Sunday, March 31, 2019

Increase Screen Time to Increase Literacy Proficiency

Like it or not, educators and parents of young schoolchildren know (or will soon find out) the rigorous literacy demands being placed on students today. A friend shared she was surprised by the reading level and number of books her six-year-old was supposed to be reading. She'd been reading bedtime stories to her daughter. What she didn't realize was that schools today expect young children to be reading their own stories with proficiency at such a young age.

The research

This is happening despite research that indicates we are pushing children to learn before they are developmentally ready. Doing this can have harmful consequences for children.

In their report Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose, education professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her colleagues write about the hazards of early reading instruction. They warn: “When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

Unfortunately, if you’re a teacher or parent, even if you feel this way your job and/or child’s success depends on how they meet today’s expectations.

What not to do

One of the worst things a parent or teacher can do is to associate reading with anxiety and failure. One way to avoid this is to make reading fun with as many scaffolds as possible.

While for some families this may mean investing in expensive programs or tutors to help their child keep up, there is another way.

Finding high-quality early literacy apps.

Solution: Increase Screen time

If you’re lucky enough to be in a district that purchases and provides a platform such as Footsteps2Brilliance students will be more likely to meet today’s demands. Their research shows that in just one month students have measurable results in vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking, and comprehension. Outside research shows that students who used Footsteps2Brilliance gained 7 months of vocabulary acquisition on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test in just 1 month. That is almost an entire year’s worth of academic progress.

Unfortunately, you may not be in a district that uses advanced tools for advanced literacy. Fortunately, there is an app now available to any parent or teacher for students. The app can be downloaded even if their school or district has not invested in it. 

It’s called Rivet. It’s free! It also has no ads and it’s COPPA compliant.
Screen shot of Rivet library. Includes book categories and titles.

The app contains more than 2000 leveled books for students in grades K-2. The app has a kid-friendly interface with word help to decrease frustration level. It has a read along feature enabling the book to read aloud to children. It is personalized so kids can choose their favorite books, avatars, and skins. It also has authentic, real-world reflection. Readers can rate and review each story they read. They can also save favorite stories and play games based on the stories they enjoy the most.

Using an app like Rivet means increased screen time results in increased reading time. What does that look like for readers using Rivet?
  • +20% more time reading
  • 29 average minutes per day reading
  • 4.2 nights per week read
  • 5.3 books read per day

The Verdict

While click-bate headlines love to scare parents and educators about the risks of screen time, it’s not that simple. Intelligently directed screen time with adult guidance and support can be the very thing kids need for success.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are apps like Rivet or Footsteps2Brilliance something that could help the students with whom you work? Have you tried them? Have you had success with something else?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Innovative Tips to Share with Parents in a Minute from @WNETeducation

Innovative educators know the importance of family outreach. They also understand that to build a strong relationship with parents, there needs to be plenty of positive and useful contact made for busy families.

To help with that WNET Education has created Parenting Minutes. These short videos focus on key topics related to early childhood learning and raising children. Each video page contains shareable tips and facts, as well as links to more FREE resources and information. 


Screenshot of the parenting minute website. Shows topics like routines and healthy snacks. Also shows that the tips are available in these languages: ENGLISH, ESPAƑOL, BENGALI, CHINESE

Here are some of the topics:
  • Readiness Check: Find out about the Learning Heroes program. Here parents can have their children answer about five questions to find out if the are ready for their grade level. If they're not, they can receive some fun, free activities to help children learn at home.
  • Routines: This video provides information about the importance of establishing a schedule at home with daily routines.
  • Healthy Snacks: This video talks about how parents and caregivers can help children eat healthier.  Eating healthy snacks keeps kids strong which means fewer sick days and a stronger mind. 
There are currently 12 videos which makes them perfect to send out with a monthly text or newsletter home to families.  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Simple Guide to Analyzing Media with Key Questions from @MediaLiteracyEd

Innovative educators know media literacy is important. Common Sense Education explains that media literacy helps kids with the following:
  • Learn to think critically. 
  • Become a smart consumer of products and information. 
  • Recognize point of view. 
  • Create media responsibly. 
  • Identify the role of media in our culture
  • Understand the author's goal. 
What innovative educators may not know is how to get started with teaching students about media literacy.  

Key question resource grid

The National Association of Media Literacy Educators (NAMLE) has a useful key question grid resource to help teachers get started. The grid provides questions in three categories, each with subcategories.  
  1. Audience and authorship
  2. Messages and meaning
  3. Representations and reality
Chart with media literacy questions. Link to the original is in the caption.
Source: NAMLE Key Questions Chart

Tips to Consider

Media literate people learn to ask themselves questions in each category. Showing students the questions is where you start. Next have a discussion with your students using the questions to discuss media keeping these two tips in mind:
  1. Questions may have many different answers. 
  2. When sharing answers students should provide evidence sharing how they know what they know.  

Classroom Videos

Here are two powerful videos that would serve as great resources to launch this work with secondary students:


Your Turn

What do you think? How are you empowering your students to become media literate? Is this grid something you think would work in your classroom? If you've used this tool, how did it go? If you use something else, what do you use?

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Easy Peasy Guide to Capturing & Sharing Links to Screenshots

Innovative Educators often pursue certifications to let others understand skills and areas of expertise. Here are some easy ways to capture and share screenshots of accomplishments.  

Here is how to do this:


Step 1: Select Print

Screenshot of a certificate. Arrow is pointing to the print icon.

Step 2: Select Save to Google Drive

Screenshot of selecting "Save to Google Drive"

Step 3: Right click and select "Get shareable link."

Screenshot selecting "Get shareable link"

Step 4: Copy link and ensure "Anyone with the link can view"

Screenshot showing that anyone with the link can view

 Step 5: Paste link 

The last step is to paste the link in the appropriate space. Also, open up an incognito window in your browser to ensure it is viewable by anyone.  If not, change it.

That's it! The whole process takes less than a minute. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Innovative Educators Don't Take Calls. They Text.

screenshot of a phone screen with the text message: Innovative educators don't call. They text.Communication has changed in the digital age. Today the rules are different. Ringers are off and educators no longer make or take calls unless a time has specifically been set to do so. Instead, if they want to get a message to someone they send a text.

Here's why:
  • There are too many scam callers. In fact The Washington Post reports in 2019 nearly half of all calls will be scams.  No one wants to be on constant phone alert because too many times it is an unwanted caller. 
  • Robocalling is taking over phone calls. In fact there was a 60% jump in robocalls last year. What's worse. You often can't tell  by looking at the number. Listen to this episode on "Reply All," a fab podcast that explains this.
  • Teachers are busy working. They don't want others disturbed by a phone ringing.
  • It is rude to answer a call when you are in the company of friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Teachers are modeling good behavior.
When a person sends a text instead of a call, the recipient can find an appropriate time to respond to the text. If necessary, they can schedule mutually convenient time for a call.

If you are answering calls while you are at work or with others, don't do it. It is rude. The same is true for texting. Do this when you are not in the company of others.

Of course there are exceptions to this. Maybe you're wife is pregnant and you know she'll be going into labor. Perhaps your friend is having surgery and you are expecting a call from the doctor. You know, emergency-type stuff.  

However, as a regular habit, the proper protocol is to have the ringer off, the phone away, and be present with those in your presence.