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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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Helping the President’s Committee on the Arts And the Humanities!

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Recently, I came across two excellent reports focused on using the Arts to power engaged learning.

The most recent is UNESCO’s ‘Releasing the Power of the Arts – Exploring Arts Education in the Asia-Pacific’, a very detailed case as to why the Arts is moving to the center of education in countries recognized for having some of the best education in the world, like South Korea (ranked #2) Singapore (ranked #3) and Hong Kong (ranked #5).

The second is from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities focusing on using the Arts to help turn around low-performing schools. Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Turnaround Arts initiative is a public-private partnership designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts.

On the PCAH website is reference to its “landmark study ’Re-investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools’ which provides an in-depth study of arts education and its effect on student success.”

In the report’s recommendations, is coverage of three widely used approaches:

  1. Standards-based approach using certified arts specialists.  
  2. Arts integration relying more on classroom teachers.
  3. Teaching artists programs, typically involving working artists.

Each has its merits but generally the report recognizes the constraints of budgets as well as the pressure of ‘teaching for the test’ that has seen dramatic falls in the role of arts.

In an interesting footnote on Page 31 of the report, it says “Many state arts agencies have experienced dramatic budget reductions. The Florida state agency, for example, has less than $1 million for all state arts activities, including arts education, down from a high of $39 million. The Michigan state arts agency had a $29 million budget for grants in 2002 and now has $2 million for the entire state. (In Ohio)… over 80% of classroom teachers report receiving no professional development in the arts.  Arts-related field trips have declined and over one-third of schools have not had an arts related assembly in three years.”

None of this is really new.
That’s why, over 10 years ago, I started looking at ways to integrate the arts in ways that power a relationship with other classroom skills – and particularly literacy.

So it came as no surprise to read in the report that: “The documented benefits of arts integration have also been accumulating over the past decade, although only recently have researchers begun to understand why arts integration may hold unique potential as an educational reform model.
That is really worth reading a second time!

Additionally, I liked the following recommendation on page 50 of the report:

Recommendation 2. Develop the field of arts integration.
Many individuals cited the promise of the arts integration approach; we learned about model arts integration programs and efforts to train arts specialists and classroom teachers in arts integration methods. As arts integration has not received as much concerted attention as standards-based approaches, the field needs development and support to realize its full promise. We agree that the arts will have a more secure place in the curriculum when teachers experience firsthand the deepening of learning in their subjects that comes from incorporating arts teaching strategies, and working in collaboration with arts specialists and teaching artists.

No one agency or professional association “owns” arts integration, so the potential for development, including evaluation and codification of quality practices, is wide open. Further development of the field of arts integration will depend on initiatives undertaken by institutions of higher education (for both pre-service and in-service education), professional development providers (including state arts and education agencies, nonprofit arts organizations), and state agencies and private funders providing targeted support.”

End Thought
For Kindergarten, arts integration has actually received concerted attention from me in a standards-based approach. So naturally, I have offered Jazzles ELA as a best practice case study to PCAH. We have two theses to assist them

The lack of any publisher interest in Arts Integration, is why Jazzles ELA is the only scalable program of its type in the world.

Effectively, it comes as an ‘in-the-box’ package that can be rolled out today and made available to every school in the USA in time for August 2013.
Why and How?
Because all Jazzles ELA needs is an internet connection and a few web-hosted seminars to familiarize teachers with the methodology.
(Note: Music and drama teachers just get it straight away! It’s so intuitive!)

If you are looking for an Arts in Education/Integrated Arts Program for:

  • Kindergarten (and/or PreK) 
  • Virtual School
  • After Hours
  • Summer Camp
  • Mixed Ability/Diverse Classes

just contact me, Lesley Beth and I’ll deliver you a ‘PCAH-style’ package for you. It’s the only such program in the world!

Lesley Beth

 

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Can You Measure Rigor?

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EXEMPLARY SCHOOLS is a great forum on Linkedin.
The other day, a discussion started on engagement in learning featuring a great infographic.

