Monday, May 6, 2019

May 6, 2019

Tracking Students’ Emotions and Mindsets

By Benjamin Herold

The race is on to provide students with personalized learning experiences based on their individual emotions, cognitive processes, “mindsets,” and character and personality traits.

Academic researchers, for example, are busy developing computerized tutoring systems that gather information on students’ facial expressions, heart rate, posture, pupil dilation, and more. Those data are then analyzed for signs of student engagement, boredom, or confusion, leading a computer avatar to respond with encouragement, empathy, or maybe a helpful hint. “The idea is that emotions have a powerful influence on cognition,” said Sidney D’ Mello, an assistant professor of computer science and psychology at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana.

The increasing power and affordability of eye tracking, speech-recognition, and other technologies have made it possible for researchers to investigate those connections more widely and deeply, he said. “Ten years ago, there were things you could do in a lab that you couldn’t do in the messiness of the real world,” D’ Mello said. “Now, you can get a reasonable proxy of a student’s heart rate from a webcam.”

Still, widely available classroom applications of such work might be a decade or more away. More prevalent now are digital resources that seek to measure and support the development and self-identification of such “noncognitive competencies” as self-management, perseverance, and a “growth mindset” that recognizes skills can improve with effort.


Friday, April 12, 2019

April 23, 2019

Movement-Based Activities for the Classroom

Movement-Based SEL Activities for the Classroom Children love to move! As educators, we enjoy engaging young children in playful and fun movement explorations. These activities also help children develop valuable skills. 

Some of the benefits of movement for children are readily apparent: 

Children are physically active, usually practicing large-motor skills; they are gaining body awareness; and they are developing spatial awareness as they move in different directions in the shared space. 

If there is a musical component, children are also learning to recognize and move to a beat and to discern rhythmic patterns. However, one of the wonderful gifts of creative movement is that it also provides a perfect vehicle for nurturing social-emotional skills. 

The very nature of creative dance (also called creative movement) embodies the idea of creativity and developing self-awareness. Some other SEL skills that are often addressed through guided creative dance are delayed gratification, impulse control, goal setting, individual or group problem-solving, teamwork, self-discipline, and group cooperation.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School
(504) 9500-1720

Monday, April 1, 2019

April 1-5, 2019

Growing Up to Read

Birth Through Age Four:

 Children begin to develop their language skills in infancy. Even their babbles and coos and the ways their families speak to them before they really understand can help them to become speakers of their native tongue. When an infant shows excitement over pictures in a storybook, when a two-year-old scribbles with a crayon, when a four-year-old points out letters in a street sign—all these actions signal a child’s growing literacy development.

The more children already know about the nature and purposes of reading before kindergarten, the more teachers must build on in their reading instruction. Research reveals that the children most at risk for reading difficulties in the primary grades are those who began school with less verbal skill, less phonological awareness, less letter knowledge, and less familiarity with the basic purposes and mechanisms of reading.

To prepare children for reading instruction in the early grades, it is best that they be exposed to high-quality language and literacy environments—in their homes, day care centers, and preschools. The best time to start sharing books with children is during babyhood, even when they are as young as six weeks.
Here are some concrete, activities, and ideas for how families, early childhood educators, health care professionals, and communities can bring literacy into the lives of young children:

Everyday Literacy: One Family Home

Promoting literacy at home does not mean creating an academic setting and formally teaching children. Parents and other caregivers can take advantage of opportunities that arise in daily life to help their children develop language and literacy. Often, these are unplanned, casual acts, like commenting on words on an article of clothing or engaging children in conversation. At other times, it is a conscious effort to read good books with children or provide toys that promote good literacy development.

Extended Vocabulary and Language Development

Children who are exposed to sophisticated vocabulary in the course of interesting conversations learn the words they will later need to recognize and understand when reading. Vocalization in the crib gives way to play with rhyming language and nonsense words. Toddlers find that the words they use in conversation and the objects they represent are depicted in books—that the picture is a symbol for the real object and that the writing represents spoken language. In addition to listening to stories, children label the objects in books, comment on the characters, and request that an adult read to them. In their third and fourth years, children use new vocabulary and grammatical constructions in their own speech. Talking to adults is children’s best source of exposure to new vocabulary and ideas.

Ms. Nora Sierra
Early Childhood Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, March 25, 2019

March 25, 2019

Why Is Summer Reading So Important for Kids' Success?

 Summer reading is critical for students to retain knowledge and skills learned in the previous school year. Students who don't read are at risk of falling behind their classmates. Parents and teachers can avoid this by making sure kids take time to read.

