Back to School Tips for Parents

school-buses

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Whether you have already returned to school or that fateful First Day is coming soon, back-to-school can be an extremely stressful time for both parents and kids. It doesn’t seem to matter if your children are going into 1st grade or 12th — having to wake up early and juggle homework, school activities, social events and sometimes jobs … buying school supplies and paying fees … hitting Back-to-School Nights and helping kids organize … the start of a new school year is always a daunting challenge!

How you navigate this transition can make a huge difference in how the entire year goes for your child. Why stumble along hoping for the best when you can be proactive and give you child tools for success from the get-go?

On the last night of summer, we here at Curriki suggest you hold a family dinner to celebrate the end of summer and look ahead to the vast potential of the upcoming year. Make pizza together, and then go around the table sharing what you hope to achieve this school year – make the basketball team, get all As, make new friends, try out for the school play, or perhaps (parents) get involved the PTA! If you visualize it, you’re already on your way to achieving it!

Curriki is delighted to provide all kinds of resources in the classroom or at home, but we wanted to make sure children walk into the classroom rejuvenated from summer and ready to learn. So here are a few resources to help keep parents and kids adjust to the transition and thrive in the months ahead:

Tips for Kids and Parents

  • Care.com has a list of 101 Back-to-School Tips for Kids and Parents to help you and your children start the new school year right. Here are a few:
  • Carve out some fun time with kids before the school year ramps up
  • Start reading habits a couple weeks before the new year
  • Start going to bed earlier and setting alarms to wake up earlier a week or so before
  • Figure out an organizational system before you walk back in the school door
  • Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.

The list also includes tips for making the year go smoothly, including:

  • Create a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
    Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  • Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish.
  • Arrange playdates with two or three of your kids’ friends to rebuild existing social ties.

Read the rest of the list here.

Teacher-Approved Strategies

PBS.org’s list of teacher-approved strategies for easing the anxiety of the back-to-school transition include:

  • If it’s a new school, tour the school in advance if possible.
  • Make an effort to attend Back-to-School Night to meet their children’s teachers.
  • Refresh kids’ friendships in advance by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.
  • Find more tips from PBS.org.

Special Needs Strategies

Every special needs child is different and has unique needs and challenges. With sensory issues, difficulty with emotional regulation, the need for routine, problems adjusting to change, intellectual or communications issues,  you’ll want to make some extra efforts to make daunting the transition easier, including:

  • If attending a new school, try to schedule a visit before the first day. Meet the principal, counselors and teachers if possible.
  • Discuss and plan the changes in your child’s daily routine that will happen once school starts.
  • Talk to your child about exciting new classes, activities and events that they can participate in.
  • Review your child’s current IEP, and with older students, explain the services and accommodations it includes.
  • Set up a system to keep track of your child’s special education documentation  (You’ll find some ideas here)
  • Start a communication log to keep track of phone calls, emails, notes home and more.

You’ll find scores of other ideas for helping special needs students adjust to the new school year from these resources:

I’d love to hear your strategies on how you helped your child adjust to the transition from summer to the new school year. Please post your comments here on the Curriki blog!


Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMOJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Back to School Time for Teachers

By Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

back to school boardDepending on where you live, back-to-school is either here or coming up very soon. But no matter which it is, August is the time to start thinking about the upcoming school year and forming your strategy for making the most of it.

Fall beckons as a fresh start for both teachers and students. A clean slate. A new classroom full of students to inform and inspire. It’s a huge responsibility. How will you do it?

Back to School Checklist

I found a terrific Back-to-School Checklist for Educators at fueling-education.com. Its tips include:

  • Putting relationships first
  • Being patient, especially during the transition from summer to school year
  • Creating a solid foundation for the year, and then
  • Writing the story of the rest of the year, realizing there will be a new cast of characters and challenges to explore. “Be inspired by the story you are writing!” it says.

Planning the Year

teacher and studentsScholastic.com has a Back-to-School Planning Guide for teachers that includes tips for organizing your classroom, planning your year, accessing online activities (such as those Curriki offers), and creating a caring, emotionally safe classroom.

Breaking the Ice

But before you can start learning, you need to spend a little time getting your students to feel comfortable in the classroom. Here are a few icebreakers that rock, from Cult of Pedagogy.

Find more back-to-school resources for school leaders at Edutopia.com.

Share Your Ideas

What has worked for you? What are your favorite resources for getting the school year off to a strong start? Please share them here!


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Happy Anniversary, Curriki.org!

By Robert Greenawalt
Chief Technology Officer, Curriki

Curriki-logoHappy one-year anniversary to Curriki’s new website! We relaunched Curriki.org on Aug. 2, 2015, hoping to create a friendlier, mobile-friendly, more navigable and more useful site for our users.

Your response has been truly amazing!