Kevin, my husband, I wrote a comment as follows:
“The concept of ‘engagement’ is like ‘fun’ – everyone claims their program is fun – except they are never asked to prove it. Same with ‘engagement’ – except not as used as often and certainly never required to be demonstrated but it is critical to learning. A 2007 PISA (OECD) study, showed levels of ‘engagement’ was the single factor that differentiated the nations with the highest and lowest levels of student achievement….!!

The reason he did this is because I was working in an inner city school putting engaged learning into practice!
So here’s the story!

Jazzles ELA excels in engaged learning! Seriously you could stake the proverbial house on Jazzles versus any other program to engage today’s diversified classes.
It’s one of my hobby horses because it is so important yet no one seems to care!

So we were both somewhat overwhelmed by the followng response from Professor John Sizemore, M.Ed., who teaches in the highly respected Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education. He’s a bit of an expert in this area. His resume notes: “John brings a practitioner’s perspective to the students entering the field of education or honing their skills to be principals. He has served in many administrative roles in public education, most recently as assistant superintendent in the 100,000 student Jefferson County Public Schools. John has served as consultant to a variety of urban and rural districts across the country, focusing on restructuring schools. Additionally, John has published articles on teacher advisory programs and principal leadership in restructuring the middle school. John received his B.A. in Social Studies, his MA in Guidance and Counseling, and his Rank I in Supervision and Instruction from Eastern Kentucky University.”

If you are a member of LinkedIn, you can reference the article by clicking this link: 27 Ways To Increase Student Engagement In Learning

Here’s what Professor Sizemore had to say:
“Maria, I totally concur with Kevin. School leaders and teachers speak of rigor, but it is really just talk. Until you measure rigor, it is all conjecture. With research I have been doing on rigor and engagement, in over 40 schools engagement follows rigor. As goes rigor so goes engagement. Early on l speculated active learning was the trigger to engagement, meaning that if you pedagogically tended to active learning that rigor would result. After more than 20,000 observations, it is clear rigor (thinking level) is at the top of the food chain. In every school’s data, when rigor increases so does engagement. You can have high engagement, but it is resting on the good nature of compliant students. This was determined by schools results that had high engagement, but very, very low rigor. In this case, it was a rural school district with students that did what the teacher asked.

Kevin is so right on with his analysis. School and teacher leaders talk of rigor and engagement, but until you measure these areas, you do to know. Thankfully, I have developed a quick assessment tool to get empirical results. The schools with whom we work know the difficulty of trying to change rigor and engagement. The difficulty in improving schools is In knowing how to change systems which then change school results.

We have found school leaders are challenged with knowing what to do too change results. It is not more PD, but the right PD which focuses on how to increase rigor,
By John Sizemore”

At long last we have found someone who knows how to measure rigor – we hope to use his assessment tool either directly or as the basis for a thesis. If you know anyone interested in this, please have them contact me.

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4: Reading-Songs and VAK Engagement – Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference!

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Here’s today’s challenge!
As an educator, have you ever heard of any publisher focusing on engagement as the single most important contributor to our children’s learning outcomes?
Yet a major, 2007 PISA (OECD) study, shows levels of ‘engagement’ is the the single factor that differentiates nations with the highest and lowest levels of student achievement.

A few days ago, I said I’d pitch Jazzles ELA against any PreK-G1/ESL curriculum program, knowing from experience it will win hands down!

So impressed was this Missouri kindergarten with Jazzles, she wrote a brilliant thesis that explains why Jazzles works.

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.

So here’s why I’ve spent my own money creating multimedia resources that emotionally and intellectually engage at extraordinary levels, while also creating harmonious, happy environment, that produces spectacular results.

Why children ignore school bells when Jazzles is around!
As a teacher, I have designed every aspect of the program to do the heavy lifting in terms of VAK engagement, internalization and recall.

So what does the heavy lifting? What creates mixed class unity?
It’s the Jazzles song-powered multimedia resources integrating with performance that ‘dynamizes’ highly engaging VAK learning.

Think of Jazzles as ‘American Idol’ for literacy!
Apart from the amazing memory power of music and song, we have all experienced the power of group singing to motivate and elevate feelings.

