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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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9: Phonemic Awareness Skills – What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching!

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Number 9 in My Series – Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference
In May 2006, the National Council on Teacher Quality published an extensive report on ‘What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching About Reading’.

It found that “the two ‘newest’ components of good reading instruction — phonemic awareness and fluency— were broached in the fewest classes, just one in 20 education schools. In contrast, phonics, long the linchpin of reading, was taught in one out of seven classes, with slightly more frequency than comprehension, arguably the hallmark component for the whole language approach.”

Providing Support for Elementary Teachers
Unlike nearly every other PreK-G1 resource, Jazzles focuses on developing phonemic awareness skills via songs that are prolifically alliterative (the repetition of the same initial sound in several words in connected text). Children love alliteration because it is ‘tongue-twisting’ and memorable.

Over 40,000 YouTube Plays

Over 40,000 YouTube Plays

Click to Play and see alliteration in action!

Strong Mnemonic Aid
Alliteration is also a key component of the Jazzles multiple memory strategies.
Research shows that it is more probable that children will consistently remember expressions that alliterate than those that don’t.  This appears to be almost intuitive.

Phonemic awareness is the strongest predictor of reading success – more highly related to reading development than intelligence, reading readiness, and listening comprehension (Stanovich, 1986,1994). Jazzles lyrics excel at developing the phonemic awareness skill of initial sound fluency.

Two independent theses (2008) using Jazzles Songs support its effectiveness. See Previous Post

What’s the Take-Out?
Jazzles ELA not only provides the resources that engage children to intuitively develop their phonemic awareness skills, it also provides the teachers with how to teach it using the Jazzles ELA Advanced Lesson Plans!

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8: How to Easily Catch Up to Reading Levels of Shanghai, HK, Finland, Sweden, S. Korea and Singapore!

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No 8 in 30 Pedagogical Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference

The deliberate integration of the arts into my Jazzles English Arts program creates positive group culture and accelerates literacy skill acquisition. 

Benefits also extend into math (patterns) and non-cognitive skills, including student focus and behavoir.

 Two independent 2008 university supervised studies prove that’s what Jazzles does!

Whether you are a regular or specialist teacher, just by using Jazzles multimedia resources and song-themed lesson plans (especially created for mixed abilities), you can achieve extremely high levels of engagement and ELA learning resulting in superior outcomes.

In 2008, as part of her Masters of Arts Degree, a Missouri kindergarten teacher wrote a thesis focusing on the impact of using music (in effect, Jazzles songs) to improve kindergarten reading levels.  Using tests such as DIBELS, Scott Foresman, Reading Street, Reading A-Z, just under  40% of her class achieved end of year kindergarten literacy levels in the first semester. (Half were entitled to free meals) 

 

Change over 12 weeks in the first semester using Jazzles

Kindergarten student scores achieved over 12 weeks in the first semester using Jazzles

Achieved in 12 weeks of first semester.

Kindergarten student scores achieved over 12 weeks in the  first semester using Jazzles.

“I was astonished,” said the teacher, “to see how much their DIBELS scores improved after incorporating Jazzles!”

Places like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Finland, Sweden, South Korea and Singapore are at the top level of academic achievement for reading, math and science.

What these top achievers have in common, is providing real time for music in the classroom.  Compare this to the tokenism, if any, found in lower performing USA, UK and Australia.

While Jazzles is not a music instruction program, it is the first complete curriculum program to  intelligently uses the attributes of song (automatic, practice, elevated happy emotion, and language memory) and performance, to develop cognitive (especially literacy) and non cognitive skills, including social skills, confidence and focus.

Music/songs engage intellectually and emotionally.  Drama linked to familiar songs provides ‘virtual experiences’ – bringing language to life and opportunity for inferential and creative thinking. Think how powerful a package of skills that is!  Jazzles has it and more!