Over the past 12 months, Curriki has seen nearly 3 million educational resource page views – more than double the number we had in the previous year, meaning more people are benefitting from our mission to eliminate the Education Divide between the haves and have-nots in the U.S. and worldwide.

However, not only has the response been positive from our primary users, but Curriki was also recognized as a finalist for a 2016 CODiE Award in the category of Best Source for Reference or Education Resource.

Curriki is really excited that our efforts to respond to the needs of teachers, homeschoolers, educators and students to offer the high-quality curriculum on an improved, easy-to-use platform has borne fruit.

Can We Get Even Better?

We would like to hear what you like about the new Curriki website and how you use our educational resources. Keep visiting Curriki.org, and stay tuned for future developments – we have a few coming improvements up our sleeves.


Bob Greenawalt -Curriki CTO Bob Greenawalt, Curriki’s Chief Technology Officer, has spent his 20+ year technology career in a wide variety of application development and management positions, including a substantial amount of focused on education. 

Learning Through the Summer Olympics 2016

By Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia

Rio Olympics logoFrom August 5-21, the Games of the XXXI Olympiad are bringing all eyes in excitement on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 countries are vying for medals in 28 Olympic sports.  It’s an opportunity to witness the world’s greatest athletes compete in the spirit of excellence, peace and respect. It’s also a chance for children to explore the wide variety of themes and topics of the Olympics that they are passionate about. There are many ways to get kids engaged and excited as they tune in during the next few weeks. Here are several great resources to help!

For the Youngest Olympic Fans

Did your child ask you about the Olympic flame during last Friday’s opening ceremony? Does the Olympic flame ever go out? Does the Olympic Flame Ever Go Out? is a Wonderopolis activity exploring the history and meaning behind the lighting of the Olympic flame for the Olympic Games.

Need activities to provide understanding of the underlying themes of the Olympics? The Summer Olympics Start Today! is a collection of lesson resources from ReadWriteThink exploring how the Olympics are meant to “better the world through sport practiced in a spirit of peace, excellence, friendship and respect.” It features activities on poetry, designing stamps, flags, and even making cookies that represent the Olympic rings!

For More Independent Learners

Olympic podiumLooking for opportunities to teach about this year’s host nation? Destination Rio:  Rhythm and Diversity offers a visitors’ guide and exhibition exploring the culture, people,and traditions of Rio de Janeiro.

If your child has many questions and interests about the Olympics, the following resources offer a great starting point:

  • 2016 Olympic Games:  Rio de Janeiro is a collection of educational resources from TeacherVision that help students learn about past and present Olympic games, Olympic symbols and traditions, Brazilian history, and more. They also provide fun worksheets on alphabetical order, Olympic symbols and traditions as well as resources on past political issues and scandals of the Olympics.
  • Reaching for Olympic Glory is a collection of Olympics and sports-themed lessons, tools, videos and more, including topics such as buoyancy, sprinting, reaction time and the science behind a variety of sports.

Perhaps you have an older child whose interests lie in economics. $16 Billion to Host the Summer Olympics:  Is it Worth It? is an EconoEd lesson where students can explore the financial impact, demands, benefits, and deficits on Brazil for hosting the summer Olympics games.

For Teachers

This school year is a great time to incorporate the Olympics into instruction. Do you teach math? Olympics 2008:  Distance and Time, Scatter Plot Charts asks students to create a scatter plot chart that maps out the relationship between distance and time for men in the various Olympic sports. Although the lesson is based on the 2008 Olympics, students can populate this year’s results and compare!  Proportional Reasoning:  On Your Mark is a mathalicious lesson analyzing whether or not Usain Bolt would be just as successful if Olympic sprinters had to run distances based on their heights.

Looking for a way to integrate the Olympics into your language arts class? The New Olympic Sport:  A Research Project and Persuasive Presentation  is a 10th grade language arts activity where students research Olympic sports and develop a persuasive proposal to nominate a new sport as an Olympic event.

From poetry and sports to economics and politics, there are multiple opportunities to expand learning through the Olympics. Make it a gold-medal-winning  learning experience!


Lani Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

Getting Your Kids to Think Learning is Play

By Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia

Sick ScienceSummer is a time for fun, relaxation and freedom from schedules and homework. However, there is no reason why learning has to stop! Learning can be incorporated into summer days by mimicking play and entertainment. When your child is having fun, they may not realize they are exploring concepts or reviewing skills they need for the upcoming school year.  Here are a few ways you can help your child equate “play time” with academic learning.

Relate to What They are Interested In

Does your child love kitchen science or blow-your-mind science demonstrations? This Sick Science! Video collection explores fun science experiments such as making an ice tray battery or a homemade projector.

Have a younger child who loves all things science and nature?  Check out this collection of K-2 student-facing activities  covering topics such as the alphabet, solids, liquids, and gases, and microfinancing.

