7 Reasons How Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement

Eric Jensen and Ruby Payne are two well known researchers regarding poverty and schools.  Ruby lived it.  I had the opportunity to hear her keynote at the NAESP convention about 12 years ago in Baltimore, MD.  I also had the opportunity to hear Rita Pierson keynote at a conference in Lake Placid about 15 years ago.  All about students and how to overcome poverty.  (Rita worked for Ruby Payne’s company and went around the country to talk about kids in poverty.  She was the speaker that I shared last year about Being a Champion for Kids during her TED Talk.)

In a May 2013 Educational Leadership article, Eric Jensen identifies 7 reasons how poverty affects classroom engagement.  The question in the article is this:  “Are students in poverty more likely to struggle with engagement in school?”  The answer is yes.  His suggestion?  To understand the 7 differences or reasons between middle-class and low-income students, know how to address them, and get to know your students.  He states; “But first, my most important suggestion is to get to know your students well. Without respect—and without taking time to connect with your students—these seven factors will mean little.”

Here are the 7 differences or reasons:

  1. Health and Nutrition
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Effort
  4. Hope and the Growth Mindset
  5. Cognition
  6. Relationships
  7. Distress

The article also gives suggestions what we can do to help our students. Read what he has to say!  I will print this one because I feel it’s important not just for kids who are in the low socioeconomic category, but for all kids.  One thing that came to mind while reading this is how we have the philosophy of Responsive Classroom as well as creating our Hopes and Dreams.  Good stuff to think about.  Another link to the article is here.  Enjoy!

Other News

  • Bus Duty for Nov 3- Nov 14:  Team 5:  Mindy Backus, Pam Mahay, Barb Gauthier, Jennifer Nichols.  Upcoming bus duty: Nov 17 – Dec 5:  Team 6: Kathy Buell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon.
  • Thank you all for such a successful Halloween day as well as a wonderful spirit week.  Everything went so well on Friday – the best EVER!  Thank you again to all!
  • Our nest staff meeting is this week, Thursday, November 6th at 7:30a.m. in room 57
  • APPR Declarations are due to me by Friday, November 7th.  I will also be finishing up the first walk through’s this week and next week.  Thanks for working with me on this!
  • Please make sure you sign up on MLP for November 10th Staff Day
  • I am not going to produce a Monday Focus this coming weekend so please make sure you are checking your email.
  • Report cards are due soon.  The SchoolTool portal should be open for 3-5 and Lisa will email staff for K-2 report card on Google Docs.  Our goal is to get the K-2 report card on SchoolTool for the 2nd quarter.  We are still working on this for you.
  • Make sure your clocks have been adjusted.
  • Our next PTO meeting is November 12th at 6:00p.m.  Our PTO is becoming very active and they are a great group of folks who are working together to bridge home to school and school to home.  They are working to plan an AWESOME Harvest Festival on Friday, November 14th.  Please consider helping our PTO and working together to bridge our links with our parents.  Come to a meeting and see what is happening.
  • MUST blog post to read by my friend, Tony Sinanis, Dear Teacher!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • With not too much time before the election, the “Smart Schools” Commission report has been released. It describes how the money could be spent if the Smart Schools proposition passes.
  • During its October meeting, the Board of Regents directed Department staff to post the Statewide Strategic Plan for Science for public review and comment. A survey to collect feedback regarding the Statewide Strategic Plan for Science is available until December 3rd.
  • Here are some more ways to see the relationship between poverty and academic achievement and high school graduation.
  • This article, although written before the Common Core, examines changing math standards from the math teachers’ perspective.
  • Dylan Wiliam’s explains formative assessment in this video. Wiliam is the leading researcher of formative assessment.
  • Here are some suggestions for taking a PBL project to the next level.
  • Here are some tips for maximizing deeper learning.
  • These resources do a good job helping students to understand the scope of time and the universe… and our place in it. The Big History Project is pretty cool.
  • This video is shown to incoming students at the beginning of the school year to communicate the school’s approach to the use of mobile devices at school. It’s NOT like the approach many schools take. This school’s message: We Trust You!
  • The National Core Arts Standards have been revised and published. The very short New York comment period about how these standards compare to existing State standards in the arts has already closed.
  • We’re approaching the time of the “slump” that many new teachers face. This archived Mentoring in the 21st Century column from Paula Rutherford explains the slump and makes suggestions for mentors of new teachers to help the new teachers get through it. Edutopia has a list of resources for new teachers that they can look through for ideas. Mentors, remember these messages from new teachers.
  • This classic article by Rick DuFour explains what it means to be a Professional Learning Community. This blog post elaborates.
  • This TED Talk considers creativity – how we lose it and how to get it back.
  • It should not come as a surprise (according to research) that a later sunset translates to an increased level of physical activity in children. Yet, we’ll be turning our clocks back this weekend.
  • You can go on virtual field trips with this collection of apps. Each one is a way to “travel” from the classroom.
  • There’s no lack of advice about homework, but this list includes some good ideas and common sense.
  • There are three basic ideas about teaching writing that are supported by the research: 1) write more, 2) write on the computer, and 3) don’t teach grammar separately. Are these three part of your writing strategy?
  • John Hattie explains some of his findings in this video. Hattie’s work is based on a meta-analysis of many meta-analyses.
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See how you can assess student progress, provide feedback, celebrate student successes and assess, refine, and celebrate your own work.
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Sometimes we’re just too close to our lessons. In this video, Mr. Olio works with a trusted colleague to review student work and inform his instruction.
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Watch how New Tech Network teachers use their collective observations to analyze student work and improve how they respond to students.


