Do We Need to Sort Out Silent Reading?

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) or ERIC (Everyone Reads in Class) are very common approaches to independent reading that occur each week in countless schools. They are part of the fabric of the school day and can prove a cornerstone of a rich reading culture. The rationale for implementing sustained opportunities for repeated independent reading … Read more

Finding Our Rhythm

Teaching kindergarten is my jam. It is something that I absolutely love doing and find that it has become second nature to me. Those closest to me always joke that I love it so much because I’m a 28-year-old child at heart. I still play video games every night, I have the same taste in food as the kids in my class, and I can’t help but laugh at a cheesy joke. Student engagement has always come naturally to me – at least until mid-March of 2020 when I heard the words, “Mr. Steen, this is boring.”
I remember sitting at a makeshift workspace in my kitchen thinking, “You know what, you’re right. This is boring. How can I make virtual learning engaging and fun?” At that time, I landed on fun videos: Secret Agent Steen, Steen the Pirate, or Steen the Builder. If you can think of it, I probably did it. The students loved them, but as the year came to an end, I quickly realized I was going to need to think outside of the box if I was going to keep students engaged during live virtual sessions for an entire school year.  
Calendar time has taken a leap into the future – no more simply talking about calendar features or how to find the correct date on a calendar. If you walk past my classroom at 7:35 a.m. on any given day of the week, you’re going to hear me and 20 virtual students belting out our days of the week and color songs, or warming up with a morning dance video. Students may give the daily weather report from their home by taking their computer to the nearest window and describe what they see. You may catch us using the new Google Meets Breakout Room feature to get into small groups and discuss how we’re feeling at the start of the day.  
Our math block looks a bit different this year too. One thing that’s worked exceptionally well in a virtual setting is finding an opportunity to get students moving around in a productive way instead of just sitting behind their computer screen. Each day I allocate 5-10 minutes to build number sense and fluency through exercise. One activity that my students particularly love is subitizing with dominos and body movement. I’ll show my students a number set between 0-10 and we’ll talk about how we see the set, followed by doing that many of a given exercise. It’s simple, easy, and my kids love it. Plus, it’s a great way to get the wiggles out for both the kids and myself.  
Making virtual learning hands on whenever possible has been a top priority. A team member gave me the idea to make a tool kit for each student, and those learner toolkits have been the best investment I’ve made as a virtual teacher. These kits include a range of objects based on grade level. My toolkits include materials that I will use during whole group instruction at various points throughout the year. These are also great during school party time when you can throw in fun activities like “paint a pumpkin” or “create your own slime.”  
I challenge you to try new things. Take this as an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, collaborate with others, and make this a year to remember.
Zachary Steen
Kindergarten Teacher
Apple Glen Elementary
Bentonville, AR

How To Survive College

Many students struggle in the first few weeks and months at their new college, and if that’s something that you’re experiencing at the moment, you’ll want to move past that phase as quickly as possible. So what can you do to settle at college more quickly? That’s what we’re going to explore now, so if you’re looking for answers, you’re in the right place. Read on to find out more.
Make Like-Minded Friends
First of all, you should think about how you can meet new people and make new friends. That’s what college is all about, and making like-minded friends who you have things in common with will make you feel much more settled in your new environment. It gives you people to discuss things with and to support you with any struggles you might be having.
Join Clubs and Organizations
If you haven’t done so already, you should definitely try to join clubs and organizations that are operating in your college. This is a great way to meet new people and find new interests as well. You can explore a range of clubs and societies until you find the ones that offer the most to you in terms of hobbies, activities and social opportunities. All of those things matter a great deal.
Embrace the College Culture
Embracing the culture of the college and really throwing yourself into everything that the college stands for is key. You can visit the school spirit shop, rep the merchandise and be proud of the fact that you’re studying at your college. When you feel invested in the institution itself, you’ll find it easier to settle because you’ll feel at home at your new college.
Find Time to Study
Of course, you’re going to need to find time to study as well. When you’re at college, you need to focus on the academic stuff as well. This matters because you’ll find it even more stressful and even more difficult to settle if you start to fall behind with your course and your studies. That’s not what you want to happen, so make sure that you find or create the time to study and keep up with any necessary reading.
Establish Healthy Routines
Routines are really key when you’re at college, and they’re vital when you’re trying to adapt to a new situation or environment too. So, take the time to create and establish some healthy routines that you can stick to going forward. That will provide you with structure, and that’ll definitely assist with your efforts to settle and feel more at home in your new surroundings.
Settling in college when it’s all brand new to you can be pretty tough, but it can be done. Even if you’ve been struggling to settle, with the right steps and a little time, you’ll be able to feel at home. Make the most of the advice above and make the most of your college experience.
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Tips for Nailing Your Remote College Experience

As most colleges transition to online learning, many students are now navigating a remote educational experience for the first time….
The post Tips for Nailing Your Remote College Experience appeared first on Chegg Play.