Technically, Jazzles songs can be scientifically described as ‘ear-worms’ – ‘a piece of music that gets stuck in your head so you hear it, even when it‘s not being played’. Uniquely, Jazzles applies ‘ear-worms’ strategically and comprehensively to its English Language Arts System – specifically targeting beginning reading skills and oral English.

Leaving animation aside, Jazzles songs are prolifically alliterative. Children love alliteration that in songs, acts as a very powerful, language mnemonic – particularly in developing Oral Vocabulary, Phonological Awareness and Alphabetic Principle – 3 of the five most important predictors of future literacy success.

JazzleOke 1 – it’s a powerful, scaffolded ‘pot-pourri’ of VAK-ELA learning!
Singing, cartoons, captions, involuntary/repetitive movements of hands
and feet moving in synchrony … no other program moves children to learn like Jazzles ELA!!

The emotional engagement of group singing and animation enhances the meaning of the ‘matching captions’ – and the ‘matching captions’ in turn incorporate built-in phonological learning.
That’s why each Jazzles ELA unit is a ‘learn to read’ power pack!

Every time students, interact with a JazzleOke 1 they are seeing, hearing, singing, and moving by tapping, dancing or playing a percussion instrument to the beat, performing by miming or using actions. Every child’s learning style profile is engaged for optimal learning.

AND, they are actively learning the 6 big beginning reading skills while happily practicing oral English!

Jazzles song-themed Lesson Plans expand and consolidate with the social interaction of Visual and Performing Arts.

Following on from JazzleOke1’s interactive learning, your ‘reading stars’ can perform ‘karaoke style’ to JazzleOke 2 and JazzleOke 3 with backing tracks. Their fun performances effortlessly practice reading skills (L- R tracking and return sweep, one to one correspondence, letter/sound/word correspondence) and oral English while developing confidence!

For those interested in educational frameworks based on research in the learning sciences, Jazzles is following the three core principles of the Universal Design for Learning:
• multiple means of engagement (VAK)
• multiple means of action and expression(Visual and Performing Arts)
• multiple means of representation

Name another beginning ELA/ESL program that has children so eagerly and happily practicing!
Don’t believe me! Just download the free install and try it. Observe your class – now tell what child is not engaged by the humor and antics in these colorful song powered cartoons?

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One of Our Headstart Teachers Facebooked About Our New YouTube Videos.

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“Lesley, loved seeing faces of the fabulous Jazzles singers! Now my kids can see the people singing their favorites songs.”

Here are the links:
Sneaky Snake
Up! Up! Umbrella!

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13. How Jazzles ELA’s ‘Matching Captions’ can Develop Mass Literacy.

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Number 13 in My Series – Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference
Jazzles ELA uses an advanced, customized version of a widely acclaimed literacy development strategy called ‘Same Language Subtitles’.

Integrated with music videos, the SLS strategy is endorsed by the Google Foundation, UNESCO, World Bank, various governments and academics as a way of helping millions of people, particularly the disadvantaged, gain access to regular reading practice and improve literacy.

Here’s how it works and why it’s so important.
Extensive research shows that subtitles such as the ‘Matching Captions’ in the JazzleOke animations, are read just like text in a book.

Unlike subtitles, close captioning and karaoke, the visualization of each JazzleOke animation is designed to create comprehension of the meanings in the ‘Matching Captions’ lyrical text. This way children relate the words they see to the content represented in the images.
This visual explanation of the connected text enhances comprehension.

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Additionally, the design creates a binding relationship between the audio, the sound track, the visualization and the ‘Matching Captions’.
This enables students to ‘take-out’ letter-sounds, while familiarizing themselves with words, phrases and meanings.

Watching the JazzleOke animations, reading the ‘Matching Captions’, seeing contextual clues in story lines, collectively singing and moving to the beat, all children (including English Learners, mildly autistic and disadvantaged students) experience an unbeatable combination of ways to absorb and internalize words and their meanings.

Even if too young to read with understanding, these ‘Matching Captions’ intuitively familiarize children with short sets of connected text while promoting ‘left to right tracking’ of words in meaningful context while also building familiarity with Concepts about Print.