In the process, Jazzles is helping prepare children for the Conceptual/‘Right Brain’ Age – where it is expected that futures will be determined more by peoples’ abilities to apply creative, holistic and innovative thinking, than logical and linear thinking.

Every Jazzles Unit of song-themed, Lesson Plans with activity pages, interactive games and Visual and Performing Arts activities continue to extend the ‘whole-part-whole’ ELA learning, motivate self initiated learning in other areas!

Click here and download a free Jazzles Advanced ELA Lesson Plan and see how Creative Arts can easily be integrated to power literacy and vital non-cognitive skills.

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What Type of Tears Do You Shed for Your Curriculum Materials?

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“More tears have been shed over wishes granted than wishes denied,”  said the iconic Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Here are a few instances experienced with Jazzles!
Teacher 1 PreK Headstart Texas

“The kids are loving Jazzles and one of my students cried today because we didn’t have time for Jazzles, I mean real tears. We were getting gifts ready for parents and no time for Jazzles today.  I thought I will make sure that never happens again.

They love all the songs and we are working with letter Nn (No! No!) currently.

Again, Jazzles has made a difference in my program, and the kids request it, sometimes even with tears.  To say they love Jazzles is an understatement”

Teacher 2 Western Australia
“My assessments were done last month. Letter/sound recognition has increased, along with interest in reading. But what I notice most is the unity that Jazzles bring to the group. They will just be sitting there ready for snack, and they will start singing. That brings tears to my eyes, because they will have fond memories of singing those songs together. They are excited about Jazzles, and ask for it daily. They just love it!”

Teacher 3 Illinois

Working with Jazzles Lyrics Pages, these 2nd and 3rd Grade Bilingual Students in an Illinois school brought tears to their teacher’s eyes

Working with Jazzles Lyrics Pages, these 2nd and 3rd Grade Bilingual Students in an Illinois school brought tears to their teacher’s eyes

“Last week, we had student-led conferences with parents and after two of the boys above had finished, the one on the right, Christopher who had arrived in the USA just 8 weeks ago, asked if he could show his mom“the computer”.

I asked him what he wanted to show and said “the songs”. I asked which one and he said (Jazzles) ‘Lots of Love’.

We put it on the screen and the two boys grabbed their song books and proceeded to sing to their moms!

My eyes welled up with tears and I could hardly tell who was smiling more – the boys or their moms.

It was cool!  (It was the two boys on the right above – seen reading their printed Jazzles lyrics.).

When I look over at my students singing along, you can see the level of concentration on their faces. We found out the girls sang ‘Orange Octopus’ better than the boys and ‘No! No! No!’ is definitely a Halloween favorite.

I thought of you often while singing the songs and just wanted you to know you have given our year a significant jump start. Thanks for developing such a unique approach to early literacy.
They think I’m a cool, fun teacher, but you laid the groundwork for all of us!”

 

 

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7: Memory Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference – But Never Rote!

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How often have parents come up to you and complained their child is ‘bored’ at school?
Somehow it is inferred that it’s the teacher’s responsibility to produce entertaining, educational resources that can compete with today’s interactive games!
In the past perhaps, because teachers were allowed to use their creativity. Today, it’s all about highly prescriptive programs ‘teaching for the test’!

To teach them you must first reach them! How?
Engaging resources! Engaging pedagogical experiences! That’s how I designed Jazzles ELA – so the resources do the heavy lifting, slashing class management issues and creating quality teachiing time.

Embedded Learning Styles
The Jazzles learning system excels in using VAK engagement, but also provides experience opportunities for identifying and developing multiple intelligences!

When you see, laugh, hear, move and sing, you remember everything!
This is the Jazzles claim that is both research based and accepted by every educator. For the first time, these features are integrated into a comprehensive, song-powered, ELA program, designed to accelerate learning in mixed ability classes.

The Jazzles ELA Learning system balances social interaction and interactive technology. That is why Visual and Performing Arts feature highly. Not only do ‘Arts’ experiences develop vocabulary which is the greatest predictor of reading writing success, but all importantly, non cognitive skills of communication, negotiation, creative, inferential and critical thinking, etc.