Summer Reading Defeats Summer Learning Loss
Reading over summer vacation may not be a priority for children, but parents and teachers should make it one. Why? Summer reading is critical to a child's ability to not only retain information learned the previous year, but also to grow in knowledge and critical thinking skills for the coming year. Literacy expert Julie Wood believes that it is necessary for children to read daily in order to maintain literacy skills learned in the previous school year.

Exercise the Brain Over Summer
Assistant Principal Twana Santana-Embry likens reading to exercising. She encourages students to read to strengthen their reading skills. Just like exercising keeps muscles in shape, reading keeps the brain in shape. If you don't exercise, you lose muscle, and if you don't read, you will lose literacy skills.

A University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research study shows that children who don't read over the summer lose at least two months of reading development. This is often referred to as 'the summer slide' or the 'summer learning loss.' On the other hand, students who do read over the summer may gain a month of proficiency in reading. Reading over the summer is not a suggestion to keep kids busy; it's a critical requirement to help students stay on track for their entire educational career and beyond.

Increase Knowledge
Reading, in general, is highly effective at building up a child's knowledge in a vast amount of subject areas, including English, math, science and history. Studies conducted by Dr. Alice Sullivan monitored the impact of reading in a child's life from elementary through adulthood. These studies discovered a greater intellectual progress in vocabulary, spelling and math than that of a child not reading more than the required school amount. Clearly, reading is a strong tool for growing in comprehension skills and general knowledge of the world. Therefore, children who read can stay ahead of their classmates during the school year.

Encourage Summer Reading
Summer reading is very important for maintaining a child's current grade level skills and for pushing forward to develop skills above the current grade level. But how can parents encourage their children to read over the summer? Here are a few summer reading suggestions from teachers who shared their thoughts with Scholastic.

Send Books Home with Students
Teachers have discovered that students who are sent home with books of their choosing are more apt to read over the summer than students who are given a summer reading list or are simply told what read over the summer. Further studies reveal that children of lower income have more difficulty finding access to books and reading programs. Allowing students to pick a few books to take home over summer vacation not only increases access to books, but it also encourages students to read on their own.

Build Up Anticipation
Another suggestion from a teacher is for teachers to get their students hooked on a book series close to the end of the school year. Read the first book in a series aloud to the class and build up excitement and anticipation for the next book in the series. When school lets out for the summer, encourage students to go to their local library or bookstore and pick up the next book in the series.

Suggest Audio Books
If students have a hard time reading, suggest they read a few books over the summer to help build their reading skills. At the same time, find books that are also available on audiotape. This can help encourage students to keep reading even if they don't particularly like it. A book on tape still opens the world of adventure and gives students a boost in literacy skills.

Don't Forget to Read for Fun
Encouraging children to read is critical to helping them stay on track with other students and retain information and literacy development over the summer break.
Don't forget to keep reading fun. Give your child the opportunity to choose books on his own as well. This can help keep reading interesting and inviting. Reading over the summer is a necessity, but it should also be fun!

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019

Little boys aspire to be “him”, and little girls think he’s the “King of the World.” A dad is the first important male figure in a child’s life. Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity for the little ones to show how important this special man is to them.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to show your dad how much you love and care for him. Instead of giving the usual gifts, try to do something different that your father will love and cherish forever.

Monday, March 11, 2019

March 11, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Children will soon be cheering yea and neigh.
A new Dr. Seuss book, titled "Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum," is hitting the shelves 28 years after the acclaimed author died.
The book, which came out in September, celebrates art and "how we all see the world in different ways," publisher Random House said in a statement Thursday.
Young readers will join a friendly horse on a guided tour of an art museum. The book will feature reproductions of famous horse artwork by Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and other artists, Random House said.
Fans of Seuss' previous works will be delighted to see some of their favorite characters again. Some of the classic Dr. Seuss characters, including the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, and Horton the Elephant, also make cameos in the book.
Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodore Seuss Geisel, died in 1991 at age 87 after writing and illustrating dozens of playful children's books, including "Green Eggs and Ham" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
The manuscript for "Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum" was discovered in the late author's La Jolla, California, home 21 years after his death. Using Geisel's original sketches and taking inspiration from his past work, Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner completed the unfinished artwork.
"We're so excited to have 'Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum' to share with readers, and to give them an inside look at how Ted thought about art, and how he viewed the world—which was with a creative eye, and a passionate belief in imagination," said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
In 2015, the posthumous release of Dr. Seuss' "What Pet Should I Get?" became a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Monday, March 4, 2019

March 4, 2019


4 life lessons I learned from reading Dr. Seuss books

When it comes to children’s books, Dr. Seuss is one of those authors who has maintained a spot-on bookshelf across generations. His unique literary style remains relevant to new generations of kids and in hearts of their parents and grandparents, too.

