Who Cares?: A Personal Journey Overcoming Illiteracy

By Dr. Gregory A. Spencer, Vice President – Footsteps2Brilliance

Struggling with Illiteracy

Stupid, fool, ignorant, dumb. These were a few of the insults I received in school after moving from Gulfport, Mississippi to Oakland, California. I was illiterate; I couldn’t read, write, or function in the classroom setting. I found myself struggling in a world that didn’t welcome those who couldn’t produce, comprehend, or embrace English.

As an angry black boy that experienced a segregated elementary school in Mississippi, I had preconceived notions as to what learning was or should be. What I didn’t know until many years later is that I was, in essence, a second language learner due to illiteracy. I felt like an outcast, a foreigner in my own land. As a child, I stayed in the shadows so that I wouldn’t be laughed at or teased.

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The Reading Recipe for Success: Plan, Do, Check, Act

By Eugene Narciso, COO Footsteps2Brilliance

Meet Beatriz, a multilingual student in San Mateo-Foster City School District (SMFCSD). She and her family immigrated to California from Brazil in February 2023. She enjoys science and loves to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider with her mom.  Beatriz started school with limited English language skills.  Within only 30 days, she was functioning successfully in her English-only classroom. How?

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Gamify It! Five Essential Principles for Boosting Student Motivation

Games, especially video games, captivate kids like few other things can. But what if the motivation, engagement, and pure enjoyment games provide could be harnessed for learning? That’s the power of gamification – integrating game elements into education to turbocharge students’ drive to learn. In the face of a growing tide of student work refusal, curriculum experts tout five key principles you’ll need to use gamification effectively in the classroom.

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Preventing Failure Before It Begins: The Power of Pre-Teaching in Elementary Education

by Ilene Rosenthal, CEO Footsteps2Brilliance

Children do not all start school with the same language and literacy skills. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, 2 out of every 10 children enter kindergarten with skills two to three years lower than their grade level, and another two start school with a one-year disadvantage. When we expect students to absorb new information without a solid foundation, we set them up for failure and the need for reteaching. This vicious cycle of playing catch-up disproportionately affects historically underserved students. Elementary education determines whether students move through their educational journey with enthusiasm or reluctance. To prevent failure before it begins, pre-teaching emerges not just as an alternative teaching method, but as a beacon of transformative change.

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf

This week, you and your children will read The Boy Who Cried Wolf and make a comic strip. Comic strip writing will help you learn about dialogue and conversations that characters have with each other.

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El niño y el lobo

Esta semana, tú y tus hijos leerán El niño y el lobo y crearán un tira cómica. Escribiendo la tira cómica ayudará a aprender sobre el diálogo y las conversaciones que mantienen los personajes entre sí.

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Caregiver and community engagement #1

By Carissa Lellos

Teaching, like many other jobs, relies entirely on the relationships you build. Unlike other jobs, there is regular changeover, and it’s not just your success that depends on your ability to connect. One of the hardest lessons I learned during my years as a teacher was the importance of building mutually beneficial relationships with my students’ caregivers. I was trained during my graduate studies to embrace caregivers and community members and to include them in the goings on of my classroom, but was initially resistant. I worried that by inviting them in, all I was doing was providing fodder for criticism. It took work to put my pride aside and put my students’ needs ahead of my own insecurities. Doing so made all the difference. 

It was not easy work, and amid the thousands of other plates teachers are expected to keep spinning, it may seem like a luxury instead of a must-have. 
In this article, we will dissect the importance of building healthy caregiver-teacher relationships and becoming the Dream Team. In the rest of this series, we will provide concrete tips and resources for taking this important step.

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Effective Literacy in Preschool

What should literacy instruction look like in a preschool classroom? As high-stakes testing puts more pressure on teachers and students, the spotlight is shifting to evaluate how we are preparing students in the years before kindergarten. Expectations for our early learners are going up. Many districts are struggling with how to help more children enter kindergarten ready and on a path to academic success. While it may be tempting to transform preschool classrooms to look more like kindergarten, the research shows that there are two literacy strategies that are proven to be developmentally appropriate and massively impactful for future reading success.

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Beat the Summer Slide: 7 Essential Tips for Keeping Students Sharp

Beat the Summer Slide: Tips for Student Engagement

Each summer, students risk falling into the “summer slide.” The summer slide is a phenomenon where students can lose up to two to three months of academic progress during the summer months, setting them back and making reentry into the next school year more difficult. Here are seven proactive strategies that educators can recommend to parents and caregivers to ensure students return to school ready to continue their learning journey without missing a beat. With these essential tips for student engagement, you can help your students beat the dreaded summer slide.

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