Tips and tricks to make the work you do, from teaching to program design, even better.

Great Tips for Teaching Writing To Language Learners

Teaching Literacy as a whole? Check out our literacy resource page with articles, links, and more to get you started!

A boy with a physical disability is writing. Cambodia

It’s amazing how often speaking ability doesn’t translate to writing ability with foreign language learners. In fact, they use different parts of the brain so it’s not uncommon to meet dazzling conversationalists who can barely compose an intelligible email. If you’re a teacher of language, it’s your job to bridge this gap, not only helping your students to write great sentences, but also organizing their thoughts into complete letters, essays, papers, or even books.

Never fear, because Open Equal Free’s Literacy Resources and Ed Tips are here to help! In this article, we’ll give you a bird’s eye view of teaching writing: how to help your students get past their fears, organize their ideas, and communicate effectively.

Don’t Lose Focus, Write for a Reason!

Why do we write? To communicate ideas, of course! This is perhaps one of the most important rules for teaching writing. The more you have your students write to communicate an idea effectively to another person, the better. Sure, that person can be you, but why not to another student, or better yet, a whole group of them?

Instead of having a student write a biography she quietly turns in, why not have her write a biography of a famous person without stating the name? Then, have her read the biography out loud to the class. If the class can guess who the bio is about, the student did a good job. If the class can’t guess who they’ve written about, she needs to get back to work!

This can work with almost any writing assignment. Instead of making the goal to “get an A,” the goal becomes to “use your writing to communicate an idea effectively.” Not only do students immediately know whether they’ve succeeded or not, but they also understand why they’ve failed, and the reason they’ve failed goes straight to the heart of writing: They didn’t get their ideas across to their readers.

Build Strong Writers, Don’t Expect To Birth Them

It’s one of the oldest plays in the teacher book: Scaffolding. Most teachers know that you can’t take your students from zero to sixty without some steps in between. What many teachers are unable to accept is that sometimes you can’t take your students from zero to two without that crucial step in the middle.

The write thing Project 365(2) Day 12Whenever your students are having difficulty with anything, the best thing you can do is stop, rewind, and break the lesson into smaller pieces. We have a whole article on scaffolding coming down the pipeline, but until then, here’s how to break writing down into manageable bites.

First of all, think long and hard about what you’re teaching. Are you teaching writing? Writing and vocab? Writing, vocab, and grammar? Even if you are teaching multiple things, or expect your students to negotiate multiple new language concepts, the trick is to walk them through them so that they’re only tackling one at a time.

For example, let’s say you want them to write a restaurant review. If you try to get a bunch of beginning language learners to not only organize their thoughts, but also generate vocabulary and decide what tenses and phrasing are appropriate for a review article all at once, you’re likely setting them up for failure. Break it down!

Like all scaffolding, how many of these steps you’ll have to do depends on the level of your students and what your objectives for the lesson are, but, here are some bites you can help them take during your lesson:

Set the Context

In the beginning of the lesson you would set the context and elicit enough vocabulary words and related language for them to use in their writing. Even if they have a pretty solid vocabulary  it just adds another burden for them to carry while they try to learn to write. Why not teach the vocab and phrasing they’ll need separately so that they can focus on organizing their ideas and communicating effectively?

Nancy writing awayShow An Example

This step can get dicey quickly, especially in contexts where students are used to simply copying from a teacher on the board. The best way to avoid this is by providing the example early on, and then removing it before moving on to any other steps. This could happen after you’ve generated vocabulary and structure, or, depending on your students (maybe they have a lot of vocabulary but not much confidence writing, or maybe they’ve been writing for a while but don’t have much vocabulary around this specific subject).

Generate Some Structures

Another great pre-writing activity is to generate actual grammatical structures students might use. For restaurant reviews, this could be as easy as reviewing simple past tense. For other assignments you may want to generate some language that might be difficult for them. The key, of course, is to modulate how much you give them, and how directly applicable it is to the level of your students.

For early beginners, you may be using elicitation to generate almost every sentence as a class, leaving students to simply arrange the ideas in the appropriate order. For more advanced classes, you may generate a couple of examples that they are expected to rewrite and expand entirely on their own.

Use Graphic Organizers

Generating and organizing ideas and constructing the language to share them are two different tasks. If you ask students to do all of that at once and they face difficulties, a graphic organizer step will help you pull the process apart and give your students the tools they need to build to the point where they can do these steps at once, independently. You can find links to graphic organizers on our literacy page.


