Friday, December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

What is Child Art?

CHILDREN love art because it’s fun and provides them with authentic self-expression, but how important is art to a child’s healthy development? Children’s art is many things to many people. To a parent, art is a display of a child’s imagination. To an educator, it’s a teaching tool. To a psychologist, art is a way to understand a child’s mind. To a grandparent, it’s a way to feel connected. To a librarian, it’s a way to enhance book knowledge. To a child, art is a way to have fun, make decisions, and express choices. Picasso wrote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Is children’s art an act of genius? Are children more creative than adults? Perhaps, the spontaneity of children’s art is in their imagination. Child art simply impressed Picasso, like most child behavior, is direct and uncensored. A young child doesn’t analyze his work – he paints freely and with pleasure, enjoying the fine and gross motor experience of moving paint over paper and watching lines, shapes, and colors come to life. Art puts a child in the “driver’s seat” and provides freedom: the freedom of choice, thought, and feeling.

“Every child is an artist.
The problem is how
to remain an artist
once he grows up.”

Art is a Language

Do you remember seeing a photograph that communicated a whole world of feeling? Perhaps it was a famous photograph or simply a family snapshot that captured the richness of a special moment. A picture is often worth a thousand words. Visual images communicate emotions and complexities in a way that words cannot. The ability to communicate non-verbally is particularly important for children. Art is a powerful tool that gives children the ability to express their thoughts and emotions long before they can fully express themselves with words. Once you acknowledge that art is a language, the importance of respecting a child’s artwork becomes obvious.


Ms. Nora Sierra                                         
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 21, 2016

Nothing comes easy when you are teaching or raising a child.  There are struggles in every step of the process…from fine motor control, to behavior management.   My parents would always say “raising and teaching children is an art form.”  There are so many ways to teach a child any one skill.  Many times, you must try several different approaches to help a child learn. Today I have for you some must know tips for every classroom or home that is helping a little person learn.  Perhaps you have seen some of these ideas – these are the most popular things people searched for.  I hope they help you help the little people in your life.

Need help teaching a child to hold a scissors, try our friendly shark trick!

As a teacher, I have helped a lot of children learn how to hold a scissors correctly. It can be difficult to teach a child how to hold scissors correctly but I found a fun and easy method that children love.   It is important to teach correct use of scissors because you want the child to feel comfortable while cutting and secondly, if the child holds the scissors correctly it makes using the scissors and cutting well so much easier!

To teach the correct way to hold a scissors, you can have the child pretend his/her dominant (writing/cutting) hand is a shark.  Show the child how the dorsal fin of the shark (your thumb) is pointed upward and swimming around…  Fins up and swimming!  Now that the fins are up/the thumb is pointing upward, you are ready for the friendly shark!

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

3 Important Skills Needed for Reading
1- rhyming words
2- syllables
3- phonemes

Now, what exactly do we want kids to do with rhyming words, syllables and phonemes. What are phonemes, anyway?

 Rhyming Words
Rhyming words are words like rat and cat or even head and red. Rhyming words are words that have ending sounds that are similar. While there is such a thing as imperfect rhymes {words like home and bone, found in the song, “This Old Man”}, I like to focus more on the rhymes that end the same, like house/mouse or dog/frog. Rhyming words are not always spelled the same; they just need to sound the same. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with rhyming words:

Recognize when words rhyme and when they don’t
Produce rhyming words: You ask: “What rhymes with cat?” and they answer, “Rat.”
Playing with rhyming words, especially for young children, can be as simple as integrating easy songs into your routine. We’ll explore more ideas!

