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Graphic Novels for Young Kids. Get Widgets. Today's Headlines. Forbes September 24, And for the most part, in her view, the system has gotten worse, not better. After nearly three decades of funding cuts to schools, growing class sizes, and declining pay, Harper said she feels that her profession is at a breaking point: Arizona was 48th in spending per student in , according to the most recently available data, and seventh from the bottom for average teacher salary. The state now has widespread teacher shortages , and the number of students enrolling in teacher-training programs has been declining.
Last year, after 50, educator s —including Harper and her daughter, Serenity Gielau, also a teacher—staged a six-day walkout in Apri l , the Republican-controlled legislature approved new funding for the first time in a decade, including a pay raise of 20 percent for teachers by But despite the Another veteran educator, who is raising three children, works a second job as a waitress. Harper wants to see teaching become a healthier, better supported, and more effective profession, and is glad about the recent Arizona changes.
She has been to the state capitol more than a dozen times since the walkouts to demand increased funding for public schools and higher pay. But while putting more money into teacher salaries and basic necessities—such as textbooks, functioning air conditioners, desks, and chairs—is key, Harper argues, the funding needs to go way beyond compensation and facilities. Bringing high-quality education to all students will require radically more resources for teacher training and support. Without it, teachers will continue to struggle and fail.
Harper spent the first few years struggling. But as she learned from her colleagues, and attended a variety of trainings every year, she felt more successful bit by bit, and that helped her stick with her job.
In the mids, the district had a coaching position like that in every school, according to Harper. Over seven years as a coach, Harper organized a variety of learning activities for teachers. They primarily included one-on-one coaching by Harper, occasional workshops, and chances to observe successful peers. But what helped Harper and her colleagues improve most was collaborative work in pairs, in which teachers planned classroom activities together and then analyzed jointly the work students produced.
Decades of research in the United States and abroad show that effective teaching is not an innate skill, but a complex craft that requires a great deal of on-the-job training, including participation in peer networks such as the one Harper coached in. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development , junior-high-school teachers in Singapore spend about 18 hours a week teaching, and in Finland, about 21 hours, using many of their remaining paid hours to work with peers and improve their methods.
By contrast, junior-high-school teachers in the U. For those teachers who are able to stay in the profession and become more effective, the benefits to students are enormous. Engagement of students is a key ingredient for raising student achievement, but in a Gallup poll , only about one-third of high-school students reported feeling engaged at school.
When teachers have opportunities to reflect with their peers on the classroom work and their interactions with their students, they learn how to gather key evidence of teaching, adjust their practice, and are able to refine their professional judgment continually. The value of any one strategy—grammar exercises, creative freewrites, individual or group work—depends on the needs of students in a specific moment in time.
Buy Class Practices: How Parents Help Their Children Get Good Jobs by Fiona Devine (ISBN: ) from Amazon's Book Store. Everyday low prices . Fiona Devine: Class Practices. How. Parents Help Their Children Get. Good Jobs . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. As the title suggests.
How are they sitting, feeling, and working today? What do they need to progress today? Harper firmly believes that of all the professional activities she has been a part of in the past 38 years, it was her collaborative work with colleagues—veteran mentors and peers—that helped her grow the most. The other award-winning veterans interviewed so far for the On Teaching series made the same observation, often describing the process as a highlight of their career. Around the same time, Rebecca Palacios , an early-childhood educator in Corpus Christi, Texas, collaborated with her peers to create a program that coached the Latino parents of her 4-year-old students on how to help their children develop strong reading skills at home.
Meanwhile, Deborah Cornelison , a high-school physical-science teacher in Ada, Oklahoma, began to experiment with her colleagues on ways to implement more project-based learning in their classrooms, as a way to engage more girls and Native American students in the STEM fields. In each case, educators were mindful of the state requirements and standardized data aimed at capturing those goals, and they were avid readers of the latest research in their teaching domains.
But they used most of their time to design intellectually challenging classroom activities in collaboration with their peers—and create a consistent feedback loop to measure the successes and weaknesses in their teaching by using a variety of data, such as student work and effort, student and parent surveys, grades, and standardized tests.
Teachers learn to detect the unique needs in their classrooms, the school building, and the community they serve, and to respond thoughtfully. Then, from to , Arizona cut even more, reducing funding per student by Budget cuts also created larger workloads and reduced time for teachers to learn on the job.
Class sizes have grown from about 22 students when Gielau began teaching to as many as 40 in some classes , with numbers between 28 and 36 more commonplace. Many of the support positions, such as school-based coaches, reading specialists, counselors, nurses, and librarians, have been cut.