We know that when students are fully engaged in learning and school, academic achievement, attendance rates, and participation in activities increases. Students need to be motivated in their learning before they can apply higher-order, creative-thinking skills and, ultimately, be prepared for their future college, career, and citizenship success.
Many schools are making major changes in structures and professional development to make sure teachers are implementing effective project-based learning (PBL) schoolwide. I've been honored to be part of that journey with many schools. I have seen many different kinds of PBL schools, and with it, many kinds of PBL projects. This work has also reaffirmed the belief that the principal is one of the cornerstones to effective PBL implementation. We know this! This is not new news, but because PBL is a change in the paradigm of curriculum and instruction, it means that implementation has unique strategies and challenges as well. Here are some straightforward ways I have seen principals at PBL schools lead toward excellent PBL implementation.
We are in an intense time of change within education, from the Common Core State Standards Initiative to the rapid advancement of technology to new teacher and principal evaluation processes. Ordinarily, the changes we face in education are often just old practices with innovative twists. Today's challenging changes are different, requiring educators to dig deeply for a mind-set that will withstand and embrace the shifting paradigms of the educational landscape. After all, our students deserve educators who are well-informed and thoughtful about how their practices affect the whole child now and in the long run.
What is the most effective way to teach a reading comprehension strategy? Does explicit instruction in one type of reading comprehension strategy facilitate acquisition of similar types of reading comprehension strategies? This video, from Best Practices Weekly, dissects a study that posed these questions in an article published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. Focusing on 2nd grade science, this study finds that teaching reading through the content areas does not hurt students' content knowledge, and it really helps their reading comprehension. Learn more with ASCD Express.
During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, student services, and teaching.
Leadership is essential to effective education. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" from the school leaders and leaders of national education organizations themselves.
In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each school, in each community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged and prepared for success in higher education, employment, and civic life. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2012.
ASCD recently sent feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on reinvigorating civic learning and engagement across the country. This feedback is a response to the department's call for suggestions on four provisions in its road map for advancing civic learning (PDF).
Research and test scores show that our students lack knowledge of the U.S. government system and their civic responsibilities, but many schools struggle to prioritize civic learning amid competing academic concerns. ASCD believes that civic learning is an essential component of a whole child approach to education that gives students a voice in a safe and supportive environment and ensures that they understand their opportunities in and obligations to their schools, their communities, and the nation.
Want to fine-tune some of your teaching techniques in 2013? ASCD has partnered with Edutopia and, this week, one lucky winner will receive ASCD's Classroom Instruction That Works, a DVD series that brings to life nine research-based instructional strategies for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms (a $349 value!). With concrete examples and lessons, you'll have plenty of ideas to bring to your classroom in the new year.
Go to www.edutopia.org/giveaway by midnight pacific time on Sunday, December 16, to enter for a chance to win. In addition, once you've entered to win, you'll receive a discount code for other ASCD products.
Educators constantly look for new tools and programs to stimulate and motivate learners, enhance student performance, or change the role of the teacher. Recent trends include flipped teaching, red-shirting (postponing kindergarten entrance so that a child is one year older than his peers), merit pay, year-round school, and a longer school day.
Which strategies or innovations are likely to have the greatest effect on student learning? According to Tony Frontier, assistant professor of doctoral leadership studies at Cardinal Stritch University, most education innovations and policies can be placed in one of five categories, some of which provide more powerful leverage than others. Frontier presented these ideas during his ASCD 2012 Conference on Teaching and Learning session, "Five Levers to Improve Student Learning."
There's no arguing that students today need wellness as a component of their education more than ever before. From a super-size food culture to screen-time saturated entertainment to an increase in trauma in our communities, the experiences in which children are immersed when they leave the care of their schools are often lacking in sound health, social engagement, and safety.
This shortage of wellness might manifest in a variety of ways in the classroom: inattention, hypo/hyper arousal, academic challenges, interpersonal difficulties, and a host of other problems that affect classroom management and student learning. As educators, it is easy to get stuck in a frenetic and stressful cycle of reacting to problems that surface in the classroom or larger school community when what most truly desire is an opportunity for their students to learn skills that will challenge them to contribute to the world in a meaningful and productive way.
Using yoga and mindfulness in schools can do just that.