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Have You Ever Thought Of Yourself as a Human Teacher?

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We’ll get to the question above shortly.

In the popular Blog of ‘November Learning’ there’s an illuminating article about ‘Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing’.

The story leads with the experiences of an ISD superintendent, who had spent the past month reviewing one-to-one computing programs in various school districts. He was trying to decide whether his own district should commit to the enormous expense of a one-to-one program at a time of declining resources.

To quote the Blog (click to open), the conclusion from his visits did not leave much room for interpretation.

“Horrible, horrible, horrible implementation from every program I visited,” he said. “All of them were about the stuff, with a total lack of vision.”
His research convinced him not to move forward with one-to-one computing.’

I empathized with his experiences and decided to post a contribution to the Blog based on my own experiences as well as my despair at how computerized beginning reading programs are promoted, and indeed accepted, in our school system.

Here’s what I said.

How I see it!
As you know I am a kindergarten teacher.
I got so fed up with the boring resources my school provided, I created my own program called Jazzles ELA

I wanted to use technology but in tandem with a well rounded, scaffolded, creative learning pedagogy that includes developing vital non-cognitive skills. (Discussion, sharing, problem solving etc.)

Jazzles ELA is blended learning with a very clear and ambitious vision about enabling every child, irrespective of social status, to become at least a proficient but preferably advanced reader and writer.

At the very center of Jazzles 21st Century Engaging Pedagogy is developing vocabulary (linked with knowledge), the single very best predictor of success in all school subject areas.

However, if you look at commercial PreK – K technology-based literacy learning programs that claim to teach children everything they need to know to read, their focus leads with ‘phonics’ and effectively rote learning of words, the latter justified by research that shows if you repeat a word 16 times, you know the word.

Can you imagine the computer programmers when they heard that statistic?? Ecstatic!

As NIFL’s Advisory Board Member, Dr. Richard Wagner, says “Vocabulary knowledge is really knowledge distributed across multiple sets of words rather than an individual word alone. Acquiring a new word or refining knowledge of one word can improve understanding of related words and concepts.”
It takes more than a computer program to do that.
That’s why the Jazzles interactive ELA pedagogy employs social interaction and group work, etc.

When I tried to license Jazzles ELA to the big publishers, even though one valued the program at $4.0m, unanimously their vision was for something teachers could set the kids could do all by themselves – enabling teachers to focus on those children requiring more one-to-one.

All of this came into focus this week, when I looked at the website of ‘StudyDog’ – claiming to be “the fastest growing children’s reading program for kids ages 4-9.

Here’s the StudyDog claim:
“StudyDog Reading provides a complete, research based, rigorous curriculum. Study Dog is aligned with Common Core and state standards and systematically develops skills with explicit instruction. StudyDog is the only online solution that delivers all the components for effectively developing essential skills for early elementary readers.”

Mmmm! We shall see!

Now read their fine print!
Here’s the very small footnote in a pdf entitled ‘Texas Language Arts Literacy Standards PreK – 1st Grade’. To save you clicking the link and looking at the very bottom of the last page, here is what it says:

“StudyDog is a supplemental, computer-based reading program and, as such, cannot meet those standards that can only be met by human teachers. Those standards are not shown.
So please, what’s the point of the program???

Love your thoughts on that!
And look, with Jazzles ELA there is no small print. I stand by everything I claim – and just for the record, Jazzles ELA meets/exceeds Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten ELA – and yes, it is designed for human teachers (weird StudyDog description!!) and delivers in such a way as to minimize classroom management and create maximum quality teaching time!

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2: Ear-Worms – Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference!

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As a teacher, I have designed every aspect of the Jazzles program to do the heavy lifting in terms of VAK engagement, internalization and recall.

So What does the lifting?
Jazzles uses song-power and performance to engage VAK learning.
Think of it as the ‘American Idol’ for literacy!
Technically Jazzles is full of songs that are scientifically described as ‘ear-worms’. These are defined as ‘a piece of music that gets stuck in your head so you hear it, even when it is not being played’.

