To many students, school is just a place they go. How do we create engaging learning experiences that make school more personal for them? 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.
Over the past decade and a half, I've seen how well-executed project-based learning (PBL) can provide a joyful learning experience for students. Joy is not our number one standard, I realize, but when projects offer the right mix of challenge, engagement, and personalized support, blended with a motivating, meaningful learning experience that reaches deep into the soul, joy is the outcome. You can see it bubble up in the animated faces, big smiles, body language, and open-hearted response of students at the end of a good project. In other words, we've reached the whole child.
In this month's Educational Leadership magazine, McREL's Bryan Goodwin shares research that shows when students are engaged in learning and can connect it to real-world interests and goals—intrinsic and extrinsic motivation—both standardized curricula and child-development needs are being served. As teachers, we can personalize curriculum standards to student interests and tap into their need for autonomy.
Post written by Fiona S. Baker, a teacher educator with an interest in responsive classroom professional development. She has more than 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher, workshop presenter, school consultant, and faculty member at universities and colleges, and she currently teaches at the Emirates College for Advanced Education in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Connect with Baker by e-mail at email@example.com. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.
Why is it that after all the teacher's diligent lesson planning, classroom learners are often disengaged and have little desire to apply effort? There may be myriad reasons for this, but lesson-planning principles and strategies can help draw in learners.
All learners implicitly ask four fundamental questions:
At ASCD's Fall Conference in October, educator Mary McDonough used a variety of techniques while explaining the importance of formative assessment in standard-based grading. During her session, "Formative Assessment: Linchpin for Standards-Based Grading," McDonough had attendees share their own experiences and discuss the topic amongst themselves and presented a slide show with everything from detailed instructions to cartoons that related to her presentation. The discussion was lively, and the audience was engaged with the large amount of information they were receiving, but it all came down to one important point:
"It's good for learning," said McDonough of using formative assessment and standards-based grading. "And it's good for the students."
Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Carole Hayward
Adora Svitak, ASCD's youngest member at 14 years old, became involved in classroom teaching when her first book was published when she was 7. As a current high school student, Svitak has a truly unique perspective on both sides of the classroom.
At a general session at ASCD's Fall Conference in October 2011, Svitak began by talking about her class schedule, which involves four online classes and two traditional classes taught at a brick-and-mortar school. She showed her tablet device that contains everything she needs for her online classes and her traditional binder, which is bulging with papers from her face-to-face classes.
Ever since my visit to St. Luke's School, an elementary school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx, N.Y., in the 1970s, I have wondered why one of the best ideas in education—peer tutoring—has been so seldom adopted in American public schools. Despite its demographic challenges, St. Luke's reading scores were two years above average.
St. Luke's principal, an energetic nun in her mid-30s, created a peer tutoring system in which every child became a tutor. She matched the children in 1st through 3rd grades with a buddy in 4th through 6th grades. After morning prayers, the first 35 minutes of the day were devoted to whatever the younger student wanted to read.
Nine years ago, I was talking with an elementary school principal about scheduling my university tutoring class in his school. Among my concerns was making sure that the children to be tutored did not have to miss recess. His question, "What recess?" was startling and sparked my journey to better understand the importance of how paying attention to the whole child is a sure way to help them to maximize their full potential as readers. Just what, I wondered, could I—a reading professor by profession with a personal fitness-training avocation—do to join the chorus of the many different agencies to address children's optimal wellness in an effort to ward off childhood obesity? The answer to this question culminated in a book I wrote entitled Literacy Lessons to Help Kids Get Fit and Healthy (Scholastic, 2010). In it, I offer several fitness literacy lessons, of which FitLit is a part.
By the time students graduate from high school, they have spent thousands of hours in a classroom, most likely sitting. That's a lot of sitting. Integrating movement and physical activity in the classroom and across the school day gives children's bodies and minds the exercise they need to fuel the brain with oxygen, creates enthusiasm and energy, and maximizes learning during academic lessons.
Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Carole Hayward
At last weekend's ASCD Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning session "Inviting Students to Learn: 100 Tips for Talking Effectively with Your Students," Jenny Edwards presented many strategies from her ASCD book by the same title. Edwards's strategies are based on the premise that the language teachers use powerfully affects students' ability to learn.
Studies show that teacher language has a great influence on student learning. "The way you speak to your students is key to creating an inviting learning environment," Edwards explained. "What might you like for your students to be saying 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years in the future about how what you said to them influenced their lives and their futures?"