No Tests vs No Homework

No Tests vs No Homework

🎤🎤 “If you could pick No homework or No tests, what would you choose?”, we randomly asked. 🎤🎤

Check the video to see how our students face this question

We believe that debating skills can be easily built up by asking simple questions like this.

Asking a question entails active listening and a thoughtful response, provoke children’s interest, and yield dynamic questions. You can also try this with your child at home everyday – an easy yet effective way to teach them language, and understand them better!

Reasons why #1 K-6 school in LA, U.S. applies Singapore Math

Reasons why #1 K-6 school in LA, U.S. applies Singapore Math

At Everest we strongly believe in the power of Singapore Math, to help students master Math concept in a fun, intuitive way and develop a love of lifelong learning.

However, we also understand that Singapore Math is not a common phrase for many parents in Vietnam.

So we put together a short video with Mrs Rio – a Math teacher from Laurence School, who is recently recognized as #1 K-6 schools in Los Angeles, and arguably the country.

We hope that this demo class would bring a clearer picture of what is Singapore Math, how it’s different and why it’s important!

Integrating English Language Arts and Social studies

Integrating English Language Arts and Social studies

Integrating English Language Arts and Social studies – two birds with one stone

In the article of “5 reasons why every student needs English Language Arts“, we did highlight how English Language Arts (ELA) among others helps students better learn other subjects as they apply their language skills in fields including history, culture, philosophy, science…  On the reverse side, we also believe that incorporate interesting and relevant resources about the world students live in is the best way to synthesize a number of literacy skills, including researching, writing, speaking, and listening.  The idea of using social studies content as a means of supporting English Language Arts classes is widely applied in many schools around the world, where teachers develop an “integrated curriculum” – a curriculum to help align my science and social studies content to the skills and concepts being covered in the language arts class.  

The Common Core State Standard (CCSS – a set of academic standards for K-12 students throughout the United States) curriculum, is an ideal integrated model of literacy.  The CCSS set requirements not only for English language arts but also for literacy across the content areas in history or social studies, science, and technical subjects…   so that all students are ready for the demands of college – and career-level reading no later than the end of high school. Researches also show that students in integrated programs demonstrate academic performance equal to, or better than, students in discipline-based programs.

Here are the top 3 reasons why Incorporating English Language Arts into social studies can and should be done:

(i) First, the content covered in social media usually captures student’s interest.  Things like animals, volcanoes and cars can motivate them to make progress in ELA. Integrating ELA enables students to develop a meaningful understanding of the complex association within interesting topics, making school more productive and enjoyable for students and teachers.

(ii) Second, intentionally integrating language arts and social studies can help to ensure that the latter doesn’t get lost with the emphasis on literature and math happening in most schools.

Social studies is an often-neglected subject in elementary school because it isn’t generally assessed on the state standardized tests that young children take.  However, informational text comprehension is still tested, and students need to master nonfiction reading, analyzing and writing skills.

(ii) Finally, the literacy skills that overlap with social studies are also the ones we use most in adult life.  Just in our own Internet time today, you probably have had to read informational text, conduct research, and analyze current events.  Integrated study is an extremely effective approach, helping students develop multifaceted expertise and build research skills, connect to community, and understanding our world.

“The reading process does not end with comprehension. In the adult world, people do not ask friends or colleagues to recall specific information from a book or article they have read. Instead, they ask for an opinion on a lead story, or for analysis of the latest Wall Street trend, or for an interpretation of a controversial article…”, said Karen Tankersley in her book “Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12: Reinforcing the The Threads of Reading”.

There are lots of ways to incorporate ELA and social studies in classrooms,  but planning for this, however, is not always easy, especially teachers only have a short amount of time with students every week.  Therefore, as teachers and curriculum designers, we also look for different ways that could blend each aspect of ELA learning with your social studies lessons.

For example, after assigning students an informational text, we have them research about the topic, talk about what they have learn, then students can write or create a poem and present their publication to the class.  

