Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quote about Teachers

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
Aristotle

Monday, November 5, 2012

Introducing the NEW SLI website

Stop by and visit the newly redesigned Strategic Learning Initiatives website.  Our new website was created for schools in the 21st Century!

 
 
 
Become a Free Member so you can access high-quality resources for administrators, teachers and families

Join as a Premuim Member for only $24.95 per year and receive the free resources, plus over 30 additional tools for administrators, teachers and families

Check out our new Family Engagement Video, and hear from clients about the impact of the program

Participate in our Webinar -
Practical Practices to Put in Place Pronto: Aligning 21st Century Skills with the Common Core Standards to Improve Reading Practices
 
 
Reasons to visit the new site:
  • We guarantee significant results with our Break Through School Improvement Model strategies, if implemented with fidelity!
  • We are unlike any other competitor, in that we offer resources for all stakeholders: Administrators, Teachers, AND Families for continuous quality improvement!
  • Our high-quality, nationally-recognized tools have transformed and turned around school test scores and cultures, without removing staff, in less than one year!

Visit Our Site and See the Results

Visit www.strategiclearning.org to read more about how schools across the nation are utilizing our Break Through School Improvement Model. Through this model, we inspire learning communities to apply our best practice instructional strategies, resulting in rapidly improved educational outcomes.

We appreciate the support of the Cisco Foundation, Mission Data, and Network PhD for the development of the new site.

Thank you for taking the time to take a look! We would love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

6 Ways to Help Kids with ADHD Listen

Check out this interesting article from a fellow blogger on how to get kids to listen who have ADHD...
Listen to Me

Friday, September 21, 2012

Professional Development

Did you know that SLI offers affordable, customizable professional development for your school's needs?
 
We offer stand-alone or series of workshops for:
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
Workshops include some of these research-based, cutting edge topics :
  • 21st Century Skills
  • The new Common Core national standards
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Skill-based and data-driven instruction
Call today to schedule an assessment of your school's professional development needs!

312-738-0022

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Be Detectives

The Family Engagement Team at Strategic Learning Initiatives has developed some engaging videos for families and caregivers around a variety of exciting topics.  This month, we'd like to showcase a video called, "Let's Be Detectives."  This Spanish video explains some fun, educational activities for children which will help them to recognize and name letters of the alphabet, numbers, and shapes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEVPisqpKE

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Technology in Education

Technology in Education

The rapid and constant pace of change in technology is creating both opportunities and challenges for schools.

The opportunities include greater access to rich, multimedia content, the increasing use of online course taking to offer classes not otherwise available, the widespread availability of mobile computing devices that can access the Internet, the expanding role of social networking tools for learning and professional development, and the growing interest in the power of digital games for more personalized learning.

At the same time, the pace of change creates significant challenges for schools. To begin with, schools are forever playing technological catch up as digital innovations emerge that require upgrading schools' technological infrastructure and building new professional development programs. Some schools have been adept at keeping up with those changes, while many others are falling far behind, creating a digital divide based largely on the quality of educational technology, rather than just simple access to the Internet.

The rapid evolution of educational technologies also makes it increasingly challenging to determine what works best. Longitudinal research that takes years to do risks being irrelevant by the time it is completed because of shifts in the technological landscape. The iPad, for instance, became popular in schools soon after it was released and well before any research could be conducted about its educational effectiveness.

Following is a look at some of the hottest issues and trends in educational technology and how they are creating opportunities and challenges for K-12 schools.

Technology Infrastructure

Schools and districts continue to battle to keep pace with ever increasing demands to upgrade their technological infrastructure. But the demands themselves have changed during the past decade, from a focus on simply gaining connectivity to finding enough bandwidth to run more complex applications in classrooms such as, for example, streaming audio and video.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 97 percent of schools across the country had Internet connectivity as of 2010 (FCC, 2010). Far fewer, however, were able to successfully meet the need for higher speed access, the FCC said, citing that demand as one reason it unveiled its National Broadband Plan in March 2010. In October of the same year, it also revised the E-Rate, the federal program that subsidizes school purchases for Internet connectivity, to allow schools to use E-Rate dollars to gain connectivity via dark fiber networks, among other reforms. The stated theory behind the reform was that by allowing more options for connectivity, schools could in theory gain more bandwidth while at the same time drive down cost because increasing the speed of fiber networks generally involves a one-time upgrade rather than consistent, periodic expenditures to secure more bandwidth via other connections.

