December 2008 Archives

It will be interesting to see how Arne Duncan, Obama's pick for Secretary of Education, changes (or doesn't change) the way that schools are run in the United States after Obama takes office on Jan. 20. This article on the Washington Post site suggests that, based on his track record in Chicago, he is open to innovative and creative ways to boost grades and motivate students, including rewarding students for good grades with cash. What sets Duncan apart, education experts said, is his willingness to embrace a range of reforms and his ability to work with people who hold diverging, ...


This New York Times article discusses the increase in schools that are including students in the traditional parent-teacher conference, sometimes encouraging the students themselves to lead the discussions. Proponents of this conference method say that having students there encourages them to take responsibility for their education and behavior in school, makes parents more comfortable, and increases participation in the conferences. Some schools are even encouraging other family members—aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.—to attend the conferences. This model isn't appropriate for all situations, says one principal (such as a discussion about a special education diagnosis), but for most cases, including ...


This AP story shows how in a school where freshmen and sophomores are separated by gender test scores—and motivation levels—are up. "We've seen huge, huge increases in test scores," said [Principal Alisha] Kiner, who presented the data this fall at the National Association for Single Sex Public Education's international conference. The story examines how advocates of gender-specific classes say boys and girls are interested in different things, and separating them can make it easier to tap into both groups' potential. However, they also warn against perpetuating stereotypes, like teaching girls math with shopping analogies and boys with football ...


Not to hit you guys over the head with this public radio program, but there's another Radio Rookies episode that is definitely worth the 8 and a half minutes it takes to listen. It's the story of Kaddeem Wright, a 16-year-old boy born in Costa Rica who now lives in Brooklyn. Kaddeem starts by talking about how his whole life, teachers have been telling him how smart he is, but that that statement is often followed up by comments about how he is "unmotivated," "lazy," and "not keen on doing homework." He talks about all of the different reasons that ...


This article in The Salt Lake Tribune is about a new Web site called Mighty Authors, which allows students to publish their own books for free on loose paper and for a fee for soft or hardcover books. Launched by a Utah teacher, the aim of the service is to motivate students to write more and to use the site to help teach writing in the classroom. One of the things I hear from educators over and over again is that students are much more motivated and engaged in their work if they have a tangible audience, and it seems ...


Piggybacking on our post a few days ago about Radio Rookies, here's a commentary on edweek.org that talks about how giving kids, especially those growing up under tough circumstances, the resources to tell their own stories fosters resilience and hope. [Psychologist James W.] Pennebaker has found in his research that people facing chronic difficulties in their lives, such as traumatic losses or injuries, benefit greatly from telling stories about their experiences and feelings. In fact, a number of research studies have validated the fact that writing about difficult circumstances is therapeutic for those unable to change what they must ...


Here at edweek.org, we've got a lot of really fantastic blogs that run the gamut of education topics, and catching up with them over the past few days, I ran into a couple of posts that are particularly relevant to those interested in student motivation. Over at Bridging Differences, Deborah Meier talks about what happens when students "play the school game,"—i.e. when getting good grades begins to become more important than actually taking and pursuing classes that they're actually interested in. Meanwhile, as one of my grandsons reminded me, high school and college alike are “means” for ...


As I've mentioned before, I am a public radio junkie, so I was delighted to find out about this program in New York City called Radio Rookies that conducts workshops for underprivileged teens in the area to teach them how to use radio recording equipment to tell stories about themselves and their communities that ultimately air on WNYC's Morning Edition. One of the most recent segments was produced by Keith Harris a high school senior who was raised in Guyana and didn't learn to read until he came to school in the United States in 9th grade. His segment talks ...


This AP article about a survey on American students' ethics paints a grim picture of what kids think is right and wrong. According to the survey, 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls admitted to stealing merchandise from a store within the past year, up from 32 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls in 2006. Sixty-four percent of students admitted to cheating on a test within the past year, and 36 percent said they had used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment for school within the past year, says the survey, which gathered responses from almost ...


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