Another example to give you a clearer idea is our Walk of Fame, an event of Everest Education recently, where each students did their own research about a famous person in history,  wrote a report, then dressed up as the person and made a presentation. This was a great way to synthesize a number of ELA skill, including research, writing, speaking, listening… while students can be exposed to meaningful information about historical events, community leaders and people who impacts our society.

Check out the video below to see how our Walk of Fame looks like!

How to help your child integrate ELA with social studies at home?

Applying integrated curriculum, or cooperating English Language Arts and social studies, sounds like the big work of teachers. However, we believe that by simple practices at home, parents can also help improve student’s literacy skills while build knowledge about the world around them. Here are a few smart strategies:

(1) Build an awesome library of informational texts:

This might sound like the most obvious suggestion, but it’s an important and effective one. Research shows that despite the Common Core’s push for nonfiction, kids are still reading far more fiction than informational text throughout their schooling. The amount of quality nonfiction has increased, however. You can find great texts for almost any social studies topic you might cover, from space to biographies to women’s history.

Suggested book list for English parents and Vietnamese parents.

(2) Build vocabulary

The world of social studies comes with its own rich and detailed vocabulary, and students lose ground when they don’t have the context or background knowledge for new words. So how about creating word walls of social studies at your home? 

It can be a great way to build some of that context and support to help kids remember the words

(3) Take your child outside

Visit monuments, memorials, libraries, parks, and other public spaces. The point is to help kids memorize historical events and issues. Question the names and events that are memorialized and ask “Who do you think that was?” or “Why do we remember this event?”.

(4) Hold discussions

This is going to look different depending on your child’s age, but if possible, try to discuss with your children the topics you learn about while reading the paper, surfing the web, or watching the news. Then ask them for their opinions on political, social, and economic matters. Listen, ask probing questions, and compliment them on their reasoning. Challenge them, too, to wonder about what is not being talked about on the news. Model an interest in current events and public life. Always remember that you are their first and best teacher.

It is unfortunate that our children are receiving less and less formal education in social studies, especially in Vietnam where people put too much stresses on Math and Literature. But parents can make a difference. Home is where children form their attitudes toward learning. Or finding learning centers that help your child develop both English skills and academic knowledge like Everest Education.  

Integrating social studies into language arts could killing two birds with one stone: develop a strong general knowledge and vocabulary students need to become successful readers and writers in the future.


Best English learning podcasts for your kids

Best English learning podcasts for your kids

(*) The name “podcast” combines the terms iPod and broadcast. A podcast is a type of digital media, usually audio, that is available in a series of episodes or parts of talkshows, and can be downloaded by users.

English language podcasts are an excellent, simple but effective way for students to learn English quickly. In this video, Tony Ngo – Chairman and Co-founder of Everest Education – suggest one of his Favorite English podcasts to help children master American English.
Transcript

Hello Xin Chao,

Typically when we are in the car as a family, after 10 minutes, the kids inevitably start fighting over whose turn it is to choose the next song. However, my wife and I have found that when we put on this “Wow in the World” podcast, it’s like magic.  The fighting disappears!

As a parent and as an educator, I really love this podcast for my family and think families in Vietnam will too.  Here are the three top reasons:

  1. “Wow in the World” will help your kids learn American English
  2. “Wow in the World” develops their curiosity about science and the world around them
  3. “Wow in the World” is really funny and exposes your kids to American humor

Let’s got a little bit deeper and show you some examples of what I mean.

“Wow in the World” will help your kids learn American English.  Each time we get in the car, we ask our kids what they want to listen, and they take turns. More than half the time, one of them will scream out “Wow in the World”!  Then we go to our Spotify app, and open up the podcast.

Each “Wow in the World” podcast is an adventure where two main characters Guy Roz & Mindy explore something that seems random, but they learn something interesting along the way. Guy Roz and Mindy also have a pigeon friend Reggie who flies them around.  They even use time machines to go back and forth. Who doesn’t like that?!

They do incredibly silly things and use this humor to grab the attention of the listeners.  In this podcast “Why Horses Can’t Wear Flip Flops”, Guy Raz and Mindy start with a joke about how horses say “Neiiiigghhhhhh” (at 1:15 minute) and how it sounds like the “Hey” when we greet each other.