Applying to College: Rolling Admissions

There are hundreds of colleges who are open to late applicants. There are also colleges who have a rolling admissions policy—apply anytime for admission.
In addition, The National Association for College Admission Counseling publishes their College Openings Update list in May after the decision deadline. Using the list, you can search for member colleges and universities- both public and private- that are still accepting applications.
What is rolling admissions?
Rolling admission is an application option that allows you to apply within a window of time. This window usually opens up in the fall, commonly September 1, and lasts through the spring, or until all spots in the upcoming class have been filled.
About 1/3 of National Universities – schools that offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and that typically produce influential academic research – offer rolling admissions.
A potential point of confusion for students is the priority application date set by most colleges that offer rolling admissions. While many undergraduate institutions recommend that prospective students submit their materials by the priority date to have the best chance of admission, unlike with a fixed deadline, applications will still be accepted after this time.
Apply Today & Don’t Delay
Because housing and financial aid are in limited quantities, it’s important for students to move fast. Once the college’s aid is dispersed, there is no money available. Once student housing is filled, colleges will only be accepting local applicants who can commute.
Even though space is available now, when it’s filled, it’s filled. Even those colleges with “rolling” admissions eventually fill their seats.
Check With Individual Colleges
After reviewing the list of openings, check online with each individual school to see if they are still accepting applications. If necessary, speak with an admissions officer and discuss what options are still available. Once you speak with admissions, talk to financial aid about any type of merit aid that could still be available.
Other Ways to Check Available Openings
Here are a few ways you can also check for available openings:
You can look on the Common Application website, click on the Member Colleges tab at the top, search for colleges, and input the data regarding the deadlines. Choose Spring 2021 and Other 2021 and it will provide you with a list of colleges still accepting applications.
You can also search on the Universal College Application site by clicking on the Fall 2020 link to find a list of colleges that are accepting late applications or have rolling admission policies.
The College Board’s Big Future site allows you to do the same type of search but requires additional input to narrow down your search. Once your search is narrowed, you can click on the Application Deadline and see an extensive list of colleges with their deadlines posted. They are listed by date and start with January, so you will have to go to the end pages to find the schools with late deadlines and no deadlines.
Check out this list from PrepScholar of colleges that have rolling admissions.
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Ways to Make your Grad School Application Stand Out

Finishing your undergraduate program is a big deal! Congrats to you and your hard work! Now you may already know…
The post Ways to Make your Grad School Application Stand Out appeared first on Chegg Play.

The Parent’s Guide to Filling Out the FAFSA® Form

While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the student’s application, we know that parents often play a large role in the process. After all, students who are considered dependent have to provide parental information on the FAFSA form anyway and must have a parent sign it. While we recommend that the student start his or her own FAFSA form, we know that’s not always what happens. With that in mind, we wanted to provide instructions for parents who are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of their child so you can avoid running into issues completing the form.
If you are a parent completing the FAFSA form for your child, follow these 8 steps:
1. Create an account (FSA ID)
An FSA ID is a username and password you use on Federal Student Aid websites such as fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov. If your child is considered a dependent student, two unique FSA IDs are needed to complete the FAFSA form online:
Parent’s FSA ID
Student’s FSA ID
We recommend that you and your child register for FSA IDs ahead of time, so you don’t experience delays later in the process.
IMPORTANT: Your child must create his or her own FSA ID. You cannot create an FSA ID for your child. Also, when you register, you’ll be asked to provide an email address and mobile phone number. This is optional but highly recommended. These two items must be unique to each account. In other words, your email address and mobile phone number cannot be associated with more than one FSA ID.
You and your child should create your FSA IDs now at StudentAid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.

Your FSA ID serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the federal student aid process. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone, not even your child. Your child should also not share his or her FSA ID with you. Keep your FSA ID information in a safe place. You’ll need it to renew your FAFSA form each year and to access federal student aid information online.
2. Start the FAFSA® form at fafsa.gov
Go to fafsa.gov and click “Start Here” under the “New to FAFSA.gov?” heading.
Once on the log-in page, you will see two options. If you are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of your child, choose the option on the right, “I am a parent, preparer, or student from a Freely Associated State.”