For the budding mathematician, there are plenty of online games where your child can explore their favorite math concepts.  Math Game Time and Math Playground provide K-12 interactive experiences for students to play quick games and brightly visual games.  Have a middle schooler who loves math?  Check out this Middle School Online Math Games collection.

Magic School BusPerhaps your child is analytical or appreciates a good puzzle? Guess My Button tests your child’s application of deductive reasoning from their understanding of patterns and relationships.

If your child has a variety of interests across all subject areas, check out this full collection of Brain Pop videos. Brain Pop offers fun and educational animated shorts that teach specific academic concepts. Most videos are accompanied by supplemental resources for learning including quizzes and more.  For example, in this collection of Social Studies Brain Pop videos, your child can explore topics such as the Civil War, money/economics, and even pirates!

Find Activities That are Like Games They Already Love

Most know the fun arcade game as Pac-Man in search for power pellets to evade ghosts, but this version can help your child practice math!  Check out Math Pac Man!

A twist on a childhood favorite, Mad Libs, Wacky Web Tales helps your child be part of creating hysterical stories by practicing nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.

Favorite TV shows are a great place to look for additional learning activities and games.  The Magic School Bus offers games to supplement their shows, including topics such as weather, habitats and space.

Med MystSimulate an Adventure

Investigation and simulation are perfect for older children who enjoy engaging in more involved gaming.

MedMyst is a web adventure that includes five different missions to teach children about infectious diseases and pathogens. Charles Darwin’s Game of Survivall  is an online game from Discovery where your child can explore natural selection by seeing if their species can survive a million years. The Build It Yourself Satellite Game from NASA  will allow your child to engineer their own satellite, apply their knowledge of wavelengths, instruments, and optics, as well as launch it and view real mission data!

So what are you waiting for? Find a topic your child is passionate about and get them playing!


Lani loggerLani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

Presidential Politics and the US Constitution

US ConstitutionBy Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

The moving speech delivered by Khizr Khan, father of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, to the Democratic National Convention has many Americans wanting to refresh themselves on the U.S. Constitution.

Khan’s words remind us how important it is that all Americans read and understand the rights we all hold so dear.

Most of us don’t carry pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, but we do have access to the e-text on Curriki, courtesy of Curriki’s new partner, the Constitution Center. Now might be a good time to browse these words and share your thoughts with students and peers.


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Enhance Your Physics Curriculum with Curriki’s New Physical Science Learning Collection

By Kim Jones
CEO, Curriki

Physics light wavesAs you start preparing for the 2016-17 school year, you’ll discover Curriki is offering an exciting new OER resource you might want to spend some time getting acquainted with this summer:  a High School Physical Science Learning Collection that is fully aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The Curriki High School Physics Collection is a complete set of teaching and learning materials featuring compelling video, interactive digital simulations and explorations, video instruction from some of the best physics instructors in the world, lesson plans and printable practice materials.

It gives physics teachers tools such as interactive simulations to support inquiry-based learning and deepen student understanding of some of high school’s most challenging subject matter.

Visit our website and explore! The collection covers:

We have Oracle Giving, a program of Oracle’s Corporate Citizenship organization, to thank for making this curated collection possible. Learn more on Curriki’s website, and tell us what you think!


Kim Jones headshotKim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

10 Things I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

College graduatesBy Guest Blogger Amanda Nardozzi, recent Utica College graduate

When you first set foot on your college campus, you will begin the most wonderful four years of your life. You will make memories and friends that last a lifetime. There will definitely be moments where things get stressful and you feel like quittin’, but hang in there — it is so worth it in the end. As a new graduate looking back, I’d like to share things I have learned along the way that I wish I had known as an incoming freshman.

