Summer keeping in touch…Some are not.

By Tonnie Martinez

Many teachers are starting to feel it. In the midst of the field days, senior-itis, music programs, sports banquets and May craziness, there is that twinge of worry about what students’ lives will be like during the summer.  For some teachers, thinking about the long stretches of time without positive adult role models or issues of food insecurity can be more worrisome than than whether a student will lose academic ground. We asked educators if they kept in touch with their students over the summer and if they did, how they did. Here are their replies:

EC: I teach 8th grade Social Studies. I have a personal rule with my students that I don’t add them on social media. One the last day of school I grant the requests of those who have attempted to add me; this normally creates a storm of kids adding me. Also, I think it’s been important to follow my students’ parents on social media. It allows me to access their lives outside of school. This also helps me to connect with the parent and build trust between myself and them. To answer your question, I use both social media to stay in touch and also attend various events throughout the summer. I attend basketball games, swim meets, the local 4H fair and non-sporting events as well. This also helps build connections with students that will be in my class the next year.

SH: I’m a social worker and I’m sending postcards to all my students this summer. I’m planning at least three cards for each student this summer. I hope they write back!

TG: I teach math to 8th grade students. We have a group of students that have been recommended for Algebra 1 next year so I have set up a Google Classroom for these students. They will be working through some concepts they need to have mastered before starting Algebra 1. I will post instructional videos with guided practice and individual practice there. Answer keys will be posted on Fridays so they can check their practice. I will Google Hangout with students who need extra help or face-to-face if necessary.

MM: I am an elementary teacher. I give my students an envelope with a stamp on it to my home address. They can write a note to me over the summer and I’ll write them back. When students take advantage of this, we are summer pen pals! I send some of my students stamps when I know money is tight at home.

AK: I teach ESL K-3. I always give my students my phone number and they can call me once over the summer. I have done this since I started teaching and most students take advantage of the opportunity to touch base over the summer.

JR: I teach high school English. For the last few years I have created a Google doc for each of my five preps. Each class creates a name for their group. Students check in and add a line or two each week. It’s interesting how each class personality shines through each document. Some of my past students have shared that our summer correspondence was a lifeline for them.

Do you keep in touch with your students over the summer? Let’s keep the dialogue going in the comments below!

 

 

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From Graveyard Rows to Artificial Intelligence: EdCats Unlearn to Lead

By Tonnie Martinez, Ph.D.

“We still have a lot students seated in graveyard rows,” lamented the graduate student as she sifted through hundreds of sketches. The future teachers had been asked to sketch a classroom and interestingly, most of the sketches depicted chairs in rows with the teacher as the focal point of the classroom. There were apples on teachers’ desks and alphabet letters bordering the walls but the most prominent trait in the sketches were smiling students in single file rows.

The sketch activity reminds us, although we’re in an innovative era in education, we still have students coming into education programs with old ideas about what classrooms and instruction should look like. The challenge for progressive educator development programs like K-State’s is to make sure that deeply held beliefs– desks always in rows or one-way-my-way math problems–are replaced with new paradigms in student-centered learning. Our K-State College of Education faculty work hard to prepare educators with the expertise to develop the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. We do this by conducting research, testing promising practices in curriculum and instruction and collaborating with innovative schools.

There can certainly be justification for all types of teaching and learning (and even putting desks in rows now and then) but innovative teaching practices are vital for teaching today’s learners– digital natives who are able to pose higher order thinking questions to themselves (and to Siri) and obtain the answers without an adult in the room.

Readers have recently recommended some great resources for infusing new ideas into stale lesson plans. The resources are listed below with links EdCats may want to explore:

Turn excitement into action with Edutopia’s 5 Ways to Bring Passion into Learning. My colleagues and I are big believers in Genius Hours–which made their list. So much so that EdCats can earn professional development hours (and get a micro-credential and badge) for implementing Genius Hours into professional practices. Here’s a link for more on K-State College of Education Micro-credentials.

Top Picks are editorially curated lists of the best ed tech tools reviewed by Common Sense Education. EdCats can browse through a full library of top picks listed by grade, subject, and/or skill.

Our own Cyndi Kuhn has some great resources on her web page. Subscribe to her Think Different newsletter for tips and tricks for integrating technology in your classroom.

