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  • Why is STEM Education So Important?

    Since the Cold War, United States education has focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. So why is STEM education still so important? Well frankly, we haven’t quite achieved success yet. If we had, millions of tech jobs would not be going unfilled every year, and there would be gender equality in engineering and science universities. The fact of the matter is, education has not quite done what it aimed to yet. What can be done? As educators we can put STEM into our lessons daily, even in a humanities-based classroom. This will help our students be ready for their STEM-filled futures.

    What will STEM proficiency actually help our students with?

    A myriad of job opportunities to start with. Many jobs in sciences or technology are very high paying, and require little higher education to enter. Students who are exposed earlier to problem-based learning are given the chance to develop logical and analytical skills. They also become technologically literate early, giving them a better chance of filing these positions. As it stands today, many jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. If schools can help develop these interests and skills in their students it will benefit not only the students themselves but also the entire economy.

    The benefits of STEM education for society

    As our students become citizens, they will bring with them the skills and knowledge they’ve learned. If we are able to empower our students to think critically, analyze, and explore new horizons, society will benefit. A more STEM-proficient generation can help carry our country forward. New medical discoveries, better infrastructure, more environmentally friendly technology, and many more possibilities await us. Looking at countries like Singapore and Japan with strong STEM education, we can see the advancements they are making, and hopefully it inspires us to help our students create something wonderful too.

    Developing STEM skills for life

    Not every student will go into a STEM career though. This is good, because as much as the world needs engineers and doctors, we also need musicians, writers, actors, and artists! The skills STEM enables kids to have are skills for life. For example, a stay at home parent needs mathematics knowledge to budget and bookkeep for the family, engineering to know how to fix things when they break, science to ask informed questions and figure out a procedure to get answers. We do our students a great service if we can help them to develop these skills in diverse ways.

    It is so important for education to be well rounded. Many educators get stuck in their bubble, and don’t think about interdisciplinary options much. It can help their students so much if they can though. Even in an English language arts class, students can still make hypotheses about the plots of the novels, or calculate the cadence in iambic pentameter. Giving students STEM skills will help them regardless of their future career choice. And if they do choose to enter STEM, you will have given them the skills to help themselves, and the entire country grow and develop.

  • 4 Tips to Help ELL Students Succeed

    While English is the dominant language across America, for more than 4 million students that is not the case. The English Language Learning students, or ELL for short, are a diverse group that often struggle in classrooms. States are finding it difficult to help their ELL students meet academic targets in both math and English, and teachers often feel underqualified to help. These are a few ways you can help ELL students in your school learn and achieve.

    Explicitly teach vocabulary and English grammar

    Students who speak English fluently often struggle at the beginning of a unit, when confronted with new and strange vocabulary. They, and your students who speak different languages at home, will all benefit from some direct instructions. If you’d like students to know how to use semi colons correctly, explicitly teach them how. This can help all your students become better readers and writers. At Daydream Education, our variety of English posters cover topics such as punctuation, paragraphs, and verb tenses to help improve students’ understanding of English.

    Increase opportunities to practice language use

    English Language Learners consistently improve in their English comprehension and fluency levels much faster if they practice more frequently. As a teacher or school employee, you can provide your students opportunities to practice. Give them speaking assignments, interviews, speeches, dialogues, and partner work to let them practice their verbal skills. Providing writing opportunities like an essay contest, or literary magazine publishing student work gives students a chance to share a bit about themselves, while also using their grammar skills. The more they practice the better they will be, so if you can offer incentives, or specifically recommend chances like this to students you know speak Spanish, Vietnamese, French or other languages at home it would help them out tremendously.

    Consistent comprehension checks

    While English speaking students usually have the verbal skills to be able to question things that may confuse them, especially if you provide a forum to do so in class, ELL students may hesitate. It is good practice to know who your ELL students are, and to check in with them individually after whole group instruction. They may be shy to inform you that they are confused, especially in front of their peers. So while circulating in the room, check with them slightly more frequently than you would with your students who have more advanced language skills.