Syllables are the “big parts” in words. For example, words like cat or fish only have one syllable. Words like happy and table have two syllables. For those who find it tricky to hear syllables, I tell people to put their hand under their chin and count the times they “drop” their child when they say a word. Generally, this is the number of syllables the word has. Here are some things we want kids to be able to do with syllables:

This is where I usually lose people. Phonemes. It sounds so teacher-y, doesn’t it? So, what exactly are phonemes? Phonemes are the individual sounds in words. For example, the simple word cat has three phonemes {or individual sounds} /k/ – /a/ – /t/.
What makes this one a little tricky, especially for adults trying to teach phonemes, is that some words have more letters than phonemes. Take the word light, for example. While it has 5 letters, it only has three phonemes {or individual sounds}: /l/ – /i/ – /t/. We will explore more about phonemes on days 4-6 of this series. But for now, let’s see what we want kids to be able to do with phonemes:

Isolate phonemes, such as “What’s the first sound you hear in the word bear?”
Blend phonemes. For example, “I’m going to say the sounds in a word very slowly. See if you can listen to what I say and tell me what word it is: /m/-/ee/.” {me}
Separate phonemes. For example, “How many little sounds do you hear in the word bug?” {3}
Counting phonemes is a more advanced skill that typically comes AFTER kids have mastered rhyming and syllables. Many children will also be reading easy texts, like those found in Reading the Alphabet, before they have mastered counting and manipulating phonemes.

Phonological Awareness
Phonological Awareness is a broad term. It refers to the awareness of sounds in a word. A child with phonological awareness can identify and create rhyming words, count syllables in a word, or (on the smallest level) identify and manipulate individual sounds in a word.

Phonemic Awareness fits under the umbrella of phonological awareness. It is an awareness of the smallest units of sound (or phonemes) in a word. For example, a child with phonemic awareness could hear that the word bat has the sounds:  /b/  /a/  /t/. A child with keen phonemic awareness could change /h/ at the beginning of hat to /c/ and know that now, it’s the word cat.

Phonological and phonemic awareness activities are things your child can do with their eyes shut.  They only need their ear as they identify and manipulate sounds within words. The visual letters are not needed. {By the way, when you add letters to the mix, it’s now called “phonics”.}

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016

Science in Early Childhood Classrooms

The need to focus on science in the early childhood classroom is based on several factors currently affecting the early childhood community. First and foremost is the growing understanding and recognition of the power of children’s early thinking and learning. Research and practice suggest that children have a much greater potential to learn than previously thought, and therefore early childhood settings should provide richer and more challenging environments for learning. In these environments, guided by skillful teachers, children’s experiences in the early years can have significant impact on their later learning. In addition, science may be a particularly important domain in early childhood, serving not only to build a basis for future scientific understanding but also to build important skills and attitudes for learning.

What Is Science?

Science is both a body of knowledge that represents current understanding of natural systems and the process whereby that body of knowledge has been established and is continually extended, refined, and revised. Both elements are essential: one cannot make progress in science without an understanding of both. Likewise, in learning science one must come to understand both the body of knowledge and the process by which this knowledge is established, extended, refined, and revised.

Before turning to a deeper discussion of science for the very young, it is helpful to describe the view of science. The goal of science is to understand the natural world through a process known as scientific inquiry. Scientific knowledge helps us explain the world around us, such as why water evaporates and plants grow locations, what causes disease, and how electricity works. Scientific knowledge can help us predict what might happen: a hurricane may hit the coast; the flu will be severe this winter. Scientific knowledge can also help solve problems such as unclean water or the spread of diseases. Science can guide technological development to serve our needs and interests, such as high-speed travel and talking on the telephone.

The Content of Science for Young Children

Children entering school already have substantial knowledge of the natural world, much of which is implicit…. Contrary to older views, young children are not concrete and simplistic thinkers…. Research shows that children’s thinking is surprisingly sophisticated…. Children can use a wide range of reasoning processes that form the underpinnings of scientific thinking, even though their experience is variable and they have much more to learn.

The content of science for young children is a sophisticated interplay among concepts, scientific reasoning, the nature of science, and doing science. It is not primarily a science of information. While facts are important, children need to begin to build an understanding of basic concepts and how they connect and apply to the world in which they live. And the thinking processes and skills of science are also important. Teachers when working with developing curriculum, have focused equally on science inquiry and the nature of science, and content—basic concepts and the topics through which they are explored. In the process of teaching and learning, these are inseparable.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016

Differentiation in Early Childhood? It Can Be Done!