Enter your child’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth. Then, click next.
Choose which FAFSA form you’d like to complete.2020–21 FAFSA formif your child will be attending college between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.2021–22 FAFSA form if your child will be attending college between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.
Both:If your child will be attending college during both time periods and hasn’t completed the 2020–21 FAFSA form yet, complete that first, wait until it processes (one to three days), then go back in and complete the 2021–22 FAFSA form after.
Were you given the option to submit a FAFSA® Renewal?
If your child is present, you should choose this option. If you do, a lot of the demographic information required will be pre-populated. Your child must be present because he or she will need to enter the student’s FSA ID to continue. If your child is not present, you should select “Start NEW FAFSA.”

Create a save key. A save key is a temporary password that allows you and your child to “pass” the FAFSA form back and forth. It also allows you to save your child’s FAFSA form and return to it later. Once you create a save key, share it with your child. He or she will need it to complete later steps.

IMPORTANT TIPS— The FAFSA® form is the student’s application, not yours.
When the FAFSA form says “you” or “your,” it’s referring to the student (unless otherwise noted).— Avoid simultaneous logins.
Your child should not be filling out their FAFSA online at the same time you are. Your progress can be lost if they click “Save” at a different point in the application.— If you need help:
Click on the blue question mark symbol at the corner of each question.

3. Fill out the Student Demographics section
After the introduction page, you will proceed to enter basic demographic information about your child, such as name, date of birth, etc. If you chose the FAFSA renewal option in step two, a lot of his or her personal information will be pre-populated to save you time. Make sure you enter your child’s personal information exactly as it appears on his or her Social Security card so you don’t encounter any errors. (That’s right, no nicknames.)
4. List the schools to which you want your FAFSA® information sent
In the School Selection section, you’ll add all the schools you want to receive your child’s information. It is important that you add every school your child is considering, even if he or she hasn’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools that have been added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if your child later decides not to apply or attend. If your child doesn’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard his or her FAFSA form. You can remove schools at any time to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If your child is applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
5. Answer the dependency status questions
In this section, you’ll be asked a series of specific questions to determine whether or not your child is required to provide your (parent) information on the FAFSA form.
These dependency guidelines are set by Congress and are different from those used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Even if your child doesn’t live with you, supports him or herself, and files taxes separately from you, he or she may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes.
If your child is determined to be a dependent student, he or she will be required to report information about you. If your child is determined to be an independent student, you can skip the questions about providing parent information (unless otherwise noted by the school).
6. Fill out the Parent Demographics section
This is where you’ll provide your own demographic information. Are you divorced? Remarried? Below is a guide to determining which parent’s information needs to be included on your child’s FAFSA form. For specific guidance, review our “Reporting Parent Information” page.

Infographic: Who’s my Parent when I Fill Out myFAFSA?

7. Supply your financial information
This step is incredibly simple if you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The IRS DRT allows you to import your IRS tax information into the FAFSA form with just a few clicks. Using this tool also may reduce the amount of paperwork you need to provide to your child’s school. So if you’re eligible, use it!
To access the tool, indicate that you’ve “already completed” taxes on the parent finances page. If you’re eligible, you’ll see an option to “Link to IRS.”

Next, you’ll likely be asked to provide your child’s financial information.
If your child filed taxes, the easiest way to complete this section is to use the IRS DRT. Your child would need to be present because he or she needs to provide his or her FSA ID to use the tool. If your child is not present, save and exit the application and instruct your child to log in with his or her FSA ID, retrieve the FAFSA form using the save key, and then use the IRS DRT to complete the FAFSA form and sign it.
If your child did not file taxes, you can enter his or her financial information manually (if you have access to the required information). If you don’t have access to the information, save and exit the application and instruct your child to log in with his or her FSA ID, retrieve the FAFSA form using the save key, complete the FAFSA form, and sign it.
NOTE: If you need to save and exit your child’s FAFSA form so he or she can complete the remaining information, you’ll need to log back in and sign your child’s FAFSA form before your child can submit it.
8. Sign your child’s FAFSA® form
Both you and your child need to sign the FAFSA form. The quickest and easiest way to sign your child’s FAFSA form is online with your FSA ID.
If your child is not present, here’s what you do:
Sign your child’s FAFSA form with your FSA ID first.
Save and exit the application.
Instruct your child to log in using their FSA ID and sign the FAFSA form.
Sign and Submit Tips:
If you or your child forgot your FSA ID, you can retrieve it
Make sure you and your child don’t mix up your FSA IDs. This is one of the most common errors we see, and why it’s extremely important for each person to create his/her own FSA ID and not share it with anyone.
Make sure the parent who is using his/her FSA ID to sign the FAFSA form chooses the right parent number. If you don’t remember whether you were listed as Parent 1 or Parent 2, you can go back to the parent demographics section to check.