Jazzles Ear-Worms – a Huge Difference to Any Other ELA Program!
Uniquely, Jazzles applies ‘ear-worms’ strategically and comprehensively to English Language Arts’. The ear-worms are specifically composed to target beginning reading skills and oral language using my interactive reading songs resource – JazzleOke 1.

As explained yesterday, here’s one example of an ear-worm benefit. When a child is struggling in reading, they can automatically remember the sounds of the letters by recalling the songs – even when it is not being played. Another very strong benefit is predictive reading skills – developing at an early age the ability to predict in advance the most likely next word(s) in a sentence or phrase before actually reading them.
For example, ‘wake up‘, ‘love my‘, ‘lots of‘.
Without predictive reading skills, children will labor in reading and understanding. Predictive reading skills are also essential for our ESL/ELL students.

As research shows, with ear-worms, we are able to hear a song perfectly within memory. The ear may not necessarily be hearing the music, but the brain will hear it perceptually.

Ear-Worms, Phonemic Awareness and Mnemonics
Leaving animation aside, Jazzles songs are prolifically alliterative.
Children love alliteration that, especially in songs, acts as a very powerful language mnemonic, particularly in developing oral vocabulary, phonological awareness and alphabetic principle – 3 of the 5 most important predictors of future literacy success.

Every time students, interact with a JazzleOke 1, they are seeing, hearing, singing, moving, tapping, performing, dramatizing, creating actions or playing a percussion instrument to the beat.
So every child’s learning style profile is engaged for maximum learning.
They are intuitively learning the 6 big ideas learning to read and happily practicing oral English!
What other literacy/ESL program has children eagerly and happily practicing?

“My kindergarten students sing along with the Jazzles songs constantly and I was astonished
to see how much their (DIBELS, Scott Foresman Reading Street and Reading A-Z) scores improved after incorporating the JAZZLES songs. Using actions helps with the total brain stimulation and actually rote memorization as well.”
TOMORROW
The ‘Big Picture’ Jazzles Difference!
Note: Please help me. I’ve self-funded Jazzles ELA. So please send the link to your colleagues, principal, curriculum director and your friends!

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Time for TED debate on Quality PreK! Let’s Get Real!

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If you are a teacher like me, who goes to school everyday with the aim of improving children’s lives through education, please read this article in today’s (06/14/2013) ‘Education Next’ – ‘How Poverty Is Like Global Warming (& Other Parting Thoughts)’.

It is the last of a series of blogs between Michael Petrilli’s and Deborah Meier, the highly respected ‘founder’ of the modern small schools movement.

In the blog, Mr. Petrilli’s comments that “High-quality preschool, for instance, has great potential, but we don’t really know how to scale up the kinds of programs that have gotten dramatic long-term results.”

Read that twice.
What Mr. Petrilli is saying, by default, is that the programs that have gotten results (like Appletree in DC) have uneconomic teacher-student ratios and require lots of intensive training.

I completely disagree with Mr. Petrilli’s sentiments and substance.
I’ve posted my response on the Education Next blog site.

But, just in case, moderators at Education Next decide not to publish the response (be interesting to see), I thought the issue is so important, I’d publish it this blog.
(Update: After 24 hours, my response not yet published!)

Mr. Petrilli might not know how to scale up high quality PreK but I do!
I have spent 10 years doing it – developing Jazzles ELA.
It is a highly scalable ‘Arts in Education’ early education/beginning literacy program that transforms children’s intellectual and emotional engagement.

It’s not theory; its at work in schools in the US and Australia.
Two independent theses proves it works for Kindergarten children.
Anecdotal reports show it works for PreK.

I cannot provide the long-term stats that Mr. Petrilli relies on because that is a chicken and the egg argument.
After all, the egg is now being laid!

What amazes me is that there are so many educators, like Mr. Petrilli, who make statements like this yet so few who invite educational innovators, particularly ordinary, ‘working at the rockface’, teachers like you and me, to present their 21st Century solutions.