Yet even before all this action had a chance to take effect, it appeared some schools were already making progress meeting infrastructure demands on their own. For example, data released in the spring of 2011 as part of the ongoing Speak Up research by Project Tomorrow found that restrictive Internet filtering was the top student complaint about Web use in 2010. Five years earlier, the chief complaint was connectivity speed. And anecdotal evidence suggests more schools are providing, or at least considering providing, high-speed wireless networks on their campuses, and reaping savings in some cases by allowing students who own their own laptops, netbooks, or mobile phones to use those devices rather than purchase new school hardware.

But because technology infrastructure needs vary widely between districts, and indeed between schools within the same districts, the federal government's perceived desire to focus its efforts as a facilitator of infrastructure access has become somewhat controversial among education technology advocates. This was especially evident when it became clear that the Enhancing Education Through Technology, or EETT, program, was in jeopardy. The program, which was initially funded at $700 million annually but had dropped to $100 million by 2010, was the only federal program within the U.S. Department of Education's general funding devoted specifically to education technology. It was defended as part of a federal budget compromise in the spring of 2011 (Education Week, April 29, 2011).

In an interview after his appearance at the Consortium for School Networking's annual conference in New Orleans in March of 2011, White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra reiterated the stance of President Obama's administration and the U.S. Department of Education beneath it that being facilitators of technology access was the best and perhaps most practical goal of the federal government in lean economic times (Digital Education, March 15, 2011). By contrast, organizations such as the Consortium for School Networking, the State Educational Technology Directors Association, and the International Society for Technology in Education, united on several occasions to voice their stance that investment in access and infrastructure was wasted without support for programs like EETT, which was designed to direct up to 40 percent of its funds toward professional development needs.

Huge differences in technology infrastructure remain among schools in the United States. And while chief technology officers generally say that school infrastructure is improving, many openly doubt that capability will catch up with demand, since new digital tools used in education are requiring ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth.

Research

While there is much on-going research on new technologies and their effects on teaching and learning, there is little rigorous, large-scale data that makes for solid research, education experts say. The vast majority of the studies available are funded by the very companies and institutions that have created and promoted the technology, raising questions of the research's validity and objectivity. In addition, the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of emerging and evolving technologies.

For example, it is difficult to pinpoint empirical data to support the case for mobile learning in schools - a trend that educators have been exploring for several years now, let alone data to support even newer technologies such as tablet computers like the iPad. The studies that do look at the effects of mobile technologies on learning are often based on small samples of students involved in short-term pilots, not the kind of large-scale, ongoing samples of students that educators and policymakers would like to see (Education Week, Feb. 23, 2011).

However, there are a handful of large-scale studies that do point to trends and observations in the education technology field. For example, Project RED, a research initiative linked closely with the One-to-One Institute, which supports one-to-one laptop initiatives in K-12 schools, released a study about successful implementation models of education technology in October 2010. That study found that most of the schools that have integrated laptops and other digital tools into learning are not maximizing the use of those devices in ways that best make use of their potential. The report goes on to outline the critical steps needed to capitalize on that potential (Project RED, 2010).

A meta-analysis of more than a thousand studies regarding online learning was released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, followed by a revised version of the report in September 2010. That study concluded that students in online-only instruction performed modestly better than their face-to-face counterparts, and that students in classes that blended both face-to-face and online elements performed better than those in solely online or face-to-face instruction. However, the researchers cautioned that the vast majority of the studies in the meta-analysis were from students in higher education, and as a result, the conclusions drawn may not be applicable to K-12 education. In fact, a major finding of the meta-study was the severe lack of rigorous research studies regarding online learning in K-12 (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).

