Parent Connect Parent Connect


Hands-On Session: Visual Literacy

Parent Connect- Visual Literacy

We hadn't attempted a hands-on session for Parent Connect in some time. So we decided to make February's session an opportunity to not just discuss the importance of visual communication, but to explore the tool Canva and use it to have participants create designs of their own. We had two basic learning intentions for this session:

  • to understand the importance of design as a basic literacy skill
  • to experience learning through play, exploration, trial and error

We began with a look at some popular websites: CNN and Smithsonian and the question, "What do you notice?" Check out those links now. What do YOU notice? Communication in the now is heavy on visuals and lighter on text. To be literate in our digitally-connected world, visual design skills are not an option but a necessity. We talked about how some schools, such as Science Leadership Academy, are rethinking content requirements to reflect this by making graphic design a requirement for graduation.

Parent Connect- Visual Literacy (4)

We also talked about the "learner's mindset" to bring when exploring a new tool and creating a design. The above list was brainstormed during a session with 3rd graders learning to use Canva.

Parent Connect- Visual Literacy (1)

Here are the creations of our Parent Connect participants.

Add aChildren little bit of body text Breathe (1) Never stop learning because life never stop teaching-2 attitude is a The most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world! Your_Designs_–_Canva Andrea Emily


Parent Connect: Daily 5 (Choice Literacy)


Choice Literacy Website

Articles from the "Read Around"

Reading for Pleasure Puts Children Ahead in the Classroom

Why Kids Should Choose Their Own Books to Read in School

and another relevant article by a high school teacher with the Daily 5 mindset:

Flip Your Class with Blogs



Parent Connect: Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Back by popular demand, this was our second session on growth mindset. This is such a relevant and popular topic that we shared all new information and resources.  Last year's session on mindset can be found here.

We started with a self-assessment. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements.

We shared an overview of Carol Dweck's research on Mindset, summarized in this chart.

Check out this short, amazing video showing what neurogenesis (creating new neural pathways) looks like in the brain.

Next we watched part of this fascinating TEDx Talk from Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code.

We discussed reframing our language to be more reflective of growth mindset using these prompts.

Resources to Explore:

Teaching Girls to Adopt a Growth Mindset (article and chart)

A List of Books That Promote Growth Mindset

Thank you to Jackie Gerstein for sharing ideas and resources from her growth mindset workshop for educators.


Parent Connect: 21st Century Literacies

Slide 4: Metaliteracy

What Does it Mean to be Literate? (article)

Slide 9: Basic Literacy & Code Switching

Code Switching: Key & Peele (video)

How Code Switching Explains the World (article)

Slide 15: Attention Literacy

Attention Literacy (article)


Parent Connect: Personalized Learning

Slide and Resources from March 31st Parent Connect with Andrea and Karin:

Personalized Learning: Meeting the Needs of Each Individual





Want to learn more?

EdTechworkshop: "Personalized Learning in a 1:1 Classroom: A Tour Through My Inbox"

Star Sackstein: "One Size Never Fits All"

Creative Educator (Tech4Learning): "Creative Personalized Learning"


Parent Connect: Authentic Literacy

Slides and Resources from January 27th Parent Connect with Karin and Andrea:

Authentic Literacy: What is it and why does it matter?

Authentic literacy from Andrea Hernandez

Want to learn more?

Don't Underestimate The Power of Pleasure Reading

Why Students Hate Reading- And Often Aren't Very Good at It

How to Get Students to Love Reading

The Most Important Lesson Schools Can Teach Kids About Reading: It's Fun

How a Reading Promise Can Forge Families and Shape Lives ( reading aloud at home)


1:1 iPad Learning Showcase

Thank you to all who were able to attend our learning showcase. The purpose of this was for our students to share some of the ways that the iPads are being used for learning in 4th/5th grade.

 Our current 4th grade graphic designer created the flyer.

 4th and 5th graders, working in groups of three, shared the following apps or groups of apps:

Word Work Apps (the students chose to show Free Rice and Words With Friends)
Math Apps (QuentoMy Script CalculatorKhan Academy and Splash Math)
Pic Collage
Notes and Sketchbook
Hachtavah (an app used for learning Hebrew spelling)
Explain Everything
Google Drive and WordPress

 Using a "speed-geeking" format, each group of student experts had five minutes to present to a small audience. After five minutes the audience rotated to another table. The goal was to keep the focus on how the app was used for learning.

 As part of the student's preparation, each group of three was responsible for:

  • a learning flyer explaining how the app is used for learning
  • a "how-to" flyer, showing some basic steps for
  • using the tool
  • quality examples from the classroom


Feedback and Reflection
The feedback on the learning showcase was tremendously positive.

