Guest article written by Felicity Dryer
Although there are many challenges when raising a special needs child, there are more resources, better laws and an overall greater level of acceptance in not only specialized programs, but mainstream schools and communities now than there ever have been before.
Written By: Robyn Shulman, M.Ed. “Teaching is not a profession. It is a never-ending entry-level vocation, divorced from foundational understandings of training, accountability, and advancement. If we are to enact meaningful reform, we must rescue teaching from its status as vocation and volunteerism, and recast it as a profession of rigor, creativity, and unlimited impact.” -From “Teaching in the 408” (more…)
Parental Involvement in Education:
Kindergarten is one of the most important school years socially and academically. This year is critical, as it is usually the first time a child is in a more structured environment, away from home longer, and is in a larger physical setting along with older children. Kindergarten can affect the child’s love of learning for years to come. The early primary years bring a time of great social and emotional development (even for parents when it is time to let go a little more).
If you are having a difficult time finding a job in the classroom or if you simply need a change, consider looking into educational careers that offer alternatives to the classroom. There are various companies that hire teachers. Many people have a difficult time stepping outside of their career comfort zone, however, as this economy is in consistent fluctuation, you must be willing to move with the change and consider alternatives. (more…)
Samsung today announced that entries are open for the fifth annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest – a nationwide competition to raise enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by challenging students and teachers to tackle critical issues across the country. Through the competition’s community-based learning approach, youth take topics out of traditional classroom settings and explore, in a hands-on way, how these subjects address core problems that impact their lives and their regions.
“At Samsung, we know that interest in science, technology, engineering and math is critical for the jobs of today, the future of tomorrow and our long-term business success,” said David Steel, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics North America. “By launching the Solve for Tomorrow Contest for a fifth year, our goal is to excite students about these subjects and provide schools with the resources to continue fostering the innovators of tomorrow. We saw very strong community impact and engagement last year, and we’re looking forward to building on that momentum.”
By Dr. Angela Gibson, Professor, School of Arts and Humanities at American Public University
I am a mom, wife, professor of education, gardener, lover of 80s dance music, and a dog mom. I am also an informal STEM educator. When I say that to people, they look confused. Most aren’t quite sure what I mean.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and is often used as a shorthand reference to STEM education. An informal educator develops educational content or provides educational instruction in a non-traditional setting such as a camp, museum, or homeschool or through volunteerism.
Though I am a formal educator serving as a professor at American Public University, my academic degrees are not STEM-focused. I enjoy working with students to promote their success in their first year of college and to provide guidance to students who are considering a career in education. However, I have always had a passion for STEM fields, particularly science. Probably somewhere in a parallel universe I am an NOAA meteorologist or a planetary scientist assigned to a really cool NASA mission.
So why add on the role of informal STEM educator? Passion. Curiosity. Sharing. Helping others. Watching the light bulb glow above a child’s head! The rewards are endless. I have taken my natural interests in certain fields, done some additional investigating and professional development, and utilized curriculum design and presentation skills to create programs for kids. My willingness to be silly, dress-up like a butterfly, and be a kid myself doesn’t hurt either!
My young son and I create butterfly gardens in our backyard. Through reading books, talking with master gardeners, attending workshops and scientific testing, we have a good grasp on certain concepts and natural occurrences. That effort led me to create a hands-on presentation of the caterpillar lifecycle for young students. I bring in live swallowtail caterpillars for the presentations. From our own stock of items saved through the last several years, I have butterfly wings and pupa kids can touch, video of caterpillars transforming into chrysalises and then emerging as butterflies, and live examples of nectar and host plants. As part of the program, I help children to plant the seeds of nectar plants in small take home pots. And, yes, I also dress up in butterfly wings and antennae and flit around the room!
Another area of personal interest that I share in informal educational opportunities is space. Fostering my son’s and my own curiosity about everything related to space and space exploration has allowed me to be selected for NASA Socials. A NASA Social is an opportunity for those with social media accounts to be selected for “behind-the-scenes at NASA facilities and events and speak with scientists, engineers, astronauts and managers.” Events are typically focused on a particular activity – such as the building of the James Webb Telescope at NASA Goddard in Maryland or the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars, which became a multi-center and worldwide event – or can involve a focus on a subject area – such as aircraft alternative fuel testing and aeronautics or the study of missions for Earth science.