Editing & Rewriting

Constructive criticism is great, and providing it is certainly a large part of your job as a teacher, but it is possible to criticize too much. How many new ideas would you expect your students to absorb in a single class? Three? Four? Maybe five? You certainly wouldn’t introduce all of the tenses in first and third person in a single beginner class, it would be too much.

Likewise, if students have made a dozen mistakes in their papers, do you think they can internalize and learn from all of them in one go?

Probably not.

Instead, tell your students that, for each paper, you’ll pick about three to five of the most important conventions errors and focus on those. Remember to emphasize that the focus goes both ways. You’ll be focusing on a few of their mistakes, and you expect them to focus on improving those for the next paper.


Have a grading rubric. Share it with your students. I’ve never been a fan of percentile grades for writing. How some teachers differentiate between an essay scored at 97% and one scored at 98% without being arbitrary, or over-focusing on conventions, is beyond me. A common answer is to choose a scale, usually from one through five or six. That’s more useful when talking about writing. Then translate the score into whatever grading system your school uses. Need a place to start? Check out this example from Florida.

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How To Teach Reading to Language Learners

Teaching Literacy as a whole? Check out our literacy resource page with articles, links, and more to get you started!

bless my sponge bathAny complete language curriculum is bound to include reading. Plenty of research has shown us that reading and writing use different parts of the brain than speaking and listening, which means the skills don’t translate as well as intuition would lead us to believe and require quite a bit of focused attention.

At the heart of all good language teaching is communication. The goal with reading, therefore, is not to understand the dictionary definition of every word in a block of text, but to be able to understand the ideas that an author is trying to communicate to the reader. For many teachers (and students) this can be incredibly counter-intuitive.

The goal is to navigate concepts, not function as a human dictionary. When reading your own native language, or any language you read fluently, you don’t stop to ponder the definition and grammatical function of every word in a bit of text, but rather your brain quickly sweeps through the writing, pulls out the ideas, and you go on with your happy day.

Because we can explain the dictionary definition of (almost) every word we read, we often assume that this is a prerequisite to navigate the concepts in texts. In fact, this isn’t true at all thanks to the magic of context clues. Take this, for example:

He loved his dog very much and would take it with him everywhere he went. In fact, he would even take his ______________ with him to school where it would wait outside.

In the above example, if I asked an average intermediate class what word goes in the blank, they would easily respond with “dog.” Your goal as a teacher, then, is to be able to present them with this passage:

He loved his dog very much and would take it with him everywhere he went. In fact, he would even take his canine with him to school where it would wait outside.

…and easily get an answer to the question: “What does canine mean?” without having them check their dictionaries. They use the same skills but the second one is often more difficult for students, especially students without a strong academic background in their native language.

Mini Book II: Inside coverThe first is familiar, comfortable even. They aren’t supposed to know what’s in the blank, and using deductive reasoning to figure it out is what they’re meant to do. The second, however, presents them with an apparent lacking on their part. They’re missing something they were supposed to have and need to fix it… with a dictionary.

The excellent reading teacher, therefore, not only teaches students how to deduce those meanings from texts, but empowers them with the belief that they can, and they should. When students become comfortable with unknown words, or even sentences and paragraphs, whole new texts open up to them that they wouldn’t have bothered to pull meaning from before.

They may not understand every bit of that New York Times article, but they’ll walk away understanding the basic, most important facts. Which, in two days time, is about what you or I would still remember anyway. Never forget, partial understanding is still understanding.

So, how do you train students to navigate texts fluently while simultaneously building foundational literacy skills? Easy, with pre-reading and multiple sweeps.

If you’re reading this, you likely read English relatively fluently, so I’m going to use a bit of text from an obscure language as an example: An article from the Esperanto Wikipedia.

Phase 1: Pre-Reading

The first goal with pre-reading is to set the context. Once they have a basic idea of the context, they have a much better idea of what sorts of facts they are looking for: what to expect and where to expect it. You want to make sure to use techniques like elicitation to keep your students active and at the center of the process instead of simply feeding the information to them.

Questions like these should work wonders:

1. What is the title of this article? What is it about?

2. Since it’s about a person, what kinds of facts do you think we should expect to see? (Here, ask follow-up questions to get things like where they were born, when they were born/died, important places they lived, important things they did, information about their family, etc. Keep in mind you’re not getting these facts about the person yet, just letting your students know these are the facts they should be looking for).

Phase 2: Sweeps

History is no closed book

Now it’s time to attack the article itself. The goal here is to give your students a series of manageable tasks to accomplish for each read through, not to understand the entire article at once. Once they get proficient at pulling out important information piece by piece, you can slowly begin to combine the reading tasks into a smaller number of read-throughs.