What about practicing skills?
It’s been proven that children need to practice 16 times to be able to automatically recall. For children with learning difficulties over 40 times.

So how can we get children to want to practice without the boredom of rote?
Jazzles uses multiple, ‘memory-embedded’, practice strategies and resources that are highly engaging and fun!
It’s variety! Variety! Practice! Practice - but practice that is never, ever the same!
Jazzles uniquely keeps children’s learning ‘everyday’ fresh, intriguing and newsworthy for parents!

How?
Each Jazzles ELA Unit starts with its key resource JazzleOke 1 (animated, reading-songs with matching text/captions).

Children automatically join in, to happily practice and learn – because of the:
• Variety of 22 different styles of music over 26 songs! (From ‘Big Band’ to ‘Funk’.)
• Variety of musical backing instrumentation (think kinetic percussion).
• Musical ‘hooks’ – the most powerful mnemonic – that ‘catch’ the ear of the listener.
• Multiple singers – male/ female with solo, duet, trio and unison plus harmonies.
• A wide variety of song topics that interest children with cross curriculum links.
• Lyrical ‘hooks’ – deliberately and prolifically alliterative to ‘hook’ the brain for recall.
• Alliteratively highlighted Matching Captions – synchronized text (reading) to matching images. (Visual Literacy)
• Humor and mischievous cartoon characters – not perfect, but always good or trying to help!

After all this fun practice that activates vocabulary and beginning reading skills, Jazzles Advanced ELA Lesson Plans deliver multiple means of practice using JazzleOke 2 and 3, Interactive JazzleBooks 1 and 2, creative Visual and Performing Arts, and guided play (including interactive games). All of these are scaffolded to reinforce the top indicators of beginning reading and writing (internalized/oral language, phonemic awareness, comprehension and concepts about print).

As one teacher remarked:

“They spontaneously sing the songs when they are working, they talk about it & it helps them find the links with letters & other words.”

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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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6: Why song-powered Jazzles ELA? Strategies Making the Jazzles Difference

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When watching ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’, have you been intrigued to see the judges singing every word of the song being performed, and even more amazingly, they often predict the song just by hearing the introductory, instrumental bars ?

So have you found yourself mentally able predict the next song on a familiarized album – even before it begins?
I have!
It’s 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’.
That’s the amazing recall power of songs that I use for literacy purpose.

Let’s take ‘The Voice’ analogy a step further. The brilliance of the concept, is that the judges only evaluate on the voice – not the appearance.
Sadly, that’s not how it works in life!
After the initial judgement call on appearance, children and adults are judged on their ability to communicate!
Poor oral fluency can wrongly create misconceptions about intelligence or cause low self esteem and cost jobs as an adult.

Even sadder, research consistently finds teachers spend as little as 6% of their time on vocabulary development and even less (only 1.4%) allotted to content area vocabulary.

Every teacher knows that apart from the intervention of repeated practice (requiring time they can’t find), it’s almost impossible to change ingrained, grammatically incorrect vocabulary e.g. ‘I seen him’, ‘She went to the shopping’ etc.!

I believe we are created with equal brain capacity to learn – just inequality of opportunity.
Music and singing is accessible to everyone – engaging the brain for remembering intonation and pronunciation and the grammatical structure of language.

I deliberately use a wide variety of upbeat musical styles and singing performances as the key Jazzles ELA strategy for emotional engagement and recall.
Singing happily and automatically unifies groups of children – no matter what their socio-economic status is.
It is also the ideal way to practice and internalize English vocabulary – to say nothing of confident oral expression!

Can you think of a more powerful and enjoyable way to activate vocabulary?
It is the single best predictor of success in all school subject areas. And essential for mixed ability classes!
Based on the amount of time devoted to it, you wouldn’t thinks so!

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