Through one NASA Social, I made connections with a local NASA Program Manager for the Orion Spacecraft, who then offered to visit a school and discuss NASA’s newest spacecraft and mission for space exploration with the children. Another connection developed in learning about a particular mission of training astronauts underwater provided an excellent opportunity for a camp of fourth through eighth graders to Skype live with Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater laboratory.
When a local preschool wanted to learn about the planets, I used straws, candy bars, single ice cream and sorbet cups, and some planetary pictures to let the kids try a hand at taking core samples on the rocky planets, the gas planets, and the ice planets of our solar system.
Do you have a STEM-related passion? You can be an informal educator, too. Find a subject of interest, stay current on the topic, assess your own expertise and abilities, and develop a program for a target audience. Then, look for good venues to share your knowledge.
As an informal educator, I pursue my own passions and interests and share with others, and I continue to learn about topics that interest me while engaging young minds. The reward is in seeing the sparks of imagination and curiosity fly.
About the Author
Dr. Angela Gibson is a Professor for the School of Arts and Humanities at American Public University System. She has previously worked at community colleges, private institutions of higher education, and state universities teaching face-to-face, blended, and fully online courses teaching first-year as well as Master’s and Doctoral students. When not attending a NASA Social or providing STEM educational outreach, Dr. Gibson serves as a facilitator and mentor for the Online Learning Consortium, publishes, and presents at national and international education conferences. She received a B.A. in International Relations from George Mason University, a Masters of Arts in Human Performance Systems, with a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design, from Marymount University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, with concentrations in Adult Education, Higher Education, and Community College Education, from Texas A & M University – Kingsville. Find me on Twitter at @AgilistaAG.
Adopt a Classroom and Great Clips come together to make a difference for families, students and teachers.
#GREATLIST Campaign Features Video of Two Surprise Classroom Makeovers, Online Check-in App Cause Marketing Program and Back-to-School Shopping List Contest There are 3 great causes and contests for both students, teachers and parents here. Check out this awesome video surprising teachers and note the words on their walls. This is not restaurant or home makeovers, but surprise teacher classroom makeovers. We need more of these. The #GREATLIST Campaign Features Video of Two Surprise Classroom Makeovers.
Also check out the Online Check-in App Cause to win money for your own child’s needs, and the Back-to-School Shopping List Contest-details below.
In summary, Great Clips, the world’s largest salon brand, has teamed up with Adopt A Classroom for the 2014 school year to provide teachers, students and parents across the country with access to much needed school supplies.
Did You Know?
- More than 15 million children live in households with families who cannot provide all the resources needed to succeed in school?
- Today, teachers have to purchase nearly 75 percent of all classroom materials with their own money.
- Teachers spend up to $1000 of their own dollars buying materials for their classrooms each school year—totaling more than $3 billion annually.
- According to a 2013 survey of educators across the country, 54 % say one of the best ways for communities to support schools is to donate general classroom supplies or funds for classroom supplies.*
With this reality in mind, Great Clips and Adopt a Classroom has set out to make a difference in three simple ways.
One… Great Clips worked with AdoptAClassroom.org (Adopt a Classroom)to find two deserving teachers and surprise them with the classroom of their dreams. Watch the surprise video below to see how Great Clips surprises teachers Clara Hutchinson and Anthony Jacobs with an amazing classroom transformation at Central High school in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Great Clips also adopted the other 78 teacher at Central High by putting funds into each of their AdoptAClassroom.org accounts so they can choose the supplies they most need.
Two… Great Clips is offering everyone an easy way to help a classroom in their community. When customers download their free Online Check-In app through Sept. 5, Great Clips will make a donation to support AdoptAClassroom.org up to $20,000.
