Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

July 29, 2019
Teacher Turnover: Why It’s Problematic and How Administrators Can Address It

As the new school year approaches, administrators might ask themselves, “What can I do so that at the end of this year, all of my teachers will happily choose to stay?” Teacher turnover continues to concern K-12 educators who see teachers leave every year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 8% of teachers leave the profession yearly and another 8% move to other schools, bringing the total annual turnover rate to 16%. That means that on average, a school will lose 3 out of every 20 teachers. A recent study by Learning Policy Institute reports that turnover rates for teachers in the fields of special education and English language development are even higher, where special education teachers have a 46% higher predicted turnover rate than that of elementary teachers. Additionally, turnover rates are shown to be higher in schools with more students of color and students from low-income families, where many of the children are English language learners. Moreover, the turnover rate is greater for alternatively certified teachers, who typically have little teaching experience prior to teaching in schools. While policymakers have generally focused on increasing the attractiveness of teaching or lowering the standards to become a teacher, these solutions can exacerbate teacher shortages in the long run. Long-term solutions emphasizing recruitment and retention can minimize shortages and prioritize student learning. Before going over these solutions, let’s review the problem. Consequences of teacher turnover Although some teacher turnover can be beneficial in certain cases, high teacher attrition has potentially harmful effects. In addition to increasing shortages, high turnover rates create extra costs for schools. The Learning Policy Institute estimates that turnover costs up to $20,000 or more for every teacher who leaves an urban district. Furthermore, a study from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data […]

July 3, 2019
10 Ways Teachers Can Recharge Over the Summer

10 Ways Teachers Can Recharge Over the Summer Summer is finally here, and you know what that means! Summer is a great time to relax and get away from the stress of teaching, grading papers, and dealing with rowdy kids. From self-care routines to discovering new locations, here are 10 amazing ways teachers can unwind and de-stress over the summer. 1. Reflect For some, transitioning into summer when you have no set schedule or tasks can be challenging. During the break, it can be difficult to fill the void of teaching or constantly working. Reflecting on the past school year is a great way to slow down your teaching gears and smoothly transition into a relaxing summer. When reflecting, think of 3 issues you encountered in your classroom and ways that you can solve those problems. Identify different methods to improve your class and teaching experience. This is also the perfect time to plan lessons and make any changes to your curriculum. Once you tackle your classroom problems, take your mind off work so that you can relax and enjoy the rest of your summer, guilt-free! 2. Set goals for yourself To combat the inherent, unstructured nature of summer, set a few goals for yourself in order to have a fulfilling experience. For example, you can aim to try something new, like wood carving, eating foreign cuisine, or going paintballing with friends . You can even tap into your creative side and start a new hobby, or try activities that you never got around to doing. Make sure to pick a manageable number of activities to devote your time and energy to. It’s impossible to do everything over the summer, so don’t spread yourself too thin! 3. Develop healthy habits A break from work is a great time to make beneficial choices […]

May 22, 2019
Inspiring Students to Read This Summer

Inspiring Your Students to Read This Summer Four ways to avoid summer learning loss and why it matters. The end of the school year is approaching, and students are looking forward to summer vacation. Educators are ready for a break, too, but are also thinking about students losing momentum—and even some skills—during the summer months. How can we encourage kids to continue to read and learn, when we know that some setbacks are statistically probable?  Sometimes referred to as summer slide, summer learning loss, or summer setback, researchers have been looking at this phenomenon for decades. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) attributes these setbacks to long summer vacations that “break the rhythm of continuous instruction and in turn lead to forgetting what was learned in the previous academic school year.” In a 2018 interview with Education Week, Matthew Boulay, NSLA Founder and CEO, talks about these challenges. Research by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) identifies the cumulative effect of summer learning loss as one of the principal factors—along with nutrition, parental involvement, and child motivation—that are deepening the achievement gaps between students by family income. The problem becomes more pronounced for English language learners, who may lose access to English speaking adults during summer months.  Here are some ways you can help your students stay sharp over the summer, and make summer reading a fun choice: 1. ALL READING COUNTS Let students know that all forms of reading count. From short books, chapter books, fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and magazine articles, to ebooks on mobile devices, they should read what interests them. Books on tape build language skills and encourage a love of storytelling, and struggling readers can use audio support as they follow along with a print version.   Encourage parents to read to their children, or to […]

