In this era of school reform, turnaround, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. Usually when we talk about "getting back to the basics," the conversation is student-focused, if not always student-centered. These basics of learning vary from the 3 Rs (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic) to STEM to 21st century skills.
The 2013 Whole Child Virtual Conference reached educators across the globe. Building on its success, the 2014 Whole Child Symposium is another great opportunity for you to interact with leading education thinkers.
Join ASCD for two free events in May: the Whole Child Symposium Live and the Whole Child Symposium Virtual, a series of discussions about effective education and education systems around the world.
Research shows that students with access to good nutrition have higher school attendance records, are better able to focus, and are consistently more engaged than students with poor nutrition. Even so, Congress approved and President Obama signed a farm bill reauthorization that cuts funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
How would you rate your ability to put your dreams into practice? How would you rate your students?
Aspirations—having goals and being inspired in the present to pursue them—challenge us to match our dreams with actions, explained Russell Quaglia at his lively 2014 ASCD Annual Conference general session. But for many students, he added, aspirations get lost in the limbo between dreaming and doing.
"We have a lot of dreamers, but not a lot of doers," he said. "The disconnect between kids' hopes and dreams and how they're going to reach them is profound." Drawing on MyVoice surveys of more than 1 million students done by the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), Quaglia argued that this gap is symptomatic of a student population in which about half feel disengaged and disconnected from their school community.
School improvement conversations usually focus on quick fixes, those strategies thought to make immediate improvements to student achievement. While this model may work well for some, kids (and their teachers) remain unconvinced because their needs were never really considered to begin with—just their test scores. Even so, schools are encouraged to implement these overly simplistic strategies in spite of the fact they contradict most everything great teachers know to be true and effective.
Teachers know effective teaching connects students to their learning by creating purpose, meaning and enjoyment. They also know effective teaching allows students to feel a sense of accomplishment by using their learning to affect the world around them. At best, quick fix models are short sighted. At worst they are negatively affecting the school experience for large groups of kids who yearn to be motivated, engaged, and have purpose for their learning. In this way, the cycle of disengagement, low test scores, and new quick fixes is perpetuated. To remedy this, we need to replace quick fixes with long-term, sustainable changes aimed at teaching kids in their entirety, not just their data profiles. In short, we need to get back to the real basics of education.
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll sought to explore which of the predictions of a 2001 OECD report its readers felt were actually emerging.
"Back to the basics." It's a phrase that's tossed around much but has varying definitions depending on the speaker and audience. For some, "back to the basics" means focusing on the 3 Rs—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic—before (and sometimes instead of) anything else.
We have to get back to basics in education, like ensuring that our children are developing the reading and writing and math skills they need to effectively compete in a very tough and increasingly global job market.
After a long winter season with continual blankets of snow and ice sleeping on the ground, the warmth of spring is finally waking up the soil. Seas of grass are rising in front yards and eager blooms are curling upward toward the sun.
Like careful, measured areas of hope, fresh garden plots are starting to appear in back yards. These gardens—and the work that goes along with them—mirror what should be happening in our middle schools. Critical and basic actions are needed to make gardens flourish, and if we want to see the same kind of sustainable growth for every student in our classrooms, we also need to plan, till, sew, and constantly nurture our educational gardens.
At the recent ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, Calif., ASCD Executive Director and CEO Dr. Gene R. Carter convened an international panel of education leaders from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada. Although their contexts differ, they share many of the same challenges as U.S. educators, and their global perspective provided a new lens for considering common themes in education. Here were some of the panel's responses.
I must begin this post by stating one fact; I am so very appreciative and do not take for granted the number of hours spent in Washington Montessori School on a daily basis by our volunteers and community partners. We partner with local businesses, agencies, city offices, and so many others. Some of our partners help provide food for our back-feeding program for the weekend (where students discreetly get to take home food to eat), clothes for our clothes closet, and healthy snacks for the school day. For example, West Market Street United Methodist Church helps us celebrate birthdays each month and provides supplies for students and staff throughout the school year as well as providing a week-long free summer enrichment camp for students.