The STEMIE Coalition has a goal of every student becoming an inventor. They make the case for invention education and offer a FREE curriculum divided into four grade ranges: K-2; 3-5; 6-8 and 9-12. As of this post, STEMIE says they will have the curriculum up any day. In the meantime you will get great ideas by clicking on the “resources” button.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the classroom? You bet! EdCats may want to fantasize about  using AI to grade papers while Matt Lynch offers 8 Must-Have Artificial Intelligence Apps and Tools here .

The long and important journey that takes future teachers from graveyard rows to smarter classrooms with AI (and beyond) is both exciting and possible. By the time EdCats graduate they recognize that engaging digital natives requires mastering edtech tools, inspiring creativity, and integrating future-ready skills. I hope you’ll continue to reach back to the K-State College of Education professors and resources like EdCat Chats to continue your journey as leaders in education.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Anxious Students

By Tonnie Martinez, Ph.D.

Teachers do not need educational researchers to tell them there is a rise in student anxiety in schools–many hear “That gives me anxiety…” on a daily basis. But what if students do not verbalize their anxious feelings or cannot articulate what they are experiencing? Their behavior may offer clues they are feeling anxious. The Child Mind Institute offers information on the types of anxiety students face, how to recognize anxiety in students at school, and what might be causing it.

Kansas State University graduate and Eisenhower Middle School Counselor Angela Bunger offers valuable insight and tips for working with anxious students in an EdCat Chat*. You can find her EdCat Chat on tips for working with students with anxiety here.

For additional resources, EdCats may want to consider the following links:

We Are Teachers offers 7 ways to help students who struggle with anxiety.

Mind Shift has 20 tips, links to research, and parent resources for anxious students.

The roles of guardians/families, counselors, social workers, administrators and peers are key to a collaborative approach.  Student support structures can be suggested, implemented and revisited.  Every student’s perspective and coping skills are different.

Ultimately, giving students skills to address their social and emotional needs can provide them with tools for success for the rest of their lives.

 

*EdCat chats are 5-10 minute video chats that give advice to early career teachers, years 1-3. If you would like to provide mentoring advice in an EdCat chat, please contact Dr. Tonnie Martinez at tonnie@ksu.edu.

 

Love is in the air!

Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners and the love of bringing the first two loves together–Scott Hayden

Here in the college of education we are reminded every day of YOU. We ask our students about their favorite teachers and they tell us about YOU. We want to remind YOU that YOU are making a difference every single day in your classroom by the way you are spreading love for content, people, ideas, places, and things! We asked students to tell us about how you do that and here’s what they said:

She brought her guitar to class every Friday and played us a song. It was magical.

My teacher taught us a word in sign language every day after lunch. We were encouraged to sign the words we learned and we thought it was so cool.

Our teacher was so invested in us. He came to our games and activities and he always seemed genuinely interested in how we were doing. He was invested in us as a class family.

We had a teacher that was a Star Wars fanatic. We had a 3ft high R2D2 and that thing was our classroom mascot. Its such a small thing but we went crazy each day posing it, decorating it and it was just our thing.

It seems silly but our teacher made our class so comfy. We had scented candles on warmers and soft lights we could change and when she played music while we worked we just felt so cozy and safe.

My teacher dressed up in crazy outfits that went with what we were learning. We couldn’t wait to see what was next.

We absolutely love these ideas. You can read more of what the students have to say about YOU by going on Twitter and typing #COE200 in the search box. Please add to our conversation. Post what your favorite teachers did that you loved and add the hashtag COE200. Then please be reminded that what you do makes a difference. Perhaps today it doesn’t feel like it. But some day someone will ask your students if they can think of a teacher that loved teaching so much that the students fell in love with content, people, ideas, places and things and they are going to talk about YOU.

Love is in the air…

Apache IS

By  Tonnie Martinez

It’s always fun for K-State faculty to visit schools. We love it when research or student teacher support takes us into a building.  One of the buildings I get the privilege of visiting is Apache Innovative School in the Shawnee Mission School District. I’d like to invite EdCats to come with me as I relive recent visits to Apache IS.

We’ll start just outside the office area where some creative students have taken the lost and found pile and turned it into “The Lost and  Found Boutique,” fashionably styling forgotten garments on dress forms for owner rescue.

It’s not unusual for a random student to greet a visitor. Yesterday Student A changed direction, made eye contact, shook my hand, and after introducing himself asked, “What is the nature of your business at Apache today?” After some small talk he questioned, “Was teaching your first career choice?” This brief exchange is a common-place example of why this building is a special place.