A Touch of Humor


Poverty In Our Schools


Did you know that 60% of our children in our school district are considered to be in poverty?  That’s out of about a 1,600 students in our district, 1,001 students meet the qualifications of poverty in our school.  Let’s get a grip on the reality – that is over half of the population.  Here we work to try and get our students to do homework, and they may be going home and their parents are not home, working two maybe three jobs to try and get food on the table.  Or, they are in the welfare system and getting by.  Some may be generational, other families trying their best, but it is a reality in our area.  St. Lawrence County ranks 55 out 62 in overall health in all counties of NY State.

We may speculate why this is, but it is here and it is present in our schools in Gouverneur.  We need to realize that some of our students come to school, and this is a safe place for them.  Some of our students see school as their safe haven, getting a hot breakfast and lunch, not having and then going home to deal whatever they need to deal with at home.

To be honest with you, I was one of those kids.  My family was depended on SSI believe it our not!  We were a blue collared family in the suburbs, and when my father was placed on disability, to make ends meet, I collected SSI to help with payments because my dad became ill and was put on disability.  My mom worked two jobs, one during the day, one during the weekend.  It wasn’t easy, and thanks to such a strong family support system, we three girls all went to college because as my mother and father said, “You have NO CHOICE!”  In reflection, when my I get together with my sisters, we are grateful for our upbringing and nurturing of a strong work ethic.  But what about kids today?

In a few weeks, a cadre of us will be venturing to Union College to go to the Poverty Symposium that NYSASCD will be hosting.  NYSASCD brings great workshops to the state and this one resonated strongly with me because we have been targeted as LAP school, both East and West Side due to our scores with Economically Disadvantage Students.  NYSASCD has guest bloggers that write about the subject of poverty in our schools.  One of the articles written about poverty and  brain research can be found here.

We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access with our students and ask if there is internet access at home.  We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access and learning at home.  Check out this article here about inequity in the digital divide.

I have also cited in a blog last year about poverty in the US and how we are being compared with Finland.  How our students are trying to grasp the CCSS and the focus has been on testing rather than focusing on fixing poverty in the US.  Also, how Maria Shriver did her research on how poverty effects single mothers and that 22% of our children are in poverty in the US.  Check my post here.

So, we have some work to do and understanding about how to work with our students and families.  Through the efforts of our parent group as well with our staff, we need to work as partners to help our students be successful, no matter what.  Let’s fight this for our children and our community!  Have a great week!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for Oct 20- Oct 217 Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson.  Upcoming bus duty: Nov 3 – Nov 14:  Team 5:  Mindy Backus, Pam Mahay, Barb Gauthier, Jennifer Nichols
  • Please do your best to answer the questions posed in the survey from our LAP Review committee.  We are trying to put a plan in place and tried to make it as easy as possible for you.  I know it is confusing, but please do your best, and add any comments so we can proceed.  This is due Monday, October 20th!
  • I am still working on walk through evaluations.  It’s been busy so please be patient with me.  We will be sending something out to all to clear up what will happen for this process as well as for SLO’s.
  • Please continue to check emails for communication and check the announcement page for the calendar of events.  Mrs. Sheen keeps this updated for you as noted below.  Make it a habit to check!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • This collection of classroom anecdotes from Alfie Kohn can help us to dig deeper into our classrooms and lessons in order to improve them. Sometimes classrooms that seem engaging, active, and collaborative aren’t. Good food for thought, here.
  • Teachers can search for Common Core-Aligned ELA lessons at this lesson bank.
  • It’s not any surprise, but this recent report explains the impact that being absent from school has on learning.
  • It might not seem like it makes a big difference, but when a teacher calls a classroom “my classroom” it sends a big message.Make it “our classroom.”
  • The Tripod Project is now offering teachers a free survey to use with their students.
  • Read about a multi-age interdisciplinary team that has been using standards-based PBL for years.
  • This video demonstrates the impact that project based learning can have on AP courses, resulting in higher achievement than traditionally taught AP courses.
  • This article summarizes some of the findings from a review of the research about teaching for understanding and project based learning. The book is Powerful Learning: What We Know about Teaching for Understanding.
  • This collection of maps displays the population of the United States in different ways – dividing the populations in different ways provides different perspectives.
  • You can’t motivate someone; motivation comes from within. Here’s an article that describes this and offers some research to prove it. This means we shouldn’t talk about motivating and engaging students. Rather, we create conditions in which the motivation and meaning can be found.
  • There is a lot of good advice about time management and managing distractions in this column. The importance of having a plan is illustrated, too.
  • The SAT is changing – in March of 2016. This memo from SED explains it a little bit, as does this page.
  • Here are some ideas for making the necessary time for necessary teacher collaboration.
  • Read about this teacher who followed her own students’ schedule. She was exhausted, lethargic, passive, quiet, and treated as a nuisance! There are many lessons to learn about how we structure school.
  • Here is a video that explains blogs in simple terms.
  • The New York Times is holding another 15-second vocabulary video contest. Whether or not your students enter, it’s a great way to teach academic vocabulary.
  • Whether you co-teach inclusion classes or integrated PBL, the relationship and mechanics between the teachers makes all the difference. Here’s some good advice.

