Tagged “Research”

Klea Scharberg

Ask Dr. Judy Willis Webinar: Strengthening the Brain's Executive Functions

Join renowned author, neurologist, and teacher Judy Willis for an exciting free webinar on strategies to promote executive functions and goal-directed behaviors, especially critical during the school years when this highest cognitive system undergoes its most profound changes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 3:00 p.m. EDT
Register now!

The last part of the human brain to "mature" through pruning and myelination is the prefrontal cortex, the seat of executive function such as judgment, critical analysis, prioritizing, deduction, induction, imagination, communication, reflective (versus reactive) emotional control, and goal development, planning, and perseverance. These executive functions are needed now and will be even more critical for the best job opportunities and creative problem solving in the 21st century as globalization and technology continue to rapidly change the skill sets needed by the students who will lead us in the coming decades.

Connect with Willis on ASCD EDge and on her website, RADTeach.com. Watch her archived webinars below:

Explore forthcoming and archived ASCD webinars.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Pennsylvania School Is on Guard Against Unhealthy Eating Habits: The William D. Kelley School in Philadelphia is taking a comprehensive approach to battling obesity by banning soda and sweet snacks and emphasizing healthy eating in the curriculum. In addition, the principal and parents have asked nearby stores to stop selling junk food to children in the morning so they will eat a healthier breakfast.

Read more »

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Food Experts Urge Parents, Schools to Get Tough About Nutrition: Experts in food politics are taking parents and schools to task for not being more aggressive about providing healthy foods for children, saying students do not necessarily need to have a say in what goes on the menu and that the school lunch line should not mimic a fast-food restaurant. "Renegade lunch lady" and author Ann Cooper, speaking at the Natural Products Expo, criticized the organic industry for making candy, corn dogs, and other unhealthy snacks.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Applying What You Know for Student Success

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge

Thirty faces of 5-year-old kindergarteners of multiple ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and religious background flashed across the screen. Instantly, one third of the kids vanished from the screen because they failed to graduate high school. Another third vanished from the screen because, despite graduating from high school on time, these kids were unprepared for employment or college.

In the session "Changing the Odds for Student Success: What Matters Most," Bryan Goodwin focused on five key areas that educators know and can use to improve student success in life: setting high expectations and delivering challenging instruction; fostering engaging learning environments and meaningful relationships with students; matching teaching strategies to learning goals; providing all students with high expectations; and personalizing learning opportunities.

"This is not new information. We have been researching this for 40 years at McREL," explained Goodwin. "We just need to apply what we know."

An audience member agreed with Goodwin's statement and felt the lecture was a reminder for her.

"[The information] was an organized, timely reminder of what instruction should be," said Margaret Messina.

Another audience member had recently attended a similar education conference and felt that this session was an affirmation that much of the education research is going in the right direction.

"The research is becoming more complimentary. It's reaffirming practical application [and] is in the right direction," said James Espinosa of Del Vallejo Middle School in San Bernadino, Calif.

During the presentation, Goodwin cited several practical applications for the classroom and beyond. For example, McREL surveyed schools and asked about their school culture and found five key traits of high-performance culture schools: structure, press for achievement, teacher influence in school decisions, shared mission, and goals and orderly climate. Goodwin cited the cofounder and codirector of Big Learning Think, Dennis Littky, as an example of accomplishing this high-performance culture. At Big Learning Think, low-achieving students are given student projects to perform at local businesses that fulfill core curriculum requirements like math or fine arts. The experience that these students gain shows that research can translate into practical application.

Thirty faces of 5-year-old kindergarteners of multiple ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and religious backgrounds appeared on the screen for the last time. The children's faces morphed into college graduates and became adults. Goodwin emphasized that using the key areas for successful students would make it possible to keep all of the kids from vanishing out of the education system.

But, how can you improve your students' success? According to Goodwin, we apply what we know.


Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Prohibition or Modeling of Good Nutrition?: In an online article, author Hank Cardello compares prohibition of selling junk food in schools to the nationwide prohibition of alcohol consumption in the 1920s. He claims that schools are wasting their efforts on an idea that won't work and only opens up the opportunity for black market candy selling. While this comparison seems a bit of a stretch, do you think Cardello has missed the point about the role of schools in modeling, teaching, and providing good nutrition? Or do you agree with Cardello's viewpoint that completely eliminating these foods doesn't teach students anything? Share your thoughts on ASCD EDge.

Read more »

Klea Scharberg

Connecting Digital Learners Roundup

In February, we looked at what it takes to meaningfully integrate technology into students' lives to help them achieve the academic, social, and emotional learning and development key to their success and ensure they are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Unfortunately, unchecked and unfocused use of technology can result in students disconnecting from the "why" of learning and from the real-time relationships that are key to their development and success. Alternatively, high-quality integration of technology has the potential to not only prepare young people for their futures, but enhance and expand learning and connectedness.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Heidi Hayes Jacobs, author of Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, founder and president of Curriculum Designers Inc., and executive director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute; Juliette Mersiowsky, instructional designer and instructor of education and technology at Germanna Community College in Virginia; and Ena Bentley Wood, technology integration specialist with Arlington (Va.) Public Schools.

Think about how technology can challenge at-risk students to achieve and excel with Cyndy Woods-Wilson, an educator passionate about enhancing the learning experience for at-risk learners.

Explore what "screenagers" need from teachers today in February issues of Educational Leadership magazine and ASCD Express. Find resources to enhance education and engage children and youth who are defined by their technology and media use, their love of electronic communication, and their need to multitask.

Read educator and expert perspectives on "connecting with the connected":

Consider the true promise of technology and our obligation to students with Chris Lehmann, the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, Pa.

View archived webinar discussions with ASCD authors Heidi Hayes Jacobs, who asks us to replace our dated curriculum with contemporary content and skills in a deliberate process called "upgrading," and Frank Baker, an advocate of teaching media literacy skills to engage students and meet teaching standards.

Learn what a digital high school looks like and how it combines effective pedagogy and current technology.

Find ways to connect digital learners in their education from whole child partners the American Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Librarians, International Society for Technology in Education, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Middle School Association, National Parent Teacher Association, and National School Boards Association.

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and ASCD EDge to find more resources, research, and stats, including links to

  • A look at iPad use in a San Francisco 8th grade algebra class.
  • Video, discussion guides, interviews, and more from PBS Teachers' Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century.
  • A paper outlining a a four-year high school program, 21st Century Skills and ePortfolio, that focuses on providing students with 21st century skills while also preparing them for the Ohio Graduation Test.
  • An ASCD EDge blog post by Erik Palmer on helping teachers think about what skills and information are being taught in lessons and if keeping traditional curricula is best serving students.
  • A discussion of "augmented reality"—using mobile devices to access digital information that overlays or infuses the real world around students—with research findings and examples from schools.
  • An ASCD EDge blog post by Mike Fisher about Social Justice LIVE!, an online 8th grade social justice research project.
  • The Digital Youth Network, a hybrid digital literacy program that creates opportunities for youth to engage in learning environments that span both in-school and out-of-school contexts.
  • A principal-facilitated discussion on allowing cell phones in school and incorporating their use in lessons.
  • The archived webinar presentation on "Starting and Growing A Successful Online Learning Program" sponsored by Education Week.

In this video, educator Cheryl Lemke shares her thoughts on the use of social networking tools to create new and challenging environments to engage students.

How do your school and community meaningfully connect digital learners to their peers, teachers, and communities; to rich and challenging learning; and to their futures?

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Washington District's School Lunches Get a Healthy Upgrade with Fresh Foods: Washington State's Vashon Island School District gave cafeteria workers cooking lessons so they could prepare meals using fresh, locally grown ingredients and serve food the day it is made. Chef Tom French of the Experience Food Project, who is behind the healthy-food makeover, says schools also need to market the changes to students so they buy into the program.

Mobile Dental Clinic Reaches Underserved Children: After a child died from having an infected tooth and no access to dental care, one dentist was inspired to start a mobile dental clinic that serves poor children without access to dental care at their schools in Prince George's County, Md. The Deamonte Driver Dental Van's mission is to prevent other children from dying from untreated tooth decay.