Think about this way!
Despite nearly 50 years of national focus, the majority of children in the U.S. are still failing to read at a proficient level.
So academia and mega-publishers really can’t claim to have monopoly on solutions – their record is not that good!

  • Why do we place so much value on their formula solutions?
  • Why do we never ask them to prove their solutions to engage diverse children on standard teacher/student ratios?

Why? Because if you can’t engage, you cannot teach them? And here’s a fact you’ll never read! A 2007 PISA (OECD) study, showed levels of ‘engagement’ is the single factor that differentiated the nations with the highest and lowest levels of student achievement. And that goes for PreK too!

So Mike Petrilli, Sir Ken Robinson, Lord Puttenham, Geoffrey Canada, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, step up to the plate for a real debate on what constitutes a new model for high quality PreK that, unlike A+ schools, Appletree, (et.al.) highly scalable, highly cost effective (ok, let’s use the word cheap) and transforming for the disadvantaged.

I’m ready! Let’s do it on TED! BECAUSE it is a debate worth having!
And by the way, lets not focus always on poverty because there are so many abused and stressed kids we need to help too.
If you agree with this post, and your mad with the naysayers, use Twitter and Facebook to send it viral!
It’s worth it!

BIG NOTE:
Love it! New website ‘Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates‘ is publishing messages from teachers to the Microsoft founder

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1: Song-Powered ELA – Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference!

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Song-powered, multimedia Jazzles ELA is a unique 21st Century, Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic pedagogy with a new ‘learn to read’ approach featuring humorous, animated reading songs.
Why song- powered?
At the core of each of the Jazzles 26 song themed units, is JazzleOke 1 – an animated, ‘reading song’ with matching captions.

JazzleOke 1 is a highly effective mini ‘learn to read’ tutorial.
Using choral singing tracking specially formatted ‘Matching Captions’ left to right, (no musical skills needed), the prolifically alliterative song lyrics become ‘familiarized’ text from which reading (with understanding), writing and communication skills are intuitively learned, taught and consolidated.

It’s ‘big picture’ learning that children prefer.
It makes sense to learn sight/high frequency words, letter/sounds, grammatical features, phonemic awareness and concepts about print etc. from an internalized ‘song story’ text that is understood.
Here’s how a teacher explains it:
“I use Jazzles with first grade and Kindergarten and the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!
When a child is struggling in reading, we often think about the sounds the letters make and the songs help us to remember those sounds. Their parents comment on the songs during conferences and some even know the words learned from their children. (School-to-home support.) Jazzles interactive is a blessing!”

The key is initial, thorough internalization of the song to maximize benefits.
There are many and varied, fun ways to practice and never ever using rote! Strategies are fully explained in each of the 26 ‘Advanced ELA Lesson Plans’.
Each Jazzles ELA Unit is packed with integrated, multimedia, multisensory resources and strategies that automatically engage students (even those hard to focus) at exceptional levels.
And thank you to all those teachers sending me feedback on their experiences using Jazzles!

TOMORROW’S Highlight.
Thinking of Jazzles as the ‘American Idol’ for literacy! The Jazzles strategy that lifts every child’s attention, engagement, active learning and joy.

Note:
Download the free Jazzles ‘Blue Bus Blues’ unit, check out the lesson plans and try it with your students.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jazzles-ELA/109885175848909?ref=ts&fref=ts

And please help me. Send the link to your colleagues, principal, curriculum director and your friends!

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Teachers: Will We Ever Learn? And What I’m Doing About It!

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‘Teachers: Will We Ever Learn?’ is a headline in yesterday’s New York Times. Click here to open.

It’s a great article by Jal Mehta, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the author of the forthcoming book “The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling.”

He says in one paragraph: “… what happens in classrooms, hasn’t changed much in the century since the Progressive Era. On the whole, we still have the same teachers, in the same roles, with the same level of knowledge, in the same schools, with the same materials, and much the same level of parental support.”

Professor Mehta, not for the want of trying!
Unlike Sir Ken Robinson et al, there’s little point in complaining about lack of creativity in schools. I’ve sold my house to create and fund a totally new 21st Century Engagement Pedagogy designed to cater for VAK-T learning styles – using new ground breaking pedagogical resources.