It’s precisely these jokes that make the kids laugh, and make them want to listen to more.  This podcast uses the English language to captivate our imagination. I’ve found it works for kids as young as 3 years old to 12 years old, but even my wife and I enjoy listening and learning.  (Young kids may not understand everything, but the podcast is entertaining enough that they still learn a lot.)

So the kids learn all sorts of new great vocabulary words.  In the most recent episode, they were great English vocabulary that even older kids will learn: genus, continent, muggy, transform, and fuse.

Kids also learn interesting English idioms.  A few from this episode included “dark horse,” “when you were a little tater tot,” and  “jackpot”. To learn idioms well you need to see it in context, and children are much more likely to remember idioms in a joke or story. “Wow in the World” podcast has both.

As a parent, I see that learning language through the context of other subjects is much, much more effective than memorizing grammar and vocabulary.  And in building Everest Education, our teachers apply this through the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) framework in all of our English Language Arts classes.

“Wow in the World” develops their curiosity about science and the world around them. This episode started off asking how horses only have one toe, and then Guy and Mindy jump into their time machine to learn why.  They discuss research done by professors at Harvard University about the evolution of horse toes and hoofs, which plants seeds in kids’ minds about how cool research from great universities tries to answer our questions.

Guy Roz and Mindy then go back to a time when horse ancestors were the size of small dogs. Children can imagine the time travel, and they picture the horses’ dog-sized ancestors.

Most importantly, my kids engage with the material and ask more questions about the world they see around them.  This develops a mindset of questioning and curiosity. We believe to be successful in the future, it’s more important to ask the right questions, not just have the “right” answer.  That mindset is a building block for critical thinking skills that we want all of our children and students that have.

“Wow in the World” is really funny and exposes your kids to American humor.  Listen what kids don’t enjoy fart jokes? Listen to this one (at 3:30 minutes) when the horses start farting! I believe that children all over the world love to laugh at fart jokes, but I found that to be especially true of American kids.

They also weave in lots of references to American culture (there’s another joke about Mindy spilling a milkshake into Guy’s seat at 18:30 minutes), but even if you are in Vietnam, you can listen along and absorb a little bit of it as you go. Best of all, it feels effortless because it’s so fun.

Do you want an immersive environment for children to learn English and prepare themselves for a international education?  Many parents come to Everest Education for that reason exactly. But to help parents at home even more, listen to good educational entertainment like this for safe, fun exposure for your children.

This “Wow in the World” podcast is one of my personal favorites. What are some of yours?

Leave us some comments and questions below.  If you found this was helpful we can review other podcasts and other resources for you as well.

Add color to your language

Add color to your language

Have you or your child wanted to be more descriptive?  Did you want to be more creative? Then you using figurative language is a must.  To learn how, watch on. 

Transcript

Hello Xin Chao, this is Tony and today we are going to discuss one of biggest challenges for Vietnamese students when writing in English.  How to add color!

Have you or your child wanted to be more descriptive?  Did you want to be more creative? Then you using figurative language is a must.  To learn how, watch on. Here we go!

Body

Wait a minute, is love really an “open door”? Definitely not, Anna and Hans are just trying to explain love perfectly. When you have feelings for someone, you can walk through the “open door” together to a new adventure.

In other words, they are using “metaphor”, which is a part of figurative language.

So, what is figurative language?

Whenever you use words or expressions to convey a meaning that’s different from the literal interpretation, you are using figurative language.

Figurative language typically exaggerates what is literal in order to convey a point, which helps connect with people, especially through writing.

For example:
“The moon is so bright.”
or
“The moon is as bright as a spotlight.”

Which one is more descriptive and engaging?
Figurative language brings voice, tone and emotion to your language. It makes your language more colorful.

There are several different kinds of figurative language, such as alliteration, metaphor, personification, imagery, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idiom, simile, and so on. In this video, we will be looking at the five main types of figurative language: Simile, Metaphor, Hyperbole, Personification, and Idiom.

First, let’s meet the Simile.