Baltimore Schools Nutrition Chief Shares Successful Programs: Baltimore (Md.) public schools' food and nutrition director, Tony Geraci, is traveling around the United States to promote nutrition education and healthy-food programs, such as the Great Kids Farm, that have worked in his city. The district has overhauled its food-service program so that nearly all produce included in the student-designed school menus comes from Maryland farms.

No Free Lunch: The National School Lunch Program requires participating schools to provide nourishing meals for all students. Lately, however, more kids are showing up to school with no money to pay for meals. To accommodate these children, most schools provide an "alternate meal" that covers the bare minimum nutritional requirements—usually a cheese or peanut butter sandwich and a four-ounce box of juice or milk—which is paid for by increasing the regular price for kids who can pay. The slim offerings are expected to recruit more families who need financial help to apply for free and reduced-price meals for their children. The increased enrollment helps to lower the direct costs to the school, allowing the federal government to pick up more of the tab. How might the new mandate for schools to improve the nutritional quality of food affect schools' drive to increase free and reduced-price meals enrollment rates? Read more.


Social-Emotional Learning in Schools Makes a Difference: The peer-reviewed journal Child Development has published the first large-scale metaanalysis of school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. The research findings can be used as evidence of the positive effect of SEL on healthy child development.

Take Action

ASHA Extends Its Conference Proposal Deadline: Got a health-related teaching technique to share? How about evaluation findings of a school-based program or intervention? Consider submitting a proposal to present at whole child partner the American School Health Association's (ASHA) 85th annual conference this year in Louisville, Ky., October 12–15. The proposal submission deadline has been extended to March 31, 2011.

Consider Writing for Educational Leadership: Showcase your school community's success in making students and staff feel safe, valued, and connected by writing for Educational Leadership magazine. The theme for the September 2011 issue is "Promoting Respectful Schools." Review the guidelines for submission and the theme description:

Students who feel safe, valued, and hopeful in school are more likely to learn. This issue will explore how schools can promote respect for self and others—in both students and teachers. Which programs reduce bullying and promote respectful relationships? How can schools address prickly issues related to race, culture, and religion and teach such crucial skills as empathy and cultural sensitivity? We're interested in articles from teachers who are making classrooms safe places where students can learn from mistakes and articles from school leaders who are making staff feel valued and supported. We welcome international contributions and real-life stories of how schools have created physically, emotionally, and intellectually respectful learning environments.

Deadline: April 1, 2011

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Raising Awareness and Reducing the Stigma of HIV: The entire senior class at Urban School in San Francisco, Calif., has taken on a group project that involves each student getting tested at school for HIV. The students hope to increase participation in and awareness of sexually active high school youth getting tested. Read more.

Read more »

Laura Varlas

Family Acceptance Protects LGBTQ Youth

Today more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth start the process of coming out in adolescence. These brave youngsters challenge us to build more inclusive, equitable societies, and many who provide services to LGBTQ youth still exclude a hugely influential basis for support: their families.

"Typically, we think of protecting LGBTQ youth from their families," said Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project, speaking at a forum on the Critical Role of Family Support of LGBT Youth.

Instead of removing LGBTQ youth from their home environments, Ryan's organization looks for ways to keep these families together. Their strongest tool is information that appeals to a family's fundamental desire to protect their children from harm. Most families want to stay together and want their children to be happy, Ryan said. Often, families act in ways that they assume will benefit their children, help them better fit in, and help them lead healthy lives.

In a rigorously developed study, Ryan and her team of researchers identified more than 50 accepting and rejecting behaviors experienced by LGBTQ youth in adolescence and tied these behaviors to specific mental health and wellness outcomes for LGBTQ young adults.

Ryan's research shows that rejecting behaviors lead to outcomes like higher rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, HIV infection, and homelessness. Conversely, LGBTQ youth who experienced accepting families showed higher rates of self-esteem, social support, and general health.

