Tagged “Motivation”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Student Blog Launches to Offer Advice to Help Underserved Young People Reach College

This article has been reposted with permission from whole child partner America's Promise Alliance. The alliance raises awareness, encourages action, and engages in advocacy to provide children the key supports called the Five Promises: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to help others. Follow America's Promise Alliance on Twitter @fivepromises.

Center for Student Opportunity

Twenty students who beat the odds to become first in their family to attend college have teamed up with nonprofit Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) to launch the new Opportunity Scholars blog. Their mission is to share their remarkable college journeys and offer advice to other underserved students like them on how to make it to college.

"Follow these students closely because they are shining examples of how to turn college dreams into reality," said Matt Rubinoff, CSO's executive director. "We hope that this blog helps the hundreds of thousands of underserved, low-income students understand that the opportunity for college is within reach."

The 20 student bloggers all receive CSO's Opportunity Scholarship. Through the generosity of a foundation grant, the scholarship will double this year to become a $2,000 four-year renewable scholarship. Some of the student bloggers include the following:

  • Khadijah Williams (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard University '13) who made education her anchor while growing up homeless on Skid Row and persevered to make it to the nation's top university;
  • Abigail Macias (Sparks, Nev./Dartmouth '14) the daughter of Mexican immigrants who rose above negative stereotypes to attend Dartmouth;
  • Darius Journigan (Detroit, Mich./Marymount Manhattan College '14) who after being evicted from almost every home he lived in through his youth can now call Marymount Manhattan College in New York City his home; and
  • Native American Sophia Horn (Whittier, Calif./California State University, Chico '14) who worked 45 hours a week while juggling her school work to achieve her dream of going to college and majoring in sports journalism.

High school students can follow the blog and use the accompanying CSO College Center website (www.csocollegecenter.org) to research and connect with colleges active in the recruitment of first-generation, low-income, and minority students. Students who use the website will have a chance to apply for the Opportunity Scholarship and become future bloggers when they begin college.

To check out the Opportunity Scholars blog, please visit: http://csocollegecenter.org/blog/.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Engaging Student Voice to Welcome The Future, Today

Adam Fletcher

Post submitted by guest blogger Adam Fletcher, student voice expert and author of Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement. Follow Fletcher on Twitter and listen to him discuss how student engagement can improve schools and communities on the Whole Child Podcast.

Talking about college, careers, and the workplace can be anathema for students. Whether due to the developmental irrelevance of time, socioeconomic factors, or conditioned apathy, many young people view "The Future" with apparent indifference, seemingly finding it irrelevant to their present. The dilemmas with this reality are myriad, primarily because today schools are inherently future-oriented. The essential challenge here seems to be, "How can The Future be materially relevant for people for whom The Future is developmentally irrelevant?"

As adults, we impose solutions to this challenge according to our own perspectives: Technology integration, project-based learning, and service learning all have loud choruses booming about their relevance in future-teaching. STEM-centric educators pull for their focuses as being the most significant for students. Some educators still believe testing and other forms of standardization are the only way to teach The Future. However, as we know from the continuous pendulum swing of educational trends, all of these do little to jostle the seeming indifference of students toward The Future.

Over the last decade I have been working in communities around the world focused on what Ruthanne Kurth-Schai called "reconceptualizing the roles of young people throughout society." In this capacity I have worked with educators, administrators, support staff, and students in hundreds of educational settings, both in school and out of school, to help students determine the meaning of education for themselves.

Repeatedly I have heard students describe how they arrive to an obtuse, confusing notion of what the purpose of schools is every time they enter the building. Rather than address their confusion, well-meaning adults routinely employ the means of schooling without identifying the ends; worst still, teachers, administrators, and political leaders seem to mix the means and the ends. Students receive testing and curriculum, classroom management and extracurricular activities without ever exploring why these things should matter to them.

I propose that rather than impose meaning on students, adults in schools make meaning with students. Research in developmental psychology has shown us clearly that young people of all ages have the capacity to develop sophisticated understandings of the educational undertakings they participate in. Unfortunately, policy and practice in schools today have not kept up with that research.

In 2005, I wrote a number of publications about meaningful student involvement with the intention of defining a series of frameworks schools can use to promote this deepening of student understanding. Ultimately proposing that schools reconceptualize the roles of students by positioning them as coleaders, coteachers, and colearners, my research for the series showed me that this work is already well under way in a few select educational environments across the country. What I found were K–12 classrooms, educational agencies, and community groups that engage students in making meaning in education. These students are learning to find the meaning in The Future by defining the purpose of schools and partnering with adults to change those places to meet their expectations.