The Building: From magnetic walls that allow a student to stop and “spell” the roses on the way to the restroom, to flexible seating options that include KC Chiefs lawn chairs and stacked gymnasium mats; students at Apache have seating choices to match how they learn best (which may change throughout the day). Strategically placed collaboration spaces can be found in every available nook and cranny, often being used for one-to-one or small group skills practice.

The Learner and Learning: Data drives every instructional decision made in this building. Period. Instructional coaches drill down to the even the smallest data or biographical detail that may be leveraged to make a difference in a child’s individual learning plan. A student just learned to ride a bike? It’s highly likely the teacher will know and use that information. Learning math is more fun when a student realizes how many times they pedal in 30 seconds can be their math problem. Oh, and if a student doesn’t have a bike or know how to ride? A local bike shop brings a trailer full of bikes to get that riding instruction covered during recess or PE.

Content Knowledge: Every student is on an individualized learning journey.  Students are in both horizontal and vertical looping structures. That means that they may loop from first to to second grade with the same teacher. (Think of all the time saved when the teacher already knows a students’ backgrounds and biography). Vertical looping means a student may learn math content with the same teacher in first, third, and fifth grade, allowing for building students’ content knowledge with strategically sequenced curriculum and grade level milestones along the way.

Application of Content: Just the other day, Apache students had a “Student’s Choice Day” in which teachers provided highly engaging activities (e.g., pumpkin carving geometry and seed estimation). Students chose which activities to visit, probably not realizing they had been carefully constructed to meet necessary state standards and student learning outcomes. Community members have been tapped to interview students to increase career awareness and soft skills practice during project-based learning units. Imagine a parent using a sewing machine from the Maker space to hem a pair of their student’s jeans on family math night using 10 stitches per inch. Innovative ideas for family math and reading are possible (and encouraged) at Apache.

Instructional Practice: Teachers collaborate daily. I walked into a conference room to check my messages and heard a conversation that focused on deep analysis of data, and the teachers quizzed each other for “one more intervention strategy” to increase two students’ letter recognition–students that were below grade level when they enrolled.

Students Are Part of a Learning Community Across Grade Levels: I found myself smiling when a fifth-grader came into a second-grade math classroom, found his former teacher, and hugged her. He had finished the math lesson in his classroom and came to help. She handed him a stack of flash cards and said, “You are just in time! Student B would love you to help him practice!” As I left the classroom, the teacher was having students build math equation models with Legos and write their answers on table tops with dry erase markers (Yes, students can write on the furniture!). I quietly shut the door as I heard the fifth grade student–now in the hall with his learning buddy–exclaim, “Hey, you are really getting the hang of this!”

The administration, instructional coaches and staff at Apache work tirelessly to ensure that ALL students learn. I have never seen a school culture quite like it. Two hours after the bell rang, I packed up and left a meeting with student teachers. I noticed a student teacher walked back into her classroom to  cheering and clapping. Not able to resist, I poked my head in to see what the commotion was. “Look, look!” the collaborators exclaimed, “Our sight word booklets came back from the copy center! We can’t wait to give them out tomorrow!” No doubt the students were as excited; the teachers were enthusiastically planning the next days’ sight word launch as I slipped back out of the classroom.

Is it perfect? No. The deck is stacked against Apache. In the midst of all of the excitement and wonder, too many students struggle with imperfect childhoods, unfair poverty, and food security issues that impact learning. State assessment practices are not robust enough to demonstrate all the ways Apache IS students will be successful (eye contact, a firm handshake, and helping another practice a skill set you have mastered are important soft skills tied to career success but not state assessments). Critics quick to publicly denounce innovative practices would do well to visit. They would quickly discover the intangibles that make Apache IS a great place to learn academics and more. Or they could just ask Student C., who nearly ran over me on a bicycle as I visited with a teacher. Emerging from the orange cones as the bike shop volunteers let go of him, he screamed to all, “This is the best day of my life!”

You can share in the Apache Innovative School excitement by following these Twitter accounts: @ApacheIS512 (school) @principalplewis (admin) @brpumphrey (admin), @AbbyLeeMorgan (Instructional Coach).

 

Setting Intentions for the School Year

Back-to-school sales

The letter or e-mail that comes announcing in-service/professional development/new teacher training.

Ready. Or. Not.

When we are educators our life ebbs and flows by the school calendar. Most of us are required to come ready with goals for our professional practice this school year. Often we are asked that our goals be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant.