Hello everyone, my name is Marsha McGuire, from A Differentiated Kindergarten.  Today, I will explain to you what my blog is all about.

My blog is a mixture of ideas and activities to use in your classroom with a little fun thrown in to liven things up, I also have a special interest in Differentiated Instruction. 
The one thing that I constantly hear from student-teachers and teachers who haven't quite caught on to differentiating their instruction, is 'it's soooooo overwhelming" or "I can't quite get my head wrapped around it"  For those teachers I like to suggest starting out with only tackling one thing  and build up.

Remember, you can differentiate by responding to a student’s interests, learning profile or readiness.  So, to start with you might want to tackle tiering one activity, just to get your feet wet.

I do think it will be helpful, especially to us visual learners, in giving you an idea of what it might look like to tier and how to go about thinking about tiering an activity.
First identify your key concept . . . this is your common core; standard or whatever skill or concept is ESSENTIAL for them to master.

Next Pre-assess . . . this is where you can do a simple thumb up, thumbs down quick test to get an idea of what they already understand. This shouldn't be a paper/pencil test necessarily

Then create your whole group experience or lesson.  I like to make this fun and interactive so that I get them HOOKED and interested.

And finally, you're ready to create your activity. This is where you adjust the pace, steps or complexity based on your students and place them in the corresponding tiers.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

What Are Sight Words and Why Are They Important?

What Are Sight Words and Why Are They Important?
 Sight words (high-frequency words, core words or even popcorn words) are the words that are used most often in reading and writing.
In classrooms across America, the development of sight word recognition continues to be a top priority when instructing emerging and beginning readers.
They are called “sight” words because the goal is for your child to recognize these words instantly, at first sight.

Why are Sight Words Important?

Sight words are very important for your child to master because, believe it or not, “sight words account for up to 75% of the words used in beginning children’s printed material”, per Study to Identify High-Frequency Words in Printed Materials, by D.J. Kear & M.A. Gladhart. There are different sight words for every grade level. Each set of words builds upon the other, meaning that once your child learns the sight words in Kindergarten, he will be expected to still recognize those words as he learns new words in first grade, and so forth.
Many of the over 200 “sight words” do not follow the basic phonics principles, thus they cannot be “sounded out.” Beginning readers need an effective strategy for decoding unknown words, and being familiar with sight words is an effective method. 

Other benefits of sight words include:

  • ·       Sight words promote confidence. Because the first 100 sight words represent over 50% of English text, a child who has mastered the list of sight words can already recognize at least half of a sentence. If your child begins to read a book and can already recognize the words, chances are he won’t feel discouraged and put the book down, rather he’ll have more confidence to read it all the way through. And, choose another!
  • ·       Sight words help promote reading comprehension. When your child opens her book for the first time, instead of trying to decipher what ALL of the words mean, she can shift her attention to focus on those words she is not familiar with. She will already know at least half of the words, so focusing on the other half helps strengthen her understanding of the text.
  • ·       Sight words provide clues to the context of the text. If your child is familiar with the sight words, she may be able to decode the meaning of the paragraph or sentence by reading the sight words. And, if a picture accompanies the text, your child may be able to determine what the story is about and come away with a few new words under her belt.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)9500-1720(school cell)

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

The Importance of Phonemic Awareness in Learning to Read

 Phonemic awareness is a critical skill for learning to read an alphabetically
 written language. Yet a fair amount of confusion, especially among educators, persists about what this skill is and why it is so important. Written for practitioners, this article describes phonemic awareness and discusses why it is a prerequisite for learning to read, how we have come to understand its importance, why it can be difficult to acquire, and what happens to the would-be reader who fails to acquire it. Our discussion of phonemic awareness is framed within a particular view of reading,
 to which we turn first.

