to start STEM education. There are multiple areas, such as nature, to start teaching STEM concepts.

Language, Literacy and Vocabulary Building for Early Childhood
Words and their meanings are the building blocks of literacy development. Building children’s language, literacy and vocabulary foundations is at the core of a high-quality preschool curriculum. Young children, especially those at-risk or with special needs, require supportive learning environments that nurture these skills in order to ensure success in future reading and writing achievement. Discuss the most critical language, literacy and vocabulary skills to incorporate into classroom lesson planning as well as innovative ideas for creating developmentally appropriate learning experiences that will be enjoyable for all.

Brain Research, Developmental Delays and Transition for Early Childhood
Did you know that during the first three years of life, an infant’s brain will make an estimated 1,000 trillion synapses?  The experiences a child has in the first five years of life will either strengthen those resulting neurons or they will be discarded.  As early childhood professionals, we are in a position to observe and encourage activities that will strengthen those neurons and help them connect to needed skills. This session in the series will explore how educators can use the latest research on brain development to enhance these experiences for children. We will also explore the way developmental delays figure into these experiences and how all of this information can be used to promote successful transitions from early childhood programming to kindergarten.

Strategies for Developing Self-Determination skills for Early Childhood
Developing children’s self-regulation, problem-solving, advocacy, communication, goal setting and engagement skills are primary goals of early childhood education. These skills are fostered in both home and preschool environments and can lead to improved educational outcomes. Self-determination helps youth with disabilities achieve positive adult outcomes. The result will be a measurable increase in self-sufficiency and, perhaps even more importantly, greater sense of purpose and satisfaction in adulthood.

For more information, contact Tricia Buchanan at EducationPlus: tbuchanan@edplus.org.

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The LearningLab is pleased to share that we have returning plus new year-long academies in place for 2015-2016. Participation in each of these academies includes admittance to the 2016 Midwest Education Technology Community Conference in February for participants! To learn more about the content, dates (each starts in October 2015 and runs through March 2016) and price of each academy, please visit our calendar or click on the infographic below. Registration is now open!

2015-16 edtech academies

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Hard to believe we’re approaching mid-July already! We have a few more edtech workshops lined up throughout the month – and there is still time to register! Learn from members of the St. Louis (and beyond!) edtech community in engaging, hands-on sessions at EducationPlus. See the registration calendar here, and keep reading to see what’s being offered before the school year starts!

edtech at edplusLimited is space is available in:

July 21: Social Media in Schools: Tackling Social Media Responsibility

July 22: Teaching & Learning Through Tweets: Twitter for Teachers

July 23: Creating SMART Board Lessons to Engage & Motivate Students

July 24: iPads in the Classroom

July 31: Taking Discovery Education Streaming to the Next Level

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