It is very important to set goals. It’s important for us to teach our students to set goals. HOWEVER…This year we’d like to suggest you take a minute to also consider what your intentions are for this school year. They are not always as easy to measure but they are just as important.

Have a seat in your classroom. Sit where your students will sit. What’s the view from there? Follow your gaze. Where do messages of encouragement need to be? Will all eyes go to a clock, a door, or the front of your desk? If so, there’s a place for encouraging your students that they are safe and have a teacher that cares.

Intentions are a vehicle that make your classroom a feeling as much as a place. Is there music? Do you keep bread and peanut (or almond or sunflower or…)butter or other snacks for your students? Is this the year you buy a $10 diffuser, a battery operated candle, or start a minibar of scented hand sanitizers? Do you have a class mascot (one of our favorite teachers has a stuffed armadillo that students rub for good luck before an assessment), a cussing jar or a suggestion box? Perhaps you’re going to have the students help you stay accountable for drinking more water, smiling more or offering them more brain breaks?

Intentions represent a conscious attempt to live (and in this case–teach) according to your values and beliefs. Why did you get into teaching? Do you believe ALL students can learn? Do you believe that relationships are important? Then make your classroom a place where those values and beliefs are reflected every day. Take time to set your intentions for this school year.

 

 

The Micro-credential is Here

Who:

Yours truly, the K-State College of Education is rolling out micro-credentials for you, EdCats, the most well-prepared educators in the country. (But anyone can take them… and everyone should!)

What:

Micro-credentials.

A micro-credential is professional development. No, not the kind that requires a staff to sit in the auditorium and a highly compensated “guru” comes in and talks all day about a strategy (that you have been doing for the last two years–at least). This is where the teacher decides what is important to improving professional practices. Teachers develop a new skill through a guided study, implement it, and then progress-monitor continuous improvement. Participants earn badges that can be included in resumes, Linked-in accounts, and even on e-mail signatures, highlighting enhanced skills.

When:

Anytime. Earning a micro-credential is like taking a mini version of a college course. It’s more thorough than an in-service because teachers implement what was learned and then provide artifacts (perhaps student work samples, video evidence, etc.).

Where:

That’s the real beauty of it. Anywhere. How many times do teachers sit in auditoriums hearing blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda when they could have been making better use of that time in a classroom (or we’ll admit it, a coffee shop as we plug our class roster into our learning management apps)?

How:

You can click here to see two of our micro-credentials, Flexible Seating and Genius Hour (and many more are on the way).

Why:

Flexible seating can enhance your classroom in ways you never dreamed of. Meghan Chapman, Andover Public Schools, helped design this micro-credential. She is going to give you resources, tips, classroom photos, and a step-by-step implementation process to maximize your professional practice and student learning.

Genius hour is another concept that is sweeping the country. Educators are increasing student engagement like never before using this Google corporation model. Jonathan Ferrell, Shawnee Mission School District teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team member, takes you into his classroom to demonstrate how his students utilize genius hour to develop passion projects that have them producing incredible ideas, prototypes, and products being sold on Etsy. He also provides a curated, “best of” list of digital resources (like Twitter accounts and classroom videos) that can help you get started.

You’ll also be happy to know–not only are you getting amazing ideas that can make you a top teacher, upon completion, you will get documentation of 15 hours of professional development.

And finally…

We have to charge for them. $100. This pays for development, hosting on a user-friendly website, uploading all the content you get, and keeping track of everyone taking them so when it comes time to document learning for a school district; we can be contacted for verification. Everyone will know you gained your new skill set through Kansas State University.  Questions? Contact Dr. Tonnie Martinez, tonnie@ksu.edu. We hope you’ll be the first in your building (hey, maybe your district will pay for you to be the first and share with your team) to participate in a K-State College of Education micro-credential.

 

Closing Your Classroom for Summer

Congratulations EdCats!

Some of you are closing out your very first semester of teaching. YOU DID IT! Other EdCats are celebrating validation of the rumor they heard–the second year sails by when you know more about what to expect and have greater confidence in your teaching. The great equalizer, whether your it’s your first year or fifteenth, is it’s time to think about closing your classroom for the year. Here are some of our tips combined with advice from veteran teachers and your fellow EdCats!