Some comments from teachers who attended:
"Experiencing our students teaching the apps to their parents and to others, like me, made me want to learn more about the subject that they were teaching.  It shows how much they know and how much confidence they have in their skills.  It was so impressive that some of the participants were asking for more. "

" was really impressive . The students were well prepared, enthusiastic, respectful and joyful."

Parents loved learning from their children. One grandmother said she was so excited that she is now planning to buy an iPad for her younger grandson.There were some really wonderful examples of partnership and teamwork. Overall, the students shined.


Parent Connect: Developing a Growth Mindset

This month's interactive discussion in our series about the evolution of literacy and learning: Learning to Learn: Developing a Growth Mindset

Parent Connect || Learning to Learn: Developing a Growth Mindset from Martin J. Gottlieb Day School


Video: The Power of Belief: Mindset and Success, Eduardo Brinceno at TEDx Manhattan Beach (November 2012)

Book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (2006)

Related Articles:
Students' View of Intelligence Can Help Grades (NPR Books, Feb. 2007)
Even Geniuses Work Hard by Carol Dweck  (Educational Leadership, Sept. 2010)


Motivating Literacy: Digital Badges in the School Library

Badge Display

Most of my 2nd to 5th grade students tend to read within the same literary genre. Fantasy is by far the most popular, from the Magic Tree House to the Deltora Quest and Percy Jackson series. To motivate my students to explore other genres as well, I’ve decided to begin Badging the Library. It’s baby steps at first, but I am hoping to expand eventually.

You all have seen digital badges--maybe in the form of a community badge displayed in the sidebar of your favorite blog? Or possibly you’ve downloaded AASL’s Rising to the Challenge conference attendance badge? Then there are achievement badges, which are popular in the video game industry. I’ve created skills badges. The purpose of skills badges is to allow students to demonstrate that they have met a learning objective. A great example is Khan Academy, where badges are awarded to display mastery in seven unique skills. My genre reading badges are not at all as elaborate as Khan’s, but I do hope they are just as motivating.

Badging_the_Library__A_PreFlection_-_Google_DriveFor now, I’ve created seven different genre badges for students in grades 2 through 5 (28 badges total). Creating the badges was much easier than anticipated. I looked at various badge designer options and eventually settled on by MyKnowledgeMap (they do have a WordPress plugin as well). To create a badge, you simply select from various choices for each the shape, inner shape, icon, banner, and text. Super easy!


To earn a genre reading badge, students have to complete a learning path (see below). The creative product can be anything from a recorded book talk to a trailer to trading cards to a comic strip to mindmaps to animations… Badges will be collected in “My Badge Backpack”, a page on each of my student’s blogfolios.

Reading Pathways

My goal for the badge implementation is to serve as a reading incentive program. Moreover, I want to entice students to explore new genres. In this sense, the learning is entirely student-driven, thereby empowering them to play a stronger role in their own learning.  Students are not required to participate, although I do hope that many will.

So while I am starting small, I see great potential for expansion. For example, one of my curricular areas is digital citizenship. Rather than making badge earning voluntary, it could be a form of assessment--letting students demonstrate what they know--and documenting it for instructional purposes.


Empowering Students With Meaningful Classroom Jobs

Alan November's "Digital Learning Farm" was the inspiration for my classroom jobs. The idea couldn't be more simple: people are empowered through meaningful work. Children used to be, in the times of farming, useful and necessary contributors to their families' farms and other livelihoods. Once children's work became going to school full-time, that feeling of usefulness and importance faded. Most teachers understand the importance of giving kids jobs to do, and many traditional classrooms do designate roles such as "line leader" and "pencil sharpener"to fulfill these needs. Digital tools offer the possibility of exciting upgrades to these jobs, allowing students to learn through doing while making authentic contributions to their communities.

I am experimenting with how to best structure this so that it becomes a deep learning experience for students. I introduced the jobs to 5th grade a few weeks ago, then introduced and started with 4th grade. I decided that students would need to apply for the job and, once "hired" would have a tenure of about one month.

Available Positions:
Global Connectors:
Tweet, look for and organize possible learning connections, manage maps
Researchers: Research information in response to questions that arise
Official Scribes: Take notes, write weekly summary post on classroom blog
Documentarians: Photo and video documentation of the week’s activities
Kindness Ambassadors: Make sure that all community members are included at lunch and recess, remind community members of habit of the month, model and recognize kindness, give appreciations and remind others to do so
Librarians: Keep classroom and virtual library shelves in order. Add books to class GoodReads shelves, keep GoodRead-Alouds wall updated, set appointments with Mrs. Hallett
Graphic Artist/Designers: Design things for the classroom and class blog- graphics, bulletin boards, displays, etc.

Job Requirements:
Previous experience is helpful but not required. You will be able to learn on the job. Most important qualities: proactive, self-motivated, desire to learn.
All classroom work must be up to date in order to be considered for a job.