Here is an example using the same article as before:

Sweep 1 – Dates: Have students read through the article, circling every date.

Sweep 2 – Identify all the proper nouns: Have students read through the article, underlining every proper noun.

Sweep 3 – Identify places vs. people: Have students read through the article a third time, turning the underlines on places into boxes.

Now, your students have have a good deal of the important information in the article identified. More importantly, they feel confident completing simple tasks with the text at hand. The next sweeps lead them to answer actual questions about Stowe’s life.

Sweep 4 – Birth & Death: Read the article and find out when HBS was born and when she died.

Sweep 5 – Bio: Now answer the following questions: Where was she born? Where did she grow up? In what year did she move to Cincinatti? What year did she get married? What was her husbands name?

Sweep 6 – Works: How many books did HBS write? What was her most famous book?

Phase 3: Using the Knowledge

Now that you’ve done all of those sweeps and had students write their answers in complete sentences, do you know what you’ve got? A classroom full of students primed and ready to write whole-paragraph summaries of the article. It’s actually a fairly simple step at this point and how much you do before setting them off on their own depends on the level of your class.

For a very low level class you would work as a group to generate five or more sentences about Harriet Beecher Stowe, then ask them to take those sentences and use them to write a full paragraph. The goal is to model a very basic paragraph of simple sentences “Harriet Beecher Stowe was an author. She was born in 1811. She died on 1896…” and so on.

For a more advanced class, you might generate one or two sentences and have them do the rest, or if they’ve been doing very well, simply ask them to write using the notes they’ve already created.

Keep in mind this sort of reading activity works best with texts just beyond their independent reading ability, it’s the perfect way to “take the next step” and get them comfortable with pieces of writing that are just outside of their comfort zone. For determining reading ability and choosing texts, check out these great articles: How to Test Reading Skills in Any Language, and How to Determine Text Difficulty in Any Language.

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Engage Your Students with Science – Tip Five: Teach Them What They Want to Know.


Children are inquisitive by nature. They are constantly trying to make sense of the world around them and are eager to understand how natural processes occur. Science teachers should make use of that inquisitiveness in order to engage students with the subjects being explored.

Research suggests that students are more likely to get interested in a subject or engage in an activity if they consider what they are learning to be interesting or relevant. Thus, you must to learn what interest your students and explore these interests in class.

Finding these interests may seem more difficult then it actually is. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask for your students’ opinions, giving them the impression that what they are curious about matters. When choosing an activity for the class, you should avoid simply imposing an exercise you have selected. You can have your students come up with questions they want to know the answer to, or prepare two or three activities/subjects to explore in class and allow your students to pick the one they find most interesting. You might even let them plan and conduct an investigation on a subject the class has been studying.

Allowing students to choose what they want to learn will help keep them focused and enthusiastic throughout the entire task.

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Engage Your Students with Science – Tip Four: Connect with Their Everyday Lives

How many times have you heard one of your students say “I’m never going to need to use this knowledge?” Many, many times, I am sure.
Science Saturday Celebrates International Year of Chemistry

Students often feel that the subjects approached in science classes are disconnected from real life and have no interest outside the walls of the laboratory. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Science has an increasingly preponderant part in today’s society. From our industries to our hospitals and to our houses, the products of science are everywhere and affect every aspect of our lives.

Showing your students the connections between science and society and making them understand how much we depend on science can be a very effective way to increase their interest for it. By realizing how science affects their daily routines, students become aware of the importance of understanding science and are more likely to get engaged in science activities. Furthermore, finding out the science behind the objects they use daily can make children feel more connected to the subject.

When explaining a scientific concept or conducting a science investigation, try to connect it with an everyday event. Encourage your students to think about the uses of science in their lives. Ask them practical questions: what are cellphones made of? What’s in your toothpaste? By trying to figure out the answers to these questions, students will understand how much science affects human lives.

Then, ask them more profound questions: how would our lives be without scientists? How important is science for us? These questions will get your students thinking about the importance of scientists and scientific literacy.

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6 Advanced Things to Teach in Computer Class

TracesA while back we published 10 Free Things to Teach in Computer Class Besides Typing. It covered some basic activities and topics for teachers to use in classes where computers are available but resources are otherwise scarce. The final activity, Scratch, gives students a basic introduction to programming and programming languages. By using this open source visual programming language, students begin to learn the basic concepts, sequencing, and ideas behind how programming languages work.