By mixing entertaining cartoons with catchy music, prolifically alliterative alphabetic lyrics and specially formatted subtitles, Jazzles entertains while powerfully, yet intuitively developing all the foundations for learning to read.

Additional Benefits
Research shows that musical and phonemic processing interact – benefiting attention span, comprehension and memory.

Singing along to Jazzles Matching Captions, transforms the usual passive-observation role of screen exposure that includes text into interactive conscious and subconscious learning. Benefits go beyond developing vocabulary, comprehension, fluency and concepts about print – because when children know a word and are then asked to use it in a phonological awareness exercise; they find the task easier than if they had to use an unfamiliar word.

Creative Writing – Teaching Tip!
Here is a way to develop listening, understanding and creative writing skills with the JazzleOke ‘Matching Captions’ Challenge!

Turn children into make-believe ‘Movie Script Writers’.

Have them watch the JazzleOke animation and then write their own ‘Matching Caption’ for the storyboard. (When developmentally ready.) This way you are turning ‘watching and listening’ into creative play that combines aural, visual and written skills! Creating ‘Big Picture Matching Captions’ is a powerful language learning strategy that is fun and anxiety free. Children are far more interested in learning to write and spell when they are using words for a purpose

“Very Funny! Excellent Idea!” “Mixing cartoons and learning is very suitable for teaching Phonics to EFL learners … even adults like watching cartoons!” Says Dr. Kusumarasdyati, PhD. Lecturer English Department, Surabaya State University, Indonesia

Special Education
For children requiring intervention programs, Jazzles ELA is a breath of fresh air! Suddenly, they are creatively learning more than just simplistic English. Singing along to the JazzleOke Matching Captions, children comfortably take risks with their pronunciation, knowing they will be unexposed to any embarrassment.

Singing allows them to concentrate very carefully on each subtle sound until they get it right!

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Generational Poverty Does Not Extinguish Creativity And Why This Is So Important!

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No one disputes generational poverty is inherent and likely to grow.
But as a teacher, we have to cope with the children of generational poverty.
And you know?
We can!
It just depends on the resources and strategies we are given to use.
Assuming the school looks after the hunger, just imagine these kids entering the classroom.
They are stressed, depressed, angry, depressed and oppositional!
Why wouldn’t they be?

What’s the solution?
Arts Integration because it creates joy and inclusion to power whole class engagement and motivation

I use JazzlesELA.com, my own ‘Arts Integrated’ curriculum program.
(In fact, having canvassed every major LinkedIn educational groups and every educational #tag one on Twitter, it appears to be the only one that meets/exceeds Common Core Kindergarten ELA)

From class start, I create a joy-filled classroom with children watching carefully structured animated music videos. They are singing, they are moving, they are creating actions – all for a purpose – memory power. When you see, laugh, hear, move and sing, you remember everything! By following specially formatted prolifically alliterative, phonemic awareness, rich subtitles, they are intuitively developing all six big ideas of reading.

Instead of knocking TV, we borrow familiarized program format properties. Working in groups, children dramatize the sung story becoming weather anchors and news reporters. With karaoke, they’re stars of ‘The Voice’, backing singers or members of air-bands, etc. No guitar but they can all be a Keith Urban!

All of this is building their creativity (which generational poverty does not extinguish) while powering themed, systematically evolving vocabulary and oral language skills. Plus, they are working together in groups learning 21st Century Skills, like co-operation, sharing, being kind to each other.

So, let’s start forgetting children’s backgrounds.

Ask any PreK or Kindergarten class. Can you use a computer? Can you sing? Can you dance? Can you color and paint? Can you pretend to be a slippery snake? Hands will go up everywhere because they are at an age when they can. (Children use the computers to research topics, etc.)

Let’s start using Arts Integration to give these children a sense of purpose and value.
Finally, remember for them to learn, they have to read, and to read they have to have vocabulary.
To adopt a quote by Robert Pondiscio of the Core Knowledge Foundation, generational poverty isn’t destiny, but vocabulary, confidence and creativity definitely will be.

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