Dianne Ravitch may not support the Common Core Standards. I do, because it provides a benchmark upon which DoE’s and ISDs can judge materials – mine included. And guess what, Jazzles ELA will beat any other PreK to K program hands down and meet/exceed CCSS ELA for Kindergarten!

So what am going to do about it today??
I’m taking time off to work out a new strategy as to how I can get DoEs, ISDs and Principals to say, in the words of Eli Broad, “Why not?” as in “Lesley Beth is claiming all these things about how her program is solving issues of engaging mixed ability PreK-G1 classes. Is it fact or garbage?”

Well just two weeks trying out Jazzles in a class would tell you. So why not try it??
As I said in previous blog, give me your toughest PreK-G1, and I’ll show you how I can engage, manage and motivate them! What’s the risk? NOTHING!
Except you might turn upside down the theories and resources of yesterday.

I’m Going Bush!
So for the next 10 days, I’m going bush – no phones, no electricity, so many stars, you’re dazzled!

And here’s a good summary of where my husband and I are going – courtesy of Australia’s greatest poet, Banjo Patterson

“And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.”

My husband, who’s British, insists on swimming. It’s cold but crystal clear – we drink it without boiling!
Back on the 22nd April – and thanks for all the hundreds of messages of support.
Tweet@lesleyBeth

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Note to Curriculum Directors:

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Over the last few years, I’ve learned from experience that educators perceived as open minded innovators are not necessarily so.
More often than not, they have their own agendas – and Jazzles ELA is not on the list.
Why?
1. Jazzles is an inconvenient truth! You can have a highly creative, highly engaging, massively scalable ELA pedagogy that works within the current PreK-G1 infrastructure. You do not need to reinvent teachers; you just need to do what I have done. Go to the workbench, create and fund the development of the resources that are ‘right’ for today’s classrooms of mixed ability children.
2. Jazzles is as complete a program as you can find. There are no books! It’s all digitally delivered. So major publishers aren’t interested in licensing because we won’t allow them to break Jazzles up into multiple program packages and text books that supersize the price.
3. Jazzles is largely intuitive. It requires very little training and its lesson plans, activity pages and interactive resources are delivered online cost efficiently!
4. It’s also a ‘disruptive innovation’. On one side of the equation, schools will experience fewer children in pullouts for reading/ ESL support. So there will be less need for intervention programs, etc. On the other hand, schools will be able to harness the ability of specialist teachers to use their skills of music, dance and drama to power literacy, confidence and social skills.

Economically, Jazzles ELA is easy to scale across a school, an ISD, a State and from school-to-home. Providing there’s electricity, broadband/wireless, a computer, IWB or even a TV, you can deliver Jazzles ELA. Weather, epidemics and school holidays no longer matter, so children can have access to continued learning all the time.

And, in a world where so many parents are hurting (1 in 4 parents don’t know where the next meal is coming from), Jazzles not only delivers learning, but also joy and hope.

An Anecdote
Two of the best known educational creativity experts are Lord David Puttnam and Sir Ken Robinson. Both challenge the way we’re educating our children. In November 2010, my husband, Kevin Condon, tried to meet with Lord Puttnam to discuss obtaining his support for Jazzles as a new creative way to engage 21st Century children.
While the schedules didn’t match, Lady Puttnam asked an interesting question.
“Why Kevin do you think you can succeed when David and Sir Ken can’t?”
The answer was simple. “Because we have the resources!”
You can help us make that answer become true by trying Jazzles out. Even in the last few weeks of this school year, you will be able to measure significant gains in cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

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Is Jazzles ELA the Change-Making Program I Claim?

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An Open Invitation to Psychologists and Neuroscientists Interested in the Science of Music and Song in Education
As scientists, how often do you have the opportunity to really influence a major shift in how children learn, opening a pathway to mass literacy and transforming the lives of millions of disadvantaged children?