Since then I have worked with hundreds more schools, districts, and state agencies. I have found many good practices, policies, and methodologies to support meaningful student involvement. Download a free module on engaging students as teachers from the new SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum to get students lit up about learning about learning, learning about teaching, and teaching each other.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about teaching students about The Future is the key to defining why careers, college, and the workplace should matter to students: because students themselves decide it does. Letting learners name their motivation every single time they join a class, do a project, or complete a test and determine how their learning styles need to be met, which teachers can help them learn most effectively, helps them strengthen their conception and understanding of The Future. A growing number of educators are working to embrace this challenge, and in doing this, schools are building meaning into learning and instilling a lifelong love of education into every student. This is welcoming The Future, today.

Klea Scharberg

Free Webinar: Inspiring the Best in Your Students

Jonathan Erwin

Join author Jonathan Erwin for a free webinar about gaining a compelling and research-based rationale for integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) into your academic curriculum. Erwin has more than a decade of experience as a middle and high school English teacher and is currently a senior faculty member at the William Glasser Institute. He is also an independent education consultant who has presented workshops around the world on inspiring and motivating students.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 3:00 p.m. ET
Register now!

In this webinar, Erwin will share specific strategies that educators can immediately use in schools or classrooms and answer these essential questions:

  • What is social-emotional learning?
  • What is the need for SEL?
  • What does the research tell us about SEL, character development, and academic achievement?
  • What are some specific strategies for implementing SEL?
  • How can we integrate SEL into the academic curriculum so that SEL is not another thing teachers have to do?

Connect with Erwin on ASCD EDge or e-mail him at jon@inspiringmotivation.com.

You can find forthcoming and archived ASCD webinars at www.ascd.org/webinars.

Klea Scharberg

Middle Grades Roundup

Ah, middle grades ... a complex, challenging, and confusing time in adolescence. Also a complex, challenging, and confusing age for adults to support and develop! In April we looked at the crucial importance of this childhood stage. Supporting students as they transition physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially is key to ensuring that they are successful and healthy in high school and beyond.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Al Arth, a professor of education at York College in Nebraska, and Caroline Bloxom, principal of Pocomoke Middle School in Maryland.

Watch how Pocomoke Middle School has created a safe and welcoming learning environment for students by combining a rigorous curriculum with strong emotional support for its student body.

Explore "The Transition Years" with ASCD's Educational Leadership, and learn what authors recommend as students move from early childhood into elementary school, through the middle grades, and then into 9th grade. Noted middle school educator Rick Wormeli shares five mind-sets that can help educators ease the middle school transition for their students.

Develop a "both/and" mentality to maintain an equal commitment to middle grades students' academic success and personal growth. Author Bob Sullo offers insight, experience, and resources to help educators guide students through the messy process of identity formation and create learning experiences that increase achievement and minimize disruptions to learning.

Support the social, emotional, and metacognitive growth of middle grades students with appropriate environments, strategies, and programs that provide structure for academic success. Find 12 positive and developmentally appropriate educational practices (and school examples of each) in author Thomas Armstrong's book The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice.

Equip students with skills for future success early. Guest blogger Jason Flom shares his school's two-part plan to ensure that students leave elementary school with some basic communication and leadership life-support systems.

Create a culture of caring for middle grades students and staff in your district like Hesston Middle School in Hesston, Kans., did through its Transition Buddy Program.

Build student capacity in the middle grades through project-based learning (PBL). Guest blogger Andrew K. Miller shares developmental stages in the PBL process that provide focused guidance and foster student growth emotionally, socially, and cognitively.

Understand the purpose of middle schools and the strategies that make them work. Louisiville, Ga., principal Samuel Dasher shares elements that can improve the success of any school.

Read what educators had to say about the middle grades 20 years ago in the December 1973 issue of Educational Leadership, "Middle School in the Making?"

Share what you love—and what challenges you—about teaching students who are transitioning from kid to adult.

Find ways to support and develop middle grades students from whole child partners the American School Counselor Association; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Developmental Studies Center; National Association of School Psychologists; National Education Association; National Middle School Association; and National School Climate Center.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Highlighted in Edutopia's Schools That Work series, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky., developed its CARE for Kids social and emotional learning program to help students become better learners while developing the skills necessary to become self-aware, caring, and connected to others. Find tips, resources, and how you can replicate it in your school. In this video, students start the day sharing feelings with their peers.

In late March, ASCD held its 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, where sessions engaged participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues addressing the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading, including:

How do your school and community create learning opportunities that really engage and challenge students and move them to the next level in their academic experience?

