Category Archives: Education Corner

Education Corner: Starting the day ready to learn: It’s what’s for Breakfast

sbpMany children arrive to school without having eaten breakfast. Starting the day hungry is not conducive to learning. There is ample evidence behind the science of eating breakfast to start the day ready to learn and perform, and how school breakfast programs set the stage for students on a daily basis.

A 2013 study on the effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in students (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience August, 2013) revealed that effects of breakfast consumption and school breakfast programs positively affect learning in children, across socio-economic status, in terms of behavior, cognitive, and school performance.

edcornerThe Food Research and Action Center produced a brief of research findings in 2016 that demonstrated a correlation between breakfast and school performance among children.
In the Fairpark community, Backman Elementary School’s Breakfast in the Classroom Program is an exemplar of how students are ready to learn as a result of the structure to provide nutrition at the start of the day. A description of Backman’s breakfast program can be viewed at this link:

Pedal in the City Meets Education Corner: Bike Utah Visits Backman Elementary School

bike-1Learning continued right up to the last ring of the bell for 5th and 6th grade students at Backman Elementary School, May 30-June 2.  Bike Utah came to Backman as part of its Youth B.E.S.T. Program.

Bike Utah has launched the Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training Program to teach 3,000+ kids in Utah how to safely and confidently navigate by bicycle. Imagine that — 3,000 of Utah’s youth who want to ride and have the skills to do so!

pedalcityThe Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training is a 5-hour, on-bike program that is administered at schools, targeting students in the 4th to 7th grade range. Bike Utah provides a trained instructor, bicycles, helmets, and all other equipment for the duration of the program. The program has the capacity to move around the state so it can be administered at schools in all corners of Utah, depending on the season. This is a no-cost program so every school and student can participate regardless of financial ability.

Through this program, students learn the benefits of riding a bicycle, the rules for riding edcorneron the road, and how to get a properly fit helmet, conduct bicycle checks, navigate intersections and avoid hazards.  Fairpark residents witnessed the program in action this month and saw some very happy young students riding around the school grounds and on the Jordan River Parkway Trail.

Visit Bike Utah at their web site or Facebook page to learn more about the programs they offer and other events at:




Education Corner: How to Beat the Winter School Blues

edcornerThe holidays are over and school has resumed. While parents may have been excited to get their little ones back into the classroom, children may not be as enthusiastic. Are your students as motivated about school as they were in September? Often, parents and teachers find that at this time of year many students experience the winter school blues. As a teacher, I referred to this as the “third quarter slump”. Here are a few things to consider to help your students snap out of it (or even prevent it!):

Atlanta author and columnist Adlen Robinson, and mother of six children, offers tips to help adults address those winter blues with their students:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher to get the true picture. Ask if your child is struggling in a particular area and how you can help.

Teachers are always happy to discuss ways to remedy or head off problems before they fester.

  • Buy some new school supplies. Remember how excited children are to buy school supplies for the first day of school?

Try letting your child pick out a new notebook or other items. This would also be a good time to examine the current notebooks and folders. Maybe their entire organizational system needs a checkup.

  • Take an interest in what your child is studying. Talk about what subjects you liked when you were that age.

Similarly, admit what you struggled with. My children all knew about my childhood struggles with certain subjects

  • Start a reading club in your family. Choose a book that you can all read and then discuss during dinner.

The classics are great, of course, but try alternating who selects the book. Keep an open mind when they ask you to read their latest favorite.

Read more tips for parents here

The National Education Association recommends that teachers re-energize the second semester with things that will keep up the momentum of the school year:

  • “A Sneak Peak” – Before winter break, review what has been learned up to that point and provide a teaser for what students will be learning after they return

“This created anticipation among his students, says [Carl]Clausen. “When do we start?” they would eagerly ask. “

  • “Ownership Over Learning” – “I stress how grown up [the children] are, and I recognize their maturity as students,” [Michelle Wise Capen]she explains. “I have shown them a number of ways to work on spelling words during the first semester. In the second semester, I ask students to assess how they learn best and allow them to choose a learning approach on their own. Since the classroom expectations are still the same, children begin to take ownership of their learning without it being micromanaged by me.”
  • “Nothing Works Like Space and Technology” – Vicki Vieau’s class at Salem Grade School in Salem, Wisconsin, participates in the NASA cloud cover project, in which students record observations daily about the weather as the CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) satellite passes over their town.

