Smart Texas

Start Smart Texas Welcomes Midland

By | Education, Learning

Educate Midland is honored and proud to announce that Midland has officially become a Start Smart Texas community. Start Smart Texas is a partnership between the United Ways of Texas and Texas PBS created to support Texas communities that are part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. With the help of other Texas cities, we can achieve improved reading scores across our state. 

In order to join Start Smart Texas, each community must develop an action plan to focus on mobilizing local nonprofit organizations, civic and business leaders, and engaged citizens to work in concert with families and schools to address three underlying challenges that can keep young children from learning to read proficiently:

  • School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind 
  • School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school 
  • Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer

What does this mean? 

For those of you who don’t know, Educate Midland is a “backbone” organization, coordinating and facilitating the community effort to move the bar on key educational indicators and to create sustainable student success outcomes. One of our key educational indicators is Early Learning under our School Readiness framework. By becoming a Start Smart Community, Educate Midland will have access to: 

  • A learning community with regular opportunities to learn from state and national experts on issues of relevance to Texas communities and student success
  • Access to state-level partners working together to support children and communities
  • Opportunities to connect with and learn from other Texas communities that are dedicated to improving the lives of children ages 0 – 8
  • Access to resources such as books and technologies designed to assist communities in their support of children, families, and schools
  • A whole lot more … 


In one of Educate Midland’s first partner alignment initiatives, the EDI, or Early Development Instrument, was introduced as a community-level kindergarten readiness assessment. This tool allows the community to look at kindergarten readiness at a neighborhood-level of residence rather than school campus attendance. This truly paints a picture of where a child falls on a holistic scale of readiness to thrive in school before they even enter a classroom.

In the spring of the 2016-2017 school year, the EDI showed nearly half of kindergarten students in Midland ISD were not ready for school. By becoming a Start Smart community, Educate Midland hopes to improve school readiness, attendance, and reading scores in not only our own community but across the state. 


The main resource driving the sustainable efforts of this collaborative initiative is each partner’s shared vision to support early education through constant communication. Our number one priority is to help children in their academic journey from cradle to career, and we are excited to announce this partnership and new beginning so that we can have a greater impact on our children, family, and community. 

For more information on Educate Midland and our dedication to early childhood learning, visit

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How to Help Your Child Study for Exams

By | Education, Learning

How to Help Your Child Study for Exams

Watching your son or daughter struggling through a difficult class or worry about a big test, might leave you feeling helpless. While Mom and Dad can’t exactly go to school and take the exam in their child’s place, parents that establish strong study habits at home will set up their children for success in school. Here’s how to help your child study for exams:
midland resources

1. Create a study space and eliminate distractions

Studies repeatedly show that television is a distraction to students completing assignments, and it’s best to set a strict house rule: study time is “no TV” time. Eliminating TV distraction while studying will help your child increase their study productivity throughout their entire academic career.

2. Explain the difference between studying and homework

There is a fundamental difference between completing homework and studying, and it is important for your child to understand the difference. Completing their homework does not mean your child has studied for their exam. Encourage your child to study by:

    • Taking notes during the reading
    • Learn to skim material
    • Learn to comprehend reading material and summarize the information
    • Rewrite notes for longer review
    • Make flashcards for quick review

3. Encourage your child to organize their study and homework projects on a planner

Time management is a critical study skill that your child needs to master in their younger years. The ability to plan study and homework time ahead of due dates and exams will help your child to succeed in all their future endeavors. Encourage your child to study over multiple days, not the night before the exam. This is guaranteed to increase comprehension and memorization of the study material.

4. Develop critical note-taking skills

Many students will feel they have to write down every word the teacher says in a lecture, which can be an ineffective way of notetaking. Teach your child to adopt an outline form of note-taking, focusing on important key ideas. Utilize abbreviations to jot down more information quicker.

5. Help your child feel confident in their ability

Test-taking is a difficult experience for many students, so help your child feel confident in their test-taking ability. Encourage them to get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam; studying the night before rarely works, and will do more harm than good mentally. Remind your child to relax during the exam, take a deep breath and read all the directions and questions carefully. Remind them that they studied hard, they understand the material, and they are going to ace this exam!

If you’re looking for more tips and fun academic research tools, check out some of these sites:

5 Activities to do with your child over Thanksgiving Break

By | Activities, Learning

5 Activities to do with your child over Thanksgiving Break

Don’t let your child waste away their Thanksgiving break playing phone games or watching television. There are plenty of ways to get involved in the community and interact as a family during Thanksgiving break. Ditch the devices, and use this small break from school as a big opportunity for you and your child to create lasting memories.

1. Volunteer

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for you and your family to participate in a volunteer program. is an excellent resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your area, as the website allows you to search by zip code. Not only will you be giving back to your community, some studies show that volunteer work can make you a healthier and happier person.