Jason Flom

Mission Control to 5th Graders: All Systems Are Go

T minus 10, 9, 8 ...

Puberty, the final frontier. Er. Puberty, the inevitable and unavoidable frontier.

As a 5th grade teacher, I think of myself as a NASA flight coordinator, preparing students for their intergalactic journey from childhood to adulthood—a journey in which they abandon the laws of physics for the laws of adolescence. At the beginning of 5th grade they arrive as children; at the end they disembark, rocketing for the middle years. What happens in the months between can play a vital role in helping them navigate the strange and wondrous worlds they encounter in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

A Small School Takes Big Steps for the Whole Child

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Robyn Gee

What could prompt a high school student who once upon a time wanted to become an Egyptologist or a race car driver to decide in her senior year that she wants to become a teacher?

Maybe it's the fact that Janet Gil is a student at Quest Early College High School, which was recognized this year with the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award.

Working in partnership with Lone Star College-Kingwood, students at Quest can earn a high school diploma while simultaneously earning an associate's degree or two years of credit toward a bachelor's degree. "We have structures that are very nontraditional, and not academic, in place at our school," said principal Kim Klepcyk. "We include some soft skills that other schools weren't attending to. Traditional schools say that they want students to be active citizens, but what does that mean? There's no way to assess these abilities."

Read more »

Bob Sullo

Helping Students Succeed in the Middle Grades

It's no exaggeration to suggest that the middle grades represent a critical time in the education of our students. Over the years, I've seen countless students do wonderfully well as elementary school students only to crash and burn in the middle grades. As we try to structure classrooms that offer academic challenges that are both rigorous and realistic, it's helpful to keep in mind some of the things that characterize middle grade students and what we can do to maximize their chances for success both academically and socially.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Eight Tips to Engage Your Students

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge

"We cannot use the excuse 'I've always done it this way,'" said speaker Laura Erlauer Myrah.

In the ASCD Annual Conference session "Instructional Tips to Tell Teachers," Laura Erlauer Myrah provided eight tips for educators and teachers to engage their students and allow them to remember concepts taught in class. The eight tips cover categories such as the body and brain, movement, emotional environment, collaboration, relevant learning, enriched environment, and Net Generation learners.

In the first category, "body and brain," Erlauer Myrah referred to research that supported children needing oxygen and water so that their brains would not become dehydrated. She suggested that teachers open windows in the classroom, have plants in class, allow students to carry water bottles, and educate parents about the need for students to get adequate sleep.

But students need more than proper sleep, hydration, and oxygen to remain engaged in the material. Erlauer Myrah offered a tip on how to make a lesson that students can be engaged in. She provided research from Sheryl Feinstein, "Handling Specific Problems in Classroom Management" in The Praeger Handbook of Learning and the Brain (2006), as the basis for her tip on how to change the lesson plan to accommodate how the brain works: You should capture your students' attention in the beginning of a lesson. For example, when you begin class, instead of using the first 10 minutes to take attendance or review daily tasks, use that time to teach the most important concepts. This is the time that students are most engaged, according to Erlauer Myrah. For the next few minutes, allow the students to "pair and share" what they have learned with one another. Then, use the next seven minutes of prime time to teach some more concepts.

The four main takeaway points that teachers should want for their students are: know the concept, want to know more about the concept, know what was learned, and know how students can use and apply the concept.

A 1st grade teacher from Southern California enjoyed the session and felt that she could use the tips for her students.

"What I really enjoyed about the session were the practical tips given," said Lisa Taylor.

Another member of the audience was also inspired by Erlauer Myrah's tips.

"I loved the session. It was inspirational, motivating, practical, and respectful of the hardships and challenges within the education world," said Marcia Richards after she had finished dancing a two-step to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration." She also has hope that teachers will "continue to make a difference in children's lives."

This session suggested that in the 21st century, teachers should embrace the changes that are happening in the world and allow them to be available to the students. The old ways of teaching are of value, but if the students aren't engaged and learning anything beyond the classroom, they will not be prepared to thrive in this new world.

Tips that can be used in the classroom:

1. Body and Brain

  • Open windows.
  • Have plants in classrooms.
  • Allow your students to have water bottles.
  • Educate parents and students regarding the need for adequate sleep.

