Here’s why we didn’t opt out of state testing (PSSAs)

here's why my kids take the tests -- why my kids don't opt out of the tests in Pennsylvania

After  years of posting about my frustration with required school testing, sharing articles on Facebook and viewpoints on Julieverse, I can certainly understand why people are questioning the fact that my third and fifth graders are taking the PSSAs this month. Opting out is certainly the thing to do. It's fashionable. It's on-trend. A nearby Pennsylvania school district, Lower Merion, is reporting 20 times an increase in students opting out. There are Facebook groups and pages of angry … [Read more...]

5 tips for visiting historic Philadelphia

visiting historic philadelphia

When visiting Historic Philadelphia, most visitors plan their trip around The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and then reach out on Facebook or through email, looking for must-see spots in Philadelphia. We take our kids to Philly a few times a year (we live in the suburbs) and I’ve lived here nearly all my life. I’m also an educator and was a 4th grade teacher (we study PA history in 4th grade.) I've seen many local suggest skipping the Betsy Ross house, but I have to argue. It’s a … [Read more...]

The Scientific Process: How to plan your science fair project

The Scientific Process -- how to plan an elementary school science fair project for kids

Science fairs used to be a classroom or school activity, but they're now popping up publicly and privately -- everywhere from County science fairs to international contests for kids. And they're no longer just for the "big kids" in middle and high schools, science fair projects start as young as kindergarten. These projects can be as simple or as difficult as a child allows them to be and it's often surprising that some of the most simple topics can become incredible projects. While each science … [Read more...]

5 Classics to read with your kids

classic books to read with your kids

I love taking my kids to the bookstore or library. There are so many shiny new choices out there for kids to get excited about! But just as exciting as Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Captain Underpants, are the books that made me fall in love with reading. Take the time to share some of your classic favorites with your kids and help them see what made you fall in love with reading. Classic Chapter Books to Read with Your Kids Stuart Little When I first introduced my kids to the adventures … [Read more...]

Why one little word means so little

why one little word means so little

I rolled my eyes a bundle in seventh grade, especially at my English teacher. He sat in his rocking chair and spat off rules of grammar, he read books with us that had little significance in my daily life, and he was quick to catch us passing notes. But, 28 years later, I recognize the value of what he taught me. He taught me one of the most significant lessons in all of my schooling. It's something I've held onto... something I use daily. He taught me not to use the word "nice." The very … [Read more...]

Celebrating reading: a reflection on our family’s growth

family reading journey 2015

I love re-reading old personal posts and reflecting on how things have changed... or haven't. The original post from 2012 focused on my children, where we were in reading and how we planned to celebrate Read Across America. Today, I'm updating the post in Cat-in-the-Hat red.  I have three very different children. Like me, my oldest loves to read. In school his teacher is constantly reminding him to put the book away and pay attention. He reads on the bus, in the car, in front of the TV. … [Read more...]

An Atlanta mom’s argument against Common Core and Standardized Testing

my 8-year-old's class lost 3 hours to practice standardized testing

I've always been inspired by my friend Ruth Hartman's passion for arguing standardized testing in schools. Her children are students in the Atlanta area and, recently, she shared a Facebook status update reminding others to read between the lines, and to read the lines carefully, of the many articles sent home from schools that supported and discussed educational testing and common core. The discussion was inspiring, so I asked Ruth to share her opinions in an editorial on … [Read more...]

Learning with M&Ms: learning across the curriculum and beyond

learning with m&ms -- many opportunities for learning with little candies including spelling games, math games, exercise and social activities. Love the getting to know you game for the beginning of the school year or for new students

Several months ago, my son came home from swim team practice inspired for a new family activity: the M&M game. Last year, every Monday at practice was M&M Monday: each child gets an M&M and does whatever is assigned to that color on the M&M chart–it’s a fun way for the kids to run their drills. But even better, it offered opportunities for us to play a similar game doing everything from homework, to household chores, to indoor and outdoor activities, to extended … [Read more...]

Why wordless? The educational value of wordless books

Why are wordless books so important for reading and child development? Never discount the importance of wordless books in childhood. Through wordless books, children learn the art of storytelling and unique thoughts as well as necessary pre-reading skills. Plus 9 must-have picture books for your library

Growing up, my mom and I ventured to the local library at least once a week. It was a tiny, two story building with the children’s books and story hour hidden upstairs. These were the days before people set up workstations at small libraries. Little research was done at this one. It was, simply, a lending library. I recall the moms shushing their children. I’d like to think that I was as difficult to settle into quietness at this tiny library as my kids were, when they were also of the … [Read more...]