The Speak Up survey, which is conducted annually by Project Tomorrow a nonprofit research organization and Blackboard, Inc., surveyed nearly 300,000 students, parents, teachers, and other educators about their views on technology in education. Findings from the 2010 survey found an increased interest from educators in mobile learning, as well as an increase in the number of students who own mobile devices such as smartphones, regardless of economic or demographic differences. The survey also found an increased interest in online learning and blended learning opportunities, as well as electronic textbooks.

While these studies represent some of the more large-scale research conducted in this field, education advocates emphasize the need for a wider range of well-researched, longitudinal, and ethically sound data on education technology.

E-Learning

Online learning in many forms is on the rise in schools of all types across the country. Students in many parts of the country now have a long list of choices when it comes to e-learning. The menu of options often includes full-time, for-profit virtual schools; state-sponsored virtual schools; supplemental online learning courses offered by brick-and-mortar schools; and charter schools presenting a hybrid option of digital material coupled with face-to-face instruction.

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, estimates that more than 1.5 million K-12 students were engaged in some form of online or blended learning in the 2009-10 school year. At the end of 2010, supplemental or full-time online learning opportunities were available in at least 48 of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia (iNACOL, 2010).

Options for full-time virtual schools are growing. Students from kindergarten through high school can seek out online schooling opportunities, which usually include virtual teachers and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online learning (Education Week, June 15, 2011). These schools are starting to focus more on the issue of socialization for their students and some are incorporating more face-to-face instruction into their array of services to allow for student interaction both online and in person. They're forming clubs, holding proms, and creating school newspapers.

At the end of 2010, 27 states plus the District of Columbia had full-time online schools serving students statewide, according to iNACOL’s report, A National Primer on K-12 Online Learning.

But full-time virtual schools also face the reality that for many students with two parents working outside the home such a scenario is not an option. Such students often cannot tap into full-time online schools for that reason, and virtual school providers acknowledge that their version of education works best, particularly in the lower grades, when an adult is present to assist.

In addition to courses that offer an online instructor, some researchers say students have had the most success with hybrid or blended education. That can mean that students use digital content with a face-to-face instructor, or an online instructor and an in-class teacher may work together to assist students. Hybrid charter schools, which use mostly digital curriculum with face-to-face support and instruction sometimes even combined with an online teacher are gaining a foothold in K-12.

At the same time, a growing number of students now have access to online courses in their brick-and-mortar schools. Schools are tapping into e-learning for a variety of reasons. Some schools say it saves money and allows them to offer a wider variety of courses, including Advanced Placement classes. Others say it can help with scheduling conflicts when a face-to-face class is provided only at a time when a student already has another obligation. In addition, online courses can provide highly qualified teachers for classes otherwise not offered by a school.

One of the fastest growing areas of e-learning, and a category that mainstream schools are increasingly turning to, is credit recovery. These online courses allow students to retake classes they haven't passed, but in a new and different format. Many of these credit recovery courses give students a brief evaluation, then permit them to skip concepts they already know to focus on ideas they haven't yet grasped. However, some educators and education experts have questioned the quality and academic rigor of these programs (Education Week, April 28, 2010).

So where are traditional schools getting these online courses? Some are developing their own, others are purchasing them from for-profit vendors and a growing number are able to tap into state virtual schools or state-led online learning initiatives that currently exist in 38 states. Some schools find it easier to use courses developed by a state-run virtual school, since it is already aligned with their state standards.

Mobile Computing

Increasing access, growing acceptance, and decreasing cost are all helping to make the use of mobile devices a popular and increasing trend within the world of educational technology.
While the digital divide between the affluent and disadvantaged still exists, mobile devices appear to have the potential to close it, at least in terms of access.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an ongoing project from the Washington-based Pew Research Center, more than three quarters of American youths age 12-17 owned cellphones in 2010, a ratio that generally holds true across socioeconomic divides. And it found many youths from less affluent backgrounds are more likely to gain Internet access via cellphone use, in part because the evolution of multifunctional smartphones has reached the point where affordability outweighs usability limitations. It should be noted, however, that expense is still a factor for many in terms of how often they search online via a cellphone (Pew, 2010).

