Every year around this time, the debate over how harmful summer is to students' academic achievement pops up. But I would argue that although students may not be in class, taking notes and studying for tests, the three-month break provides a unique opportunity for kids to experience hands-on learning, which can often bring into focus what they've been learning about in school and re-energize them for a new school year in the fall. For example, take a look at this project in Philadelphia, where students gather for six hours a day to tend to a small farm at their school. ...


I'm very interested to see how the 2008 presidential election affects the motivation levels of students this year. As this article in The Washington Post talks about, the 18-24 age group is notorious for being politically apathetic, particularly those who haven't gone to college, but some are hopeful that that might change. I know this is an issue that doesn't directly affect most high school students, since only a small percentage of them can participate in the voting process, but I do think a presidential election is one of the most exciting things that happens in this country, and even ...


Here's a commentary up on edweek.org that once again tackles the question of how grades affect student motivation. The author, Paul Barnwell, makes the point that grades don't always reflect how much students learn. For example, a student who comes into a class with a broad base of knowledge and ends up with an A may actually have learned less than a student who comes in knowing less and actually studies more, but ultimately earns a lower grade. The emphasis should be on how much a student learns, rather than what grade he or she earns at the end ...


There's an AP story up today about the way one program in New Hampshire is motivating students to eat healthier. The program, called Early Sprouts and developed by Keene State College, works on the observation that kids are more likely to eat their vegetables if they have a hand in growing them. In the 24-week program, kids learn how to grow vegetables and then engage in a sensory exploration of the vegetable before cooking it and eating it. The creators of the program have noticed that when students go through the program, they are far more likely to try new ...


This commentary on edweek.org is a good example of how classes outside of a core curriculum can have a major impact on students' motivation levels in all classes. The author, Patrick Boyle, talks about how taking a few film classes in high school sparked a love for movies and opened the door to an interest in history and culture. He says: A new world had been unlocked for me, and it wasn’t simply cinematic. Each film was a research project; I wanted to understand the cultures and time periods that produced the film. Chiefly, this led to a ...


I recently finished writing a story about Twitter for Education Week's Digital Directions, which included a profile of one teacher in Silver Spring, Md., George Mayo, who is using Twitter with his students for a variety of projects. Mayo set up a Twitter account called Many Voices and invited students to submit a sentence or two to a rolling collaborative story, which he then published and made available to purchase in print or as a free download. As you might expect, Mayo said his students were thrilled at being able to participate in the project, and they found seeing their ...


This article in the New York Times debates the pros and cons of 8th-grade graduation ceremonies. In recent years, that benchmark has become more extravagant, says the article, which could send the wrong message to students by treating middle school graduation as an accomplishment and not an expectation. A blowout 8th-grade graduation could take away from the experience of high school graduation and make students think that finishing middle school is a sufficient level of education, some educators contend. But graduating from middle school is an accomplishment for some kids, opponents say, and recognizing that can be a strong motivator ...


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