"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, July 23, 2020

2020 Medley #15

Motivate for reading, Returning to school, Internet Safety


The First Question to Ask of a Vulnerable Reader

In this recent blog post, Russ Walsh provides us with seven things teachers can do to foster a desire to learn to read in their students. Unfortunately, if students come to school without the desire to learn to read, it just makes it that much harder for teachers to convert them into avid readers. The suggestions in Walsh's post will help, of course, and with many students (and with perseverance) it will succeed. However, it would be much easier for students if their development of a desire to learn to read began at home.

The easiest motivational tool, and number two on Walsh's list, is read aloud.

Reading aloud makes the reading process a pleasurable experience before they even get to school, because, as Jim Trelease wrote, "Human beings will voluntarily do over and over that which brings them pleasure...When we read to a child, we're sending pleasure messages to the child's brain." In other words, it feels good.

This "feel-good" quality is the reason that reading aloud is the most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading, especially during the preschool years. The reason reading aloud improves success in school is because it makes the reading process enjoyable...it brings children (and their parents) pleasure. This motivates children to want to learn to read.

Just one more reason to read aloud to your children...starting from birth.
As I reflect on this failure from the distance of 25 years, I think I failed Ryan in part because I failed to ask one simple question. It is a question I think many of us may fail to ask when we are given the job of helping a child learn to read. It is the first question I think we need to ask of any vulnerable reader who comes into our charge. The question is, "Does this child want to learn to read?"

For many children learning to read is hard work. In order to commit yourself to that work, you have to want to do it, just as I really wanted to be able to ride that bike. The desire to read is critical to learning to read. While most children come to school with a burning desire to read, some vulnerable readers do not. There may be many reasons for this, but the reasons are not as important as our awareness that this may be the case and then taking some action to help children develop the desire to read. I want to be clear here. I am not talking about a child who reads little or who is difficult to motivate to read, I am talking about a child who is not interested in learning how to read..

To understand how to help kids who don't have a desire to learn to read, we need to look at why most kids do want to read. It is likely a combination of factors including: a desire for a ticket into the adult world, a feeling of accomplishment, curiosity about topics like dinosaurs or sports or superheroes, an interest in words and how they work, an interest in stories, and a desire to please the adults in their life.


No State Has Met CDC Guidelines for Steadily-Decreasing COVID Cases, So Let’s Open Schools.

In the "old days" national medical policy took into consideration the opinions of professionals from the CDC and the NIH. Now, however, our "medical" chief sits in the Oval Office and is medically ignorant.

The CDC released guidelines for dealing with the pandemic, yet nowhere in the country have the guidelines been followed. With that lack of progress as a background, America's public schools are set to start in August and September. We no longer rely on science for our actions. We will continue to lose fellow citizens and the disease will continue to be a threat until a vaccine is available. We have given up.
As of this writing, no state has met the May 2020 Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for moving into Phase 1 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases over a 14-day period) much less the additional criteria for entering Phase 2 (“Downward trajectory or near-zero incidence of documented cases for at least 14 days after entering Phase 1).

That’s 28 days of supposed “downward trajectory” prior to entering Phase 2, and that assumes increased testing.

Also in phase 2, COVID-19 test results are supposed to be available in three days or less. That is not happening. (See here and here, also, for more examples.)

According to the July 18, 2020, USA Today, no state is currently even in Phase 1 (“stay-st-home order”). Yet the artcle also shows that in most states and DC (46), “new cases are growing.”

And yet, the push to reopen schools is on, ever-increasing cases be damned.

Poor Air Quality in Schools: During Covid-19 and Before!

Remember when we provided our schools with the money needed to operate...with the money they needed to keep children healthy...with the money needed to update and maintain buildings? The defunding of public education has been national policy since No Child Left Behind. Now, when states are struggling with budgets stretched thin by the pandemic, schools will have even more trouble finding the funds to maintain and improve. Starve the schools...and then blame them for failure. The failure is in our legislators' refusal to give importance to our future.
Why didn’t the leaders of the richest nation in the world improve the air quality in public schools before the coronavirus?

Remember when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said not to invest in buildings?

She said:

If we really want to help students, then we need to focus everything about education on individual students – funding, supporting and investing in them. Not in buildings; not in systems.

This was her way of pushing an end to public education. The crummier the buildings, the more parents would demand choice to online charters sold as better, even if they’re not. The sooner public schools and the teaching profession would collapse.

How can school officials fix ventilation systems during a pandemic? How do maintenance workers continually replace air filters to keep children and teachers safe during the coronavirus?

The EPA provides guidelines for what healthy air quality should be during Covid-19.

Before a New School Year Begins, We Must Grieve

Our students will return to school traumatized. Our colleagues will return to school traumatized. Before learning can occur we need to provide schools with the mental health support needed to move past the consequences of the pandemic.

We should follow the advice of Pasi Sahlberg and Let the Children Play (see also, here).

[emphasis in original]
We lost a lot this past school year: the stability of our normal day to day, our in-person communities of adults and young people, a sense of self-efficacy when we jumped into the unknown world of remote learning. We lost touch with the students. We lost loved ones.

I have been fortunate not to lose anyone to COVID, but I know all of these other losses personally. This summer I am coming to terms with the grief I feel over these losses. As I think about next year, I feel overwhelmed. I realize before I can come to terms with the uncertainty of a new school year, I need to grieve over the real losses of the past one.


The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet [Updated for July 2020]

Kids are spending more time online...it makes sense to make sure they're protected.
...it’s not that difficult to put certain technical controls in place to protect your children online. Far more importantly, the best thing you can do to protect your children is to talk to them. This guide will help you set clear boundaries for what and when they access online, but also to be there for your children when they make a mistake, or when they have gone too far. Isn’t that what parenting fundamentally comes down to?


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