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Structured Literacy: The Teaching Approach to Reading that Science Recommends

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 A new spotlight from Education Week  is now available and it is about the Science of Reading . A registration form is required to access the above spotlight. It has been several decades yet schools are still not tuned to what science suggests regarding how we should teach reading to young children. Schools often exert effort on encouraging children to read books that they find interesting. Parents are asked to read to their children. Unfortunately, there is no focus on the method science tells us is most effective. Even here in Fairfax county, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently wrote to the school superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS): "Literacy is a human right. Without it, we are condemned to a life of greater struggle and fewer opportunities. We have waited long enough, and we refuse to wait even one more day." The NAACP provided a litany that shows how FCPS has neglected black children for the past 14 ye

We Have Our Worries

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Ned was one little lucky boy. He had a friend named Lily who was there to stand by him. I was just reading a short story entitled " Nervous Ned " by educator Sarah Wysocki . Ned was a young boy who was constantly bombarded by anxious thoughts. His anxiety was so much that it took a lot of of his energy and time. Ned received plenty of encouraging and reassuring words from his parents, but it took another child, a young girl named Lily, for Ned to see that everything was indeed alright. These stories do help young minds gain hope and comfort in the scary world we live in. I wish we had something for everyone who feel hated and discriminated in our society. Unlike the little boy Ned, minority children do have real reasons to be anxious. And so do the parents of these children. Melinda Anderson at Mother Jones captures a sample of this "grounded on reality" anxiety in her recent piece, " Why Black Parents Aren’t Joining the Push to Reopen Schools ".  Anderson

We Are Asking So Much From Our Teachers

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Blended learning aims to combine the best of two worlds: face-to-face and online instruction. It is never about doing both at the same time. Doing face-to-face and distance education at the same time is hybrid learning, and this could easily be the worst of two worlds. Yet, here we are. We have teachers who meet face-to-face a group of students on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, a different set of students on Thursdays and Fridays, while at the same time, broadcasting the lesson to another class of students who have opted to stay virtual all week. It is true that a teacher has one pair of eyes to see and one pair of eyes to listen, but a teacher has only one heart. Back in September, Julie Mason at WeAreTeachers  described this predicament quite vividly, "She wears an earbud in one ear so she can hear her kids online and her face-to-face learners at the same time." Of course, there are some who claim they could help teachers with this dilemma: Above copied from Dyknow The challenges

The Covid Pandemic and Inequity in Education

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Years ago, my daughter was invited to transfer to another elementary school for an advanced academic program. The principal at her current school then, Brian Butler, convinced me to have my daughter stay in the same school. Butler is one principal I knew who would give my daughter the opportunity and tools to realize her potential. It is not a special treatment. It is just the way Butler treats each student. This month marks the return to in-person schooling in Fairfax county, but we do have the choice of keeping our children in a virtual setting. There is considerable demand for in-person classes and with mitigation strategies, not every child can go in-person. My children have been thriving in an online environment and I am currently holding all my classes and office hours virtual so I am quite available to serve as a monitor to my children at home. Thus, we chose our children to stay virtual, hoping that the opportunity will be made to two other children out there who need face-to-f

COVID Situation in Fairfax County

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If you do not read past the headline, you may get comfortable with the idea that we are no longer under the threat of coronavirus. The governor of Virginia has just relaxed restrictions and Fairfax county public schools are scheduled to return to in-person classes next week. The introductory paragraph of the governor's new executive order, however, tells a sobering picture:  "Even though case counts are decreasing, there is still a cause for concern and a need for continued restrictions. Virginia’s seven-day moving average of new COVID19 cases is still more than 2,000 per day, which is higher than at any point in the first nine months of the pandemic. Virginia’s seven-day PCR percent test positivity rate is 8.3 percent. The statewide rate of COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations (3.8 per 100,000) is still above the threshold of concern (3.5 per 100,000)." We are not yet in a position that is better than either March or September last year when schools have gone virtual. There is

Instructional Continuity - COVID and Snow Days

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My son woke up today during the usual time so he could attend his virtual classes. I told him that there were no classes today because of snow. He gave me this blank stare and said, "But we are virtual". Well, this apparently is not the case in Fairfax county. Both in-person and virtual classes had been canceled. For Georgetown University, Main and Medical Campuses are closed but with Instructional Continuity. We use virtual classes, which we are currently using this semester due to the pandemic, because we believe in the importance of instructional continuity. "Classes will continue virtually as scheduled." ___________________________________________________________ Here is an old post from this blog on instructional continuity. When Storms Interrupt Learning in Classrooms January 25, 2016 A post on this blog more than a year ago talked about  Instructional Continuity . The article was in response to flooding brought by heavy rains in the capital region of Manila i

What It Takes To Reopen School Buildings

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Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasized that for school buildings to reopen, there must be a "commitment to implement community-based policies that reduce transmission when SARS-CoV-2 incidence is high". There are two elements here. The first is that people should be doing their best to prevent transmission of the virus. The second element is the current incidence of COVID in the community. Both highlight the most important key: disease transmission. Some have used percent positivity rate as a measure for transmission. This is only accurate if there is universal testing. Without widespread and regular testing, setting a given positivity rate as a threshold does not really hold any meaning because percent positivity is a function of both transmission and testing. During the week of January 24, 94 students at Georgetown University tested positive for the coronavirus. The university acted quickly by suspending all hybrid classes until Februar