What We’re Reading: Friday, Nov. 20th, 2015 edition

WhatWeAreReadingHappy Friday! Today we have a great round-up of some of the best educational articles, blog posts, and resources on the web this week.

We’re always on the lookout for great pieces to share. If you have something you think we should highlight next week we’d love to hear from you! You can email Editor Abigail Allred at abigailallred11@webster.edu or message us on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/WebsterEducation.

  1. For young newcomers, school offers a stepping stone to life in America from PBS NewsHour

“These students are coming from backgrounds that include no schooling, can include moving repeatedly, where their schooling is interrupted. So, with teachers, we really have to lay the foundation that this is not a student who may necessarily perform at the academic level that they are capable of.”

  1. The Power of Letting Students Figure it Out from A.J. Juliani via Teacher2Teacher

“I’d ask the question if we are too guilty of “over-teaching” and enabling students in the learning process so that they lean on the help of adults, instead of figuring it out themselves.”

  1. Kate DiCamillo: ‘Reading aloud binds us together in unanticipated ways’ from the Washington Post via The Library of Congress 

“Within the confines of a story shared aloud, we get to see one another in new ways. Our hearts are open to the story and open to one another — and because of this, some kind of subterranean magic occurs.”

  1. ‘Destined for great things’: Low-income students ask educators to believe they can succeed from EdSource via PBSTeachers

“[T]heir goal is to eliminate the “belief gap,” a term they define as a lack of belief among some educators in the potential of students from low-income families and students of color. Negative stereotypes often go unnoticed and unquestioned in schools, they say, and contribute to a second belief gap in society – a disbelief in the value of investing in teachers and schools.”

  1. Why the Factory Model of Schools Persists, and How We Can Change It from Education Week Teacher via The Center for Teaching Quality

“More than our schools, our social expectations need disrupting. Our definitions of success and happiness need a paradigm shift.”

  1. 3 PBL Practices to Empower Students from Edutopia via Buck Institute for Education

“One student says, ‘[PBL] helps me try to ask questions and find out what everything means. The self-advocacy is a really important part, getting information for yourself.’”

What We’re Reading Friday: Oct 30th edition

WhatWeAreReadingHappy Friday readers! We’re back from our brief hiatus, and we’re all refreshed and ready to tackle the Fall 2 semester.

And, of course, tomorrow is Halloween!! We hope you all have a spooky and safe holiday.


  1. First up this week we’re sharing an article from NPR about the continued importance of the humanities in education. We love the idea of thinking of them (and the teachers of them) as not just interdisciplinary, but “post-disciplinary.” The Humanities: What’s The Big Idea? 
  1. Next up is a wonderful list from the Center for Teaching Quality on How to be a Teacher Leader. We particularly love the emphasis on reflection — something we are big fans of here in Webster’s School of Education!

“Be continually reflective on your practice. A good teacher constantly takes the temperature of her classroom, either for comprehension or behavior. A good leader does the same thing in his professional life. How am I growing as a leader? Where do my interests lie? What projects are worth my limited time? Am I spreading myself too thin? Is teaching still my first job?”

Finally, we have an article from The Washington Post (via Mindshift) titled Why kids still need ‘real books’ to read — and time in school to enjoy them. The article is about Nancy Atwell, founder of the Center for Teaching and Learning on what she calls “the power of voluminous, independent experiences with books.” What a lovely turn of phrase!

Student Teacher Partnerships in the Classroom

Stacey Elster, M.A.T. special education

Stacey Elster, M.A.T. special education

Goal Setting, Planning, and Self-Monitoring

The end of the grading period is nearing, and I have been working to ensure my student’s families and supporters will have a clear understanding of what we have worked on in the special education setting. My student data binders provide exactly the right amount of information. My first blog post exclaimed my passion for embedding self-monitoring in the classroom. The theme of executive function development continues!

How often do your students ask, “What are we doing today?” I can honestly say that my students walk into my classroom on a daily basis with an understanding of the specific content we will target. I was able to achieve this through student data binders. My district engages in Continuous Classroom Improvement and Student Teacher Partnerships. It has been through this process that I have increased student engagement and motivation, as well as, collaboration.

Schuler1We begin the year by outlining our mission. From there, a collaborative goal is set that encompasses our purpose for being in the special education setting. This is posted to remind students where we would like to be by the end of the year. This has also supported conversations about time management and true mastery of skills.

