Ask a Teacher

Answers provided by teacher Emilie Blanton, who blogs at Teaching Ain't for Heroes!

3/11/14

What is with that scary "new" math problem and why does common core hate me?

I'm sure you've seen it by now. There's some picture floating around Facebook about "Common Core" math with the "Old Fashion Way" and the "New Way" to do math. In case you haven't seen it, here it is:




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2/5/14

What's with all the professional development?

With the abundance of snow days in my district this year, it has been brought up by multiple parents across social media that professional development days should be used as make up snow days. A common thread is most of these assertions is that teachers don't need all this time without students.

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1/7/14

How do you get the whole story?

Kids remember the darndest things. Or they remember things in really odd and unflattering ways. This happens to parents all the time. It happens to teachers as well.

At some point, your child is going to come home with a really strange, possibly shocking story involving their teacher. It's going be easy to jump to conclusions.

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12/6/13

How do you feel about homework?

As a parent and educator, I believe homework is vital and serves an important role. However, and this is a big however, there can be too much, which defeats the purpose in the first place.

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11/13/13

What's the deal with Common Core?

You've probably heard about it in the news. Common Core is a newest buzzword with parents, despite being heavily discussed in the education world for more than three years.

Judging by the posts I see on Facebook, Common Core is the new thing to blame for all the ails of education. Parents post pictures of worksheets and complain about how horrible Common Core is.

Let's start with what Common Core is NOT.

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10/3/13

What should I do if my child is "struggling"?

"I received my son's first report card. As a teacher, I've prided myself on knowing how to teach and when to teach various things. My first fieldwork experience was with kindergarteners (22 of them), so even though I teach high school, I felt that I had experiences that could help me teach my son.

My son received all checks and his report started out glowing. His teacher talked about how he was sweet and hardworking. She said that sometimes he's disruptive with talking, but he's easily corrected.

And then she said that he was struggling with printing and letter sounds. My pride took a hit with that word "struggling" because I know what that word means in my teacher jargon. In my classroom, I use struggling for kids who are below grade level and in danger of being left behind. I don't use struggling lightly. Struggling is for kids who are missing basic skills necessary to master standards."

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9/10/13

What to do about bullies?

"Bullying is a huge issue in schools. It's been an issue. It will continue to be an issue. Bullying will involve your child at some point in their lives. I get so many questions about bullying, I decided to tackle several of them at once. Bullying is persistent, aggressive behavior that is meant to emotionally or physically harm another individual. Bullying takes on many forms, from passive aggressive insults to outright physical assaults. All forms are serious and dangerous and need to be stopped."

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8/21/13

How can I help my school system?

"School is about to begin across the US (or has just started depending on where you are). Whether you know it or not, there is a need at your school. One of my most common questions I get as a teacher is what individuals can do to help out at their school or other local schools. Here are some simple ways you can help out and make a difference."

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7/11/13:

Should you separate twins in kindergarten?

"First and foremost, you have to accept one thing. They are going to be separated at some point and they need that separation. A lot of when they need to be separated will be dependent on a number of factors."

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6/12/13:

How involved is too involved when it comes to your child's school?

"Parental involvement is a complicated subject surrounded by tiny landmines. Is there such a thing as too much involvement? Ideally, no. However, there can be a wrong way to be involved.

Positive, proactive parental involvement is, with very few exceptions, always a good thing. Working together with educators to ensure the success of your student is best for all parties involved. So what does positive, proactive involvement look like? There isn't a set guideline for how often your can call or email, nor should there be. You and your child are individuals, so trying to fit your family's needs into a prescribed schedule isn't the best idea."


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5/10/13:

How does differentiation work in practice?

"First, let's cover what differentiation is and what it is not. Differentiated instruction is providing students with multiple learning styles and levels the opportunity to access and develop skills in the classroom. Differentiation is not handing a student with a higher skill set uninstructed work to keep them "busy" while helping other students. This is important to remember as it seems some parents expect that latter. I'm not sure if they're just remembering their own schooling and some bad pedagogical practices they experienced, but handing a student higher level work without instruction is a recipe for disaster."




4/10/13:

What should you do if your child's birthday falls in the cut-off period between preschool and kindergarten?

"I was asked recently about what to do with a child who has a late summer or early fall birthday. In my district, a child turning 5 before October 1st has the ability to start kindergarten. This creates a dilemma for parents like me. I gave birth in 2012 to a daughter who was born at the end of September. No matter what, she's going to be the odd child out. She'll either be the youngest in her class or the oldest. But what should you do if you find yourself in my shoes?"

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