Join me!
Most research as to how music changes our minds and what that means for education, has been conducted across general or very specific areas.
For example, what is the relationship between music and memory? How music engages us? How music creates emotions? How it makes us want to move? How music changes our brain’s plasticity and does this make us smarter? Why some music is more powerful than others? How it improves auditory capabilities? Music and the motor system. The relationship between music and verbal language including the processing of linguistic syntax. And of course, the benefits of music for speech therapy, etc.

A Different Opportunity – A Whole Curriculum Program
Now, for the first time, there is the opportunity for leading psychologists and neuroscientists to research the effect of music and song across a whole critical curriculum program and determine, whether or not, Jazzles ELA and its methodology holds the power to breakthrough over 50 years of plateaued reading levels.

Targeting PreK-Kindergarten, Jazzles ELA is unique as the only fully integrated, song-powered curriculum program in the world.
So it’s the only program that can be used to research the power of music at the most important developmental period for children, in the most important curriculum subject, measurable over time in a real educational environment.

The subject of two theses, Jazzles ELA delivers outcomes matching the research findings and discussions from experts in this field including Lawrence Parsons, Jamshed Bharucha, Daniel J. Levitin and Aniruddh Patel (etc).

The Key Question To Be Answered!
‘What is going on inside children’s brains, when Jazzles is going on?’
Anecdotal evidence suggests ‘lots’ but we don’t know.

Think About the Implications!
If current research findings in the science of music and song apply to Jazzles ELA, then the program will be shown to make children smarter, help them read earlier, read faster and carry over in other cognitive areas like math.

An Aussie teacher, a Revolutionary Approach and How It Almost Didn’t Happen.
Now, the obvious reaction to ask is how is it possible, that out of the blue, an Australian kindergarten teacher could produce anything capable of delivering a change-making program when unsupported by any university or financier.

Well, that is partly answered by clicking this link.
A lot is centered on my love of music and my skills to compose, visualize and produce animated learning songs seeing how these can be thematically integrated with the Arts to pluralize learning.
For a publisher, that’s a hard combination of skills to put together.

Here’s What Jazzles ELA Does:
Broadly, most children that readily achieve reading fluency do so because their parents have a literacy ‘rich’ background. .
But what if the parents have no literacy background and can’t functionally read?
Look at the figures! Forget reading to children in bed as the savior for literacy! Nearly 1-in-2 kids in the US and 3 in 10 in UK have no books. I cannot find a figure for Australia but adult functional illiteracy and innumeracy is 47% as a national average – hardly the ideal incubator of developing reading skills.

The Jazzles ‘animated reading songs’ succeed with all kids but importantly, with children from low or no English literacy backgrounds.
The system’s essence is a series of carefully structured animated alliterative lyrics that create rich recallable vocabulary (with understanding) across a mixed-ability class.

This provides the scaffolding for discussions, role play, reading and writing scenarios. Activated oral vocabulary is viewed as multimodal texts from which children can learn sight words, grammatical information, the use of punctuation and spelling. It’s VAK-T.

Through music, song, laughter and performance, Jazzles ELA effortlessly develops all 6 beginning reading skills: Alphabetic Principle, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Comprehension, Fluency and Concepts about Print.

Very Importantly – It’s Pure Howard Gardener!
In his just released book, ‘The App Generation’, Howard Gardner says, “Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play).”

Pluralization is a critical attribute of the Jazzles ELA program – and very important for ESL/SPED students in mixed ability classes.

Join Me and Let’s Change Children’s Lives.
Two independent theses, plus independent classroom teachers, support this program for ‘astonishing results’ far ahead of anything they are mandated to use.
Based on our extensive experience, Jazzles represents a big missing piece in the puzzle as to how music and song can influence education – at least in terms of how to achieve mass-literacy.

If you are interested, have any suggestions, just click this link to email me.

NOTE: I like to add my thanks to Elena Mannes and her acclaimed PBS documentary “The Music Instinct: Science & Song,” that has opened my eyes to recent discoveries of the power of music and its connection to the body, the brain, and the world of nature. Elena’s book ‘The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song’ is available from Amazon by clicking this link.

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