    Increase parental involvement

    The connection between student success and parental involvement is no secret, but often teachers feel intimidated to reach out to parents when there is a language barrier. Many school districts employ translators for such a reason, so you can send written information home in the family’s mother tongue or call home with some aid. The more you are able to connect the family to their students' learning, the better. This can help the student stay on track, and receive encouragement both at home and school. If your school district has no translators, you can often rely on the student themselves, to translate conferences, or another family member. It never hurts to try to learn at least a greeting and goodbye though, and could help create connections!

    All told there are hundreds of ways to help your ELL students learn, but the biggest thing is to think. Teachers often forget to plan their lessons in a way that considers their English Language Learners, and that ends up being the biggest problem. Having an ELL student in your classroom can be a challenge, but it can also be a joy. Students who come from diverse backgrounds bring a level of depth to learning that is difficult to create otherwise. Make sure you enjoy your time with them, and consider their needs in your lessons.

  • How Does Students' Physical Wellbeing Affect Their Mental Health?

    Many programs focus on getting students more physically active, citing its benefits for their health both short and long term. They are not wrong, students do benefit from physical activity, but not just physically. They gain important mental, social and academic benefits as well. As a teacher, you can help your students to get active through a motivational school environment, class activities, clubs, sports, and field trips!  Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign focused on getting children active and nutritionally healthy, and has a lot of great resources teachers can use every day.

    The body and the mind

    Physical activity in youth and teens can help them develop mentally. A 2005 study published in Oxford Academic by a group of scientists found a significant link in physical activity and the mental health of students, particularly those in poverty or low-income households. They found higher rates of positive mental health indicators, and lower rates of negative ones for things like anxiety and depression. The students who were physically active in their school day were better equipped mentally for their day as well.

    Improvements in social development

    In addition to helping students be mentally well, physical activity also can lead to social development. Particularly in the participation of sports and physically active or team-based clubs. Students with a team and a coach or adult organizer gain powerful lessons about working with peers, perseverance, practicing and setting goals, and interacting with adults. This is especially important for students who may not have the same types of interactions at home due to numerous factors. As a teacher looking to start a program to engage your students, a sports team or club could always help them, and may give them life-long skills.

    Better academic performance

    Lastly, while sports are often seen as detractors from educational pursuits that is more often the opposite of the truth. The students who are engaged in regular sports or fitness activities, with their increased social skills and mental acumen, often achieve higher academically. The lessons they learn about practice and perseverance are transferable, and they have the social skills to speak with adults about the difficulties they are having. They have the skills they need in and out of the classroom.

    Instilling the habits of physical activity in students from a young age will benefit your students for their entire life. So, start a soccer team, or running club, or a badminton league. If you believe your students will engage with it, then go for it. You can also try to find ways to bring physical movement into your classroom as well, with games or activities that get students up and moving.

    At Daydream Education, we have a large variety of physical education posters designed to motivate students, and encourage a positive mindset when it comes to health and wellbeing.

  • The Wellbeing of Students Needs to be Well-Rounded

    Students don’t learn well if they don’t feel safe. It seems obvious when stated, but many schools lack a safe community environment that their students so desperately need. While schools account for the physical safety of their students, they sometimes neglect the mental or social aspects of student wellbeing. As someone working in a school, what can you do?

    Recognize signs and symptoms 

    Firstly, it is good to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of students not feeling well mentally or socially. Schools are now offering fantastic professional development in mental health “first aid” and being able to help students in times of need. Social difficulties can be harder to spot, especially with things like bullying. Students who seem withdrawn or distant from their peers, uncomfortable with groups of others, or overly loud and obnoxious may be facing social problems. Watching how your students interact with one another is important in every class environment, as it can help aid learning in addition to improving students' wellbeing.

    Tackle bullying head on

    If you find there is bullying going on at your school, what can you do? Psychology today offers a few great tips for how to stop bullying. Among them, make sure students know who to talk to and how to talk to them if they are being bullied. This should be clear, and obvious that they will not receive any judgment or negative repercussions. Bullies often act that way because they seek an audience and approval. Speaking with those students individually, and helping them find more constructive outlets to achieve approval may help tremendously. Lastly, make sure students know the vocabulary to use to address bullying, both as a victim and a bystander. This can be achieved by displaying educational posters, and it will give your students valuable tools to use for years to come.

