VariQuest Blog

STEM vs. STEAM—Which One is it?

Posted by Geena Maharaj on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

16. 17. 25. What do these numbers mean to America?

Federal reports show only 16% of high school seniors in the US are interested in pursuing a career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). Our students rank 17th in science achievement and 25th in math ability among industrialized nations. Couple that with the fact that “the demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase at four times the rate for all other occupations,” and it’s no wonder why the topic of STEM is the talk of town. America’s face palm can be heard internationally, but its sting hits close to home, starting with schools. But are four letters enough to encapsulate the issue?

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Topics: STEM

Still Need Resources for Women's History Month?

Posted by Margo Ensz on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

"The trouble with Women’s History Month—with all these special months—is that they encourage people to think that problems have been solved. The female heroes of yesterday are acknowledged, the debt paid and the slate wiped clean."

-Maureen Costello, "The Trouble with Women's History Month"

Use this quote and the resources below to discuss the past, present, and future of women's history in the context of Women's History Month. 

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates

Women's History Month: Interactive Biography Lesson (3-12)

Posted by Margo Ensz on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 @ 08:15 AM

March is Women's History Month! While the month is half over, there is still plenty of time to engage students of all ages in the history, struggles, and triumphs of women. Below is a brief, customizable lesson using images from Smithville Elementary Library's public blog. Images of notable women in history paired with one actionable word provide groundwork for biographical research and discussion leading into the contemporary.

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates

Response: Where Ed Tech is Failing Special Education

Posted by Margo Ensz on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:51 AM

EdSurge recently published an opinion article titled: "Where Edtech is Failing Special Education." Kara Brooks-Odom, a teacher of 16 years, outlines her experiences with the education technology industry in how it meets, or, in this case, doesn't meet, the needs of her students and her classroom.

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Topics: Differentiated Instruction, Special Education

Differentiated, Personalized, Individualized: What's the Difference?

Posted by Margo Ensz on Wed, Mar 04, 2015 @ 11:46 AM

The education community has an increasingly diverse and vocal channel for discussing best practices, teaching and learning styles, and other hot topics and buzz words. These concepts can quickly become muddled and confusing if not properly defined and discussed. For example, differentiated, individualized, and personalized learning sound like they could be synonymous and interchangeable. However, there are clear distinctions between them. Let's start with differentiated instruction and personalized learning:

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Topics: Differentiated Instruction, Student Engagement

5 Colorful Classroom Management Posters

Posted by Margo Ensz on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 10:03 AM

What is your classroom identity? What do teachers and staff expect of students? What do students expect when they walk in the classroom? Classroom management is important for every teacher, regardless of subject and grade level. Teachers want to spend their time teaching, so an effective classroom management strategy can help minimize disruptions. 

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates, Character Education

Helping ELL Students Retain Content with Classroom Visuals

Posted by Margo Ensz on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

One of the cornerstones of teaching ELL students is vocabulary. Vocabulary is not only vital to reading,writing, speaking, and listening, but also to understanding broader concepts and making connections between subjects.

The introduction of these new words and phrases are usually well received by students, but difficulties can arise in terms of retention. We recently attended the national Title I conference in Salt Lake City, and noticed that a number of sessios focused on engaging students, and specifically sessions on engaging ELL students to help them retain content. Joanne Billingsly, in her presentation "Making Content Sticky," outlined ways to build academic vocabulary and increase retention among ELL students: "The availability of color illustrations and teaching diagrams that support student understanding and retention of new words."

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Topics: English Language Learners (ELL)

Not Just for Science Fairs: High School Poster Sessions

Posted by Margo Ensz on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 @ 02:00 PM

While poster sessions may seem reserved for post-secondary and professional conferences, high school students can benefit from the opportunity to present their research and projects in such a succinct way. These events allow students to "get their feet in the water" and work on communication skills by presenting their research in a condensed "elevator speech" format rather than a full-scale presentation.

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Topics: Perfecta, Career & Technology Education (CTE)

Students Develop Confidence & Career Skills with Indian Ink (Video)

Posted by Margo Ensz on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 01:50 PM

Last month Venice High School in Venice, Florida entered the Follett Chalenge which "showcases and rewards educators who are aligning their curriculum and approach in order to teach the skills needed in the 21st century, and who are implementing a collaborative program with others in their school." 

The in-school graphic design class and business Indian Ink is a stellar example of a student-empowering program that readies students for the 21st century workplace and culture using VariQuest Visual Learning Tools. 

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Topics: Career & Technology Education (CTE)

Supporting Future Educators with VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

Posted by Margo Ensz on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

"The Cutout Maker has been one of the best resources to use as a teacher-to-be."

Freed-Hardeman University, a private liberal arts university in Henderson, Tennessee, supports its students pursuing education degrees in a unique way by providing them hands-on teaching and learning tools. Because of the school's committment to future educators, it was selected as this month's VariQuest Super School! We spoke with Sarah Ridinger, a Librarian at Freed-Hardeman’s Learning Resource Library. This library itself is a unique collaboration between the university’s library and the School of Education, and part of its mission is to "ensure Education students and faculty have library resources to successfully learn and teach.”

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Topics: Professional Development, VariQuest Super Schools

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