  1. How to figure out your schedule. This was one of my main concerns coming into my first year. I wasn’t sure what to take or how many classes I needed for my major. Usually during your first couple of years you need to complete general education courses such as English, math, and science. I know it seems like high school all over again, but once you get through those, it gets a lot better. To find the right classes, I recommend you research the courses on your school’s website, and ask your advisor for guidance.
  2. College is a whole new level of independence. No more having to ask permission to leave the classroom to use the bathroom. Professors will treat you like an adult, which means if you don’t show up for class it’s your responsibility to find out what you missed. Living in a dorm is honestly like living on your own– you don’t have to report back to anyone but yourself, although I do not recommend staying out all night when you have an 8 a.m. class the next morning. It is the greatest feeling to finally be independent and be considered an adult. Now you have to act like one!
  3. Renting textbooks can save your life… and your wallet. Who wants to spend $200 on a book you will only open a couple of times? Renting textbooks works just the same and will save you so much money. Places like Amazon and Chegg are my top picks for cheap textbook rentals.
  4. Orientation is an opportunity. Coming into a place where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating, but you will find everyone so welcoming and friendly that your nerves will fade away. During orientation, you will meet many people, some of whom you will stay friends with and some you won’t, and that is okay. It is a time for you to get comfortable with your campus and the people who will be with you for the next four years. Orientation is designed to push you out of your comfort zone, because that is what college does. You won’t be able to grow unless you push your boundaries.
  5. Greek life is not like what you see in the movies. If your school has an active Greek life, I highly encourage getting involved. It is not at all like the stereotypes you see in the movies — it is so much more than that. Not only do you meet people who share your values, but you also learn so much about yourself and get more involved in the community. Greek life is a lot of responsibility and a commitment, but it is well worth it for all that you will take away.College Building
  6. Professors really do care. Sometimes you may think that your professors don’t care about you as a student, especially if you attend a school where classes are held in huge lecture halls, but that is not the case. Professors have office hours for a reason, so they can help you succeed and do your best. Take advantage of them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  7. Changing your major is not the end of the world. I started off with a major in physical therapy, but when I started taking courses related to it, I soon realized I hated every single class and knew I needed to do something about it. If you ever start to experience these feelings, it’s okay — it happens to almost everyone. Once I researched other majors, I discovered public relations, which was the perfect fit for me. If you’re not sure what you want to do, you have plenty of time to figure it out, and trust me, you will.
  8. Avoid procrastinating. If, like me you usually waited until the night before the due date in high school to complete assignments, be aware that this strategy is not going to work in college. You may think you can get away with it in some of the easier courses, but it will seriously start to affect you in the long run. Try to start assignments at least a week ahead of time, outline what you need to do, and plan your time so that it is not all saved until the last minute. This goes for studying for exams as well — it’s impossible to remember a semester’s worth of material in one night!
  9. Rely on your advisor. Each student is assigned an academic advisor to help along the way. Advisors are crucial in guiding your academic journey and making sure that each semester runs as smoothly as possible. They will encourage you to challenge yourself and help keep you on track with the correct classes according to your major; they will never let you slip behind. If you find your advisor is not as helpful as you hoped, you can request to change.
  10. College is about your education, of course, but it’s also about the experience. In those four years you learn so much about yourself, largely because of the people you spend your time with. You are going to make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. They will show you that it is okay to be yourself and that they are along for this journey with you. Cherish every moment because it goes by in a blink of an eye.

If you consider these few tips when starting your college journey, you will be more prepared than most freshmen. Be confident in your ability to succeed and you will have a great college experience!


AmandaAmanda Nardozzi recently received her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Utica College in Utica, NY.

Follow the Tour de France and LEARN!

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Tour de France map

Tour de France map

Close to 200 elite cyclists from around the world are pedaling almost 2,000 miles around France this month in the world’s biggest and most revered cycling race, the Tour de France. Nine riders on each of 20 professional teams are riding 21 stages over 23 days, culminating in perhaps one of the most awesome finishes on the planet when the final stage circles the Champs Elysees in Paris and ends at the Arc de Triomphe.

The Tour presents a great opportunity to use cycling to teach all sorts of things – math, culture, food, science, foreign languages  – even colors, as the overall leader wears a yellow race jersey, and others wear jerseys color coded to their area of specialty — to kids at every level.

Tour Trivia

Did you know …

  • The Tour de France has been held annually since 1903 (apart from during the two World Wars)
  • The race is held primarily in France, but every so often it passes through neighboring countries – for example, in 2014 it came to England
  • The first day of the race is known as “Le Grand Depart”
  • The average speed of the modern Tour de France is 25 mph

Elementary School

Middle and High School

BBC offers card games, English and French quizzes, even Petanque!

And for the Grown-Ups

Check out more resources on Curriki’s website. And then, get outside and go for a bike ride!


Photo of Janet Pinto

 

 

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

 

Enter Curriki’s SummerSPARK! Competition

Summer SPARK!By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

This summer, we’re looking for the best lessons plans Curriki’s members have created to educate, inform and inspire students in Math/ELA. How do you spark your students’ interest and fuel their passion for learning math?

Enter Curriki’s SummerSPARK! lesson plan competition – the Top 5 contributions get a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter, contribute your CCSS-aligned lesson plans for Math/ELA to THIS GROUP by Aug. 31. You must join the group before you can upload.

Contest Rules

  • Lesson Plans may be for any grade level within K-12.
  • Lesson Plans must include Instructional Goals and Objectives, Procedure (Instructional Sequence) and Assessment of Learning. Members must upload all resources connected to the lesson (any videos, quizzes/worksheets WITH answer keys).
  • Lesson Plans must also include meaningful integration of technology.
  • Members must enter alignments to at least three (3) Common Core State Standards for Mathematics or English Language Arts.
  • Accurate metadata must be entered (grade level, subjects, resource type)

Learn more.


kimjonesimage

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world.