Three… Great Clips is making back-to-school more affordable for all families. Daily #GREATLIST winners get back-to-school supplies shipped to their front door for free. To enter, customers go to the Back-To-School page on Greatclips.com between July 15 and Sept. 5 to complete a simple entry form. Submit a photo of the list, type the list or upload a copy of the list. Great Clips will purchase and ship school supplies to daily winners (up to $100 in value.) “Going to Great Clips for your back-to-school haircut is as much an annual ritual as purchasing new school supplies,” says Bob Thacker, executive director of Adopt a Classroom, “We’re thrilled that Great Clips is helping us put school supplies in the hands of teachers and students who otherwise may not be able to afford the tools needed to succeed in school.”
Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen is glad for the chance to give back, “We’re thrilled that this year’s back-to-school campaign, #GREATLIST, is grounded in all things great: great value; great convenience with our app; and doing Great Deeds™,” she said. “Not only is Great Clips saving customers time and money on their back-to-school haircuts but, with the help of AdoptAClassroom.org, we’re making a difference in local communities.” Olsen noted, “Great Clips has always worked to strengthen the people and communities we serve. And we’re proud to contribute our time, talents and resources to a variety of great causes. It feels good to support something special, and who is more important than the teachers who educate and nurture our future generations!” The Horace Mann Educator Advisory Panel has been in place since 2004 and consists of educators from across the country. Currently, around 1,700 educators belong to the panel and are mostly Public K-12 teachers. Less than 15% of the panel members are Horace Mann customers. Lots of great stuff here…beautiful examples of giving back from companies doing social good.
Love the classrooms-be sure to check out the inspirational words on the wall! Dream! Create!
Thank you to Sue Yannello for sharing this awesome information!
By Dr. Conrad Lotze
VP & Dean, School of Education at American Public University
What is Common Core?
The (CCSS) are an effort to standardize that which students learn throughout the mathematics and English (Language Arts) curricula – science and social studies standards are also being developed. For this reason, the Common Core State Standards has been referred to as a “national curriculum.” The idea is that students in all states that adopt these standards will then be expected to learn the same skills in these curricular areas. To date, 45 states have adopted them. The authors of the CCSS claim that:
“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy… [and that] …Building on the excellent foundation of standards states have laid, the Common Core State Standards are the first step in providing our young people with a high-quality education. It should be clear to every student, parent, and teacher what the standards of success are in every school.”
What is Common Core: Debates and Concerns
The introduction and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the 45 states that have adopted them has caused some concern in a variety of stakeholders. Will they have a positive effect on student learning or are there significant problems that will erase any potential benefit? The jury is still out, as the CCSS are relatively new. That novelty of course, adds to folks’ suspicions, as there simply is not much data yet available to speak to their efficacy. Folks engaged in the controversy are often vocal and passionate about their positions, with the rhetoric surrounding the debate often more inflammatory than perhaps warranted.
Some teachers worry that their academic freedom will be restricted. They fear that the curriculum will be so narrowly defined and rigidly enforced that they will lose what little autonomy they currently enjoy when making teaching planning decisions. It should be noted, however, that the Common Core speaks to the content that should be taught and at what grade levels – it does not dictate the pedagogy used to teach it. It should also be noted that the Common Core Standards are typically more rigorous than many states’ prior math and language arts standards.
Arkansas mom challenges board with one math problem from the curriculum. Note*-this video was added by Robyn Shulman, and was not part of the original publishing.
Education administrators and teachers have expressed concerns about the training necessary to become well versed in the CCSS. Who will provide this training? Who will pay for it? When will it occur? Will teachers be held accountable for student performance on tests measuring these new standards? Wary of ‘unfunded mandates,’ school districts are rightly concerned that they will be asked to take on this additional professional development, using their already scarce resources.
Parents fear that with yet another set of standards will come additional rounds of standardized testing, with even more class time being spent testing and less spent on teaching and learning. There is also concern about public money flowing into the coffers of private testing companies. Some question the motives of those who designed the standards, and criticize the process by which they were developed. Who will pay to replace existing textbooks with new versions aligned to the Common Core? Education budgets are typically shrinking, not expanding – placing additional pressure on the system.