    Encourage conversation about online bullying 

    Often, bullying in schools takes place outside of the walls, and online instead. Online bullying is an all-too-common method of harassment among peers. As educators we rarely see this as it happens on private social media accounts, and anonymously outside school hours. We can address it though, through discussing internet etiquette and citizenry with students. A great way to start this conversation is by displaying an online bullying poster that can act as a discussion point, while also making sure students feel comfortable and confident reporting abuse.

    Set a good example for your students in your relationships with other educators, and work daily to make your school environment feel safe and respectful. Students who feel comfortable in their learning environment will do markedly better in their studies than those who don’t. We should always aim to provide for the wellbeing of our students.

  • How Can the Arts Improve Academic Performance?

    As educators, we always want students to succeed and excel, and look for ways to encourage that growth.

    In recent years, researchers have studied many aspects of academic success. Educational research now draws connections between success in strictly academic subjects and the participation in arts programs. The body of research has grown immensely over the past years, showing a correlation between the two.

    A study published by Abigail Todhunter-Reid of the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University stated, “arts education (minutes per week of art and music instruction) positively predicted academic achievement and growth in reading and mathematics from kindergarten to 5th-grade. Moreover, the positive associations increased in strength as students progressed to later grades.” She is not alone in these findings, and in fact, many studies find similar results.

    In music programs alone, students learn a variety of skills that help them in other areas. An article in the Washington Post on this states that music education can help to develop “a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning…language skills such as verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence.” This helps students to perform well in reading and mathematics courses, despite no direct instruction toward the subjects.

    Similarly, visual arts students learn to develop their spatial learning, organizational skills, visual memory, and emotional development. These students come to their other subjects more prepared, and able to see connections that other students may miss. The students also are allowed an opportunity to learn history through the study of other artists, which can aid them greatly in reading and composition courses. The study from Rutgers University found these effects grew more profound over time, with students who sustained the arts education improving more overall.

    Performing arts like dance and theatre show some of the most profound impacts, as students who learn to perform learn valuable skills that help in classrooms and beyond. Public speaking, verbal skills, memorization, emotional intelligence, literacy, and so on, are all developed by reading and rehearsing a play. Students who have the opportunity to perform often feel a sense of accomplishment, which can motivate them to achieve elsewhere as well. Additionally, this provides a chance for physical engagement which, especially at an elementary level, can be hugely beneficial to students’ focus in their classes.

    In total, allowing students the opportunity to develop as artists is better for them in many ways. Teachers can always endeavor to bring arts-based learning into a classroom, or simply allow for creative time. Parents can encourage artists to grow and explore, enroll students in extracurricular programs, or participate in arts with their children. Those who learn with the arts learn on many different levels. They will go far, and achieve higher with the arts behind them.

    At Daydream Education, we are committed to improving understanding for all students. We create educational posters that cover a wide variety of subjects, including music, drama, dance, math, and English. If you have any questions or would like to know more about us, get in touch today!

  • Back-to-School Checklist

    As summer draws to a close, teachers, students, and parents all get ready for the new school year. Some people love it, others dread it. For teachers this is a crucial time, as it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

    So what can you do to prepare? This checklist will help you to start the year in the right way.


     Set up the space

    Consider where students will do daily tasks like sharpen pencils, store supplies, and put their belongings. Make sure you’ve set the classroom up to have those tasks easy for the students to complete. If you want to have different types of space, it is easiest to do this before students arrive. So if you want a reading nook, an imagination station, or a meeting area, set it up early. This will help the students be familiar with classroom expectations for those spaces right away. Another way to prepare for the new school year is to display educational posters that improve students' understanding, and brighten the classroom with color.


     Be ready with behavior management systems

    Do you have a reward or punishment system in place? If so, you may need a way to track it either for yourself, or on a poster somewhere. Make sure you’ve thought through how to communicate or adjust the systems as needed. It may be best if you’re still thinking about what approach you’d like to take, to consider your audience. If you already know your students, that can help, but if not try to create a get-to-know-you activity for the first day, or talk to their previous teacher to get some insights. Clear expectations from day one can really help classroom management, and to have that you’ve got to plan ahead.


