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Safety is being and feeling physically and psychologically secure at home, at school, and within our neighborhood and larger community. Students who feel safe are better able to focus on learning and therefore learn to read and write more quickly. Students who feel less safe tend to miss school and participate less often in class activities, missing out on learning opportunities.
There are four key types of safety that affect a student's learning:
Even under teacher supervision, bullying, primarily verbal aggression and exclusion behaviors, is common in classrooms. Bullying is unfortunately also common in the broader community outside of school. Students who are bullied in person or online experience higher rates of depression and anxiety and have lower levels of academic achievement. Perpetrators of bullying also experience higher levels of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Safety at home is critical to students' development because students who live in unsafe homes can suffer from chronic stress. Students can feel unsafe at home for many reasons, such as:
The traumatic effects of living in an unsafe home can in turn make it difficult for students to reach their full potential at school.
Students who live in safe neighborhoods have better academic outcomes, including learning to read and write, than students who witness violence in their communities. Exposure to violence and crime in the community is linked to many negative outcomes because students who live in unsafe neighborhoods experience chronic stress that has implications for their Physical Well-being and mental health, an aspect of Emotion.
The reduction of bullying and school violence are two main goals of school Safety. Because of the many repercussions of bullying, all states have implemented legislation to combat bullying in school and cyberbullying that moves into the school space.
The prevalence of school shootings in recent years is also an important concern. Students who survive these traumatic events are at risk for experiencing serious psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, despite the increase in the number of victims of school shootings, overall crime rates in U.S. schools have declined in recent years due to increased security measures. More research on the impact of school security measures, such as active shooter drills, is however critical across different age groups. Early findings for older students suggest that, while active shooter drills enhance student preparedness, they also bring more attention to the threat from potential shooters, which can increase anxiety.
Teachers can support language development by using and providing Syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g., short, simple structure for young students).
Teachers support language development by using and providing Vocabulary that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using word wall words).
Physically acting out a text enhances reading comprehension.
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and to experience books above their reading skills.
Writing can become personally meaningful when students have an actual audience and a real purpose for communicating with that audience.
Students practice making and finding meaning in their reading through a book club model.
Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory.
Building positive and trusting relationships with learners allows them to feel safe; a sense of belonging; and that their academic, cognitive, and social and emotional needs are supported.
Checklists and rubrics help students develop their abilities to self-assess and revise their writing.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise their compositions, their writing quality improves.
Expressing ideas through visuals and audio, and understanding others' ideas in these forms, is as critical in today's world as traditional reading and writing.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.
Dictation can allow students with transcription difficulties to still participate in the writing process and generate ideas.
Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
When teachers provide explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and model when to use them, students learn how to flexibly apply them to make meaning of texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for different genres, like narrative or persuasive writing, helps students write for different purposes and audiences.
Teaching students how to create and use strong keywords for Internet searching is critical for helping them know how to find accurate, relevant information.
Formal spelling instruction improves not only students' spelling skills but also their reading skills.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for planning, writing, and revising texts improves students' writing quality.
Teaching students how to label, identify, and manage emotions helps them learn Inhibition & Self-Regulation skills.
Overtly encouraging all students to seek support and ask questions creates a safe space for risk-taking and skill development.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Increasing how much students write improves both their writing and their reading.
Students are more likely to come to school when families feel like a valued part of the community.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Games help students visualize how to connect one fact to another.
Adding gestures and motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and understanding.
Setting overall goals, as well as smaller goals as steps to reaching them, encourages consistent, achievable progress and helps students feel confident in their skills and abilities.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Spending time with new content helps move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Easy access to high frequency words promotes sight word recognition as students see the words repeatedly.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as by making time for free reading.
Practicing until achieving several error-free attempts is critical for retention.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
Rhyming, alliteration, and other sound devices reinforce language development by activating the mental processes that promote memory.
Full sentence manipulatives allow students to practice producing more complex Syntax and writing.
Providing physical representations of parts of a sentence activates learners' mental processes.
Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.
Short breaks that include mindfulness quiet the brain to allow for improved thinking and emotional regulation.
Creating patterns for remembering classroom processes, narrative structures, etc.
Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each classroom activity.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills to understand and remember the steps they are to take in their literacy work.
Multiple display spaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
Visuals help students recognize relationships within words and sentences to develop literacy skills.
Playful activities can support the development of learners' Metacognition and also inspire their narratives and writing.
When students reframe negative thoughts and tell themselves kind self-statements, they practice positive self-talk.
Helping students think about what they know about the topic of upcoming work helps activate their Background Knowledge or reveals gaps.
Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Cards with strategies for managing emotions help students remember how to act when faced with strong feelings.
When students read models of the type of writing they are doing, they can identify effective elements to incorporate in their writing.
Decreasing extra audio input provides a focused learning environment.
Reading aloud regularly exposes students to new and familiar Vocabulary and texts.
Reading aloud books about skills children are learning provides another model for their development.
Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Providing space and time for students to reflect is critical for moving what they have learned into Long-term Memory.
Students build their confidence, strategy use, and comprehension by reading and rereading books.
Reading materials of varying complexity and levels are necessary for all students to experience success.
Multicultural and diverse books are critical for supporting all students.
Providing varied types of resources that align with interests of individual students supports overall literacy development.
With figurative language and creative sentence structure, poetry supports the development of a deeper understanding of the different ways language makes meaning.
Books on social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, such as developing empathy and productive persistence, help teach these skills.
When students engage in a dialogue with themselves, they are able to orient, organize, and focus their thinking.
When students monitor their comprehension, performance, and use of strategies when reading and writing, they build their Metacognition.
Incorporating multiple senses with strategies like chewing gum, using a vibrating pen, and sitting on a ball chair supports focus and Attention.
Sentence frames or stems provide language support for students' writing and participation in academic discussions.
Providing ways for students to adjust sound level supports individual auditory needs.
Using earplugs or headphones can increase focus and comfort.
Providing a story map ahead of time or having students create a map during or after reading helps learners understand and expand their Genre Knowledge.
Providing students a voice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful.
Providing ways for students to meet their individual temperature needs supports Attention and Inhibition & Self-Regulation.
Bringing students' every day literacy practice of texting into the classroom provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Transforming written text into audio supports learning by activating different parts of a learner's brain for comprehension.
Students develop literacy skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.
Timers help students learn how to self-pace and transition.
Tossing a ball, beanbag, or other small object activates physical focus in support of mental focus.
Spaces that are structured, organized, and clean provide increased room for collaboration and active learning.
Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard the information and supports remembering.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Videos developed with discussion guides can teach students about social and emotional learning (SEL) skills.
Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and guided reading strips, help students focus and properly track as they read.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
Web-based dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as visual and audio resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge.
Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories.
A word wall helps build Vocabulary for reading fluidity.
Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.
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