2. Read fun Thanksgiving-themed books

Go to the library and let your child pick out a few Thanksgiving-related books to take home and read together. Not only are you keeping their mind sharp and engaged over the break from school, reading a book together is a great memory that your child will treasure for their lifetime.

3. Turkey crafts

The biggest symbol of the Thanksgiving season is the turkey. Celebrate by putting together some easy Thanksgiving turkey-related crafts. Pinterest is an excellent resource for finding simple and easy craft ideas.

4. Play outside and collect the leaves

No Thanksgiving holiday is complete without some fun in the sun. Tossing the football around outside, or diving into piles of autumn leaves can become some of your child’s most precious memories of the Thanksgiving season. Collect the Autumn leaves for some fun leaf art projects!

5. Create an indoor Thanksgiving scavenger hunt

A fun and exciting activity that can apply to the holiday of Thanksgiving: create a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt that leads your child to a small prize, candy or yummy Thanksgiving snack!

5 Best Books to Read This Fall

By | Activities, Learning

5 Best Books to Read This Fall

Fall is the perfect season for curling up from the cold, West Texas wind and crawling into a good book. Here is a selection of fresh material we think are worth a flip through this autumn!

Manhattan Beach

Author: Jennifer Egan

A thriller set in Great Depression-era New York, Manhattan Beach is a mesmerizing novel you won’t want to set down. This historical tale explores the life of Anna Kerrigan and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her father. Egan weaves a masterpiece involving organized crime, merchant marines, class conflict and World War 2. How much more action-packed can a book be?

Uncommon Type

Author: Tom Hanks

Yes, this is a collection of seventeen short stories by THE Tom Hanks. With stories involving a wide range of subjects from professional bowlers to eccentric billionaires, Hanks shows that he is as talented a writer as he is an actor. Hanks takes cues from his acting performances and delivers tales that are equal parts surprising, hilarious, and enlightening.

Turtles All The Way Down

Author: John Green

Sixteen-year-olds Aza and Daisy become detectives after a hundred-thousand-dollar reward is posted to solve the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett. Turtles All The Way Down delivers a brilliant story of two girls searching for fugitives, love, friendship, and resiliency. Author John Green of The Fault in Our Stars fame returns in full-form for this young adult drama.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a gritty and honest portrait of a family coming to grips with drug addiction, death, prison, and family values in rural Mississippi. The story dissects both the meaning and limitations family can provide for family members.

The Last Ballad

Author: Wiley Cash

The Last Ballad explores life before labor laws for textile workers in early 20th century America. Long days, little pay, injustice, and oppression were just some of the prices paid by factory workers in the 1900s. A young woman named Ella May looks to change the way workers are treated by joining a labor movement at a potentially high cost to her family and loved ones. Wiley Cash masterfully translates the bravery and struggle faced by early human rights activists in this historical drama.

Top 5 Ted Talks on Education

By | Learning

Top 5 Ted Talks on Education

With topics varying from social issues to medical advances to the importance of volunteer work, Ted Talks are one of the most watched educational video series in the world. Not only do the viewers gain a better understanding of different topics, but the videos are also entertaining for every audience. In particular, Ted Talks have a variety of videos on education that many can benefit students and educators.


Teach with the World Peace Game

Presented by a public school teacher, the video discusses how we can utilize classrooms around the world to grow students into decision makers, critical thinkers, and most importantly leaders. This video is perfect for aspiring or newly employed teachers of all grades.


Do Schools Kill Creativity

As a previous visitor in Midland, Sir Ken Robison questions whether schools enable children’s’ creative and innovative minds using. Arguing that this is the case in our school systems, he talks about ways to optimize creative minds while being productive in the classroom.


Every Kid Needs A Champion

Rita Pierson, an educator for 40 years, electrifies the audience in her talk about teacher-student relationships and the effects it has on the success of our youth. She encourages teachers and educators around the globe to level with their students on a more personal and real basis rather than a superior and inferior relations.


My Story From Gangland Daughter To Star Teacher

Pearl Arredondo delivers an inspiring speech detailing her childhood covering her upbringing in East Los Angeles to her gang leading father. Although her early life was ‘a series of unfortunate events’ she recalls needing teachers who were not just leaders for the classroom, but mentors and caring, compassionate individuals. She argues that sometimes, for some kids, homework isn’t the number one thing on their mind and that’s okay.


3 Rules To Spark Learning

Ramsey Musallam is an incredible individual. After experience a near-death illness, he threw his traditional teaching out the window and revised his curriculum with innovative and hands-on learning. His reasoning? The teacher’s primary role is to generate curiosity in the minds of his students, and from there, education begins.

Transitioning from Daycare to Grade School

By | Learning

Transitioning from Daycare to Grade School

Starting kindergarten is a nerve-wracking and monumental change for both the parent and child. Your child will most likely express uncertainties to you before he or she begins in the fall. The most important thing is for you to recognize your child’s feelings, and then honestly and calmly present him or her with reliable solutions.

Below we’ve listed some possible comments your child might make before going to school, and how you can address and help alleviate these concerns.

