April 2007 Archives

Loved the feedback about my last entry, "At-Risk or At-Promise," which tackled the issue of educational jargon. One reader said the switch from At-Risk to At-Promise was "just insane," while another said the phrase was "worth preserving" because it sends a positive message. So I wanted to keep the discussion going. What jargon about student motivation do you think is simply ridiculous or sends the wrong message? On the other hand, is there some jargon you really like and believe is worth preserving?...


I am one of those people who dreads educational jargon. It has a way of turning attention away from problems, masking the issues that really matter, and simply confusing even intelligent readers. So I am always on the lookout for the latest jargon in the student motivation world. And I ran across one recently that seems to be the work of people who have way too much time on their hands and who are way too obsessed with self-esteem. It is the "3rd Annual Reaching At-Promise Students National Conference." Not at-risk, but at-promise. The at-risk label was pretty bad on ...


A headline on the front page of today's Washington Post says "Climate Change Scenarios Scare, and Motivate, Kids." The story tells about the growing interest of students, some as young as 8, in the issue of global warming. Some youngsters are doing classroom projects on climate change; others are trying to rally their schools to raise money to combat global warming. And at one high school, enrollment in an AP environmental science class has doubled over the past two years and is expected to continue growing. What's the educational lesson here? It's a simple one: Make learning relevant to students' ...


With my 8th grade son about to attend a large comprehensive high school in Northern Virginia next year, I'll be keeping a close eye on him to see what impact the size of the school has on his motivation. Much has been written about how kids can get lost in the anonymity of such places and not feel connected to their schools. That, in turn, undoubtedly has a negative effect on motivation. On my drive to work this morning, I listened to a story on NPR, "Troubled Schools Turn Around By Shrinking," which examines efforts in Baltimore to create smaller, ...


We have an interactive device on the home page of edweek.org that allows us to conduct a weekly poll. To be sure, this online poll does not meet the standards for scientific polling. It is an informal survey, no more, no less. Still, it is a lot of fun to use and it is growing more and more popular among our online readers. For Motivation Matters, this week's poll results are especially worth noting. We asked readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Most high school students are not motivated to do their best." Of the ...


A story in The Dallas Morning News today about a new initiative in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district to improve the success of ninth graders, "Motivation, Extra Help Make Ninth Grade More Manageable," touches on a challenge faced by many school districts across the country: Making sure freshman year is not the beginning of an academic slide into four years of underachievement, or worse, dropping out of school. The story notes that nearly a quarter of the district's 9th graders were held back after the 2004-05 school year. It will be interesting to see what impact the initiative has on ...


If time on task and extensive practice are key building blocks for learning, then educators need to take a closer look at the power of video games, especially their ability to provide immediate error feedback, according to a March 31 entry in the blog, Explorations in Learning. The writer suggests that there is much to be learned from video games if students are motivated to spend hours on particular tasks and make adjustments based on error feedback. The entry includes a useful and interesting piece from Wired Magazine, "High Score Education: Games, Not School, Are Teaching Kids to Think," as ...


I must confess I only read the abstract of this research article, "Improving the Writing, Knowledge, and Motivation of Struggling Young Writers," featured on the American Educational Research Association site. And the abstract, which includes a definition of "self-regulated strategy development," or SRSD, was a bit too jargon heavy for my non-researcher sensibilities. But one sentence in the abstract might entice you to read the article. It says that SRSD "had a positive impact on the writing performance and knowledge of struggling second-grade writers attending urban schools serving a high percentage of low-income families."...


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