A Touch of Humor

Are We On The Right Path?

In March, a wonderful opinion article was written for the New York Times by columnist Tom Friedman.  In the article, he interviews Tony Wagner, a Harvard education specialist and probably now working with Pasi Sahlberg, the author of Finnish Lessons, who is a visiting professor at Harvard.  You can read the article here.  The gist of the article is that our students are becoming less motivated after 5th grade and we need to reimage schools for the 21st century.  (The 21st century is here folks, where close to 20 years into it!)  I love this quote:  “We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful components of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.”
 Wagner, in the article, highlights what the nation of Finland does “and it is the only country where students leave high school ‘innovation-ready.”  Sahlberg’s book Finnish Lessons, highlights what they do::
  • how they developed and owned its own vision of educational and social change
  • relies on high-quality, well trained instructors, with strong academic qualifications and master’s degrees
  • has an inclusive special educational strategy
  • has developed teachers’ capacity to be collectively responsible for developing curriculum and diagnostic assessments together
  • has linked educational reform to the creative development of economic competitiveness and also the development of social cohesion, inclusiveness, and shared community within the wider society.  (pg. xix-xx by Andy Hargreaves)
It’s an interesting book and I recommend it highly.  Although we are not Finland, we can learn some lessons from them and question what we are doing within our nation.  They don’t have the poverty problem like we do and they don’t test their kids at a young age, nor have a diverse population, but they are up there as a nation in the PISA scores and they are mentoring and guiding their young adults to be innovators.  (Did you know that the United States has a huge poverty problem with 22% of our nation’s children living in poverty What an embarrassment for a developed country!  Maria Shriver has a report out “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink” that highlights women in poverty.  You can download it free until Janaury 15th.  EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT! Did you know that 1 in 3 women are in poverty in the US?  If the women are in poverty, so are their children.  We have a problem folks.) 
Being interested as well as frustrated with the direction the nation and NY State is going, I am currently in tune with folks like Carol Burris, Diane Ravitch, Pasi Salhberg, Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee.  (There are others too.)  These folks are front and center with what is happening state and nationally.  They question the direction of Common Core, of GERM (Global Educational Reform Movement) and what is best for our kids, both pro and con.  Common Core is so new, we don’t even know that it works because it has not be tested and researched. 
So my question as probably your question too is, are we on the right path?  Are we steering our kids to be innovators?  How are we doing with that?  The CCSS are so new and we are working to comply with the mandates from NYSED, but my question will be, does it work?  Will the path that we currently have taken steer us this way?  Have we cut creativity for data, testing, scripted curricula, worrying about numbers rather than engaging kids?  I don’t have the answers, but I question it, over and over again.