But what’s next? Once students are comfortable with their machines, a bit older, and capable of grappling with written (or typed, or spoken) English, there are many resources that will help them continue with their education and become genuine IT experts, for free!


Codecademy is a true innovation when it comes to self-learning by doing. After creating an account, you can choose from several coding languages and dive into interactive activities. You immediately begin performing small operations using the language in question and are consistently pushed to use the information you’ve learned to solve small coding problems such as coding a mini-program to multiply the number of words in your name by nine.

Languages available include Java, HTML & CSS, Python, Ruby, jQuery, as well how to create Apps. With a mixture of hands on and project based learning, Codecademy provides a highly engaging and effective way to get students started with coding.


More Online Coursework

A few new players have come into the game of online course work. Although the three we mentioned in the first article are still good bets (MIT Open CoursewareKahn Academy, & iTunes U), Coursera and Edx have also come on to the scene as great options for your higher-level learning needs.

Both of these new-comers (As well as MIT Open Courseware) unfortunately require that you sign up for courses and take them in specified time periods. Although there aren’t class times that have to be attended, it’s not possible to direct your students to start and stop them at any time, and thus require some planning to successfully integrate them into your semester/year.

Still, they’re a great way to give your students access to a very high level of instruction in IT and computing skills, for free!


If the Codecademy interactions are a bit too confusing for your students, or don’t quite get at what you’re looking for, the HTML Dog tutorials are also great tool for learning for HTML & CSS. Here, students also learn by doing, but the actual coding takes place outside of the browser and is a bit more direct (no tricky problems to work through).

There’s a bit more freedom to break up the lessons, and to allow students to experiment with variations in code. You can have them combine lessons into mini-projects, experiment with changing the code to different colors, or displaying different methods, and otherwise take advantage of the freedom of simply using a .txt file as your coding playground.

Youtube Tutorials (JREAM!)

In general, if there’s a program or skill you want your students to learn, Youtube is a great place to search. Generally a search for “ Tutorial” will turn up a wide variety of options for whatever you enter as the subject. “HTML Tutorial,” “Java Tutorial,” “Networking Tutorial,” and “Facebook app Tutorial” all turn up a ton of options.

If you can get to a location with fast internet, it is possible to save Youtube videos for later use without an internet connection, making this the most versatile of all the recommendations for those of us working in remote locations. You can save videos straight from your browser using (so, it will work in an internet cafe where you can’t install programs). To do it with a local program, check out this article on it from PC World, or these programs that do the trick: YTD Video DownloaderKeepVid.

Jream Tutorials are so good they bear mentioning all on their own. When your students are ready to learn a wide variety of high-end IT skills, this is a great place to start. As with any set of Youtube tutorials, students can work whenever they like, go as slow or fast as they like, learn only what interests them, and watch and rewatch the tutorials in any order that suits them.

no denial

I’ve personally used JREAM to learn Adobe Illustrator, but it has a staggeringly wide array of tutorials available, HTML, Facebook Apps, Java, MySQL, Python, PHP, Adobe Photoshop, Linux, Code Igniter, to name a few.

Graphic Design!

We talked about some free art programs and tools in the original post on what to teach in computer class, but eventually your students will want to go beyond making pictures to making graphics. Graphics doesn’t necessarily mean flashy computer animations. It generally refers to a more sophisticated form of computer art: Images that provide information, lead the viewer to a conclusion, or give a desired impression.

For general overviews on graphic layout and design, searches in Youtube will generally turn up great tutorials on specific elements of design or how to use certain programs. For more general introductory courses, you an give these a try:

Teach Yourself Graphic Design: A Self-Study Course Outline

Want to Know How to Design? Then Learn the Basics


A more specific project to have students work on that will put those graphics skills to use is making Infographics. Infographics take a lot of confusing information and lay it out in a way that is both pleasing and easy to understand. Here are some great articles that list free tools your class can use to make outstanding informative images: The 5 Best Free Tools for Making Slick Infographics, and 10 Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics.

morse code


A final skill you can mix with Youtube tutorials, and some guides online, is teaching your students about computer hardware. Even simple tasks can teach them enough to keep your computer lab in tip-top shape, for free! If you’ve got spare parts, or even a spare computer, lying around, be sure to make use of them as demonstration tools. If you haven’t got a scrap of hardware to spare, it’s possible to use functioning computers as examples, albeit with more caution and supervision.