1. Communicate with administration/facilities to determine what is happening to your classroom this summer. Schools begin to hum with facilities repairs and projects once the final dismissal bell rings. Perhaps your room will be used for summer school or this summer may be your classroom’s turn in the annual rotation of floor stripping and waxing. Knowing what is ahead will help you make good decisions on moving and storing items.

2. Purge. Stacy Dillinger, 5th grade, shares, I ‘pretend’ I am leaving each year. It forces me to clean out that messy desk or cabinet that I wouldn’t do otherwise. It also helps me to purge what I really don’t need. Anna Kohake, K-8 Spanish & Reading, agrees. Chances are if you didn’t use it this year, you’re not going to use it next year.

3.  Think ahead to next year. After summer break, I often forget why I ordered organizers, clip boards, specific folders, specific supplies, etc. so I write down my ideas/reasons for ordering an item and staple the note to my copy of the purchase order, says Jill Rehg-Baith 5th. I keep a Google Doc going titled ‘to-do before August’ and update it.  Sarah Campbell, secondary ESL, keeps a running list of “things to buy this summer” Post-it in her planner. Angie Bretches, 6th, encourages, Force yourself to take down bulletin boards. It makes you more creative for the next year when you come to set up. Something as simple as a new board can invigorate a boring classroom. Sarah Campbell, secondary ESL, wants us to take a photo before we start taking things down. Crystal Holzer, Middle School Avid Instructor, wants to remind us that when we take things down we should LAMINATE EVERYTHING!

4. Label boxes and objects. This author lost the battle of the podium. I came back after the summer break and unbeknownst to our department, the custodians put all of our classroom objects in the hallway and mixed them all together. One podium was old and rickety and the other was newer and nicer. You guessed it, my podium (the newer one) was put back into another classroom and without sharing the drama, I lost the battle. If I had been as smart as one of our EdCats (who wishes to remain anonymous) and used painter’s tape, I could have clearly marked my classroom belongings. She recommends the blue painter’s tape and a sharpie so as not to damage any surfaces. Another helpful hint is to photograph your classroom or any important information on bulletin boards before you take it down.

Sarah's photo

5. Enlist the help of your students. We like the idea of having this year’s students make a bulletin board or wall display for next year’s students with advice for succeeding in that grade level or classroom. To get additional ideas for including students as you close your classroom, Wynn Godbold offers 5 Practical and Ingenious Tips for Closing your Classroom here.

Do you have additional ideas for the EdCat Community? Feel free to add your advice in our comments section. Here’s our advice:

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

charlie-foster-136

 

 

EdCat Guest Blogger: Tips for Communication with Parents/Guardians

By Meshell Thornley

Parents/Guardians. Many teachers agree that they are one of the scariest parts of our job. I can remember feelings of anxiety that came with meeting parents my first few years on the job. I wish I could say those feelings do not crop up now that I’m a veteran teacher, but I cannot. But I have had my perspective change over the years. So without further ado, these are my top five tips for working with parents/guardians.

1. Be on their side.

At some point in time during my first one-on-one contact with a parents I try to express my belief that I am on their team.  Good or bad, they are the first and most important educator of their child.  As a result, we as teachers are secondary.  I don’t mean to down play our importance.  Without a doubt, we have the power to make or break a child.  By expressing our support of them as parents they are then free to be open with us and to share and brainstorm about working with their child.

2. Frequent contact is important.

I am ashamed to realize I did not learn this lesson fully until I became a parent.  If you make casual contact frequently you can get by with less of the formal, more time-consuming types of contacts.  Keep in mind this only works if you have made an initial effort to make a more formal, time-consuming contact towards the beginning of the year.

You see, your first formal contact that is not required sends the message to parents that you do actually care about their child.

Being able to say something positive and be able to discuss the parents’ recommendation on how to handle their child allows the parents to see that you will work with them.  After that, your little notes and social media posts will have a positive connotation connected with them.  And as a result, you can get by with less phone and face-to-face contact.  Keep in mind that with some students, you are going to be the one desiring the contact because the parents can empower you when working with their ‘difficult’ child.

3. Remember, they know their child best.

Every year I smile as parents look at me and say, “Are you talking about my child?”  Students are different for us than they are for their parents.  Whether it’s that they are super neat at school, but not at home.  Or that they are quiet at school, but not at home.  The reality is we see a different side of students than their parents do.  I know this has given me the impression that I might know a student better than their parents do, but the majority of the time this is not true.

