Friday, May 20, 2016

Technology - Sites and Apps to Avoid the "Summer Slump"

While most summer days are spent enjoying the nice weather and playing with friends, there are always a few days that the weather doesn't cooperate. These are perfect days for students to spend some time using some of the educational apps and sites they've used at school. We provide our students with many different online services for math and reading.

Some of these services include:

- IXL allows students in grades 2-8 to practice math anytime! It is available online and on iOS and Android devices. They already have a login so they can continue the progress they've already made at school.

- Dreambox allows kindergarten and first grade students to practice math. Dreambox is available online and have iOS and Android apps.

- Big Universe allows students to access a large collection of books online. There are also apps available for iOS and Android for reading on the go!

Many other resources can be found on the Richmond School website. There are many fun resources that students are familiar with that will be available to them all summer long!

RtI - Fun Educational Activities for the Summer

With summer right around the corner, here’s an article from Education World that provides 25 fun ideas of how to keep your child’s brain active. The activities span all different subject areas and provide a variety of hands-on experiences. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Make homemade Bubble Solution and experiment with such unique Bubble-Blowing Tools as strings, milk containers, and garbage can lids.
  • Catch a firefly and then go to The Firefly Files online, or read a book, such as Fireflies by Sally M. Walker, to help your child learn more about them. Then invite your child to complete the Education World Firefly Facts worksheet.
  • Start a rock collection. Collecting Rocks, a Web site by the U. S. Geological Survey, offers advice to help the novice collector gather, identify, and store neat rock specimens. The Audubon Society Pocket Guide Familiar Rocks and Minerals North America will help children identify and label the rocks and minerals they find.
  • Hang a white sheet outside at night and shine a light on it. Observe the variety of insects it draws. To identify some of those nighttime visitors, see The Orders and Selected Families of Insects or read the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders.

Literacy - Encouraging Children to Read a Variety of Genres

Why is it important for children to read a variety of books and stories?  There are several good reasons.  The exposure to different authors and genres of books can give your child insight into other cultures, worldwide locations, and new vocabulary.  For instance, science fiction books may have different vocabulary and settings than we find in mystery books.  
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
  • Discuss different genres of books with your child and explain the reasons why reading a wide variety of books can be beneficial.  
  • Take your child to the local library and allow him/her an opportunity to select different genres of books on their own.  If your child has a hard time making a selection, then you and your child can ask the librarian for suggestions.  The more input your child has in the selection process, the more willing they will be to try something new.

  • Offer to read a genre of book along with your child that he or she has not yet tried. Whether a child is 5 or 12, he or she will enjoy sharing a story with you.  Make it exciting.  Children may try reading different genres simply because they look forward to spending quality time with you.
  • Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions on how to gently introduce new genres to your child.
  • Again, if your child is extremely resistant to trying a new reading genre, that’s okay.  Be glad that your child enjoys reading the books he/she likes for now, and try again at a later date.

From the article: “Why Children Benefit From Reading a Variety of Books” Written by: Dr. Felecia Nace, Family and Community Relations Office, New Jersey Department of Education

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Technology - Google Apps

A few years ago, Richmond moved from relying heavily on traditional email and desktop applications from Microsoft to Google Apps. Google Apps includes email, documents, spreadsheets, calendars and more that are all provided by Google. 

One of the main reasons we made the switch was that it provides a better way of collaborating with others. Students can work together on an assignment at any time using a variety of internet connected devices and can see the changes that are being made as they are happening. 

Google Apps has worked great in our classrooms and it can work for you at home too. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Google Apps. If you don't have a Gmail address, you can sign up for free at  Here are just a few ideas of ways that you could use Google Apps at home with your families:

Gmail - Keep in touch with email that is hosted by Google and accessible from a large number of connected devices. 

  Google Calendar - Create events in this online calendar and share them with family      members. Put anything from sporting events to music lessons on a shared calendar so everyone in your family knows what's going on. 

Google Drive - Create documents, spreadsheets and slideshows to share with the family. Create a shared document or spreadsheet to keep track of things like homework and chores.

There are so many other uses for Google Apps in your home that you can explore and the best part is that it's completely free! 


Math - Family Math Problems

How many squares can you count?

Recommended app: Bedtime Math (iPhone/iPad or Android). 

Literacy - Reading Success At Home

The literacy committee hopes to provide ideas for families to continue building a reader's success at home. Please read through the attached poster which includes a variety of options and tips for keeping readers engaged outside of the classroom. Have fun and happy reading!

RtI - Sleep in Children and Adolescents

"Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain's battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best."  - Marc Weissbluth, MD

According to WebMD, healthy sleep includes: a healthy amount of sleep, uninterrupted sleep, the proper number of age-appropriate naps, and a good sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep allows children to have the optimal amount of alertness to function in their daily lives. They are able to learn and engage both mentally and socially with their environment the best when they are well-rested. The following are sleep tips and guidelines to ensure that your child gets the appropriate amount of sleep.

Preschoolers (Ages 3- 5 years)
Preschoolers need approximately 11 - 13 hours of sleep according to the National Sleep Foundations. At this age, children might not need a daily nap, though continue to benefit from quiet time in the afternoon. Quiet time can last about 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the child and consists of time alone (no parents or electronics) where the child is engaged in an activity that is not too stimulating. Example activities that parents can provide children during quiet time include books, puzzles, music, coloring books, and legos. Providing quiet time to young children helps with their mood and sleep.

Sleep tips:
  • Create a consistent sleep schedule
  • Provide your child at least a 30 minute warning before their bedtime routine starts
  • Create a quiet time for the child if they are no longer napping
  • Ensure a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the child’s bedroom
  • Sleep in the same room each night without a TV inside of it

School-Age (Ages 6 - 13 years)
School-age children need approximately 9 - 11 hours of sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation. At this age, children begin to engage in activities that can disrupt sleep schedules. For example, children begin to have an increase in homework, after school activities, use media and gaming platforms on smartphones and computers, watch TV, and consume caffeine.

It is common to see sleep problems and disorders at this age. Poor sleep can lead to problems with attention and learning, mood swings, and an increase in irritability.

Sleep tips:
  • Teach children about healthy sleep habits
  • Continue to keep a consistent sleep schedule and routine
  • Provide your child at least a 30 minute warning before their bedtime routine starts
  • Leave enough technology-free time before bed (about an hour)
  • Create a good sleep environment - dark, quiet, and cool
  • Keep TV, computers, and other electronics out of the bedroom
  • Avoid consuming caffeinated drinks

Teenagers (Ages 13 - 18 years)
Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep. Similar to school-age children, teenages often do not get the recommended hours of sleep because of after-school activities, social activities, media and video game consumption, and homework. To make matters worse, teenager bodies want to stay up later and wake up later, making it difficult for them to fall asleep at a reasonable time.

An hour less of sleep per night can add up quickly resulting in sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation can result in the same problems as they do in school-age children including: problems with attention, memory, and learning, mood swings, and delayed response time.

Sleep tips:
  • Teach children about healthy sleep habits
  • Continue to keep a consistent sleep schedule and routine
  • Provide your child at least a 30 minute warning before their bedtime routine starts
  • Leave enough technology-free time before bed (about an hour)
  • Create a good sleep environment - dark, quiet, and cool
  • Keep TV, computers, and other electronics out of the bedroom
  • Avoid consuming caffeinated drinks