“I don’t want to start school.”

This has become a common sentiment stated by almost everyone, no matter their age or year in school. However, for a child first starting kindergarten, there is a major fear of the unknown behind his or her words. To help your child recognize the importance of education, be honest with him or her about why he or she needs to go to school in the fall.

You can acknowledge your child’s fears while also explaining to him or her why it is necessary to attend school by saying, “Look, I understand it’s scary to do something new. But everyone, even your (brother, friend, mom, dad) has to go to work/school. You’re starting a life of learning, and you’ll be able to do and experience a lot of new and fun things when you start going to school.”

“I’m scared of how my first day of school will go.”

One way to help combat these fears is by recognizing your child’s feelings and then using these feelings as a basis for a role-playing experience. You can act like another child on the playground, the teacher, or as anyone else your child wants. This allows your child to run through different scenarios that may happen on their first day. By going through multiple situations and figuring out solutions, it should help ease his or her worries, at least a little bit.

You could also have an older sibling tell your younger child about his or her experience (especially if your younger child is going to the same school), and the older sibling can explain how he or she handled his or her first day in a new place.

“I don’t know if I’ll like my new teacher.”

If the school allows, the easiest way to combat this fear is by having your child meet his or her new teacher before the first day. You might want to call the school and ask if the teacher is available and would be willing to sit down with your child.

If you can’t meet with him/her ahead of time, tell your child you’re sure she will like her new teacher and remind your child of other situations where he or she met new people for the first time and ended up loving them later on.

“What if I get lost?”

Again, you might want to contact the school and see if you can take a tour before the first day of school. This way, even if you can’t show your child the exact classroom he or she will be working in, you can show him or her what the classrooms look like, where the cafeteria is, where the playground is, and where to find the front office/nurse’s office/other important rooms. By showing your child before the first day, he or she will be able to imagine what it will be like to go to school there, and he or she will hopefully not get lost on the first day of school.

“What happens if I get confused by my schoolwork?”

Being worried about failure is a valid concern for a lot of young students. They’re unsure of what they’ll be able to handle since they’ve never really had to do a lot of school work before. Assure him or her that you will be there to assist with homework if he or she needs it. Also, let your child know that their school is a place for learning, not being perfect the first time you try something. This should help ease his or her concerns and prepare him or her for a lifetime of soaking up new knowledge and information.



How “Flipped” Learning Benefits Students

By | Learning

How “Flipped” Learning Benefits Students

Under the “Flipped” learning model in education, students are assigned lecture material to view as homework, then complete traditional “homework” and other collaborative assignments during class time. However, the process is much more involved than just a switch from “homework to class work” and “classwork to homework.” The Flipped Learning Network (FLN)’s mission is to foster a flexible learning environment in which educators engage students with meaningful activities during class time. Studies conducted by the FLN have reported that “71% of teachers who have flipped their class noticed improved grades, and 80% reported improved student attitudes as a result.” Here’s why:


Lectures at home lead to less frustration.

In the Flipped classroom, students listen or view their lectures at home, usually by means of a pre-recorded video, then come to class to complete group work assignments. This structure is proving to be preferred by students and takes the frustration away that is usually associated with the traditional homework setting. Because students are engaging with the lecture material at home, they can listen to the lesson at their own pace. If a student is struggling with a particular section, the lecture can be replayed and reviewed as many times as necessary for the concept to be understood.

Another benefit of “Flipped” learning is that students who miss multiple days of school, for reasons such as illness, are able to catch up to their peers quicker than while under the traditional learning system. Students who miss class are still able to keep up with lecture material while away from class, thus finding it easier to catch up on their work.


Students come to class prepared.

The traditional homework setting is where most students need help, but while the student is in their bedroom at home studying, the teacher is not available to answer questions. Flipped learning benefits students by allowing them to prepare their questions from the lecture before class, then come into “homework” time where the teacher has the full class time to answer questions. Students come to class prepared with questions, leading to discussion and deeper thinking on the concepts. Students will also feel more comfortable asking questions since they’ve had plenty of time to review the material before class.


Students with learning and special needs are finding success.

Another unexpected benefit of Flipped learning is how the system has been improving the education of special needs students. Experts have found that, in the Flipped classroom, special needs students have more one-on-one time with the teacher during instruction time. The “learn at your own pace” philosophy of Flipped learning works particularly well with special needs students. Studies have found that students with attention issues can have an easier time focusing on the lesson, as they can freely move about the room during instruction time without disrupting the class. Students learning English have also been finding great success under the Flipped learning system: teachers can utilize technology to provide translation during the lecture, and the constant communication between teacher and student improves conversational skills.

The Flipped learning model certainly has its benefits, and just like the creators of this new learning system, Educate Midland works to achieve improved education for the public school system. Our mission is to empower and align the Midland community so that all students achieve their highest educational potential. Get in touch with us at (432) 818-2620 or learn more on our website at

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