The Chalk Blog

Marcee Harris

Marcee Harris is the Evaluation and Curriculum Specialist with Learners Edge. She is a veteran elementary teacher with a passion for engaging teachers in equity conversations and working to transform education through technology. On any given evening you can find Marcee having a dance party in her kitchen with her husband and three kids.

Recent Posts

For the Love of Reading

3 Key Strategies for Motivating Students to Read

Reading was always my FAVORITE subject in school.  As a kid, I remember raising my hand with unbridled enthusiasm so that I might be chosen to read aloud to the class, “round robin” style.  Whether it was the basal reader, a class novel or worksheet passages, I was hooked.  I just loved to read. Anything. 

This love of reading inevitably lead me to choose teaching as a career, as I’m sure was the case for many educators.  As an elementary reading teacher (and parent of 3 kids), I’ve come to learn that this love of reading does not come naturally to all children.  It’s a challenge for those of us that eat, sleep and breathe books to understand that, for some, reading is a chore.  It is something that is required, or in some cases, something to be avoided at all costs!

Our classrooms are full of kids along the reading spectrum.  So how do we help nurture a love of reading in our students, especially those that are the most reluctant (or even averse!)?  Research tells us that intrinsic motivation is key and that sticker charts and pizza parties can actually decrease motivation.  Yikes!

We’ve put together a list of 3 key research-based strategies that will help build a community of readers and increase intrinsic motivation for even the most reluctant reader in your classroom.

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Topics: Literacy, Instructional Strategies

Supporting Our Teachers & Their Wallets!

Fund Your Classroom Needs with AdoptAClassroom.org

As a society we understand the critical role education plays-- to build a literate and self-sufficient population of citizens. Educators work (to exhaustion!) daily to teach, guide, and mentor our students and more often than not, spend our own money to fund basic needs for our classrooms. Teachers want the best for our students, so when the school or district comes up short, we step in to help. For years there have been philanthropic entities working alongside teachers to support classrooms in need and now with advances in technology, teachers can research options, share their stories, and secure funding with greater ease. 

AdoptAClassroom.org is one such organization working to advance equity in education by connecting classrooms in need with funding.  Since 1998, they’ve partnered with individual donors and corporate sponsors to raise over $36 million for students.  If you’re an educator looking to outfit your classroom with needed materials or get a project idea off the ground, AdoptAClassroom.org can help!   And now, through a recent partnership with Learners Edge, teachers can request funding for professional development needs. I know what you’re thinking: where do I sign up? (right?!) We’ve put together a Quick Start Guide to help you create your AdoptAClassroom.org page and share your story via social media channels.

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Topics: Partnerships, Learners Edge News, Instructional Strategies

Beat the Mid-Year Blues With Our Top Ten Strategies

Don't forget to keep your 'teacher-spark' alive!

This blog post was originally published on the Learners Edge Chalk Blog on January 8, 2016, but the strategies were so well received that we freshened them up to share with you again!

It’s January…Christmas break is over, the days are shorter, the weather is colder and you are already counting down the days until summer vacation.  Am I right? But what happens if, or rather, when you catch a case of the blues as a teacher? Teaching is arguably THE most rewarding and completely exhausting profession.  It takes oodles of patience, passion, resilience, and commitment. By January we’re often feeling drained and struggle to find the energy to make it through to spring break, let alone summer!  Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you survive.  Our team has compiled our 10 best strategies to help beat the mid-year blues and keep the spark alive in your teaching.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Burnout

Set SMART Goals for 2019

Setting goals has never been so simple!

Every December, I start to hear my friends and family talk about their New Year’s resolutions-- drink more water, eat better, exercise.  Let’s be real, teacher friends.  These resolutions are too lofty and vague.  Failure is sure to follow.  What we really need is to get SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely)! 

As teachers, we’re very familiar with setting SMART goals for and with students to help them achieve at higher levels in math, reading or to improve behavior.  We look at data, determine the target, then plot out how and when students will meet the goal.  Research tells us that goal setting is the single most powerful motivational tool because it “provides purpose, challenge, and meaning. Goals energize people. Specific, clear, challenging goals lead to greater effort and achievement than easy or vague goals do.” (Blanchard, 2007) 

So if SMART goals work for students, why can’t they help us meet our own personal and professional goals?  Here’s how you can transform your tired New Year's resolutions into SMART goals! 

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Topics: Teaching Excellence, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

10 Ways to Keep Students Focused Before a Holiday Break

 

This blog was originally published on December 9th, 2015, but it was so well received we wanted to share it again! 

With Thanksgiving behind us, that can only mean one thing, that winter break is not only on your mind, but is also on the minds of your students. Unfortunately, there are still a few more days of school to get through before winter break. So how do you keep your students' minds focused on school and working productively?  Here are our 10 best strategies to help keep students focused and save your sanity before the break.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week Oct. 15-19th

Top Tips to Engage Students, Staff, and Families

As teachers begin the school year, we often spend days, weeks even, building a supportive and positive classroom community.  We discuss, model and practice classroom expectations for everything from sharpening pencils to resolving peer conflicts.  We continue to nurture our community as the school year goes on, intent on developing the ideal school citizens.  But what about the online environment?  As a greater percentage of teaching and learning moves to online platforms, the necessity for intentional and ongoing digital citizenship education cannot be ignored or checked off a list at the beginning of the year.

One way to kickstart or amp up your digital citizenship game plan is to participate in Digital Citizenship Week (Oct. 15–19)!  Recognized on the third week of October each year, this initiative aims to build capacity for students and families to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world.

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Topics: Technology, Teaching with Technology

How to Have a Successful Open House - Dos and Don’ts

Have the back to school nightmares started yet?  They’ll come.  They always do this time of year.  All teachers seem to suffer the same fate in August-- sleepless nights worried about misplaced lesson plans, a classroom full of students and not enough student desks, or alarm clocks that don’t go off on the first day of school.  Those nightmares are a cruel indicator that summer is over and the new school year is right around the corner. 

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Topics: Teaching Excellence, Teaching Advice, Parents

Curating a Diverse Classroom Library

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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Topics: Teaching Excellence, diversity

Technology Trends in Education

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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Topics: Technology

Personalized Learning w/ Hyperdocs

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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Topics: Technology

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!

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