In a recent commentary piece on edweek.org, Vicky Shippers argues that recess is an important piece of a student's school day. It is the only unstructured time children have at school, and yet many recess activities--like kickball and tag--have been banned from the playground because of safety concerns, and in many schools, recess itself has been squeezed out because of time constraints. Shippers explains why this is a worrisome trend: "Recess ... is about freedom. ... During recess, children are in a peer setting where they can watch how other kids act, decide whom they like and don’t like, and ...


There's a relatively new blog up on edweek.org that showcases student work from a project called Students at the Center, which works in two New Orleans high schools. On the blog, co-directors Jim Randels and Kalamu ya Salaam give regular updates on what students in the project are up to and post the essays students write. This is a really great example of how educators have begun to use technology to motivate students and present their work in a different way. The blog itself is an inspiring window into the lives of high school students living in New Orleans ...


It seems like lately every week there's been something new about cash-incentive programs, and this week is no exception. Debra Viadero's follow-up story about a three-year-old rewards program in Coshocton, Ohio reveals that their cash incentives have worked--sort of. Scores in math have improved, but reading scores have stayed the same. Test scores in science and social studies have also improved, although not significantly. Because of the mixed results, it seems like educators on both sides of this debate are using the study's results to support their position. Also, I was a little surprised to see that an overwhelming majority (81%)...


There's a letter to the editor this week that gets right to the heart of student motivation issues. It's from a former teacher who, as a substitute teacher, was appalled when he took over for a teacher who was letting students read comic books for an English class. But then he had a realization: "These boys and girls, all from working-class families, many of them children of immigrants, were devouring the comic books, and were reading for pleasure for the first time. Some of them had moved from comic books to Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Jack London, and they ...


A couple of months ago, we had quite a debate going on this blog about the importance of homework--how much should be given, whether it's effective, and how much strain it puts on families. So when I saw this story ("Survey on Homework Reveals Acceptance, Despite Some Gripes") on edweek.org this morning, I immediately thought of the readers of this blog. Debra Viadero's article says that 85 percent of American parents believe their kids are doing "the right amount" or "too little" homework. Seventy-five percent of students say they have adequate time to complete their homework. Overall, students, parents, ...


Education Week reporter Mary Ann Zehr, who posts frequently on her Learning the Language blog, just returned from a one-month stint in the Middle East. She wrote a number of fascinating dispatches while she was there, and her latest "Back in School, Iraqi Teen Lacks Motivation to Study" might be of particular interest to readers of this blog. The circumstances surrounding the interruption of many Iraqi children's education are complicated and difficult to summarize, so I highly recommend that you go read the entire story. Once Iraqi kids go back to school after a long interruption, they are often grouped ...


In her story this week, Education Week's Debra Viadero says that research is drawing an increasingly strong link between exercise and academic performance. Here's an excerpt: "There’s sort of no question about it now," said Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "The exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position for them to learn." This has significant implications for schools that, finding themselves in a time-crunch, have cut down on the amount of time allotted for physical education during school. ...


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