If you get an error saying that your FSA ID information doesn’t match the information provided on the FAFSA form, here’s what you should do. Note: This is often the result of mixing up the student and parent FSA ID.
We recommend signing the FAFSA form with an FSA ID because it’s the fastest way to get your child’s FAFSA form processed. However, if you and/or your child are unable to sign the FAFSA form electronically with an FSA ID, you can mail in a signature page. From the sign and submit page, select “Other options to sign and submit” and then choose “Print A Signature Page.” Just keep in mind that your child’s FAFSA form will take longer to process if you go this route.
If you have multiple children who need to complete the FAFSA form, you can use the same FSA ID to sign FAFSA forms for all of your children. You can also transfer your information into your other children’s applications by choosing the option provided on the FAFSA confirmation page.

Congrats you’re finished!
Your child is one step closer to getting money for college. With the hard part over, learn what your child should do next after submitting the FAFSA form.

Is it time to KO the Knowledge Organiser?

What if tools commonly used in the classroom threaten to inhibit the learning they were developed to support? Too often, a well-meaning teaching tool can get detached from the thinking which made it useful and so its original ingredients for learning are long lost. Commonly, after a couple of years, institutional memory loss in schools … Read more

Applying to College: Regular Decision (RD)

The majority of students submit their college application for Regular Decision. Students can apply to as many colleges as they cho­­ose for Regular Decision, keeping in mind that each application adds to the overall workload and application fees to multiple colleges can be costly. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity in the application process.
Every school you apply to will have Regular Decision as an option. Students applying RD will generally turn in their applications between mid-December through mid-January and hear back regarding their admissions status by March or April. Although the majority of schools set January 1st as their RD deadline, many other schools will have you turn in your application on January 15th, February 1st, or even at an earlier date, such as December 1. Because of the varying deadlines, it’s important to keep track of each college’s deadline.
One of the greatest detriments to applying Regular Decision is waiting to hear back from the college until March or April. Your friends may have applied ED or EA and you will still be unsure of where you are going to college. Waiting is hard, but if you were undecided when you he , you have had that extra time to make up your mind. This will help since the May 1 decision deadline will be close to the time you hear back from the colleges.
Another downside would be that your student will be part of a large applicant pool and standing out is critical. Be sure he or she is at the top of the applicant pool (you can check applicant stats on College Navigator or College Data) so they will rise to the top.
Why should your student apply Regular Decision?
There are several reasons why a student may opt to apply Regular Decision. Here are just a few:
If your student’s grades need improvement
Grades are a crucial part of your student’s application. A strong GPA junior year will ensure your student is competitive with other applicants. If he struggled during junior year, applying RD gives him the opportunity to show an upward trend in his grades during the fall semester which will bode favorably with admissions. Those extra few months could push him over the top in the applicant pool.
If your student hasn’t had time (or the opportunity) to visit
Applying to a college without visiting could be a waste of time. Although many campuses have squelched actual visits, students should make an effort to at least set foot on campus. If the college is open for visits, it’s a good way to demonstrate interest. In-person visits are a good way to get a “feel” for the campus and students. Many colleges have been crossed off the list simply because they just didn’t “feel” right.
If your student hasn’t started on their application
The college application requires time and effort. Waiting until the week before the ED or EA deadline is a bad idea. Rather than rushing to get the application in, it’s better to wait and dedicate the time to submitting a stellar application that will stand out among applicants.
If your student isn’t 100% sure of their top-choice
Applying RD gives your student time to consider all aspects of each college is they aren’t completely sure of where they want to attend. ED and EA applications are usually reserved for the student who has already made their college choice and wants to get into their top choice school.
If your student needs financial aid
Applying EA and RD allows your student to compare financial aid offers. As the offers of admission come in, so will the financial aid package. You and your student can take the time to evaluate the offers and choose the college that is the best financial fit. Applying ED locks you into a decision and if the financial aid is insufficient, your decision is binding. It may force you into taking on more debt than you are comfortable with.
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Staying Sane While the World is in Chaos: Finding Work-Life Balance in a Pandemic

Among many other problems created by the pandemic, Covid-19 has put college students into a tailspin. The lines are blurred…
The post Staying Sane While the World is in Chaos: Finding Work-Life Balance in a Pandemic appeared first on Chegg Play.