VariQuest Blog

The VariQuest Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Suite Blog contains resources on classroom ideas, lesson plans, industry news, events, and offers throughout education.

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Professional Development

#TBT: The One-Room Schoolhouse

By: Margo Ensz
July 16th, 2015

"The one-room schoolhouse was a place where a single educator faced the daily challenge of teaching to meet the needs of all students. Learner characteristics like age, cultural background, cognitive ability, and physical challenges did not separate students into different spaces and different places. The teacher negotiated all of these variables within a single room." (source)

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Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Education Policy | Featured Topics: Professional Development

NAESP 2015 Focus Track: Student Achievement Gaps

By: Margo Ensz
June 16th, 2015

The National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP)'s annual conference kicks off in two weeks in Long Beach, CA (June 30-July 2). Each year the conference, designed for educators on the "front lines," challenges leaders to think, what's next? Attendees can choose their conference focus from several tracks:

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How to Write a Grant eBook

How to Write a Grant eBook

This helpful guide includes an explanation of the grant process, including a checklist (with samples!), and useful links and resources to find funding!

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Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Student Engagement | Academic Subject: Interdisciplinary | Featured Topics: Professional Development

The Importance of Kinesthetic Learning

By: Geena Maharaj
May 13th, 2015

Imagine if educators were required by law to hand out straitjackets to students before school started. There's no filibuster long enough that could save any lawmaker from the angry mob of parents and teachers that would follow. But where's the public outcry when that immobilizing jacket is invisible? Students' ears are constantly being fed with information, and their eyes are getting their fill, too. But without the use of kinesthetic tactics in teaching, retention rates among students plummet.

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Featured Topics: Education Policy | Featured Topics: Professional Development

EDTalks: A Hmong View of Public Education + Globally Competent Teaching

By: Margo Ensz
April 28th, 2015

On a chilly Monday in Minneapolis, two women shared their dynamic experiences in education to an at-capacity Icehouse, a unique venue for this month's EDTalks.

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Helping ELL Students Retain Content with Classroom Visuals

By: Margo Ensz
February 19th, 2015

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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Grade Level: Post-secondary (12+) | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Supporting Future Educators with VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

By: Margo Ensz
February 3rd, 2015

"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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Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Why OERs Matter

By: Margo Ensz
January 26th, 2015

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, have been around since the 1990s, however current technology has propelled OERs to the mainstream. Because the structure of the educational system is by nature exclusive, the ultimate goal of open educational resources is to make high-quality education available for any person to access at no cost. Because of revolutionary technologies of knowledge delivery, the world is closer to this point than at any other time. 

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Student Engagement | Featured Topics: Professional Development

3 Visual Tools for the Dyslexic Student

By: Margo Ensz
January 12th, 2015

Students with dyslexia are highly visual learners who benefit from multi-sensory learning environments. Because dyslexic students have a dominant right brain, it takes strategic effort and care to engage the left side of the brain. Engaging multiple sensory experiences into instruction will then engage multiple areas of the brain. This helps dyslexic students make connections, strengthen their left brain, and better retain information. (source) Students with dyslexia tend to be more visual in learning, therefore, visual tools are vital to their success in grasping concepts and problem solving. Here are three visual tools that can help students with dyslexia make connections, retain information, and deepen learning: 

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Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Professional Development

5 Ways to Improve Teaching with Brain-Based Research

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
January 6th, 2015

Republished with permission from Melissa Hughes, Ph.D. Original article posted on December 2, 2014 There has been a lot of buzz lately around the maker movement. Recent brain-based research support the notion that hands-on making, building, and creating not only nurture creativity, but also impact cognition, working memory, and innovative problem solving. While we don’t have to have the working knowledge of neuroscientists, if we're going to improve our practice of teaching it's important to understand how the brain learns. 

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Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays | Featured Topics: Professional Development

8 eCards to Help You Make it to Winter Break

By: Margo Ensz
December 17th, 2014

The weeks leading up to winter break can be chaotic in any classroom. Here are 8 teacher-created ecards for a bit of comedic relief:

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