Engagement tools developed from Ryan's research can be used with all families, regardless of background. "We can't see families as the problem," Ryan said. The key is to approach families with respect and compassion and from their cultural experience. "If we don't see families as a potential ally to support the well-being of young people, we're not going to be able to create a bridge to help them," Ryan said.

Ryan spoke in particular about her work with Mormon families with LGBTQ children. How could she promote acceptance within a group that has so publicly shunned LGBTQ individuals?

Again, Ryan emphasized a harm-reduction approach: "The goal is not necessarily to make caregivers political allies for their LGBTQ children but to teach behaviors that will protect their children and help them lead healthy lives."

Klea Scharberg

Physical Activity and Physical Education Roundup

Many U.S. schools and districts have minimized or eliminated health and physical education programs; reduced the number of school nurses, counselors, and other health professionals; and focused on "the basics," largely in response to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). We know that students do better in school when they are emotionally and physically healthy. They miss fewer classes, are less likely to engage in risky or antisocial behavior, concentrate more, and achieve higher test scores, so how do we reconcile children's developmental needs and schools' diminishing resources and focus on testing?

For the last two months, we looked at why physical activity and physical education are crucial to ensuring that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. We examined the research about the need for physical activity and physical education; explored some of the recent criticism; examined the relationship between physical activity and physical education and academic achievement, engagement, and social and emotional health and learning; and considered how physical activity can be expanded across the day.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with moderator Sean Slade, director of ASCD Healthy School Communities, and guests Charles Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Columbia University; Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)—a whole child partner—and Let's Move in School; and George Svejda, a physical education teacher at Sargent Shriver Elementary in Montgomery County, Md.

Question why children are less active today: is it because of increased traffic, neighborhoods with fewer parks, and cuts in school recess as the researchers suggest? How much physical activity per day is recommended for children and teenagers?

Learn the facts about child obesity from Whole Child Partner SPARK. What does it mean if a child is obese and what is the effect on long-term health? What factors contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic?

Think about why physical activity and physical education has been reduced or eliminated in schools. Steve Jefferies, professor of physical education at Central Washington University, past president of NASPE, and the publisher of pelinks4u takes a look at whether it is our ignorance of the benefits of physical activity or our arrogance in achieving adult goals at the expense of child development.

Discuss recent criticism of physical education in schools. Why do we need physical education, physical activity, and even recess? Is it just about giving students a break from academics? Is it just about developing fitter kids who can then do better on standardized testing?

Explore integrating standards-based instruction into physical education and physical education into standards-based instruction with this example of a project-based learning project from Andrew K. Miller, an educator and consultant for the Buck Institute for Education. By engaging them in a relevant and authentic task, students see why they are learning and what they are learning.

Read about coordinated school health programs and their eight essential components—health education; physical education; school health services; counseling, psychological, and social services; nutrition; staff wellness; a healthy school environment; and family and community involvement—and one Tennessee school district's success.

Watch how one California school emphasizes personal growth and development with transfer value to leisure time activity in its physical education program. The middle school content standards emphasize working cooperatively to achieve a common goal, meeting challenges, making decisions, and working as a team to solve problems. How does your school engage students through physical education to learn these skills?

Consider active gaming as a way to use appropriate, modern tools that children may find enjoyable and motivating and in which they will develop a desire to voluntarily be physically active. Lisa Hansen, PhD, assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF) in the College of Education in the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, codirector of the USF Active Gaming Research Labs, and PE Central’s Active Gaming managing editor looks at the need for student engagement—having fun—in physical activity in order to develop lifelong healthy habits.

Find ways to include and integrate physical activity and physical education in a well-rounded, whole child approach to education from Whole Child Partners NASPE, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, and SPARK.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to find more resources, research, and stats, including links to

Earlier today, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and NASPE hosted a national Let's Move in School webinar that brought together leading education, health, and sport organizations to advance school-based physical activity. Learn more from the press release, watch the archived webinar, and get information on standards and practical resources.

Have you seen a decrease in physical activity and physical education in your school and community? What is the effect on young people in your community?

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