Simple tasks you can direct students to do involve uninstalling and reinstalling bits of hardware (harddrive, optical drive, fan, RAM, etc.) or switching those pieces between machines. Of course, there’s the tried-and-true young engineer’s activity of taking a computer entirely apart and putting it back together again, but that should be reserved for your advanced students or less valuable components.

Note as well that some pieces of hardware carry unexpected risks of damage, such as from static electricity. It’s usually considered a small risk by more experienced (and cavalier) IT nerds, but it’s something to be aware of for sure.

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How to Test Reading Skills in Any Language – Part III: Assessment Start to Finish

This is Part III of a three-part series on developing tests for reading skills in non-major languages. Be sure to check out Part I: DecodingPart II: Fluency and Comprehension, and How to Determine Text Difficulty in Any Language


If you’ve kept up with the series, you are now aware of the three major components of literacy: Decoding, Fluency, and Comprehension. If you’ve studied literacy outside of these articles, you’re probably also aware of the decades-long war being waged about which of these skills should be tested for, which deserves direct instruction, and which is “last year’s/decade’s/century’s” methodology.

NotturnoWe’re not going to get into the middle of that messy, messy debate. The goal of this series is to let you know the components of literacy, and therefore of holistic literacy assessment. Be warned that, although these skills do tend to develop in tandem, it is absolutely possible to create young “readers” who can decode and fluently read a block of text quite beautifully while not comprehending much, if anything at all.

Like most long waged battles for the right way to do things, the answer is likely somewhere in the middle. You can’t be a good reader without all three skills and no single skill will ensure that the other two get pulled along with it.

What you assess depends largely on your goals and the resources available. If your goal is to get a snapshot of the overall progress of a school, you can likely choose one of the skills over the other two. If your goal is to get detailed snapshots and track the progress of individual students, you’ll likely need a more involved, holistic test.


If you’ve got restricted resources (and time is of course a resource), you may simply have to make some tough decisions about which skills to test. In the younger grades, emphasis should be placed on decoding and fluency, with the focus slowly shifting to comprehension as students enter the older grades.

If you’re testing students reading in phonetic languages, there will likely be a very clear point after which assessing decoding is all but useless, and that may be rather early on. For a complicated language like English, decoding can still be an issue well into secondary school (with such exciting words as foliage, bordeaux, and pyrrhic being considered English words).

For a quick and dirty assessment of a whole class at a level where decoding is still a relevant skill, the spelling test style assessment from part I will likely give you a good idea of where each individual student, and the class as a whole, stands.

If you have a bit more time, the 60 second fluency test from part II is your best bet to get an idea of the literacy level of a group of students.

For an even more complete picture, a comprehension test (also from part II) will let you know if those skills are creating truly capable readers.

Why mix and match?

The book

If comprehension is truly an indicator of holistic reading, why bother with the others at all? Primarily, because you may not have time to design, administer, and score, hundreds of comprehension tests. Still, there’s also a time where you’ll want to test the other skills in addition to comprehension assessments.

When you ask? When students aren’t comprehending, the other tests will let you know why. If a student can’t answer questions about a text they’ve “read,” where is the deficiency? It may be that they simply can’t decipher the symbols on the page into the words they represent, it may be that the process of deciphering is so slow for them that they’re hopelessly frustrated with any text longer than a few sentences, or it may be that they simply haven’t developed the skills necessary to grapple with concepts gleaned from higher level texts.

The only way to know precisely what the problem is, and how to address it, is with a test that assesses all three areas.

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Engage Your Students with Science – Tip Three: Tools, Tools, Tools!

Biology 253 Lab

Science tools are essential in any scientific investigation. Without the proper equipment, both in the field and in the laboratory, scientists would have a hard time conducting successful investigations. Laboratory equipment and field equipment help scientists observe, collect, measure, and gather data during an investigation, as well as analyze and interpret it. Scientific tools are utter important in assuring the rigor and accuracy needed in the scientific work.

To learn science successfully, students need to understand how real science is made and how real scientists work. This is why students must learn how to use the proper tools in their classroom investigations. Furthermore, using science tools helps keep students focused on and involved in what they’re investigating by making them feel like real scientists conducting real scientific work.

To teach your class about the importance of science tools, you can start by having a lesson about science equipment. Introduce your students to the basic tools from your school’s laboratory, and explain how they work. Then, with the help of the class, assemble a classroom kit that includes those tools that your students will use the most throughout the year. If you have enough supplies, divide the class in small groups, and have each group assemble a science kit.This kit then becomes that group’s responsibility. The group will use it every time the class engages in science activities throughout the year, so the group members will have to take care of it.

