October 18, 2021
ELA SmartBrief
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Transforming Literacy Learning
Teacher: Ideas for increasing reading comprehension
Blackout poetry can aid students' reading comprehension by asking them to cross out the words in an article, leaving only words that summarize the text or a poem, writes English and history teacher Megan Kelly. In this blog post, Kelly offers other ideas, including scrambled sections in which Kelly cuts an article into sections and asks students to try to arrange them in the correct order.
Full Story: MiddleWeb (10/17) 
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Educators' views of assessments have shifted from what students have already learned to what they still need to learn, and assessments that offer real-time, actionable data are the most useful, especially as students come and go from the classroom during illness or pandemic quarantines, Tracy Weeks of education technology company Instructure asserts in this commentary. Easy-to-use assessments and teacher training on implementation and data evaluation are key to a successful program, Weeks says.
Full Story: eSchool News (10/14) 
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Can big changes come from small teaching adjustments?
Four educators share six ideas for instructional adjustments that can bring big changes to the classroom. In a blog post by teacher Larry Ferlazzo, the educators offer small suggestions, including Ann Stiltner, a high-school special education teacher in Connecticut, who shares how she uses the tone of her voice, including using a whisper during a lecture to emphasize a point or to get the attention of students.
Full Story: Education Week (10/17) 
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Science of Reading Online Course
Register for the Online Elementary Reading Academy to learn evidence-based instructional practices based on the science of reading. You'll gain skills to help all students, including those with dyslexia, master foundational reading skills. Next session starts Dec. 2. Learn more.
Literacy Everywhere
An Alabama library system has launched the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program by urging parents to read about a book a day for three years to their preschoolers. To promote early-childhood literacy in the program, the library will offer incentives for milestones as well as a graduation ceremony for those young readers who complete 1,000 books.
Full Story: WSFA-TV (Montgomery, Ala.) (10/17) 
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Expert Insight From Dr. Drew & Dr. Lisa
On October 22 at 1:00 PM ET, Gaggle and AASA will host Dr. Drew and Dr. Lisa: How Are Kids Doing? Register for this insightful conversation into the crisis in student mental health—and how educators can help.
Stories of Teaching and Learning
Students learn to see meaning in visual communication
High-school students are learning different ways to communicate and think critically as they explore the world through technical visual communication in teacher Pamela Steers' video production class. The Michigan students have been learning about scriptwriting, camera shots, music selection and editing in the class and recently started filming a public service announcement or a commercial based on a prompt by Steers.
Full Story: School News Network (Grand Rapids, Mich.) (10/13) 
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Want to Create a Knowledge-Building Mindset?
How can teachers strike a balance between teaching knowledge and reading skills? Where should schools start when transitioning to a knowledge-building mindset?
This guide outlines an essential checklist for evaluating reading curriculum and tips for building a knowledge-rich culture.
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Professional Development and Leadership
Researchers: Praise students 6 times every 15 minutes
Students' behavior, participation and grades improve when teachers are aware of the ratio of praise to reprimands they express, according to a recent study in which researchers recommend making six praise statements every 15 minutes. Researchers explain that in middle-school classrooms with the highest ratio of praise to reprimands, student behavior improved by as much as 70% while disruptions dropped by half, with researchers recommending public praise and private reprimands.
Full Story: Edutopia (10/15) 
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Wash. educators use PLCs to strengthen teaching
Twenty school districts in Washington state are participating in a project, PLC at Work, that uses teachers' professional learning communities to support outcomes for students. Solution Tree, a professional development company, has partnered with the Washington Association of School Administrators on the three-year program.
Full Story: The Daily News (Longview, Wash.) (10/13) 
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Strategies and Practices for Online Learning
As the new school year began, the COVID-19 Delta variant made plans for in-person learning incredibly uncertain, and made the potential shift to online learning higher. Join a discussion that will provide valuable strategies and key elements for implementing online learning, from emergency preparedness to designing an integrated long-term program. Watch Now!
That's all it took to solve problems -- just sense.
Gary Paulsen,
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About the Editor
Trigie Ealey

Literacy opens up the world to learners. Learning to read wasn't easy for me as I had some personal challenges, but once I got it -- I got it! I was off to the races to read, read, read. My obsession went to another level when my fifth-grade teacher, Dr. Boyd Cox, introduced journalism with an assignment to read the newspaper. I've been hooked on news and current events ever since. I was fascinated by what I read about events and people all around the world. Reading could take me anywhere and everywhere.

With degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Arizona -- Bear Down, Arizona! Go Wildcats! -- my entire professional life has been spent working with words. After many years as a reporter and editor for local and military newspapers, I came to SmartBrief. I've been here for nearly 10 years. During that time, I've worked exclusively on the Education Team, a group of dedicated writers and editors who are committed to identifying and sharing the most important and relevant stories going on in education. I want to provide readers with news you can use. As a parent, I'm personally familiar with the pandemic-related struggles facing teachers, students and school communities.

As editor of ELA SmartBrief, I hope you'll reach out to me with your comments, thoughts, suggestions and original article ideas. I look forward to hearing from you.
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SmartBrief Education STEM Pathways Summit
Join us on October 28 for our annual SmartBrief Education STEM Pathways Summit when we explore the intersection of STEM and social-emotional learning. Don't miss this opportunity to get fresh ideas, hear about new programs and talk with your peers in STEM education. Register today.
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