What is reading?
Reading, or more precisely reading comprehension, is the ability to derive meaning, particularly that intended by the author, from the printed word in short, reading is understanding the meaning of written language. The major difference between the written and the spoken word is not what is being communicated, but how the communication is taking place, by eye rather than
 ear. In this simple view, reading is dependent on two major cognitive capacities. The first is comprehension, the ability to understand language. The second is decoding, the ability to derive a word phonological representation (one based in the domain of spoken words) from the sequences of letters that represent it. Skilled decoding allows the reader, through print, to retrieve the meaning of words known and organized through the learning of spoken language. Together, decoding and comprehension skills combine to permit language comprehension to take place via the printed word.

What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic awareness is a cognitive skill that consists of three pieces. The first piece concerns a linguistic unit, the phoneme; the second concerns the explicit, conscious awareness of that unit; and the third involves the ability to explicitly manipulate such units. Phonemic awareness is thus the ability to consciously manipulate language at the level of phonemes.  Let’s take each of these in turn.
A phoneme is an abstract linguistic unit. Linguists define it as the most basic unit of language capable of making a difference in meaning. As an example, the difference between the word pairs (each containing three phonemes) bit and pit, bat and bet, bin and bid, is a single phoneme, one occurring
 in these examples in the initial, medial, or final position, respectively, of the spoken word.

Phonemes are abstract because they are not the actual sounds of which words are composed; these are known as phones. Rather they are the underlying category of which the phones are members.  To illustrate this, think of how the sound represented by the letter p is different in the words pan and span. To make this readily apparent, hold your hand close to your mouth and notice that the puff of air that is released when saying the former is much stronger than that released with the latter.  The puff, known as aspiration, is not distinctive in English, in that there are no pairs of words where this single difference
 in aspiration marks a difference in meaning. In short, these two sounds (or phones) are different, yet they represent the same underlying category (or phoneme). As we will see, the abstract nature of phonemes presents one of the obstacles a child must overcome in developing phonemic awareness.

Terms Often Confused with Phonemic Awareness
Phonics: An instructional
 approach for helping children learn the relationship between letters and sounds.
Phonetics: The process used by linguists to describe the speech sounds
 in natural language.
Phonology: The linguistic component of language that deals with the systems and patterns of sounds that occur in languages (distinguished from the other two components of language, which are syntax
 and semantics).

Phonological awareness: A general term for metalinguistic awareness of any of the phonological characteristics of language, including phonemic units, syllables, rimes, and words.

Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

Assessment in Early Childhood

There are many reasons why children undergo assessments; among these is the desire to know how well children are learning, if they are making progress and meeting proficiency benchmarks, and if they are being taught effectively. Data from assessments provide valuable information for planning whole-group and individualized instruction, for determining program quality, and for communicating with others. Assessment practices encompass a range of instruments and techniques including structured one-on-one child assessments, standardized assessments, portfolios, rating scales, and observation. Comprehensive assessment is based on information from multiple sources, including measures that provide different types of information.

Progress Monitoring
Progress monitoring is a term used to describe any of a number of activities or approaches to data collection that focus on a child’s learning over time and help to document and provide meaningful feedback on learning outcomes. Progress monitoring measures, provide information about the level of children’s growth in key skills, which helps to determine the support and services each child needs to be successful. Currently, the majority of progress monitoring tools target language and early literacy skills rather than all domains of development and learning.

When teachers observe children in the classroom, they are afforded unique opportunities to understand how to enhance classroom routines and instructional practices. Gathering student observation data provides teachers with opportunities to reflect on the classroom environment, curriculum, and teaching strategies and to determine which aspects of the classroom experience are working well for the children and which aspects might be adapted to better meet children’s needs. For example, if the teacher notices, through whole class observations, that many children seem to struggle with self-management during free time she may decide to teach specific routines to help children. These routines may be as simple as a guideline that you want children to do. Through systematic observation of the whole class the teacher becomes aware of patterns of needs and can respond appropriately.