     Have a communication plan

    Know how you plan to communicate with parents. A good working relationship with parents can help students grow and learn much better. But not just the parents, have a plan for your communications with students. How they learn about assignments, rules, activities, and events from you can be facilitated in many different ways. See what fits your personality and your student body. Communication channels with your supervisor and administration team should be clear too.


     Be homework ready

    Have an idea of the assignments you want to give for each unit you’ll be teaching. A set way for students to collect, return, and keep track of those assignments should also be in place. If you plan to have them submit electronically, show them the system. If you’ll be doing physical hand-ins, make sure students have time to set their folder or binder up to manage their papers. It is also a good idea to have your grading system set up early too. This can help you focus on data analysis later in the year to get your students help with concepts they need earlier rather than later.


     Prepare tasks for all students

    It can really help to have a stockpile of tasks to hand to students who need something to do, so you don’t have to scramble in the moment. This can look different in different classrooms, but there are lots of students who might need something more than the normal assignment. Early finishers, those who race through assignments and get antsy while others work, can easily be diverted by a “Done Early?” set of activities. Similarly, you may want to have some more challenging assignments for the gifted students who may be bored with the normal work.

    On the other end of the spectrum, it can be beneficial to have easier assignments for students who are behind grade level, or who have cognitive challenges. English Language Learners may also require some assignments at lower reading levels, or reading tools that help them define new words. If you’ve got some of these set up before classes get going, it can help the students maximize their learning in your class.

    A good beginning can mean a good school year, and you should set yourself up for success. You may already have some of these things in place, but you can always add to them, strengthen weak points, or try new things! And if you’re building from scratch, you’ll have plenty of time to see what works and what doesn’t, to prepare better in the future.

    Have a great school year!

  • 7 Ways to Upgrade your Classroom Design

    The space a student is learning in can determine the fate of a lesson. Even the best curriculum can fall short if a student is unable to focus in their classroom. There is new research every day about changes that can make or break a student’s focus.

    The following tips for effective classroom design are just some of the practices many teachers are starting to implement to help their students focus.


    1. Options, options, options

    Different zones help students think differently. While you may not have the budget to buy tons of furniture, you can still change up the tables and chairs. Many teachers have started implementing a whole class meeting area, clear so that everyone will fit. This allows you to come together as a community for announcements or presentations. Different sections can help to inspire different types of thought in students as well. It helps with classroom management too, when students have options instead of forced conformity.

     

    1. Give students what they want

    Ask for student feedback, frequently, and then follow it. Different teachers have different methods for this, but often they will ask students two questions: “What in this room helps you learn?” and “What in this room distracts you from learning?” Take time to understand what your students tell you, and then act on it. Giving your students power over their learning environment is a powerful tool to help them become self-sufficient learners. When implemented well, this method can make a classroom sing with harmonious learning!

     

    1. Consider your teacher footprint

    Where are you in your classroom? How much space does your desk occupy? Can your students enter that space? Do you leave that space? These are all good questions to ask yourself when arranging a classroom for effective student learning. Many teachers are forgoing having a desk at all, and instead circulate around their room. If you can’t quite let go of that space, or need it for your lessons, consider how you can make it more approachable and student-friendly. This can be as simple as placing a 'submit work' bin on the desk, or some other interactive station. This invites students into the space, and makes a less closed-off environment.

     

    1. Colors and the mind

    Studies have shown that orange and yellow are colors that excite and energize us, while blues and greens tend to calm us down. If you have a quiet reading corner, consider adding some blue or green pillows or rugs to the space. Similarly, you can use bright oranges, yellows, and reds in spaces like a meeting area or imagination station. These can help stimulate your students to create and explore.

     

    1. Ownership of knowledge

    Encourage students to learn from their classroom – both their peers' work, and informational posters. Putting up students' work will showcase achievement and show them that you care about their success and value the effort they put in. Informational posters can be displayed alongside students' work to provide effective visual stimuli that can facilitate incidental learning. After all, it’s a good life skill to be able to find context clues in your environment. If possible, extend this past the classroom walls, and put posters and students' work up throughout the school!