A simile compares two items using the words “as” and “like.”
For example: “I feel as light as a feather.”

This is a figurative statement, because an elephant can’t weigh exactly the same as a feather. As light as a feather just means you feel happy and stress-free. In this situation, yeah, maybe a heavy feather!

Let’s try another one. What do you think the following simile means? ”My teenage brother is like a bear when he gets up in the morning.” Is the teenage brother furry like a bear? The simile means that he’s especially grouchy, like this!

So again, how do you know if one statement is a simile or not? Find “like”, or “as”.

Metaphor, on the other hand, is similar to Simile, but without “like” or “as”.
A metaphor compares something to something else by stating that it IS that thing.

For example:
My little girl is an angel, which actually means my little girl is very nice and sweet.

Let’s check one more example: “I am titanium”
Of course David Guetta did not mean that he is made out of titanium, he is suggesting “I am very strong” .

A metaphor is very expressive; it is not meant to be taken literally. You may have to work a little to find the meaning in a metaphor.

How about Hyperbole?
You probably heard this many times: “It’s a million degree outside.” This is a good illustration of Hyperbole.

Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration of facts to stress the significance of a point. Hyperbole helps us paint a more vivid picture for our audience, in order to evoke strong feelings, to create an impression, and convey emphasis.

Like me always say this to my mom: “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse.”

Personification
Personification is when you give human traits to non-human things.

Example: “The leaves are dancing in the wind.” Personification makes things come alive. By bringing non-human objects to life, it makes it a lot easier for us to carry out our message. Can you think of any examples of personification? Does chocolate cake ever ‘tempt’ you to take a bite? Does your dog talk to you?

Last but not least, Idiom
An IDIOM is a common phrase with an underlying meaning, and again, cannot be taken literally.

For example, stating that “it’s raining cats and dogs” does not mean that there are literally cats and dogs falling from the sky.  Instead, it means that it is raining heavily.

There are many common phrase in the English language, such as “a piece of cake” – to tell us something easily achieved. Or over the moon” – to express extreme happiness about something

Incorporating idioms into your writing is an effective way to make your work more creative. For example, “once in a blue moon” is a more dynamic way to say something happens very rarely. Or are you trying to convey that you agree with someone? Perhaps you could say that you “see eye to eye.”

Figurative language helps us express our ideas in vivid and creative ways. So when you speak, read, or write, try to recognize and use different types of figurative language to engage the imagination, emotion and feeling of your audience.

Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed this video, then hit the like button, and don’t forget to subscribe for further videos.  

For those in Vietnam, come see these figurative language skills in action. Sign up for our English Language Arts classes at your nearest Everest Education learning center.  Or find out more about us at www.e2.com.vn.

3 ways parents can instill a growth mindset

3 ways parents can instill a growth mindset

(This article is based on Mindsetkit.org,
please go there for more detailed explanation and practical activities that help your child develop a Growth Mindset)

It is often said that students with a growth mindset do better in school. But why? And how can you help your child instill a growth mindset?

What is Growth Mindset?

“A growth mindset is when students understand that their abilities can be developed,” according to Carol Dweck, a psychology professor and one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of human motivation.

People who have a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed, while people with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is a fixed trait. People with a fixed mindset think of intelligence kind of like eye color. 

They believe that you’re born with a certain amount of intelligence, and you can’t do much to change that. People with a growth mindset think of intelligence more like a muscle. They understand that when you put in effort and challenge yourself, you can get smarter, just like when you put in effort at the gym and challenge yourself by lifting heavier weights to make your muscles stronger.

Why Growth Mindset is important?

1. Growth mindset leads to better academic performance

Children who understand that the brain can get smarter—who have a growth mindset—do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities.  

They see failure as a natural part of the learning process. In contrast, students who have a fixed mindset—those who believe that intelligence is fixed—tend to focus on judgment. They’re more concerned with proving that they are smart or hiding that they’re not.  And that means they tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard.

Many studies show that children who have a growth mindset respond differently in challenging situations and do better in school over time. A study with middle school students looked at the impact of fixed versus growth mindsets on achievement in math—a subject that many students find challenging.  Students with a growth mindset earned higher math grades over time compared to students with a fixed mindset.