Systematic observation is a promising method for screening children to recognize and respond to their needs. Observation allows teachers to record information about all areas of development and to identify areas of strength as well as areas of need. Additionally, because observation occurs in natural contexts and is meaningfully connected to the routines, activities, and curriculum of the classroom, teachers can identify children’s interests in order to adapt curriculum and incorporate skill building into activities that are of interest to the child.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)9500-1720(school cell)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Teachers in early childhood education must understand the diversity of learning styles in the classroom environment. Since each child is likely to have a different learning style, students need a variety of lesson plans and activities to engage the entire class. Understanding how students learn will make it easier to create appropriate lesson plans for the educational program.

Most common Learning Styles in Early Childhood
Although different learning styles might develop as children get older, students will generally learn in one of three ways:

Visual: The students with a visual style of learning will remember information best when presented with pictures or images. Visual learners will often recognize numbers and letters better than peers with another type of learning style.
Auditory: Auditory learners are best able to understand when they hear information. In early education, auditory learners are more likely to prefer listening to stories or telling stories as a major method of understanding information.
Kinesthetic: Students with a kinesthetic learning style are the physically active members of the class. The students learn best by manipulating objects and engaging in physical activities to learn the material.
As children continue learning reading, writing, logic and socializing skills, they may adapt to different learning styles. However, these changes often won’t develop until later in life and are less common during early childhood development stages.

Other styles of learning
While the average student in early education will learn through one of the styles listed above, some of the class may learn in different ways. Children can develop alternative learning styles over their educational experience.

Verbal: Students who focus on words rather than simple auditory sound. In early childhood education, verbal learners and auditory learners will have similarities due to the use of stories as a primary method of understanding information. As children get a little older, the verbal learners will prefer learning through reading, writing and listening to information. Auditory learners will focus on music and sound in general, but will not necessarily enjoy reading or writing.
Logical or mathematical: Focus is on finding a pattern to the thought processes. These students will understand math and science better than peers. Using reason to provide answers to questions will help the students learn information.
Social: Interaction with classmates is also a contributing factor in learning. While some young children will learn best when working with peers, other children will prefer working alone on class projects.
While many children will have a secondary learning style related to social interaction, others are solitary learners. They understand information best when allowed to work out the problems without classmates offering input. Early education teachers will notice that the children prefer playing alone rather than spending time with peers.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 26, 2016

Quiz: What's Your Child's Learning Style?
Knowing your child's learning style is key to his school success. Take this quiz to find out what kind of learning is best for your kid!
By Sharon Duke Estroff

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.

Cognitive Skills
Most kids have a natural way of picking up new info — they learn best either by listening, looking, or doing. Once you know your child’s learning personality, you can sidestep a lot of academic agita. Take the quiz below to reveal how your kid’s brain works best, then play to his strengths to maximize his school potential.

1. You let your child pick out one toy at the dollar store. Which is he most likely to choose?
a) Paint-by-number set
b) Play microphone
c) Hula hoop or football

2. If your child could only pick one after-school activity, which would he choose?
a) Art lessons
b) Music lessons
c) Sports or drama lessons

3. You’re out to dinner and there’s a 10-minute wait. How does your child occupy himself?
a) Doodling
b) Talking your ear off
c) Digging in your purse while bouncing in place

4. When your child picks the family activity, which is he most likely to choose?
a) A movie
b) A concert
c) Mini golf

5. When your child reads a book to himself, he:
a) Sits quietly, immersed in its contents
b) Mouths the words aloud or asks you to read it to him
c) Fidgets frequently

6. Which of these iPad activities is your child most drawn to?
a) Looking at photos
b) Listening to music
c) Playing Angry Birds or another video game

Mostly A’s: Learns by looking
Your kid responds best when new material is in lists, charts, graphs, and diagrams. A little color goes a long way: He can write spelling words or state capitals in different colors so they’re easier to memorize. Abstract math homework goes faster when you give your visual kid objects to help him think through the problem. (If I had 12 M&M’s and Mom ate 7, how many are left?)

Mostly B’s: Learns by listening
If your child is one of the 10 percent of kids who are auditory learners, she does well with verbal instructions and shines in discussions. She’ll learn faster if she has a voice recorder: Saying things aloud can help her retain info, and re-playing the recording boosts comprehension even more. If she turns a book’s dialogue into a puppet show, she’ll remember the story.