A big reason for this success is probably because his books are simply fun to read, with their rhyming phrases, made-up words, and quirky illustrations. However, another reason they’ve continued to be popular is that teachers, librarians, and parents all agree his books teach important life lessons.  
Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about how many lessons one can take home from his books until recently. When I was reading books like The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat as a kid, I focused on the fun, silliness of the books: the wacky characters, colors, and rhymes. Not realizing the deeper meaning, I was interpreting. Now looking back on some of my favorites, I see the powerful ideas sprinkled throughout.
To celebrate Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ 114 birthday, here are a few of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes and the lessons they taught me:
The Lorax
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
In The Lorax, Dr. Seuss shares a story of a world overrun with greed and environmental turmoil. Through sharing wise words from the Lorax, Seuss empowers young readers, telling them that if they let their passion guide them, they have the power to change the world.

Happy Birthday to You!

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
In Happy Birthday to You! Dr. Seuss celebrates individuality, telling readers about a world where a friendly bird organizes a party for everyone on their birthday with all of their favorite things. In this quote, Seuss lets readers know that they are unique and that it is something to be proud of.

Horton Hears a Who!

Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!
In Horton Hears a Who!, Dr. Seuss highlights the importance of supporting others, even when they might be a little different from you. Even though Horton can’t quite relate to the experiences of the Who’s, he does everything he can to ensure their safety.

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
This quote might be one of my favorites. In I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, Seuss informs readers on how magical and important reading can be. The quote is self-explanatory; reading is the key to success!


Monday, February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

When you walk into a good preschool classroom, you will see varied learning areas; a variety of opportunities for students to explore their developing skills playfully. Youwill see materials that have more than one way to be used and children who are engaged with these materials. Most importantly you will see a teacher playing with her students. What you may not see but is present in a good preschool classroom is a teacher carefully selecting the materials, to fit the students’ specific developmental levels. You may not see that when that teacher is playing, he is shifting how he speaks, what questions he asks, and how he models using the materials based on the child using it. This is differentiation in preschool.

Differentiation means adjusting or changing the lesson and its goals based on the specific needs of the learner. In a playful preschool environment, differentiation is subtle and takes some practice to do well, but once you get in the habit, it’s second nature.

“…just because there is a predictable pattern to growth, and a predictable season for blooming, doesn’t mean that every flower on the plant will bloom on the same day.  Each flower opens at its own rate within the growing season.  For a flower, the season for blooming may be a matter of weeks or months.  In child development, some seasons may even last a few years.” – Amanda Morgan Not Just Cute

Children are simply not ready for the same things at the same time. As preschool teachers, we should be meeting our students where they are at with an eye to the next stage. Our job is to be thinking of how we can support, not force them to get there. In any preschool class no matter what school, geographic area, or socioeconomic class you will find a wide range of abilities, this is normal. Differentiation allows you to provide a rich experience for all your students.

Differentiation may seem like a lot of work, but it makes your job easier, I promise. When the materials and activities are differentiated, they fit your students’ needs. And that fit equals better engagement, less frustration, and less boredom. You can probably guess what this means… WAY better behavior, giving you as a teacher more time to focus on connecting with the students through play.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal
Discovery School

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

January 22, 2019

What are Sight Words?

Successful readers use several tools to help them understand texts. One of the most effective and powerful reading tools that parents, and teachers can help children develop is sight word recognition. When a child can grasp and identify sight words, he is well on his way to becoming a thriving reader.

Believe it or not, 50% of all reading texts are made up of the same 100 words! The most frequently used and repeated words in the English language are known as sight words. This list of words includes the, a, is, of, to, in, and, I, you, and that. Think about the number of times that you have seen these words in a piece of reading material. It’s probably too many times to count.

Sight words are critical to reading not only because they are used so frequently, but also because many of them cannot easily be sounded out or illustrated. Imagine what reading would be like if you attempted to sound out walk every time you encountered it in your reading. Then imagine that you do not know the word the. You cannot use the pictures accompanying a text to help you decipher this word because it cannot be illustrated. Using phonics or picture reading skills for words like these is useless and fruitless for readers, especially those who are in the early stages of developing their decoding skills.

Because they are used so often it is important that readers be able to recognize these words on sight (hence the term “sight words”). When a reader masters sight words she can understand at least half of the words in a text. By eliminating the need to decode these words, the reader can focus on those that are more difficult and less familiar. Beyond this, sight words offer important clues about the meaning of a sentence. For example, when a reader can identify and understand the word and, in a sentence, he knows that there will be multiple figures, actions or descriptors in the sentence. Similarly, if the reader sees the word into in the sentence, she knows there is movement from one location or idea to another.

