April 2008 Archives

Here's an article in The Christian-Science Monitor about using cash-incentive programs to motivate students. It talks about the programs in Baltimore and Fulton County, Ga., which I have wrriten about in the past, but also about a new program in Baltimore and D.C. that allows students to invest and manage money. Check it out....


As part of my beat here at Education Week, I cover rural school issues. I'm relatively new to this subject, and over the past month or so, I've been gathering as much information as possible about the challenges that rural schools face and ways to overcome them. This afternoon, I attended a Webinar put on by the Rural Schools and Community Trust called Engaging Students and Revitalizing Communities through Place-based Learning, which seemed particularly suited to share with you all. Here's an article about place-based learning--what it is and some examples--from the Rural Schools and Community Trust's Web site. The ...


This article in the Downers Grove Sun covers the story of an elementary school in suburban Illinois that decided to celebrate its 80th anniversary by giving back to the community. Over the course of the school year, students have been encouraged to complete 80 acts of kindness that benefit the community. Each charitable act is written down on an apple and added to the school's giving tree, which hangs in the gym. This is a great example of a school working together with the community to encourage participation from students and parents and build a meaningful relationship between the school ...


This story in the Tuscaloosa News hits on a lot of what we talk about here on Motivation Matters. The article tells the story of three high school students who won an international creativity and problem-solving competition while they were in elementary school and went on to found an organization that promotes those same values. Their project, THINK Organization LLC, promotes "creative thinking, deductive reasoning, public speaking, community involvement and teamwork." So far, the teens have headed a pilot program at an elementary school and hope to branch out to after-school programs and community organizations, like the YMCA. This is ...


There's an interesting discussion forming around this entry in the Mortarboard blog, which tracks education trends in the UK. In the post, James Wignall argues against the recommendations of a report about improving student behavior and attendance. The report suggests that one way to combat bullying is to provide a separate space for shy students, such as "quiet study rooms, indoor games rooms and separate playground areas for calm and boisterous activities." Wignall argues that separating students this way only exacerbates the differences between shy and outgoing children, providing even more fodder for bullying and ostracism. However, this commenter, drawing ...


Beyond all talk of education policy--assessment and standards and curriculum and teacher training, et cetera--there's something else that is extremely important to the success or failure of the average student: the social climate of school. It's pretty hard to do well academically if you're constantly worried about being bullied or teased, or if you don't feel safe in your classroom environment. At least, that's what Ayer Public Schools in Massachusetts is learning, according to this article in the Boston Globe. Fortunately, I personally never had to deal with bullies while I was in school, but I did, as I'm sure ...


Apparently this is treat-kids-like-adults week on Motivation Matters because today, I'm going to point your attention to this editorial, "High schools shouldn't treat students like babies," on the Detroit News. The author of this opinion piece, Michael Williamson, specifically talks about issues that relate to Detroit students, but some of the changes he suggests are systemic in nature, rather than regional, so I thought it was worth noting. One particular point he made is something I've heard a lot of educators talk about recently. He says: Don't create a "sit down and listen" model that replicates the classroom of today. ...


In continuing with yesterday's theme of overprotecting kids, this story in The Washington Post talks about an elementary school in Northern Virginia that has banned tag from the playground. This isn't the first time I've read about something like this--it seems to happen every spring, with administrators banning the game because of student injuries (both physical and emotional) and parents crying foul while nostalgically looking back on their recess experiences. What I do think is interesting about this particular case is this paragraph of the story: Since the prohibition began early this month, physical education teachers have begun a "chasing, ...


There's been quite a bit of buzz around this column in the New York Sun by a mother, Lenore Skenazy, who gave her 9-year-old son a Metrocard, 20 bucks, and a fistful of quarters and left him in the middle of a New York City Bloomingdale's to find his way home on his own. Here's an excerpt: No, I did not give him a cell phone. Didn't want to lose it. And no, I didn’t trail him, like a mommy private eye. I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the ...


This AP story about a high school senior who found multiple examples of biases in his U.S. government textbook and proceeded to make those biases public, is a great example of one student who is actively engaged in his education. No matter what your political stance, you've got to give the kid credit for both knowing enough about politics and government to be able to dispute controversial sections of his textbook and for being passionate enough about his discoveries to bring them to the attention of the public. From the last few paragraphs of the article, it sounds like ...


In following suit with yesterday's post about overcoming obstacles and doing your best with the skills that you have, here's another inspiring story about a Carnegie Mellon University professor, Randy Pausch, who gave his "last lecture" about what really matters in life after finding out he has terminal cancer. His talk focuses on achieving childhood dreams and helping others achieve their own, and was intended to provide advice and counsel for his three children--all under the age of 7--as they grow up. The lecture, which you can watch on YouTube below, has now been expanded and turned into a book. ...


This story in the Baltimore Sun is about a high school boy who excels academically despite his physical limitations resulting from spinal muscular atrophy, which makes him extremely weak and requires him to rely on the assistance of caregivers for almost everything. But the really inspiring thing about this high schooler, Ofek Cohen, is that even though his capabilities are limited, he purposely seeks out ways to make the best of the skills that he does have. For example, Cohen's disability makes it impossible for him to play sports, but he still wanted to be involved with something competitive, so ...


Education Week's Bess Keller has written a really interesting story about parental involvement. As we've talked about many, many times before, having parents involved in their childrens' schools can greatly boost motivation levels and keep them on track. However, in some cases, overly demanding parents can become more of a nuisance than a help. Bess' story explains why this is becoming more and more common. "Parents are approaching schools with much more of a contract mentality," said [Bill Simmer, a parent-relations consultant for Independent School Management]. "Expecting results [from schools, for instance] has come well within the realm of parenting."The...


This sad, but inspiring story in the Los Angeles Times talks about one Iraqi ballet and music school's struggle to stay open despite five years of war and over a decade of threats from Muslim extremists who "consider music sacrilegious and kill for much less than dancing in public in a form-revealing tutu." In that same vein, Education Week's Mary Ann Zehr has recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, and has a number of stories up about the effects of five years of war on Iraqi schoolchildren. For many of those students, finding the motivation to succeed ...


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