2. Movement

  • Ask your students to stand instead of raising their hands.
  • Questions around the room
  • Clapping rhythms
  • New location for important material

3. Emotional Environment

  • Make every student feel unique and secure.
  • Meet and greet.
  • Give recognition.
  • Listen and show interest.
  • Expect respect from all.
  • Relationships transcend everything.
  • Emotions and memory

4. Collaboration

  • Collaborative learning/projects
  • Pair and share (tell students to talk to classmates and practice answers)
  • Connections with other levels
  • Connections with community

5. Relevant Learning

  • Make the relevance obvious to students.
  • Make it interesting and fun through your delivery.
  • Experience learning.

6. Enriched Environment

  • Challenging problem solving
  • Physical classroom
  • Play music during tests or writing.
  • Use of music: a. Primer; b. Carrier; c. Arousal/Mood

7. Assessment and Feedback

  • Know it well.
  • Remember it always.
  • Use it readily.

8. Net Generation Learners

  • Youth don't see working, learning, collaborating, and having fun as separate experiences.
  • They believe in, and want, these experiences occurring simultaneously in school and in future careers.
  • This generation wants to problem solve and innovate.


ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Matt Swift

Why some students "get it" and others don't when it comes to learning is a problem that many educators struggle with at some point. Betty K. Garner discussed what can help these struggling students achieve and overcome the obstacles that cause their struggles. Garner offered practical tips as her audience at ASCD's Annual Conference learned how to get their students to do the same.

Garner started the session by asking the audience to close their eyes and think of a beautiful thought, a practice she uses in the classroom. This allows endorphins to release and gets students to use their imaginations and be creative. Getting students relaxed and creative can help them learn in other areas.

"When do we ask kids to wonder? When do we ask kids to reflect?," asked Garner about this practice. "This allows students to be still for a few minutes ... it's just a valuable tool."

Garner told the audience to come up with lesson plans that "provide and encourage" students to learn on their own. These lesson plans should ensure students are doing the work and learning their subjects and not expecting the teachers to do all the work for them. Many audience members responded when she asked them whether they had ever spent hours on a lesson and had the students take just a few minutes to finish it. This, she said, was the educator doing the work for the students, and this is not a true learning experience.

"Let them do the work," she told everyone.

Throughout the session she said that sensory input, visualization, reflective awareness, and prior knowledge will develop cognitive structures in students that ensure they know how to learn by themselves. This will create what Garner calls "metability." This is a concept she developed that is the "dynamic of learning, creating, and changing" and will help struggling students.

"Learning is created by the learner," Garner said. This, she stressed, is the most important thing everyone should take with them after the session. "What we will do is see how to equip the students with the ability to learn how to learn."

For more information from this session, please check out Garner's session handout (PDF).

Laura Varlas

What Does It Take to Lead a Successful Urban School?

The distinguished school leaders who convened for the Urban Panel at the 2011 ASCD Annual Conference answered this and other questions based on their work at leading thriving urban schools.

Invariably, their answers came back to school culture and climate.

"Our mission and vision give us our identity; all of our students and staff must know and champion them," said Baruti Kafele, principal of Newark Tech High in New Jersey. "A good leader must believe in the ability of every child to learn and that it is possible for each one of our students to succeed in college," said Tim King, founder of Chicago's Urban Prep Academies. "We've got to keep the mission and vision out front. It's got to be bigger than anything else," added Linda Nathan, headmaster of Boston Arts Academy.

Implicit in these answers is the importance of personal connection in school communities.

Nathan's school uses advisory programs and compelling honor roll assemblies, among other initiatives, where young men of color, in particular, are asked to share what made them successful and how they will influence their peers to achieve, as well.

"If we're going to get education right in this country, we must know our kids," said King. At Urban Prep, all students have school-issued cell phones that are instrumental in fostering communication between home and school. "We can tell by looking at kids if something is wrong, but if we don't look at the child, we'll never know," said King. Teacher evaluations at Urban Prep also include criteria for how well teachers develop relationships with students.

"There are some gaps we need to look at before we can address the achievement gap," noted Kafele. Attitude, relevance, and opportunity are among them, but the relationship gap is also crucial. "How can I teach you if I don't know you? Close these gaps, and you'll have the mechanisms in place so that students can learn."

The practices that support these healthy and high-achieving urban schools include lengthening the school day and year; clearly defining goals and expectations (and supports when those expectations aren't met); and instructional practices centered on student engagement, participation, and ownership of learning.

Professional learning is also key.

"If you can't meet together as faculty, you will not be able to shape your school's climate, culture, and instruction," said Nathan. "If there's not time in the schedule, then we redo the schedule. Our school is 13 years old, and we've had 15 schedules."

"If our staff doesn't know each other, how can they benefit from each other's expertise?" asked Kafele. "Principals, you don't have to do it all. There are folks in your building who can do it better. Get to know them."

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