     

     

    1. Accessibility

    All the beautiful decorations, and clever desk placement won’t mean anything if your students can’t access it. Make sure to consider who is in your classroom, and address any accommodations they may need. Have the space work for the students. Adjust the desk height, cabinets, hooks, and other things students use. Take note of students who have trouble seeing or hearing certain areas, and make sure to find a solution for them. While it can be difficult to remember, it can make a world of difference to your students.

     

    1. Cleanliness is key

    Students can get sick, or get you sick. Clean the desks and chairs regularly, or have students help you. If it is in your budget, get air purifying machines. This can really help if your school is old and the vents aren’t great. Alternatively, you could buy plants that clean the air. Students can’t learn if they’re at home sick, so help them stay well. Having students help you in this effort can create a great learning environment, while helping students feel ownership for the room.

     

     

    Make your students feel at home, valued, and in control of their learning space.

    This will lead to a happy and effective classroom!

     

  • How Classroom Decor Helps Students Learn

    In an age where education is rapidly evolving, tried and true educational practices are being called into question left and right. An article by the New York Times discussed the effects classroom decor can have on students' learning. The article seemed to suggest that it is negative and that students might find it distracting. It also questioned whether students, particularly kindergarten students, might learn better in an austere environment.

    The NYT article ended with a call to students for their feedback. Overwhelmingly, the students who wrote in said they found it extremely beneficial to have classroom decorations. This comes as no shock to teachers, who every year put painstaking efforts into decorating their classrooms to foster learning. So, how does classroom decor help students learn?


    Improving concentration


    By providing a stimulating environment for students to learn in, teachers are helping their students dial in, even when it is difficult for them to concentrate.

    It stands to reason that students want an engaging and dynamic environment in which they can learn. The same is true of professionals. Many office spaces are transitioning away from traditional cubicles to open floor plans and flow-inducing design. Schools may not have the bean bag chairs and cappuccino machines, but they can have creatively and effectively used wall space.


    Developing a culture of growth


    Emotions go hand-in-hand with education. Letting students be in a place that fosters learning and develops a culture of growth before words are even spoken can greatly affect a student's performance. A great way to accomplish this is by putting educational material on your walls.

    Now this may be obvious for chemistry teachers to have the periodic table, or anatomy teachers to have bone diagrams, but it’s not exclusive. Subjects across the board can make the classroom an environment that fosters education simply through posters on the wall. So, while pretty background colors, and scalloped borders are nice, consider adding in some curriculum specific content on your walls.


    Creating an engaging learning environment 


    The posters, pictures, decorations, and reminders tacked onto classroom walls around the world help to keep students engaged. They serve as a way to passively educate with informational posters, and to enforce rules and guidelines like lab protocol or classroom expectations.

    Displaying colorful, educational posters in your classroom will help to enhance the learning experience, and ensure your whole class benefits from the engaging environment you’ve created.


     Daydream Education is committed to creating positive, engaging learning environments for all students.

    Improve your classroom decor today with our educational school posters.


  • How to Keep Students Safe Online


    K-12 students are using the Internet and social media more than ever before.

     

    With a wealth of information, games, images and videos readily available, the Internet is an exciting tool that many young people have grown up with from an early age.

     

    However, the Internet can also pose very real threats to students' safety, that are often overlooked or ignored due to a lack of awareness.

     

    It is important to educate students and promote online safety throughout schools, so our students can be best prepared to recognise and react appropriately to any dangers they may face online.


    Internet safety


    Ensure students understand digital risks


    Even though young people often have solid digital knowledge of how different sites, applications and technologies work, they may still lack a fundamental understanding of the risks these platforms can present.

     

    Online bullying, viewing explicit content, inappropriate contact from strangers, grooming and negative digital footprints are just a few of the potential implications of online activity that could negatively affect students.

     

    By educating all students about digital dangers, they'll be better prepared to deal with situations in which they feel uncomfortable or threatened online.

     


    Encourage open conversation


    An effective approach to ensuring students' understanding of Internet safety is to have honest discussions about the risks of the digital world, and how they can be combatted through different measures.

     

    For example:

    • Not sharing personal information online

    • Always being respectful toward others

    • Never accepting friend requests from strangers

    • Knowing what content is and is not suitable to post on social media

    • Practising password safety

     

    This will help to build a solid foundation of digital literacy skills and safe online behaviors throughout your school.