Meanwhile, some schools, districts and even states have looked to mobile devices, and particularly those developed in the latter half of the last decade, as a way to achieve and embrace a one student to one device, or 1-to-1, computing ratio in classrooms. The concept grew slowly at first, with some districts establishing 1-to-1 laptop initiatives in the early part of the last decade. Maine even established the first statewide laptop initiative of its kind in 2002, a program which started with middle school students and is expanding to high school students despite tightening budgets. The lesser cost of recently developed netbook computers, smartphones, and tablet computers has greatly boosted the 1-to-1 movement.

This is not to say all educators agree that the benefits of 1-to-1 computing, using mobile devices or otherwise, are worth the investment. Some question whether there is enough research to support claims that 1-to-1 computing benefits student learning. And even advocates of 1-to-1 computing stress the true benefits of such a program only come when mobile computing devices are used to differentiate the academic path for students within classrooms, allowing teachers more time to address individual student needs. A recent report from the Project RED research team, which has close connections to the One-to-One Institute, indicated that only one percent of the schools it surveyed included all nine of its technology implementation best practices, and stressed that putting more computers in schools by itself does not lead to change.

But the evolution of mobile devices, particularly netbooks, smartphones, and tablets, has driven down cost and made procurement on a larger scale more realistic for some districts.

Some netbooks can be purchased for around $300, about a third of the price of some laptops. Tablet computers like the iPad tend to fall in the middle of those two price points, and have come into favor among educators recently because of their portability and long battery life. The 2011 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition notes that adoption of all these devices for learning could increase rapidly because districts are realizing that because of lesser expenses surrounding the devices, there also needs to be less accompanying infrastructure.

Another recent trend of exploration is the concept of schools allowing students to bring their own mobile devices to classrooms, with districts charged with providing a loaner device to students who cannot afford their own. Often, schools will do this only on the condition that students use the school's filtered wireless Internet network. Organizations like the Consortium for School Networking, and academic institutions like the University of San Diego, are among those that have issued guidelines on how best do to this within the confines of federal and state laws regarding privacy and protection from material unfit for minors, as well as concerns about theft, academic integrity, and other student misuse (Consortium for School Networking, 2011; University of San Diego, 2011).

Mobile device use in education appears to be here to stay, though the next several years will likely be a period where standards and best practices become more uniform and refined. Of course, past history shows future evolutions of the technology itself will shape standards and best practices in ways that may not yet be predictable.

Gaming

Intrigued by the ability of games to engage children for hours of play, educators are eager to tap into the motivational power of gaming for educational purposes. And the increasing power and sophistication of technology has created fertile ground for game and simulation experimentation both in and out of classroom walls.

However, many challenges stand in the way of incorporating games and simulations into subject areas on a widespread scale, including a lack of hard-hitting research about the ability of games to teach educational content; a lack of time and funding to incorporate games into classrooms and provide the professional development necessary to do it effectively; and the challenging task of aligning educational games with content standards.

Still, the proliferation of mobile devices that allow students to access a wide variety of Web-based games, the adaptive nature of games " 2011-Horizon-Report-K12 report. " The report predicts game-based learning will be widely adopted by mainstream classrooms within two to three years (New Media Consortium, 2011).

Instead of educational software, e.g. Math Blaster or Reader Rabbit, students and teachers are much more likely to incorporate Web-based educational games into classrooms, which are often available for free. The National Science Foundation has played a large role in providing funding for the research and development of Web-based science games such as Crystal Island, a game developed by the IntelliMedia Group at North Carolina State University where students investigate an infectious outbreak,”and the River City Project,”a multi-user virtual environment for science inquiry created by researchers at Harvard University (Education Week, March 17, 2011; Education Week, April 30, 2008).

Some educators hope that games and simulations will provide a way for students to picture themselves in career paths they may otherwise would not have chosen, especially in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and some argue that games and simulations offer students a way to connect what they are learning in class to (simulated) real-world situations in a safe and low-cost environment (Education Week, March 17, 2011).

