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4 Tips to Help Communicate with Your Middle Schooler

The kids of Los Angeles Teen Mentoring

This is a guest post by Sabrina Ling Vegnone, the Executive Director at Los Angeles Team Mentoring Middle school. Two words which strike fear into every parent’s heart, dredging up old memories of braces, acne, and the pain of being picked last for a team during gym class. I’m not a mom, but I run mentoring programs for over 1,300 at-risk middle school youth in Los Angeles and hope these ... Read More »

On Report Cards, It’s the Effort that Counts

Report_Cards (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

If your child is enrolled in a school within the Los Angeles Unified School District, you’ve recently received your child’s second report card of the year.  Perhaps your school had parent conferences as well, so you and your child’s teacher were able to discuss the cause-and-effect relationship between your child’s behavior and effort in the classroom and your child’s grades on the report card. My kindergarten son brought home his ... Read More »

Funding Field Trips

school bus (photo by Wendy Kennar)

After a 12 year teaching career, I feel confident in saying that most students love field trips, while most teachers don’t.  Field trips are a lot of work.  There’s a lot to coordinate:  the location, the date, the time, admission, the bus, parent volunteers.  And when I took my students on field trips, I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until we were all safely back at school.  I spent ... Read More »

LCFF, LCAP and LAUSD: What Does It All Mean?

Stacks of US dollars

Let me bottom-line it for you like this: Over the next 5-10 years, more money will be flowing into schools in LAUSD. And trust me, that is the only simple thing you’ll ever hear about LCFF, LCAP or LAUSD, for that matter. Because it’s all very complicated and confusing about how and why and where the money will be spent. But let me assure you: the money is coming. Why ... Read More »

What is the Proper Way to Address Adults?

name tag (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I am afraid that for many years now I may have been inadvertently offending or insulting other adults.  As a teacher, I usually referred to someone in relation to the child that was in my class.  For example, “Alexander’s grandma, Jayde’s mom, or Calandra’s father.”  I didn’t refer to the adult in a student’s life by the adult’s first name.  It felt too personal.  Mr. or Mrs. didn’t work either.  ... Read More »

What’s Common Core All About?

classroom (photo by Wendy Kennar)

For my entire twelve year teaching career, what I taught was governed by the California State Standards. At the time, each state had “adopted” their own standards. So what my fourth graders were expected to learn in California may not have entirely matched what fourth graders in Kansas, for example, were expected to learn. As I was preparing to leave my career, schools were beginning preparations for the transition to ... Read More »

Celebrating the 100th Day of School!

100th day books (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Today is the the 100th Day of school and in kindergarten it is a major event.  I don’t remember celebrating this momentous day when I was a kindergartener.  However, nowadays, in most schools, it’s a big deal.  And luckily, when I started teaching, I worked with two veteran kindergarten teachers who shared with me their ideas for a festive 100th day. For five-year-olds, “zero” is a confusing concept.  Most of the ... Read More »

7 Ways to Help Kids Review Schoolwork

classroom photo (photo by Wendy Kennar)

During the course of a child’s school career, there will be many instances when different facts and skills need to be known.  They need to be understood.  They may need to be memorized.  How do you get these concepts to “stick”? Children must spend time reviewing.  Learning and comprehension doesn’t just occur during one lesson.  It’s an ongoing process.  In addition to the tried and true flashcards method, let me ... Read More »

Parent Partnership LAUSD Parent Survey

Parent Partnership

Parent Partnership for public education wants your help. The group has created the Los Angeles Unified School District Parent Survey and they need as many people to fill it out as possible. Parent Partnership is parent-run organization that works to empower parents to have a voice in public education in Los Angeles and educate them on policies and changes in the district. It is  just one of the parent organizations around LAUSD ... Read More »

Teaching the Dream; Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK photo

I never found it easy to teach about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I had books available for both my kindergartners as well as my upper-grade students.  I had posters and photos.  I had worksheets and writing assignments.  And I had a CD recording of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Listening to Dr. King’s powerful words never failed to bring goosebumps to my arms.  My students would clap ... Read More »