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Engage your Students with Science — Tip Two: Make Time for Science

Science Class

Making good science takes time and so does teaching good science. When learning science, students need time to analyze, apply, reconfigure, and reflect on their investigations, just like scientists do. For this reason, setting time for science inquiry is fundamental to a successful science education.

Science content is loosing protagonism in school’s curricula all over the world. The time dedicated to learning science is diminishing every year, and more often than not, teachers, pressed by time, focus on the scientific facts instead of the scientific process. Teaching big amounts of facts and addressing as many subjects as possible, rather them focusing in the inquire process, has become the rule in science classes.

A recent report from the US National Center on Time & Learning discusses the importance of increasing the number of hours per week dedicated to science investigations. According to this report, science has been edged out as a priority due to more focus on math and english (this study applies to the US, but the same trend is happening in other countries, namely in Europe), and that leads to a poor science education. “Students must learn not just scientific content but also about scientific process,” the authors of the study remind us. To achieve this, teachers need to expand students’ scientific knowledge and engagement over time as they examine objects, design and analyze investigations, collect data and discuss ideas.

So, when planning the weekly activities for your classes, set some time aside, at least twice a week, to conduct scientific investigations with your students. Take the time to walk them through the scientific process to show them how science works. If possible, develop ongoing activities over a few sessions; this is a good strategy to keep students attentive and engaged.

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Fun Ways to Develop a Child’s Creativity

CrayonsThinking outside of the box begins in childhood.

Just give children a box of crayons and off they go creating artwork from their imagination. Adults are often amazed at how they connect things together, and we all benefit from the creativity that children offer us. Check out a few simple tips that will help your little one’s creativity increase.

1. Offer “Limitless” Toys

Legos and blocks are great ways to help children build shapes or objects of any shape and size. Let the children choose what they make by offering a toy without the prescribed instructions that come with it. These toys will not only help the imagination grow but will also improve the motor skills of  young children.

2. Play with Words

Try different writing exercises that your children will enjoy. Have your little ones pretend to be a specific animal, and then, ask your children to write down what it’s like to be that animal. Have your children cut out words from magazines that describe themselves and the paste them onto paper. Ask your children to invent their own fairytale or make up a story together by going back and forth. The possibilities are endless!

3. Understand the Different Kinds of Creativity

Some children will love to sing, build, draw, write, or dance. Observe what your girl or boy enjoys doing and encourage that in both an individual setting and a group setting by offering him/her a class. Your child will benefit from being around new kids that are interested in the same things.

4. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage

Make your children feel secure when they are being creative around you, even in the smallest of moments. If your children are singing, offer a compliment. If it’s not a good time for your children to make a lot of noise, instead of telling your children to be silent, just try to distract them with something new. With time the children’s confidence will grow, and their security in their creativity will be greatly influential in their adult years. As we all know, today’s children are tomorrow’s writers, singers, engineers, and artists!

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Engage Your Students with Science – Tip One: Take Them Outside

Studying science is studying nature. Science tries to understand how natural processes occur, reproduce them in the laboratory, and find ways to put them to the service of humanity. Hence, contact with nature is essential for an effective science education. Through exploring nature, students understand the importance of studying natural processes. They understand why science matters.Nature Walk

The outdoors are living laboratories, where students can observe, investigate,  and analyze natural processes. Through engaging in activities in nature, students can comprehend the complexity of natural processes.

Contact with nature has various benefits for students, research shows. Children are more motivated to learn when the content is connected to nature. They are better able to retain knowledge and think more creatively when learning outdoors. This kind of learning also improves students’ academic achievement, as well as their behavior and social development. Students that engage in outdoors learning improve their ability to communicate with their peers and gain cooperative skills.

There are many ways to explore nature with your class. Take students on walks outdoors, explore the school surroundings, show them the local biodiversity and geodiversity. Does your school have an outdoor space? Use it to plant a school garden, that is a really good tool for teaching science. Gardens are functional ecosystems where you can see and experience hands-on biological, chemical, and geological processes, and this makes them very rich places for science investigations.

Moreover, outdoors activities in the school garden or in a close park have little to no costs to the schools, as opposed to visits to science museums or botanical gardens that are expensive and that, due to less time dedicated to science in schools across the world, increasing worries of parents regarding child safety, and lack of funding, are becoming more and more difficult to arrange.

You can arrange as many field trips to the school garden as you want in a school year. It implicates nothing more than tell you students to grab a notebook and a pencil and head to the garden!

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