Some fear that the standards are too rigorous; others claim they are not challenging enough. Claiming that the CCSS remained unproven, an Alabama state delegate recently introduced a bill to repeal the CCSS. A similar bill is being considered in Wisconsin. Some politicians sense an opportunity to score political points by bashing the CCSS. Once early supporters, a New York State Teachers Union recently withdrew its support of the CCSS.
Clearly, the CCSS has caused much controversy. The fact is that implementing the CCSS has both pros and cons. In our highly mobile society, it is good to know that the content taught in different states will be the same at each grade level. They do tend to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. Reading recommendations include more technical passages so as to help students learn to read more scientific articles–a good thing, but at the expense of more traditional literature. Many teachers have not been well trained in how to appropriately integrate the standards into their curriculum; since teachers are accountable for their students’ test scores, some resentment may be building.
It is incumbent upon school districts in the states where CCSS have been adopted to ensure that teachers receive the proper training. This should be done prior to implementation in the classroom and certainly before students are tested on their mastery of them. Teacher preparation programs are, of course, beginning to address the CCSS nationwide.
Learn more about Common Core pros and cons at the following sites and articles:
- Common Core Standards
- What is Common Core Math: Don’t Panic
- “Understanding Common Core State Standards”
- “Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left”
- “Alabama Bill Would Repeal Common Core Curriculum Standards”
About the Author:
Dr. Conrad Lotze possesses many years of educational leadership and teaching experience from a variety of academic positions. Conrad holds a BS in Mathematics from the College of William and Mary, an MA in Mathematics Education from West Virginia University, and a PhD in Mathematics Education from American University.
Kohl’s Dept. Stores Awards 7 Chicago Area Youth $1,000 Scholarship For Outstanding Community Service
Nearly 200 youth volunteers awarded $1,000 scholarships and qualify for $10,000 in total scholarships through the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program.
Today, the Kohl’s Department Stores’ (NYSE: KSS) Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program honors nearly 200 deserving volunteers with $1,000 scholarships toward higher education. Seven youths from the Chicago-area were chosen from more than 37,000 nominees nationwide for making a positive impact in their local communities.
“Kohl’s is proud to recognize the 182 regional winners nationwide for their dedication to making their communities a better place to live,” said Bevin Bailis, Kohl’s senior vice president, communications and public relations. “We commend these bright volunteers for being inspiring examples for others as they have made a difference in their own communities and touched the lives of others through their efforts.”
Local recipients of $1,000 scholarships are:
Carter Cumbey, 10, Oswego, Illinois
Through his nonprofit organization SMART2bfit, Carter planned and organized a SMART Walk for Water and Garden to educate participants on water scarcity and how children in Africa walk for miles to obtain fresh water for their families. Walkers engaged in interactive learning stations and raised funds to build a water catchment tank for a school in Kenya.
Bridget Gallagher, 11, Chicago, Illinois
In honor of her sister with Down Syndrome, Bridget hosts an annual Lemonade for Misericordia event to raise funds for Misericordia, a residential community of care for persons with developmental disabilities. To date, Bridget’s annual efforts have raised more than $46,000 for the organization.
Delaney Gibbons, 15, Naperville, Illinois
After the wife of a beloved teacher was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Delaney and a classmate organized the Dodgin’ 4 Lou Gehrig’s Disease Dodge Ball Tournament to raise funds for the Les Turner ALS Foundation. To date, the Tournament has raised more than $42,000 to help support the cause.
Ryan Hesslau, 18, Mokena, Illinois
In an effort to stand up against bullying, Ryan created foreverU, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of bullying and its emotional effects among teens. Ryan has grown foreverU into a teen volunteer operation that maintains a website, and social media and blog presence. Ryan also participates in anti-bullying speaking opportunities at schools.
Conor Laughlin, 11, Elmhurst, Illinois
After Conor and his family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago while his brother Aidan was receiving medical treatment, he was driven to give back to the organization by serving meals to families staying at the house. Conor plans and shops for the meals they cook, as well as helps prepare and serve the home-cooked meals to the families.
