I woke up Sunday morning looking forward to a getting a jump on packing some Christmas gifts and watching my highly motivated New England Patriots continue their march toward an undefeated season. But then my middle school son nearly made me choke on my coffee when he showed me the progress he had made toward completing his science project about animal and plant cells, an assignment he had mentioned in passing the day before. What little progress he had made! And how worried I looked! Reading over the assignment, I realized he had a 10-15 hour work session ahead of ...


An interesting conversation is evolving around Katie's Dec. 11 post about the value of homework. The parents who commented seem to think there is too much of it and most of it is just busy work that won't necessarily help students become better learners. I must say I stand smack in the middle of this debate. As the father of four children--ages 4, 10, 13, and 15--there are some nights, especially when I am maxed out doing a million tasks, that a child's plea for help on homework irritates me. Why does the school assign so much homework? Why can't ...


A new position paper put out by the Association for Childhood Education International outlines the teacher's role in student motivation and how that can be used to bolster achievement. The paper draws two major conclusions about student motivation. The first is that "children's learning is supported by task-related incentives, both intrinsic and extrinsic, that are responsive to the individual child, the domain of study, and the sociocultural context." The second is that "effective teaching transcends merely imparting knowledge and relies, to a considerable extent, on educators' ability to motivate students to learn. Any characterization of learning that disregards the role ...


Having been out of school for about a year and a half now, I have to admit that one of the things I enjoy most about the working world is that when I go home, I don't have any homework. When I turn off my computer and put on my coat, that is officially the end of my working day, and I'm not required to think about it anymore. It is a luxury I always envied when I was a student. But then again, as I've mentioned many times before, I did a lot of homework when I was in ...


We want to draw your attention to a new campaign in Washington state called Creativity Matters. The goal of the campaign is to reinforce the argument that teaching kids how to be creative (as well as analytical) is important for the economic future of the United States, and that creativity can be taught across all academic subjects, not just in the arts. It's worth noting that the campaign is supported by some big names in the corporate world, such as Microsoft and Boeing. The campaign is considering some interesting proposals, such as training for principals on how to run schools ...


There's nothing like a story about a Mexican immigrant who has written two books, appeared on television, and given a series of motivational speeches all before she could legally drive to make you feel lazy. Yuliana Gallegos, 16, has written a book called Mi sueno de America/My American Dream about her experiences as an English-language learner after her family moved to Houston when she was in the fourth grade. Determined to keep up with her peers, she spent hours each night doing her homework with the help of stacks of dictionaries and quizzed herself on new vocab every day, ...


Telling high-achieving kids that they are smart and talented may seem like a good idea, but according to this article from Scientific American magazine, attributing good grades to natural ability and talent can actually squelch students' motivation when they run into harder problems. We have written in this blog about this idea before, when researcher Carol S. Dweck put out her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck groups kids into two categories: those with a fixed mindset who believe that achievement is directly related to natural talent, and those with a growth mindset who think success is a ...


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