Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning

September 14th, 2020 | Comments Off on Yays and Nays for Elementary Virtual Learning | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Student Online Learning

For some young students, it does not matter what the educational platform is, they will succeed. Others will struggle, whether they are taught in a traditional classroom, in a virtual synchronous situation, where class meets “together” and works at the same time or asynchronously, where self-directed independent work is required.

Many elementary classrooms across the country are using a combination of these types of learning scenarios as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. More is coming to light as we evaluate how things worked in the immediacy of online learning last spring and how things are progressing this fall, where a few more options have developed.

What are the advantages of a virtual classroom setting?

  • There are fewer opportunities for social distractions from peers. The “drama” often evident in in-person classrooms does not exist online, or at least is drastically reduced.
  • Students who are self-motivated can excel.
  • In most cases, there are more chances for individualized teacher attention outside “class” to help students who need further instruction.
  • There is less pressure on students to speak up in class, which is perfect for quieter children.

How is virtual learning hurting some elementary students?

  • This type of classroom can bring challenges for the family. At least one adult or older teenager must be available to offer continual support and ensure a distraction-free environment. This can cause a significant burden for working parents.
  • There is a “technology gap” for some families. Not everyone has access to the latest computers or software or reliable internet access, according to Mary Stephens, longtime educator, and founder of PrepForward.
  • Socializing is difficult, if not almost impossible, in an online setting. Students must seek peer relationships outside school via extracurricular activities.
  • Students must learn in an unfamiliar classroom setting. Whether it is at home or a parent’s office, the traditional and often comforting classroom environment is nonexistent.

No matter which side of the debate you are on, the fact remains that virtual learning is not going away soon. We continue to discover more every day about the best ways to reach elementary students and guarantee their academic success.

 

7 Tips to Increase Success When Taking Online Classes

August 31st, 2020 | Comments Off on 7 Tips to Increase Success When Taking Online Classes | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Whether you are taking online classes this semester as part of continuing professional development or are teaching online and virtual classes because of the pandemic, there are some strategies to help you and your students be successful.

It may take some extra effort, self-discipline, and motivation. No one disputes the fact that learning and teaching this way is an adjustment for everyone. Follow these guidelines to make the process proceed more smoothly.

  1. Create a dedicated workspace to complete online work. This could be at home at the kitchen table, at a library computer station, or in a corner seat at your local favorite fast-food restaurant. Ideally, the area should be as quiet as you can get it or at least have a minimum of distractions so you can concentrate. Plan study times around family and work responsibilities.
  2. If you have the option, start slow. Taking one online class rather than several, until you get used to the format, is the best scenario. If you do not have any choice, break studying into small, manageable chunks rather than sitting for hours in front of the computer to (hopefully) prevent burnout.
  3. Manage your time wisely. Use an online or physical planner to denote study times, assignment due dates, and other commitments.
  4. Take advantage of student resources. Consult an advisor or counselor, visit chat rooms, or contact your instructor, if necessary. The resources are there to help you.
  5. Organize your work, both in a planner and by creating folders on your computer. Keeping everything in a specific place keeps you from losing it or forgetting about it.
  6. Become familiar with your computer and the learning platform your school uses. Have a reliable resource for computer-related issues – they always occur at the most inconvenient times!
  7. If you do not understand an assignment, ASK your instructor about it. Most professors are happy to help you and would rather you ask than have you do poorly on the work.

The first time you teach online or take an online class can be a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. Follow our recommendations to make it easier.

What You Need to Know about Teacher Certification Exams

August 6th, 2020 | Comments Off on What You Need to Know about Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

No matter in what state you plan to teach elementary school, you are required to take a teacher licensing exam – and pass it – to obtain certification. Many times, the anxiety for this knowledge-based test surpasses that of most of the college courses you take in your education course of study.

It is, therefore, even more disturbing to realize that over half of prospective teachers fail the teacher certification exam the first time, regardless of which test they take. Whether it is a case of extreme nerves, lack of exam preparation, inadequate knowledge retention or if required teacher-prep courses do not align with the material being tested, the fact remains that if a potential teacher wants to teach, they must pass the exam.

What can examinees do to prevent failure? Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are strategies that can help ensure success.

  1. Start planning for the exam EARLY in your senior year or even late in your junior year of college. Know which test you are taking for your state, when it is offered, the cost, what happens if you do not pass, etc.
  2. Obtain a study guide for the test or tests you will take and read them. Complete as many practice tests as possible to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that are asked, as well as the subject matter that is evaluated.
  3. If you perform poorly on the practice exams, try to determine why. Insufficient knowledge or misunderstanding the subject matter can be remedied by taking additional college courses (since you are preparing ahead, this is doable) or taking an online class in addition to your regular education courses.

There is no shame in failing your teacher licensing exam. However, lack of preparation should never be the reason. In most cases, if you follow these guidelines, you should not only pass your test, but do well. Good luck!

Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning

July 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Employ these Creative Strategies for Distance Learning | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

While some school districts have made their decisions about how school will look this fall, others are still working hard to offer the best scenarios for families, teachers, and students. It is likely that few people will be satisfied with whatever option they must follow.

What is certain is that educators will do everything they can to implement as many learning strategies as possible to ensure that they cover the required material and that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key concepts.

Here are just a few techniques to consider if some or all your instruction is relegated to online delivery.

  1. Start class each day with a 10-15 minute “warm-up” activity or question that involves two or three students sharing about themselves and what they are doing at home with the family. Questions can be light-hearted or more thought-provoking.
  2. Provide frequent feedback via email, highlighting both positive and negative comments about student work, attitude, diligence, etc.
  3. Screen sharing is beneficial for teachers and students, both for completing assignments and addressing technical issues that may arise with computers in general or the specific platform your district utilizes.
  4. Permit side chatting between students if the instructor can monitor the conversation. Some students have become more comfortable contributing to class in this format as it does not require them to “speak up” in front of others. Students enjoy it when the teacher participates, too.
  5. Prepare innovative assessments for individuals and groups that are interesting and fun.
  6. Develop a closing activity each day for each student to complete. It could be a simple form with questions about the lesson, a chat between students or groups, or a discussion that the class has about a given topic.

There are dozens more ways to actively engage students online. Note that these methods can also be utilized in an on-ground setting, as well.

No matter what form your classroom takes this semester, having a plan ensures that you can meet the needs of all your students.

 

 

Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom

June 24th, 2020 | Comments Off on Teaching Diversity and Acceptance in the Elementary Classroom | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

PrepForward testimonials

Depending on your school district and where it is located, there are a variety of scenarios concerning the “look” of your elementary classroom. You may be situated in the inner city or a rural setting. Many educators are somewhere in between. Your group of students can be a daunting mix of backgrounds that include differences in religion, race, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Often, these differences can lead to conflict, both in the classroom and on the playground. The best way to handle these disparities is to teach diversity and acceptance by integrating it into your curriculum.

Here are a few ways to launch discussions about diversity and bias and how to resolve problems you and your children may face.

  1. Carefully select current news stories about a chosen topic and bring them up in class. Build lessons around the theme and incorporate them into your math, language arts, science, and social studies instruction. Articles that feature instances of bias, standing up to it and justice triumphing may be particularly thought-provoking and inspire some deep dialogues.
  2. Children’s literature is an excellent resource for learning more about diversity, prejudice, and social justice questions. There are books on virtually any subject in this area. Read a story aloud in class or have the children read independently and present a book report or create a diorama. Discuss what is most important to them.
  3. Help students learn to accept others who may not be like them in some way. Bullying, teasing, and name-calling are common among school-age children. Setting aside time each week to deal with these identity-related issues helps students grow socially and emotionally.
  4. Utilize popular video games, television shows, and toys to discuss gender stereotypes, disabilities, and other diversity concerns.
  5. When you and your class talk about a bias issue, brainstorm ways to realistically resolve the situation.

The more we can teach our children about diversity when they are young, the better they will be able to handle themselves as adults. It is never too early to start the conversation.

 

How Can I Keep My Students Engaged in Online Learning?

June 10th, 2020 | Comments Off on How Can I Keep My Students Engaged in Online Learning? | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

It is still not completely certain what our classrooms will look like for Fall 2020. Students and teachers may be back in the classroom with some modifications due to COVID-19. Distance learning may continue like it did in the spring. There may also be a combination of the two.

Most people agree that it is more challenging to keep students engaged in a lesson when it is conducted online. There is a sense of segregation not only for the instructor but the students. Here are a few ideas to narrow the gap and keep children on task and engaged with the lessons you present.

  1. Try a different teaching approach. Online education does not have to be boring or rely on the same methods you utilize in a traditional classroom.
  2. Take advantage of technology and incorporate it into your lesson plans. Make and share videos, create discussion boards, play virtual games, and more connect your class in ways you may not have considered before. Plan activities everyone can enjoy – the teacher included.
  3. Online lessons often need to be shorter than those you conduct in person. Choose smaller chunks of information presented at a brisk pace. Mix it up a little with activities spread throughout.
  4. Make sure each of your students feels valued. Loneliness and isolation are common in distance learning situations. Provide frequent personal feedback whenever possible.
  5. Much of the curriculum can be adapted to a virtual classroom setting, so it is not necessary to “reinvent the wheel.” Keep students busy during lessons with activities that include talking, clicking, or typing to keep them engaged.
  6. Have clear goals both for you and your students to keep everyone on track. A badge or point system or a fun game could provide some excellent positive reinforcement for completed work.

No matter what our classrooms look like for the 2020-2021 school year, it pays to be prepared. Explore the possibilities now so you can help your students succeed in a traditional or virtual setting this fall.