As a parent, we are present at the birth of the child and for the majority of developmental milestones thereafter.  Obviously the parent is going to know their child best.  They have been around a great deal more.  Keeping this in mind will help you to meet that child’s needs.  Thinking back to my own daughter’s second grade year I can remember feeling as if her teachers were not recognizing this very fact.  They were trying interventions with her and I only found out about after the fact.  I can remember thinking, “If they had only asked me I could have told them that that wasn’t going to work.”  Parents know things we do not, even if they are not the educational experts we are.

4. Admit your errors.

We all make mistakes. Hopefully they are not big mistakes. And hopefully they do not negatively effect a child–but when you do make a mistake, own it. If possible, catch the mistake and let the parent know prior to them finding it themselves. Apologize. Don’t make excuses or try to explain. Admit you were wrong and apologize. If they want an explanation they’ll ask for it. Now here is the REALLY scary part. Make sure your administrator knows of your mistake first (especially if it is a big mistake) and they can be supportive as you make the parent contact. In some cases they may advise you not to make a contact and you should do as they suggest.

5. No, parents cannot do your job.

After all of these words about how important parents are–you need to realize that you are too. There are ways we can influence students their parents cannot. This is why parents need us to be their partners!

Also keep in mind that just because parents might be professionals or be able to talk educational theory does not mean they can do your job. You are highly trained. You are skilled at forming relationships with students. You are skilled at recognizing the needs of 25 students all in the same day (and usually all at the same time)! You are professional and intelligent even if you use first grade words all day!

You are great and your superpower is teaching!

MeshellThornleyA K-State College of Education graduate, Meshell is a gifted facilitator for Manhattan-Ogden schools. She has worked in gifted education for the past 12 years. A mother of two children who attend Manhattan-Ogden schools, she is currently working on a graduate degree in Building Leadership in K-State’s College of Education.

 

 

Culturally Supported Students

On a recent visit to Apache Innovative School in the Shawnee Mission School District, students were actively engaged in the building’s Makerspace. The student featured in this photo was particularly happy as she and her classmates sorted through a bin of Lego shapes and characters.  As she found her favorite Lego she shrieked, “I just love it here!” Drawn to her excitement, we asked, “Why do you love it here?”

Her reply? “I love this school because they have Legos that look like me.”

According to the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRES), “…effective teaching and learning occur in a culturally-supported, learner-centered context, whereby the strengths students bring to school are identified, nurtured, and utilized to promote student achievement.” We EdCats certainly want to be effective teachers, so what are some strategies for creating a culturally-supported, learner-centered context?

  1. Self-reflection. The Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence has some excellent strategies for self-examination of our own cultural-bound assumptions about other cultures and the assumptions that may influence our teaching. We want to constantly ask ourselves how our course materials, resources (yes, even Legos), activities, assignments, grouping configurations, and assessments are relevant and accessible to all students.
  2. Overcome Stereotypes. We need to know our students as individuals rather than relying on cultural/racial/ethnic stereotypes or prior experiences with other students of the same background. Find some good ideas and resources for mythbusting stereotypes here from Teaching Tolerance Magazine’s great website and resources.
  3. Conduct a scavenger hunt in your classroom and building. Do you see all of your students’ cultural backgrounds represented? Do each of your students look around and think, “My teacher sees me and values me.” Posters, photos, guest speakers, multicultural literature representing your students, flags, maps, and opportunities for students to bring in beloved objects from their families can teach students to value their own cultural heritage and gain appreciation of classmates’ communities as well.  Keep in mind our featured student photo. One of the reasons she loves her school is a Lego that looks like her.  Does your classroom contain items that make your students feel happy and valued?
  4. Get to know the biographies of your students. It’s never too late! Students move in and out. Most “get acquainted” activities happen at the beginning of the year and a lot may have changed since August. We like the activity Everyone Is Unique: Spin a Classroom Web that 5th grade teacher Melissa Walker has posted on Scholastic’s website. The activity can be modified for all grade levels and is a powerful way to build community. Jennifer Gonzalez has a clever, 4-part system for getting to know students on her blog, Cult of Pedagogy that we think EdCats will like.
  5. Finally, don’t forget our ever-growing Pinterest board on Diverse Learners where you will find additional ideas for meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

The topics of diversity, culturally competent teaching strategies, and meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students and families are certainly too vast to cover in a single blog post–or a single college course for that matter. As lifelong learners, EdCats will always need to seek new and different ways to reach and teach all learners. Let’s keep the conversations going!