Researchers have also found that games and simulations may help students learn by helping them visualize processes they otherwise could not see, such as the flow of an electron or the construction of a city. Games can also promote higher-order thinking skills, such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork (MIT, 2009; National Academies Press 2011).

However, creating a healthy marriage of an engaging and entertaining game with educational objectives and goals is a challenging process that has yet to be perfected. To create and design games with the kind of high-resolution graphics and complex situations that children are used to seeing in commercial games takes a large amount of funding and time that educators often do not have. And finding the time and resources to train teachers who may not be familiar with game-based learning is a challenge for most schools.

Despite these challenges, many educators and researchers are committed to developing educational games and incorporating game-based learning into classrooms across the United States.

Social Networking

Many schools are no longer debating whether social networking should play a role in education. Instead, that debate has shifted to what social networking tools work best and how to deploy them (Digital Directions, June 16, 2010).

Some schools are using mainstream social networking tools, like Facebook, for everything from promoting school events to organizing school clubs as well as for more academic purposes related to assignments and class projects.

But educators wary about security, advertising, information-sharing, and social interaction in such an environment are often seeking out social networks designed specifically for learning instead. These sites, like ePals and eChalk, are more restrictive, often allowing teachers and school officials to limit not only who can join, but who students can talk to and interact with. Some educators also say students seem to take these sites more seriously and treat them with a more academic focus and tone than they would a site they routinely use for socialization with their peers. These sites also often provide safety features that can detect foul language or bullying phrases and alert a teacher (Education Week, June 15, 2011).

Many educators say the academic benefits of social networking are real. They allow students to work cooperatively on projects in an online environment that feels familiar to students. Teachers often report that a student who does not speak up in class will be more engaged on a social networking site and that these sites allow instructors to extend the school day.
Educators have also taken to social networks for professional development. The social networking site Ning, for example, has a plethora of group sites organized around teaching a particular subject, like English literature or high school biology. In addition, Twitter has become a force in the professional development arena, with features such as EdChat, weekly one-hour conversations that take place around pre-arranged educational topics (Digital Directions, June 16, 2010).

Web 2.0 and other technology tools are making it quicker and easier than ever to create digital portfolios of student work, a method of showcasing student progress that experts say increases student engagement; promotes a continuing conversation about learning between teachers, parents, and students; and extends academic lessons beyond school walls (Education Week, March 17, 2011). New social networking tools to aid this are being developed and updated regularly.

Wikis and blogs allow students to work collaboratively and share their work with a limited or unlimited number of people. The video phone service Skype is also popular with teachers, particularly for allowing their students to connect with peers in other parts of the country or the world. Other tools, like VoiceThread, which archives and indexes images, videos, text and audio, are popular with all ages of students, including at the elementary level (Education Week, June 16, 2010).

Article copied from EdWeek's Research Center:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/

We'd love to hear from you about your technology needs. What is on your technology-wish list?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Please join us for an exciting Social Emotional Learning Experience



TOP 20
T R A I N I N G

Transforming American Education


 We Can Make a Difference in the "Culture of Education" at Our School!



Strategic Learning Initiatives (SLI) and Top 20 Training

invites you to a free preview of an exciting professional development opportunity for all principals, teachers, parents and district administration.



 Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2:30-4:30 p.m.

at

Finkl Elementary School

 2332 S. Western Av.

Chicago, IL.





Join us as we explore "Wow" insights and practical tools for creating and sustaining a culture of learning and making a positive difference in how students experience school. Discover tools for developing the potential of your students and enhancing the culture of your classrooms and schools."



"Finally, after 30 years of teaching. I found a program that changes the culture of education.  Top 20 Training gives parents, teachers and students the tools necessary to be successful in school and in life."

David Becker, Teacher St. Louis Park High School



Agenda for the two preview sessions:



 Live Above the Line: How Our Thinking Governs Our Experience

This session focuses on becoming aware of our thinking so we know when it is working and when it is not working.  It explores (1) The conditions that we come upon in our life that invite us to go Below the Line (2) Indicators telling us when we are Below, (3) How to handle Below the Line experiences with more grace and dignity and (4) How to trampoline back Above the Line.



