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

4 Tips for Effective Digital Collaboration in the Classroom

Working together in the classroom

LinkedIn recently reported that two of the top four skills actively sought out by employers were communication and collaboration (with leadership and time management rounding out the list). Educators take note! Much of our time is spent getting kids to memorize their multiplication facts or to understand the difference between a simile and a metaphor while important life skills end up on the backburner. How can we deliver academic content, while also preparing students with the technology and interpersonal skills needed to be successful in the workplace? We’ve put together a list of our top four tips for understanding, facilitating and assessing successful collaboration in the digital classroom.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Technology

Virtual & Augmented Reality Field Trips

Explore the World Without Leaving the Classroom

If you haven’t dipped your toes into the world of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) yet, you and your students are missing out!  You may be thinking, what is this VR/AR buzz all about and how do I fit it into my already busy day?  Well, let me tell you that virtual and augmented reality are becoming popular approaches for teachers to deliver content in an engaging and experiential way.  Students can use whatever devices they have to step into spaces and places that were previously inaccessible.  Think: animal habitats, the pyramids of Egypt or the Globe theater made famous by Shakespeare.  These “real” experiences can support and enhance learning in all subject areas by engaging the senses and immersing students in experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom.

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies, 21st Century Learning

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: Instructional Strategies, Literacy

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: Learners Edge News, Instructional Strategies, Partnerships

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 Wellness & Inspiration, Teaching Excellence

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: Teaching with Technology, 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 Advice, Teaching Excellence, 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

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