Read more tips for teachers here

There are many ways to help your students beat the winter blues. Check out the resources and re-energize!

Education Corner: Students with Disabilities: Which Plan is Right?

edcornerThe school year is well under way and the first quarter has ended. After countless meetings, lack of progress despite numerous interventions, and lots of testing, your child has been classified with a disability. You have so many questions! There are various plans for students with disabilities in the educational setting – IEP or 504? What are they and which one is right for my child?

The Utah Parent Center, a training and information center founded in 1983 by parents of children and youth with all disabilities to help other parents facing similar challenges throughout Utah, has posted a webinar called “IEP vs. Section 504 Plans: Which Is Right for My Child?” ( The webinar is presented by the Utah State Board of Education and can be downloaded by viewers. Topics include:

IEP vs Section 504 Which is Right for My Child Slides


IEP Tips For Parents

“Children with disabilities who qualify for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) receive services under an IEP plan. However, some children with disabilities do not receive services under an IEP but are instead served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). This interactive webinar, presented by Jennifer Slade and Naté Dearden at the Utah State Board of Education, will describe similarities as well as differences between the IDEA and Section 504. For some children, providing the appropriate modifications and accommodations they need is the only way they will be successful in their school experiences. A thorough understanding of the provisions of these two laws and how they differ can help you and your child’s teachers plan the most appropriate education for your child.”

After view this webinar, you are likely to still have questions and in need of support. Be sure to maintain contact with your child’s school and his/her educational team. Working together has great benefits! Outside of the school you can contact the Utah Parent Center for resources, trainings, and support. Services provided by this non-profit organization are free.

Parent involvement is crucial to the education of all children. Children with disabilities are at higher risk for not completing school, not being employed or not pursuing higher education. Family involvement is especially crucial for these children. Seek out the resources you need to help your child be successful!

More information or questions can be directed to Education Corner author Deanna Taylor,


Education Corner: Nurturing a Growth Mindset With Your Child

How would you describe your child’s mindset towards school? Is your child eager to learn, accepting challenges and mistakes as opportunities as she progresses through your days at school? Or does your child experience low self esteem, giving up easily because she does not feel she is able to learn as readily as her peers?edcorner

The research of Dr. Carol Dweck on Mindsets has expanded beyond leaps and bounds in the last 10 years in all realms, including education and parenting. The two types of mindsets that have emerged from her research, and are the focus of many initiatives, are Fixed and Growth Mindsets.

A person with a Grown Mindset is believes that intelligence can be developed and that learning is a process through challenges and mistakes and productive struggle.  A person with a Fixed Mindset believes that intelligence is static and cannot be developed – that “you are who you are” and there is nothing to be done to improve that.

As parents, we have the power to help shape the mindsets of our children.

A growth mindset is the understanding that we can develop our abilities and intelligence. Research has shown that our implicit beliefs about the nature of intelligence can have a great impact on our achievement. Mindset Works Co-founder Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. first coined the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset,” and explains how a growth mindset leads to a focus on learning, increased effort, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Mindset Works

Melissa Benaroya of Grow Parenting in Seattle advises these three things to nurture a growth mindset in your children:

  • Use Encouragement
  • Respond To Setbacks As Opportunities for Learning and Improvement
  • Modeling a Growth Mindset As A Parent

Dr. Jana Edward Tells us All About Jackson Elementary

IMG_0489It’s back to school season again and for this month’s West Side Spotlight, we met with Dr. Jana Edward, Principal of Jackson Elementary.   This K-6 school is located in the north east quadrant of Fairpark is home to over 500 students as well as 35 teachers and administrators.  Dr. Edward has been with the school for seven years, and has her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah.   As an administrator, she has always worked in bilingual education and she said she loves leading a dual emersion school that her child also went to Jackson.   She said, “I love the community!  They have been so involved and supportive of Jackson.  Just look at our Community Garden!  It happened in a weekend and we feel the support from the community!”