     

    A brilliant way to spark these types of open conversations is to display relevant and up-to-date digital safety information in the classroom.

     

    At Daydream Education, we have just released a brand-new range of Online Safety posters, that will inspire a whole school approach to digital safety.

     

    Covering vitally important digital safety topics, such as Online Bullying, Sexting and being Share Aware, the wall charts are ideal for promoting awareness and education in all schools.


    Internet safety posters


    Safer Internet Day 2018


    A brilliant upcoming opportunity that can be enjoyed by both teachers and students is Safer Internet Day 2018.

     

    The global event, held on the 6th February, is designed to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

     

    With the motto 'Create Connect and Share Respect: A better Internet starts with you', this years' Safer Internet Day is set to be the biggest and best yet.

     

    With a range of lesson plans and activities available, why not get involved in the conversation?


    It's important that students know how to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable online.
    Encourage understanding and open conversation of digital risks this Safer Internet Day with our comprehensive Online Safety posters.

  • The Importance of Teaching Computer Science


    In today's digital world, computer science is a critical field of study that offers a limitless amount of opportunities for both academic and technological growth.

     

    Since the invention of the Internet, the development of new computing technologies has steadily increased, leading to fundamental change in the way we live and work. It's hard to imagine a life without computers, laptops, mobiles and tablets, but without computer science, that's exactly what we'd have.

     

    As computing technologies continue to rapidly expand and evolve, why are many schools still reluctant to harness the countless benefits of teaching computer science?


    Using computing technologies to solve problems


    Computer science is the #1 source of new wages in the US, with businesses and organisations driving the demand for people with proficiency in computer technology. Gaining a computer science qualification provides a breadth of opportunities in a wide variety of fields, such as information technology, telecommunications, aerospace and defence, financial services, and digital marketing, to name just a few!

     

    Yet for all the complexities involved in specialist computer science careers, all computer science students will share at least one fundamental and highly transferable skill: the ability to use technology to solve problems.

     

    Learning about computer science and how to write programs from an early age will teach students to logically think their way through any type of problem. This paves the way for independent thinking and the ability to produce solutions to problems from a new perspective: an extremely useful skill in any career choice.

     

    Computer science skills needed to power the future


    There is a clear skills shortage in the computer science sector, with hundreds of thousands of unfulfilled job opportunities.

     

    At present, only 35 states allow students to count computer science courses toward their high school graduation. According to code.org, 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year, in contrast to 486,686 current open computing jobs nationwide.

     

    Considering these statistics, it makes sense to prepare our children throughout their K-12 education, with the computing skills they need to succeed in a constantly expanding job market.

     

    Demystifying computer science


    It's no surprise that many children born in the 21st century have grown up surrounded by an abundance of technology: from smart phones, to video games to social media. Young children also have the innate ability to learn new processes quickly.

     

    So, shouldn't we utilize the fact that children younger than ever are able to use these products, and teach them about the computer programs behind the technology?

     

    Although computer science can be a complex and sometimes daunting subject, it would be beneficial to introduce children of all ages to the computer coding basics. In fact, the earlier we teach computer science to our children, the better chance we have of demystifying preconceptions that surround the subject.

     

    At Daydream Education, we have a range of engaging posters that help to simplify computer science into bite-size chunks of information. Breaking down the intricacies of computer science and helping to nurture students' enthusiasm of the subject from a young age, will result in a greater volume of students pursuing the study of computer science in high school and beyond.

     

     

     

    Computer Science Education Week


    December 4-10, 2017 marks Computer Science Education Week: a brilliant initiative that aims to encourage people of all ages to get involved with computer science.

     

    Incorporated within this week is The Hour of Code, a global movement that is inspiring tens of millions of people all over the world to take part in a computer science tutorial. No previous experience is needed, and children as young as 4 can get involved.

     

    The rapid growth of the digital world guarantees that computer science is going to play an ever-increasing role in the technology, economy and careers of the future. Now more than ever, we need to prepare our students for a growing computer science job market and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

     

    At Daydream Education, we offer a range of computer science wall posters that help to demystify computer science, break down complex topics and encourage students' enthusiasm. If you would like any more information, feel free to get in touch. 

     

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