 I am biased and most of you know my beliefs, and that may be due to experience in this job, but I want you to be informed and I try to give you various views.  In reading the blogs and articles below, it should be interesting to find out what happens in the next few months in our state.  Never before can I emphasize that it is so important that we be a team and help each other through the change we are experiencing and give our students engaging, creative opportunities to be innovators.   Be open minded and be the best of the best, even if you just finished the Iroquois module and your students cheered!  (That needs some looking at!)  You all are the best of the best!  Have a great week.
Other News
  • Bus Duty for Jan 6 – Jan 17 Team 8:  Erin Gate, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor Upcoming bus duty:  Jan 21 – Jan 31 Team 9:  Kathy Palmer, Jennifer Nichols, Mackenzie Ritz
  • UPDATE:  Beck Dupre’s workshop is cancelled tomorrow, Monday1/13 for 3rd and 4th grade teachers.  We will do the 1/2 day planning that was originally scheduled.  Please adjust accordingly.
  • Group 2 lesson plans are due Friday.
  • We do have a DWIS scheduled for Monday, January 13 after school.  Dee Cook will be here to work with K-2, SuperKids teachers will work with Bonnie Francis and Kim Carr, and 3-5 and Title/RR teachers with Donna Bushey.  The meetings are scheduled here at East Side.
  • The STLE Applications are a great way to provide help and leadership within our school district as well as get paid.  I sent the email out to you and if you are interested, please see me because there is a process to be completed.  We need your help!!
  • Thank you for your help in creating the budget and thanks to Lisa for getting this all completed for us and turned around so fast.  I’m excited for the plans for technology integration.  This will be fun, work, but fun!!  Thank you for the commitment!
  • Please respond to my email by this coming Wednesday if you are interested in an Appy hour after school  Once I get names, I will conduct a Doodle Poll to see what day would be the best.  
  • Please review the email I sent out about the STLE Grant and Application process.  We are really looking to our teachers to step forward and being leaders.  This is a great opportunity for you as well as getting paid for your time.  Come see me if you are interested.

Things in the Blogsphere
Things in the Twittersphere

Beware of those who love the data more than the children.
POsroff's avatarN.Y. postpones release of identifiable student data to inBloom; legislators see chance to address privacy lohud.us/1imwNHF via @LoHud

MichelleRhee's avatarThis RT @StudentsFirst: 16 Myths About The #CommonCore State Standards, Set Straight: bzfd.it/1eJCsFt via @BuzzFeed #edchat #edreform
pasi_sahlberg's avatarWhat counts as evidence in system-wide educational change? That’s the key question in my #HGSE spring course. @HargreavesBC@DrTonyWagner
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  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
  • “Beware of those who love the data more than the children.”  Carol Burris
App of the Week:  Screencast Tools:

Educreations, Touchcast and Doodlecast Pro three apps that give you and your students a great too to do Screencasting, where you can pre-record anything, using photos, videos, drawings, or illustrations and audio and save it.  Lots of teachers are using these applications to “Flip” lessons, pushing them up to YouTube or the app service so students can access this to learn and homework help, just like Kahn academy.  You can share these lessons among staff.  Another benefit of these apps, is that students can use these apps to record their work in an audio-visual format.  How cool would it be for kids to create things on these apps, share them and use the technology.  It would be great for our “shy” kids as well and give them a tool for presentation.  The benefit is that they are apps and that they are mobile or on a tablet.  Can you imagine what our primary kids could do with this if shown how to create a screencast?    Educreations and Touchcast have web-based or desktop versions, Doodlecast pro does not.  Both Educreations and Touchcast are free in the iTunes app store.  Doodlecast Pro cost $4.99 but worth every bit and more!  These three apps only work for the iPad tablet.  Maybe in the future the companies will open them up to Android and such.  Check them out!
Other Items of Interest

The standards for teacher leadership describe the qualities of teacher leaders and the things they might do.
Grant WigginsGrant Wiggins explains how our orientation in our curricula toward knowledge, rather than action is all wrong. He agrees that education should be about the future and not the past.
In this publicly available article from Educational Leadership, Grant Wiggins challenges the notion that a high score on any assessment can be construed as mastery (such as an 85% on a Regents exam). He offers a more thoughtful approach to the notion of what constitutes mastery.

This column argues for the importance of leadership development and education in your organization.
What do the CCLS Literacy Standards mean for Social Studies teachers in grades 6-12? Join other colleagues on January 17th to explore the CCLS anchor standards and standards for Literacy in Social Studies and History for grades 6-12 and focus on what the CCLS looks like in the social studies classroom. Participants will learn strategies for including literacy instruction to support their students in learning Social Studies content and critical thinking skills.


This video allows students to follow the struggles ofWorld War II through a changing map that shows territorial changes during the course of the war. There’s a Europe-specific video and another that shows the world.
This short read offers developmentally appropriate tips to promote self-regulation.

Check out this Pinterest board filled with math ideas and connections.


The most recent “Making the Common Core Alive” edition from Just ASK addressesacademic vocabulary. Academic vocabulary is explained and strategies are offered.

This column provides a short and sweet explanation of co-teaching – and the fundamentals.

A Touch of Humor
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