Keep Stupid in the Box: Eliminating Student Roadblocks for Success

Based on research from students and adults, this session identifies (1) Five causes of stupid, (2) Responses students make when they feel stupid, and (3) What teachers can do to minimize the negative impact stupid has on kids?



RSVP to Laura Reyes at Strategic Learning Initiatives

(312) 738-0022 or lreyes@strategiclearning.org by June 22nd.

Friday, June 1, 2012

June Parent of the Month

This month we would like to recognize Marisol Garcia as our Parent of the Month.


Marisol, a parent of students at Chicago's Edwards School, graciously allowed us to get to know her a little better. Here is what we found out...

SLI: Mariosl, how did you become involved with SLI?
MG: I started attending the Early Childhood workshops when my daughter was in preschool and from there I was invited by the SLI Team to be a volunteer parent facilitator for the Early Childhood workshops at The Edwards Center for Young Learners. Then my daughter started kindergarten and I was asked to join the K,-8 facilitator team and present the parent workshops in the main building at Edwards School. I was delighted to become part of SLI.

SLI: Why do you feel the work that SLI does is important?
MG:  I feel the work of SLI is important because I learn many things for myself and my children. The workshops are very important because they give us information to give to our children and we also learn from them.

SLI: Tell us something interesting about yourself.
MG: I am a very happy person; I love to go to the mall and shop in the stores, go to the movies and I love to spend time with my family.

Thank you so much, Marisol.  We value your dedication to SLI's mission! Congratulations on being named the Parent Volunteer of the month!!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May's SLI Spotlight Parent

This month's Spotlight Parent is:
Rosa Diaz


Let's take a few moments to get to know a little bit about Rosa Diaz, an amazing parent facilitator.

SLI: Rosa, how did you become involved in the SLI Family Engagement Program?
RD: I attended the a parent workshops at Edwards School and I was the Vice-President of the Biligual Program at Edwards.  On one occasion, the principal, Ms. Sauri, asked me to become part of the team of volunteer parent facilitators with SLI.

SLI: Why do you feel the work that SLI does is important?
RD:  It is very important because SLI trains us for the parent workshops to facilitate for the parents of our school. This way we can help our children.

SLI: Tell us something about yourself.
RD: I am a person that likes to be friendly.  I like to listen to people, especially when they have a certain problem.  I like to help them find solutions.

Thank you to Rosa Diaz for her dedication to her children and Edwards School! You are a parent to be recognized!!!



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eisenhower High Freshman English Teachers Lay Foundation for FIP Growth


Freshman English Teachers Lay Foundation for FIP Growth

January, 2012 saw the launch of the Focused Instruction Process (FIP) at Eisenhower High School.

After four days of intensive training, teachers Tasia Addison, Sara Davis and Teidra Taylor designed and began implementation of this research-based, eight-step process.

With FIP, every freshmen student receives specific skill instruction determined by the disaggregation of test data, and articulated on the instructional timeline. Following that instruction, students receive a formative assessment. These results are used to inform instruction, and assign students into tutorial and enrichment groups. Tutorial students are then retested to assure that follow-up assistance has been sufficient to raise students’ capacities. Teachers maintain skill knowledge through spiraling back, building on, and continuously revisiting previous material.

In order to assure a coordinated effort, these teachers meet collaboratively 3-4 times a month to:

1)     share quality instructional resources and successful lessons,

2)     conduct assessment evaluations using the Backward Design Process,

3)     discuss ongoing data and create action steps,

4)     talk about challenges and celebrate successes.


It takes a committed learning community to make FIP a success. Thanks to these teachers, Freshman Assistant Principal Janice Ranzy-Allen, Terezka Jirasek, Strategic Learning Initiatives facilitator and American Institutes of Research coordinator, Teresa Lance, FIP is not only alive and well at Eisenhower, but will be expanding into more subject areas and grade levels during the upcoming school year.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Spotlight Parent

SLI is pleased to continue our new feature called: Spotlight Parent.

This month we would like to introduce you to Rosa Bahena, a parent from Edwards School!


