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Monroe Students Excited by Visit from Special Reading Role Models

Sound Tiger Players at Stepney Elementary School

From left, C.J. Stretch and Harry Zolnierczyk, members of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey team, recently read to children at Stepney Elementary School in Monroe. Special Education teacher Donald Casey, at right, helped organize the visit.

Schools are always looking for fun ways to encourage students to get excited about reading, and Stepney Elementary in Monroe was able to achieve that goal recently with a visit from Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey team players.

The players were invited as celebrity guest readers for a special read aloud at the school. They shared some of their favorite books and answered students’ questions.

Special education teacher Donald Casey said the children were thrilled by the visit. “Five minutes before the players came into the room, you could just feel the excitement in the air.”

The children had many questions for the players, from “What was your favorite book in elementary school?” to “What did you like to do outside of school besides playing hockey?”

“It was such a great learning experience,” Casey said. “That kind of opportunity to share books together with role models is so important.”

Read Across America, coming up March 2, is a great opportunity that many schools make use of to generate excitement about reading. Are you holding any Read Across America events? Please share in the comments and we may be able to feature your school.

Your Chance to Be in the Spotlight: Apply for Award Honoring Excellence in Teaching

As an educator, you do what you do because you love your students and feel called to the profession. Teachers rarely think about external accolades, but being honored with an award can be a meaningful chance to be recognized by your colleagues and brings needed positive attention to the teaching profession.

The CEA John McCormack Award for Teaching Excellence is one important opportunity to recognize educators. The award is presented annually by CEA to promote excellence in teaching and service to the profession.

All CEA members with at least three years of full-time experience in public education at any level, PreK-12, can be nominated. The winner will receive a cash honorarium in the amount of $2,000 from CEA and will attend the Salute to Education Gala in Washington, D.C. Two semi-finalists will receive an award of $1,000 each.

The CEA award winner will also be CEA’s nominee for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence.

Find out more here. Applications must be postmarked by February 13, 2015.

High School Students Can Win Opportunity for Artwork to Hang at U.S. Capitol

Attention art teachers and relatives of budding Monets — the U.S. Congress holds an art competition for high school students every spring, and members of Connecticut’s delegation want your students to take part.

The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school visual art competition held since 1982. Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries.

Connecticut’s five congressmen and women host receptions for artists and their families and friends. The winning entry from every district is displayed at the U.S. Capitol for one year, and winners get to travel to D.C. for a reception.

Find out more about the contest here, and be in touch with your representative’s office for district-specific details.

11 Free Classroom Resources for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is more than a good excuse for eating chocolate. Here are 11 lesson ideas and fun projects to use with students, or your own children or grandchildren, compiled by retired middle school teacher Phil Nast for NEA.

  1. Valentine’s Day worksheets and coloring pages
    Coloring pages, Valentine-theme math pages, stationery, word searches. (Grades K-3)
  2. Valentine Coloring Pages
    Forty printable coloring pages. (Grades K-3)
  3. Heart Bookmark
    Make a bookmark template with card stock and Valentine bookmarks from decorative paper. (Grades 2-4)
  4. The Story of St. Valentine (PDF icon PDF,  22 KB, 4 pgs.)
    The legend of St. Valentine with reading comprehension questions and a brief essay assignment. (Grades 3-5)
  5. Crayon Hearts
    Make Valentine hearts to hang in a window with wax paper, crayons, and an iron. (Grades 4-6)
  6. Valentine Flowers
    Make Valentine flowers with colored paper, 24-guage wire, and small beads. (Grades 4-6)
  7. Valentine’s Day Heart Garland
    Festoon your classroom with a Valentine’s Day garland. (Grades 6-8)
  8. Knot Bracelet
    Make a bracelet with two types of knots and mother-of-pearl buttons. (Grades 6-12)
  9. Valentine’s Day Facts: Gifts, History, and Love Science
    A brief history of Valentine’s Day from its less than tender beginnings in Ancient Rome to the big business it has become. (Grades 6-12)
  10. Valentine’s Day
    Twelve short videos on the history of Valentine’s Day; chocolate; the science of attraction, kissing and love; and, more. (Grades 10-12)
  11. St Valentine’s Day Massacre (17:53)
    The History Detectives investigate a shotgun possibly used at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. This episode looks at the contributions of one of the pioneers of ballistic science and includes additional video on weapons dating and ballistics. (Grades 6-12)

Reading Aloud to Children of All Ages Found to Have Benefits

scholastic infographicWhile many parents have heard about the importance of reading aloud to toddlers and early-elementary aged children, some may not know that reading aloud to children who can read well independently also has benefits. A study from scholastic has found that, for children ages six to eleven, being read aloud to regularly is positively correlated with being a frequent reader.

The study found that elementary students also enjoy reading aloud with a parent because they see it as special bonding time and want to read books that “have characters that look like me.” Click here for more study findings and for infographics on what makes for frequent readers.

An In-Depth Look into Childhood Trauma

CT Mirror screen grabChildhood trauma can have life-long negative effects on individuals’ physical and mental health — leading to significant costs to society in the form of increased healthcare, human services, education, and incarceration bills. Teachers see firsthand the detrimental effects of trauma on children’s lives, but those who don’t work with young people are often unaware of the pervasive nature of the problem.

This week the Connecticut Mirror aims to remedy that by taking an in-depth look at childhood trauma. Today’s piece describes the problem, and additional articles later this week will identify strategies for intervention and prevention. Also included are How to Talk About Trauma and Resources: Where to Find Help.

Showcase the Great Work in Your Local

Does your local have a newsletter or website? If the answer is yes, why not enter the CEA Newsletter and Website Competition?

The annual competition is open to all local Associations across the state and recognizes teachers and locals promoting communication. The best newsletters in five categories by size of Association membership, as well as the best new entry and best local Association website, are recognized at the CEA RA in May.

Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 27, 2015.

Click here for an entry form.

Changes to State Laws for English Language Learners on Front Burner

Attendees and panelists at a forum organized by the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission listen to keynote speaker Ann

Attendees and panelists at a forum organized by the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission listen to keynote speaker Ann Anderberg.

English Language Learners (ELLs) are a fast-growing segment of Connecticut’s public school population, yet state laws prevent these students from receiving the instruction and support they need to be successful in their new country. That was the perspective advanced at a forum sponsored by the state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC) held at the State Capitol this week.

LPARC is calling for changes to the state’s laws governing bilingual education and members of the Connecticut General Assembly appear receptive to exploring those changes. Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey plans to convene a task force on ELLs to hear from experts on language acquisition, according to State Representative Juan Candelaria who spoke at the forum.

More than 30,000 public school students in the state are now ELLs, an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2001.

LPRAC — a nonpartisan policy agency within state government — has issued recommendations, including the following, to help close the achievement gap between ELLs and non-ELL students. Read more

New Concussion Guidelines for Connecticut Schools

Concussions are a disturbingly common occurrence for student athletes — one that can affect their experience in the classroom as well as on the playing field. New state guidelines aimed at recognizing and appropriately treating concussions are now headed to Connecticut schools.

The new guidelines, approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) last week, go into effect July 1, 2015, and require the following. Read more

Resources for Teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Help students put in perspective Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, his impact on the Civil Rights Movement, and his significance to American culture and history.

NEA offers lesson plans and resources for teachers organized by grade level.

Grades K-5

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12

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