Evolution of my planning process was a natural result. Before I have another conversation with students about the content of each unit, I ask myself what it is I want students to be able to do by the end of the unit. I then backwards plan. What skills are needed to reach that goal? How can I teach each skill in a manageable chunk? The plans I keep for myself look like this:


The first day of each unit is centered around setting up the student data binder. Students each have their own binder with a template for each step of the process. We begin by outlining the steps of the unit into “I can” statements. These derive from my own plans as shown above. Some changes are made to make them kid friendly. The student record them on this sheet:


I share the pre-assessment data with students, so they are able to determine their own goal for the unit. Before beginning any instruction, I ask students to think about their responsibilities. What previously learned skills will you need to recall during this unit? What types of behaviors will you have in class? How will I know that you dont understand something? How do you learn best? What strategies will help you meet your goal? As a class, we decide what I will do as their teacher to support their progress, and we decide what they will be required to do. This partnership has forced even the quietest students to proclaim their responsibilities.

Each “I can” statement is presented in a forward chain of the skills needed to meet the end of unit goal. A graph is designated for each “I can” statement. I provide instruction for that skill. Students are asked to demonstrate their learning in various ways and record their scores on their own graphs. Almost all of my data collection is now done by my students. It is an understanding that three data points in a row at the goal line or above merits mastery of that skill.


Our routine also includes self-reflection. Once they have graphed their scores, students complete the STUDY. This asks them to determine the strategy used that day and rate it.


It is my goal to share this entire binder with families. I have received nothing but positive feedback. They are thrilled that their children can describe what they are doing in class, and speak to their strengths and weaknesses.

How could you incorporate a similar process within your own classroom? How are you engaging students in goal-setting?

Read more about Stacey here, and be sure to check out her first post for our blog.

Photos from Webster Works Worldwide

Last week was Webster University’s annual Webster Works Worldwide event where students, faculty and staff all over the world lend a helping hand in their communities.

This year we were very proud of the work done by the School of Education’s own students, staff, and faculty, and we wanted to share just a sampling of photos of us all out in the community!

Students in Dr. Carol Williams’ classes EDUC 3160 class worked with students at Hudson Elementary, Dr. Tom Cornell, Dr. Ralph Olliges and their students got their hands dirty (but still had plenty of fun!) at Edgar Road Elementary, and Dr. Stephanie Mahfood, Dr. Paula Witkowski and Director of Apprentice Teaching and Field Experience Jan Wilcox were hard at work at The Soulard School.

Learning Community at Hudson

EDUC 3160 WWW project _2






What We’re Reading Friday: Oct. 16th edition

WhatWeAreReadingHappy Friday and congratulations to any students who have successfully reached the end of the Fall 1 session!

If you know of something we should highlight next week, email Editor Abigail Allred at abigailallred11@webster.edu or message us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!

  1. First off this week, we loved this interview with retiring PBS NewsHour Education Correspondent John Merrow. Abigail Allred, the School of Education’s graduate assistant and an MAT student, has her undergraduate degree in journalism, and she was very drawn to Merrow’s idea that today’s students “need to be taught to be good journalists” in order to sift through the massive amounts of information they’re bombarded with on a daily basis. Definitely don’t miss this one. Wisdom from four decades of education reporting from PBS NewsHour
  1. We also are highlighting an opinion piece from the Boston Globe that makes a critical point: Teaching should be a team sport
  1. And finally this week we have another great piece from ESchool News (via Mindshift): One district’s innovative ideas to engage parents

Have a great weekend — and a wonderful and restful fall break to all Webster students!

Undergraduate students needed for short online survey

Dr. Lee-Johnson

Dr. Lee-Johnson

School of Education professor Nicole Lee-Johnson is conducting a research study about how undergraduate students at both Harbin University in China and Webster use digital devices for academic purposes. The findings will help the School of Education make important decisions to help Chinese students learn better at Webster.

She has collected 320 completed questionnaires from Harbin University, and she presented that data at the Fall Faculty Institute at Pere Marquette Park in Grafton, IL, on Oct 2-3.

Now she is seeking responses from Webster undergrads via an anonymous electronic survey. The survey will require less than 10 minutes to complete, and the study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Click here to take the survey. 

Your help with this important work is appreciated!