Recently, our Family Engagement team had the opportunity to sit down with Rosa. Here is what she had to say....

SLI: Rosa, How did you become involved with SLI?
RB: I attended the parent workshops at Edwards School. I was invited by Principal Judy Sauri to become a volunteer parent facilitator with SLI. I became aware of how important it is to be a part of SLI.

SLI: Why do you feel our work is important?
RB: The SLI workshops are very important, because without them, we would not learn so many things to help our children.  For example, I learned how to help my children with homework or science projects etc. This is why the workshops are very important to me, so I can continue learning and practicing with my children.

SLI: Tell us something interesting about yourself.
RB: I am very friendly. I like to share with others. Most importantly, I like to volunteer at my children's school.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spotlight Parent -- Erika Cardenas from Edwards School

SLI is pleased to introduce a new feature on our blog called: Spotlight Parent.  For the next few months we will be interviewing parents who have participated in SLI workshops to become Parent Facilitators. 

This month we would like to introduce you to Erika Cardenas, a parent from Edwards School!


SLI: Erika, how did you become involved in SLI?
EC: I was part of The NCLB/PAC Committee. The principal of Edwards School, Ms. Judi Sauri, invited me to an SLI retreat in which many schools participated. I had the opportunity to meet other parents and I saw that everyone was committed to be part of this program because it was going to be a different experience that we were going to bring to our schools. The most exciting part is that we, the parents, were going to be trained to facilitate the parent workshops in our schools. This is how I became a facilitator with SLI.

SLI: Why do you feel the work that SLI does is important?
EC: I feel it is important because this program offers the opportunity to be more involved in the education of our children, and with the participation of parents, teachers and students it is the key to success in education.

SLI: Tell us something special about yourself.
EC: I love to learn everything that can be learned, because I learn something new and different everyday.

Congrats to Erika for being a dedicated parent and a wonderful role model!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ask Congress to Pass the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2011

Please join us in signing a petition to support the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2011!!

Bipartisan legislation supporting students’ development through social and emotional learning has been introduced to the 112th Congress by Representatives Judy Biggert (R‐IL), Dale E. Kildee (D‐MI), and Tim Ryan (D‐OH).

The Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act of 2011, HR 2437 will expand the availability of programs that teach students skills such as problem‐solving, conflict resolution, responsible decision-making, relationship building, goal‐setting, and self discipline.

“This legislation will help teachers provide result-driven instruction in skills that keep children focused on learning and prepare them to succeed in the real world,” says Representative Judy Biggert, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. (Bill Summary via Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) (Full Text of H.R. 2347 on GovTrack.com)

Again, our hearts break as the story unfolds of another act of violence in schools. Equally as heartbreaking is that it takes a tragedy as deep as a school shooting to bring the dialogue on safety and wellness in schools to the forefront of mainstream media, which, as we know, dominates so many peoples' thinking.

Fortunately, the conversation on wellbeing in schools has grown rich in several arenas of education including the social and emotional learning movement and the school yoga and mindfulness movement. At the heart of these interconnected movements is the knowledge that well being is not only essential to learning, it is essential to safety. Kids who are stressed beyond belief by a world in turmoil and pressured to perform in rigid school environments are bound to snap. Unfortunately, it's not only the kids who commit extreme acts of violence that are hurting deeply.

The victims of the recent shooting in Ohio, have a message that must be heard by each and every parent, teacher, administrator and tax payer:

  • STOP ignoring the cries of children and teens all over the nation who are suffering in a broken educational system.

  • STOP piling on the homework and the demands.
  • STOP standardizing education at the cost of students and teachers creativity.
  • STOP putting outcomes over sanity.
  • For schools to become healthy and thrive, the individuals must be respected and honored.
  • START listening to the voices of our youth that so clearly articulate the need for social and emotional support.
  • START including children's hearts in education.
  • START dialogues within communities about the real purpose of education.
  • START putting the pressure on legislators to respond to research that shows the benefit of social and emotional learning programs.
PLEASE JOIN US IN EDUCATING OUR POLICYMAKERS about Social and Emotional Learning.  Please go to the following website and sign the petition.  Petition for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2011 Or click on the link on the right sidebar of the blog. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Workshops for Teachers

Looking for some professional development workshops on cutting edge topics that utilize research based strategies?