Mostly C’s: Learns by doing
Like the majority of children, your kid absorbs info best when she’s physically engaged on some level. Many kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still for long stretches. So turn homework into a sporting event: Let her shoot a foam basketball into a laundry basket every time she answers a question correctly or give her a squishy ball to squeeze and manipulate.

Good Luck,

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal

Discovery School

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016

What is MAP testing? (taken from the NWEA website's Parent Toolkit document)

MAP was first introduced to students in grades three - five during the 2005-2006 school year. First and second grade students now also participate. MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is a computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth.

When will my student be tested and how often? 

During the first weeks of school, students will participate in two MAP testing sessions to assess Reading and Mathematics. When taking the MAP test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. Although the tests are not timed, it usually takes students about one hour to complete each test. Students will repeat the tests two more times during the year to continually assess student progress and adapt learning as needed. The mid-year test is a shortened version.

Do all students in the same grade take the same test?

No. This assessment is designed to target a student's academic performance in mathematics, reading, and science. These tests are tailored to an individual's current achievement level. This gives each student a fair opportunity to show what he or she knows and can do. Because the computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the test progresses, each student takes a unique test.

What are the MAP test results used for? 

MAP is used to measure a student's progress or growth in school. The testing information is important to teachers because it indicates a student's strengths are and help that is needed in any specific areas. Teachers can use this information to help them guide instruction in the classroom. If you have ever used a growth chart in your home to show how much your child has grown from one year to the next, it will help you understand the scale MAP uses to measure your child's academic progress. The measurement system is called the RIT scale (Rasch unIT), and is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. The scale is used to chart your child's academic growth from year to year. RIT scores typically start at the 140 to 190 level in third grade and progress to the 240 to 300 level by high school.

How can I help my child prepare for MAP testing? 

  •  Meet with your child's teacher as often as needed to discuss his or her progress. Working together as a team benefits your child. 
  •  Provide a comfortable, quiet place for studying at home. 
  •  Make sure that your child is well-rested on school days, especially the day of the test. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to handle the demands of a test. 
  •  Give your child a well-rounded diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind. 
  •  Provide books and magazines for your child to read at home. By reading new material, a child learns new words that might appear on a test. Ask your child's teacher or media specialist for a suggested outside reading list. Where can I go for more information about MAP testing? You can talk with your child's teacher, go directly to the NWEA website at, or read the whole Parent's Toolkit document at

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Friday, September 9, 2016

September 12, 2016

Reading is a vital foundation for educational and life success, and it must start early!

Reading is the gateway to learning, opening doors to faraway adventures, new possibilities and promising futures. Without strong reading skills, children will face a host of difficult challenges throughout their lives. That’s why we know Reading Matters. And that’s why SMART helps thousands of Oregon children each year develop the skills and self-confidence they need to read and succeed.

For years, the consensus in early childhood education has been that reading aloud is the most important thing you can do for your child’s academic success. And, new research is proving that how you read to your child can also have a major impact on learning.

A story from National Public Radio explores how bringing preschoolers’ attention to the print – not just the pictures – while reading books can have positive impacts on their literacy development. Here’s a short summary:

For the past 15 years, education researchers such as Anita McGinty of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education have studied what behaviors help children learn to read. Their research included eye-tracking studies to observe children’s habits. They found that, when you simply read a book to kids, they tend to ignore the print on the page. “More than 90 percent of the time the children are focusing on the pictures, or they are looking up at the parent,” says Shayne Piasta, a professor at Ohio State University. In other words, they’re not paying attention to the printed letters.