Varun Medhal, 18, Lake Forest, Illinois
After witnessing hunger and poverty on a trip to India, Varun created Unseen Cuisine, an organization that redirects food that would normally be thrown away by restaurants and markets to the homeless and those in need. Varun organized partnerships between local restaurants and markets that, to date, have donated 10,000 food items to shelters in the Chicago-land area.
Omer Raza, 18, Lombard, Illinois
A desire to give back to the community motivated Omer to be an integral part of his senior class service project. Some of his volunteer efforts included helping senior citizens with yard work, assisting at a food pantry, cooking for the Ronald McDonald House and demonstrating science experiments to students at a local elementary school.
Winners are chosen based on initiative, leadership, generosity and project benefits and outcome. Each regional-level winner qualifies for one of Kohl’s 10 national scholarships, which will be announced at the end of July. National winners will each receive a total of $10,000 in scholarships, and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each national winner’s behalf. In total, Kohl’s will recognize more than 2,300 young volunteers with nearly $400,000 in scholarships and prizes.
Since the program began in 2001, Kohl’s has recognized more than 22,000 kids, including the 2014 winners, with more than $4.3 million in scholarships and prizes. The Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program is part of Kohl’s Cares®, Kohl’s philanthropic program focused on improving the lives of children. For more information on the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program visit kohlskids.com.
Have you heard of Google Grants?
Do you know how many searches there are on Google in one day? According to internetlivestats.com, there are over 3.5 billion searches in one day. Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide; that is a great deal of searching.
There are really over 3.5 billion searches a day on Google. You can even watch the statistics grow live over at internetlivestats.com by the second-it’s quite fascinating.
For profit companies spend thousands of dollars every year in advertising using Google AdWords to drive traffic to their websites.
However, did you know that one of the largest, most missed and underused opportunities for nonprofits is Google for Nonprofits?
You can make a bigger difference right now by joining Google for Nonprofits and receive Google Grants.
Grow Your Mission With Google Grants and Offerings and Receive:
1. $10,000 in a monthly grant to advertise on Google-yes, that is $10,000 a month in free advertising using AdWords
2. Free membership
3. Free webinars on how to use their services
4. A quick and easy application process
According to Hubspot, many Google Grant members under-spend on their $10,000 a month budget, with an average recipient spending approximately only $330 a month (with a budget of $10,000 per month)! This amount of free advertising can provide tremendous growth and visibility for your nonprofit today-growing your mission and helping those in need.
How Nonprofits Can Benefit From Google Grants:
1. Promote and raise awareness of your mission, website, and nonprofit through organic search
2. Gain new subscribers for your newsletters and grow your email list
3. Reach new donors, potential volunteers and new hires
4. Find new board members
5. Track new traffic, test new strategies and gain a mass amount of awareness
Eligibility for Google Grants:
1. Hold current 501(c)(3) status, as determined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service; and acknowledge and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use
2. Have a functioning website with substantial content
Note: According to Google’s terms: At present, Google for Nonprofits is open only to organizations based in the United States, England and Wales. Organizations based in other countries can view Google’s country-specific programs for nonprofits. You can read more here about your specific country.
Who is not Eligible for Google Grants?
1. Governmental entities and organizations
2. Hospitals and medical groups
3. Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions and universities
Largest Challenges for Google Grants and Nonprofits:
The biggest challenges nonprofits face in regard to using Google Grants are typically caused by the lack of the following:
1. An updated website filled with substantial content
2. Technical support staff
3. SEO research understanding, knowledge and application
4. Writers/bloggers who know how to implement SEO for your nonprofit
5. Basic knowledge in regard to Google tools, including, but not limited to: the use of low competition and high traffic keywords and phrases, Google Keyword Tool, Google AdWords and Google Analytics
Regardless, this is a tremendous opportunity that all nonprofits should be taking advantage of for growth and exposure-and to continue to make even a bigger difference in the world.
Ready to learn more? Follow the remainder of this blog via Linkedin.
Read more about Google Grants here.
Read about Google Grants for Education here.