January 2010

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Upcoming Whole Child Podcast: School Climate

Rules and norms, sense of physical security, support for learning, social and civic learning, interpersonal relationships, and respect for diversity are only a few of the dimensions of school climate. We're talking about the quality and character of school life. Why? Because research and common sense reaffirm that focusing on the social and educational atmosphere is critical to student success, yet many schools and districts do not assess climate or include it in school improvement plans. How can schools develop a positive school climate that fosters teaching, learning, and the development of the whole child?

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David Snyder

New study on the lasting value of early childhood education

It's a tradition on Saturday Night Live's fake-news segment "Weekend Update" to poke fun at studies that produce really obvious results; e.g., "A person who suffers two sharp, powerful blows to the head within a short period of time can suffer brain damage or even die. This according to a new study in the medical journal Duh."

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Beneath it all: Trust must be present to educate the whole child

According to research from Bryk & Schneider (2002), schools with high trust levels are more likely to be ranked in the top quartile on standardized tests and three times more likely to report gains in reading and math scores. 

When we educate students without first building a foundation of trust, students are often less receptive, more distracted, and disinterested. It's no surprise then that students thrive in environments where trust is present. Our challenge is to create school environments where trust is present so that we can ensure each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

How do you develop trust with students who struggle to believe you are trustworthy? What is the cost of not nurturing trusting relationships with students?

Melissa Mellor

ESEA Reauthorization and the Whole Child

Educators must take advantage of the impending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure that a comprehensive whole child approach to learning becomes a national priority, writes ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter in his "Is It Good for the Kids?" column this month.

Carter points out that promising examples of a coordinated, whole child approach to education exist at the local and state levels, from superintendents in Pennsylvania and Washington State who have integrated the whole child framework into their district improvement plans to education, youth, and community groups in Massachusetts that have joined together to spearhead Success for Life, a collaborative effort to advance the lifelong prospects of youth.

The federal government is beginning to take a cue from these local efforts, Carter contends, but hasn't made the whole child approach enough of a priority by including it in the Race to the Top Fund's competitive priorities.

With ESEA reauthorization looming, Carter calls for Secretary Duncan and the Obama administration to put action behind their words, bringing together a national summit that draws attention to, coordinates, and expands on promising local efforts to support the whole child.

Do you see examples of a whole child approach at the local level? What do you think the federal government can learn from local and state efforts?

Klea Scharberg

Our Job Is Done… Because We Care

In Edutopia's Schools That Work series, we here at the Whole Child Blog have been getting to know the Jefferson County (Ky.) Public Schools community and its commitment to social and emotional education. Through the CARE for Kids program, learning and teaching is enhanced when students feel supported by caring, qualified adults.

CARE for Kids practitioners are shaped by these six essential principles:

  • "At the heart of a caring school community are respectful, supportive relationships among and between students, educators, support staff, and parents."
  • "Learning becomes more connected and meaningful for students when social, emotional, and ethical development is an integral part of the classroom, school, and community experience."
  • "Significant and engaging learning, academic and social, takes place when students are able to construct deep understandings of broad concepts and principles through an active process of exploration, discovery, and application."
  • "Community is strengthened when there are frequent opportunities for students to exercise their voice, choice, and responsible interdependence to work together for the common good."
  • "Classroom community and learning are maximized through frequent opportunities for collaboration and service to others."
  • "Effective classroom communities help students develop their intrinsic motivation by meeting their basic needs (e.g. safety, autonomy, belonging, competence, usefulness, fun, and pleasure), rather than seeking to control students with extrinsic motivators (e.g., rewards and punishment)."

Want more? Listen as our guests on the Whole Child Podcast share their thoughts on why schools and communities succeed when they focus on supporting students.

Klea Scharberg

A New Curriculum for a New Century

As technology and innovation rapidly change the world in which we live, educators must find new ways to improve their curriculum. ASCD Express looks at some of the ideas educators are proposing about updating classroom curriculum to keep students engaged and to properly educate them to live in a competitive global society. Learn more.

In this video, see students apply various 21st century skills: discussing podcasts, designing a home, and working in collaboration to draw up new ideas.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

This Month's Whole Child Podcast: Meeting Students Where They Are

Research and common sense tell us that educators positively impact student learning and achievement when they connect their students' lives outside of school to their learning and the larger school community. But it can be challenging for educators to connect each student's personal interests, needs, strengths, and circumstances to the material and school community. For students with the greatest obstacles, making these connections is often more challenging but still absolutely critical.

On this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, you'll hear from two guests who will share strategies for meeting students where they are now, while preparing them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do About It, identifies action steps educators can take to address student risk factors—including health and safety issues and cognitive, social, and emotional challenges—and help students' brains catch up. Sean Slade, the new director of ASCD's Healthy School Communities Initiative, shares his expertise in connecting students to their learning environment and fostering resilience, well-being, and success. Hear all this and more on the Whole Child Podcast: Changing the Conversation About Education. Download the podcast today!

How do you connect students' lives to what they are learning? Share your ideas and questions with other educators committed to meeting students where they are.

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Meeting Students Where They Are: Preparing Them for What's Next

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Each student brings a unique set of interests, needs, strengths, and circumstances to school and teachers often struggle to connect with students, especially those facing the greatest challenges. Yet research and common sense tell us that educators positively impact student learning and achievement when they connect their students' lives outside of school to their learning and the larger school community.

On this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we heard from two guests who shared strategies for meeting students where they are now, while preparing them for the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.

How do you connect students' lives to what they are learning? Share your ideas and questions with other educators committed to meeting students where they are. Share your thoughts on the Whole Child Blog.

David Snyder

What Works in Dropout Prevention

The U.S. Department of Education's Doing What Works site has just debuted a robust new section focused on dropout prevention. It features information on recommended research-based practices educators can use to prevent dropouts, such as Adult Advocates, Data Systems, and academic supports.

Each practice is described with multimedia content and school success stories, and implementation is made easier with plenty of tools and templates, making the site a fun and valuable destination.

This is just the latest of many great resources you can find the the Whole Child Resource Clearinghouse.

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