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Anyone who’s ever worked in a middle school or raised an adolescent, will nod and smile when Lauren Wester says her middle school-age students make her laugh every day. “There isn't a day that goes by without a student saying or doing something that cracks me up,” she claims, adding, “I also feel like they are in this magical in between; their brains are developed enough to understand jokes or sarcasm, but still open to and reliant upon adult help. It feels like I’m truly helping shape them.” 

Ms. Wester teaches 7th grade life science and 9th grade forensic science in a large suburban school district. Her teaching targets range from fun and focused learning to serious life skills that reach beyond the classroom out into the community and global society. 

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The Windows and Mirrors Model 

As a black girl growing up in a predominantly white community, I didn’t see much of myself in the books I was reading or the stories being told.  I wanted to learn more about the people that looked like me and was hungry to explore the places my people came from.  None of which was part of the standard district curriculum. Beginning in second grade I began making choices about who or what I studied, based on what was relevant to me.  For a biography project, I chose a little known black historical figure, Marian Anderson.  For my 5th grade geography project, I chose to study Kenya.   

With an increasingly diverse school-age population, making school relevant to students is critical. 

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What I learned at ISTE?!

ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education and it is a well-known non-profit organization with over 16,000 members worldwide. ISTE works with the global education community to "accelerate the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation" and to transform teaching and learning through technology.

I was lucky enough to join nearly 20,000 attendees from around the globe at the 2018 national conference. Most were teachers, tech integration specialists and school/district administrators. There were 1,700 sessions running throughout the 5-day conference. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time! I wanted to share with you my top 5 ISTE takeaways!

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Learners Edge recently hosted our first blended learning course on Mindfulness. It was a fantastic experience for us as a Learners Edge team - we were inspired and enlightened by the abundance of wonderful conversation from our teacher students from around the country. 

Our course instructor, Lance Raabe shared with us the value of creating a Teaching Mantra.  A teaching mantra is a simple way for teachers to bring mindfulness to teaching. By committing to a short, consistent phrase, and sharing it with your students, this mindful act can help on days when the classroom feels a bit off kilter. Lance's teaching mantra is: "Best Day of My Life...Until Tomorrow!"

Many of our course participants shared their Teaching Mantras and we wanted to pass along a little of their brilliance. Read on, perhaps one of these mantras will resonate with you! 

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 Summer is a wonderfully lazy time, and we hope you are all resting and refreshing! The Curriculum and Instruction team here at Learners Edge loves summer because it means that once again, we get to introduce a whole new slate of courses especially for you! These courses will be ready and available for registration beginning on July 16th - opening for Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 session registrations. It's like Christmas in July!

Take a look at the courses that we've been putting the finishing touches on and make sure to sign-up at the bottom of this article to receive a reminder when these courses are open and available for registration! 

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I started thinking more in depth about how different people learn when I was caught screwing around at a faculty meeting. I was sitting with a few of my friends, and we were writing notes back and forth, and trying to make each other laugh (apparently, the topic du jour wasn’t that engaging).  It was that “church laugh,” you know the one, where you cannot make a noise, and it’s hopeless.  My friend Sheila wrote something particularly and extremely hilarious.  I couldn’t contain my laughter and made a sort of spitting noise.   

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Making the shift to 21st century teaching just got a whole lot easier with hyperdocs! On the outside a Hyperdoc looks like just a colorful Google doc with links, but when you dig in deeper you’ll find a research-based digital lesson with interactive elements tailored to each student.   

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For many educators, summer break has begun and it’s transition time.  During the school year, our students have inspired and challenged us - often both on any given day! We’ve planned and paced, listened and learned, taught and re-taught content along with every other standard assigned to us! And now, at the beginning of the blessed summer, some teachers will reflect on what worked and what needs improvement for next year’s teaching and learning. (Or, maybe this blog post will spark an idea for next year’s transition time!) 

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**This blog was originally published in 2017, but we thought it would be a good  topic to highlight for those special teachers that are embracing the adventure that is summer school!** 

Every spring as the school year began to wind down, I began to gear up for summer school, or Extended School Year (ESY), which is specifically for students with special needs. Sometimes my teacher friends questioned my sanity for signing up for ESY in special education every summer, but I truly enjoyed it!ESY was the perfect opportunity for students to work on their academic and social/emotional/behavioral skills based on the needs outlined on their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in a small, laid-back summertime setting. 

Please allow me to take you through a typical summer school/ESY morning. 

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How might your classroom look different next school year? If you're ready to embrace Project-Based Learning, we'd love to share some strategies!

 
 
 
 
 
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