2. Growth Mindset affects learning from mistakes

A growth mindset focuses students on learning, rather than simply performing well.  You can see this when you look inside the brain. In one study, scientists brought people into the lab.  They put an EEG cap on their heads to measure how active their brains were. While scientists were measuring brain activation, they asked participants a trivia question.  Participants gave their answer, and then the scientists told them if they were right or wrong. In other words, they were given performance feedback. The scientists found that the participants with a growth mindset and with a fixed mindset both had active brains when they were told whether they were right or wrong.  So all participants paid attention to the performance feedback. What’s interesting is what happened next. Participants were told the correct answer. And again, the scientists looked at how active the participants’ brains were. The brains of people with a growth mindset were significantly more active than the brains of people with a fixed mindset.  People with a fixed mindset were tuning out after they found out if they were right or wrong; they weren’t interested in learning the correct answer. At the end of the study, the scientists gave participants a pop quiz with the same trivia questions. Not surprisingly, the people with a growth mindset did better.

3 ways parents can instill a growth mindset

The way parents talk about ability and learning can have powerful effects on their kids’ beliefs.  Below are three ways parents can instill a growth mindset. And remember, developing a growth mindset in yourself and in your kids is a process that takes time.  Have a growth mindset about developing a growth mindset!

#1. Recognize your own mindset: 

Be mindful of your own thinking and of the messages you send with your words and actions.

When parents spend time thinking about their own mindset, most can recognize aspects of both growth mindset and fixed mindset in their own thinking.   Sometimes we might have a fixed mindset about some abilities like math or art but a growth mindset about others. If we want our children to develop a growth mindset, we need to be mindful of our own thinking and of the messages we send with our words and with our actions.  Here are some examples of fixed mindset statements and corresponding growth mindset statements. Think about what messages they send and what messages you want to send with your own words.

Fixed

Growth

I’m dumb. What am I missing?
This is too hard! This will take a lot of effort!
She must be smart. I want to learn her strategies.
I’m naturally good at this. How can I keep improving?

#2. Praise the process: 

Praising kids for being smart suggests that innate talent is the reason for success, while focusing on the process helps them see how their effort leads to success.

Our intuition is often to praise kids when they’re smart, but this kind of praise sends the wrong message.  If our kids are praised for being smart when they understand something quickly, then what will they think when they encounter something hard?  Being praised for intelligence can make kids think, “If my past success made me smart, my current struggle makes me dumb.”

Instead of praising kids for being smart when they understand something quickly, praise them when they work hard to accomplish something difficult.  This tells them that you value hard work, and that hard work is what leads to success.

#3. Model learning from failure: 

When parents talk positively about making mistakes, kids start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process.

Kids learn how to behave by imitating others.  One of the most powerful ways that parents can model the growth mindset is by being willing to fail and eager to learn from setbacks.  When parents talk positively about the mistakes they make or the mistakes their kids make, their kids start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process.  That’s critical for having competence and taking risk to invest themselves in challenging work. It’s also critical for having the self-assurance to calmly reflect on one’s own mistakes instead of trying to sweep them under the rug or blame someone else.

When adults get excited about the learning that mistakes can facilitate, children start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process.  This leads to a few important changes in learning behavior:

  1. Children stop avoiding challenging work just because it could mean making more mistakes.
  2. Children become less likely to try to “sweep mistakes under the rug” because they stop thinking of them as something to be ashamed of.

For example, at the dinner table, talk about a time that you struggled with something and how hard it is and how you overcame it.  Then ask your kids if there’s anything they struggled with, how they overcome it, and what they learned from the experience.

At first, it can be difficult to develop a growth mindset, but it’s worth it because research shows that parents can have a powerful impact on their kids’ mindsets.  Remember that developing a growth mindset in the kids and in yourself is a process. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come easily right away. You will improve by practicing and by learning from your mistakes.  In other words, have a growth mindset about developing a growth mindset.

Mindsetkit.org