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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Neatly Folded Map

The other day a friend of mine was speaking about her father.  As she told about all of the enjoyable times she spent with him, she mentioned that when they went on trips, he often explored interesting ways of getting to their destination.  She happily talked about a trip to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  She laughed as she told about arriving in Beaver Falls and discovering that there were no actual falls.  She continued to explain that the trip was a huge success and her dad was ecstatic when they learned that one of the famous people who grew up in Beaver Falls was Joe Namath, legendary Hall of Fame quarterback for the New York Jets.  This revelation pleased her dad immensely because he was a big football fan.  My friend finished her discussion about their random trips by saying that there is more to discovering the world than a neatly folded map on the seat of the car. 

As I listened to her speak I thought about the impact we make on our children even when we do not expect our actions to make a lasting impression.  At the schools in the Columbia District, we work on being intentional regarding our students’ learning opportunities.  Teachers develop plans which include activities designed to enhance student achievement.  Sometimes, just like my friend’s father, our terrific teachers use detours and “teachable moments” to allow random events to become learning filled occasions.   The other day I ventured into a first grade classroom where a visiting spider had given the teacher an opportunity to help the students learn a bit about the rather large arachnid. 

 Increasingly, teachers are integrating technology into their learning activities in their classroom.  Just like my friend’s father developed exciting opportunities for his children during his side trips, our teachers engage their learners by unfolding their lesson by intentionally using technology to boost student interest and understanding.  The teachers are coming up with creative ideas to improve student achievement and to increase the capability of students to be successful problem solvers.  We are empowering our teachers to work with students to harness technology to gather information and to communicate efficiently and effectively.  Our teachers, using best practices, are striving to increase literacy and integration of technology while incorporating digital and blended learning activities into the educational environment in their classrooms. 

As a member of the Columbia School District community you may support the teachers’ intentional focus on enhancing the students’ achievement by encouraging your child or grandchild to fully complete their school projects or assignments.  You may encourage your child to take the next step and learn more about topics they are covering in school by conducting web-quests.  You may also support our wonderful teachers by engaging in positive verbal support as you speak with others in the community.  Your enthusiasm for learning at Columbia Schools may also include volunteering to serve on a committee or read a book to a child or cheer our sports teams on to victory.   As we work together side-by-side leading the children of the community to become lifelong learners, we must remember that similarly to my friend’s father and the long-lasting impression his trips made on his daughter, our support of education will have an enduring effect on our children!

If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Studying for Success

Janie has a spelling test every Friday.  Steven has a math test after completing a study unit.  How can your youngsters improve their ability to learn and prepare for tests without “cramming” the night before?

You may help your child by working with them to develop good study habits and skills.  Your children will understand more information in less time – and improve their test scores.  To start them on the right track, try the following study tips.

Help your children improve their memory.  Students may improve their memory by reviewing classroom materials often and in a variety of ways.  For example, for a weekly spelling test, suggest a different activity each day like writing the words three times, making flash cards, using them in a sentence or having a friend come over to practice their spelling words together.  Children will often remember facts better when they read the information aloud when practicing for their next test.

Study school work regularly.  Together, decide on a time that studying will be done each night – and stick to it.  Help your children keep supplies handy, such as pencils and paper for taking notes.  You may even work together to create a pencil holder by covering a small, clean soup or coffee can with paper.  Your youngsters will enjoy decorating the can using markers or crayons.

Space your child’s study time out by deciding appropriate increments at the beginning.  Help your children divide their study time.  For instance, maybe they need 15 minutes for spelling and 30 minutes for reading a social studies chapter.  Your children will benefit if they study their most difficult subjects first, when their minds are fresher.

While it is best if you help your children learn good study habits when they are small, it is never too late to begin working with your children on their study habits.  The difference between a failing or a poor grade and an above average grade is having studied efficiently and effectively. 

 If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

The other day I was driving my car to school looking through the front windshield and glancing at the rearview mirror.  As I drove towards school, it occurred to me that when we look in the rearview mirror it presents very limited view of the scenery behind us.  The landscape in the rearview mirror is constrained by the size of the mirror, whereas when we look forward, the front windshield gives you a greater prospective.  Thinking about the differing views made me think about how we approach issues regarding our child’s educational opportunities. 

When we look at our child’s education and think about the things that influence our perspective, it is like the way the rearview mirror limits our visual range.  If we were constantly concentrating on that small area behind us, just think of all the great opportunities in front of us that we would miss.  It is the same with our children, there are many opportunities in life that we may miss if we are fixated on the irritations and disappointments of the past.

Sometimes we hear individuals recount incidents regarding negative experiences that happened last year or at sometime in the past, both in and out of school. While we don’t want to ignore our past experiences, I am sure none of us would drive a car and only concentrate on the rearview mirror.  We must look forward at all of the wonderful possibilities in front of us.  Just think as we look ahead all of those past irritants will, like things in our rearview mirror, begin to grow smaller and fade away. 

By working together and focusing on the future of our children’s education we will build a stronger school district, provide optimal learning experiences and create greater opportunities for our children to achieve!    

If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back-to-School Buzz

This has been a week full of children meeting new friends, making memories and getting to know their teachers.  As I visited classrooms early this week, the children were already engaged in learning.  In one classroom the students were using their technology to begin a lesson on reading.  The teacher was using solid teaching techniques combined with an interesting Smart Board presentation to introduce the students to the reading program. 

Reading is the foundation for success in school and in life.  The ability to read and write is necessary to master other subjects and to communicate what is learned.  Even more important, children who enjoy reading will continue to learn and grow throughout their lives.  Reading is one of the most inexpensive and readily available forms of education and entertainment. The experts note that literacy is crucial and that children should read more.  They also comment that children should be encouraged to try reading different types of books. 

Encourage your child to bring home books from the school library!  Whether your child is a beginning reader or an experienced reader, the school librarian will be able to suggest great books and exciting book series for your child. 

To help direct your child as you capitalize on their reading time, you may want to check with your child’s teacher or simply search for “what books should children read?”  One website that has a nice list of books categorized by age group is .  One of my favorite books for young readers is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.  It just happens to be first book on the Teachers First list.  This book may be accompanied by various activities to help wake up your child’s understanding and creativity.  Those activities may include talking and writing about food, drawing caterpillars, hunting for caterpillars and butterflies, and phonetic activities tied to the foods in the story.  

Young children love reading, but what how should you tie your teenager’s interests to a deeper understanding of what they are reading?  You may choose to read a book along with them or simply talk to them about the books they are reading, yes, some teens read several books at once.  To encourage your teenager to read you should model reading, so that when they read, you read.  Another way to encourage your teen to read is to have them use informational reading sources to help plan activities for your vacation or even for short day-trips.  This way the reading will have a reward at the end and your teen will be the expert on the area or attraction you are visiting.  For other ideas about how to encourage your teen to read, check out a website like RIF @ . 

By encouraging your child to read, he or she will increase their level of self-esteem and broaden their world.  Your positive feedback and interest in the books they are reading will encourage them to read more.  Have fun reading with your child!  Do you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District to benefit your child?  Email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.