So how do we shift a child’s focus from pictures to text? The answer is surprisingly simple! McGinty, Piasta, and researcher Laura Justice conducted a study focusing on modest changes to the way preschool teachers read to disadvantaged children. Two groups of teachers received 30 weeks worth of books to be read four times a week. One group read the books normally. The other group was instructed to ask questions that would require the child to pay attention to the print in the book. Children read to by the second group of teachers had better literacy outcomes by the first grade than those in the first group.
It’s important to keep in mind that no single intervention by itself will permanently sustain positive results. Children need continued intervention over time, especially if they come from impoverished families and weak schools. However, we believe this simple change to the way you read to your child can increase his or her success down the road.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sept. 5, 2016

For years I have enjoyed the books written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, even the volumes that have not been chosen as award winners. His newest picture book, Waiting, is delightful and fun. The waiting theme made me think of the years I was a kindergarten teacher.

Prior to coming to kindergarten, many children experience a strong build-up by family members. Everyone exclaims, “You get to go to kindergarten in the fall. You must be so excited!” The anticipation for a five-year-old must be enormous. More than once, I had a child express concerns after the first few days of kindergarten. “Is this it?” they would say. It always kept me on my toes to make sure that my classroom was an engaging and exciting experience. I knew I had to live up to the big build-up kindergarten had received, because I wanted them to feel, “WOW! This IS it!”

Waiting also made me think about the number of times I have been in classrooms and watched children waiting…Waiting for other children, waiting for the teacher, waiting for their turn, waiting for their snack, etc. We know that when children are not engaged, the chance of them displaying negative behavior goes up dramatically. A smart teacher will be organized enough to minimize any waiting time for their students, especially early childhood age children. Here are a few things that worked in my classroom to help children avoid waiting:
  • ·         There was always something to do. Whenever the children were engaged in a project, there were always more activities to do when they finished the planned activity. I often posted picture of each activity on the board so that the children could look up and know what to do next. This way, they never waited for other students to finish.
  • ·         There was a procedure for everything. The children knew the procedures for going to the bathroom, getting a drink, getting a sharpened pencil, getting paper, staying put when the teacher was giving directions, etc. I reminded the children often about the procedures and used those reminders as teaching tools.
  • ·         “I’m next” name tags. I created (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Sharon MacDonald) some nametags that said, “I’m Next.” Whenever taking a turn was the procedure (using the computer, iPad, sand table, play dough table, etc.), I had the child(ren) who would be next wear the necklace. That way they knew they were next and didn’t keep asking me about it. ALSO, the other children in the classroom didn’t waste time waiting, because they knew they were not next.
  • ·         A daily visual schedule. I found it important to have a daily schedule posted so the children knew what was coming next. I was always surprised at the number of children who waited for the next activity. I always told the children that we would move to the next scheduled part of the day when we finished the one we were working on. I would give them a signal when we were ready. I do think that this visual reminder gave them a sense of security and a strong feeling that they didn’t need to wait.

These were the main strategies that helped children avoid waiting. Teachers should always strived to make their classroom an engaging, joyous environment, where the children are never waiting and the activities met their high expectations for kindergarten.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)9500-1720(school cell)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Aug. 29, 2016

Is my child too sick to go to school?

Many parents have a hard time deciding if their kids are well enough to go to school. After all, what well-intentioned parent hasn't sent a child off with tissues in hand, only to get that mid-morning "come get your child" phone call?
But making the right decision isn't as tough as you might think. It basically boils down to one question: Can your child still participate in school activities? After all, having a sore throat, cough, or mild congestion does not necessarily mean a child can't be active and participate in school activities.
So trust your instincts. If your son/ daughter have the sniffles but haven’t slowed down at home, chances are their well enough for the classroom. On the other hand, if they have been coughing all night and need to be woken up in the morning (if they typically wake up on their own), they may need to take it easy at home.
Of course, never send a child to school, which has a fever, is nauseated, vomiting, or has diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don't seem to be acting "them" should also take a sick day.
If you decide that your child is well enough to go to school, check in first. Most childcares, preschools, and grade schools have rules about when to keep kids home. For example, pinkeye or strep throat usually necessitates a day home with appropriate treatment. Usually, kids can't return to school or childcare until at least 24 hours after a fever has broken naturally (without fever-reducing medicines).

And remember, go with your feeling. You know your kids best, and you know when they're able to motor through the day — and when they're not.

Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504)9500-1720(school cell)

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...