January 24, 2019
2019 Education Trends

The past several years have seen many advances in research impacting education, in fields ranging from neuroscience to sociology. Yet the reality in classrooms has not always kept pace. As we enter another year, it is crucial for educators to be aware of what is happening both in research and education policy.   1. The Reading Wars Literacy education in America has long been been divided between proponents of phonics, where children learn to read by sounding out each part of a new word and distinguishing between different phonemes, and those of the ‘whole language’ method, where children are encouraged to focus on the meanings of words and understanding them in context. Unfortunately, as professor Rachael Gabriel points out, the debate has often taken on the tone of an ideological battle, with back-and-forth pendulum swings resulting in contradictory policy and inconsistent classroom practice. Recent research may point to a way out. According to a 2018 meta-analysis of over 300 studies compiled by researchers in Australia and the UK, while explicit phonics instruction is indeed effective for establishing the foundations of literacy, learning to recognize the meaning of words in context is crucial for further development.   2. Every Student Succeeds Act The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in 2015 to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, gave individual states more control in how they meet federal education standards. The law’s provisions were initially slated to take effect during the 2017-18 school year, but were delayed by the repeal of certain regulations and guidelines. With every state’s plan now approved, this will be the first year that ESSA is implemented across the country – though there are still questions about how districts will satisfy its requirement for evidence-based intervention at struggling schools. In addition, the law includes grants for […]

August 30, 2018
Building Listening Skills to Improve Focus and Attention

Have you ever gotten frustrated or impatient with a child who doesn’t appear to be paying attention? When a child is restless or inattentive at home or in the classroom, it can be hard to maintain your own focus on how best to help them. Understanding Attention Spans First things first: What is a normal attention span for kids?  That depends what it is you’re expecting them to pay attention to. There are a number of tests and diagnostic tools to help us understand attention spans, but they measure different things.  Read the rest of the article here.   READ FULL ARTICLE

August 16, 2018
Top 10 New Fast ForWord Features That Students and Educators Will Love

The excitement is building around Fast ForWord Foundations I, the flagship of the new Fast ForWord. We have received great feedback from early reviewers, so we just have to share the buzz. Here is a top ten list with some big wins for students, for educators, and for the whole Fast ForWord family. Students are going to love... 1. Streaks: Rushing to earn points can lead to mistakes that set you back. In contrast, earning high streaks requires staying focused and avoiding mistakes – which is how you make progress in the Fast ForWord exercises. How many can you get correct in a row? 2. Autoplay: Now you can zip through a series of three or more trials with one click of the Go button. If you get them all correct, you earn bonus points and bump up your next Autoplay series. Autoplay and the Streak signs work together to reinforce the importance of consecutive correct trials. 3. Replay:   Classrooms can be noisy places. If you didn’t hear a word or sound, you no longer need to guess. Click the Replay button and be sure of your answer.  4. Progress indicators: The Progress Meter has been supercharged! Combined with the new Feeder Meter, Completion Sign, and 10% celebration animations, it gives immediate feedback about each step you make forward, and you can readily see exactly how far you have come.  5. Increased adaptivity:   Okay, they might not call it that… but students will love being able to fast-track through material that is easy for them, and quickly reach material that provides the right level of challenge. Educators are going to love... 6. Enhanced introductory sequences:   We have figured out where many students get stuck and provided more complete and differentiated instruction to help them make a strong […]

June 28, 2018
Our Top Four Webinars: Summer Learning

We compiled our top four webinars of the last year based on your interests!  Approximately 25,000 people registered for these four webinars throughout the last year.  Interest in these webinars came in from all over the world!   Make the most of your summer by watching these webinars on topics such as autism, dyslexia, learning and the brain and the NEW Fast ForWord. See below for our “Best of Webinars”.  Which ones are your favorites?  Let us know by commenting below! # 4 Introducing the New Fast ForWord Curious about the new Fast ForWord and what it can do for you? Join us as we discuss the new features and enhancements of our dynamic language and reading intervention program. During this session you'll see how we're making Fast ForWord more engaging, more motivating, and easier to implement. You'll also get an exclusive look at upcoming exercises enhancements before they are released! View Webinar #3 2017 Dyslexia Research and Remediation October is Dyslexia Awareness Month! Join us to learn about the latest research on the processing weaknesses and early indicators in dyslexia. Most importantly, find out how to use this information to help your students. Hear and see how the Fast ForWord program can help your students/children with dyslexia. View Webinar #2 Teaching with the Brain in Mind Join us for a webinar with Dr. Eric Jensen and learn specific, practical evidence-based strategies you can use in the classroom right away. Discover how the brain works, how teaching changes the brain, and what it takes for students to acquire complex learning and achieve their best. Jensen will be providing new information from his newest best-sellers, Poor Students, Rich Teaching. You won't want to miss this session, so register today and be inspired by one of our all-time most impactful presenters. Yes, you […]

June 14, 2018
ADHD Symptoms by Age [Infographic]

Wondering if your child is showing signs of ADHD, is having normal, age-appropriate attention and behavior struggles, or is dealing with another attention issue altogether? Curious about how your child’s diagnosed ADHD may develop over the years? You’re not alone. Children of all ages struggle with attention, impulse control, and energy levels at times, and the signs and symptoms of ADHD change as a child grows. Check out our infographic on how ADHD may look through the years for more insight. Check out the infographic at: READ FULL ARTICLE

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