Teaching Fairness

Teaching Fairness

Unfortunately, the only memory I have from being in kindergarten is: I was never called on to be the fairy who got to go around the class and tap on students’ shoulders with a magic wand to wake them up from nap time. I never got to be the fairy!!!

When I was taking classes for my teaching credential, I learned that when students raise their hands in class to answer a question, studies have shown that teachers are more likely to call on a boy than a girl. At that time, I resolved to call on students equally.

When I started teaching, I would use a lot of mental energy trying to remember who I called on as I tried to be fair. I went to a new teacher training where I learned a great idea that  really worked for me: use a deck of cards with the students names on them. There are other ways to do this too (like using popsicle sticks with students names), but the cards worked great!

How it works: take the deck and write a student’s name on each card. After you call on a student, put his or her card at the bottom of the deck or in another pile. This way, everyone eventually gets a turn. You can also rotate calling on students randomly and then using the cards; this way students can still raise their hands to answer every other time.

I had a set of Snoopy cards that the students loved, but there are so many different fun cards–or even just a generic deck of cards. What was really cute was when the students would say, “Use the Snoopy cards so it’s fair!”

I hope this helps. Please share if you have a great way to call on students fairly.


Establishing Baselines when Teaching

General and special educators both use baselines to measure growth.

What is a baseline? A baseline is the current level the student is at before any new teaching or intervention has begun. Baselines can be used for any subject and also to monitor behavior.

It makes sense that in order to show growth and to target areas of need, one would need to know a student’s current levels. For reading, baselines are typically taken in the fall and then again in the spring. For students on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the baselines are measured before writing new goals, and then measured periodically throughout the year and again at the next year’s IEP.

An example of a baseline for a kindergarten student is: Susie knows 5 of her 26 letters sounds (letters: b, f, h, j, q, and z). That is Susie’s baseline. A typical goal for a kindergarten student would be for Susie to know all 26 letter sounds by the end of the school year.


Monday Mornings: Proverbs, Quotes, and More

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

We are living somewhat in the day and age of instant gratification. This proverb, and teaching Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” are great ways to emphasize the value of steady, consistent work and the cumulative effect.

This proverb is especially applicable to students who have difficulty with reading. It is a slow, steady process, but eventually, with direct and consistent reading instruction, students will learn to read.

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Boy in the Moon

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Boy in the Moon

Monthly book recommendation:

The Boy in the Moon

Written by Ian Brown

There is something really special about a book that can take a person into the world of another. In his book, author and father Ian Brown, does just that. This book is about Walker, Ian’s son, who was born with a syndrome known as cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that affects about 100 people worldwide. It is also a book about the journey of these parents as they care for Walker.

This book is both beautiful and incredibly raw and honest at the same time.  Trying to understand the different realities of different people/parents and what they go through is why it is so important to read this book; the hours of screaming, the perpetual sleepless nights, the financial burden, trips and stays in the hospital, the beauty, the moments, the lessons, the guilt, searching, anger, and mostly the honesty and love…there is so much to this book.