Creating
Critical
Connections
By Kevin Baird
T

he human brain is wired to understand stories. As educators, each day we create a new narrative in our classrooms. Successful teaching and learning occur when we connect with our students emotionally and intellectually, combining positive feelings with the experience of new ideas and skills.

groups of students on campus and one student working from home
Achieve3000 is built on that idea – the centrality of connection. Carefully curating content from across current events, along with compelling stories drawn from science, history, civics, social studies, and original fiction… our goal is to provide students with engaging ideas and concepts always combined with the feeling of success. When students can read and understand, and when they find joy in reading and understanding, they read more; they are more curious, and they seek to learn on their own. Achieve3000 is about helping teachers connect with students through success.

Likewise, this magazine is about connecting with you, to ensure we are helping you to succeed and grow as an educator. In each issue, we will respond to your suggestions, requests and ideas, with articles and commentary from experts in their fields. It is all about connecting what works with the educators working in the classroom.

As we move into the first part of the school year, during COVID times, here are five key tips to help.

1. Daily de-stress and detox needed? Schedule in Five minutes every two hours to:

  • Breathe Deeply (Count your breaths to 20)
  • Calm Your Body (Count out your pulse to 200, relax and feel it slow down)
  • Stretch (Do three to five stretches. Here is a great resource)

2. “What will this week bring?” Begin each week with 10 minutes of reflection – for yourself, and most importantly, for your students. Ask them to consider “What will make this week a success for you – at home, at school, and with your friends?” Building mindfulness and awareness of successful purpose is a foundational Social Emotional Skill. This is a great resource from Berkeley on how to help students find purpose more broadly: Click Here

two classmates working together
In each issue, we will respond to your suggestions, requests and ideas, with articles and commentary from experts in their fields. It is all about connecting what works with the educators working in the classroom.
3. Let students choose at least part of their learning journey each week. For instance, every Achieve3000 article is precision differentiated for “Success + Stretch”, which means that students reading about bats, baseball, and ”The Adventures of Ben and Ruby” will each accelerate their reading skills quickly. Asking students to choose what they read gives you insight into their interests, while using choice as an accelerator to achieve close reading and deeper understanding.

4. Let us help you plan! Each week we send out “Content Conversations” highlighting new articles and stories with suggestions for classroom integration and conversation. We illustrate key support elements and even provide questions for your students! Check out prior week episodes here.

5. Save time and use grading to support learning! Summative grades do not support learning, unless students have a chance to review the grade and revise their work. Asking students to use a rubric to review peer homework and projects and provide feedback and a suggested “grade”, helps them to become critical thinkers, evaluators and better learners. While teachers remain the final step in the process, grading can become a more integrated (and positive) part of learning. Use the rubrics in Achieve3000 Thought Questions to guide student review of peer writing – in Achieve3000 and elsewhere throughout your lessons.

tiles
tiles

Did you know? One out of every five Achieve3000 articles represents authentic conversation from a community of color. cultural responsiveness includes diversity of voice in content!

I sincerely hope you find our first edition helpful. I want to ensure Achieve3000 is focused on your classroom needs – from Smarty Ants, in PreK to Grade 2 classrooms; Achieve3000 Literacy, accelerating reading skills 2x-4x annual targets; Achieve3000 Math, providing digital tutoring and support for mathematical thinking; and Actively Learn – one platform for digital curriculum in every classroom. Let me know how I am doing, suggest topics, or ask questions! I can be reached at KBaird@Achieve3000.com.

Thank you for lifting up our students, one critical connection at a time!

mother and son doing math problems
About the author

Kevin Baird (MBA, ALEP) serves as Chief Academic Officer for Achieve3000. He is a noted leader in college and career readiness content, strategies and standards. He has participated in educational research on every continent but Antarctica, consulted with governments to create college & career readiness initiatives, and has served as trainer and consultant for states and districts across North America. Kevin has served as Chairman and Senior Faculty at the non-profit Center for College & Career Readiness. An expert in the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence in education, he has helped to create a variety of K-12 and higher ed technologies and has collaborated with Achieve3000 for more than 15 years and also contributes as a member of our Educator Leadership Council.