One unique aspect of Jackson as a west side school is their veteran staff.   “The majority of teachers have been here for over 5 years, with several spanning their entire careers,” she said proudly.  Jackson also has a preschool and an thriving Dual Emersion program where two thirds of the K-5 students are taught in both English and Spanish.  Only three schools offer Dual Emersion programs in Salt Lake.
Edward is very proud that Jackson was the recipient of an “Apple Connected Grant” which equipped the school with iPads, MacBook Airs, Apple TVs and projectors.  “We are the only one to one Apple supported elementary school in the district.  We have professional development support from Apple and an entire program,” she said.  The students are in an immersive technological environment where they are able to produce learning themselves while sitting in class, using iBooks creator, or KeyNote to make presentations for discussion.   “Watching 2nd graders using iPads to create presentations is pretty cool.   We also use them for math fluency.”  The school is also home to the Beverly Taylor Sorenson program where 3rd through 6th graders learn to play the violin.   The after school program called the Gracenotes keeps students busy for up to 12 hours a week learning to play the violin and how to compose music.

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Education Corner: The Journey to Being College and Career Ready

edcornerWhen you walk into Backman Elementary School, one of the first things you notice are posters with college and career ready themes.  Even their website opens with the theme (

“This year at Backman Elementary, we are focusing on being college bound. This means practicing behaviors and skills now that will help our students reach their college and career goals.“

“College and Career Ready” is heard everywhere now, nationally and locally.  The Utah State Office of Education has a page dedicated to being College and Career Ready that has resources for the community on preparing youth to be college and career ready.  (

A link to Backman’s  “College bound Character book” leads you to an alphabetized booklet of traits that are necessary to preparing for life after graduation.   (

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Education Corner: Keeping Your Students Engaged in the Winter

Winter time can be challenging for students and parents, especially after the dazzle edcornerand glitter of the holidays. But keeping the academic and physical engagement momentum going doesn’t have to be drudgery.

In 7 Tips to Keep Your Kids Fit in Winter” The Parenting Squad acknowledges that kids need guidance and motivation to stay active beyond the tv controls and has generated a list of tips to keep kids active in the winter. The tips inlcude making your home a gym, getting creative with workouts, putting electronics aside and braving the weather, and dancing. Read the entiere article at Continue reading

Education Corner: “Operation Warm” SLC Firefighters to the Rescue

childcoatEach year the Salt Lake City Fire Department chooses an elementary school whose 2nd and 3rd graders will be recipients of brand new winter coats. This year’s school: Backman Elementary.

“Backman Elementary School in Salt Lake City has been chosen by the Professional Firefighters of Utah (PFFU) and IAFF Local 81 (Salt Lake City) to receive coats for their students. Backman Elementary School was chosen based on the needs of their students. 98% of their students qualify for free or reduced meals. “ (Salt Lake City Firefighters, Local 81 website.

Multiple media agencies reported on the event. Links are provided below to those articles.

Salt Lake City Fire Fighters Local 81 has a Go Fund Me page for community members to donate funds to support this project.

“This is a very low impact fast and easy way to raise the funds to make it possible to provide coats to provide coats. Continue reading

Education Corner: Supporting your student’s school experience

edcornerStudents have many teachers in their lives and parents are their first!  There are many resources for parents to learn how to best support their student during their school career.

Colorin Colorado, a bilingual site for parents, has an article on 20 ways you can help support your child’s school experience.

¡Colorín Colorado!, ¡Ayudando a los niños leer…y a triunfar!

En efecto, muchos estudios científicos demuestran que lo que la familia hace es más importante para el éxito escolar de los niños que el nivel de ingresos familiares o el nivel educativo de los padres. He aquí 20 maneras en que usted puede ayudar a su hijo a triunfar en la escuela.


Salt Lake County Library services has a new homework help resource, Brain Fuse, which provides free live tutoring for all subjects and grades.

You can utilize Brainfuse from home with your library card. If you are an educator outside of Salt Lake County you are eligible for an educator card to utilize this resource. Contact our customer service: 801-943-4636 for more details.

Please share with anyone who would be interested, the tutoring is available in Spanish as well and there are also career and job help resources through it.