Strategic Learning Initiatives offers a full catalog of workshops for parents and/or teachers on a wide array of topics.

Here are a few of our newest and most popular workshops:

Common Practice of the Core Standards
  • Examine your current standards-based teaching practices
  • Compare and contrast the Illinois Learning Standards to the new Common Core National Standards
Primary Mathematics Strategies
  • Reflect upon and maximize areas of mathematics expertise
  • Introduce, model and practice best practice strategies
  • Collaboratively design lessons using mathematics strategies
Powerful Vocabulary Strategies
  • Experience successful vocabulary acquisition strategies
  • Definitions and differences between Words in Isolation and Words in Context are explored
Call today to schedule a professional development workshop at your school or for more information.
312-738-0022

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Spotlight Staff Member

Welcome to February's installment of SLI's Staff Member of the Month!  This month we are featuring an outstanding professional development team manager and facilitator.  She is a former classroom teacher and librarian.  She continues to set the bar amazingly high for all of us. Congratulations to this month's featured staff member: Terezka Jirasek.  Let's get to know a little more about this outstanding woman!


SLI: How did you become involved with SLI?
TJ: I started working for SLI after being a teacher participant in their workshops with the Chicago Learning Collaborative for three years at John Spry Community School.

SLI: Why did you choose to become involved in education?
TJ: I chose to become a teacher after 13 years as a long term care administrator followed by a year working with runaway/throw away kids in Hollywood.  During that very pivotal time, I learned that next to parents, teachers had the greatest impact on their young, challenging lives. With that inspiration, I returned to school and studied for my Master's in Teaching.



SLI: We'd like to get a little silly with you now.  Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity? If so, who?
TJ: It's never happened to me and I really can't think of anyone.

SLI: What is the best movie you have seen lately?
TJ: Hmmm...Does The Sound of Music count?


SLI: Did your parents ever tell you why they chose your name?
TJ: No, but I think I'll ask my mom!!

SLI: If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
TJ: I'd like to think of myself as yellow: being bright, spreading light, and trying to radiate sunshine.

SLI: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
TJ: Coconut


SLI: Which grade in school was your favorite and why?
TJ: Second grade was awesome! I could read and I had a truly loving, wonderful teacher named Mother Petra. I tried to always remember her unending kindness when I taught 2nd graders.

SLI: Do you have any pets?
TJ: Not currently, but I definitely consider myself to be a dog-person!

Thanks so much to Terezka for taking the time to tell us about herself! Congratulations on being the spotlight staff member of the month!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Spotlight Staff Member

This month's spotlight staff member is: Michelle Stankevicius from the Professional Development team.  Let's find out more about Michelle:


SLI: How did you become involved with SLI?
MS: I was a teacher at Maria Saucedo Academy and SLI was providing professional development workshops for the staff. I got to know more about the people and mission.  I left teaching after my second child was born to spend more time with my family and work part time for SLI.

SLI: Why did you choose to become involved in education?
MS: I always wanted to be a teacher.  I love working with kids.  I love seeeing the faces of children light up with then understanding something new!

SLI: Now for the fun stuff. Which celebrity do you most often get mistaken for?
MS: Well, I have been told that I look like the country singer Trisha Yearwood. I'm not so sure about that.

SLI: Did your parents ever tell you why they chose your name? Is there a good story behind it?
MS: My mom says I was named after the Beatles song, "Michelle." My dad says I was named after Mickey Mantle.

SLI: If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
MS: I think a periwinkle blue. It's a fun, calming color.

SLI: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
MS: I love egg nog flavored ice cream.

SLI: What grade in school was your favorite and why?
MS: I will have to say that my college years were my favorite. I made some of my very best friends in college and I loved my teachers.

SLI: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
MS: My three children have a total of six pets: two cats, two guinea pigs and 2 fish. Just don't ask me if I like the pets. LOL

Thanks, Michelle! Stay tuned for more Spotlight Staff Members!!