When a reader masters sight words her memory automatically brings the sound and meaning of the word into the person’s consciousness. The action is so unconscious that she doesn’t even realize it is happening. In fact, researchers found that when they presented readers with illustrations of some sight words along with the written word s, the readers could not avoid looking at the words. They used the written words rather than the illustrations to determine meaning because their brains were “trained” to read these words.

Ms. Nora

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 14-18, 2019

Reading Readiness: The Top 5 Skills

Did you know that there are five skills your child should master before you begin formal reading instruction? Because these reading readiness skills are so important, we call them The Big Five Skills.

Although much of your child’s learning comes naturally as he plays and experiences life, there are some skills, like reading, that must eventually be taught. That may feel a little scary, but if you’ve taught your child how to pick up his toys or put on his socks, you can teach your child to read, too!

5 Critical Skills for Reading Readiness

Print Awareness
Print awareness is the understanding that the print on a page represents words that have meaning and are related to spoken language.
To develop this skill:
Open book: Help your child learn how to hold a book correctly.
As you read books together, emphasize the fact that you’re reading from front to back and from left to right. Let your child turn the pages.
As your child helps you in the kitchen, point out the names on the food boxes and cans and the ingredients as you read your recipe.
Point out and read road signs and store signs as you travel in the car.

Letter Knowledge: Letter knowledge enables a child to recognize the letters of the alphabet and to know the names and sounds of each.
To develop this skill:
Friendly letter A: Sing the alphabet song together. Practice starting at different letters.
Use activities that help children recognize both uppercase and lowercase letters.
Begin to encourage an association between letter names and the sounds they make.
Explore the alphabet with refrigerator magnets.
Create the alphabet with building blocks or form letters with playdough.

Phonological Awareness
It’s a big term, but it’s quite basic. Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and identify the various sounds in spoken words.
To develop this skill:
Dog with perked ear: Read lots of nursery rhymes and rhyming picture books together. Encourage your child to anticipate rhyme as you read together.
Play clapping and rhyming games like Miss Mary Mack and Pat-a-Cake.
Sing silly songs by changing the first sound in some of the words. For example, sing, “Bingle bells, bingle bells, bingle all the bay,” or “If you’re chappy and you chow it, chap your chands.”
Play games that encourage children to identify words that begin with a specific letter sound. For example, say, “I spy with my little eye a color that starts with /r/.”

Listening Comprehension
Listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to relate to them in some way. A child with good listening comprehension has a wide vocabulary and a growing understanding of the world around him.
To develop this skill:
World globe: Read aloud to your children daily. Read books that are in line with your child’s interests, so he begins to realize that there is a benefit to learning to read.
Encourage even young children to interact with books.
Attend story time at the library.
Let your child see you enjoying books.
Make read-aloud time an enjoyable shared time. Here are some picture book lists to get you started.

Motivation to Read
Motivation to read is a child’s eagerness and willingness to read.
To encourage your child:
Smiling cartoon boy
Read both fiction and nonfiction books to your child.
As you read, ask open-ended questions. For example, ask “What do you think is going to happen when we turn the page?” or “Why did the boy go outside?”
Use everyday life experiences to build your child’s vocabulary.
Encourage imaginative play and storytelling.

Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant principal

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dec.4, 2018


It's almost Christmas, and according to some people, it's "the most wonderful time of the year."

Here are Christmas celebrations that are found around the world.

Some Armenians choose to fast the week before Christmas. Then, they break their fast with a light Christmas Eve meal called "khetum," which includes rice, fish, chickpeas, yogurt soup, dried nuts and grape jelly desserts.

Why have eggnog and pumpkin pie when you can celebrate Christmas by eating plump, fuzzy caterpillars, aka Emperor Moths? Don't worry, they're fried in oil, so you know it's good... right?

The Ukrainians use fake spider webs to cover their trees.
Why? According to legend, a poor widower had no money to decorate the family's tree. Some friendly spiders were grief-stricken when they saw the widow and her crying children, so at night, when everyone was asleep, they decorated the tree with silver and gold.
After that, the poor family became prosperous, lucky and never had a financial woe, ever again. Thus, a spider web-covered tree signifies prosperity and wealth for the next year.

On Christmas Eve, Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, closes its streets so everyone and anyone can make their way to church.

India is one of the most populous countries in the world, meaning that translates to 25 million people who celebrate Christmas.
Due to lack of fir and pine trees in the region, Indians use banana or mango trees as a substitute.

You won't find stockings hanging on chimneys in the Philippines. Rather, kids will polish their shoes and leave them by the window sills, so when the Three Kings walk by at night, they'll leave presents.

Rather than milk and cookies for Santa, it's all about Christmas pudding made with Guinness or Irish Whiskey. This tradition also carries over to the UK.

Ms. Nora Sierra