Monday, May 25, 2015

Elementary STEM Camp this summer

We are excited to announce a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Camp this summer at the Rugby High School for students heading into grades 3-5 next school year.  The STEM camp will take place from 8:00AM – 12:00PM Monday – Friday beginning July 20th.  Highlights include: creating and programing Lego robotics, exploring a life size whale replica, NASA and space exploration, and exploring living and nonliving organisms. This will be a fun filled week to get kids excited about science. Registration forms can be found at Ely Elementary and the Rugby High School.  These forms are due by June 19th. The cost for a student is $40.00. Spots will be limited so sign up soon.  For questions contact or Mike McNeff at 776-5201.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Thirty Million Words by Age Four

Is it the environment or the genetic makeup that defines a child’s achievement level? 

The environment may play a larger role in regard to student achievement than anticipated.  According to Shenk (2010) genetic factors do exist and they interact with environmental factors, but genetic factors are not straitjackets that hold us in place.  We are beginning to understand the significance of early exposure to literacy.  Hart and Risley (1995) found some children heard thirty million more words than other children by age four.  They followed forty-two families for more than three years and took samples of the number of words spoken in their homes.  These families represented three income brackets: welfare, working class, and professional.  According to Shenk, “Children in professionals’ homes were exposed to an average of more than fifteen hundred more spoken words per hour than children in welfare homes” (2010). Children who heard more words were better prepared for school than others.  These same children were followed into the third grade and researchers found that they had larger vocabularies, were stronger readers, and achieved higher.  This indicates that the achievement gap can remain even after formal schooling.  This research further supports the importance of early literacy for kids. 

Shenk recommends the following triggers that influence student achievement: speak to children early and often, read early and often, nurture and encourage, set high expectations, embrace failure, and encourage a growth mindset.  One of the initiatives of the Thirty Million Words Project is early intervention.  In Chicago, they are beginning at birth.  The project is emphasizing more parent-child talk beginning as soon as the child is born.  Some think that reading to an infant is a waste of time because they cannot understand.  It is not about them understanding it is more about the exposure to many different words over time.  

Early literacy is the key to future academic success.  The best thing we can do is read to our children every night.  As someone who has four children under the age of seven I know that this is difficult at times.  Try to make a commitment to reading at least 15-30 minutes a night to your children and remember it is never too early to start.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thank a teacher!

Tomorrow is the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week.  Our children often spend more time with their teacher than they do with us in a given day.  Most people that go into the teaching profession do so because of a teacher that left a long-lasting mark on them.

I myself am a product of a handful of teachers that helped guide and direct me during my most tenuous years.

There are many things that teachers do that go unnoticed to help make a difference in a child's life. Take some time this week to thank a teacher!