We shouldn’t simply teach to the test. We need to teach for understanding, and assessments are tools to gauge that understanding. When used effectively, assessments can facilitate high levels of student achievement by providing ongoing information about students’ grasp of key concepts and how to enhance their learning to help them meet or exceed academic requirements. States, districts, and schools should provide a more comprehensive picture of student achievement through multiple assessments of and for learning.
Ensuring a high-quality physical education program is important. Equally important is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in gym class. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but also likely to perform better academically; and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration and behavior and enhance learning.
In short, school-based physical activity is valuable exercise. It aids cognitive development; increases engagement and motivation; and is essential to keeping kids healthy and engaged, as well as safe, supported, and challenged. In November we looked at new ways to encourage movement and how schools are bringing physical activity out of the gym and into the classroom.
Whether it be in a single school or online, in study groups, action research teams, communities of practice, or conversation circles, educators working together with a shared focus on learning and accountability help all students learn to high levels. In October we looked at professional learning communities (PLCs) and how they provide collaborative environments where staff members take an active part in improving teaching and learning.
Learning does not begin or end in school. In fact, the learning and development that does—or does not—happen outside of school is often as much or more important than formal learning. In September we looked at schools engaging parents and families to inform, complement, reinforce, and accelerate educators' efforts to educate the whole child. Meaningful involvement and connections between families and educators create partnerships that are critical to ensuring that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
What kind of school environments optimize the way students learn, teachers teach, and communities interact? In June and July, we took a look at schools that are conscious of the intersection between physical space and the cognitive, social, and emotional development of students, rather than focusing on one element in isolation. These learning environments facilitate the process of developing students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Bob Pearlman, 21st century schools consultant; Kristin Cuilla, director of new school development for New Tech Network; and Luis Torres, principal of P.S. 55 in the Bronx, N.Y.
In May, we examined the benefits of creating active communities that are a meaningful part of a whole child education. Collectively we have the knowledge, skill, and ability to meet challenges and share strengths. So, what's holding us back? Every school, community, classroom, educator, student, and family has unique challenges and strengths and a role to play in ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. With this in mind,
Who is your community?
What does involvement look like in your community?
How do you plan to build and sustain your community's involvement in educating the whole child?
Our ASCD community includes the residents of Joplin, Mo., where a deadly tornado devastated the city on May 22. No community is immune to the effects of economic, social, and natural disasters. In response to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, ASCD developed a series of workshops that focus on helping educators meet displaced students' academic, physical, and emotional needs. These materials were requested for use with Joplin Schools. Educators in all locales are invited to download the workshop materials and lesson plans to use with their colleagues:
Building Resiliency: Introduces participants to an understanding of resiliency and how it pertains to individuals not only in an educational context but also in a context related to crisis, trauma, or cataclysmic events.
Supporting Positive School Culture and Climate: Targets the importance of school culture and climate.
Exploring New Roles for Families, Schools, and Communities: Focuses on developing a collaborative environment that will support quality learning and improve family outcomes.
Classes at Joplin Schools will begin in 72 days, and more than 260 classrooms must start from scratch. When students come back to school, the district would like the classrooms to feel as normal, warm, and welcoming as possible. If you would like to help, please participate in the "Adopt-a-Classroom" program. Joplin Schools will partner you or your organization with a Joplin teacher who will let you know the specific things he or she needs to create a fun and inviting classroom again.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Hugh Price, a visiting professor in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and former president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; Dave LaRose, superintendent of the South Kitsap School District in Washington State where he has developed partnerships with community agencies, health organizations, mentoring programs, and faith-based leaders to provide the resources students need to succeed in school; and Deborah Wortham, former superintendent of the Steelton-Highspire School District in Pennsylvania and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore (Md.) City Public Schools.
Consider what whole child education means to parents. Parents want to know more about how we define community and what exactly we expect community members to do. How do we listen and engage in conversations that reinforce a shared responsibility for each child's success?
Reinforce the concept that education is a team effort with articles and perspectives from the May 2011 issues of ASCD Express and Educational Leadership. Getting families, educators, and students to work together can have a substantial effect on students' education, providing a foundation that will help guide students down the right path in life.
Learn about engagement strategies that will strengthen education reform efforts from the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group. What will it take to ensure that family and community engagement are at the core of national innovation and reform strategies?
Watch archived presentations from the series "Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, United Way Worldwide, National PTA, SEDL, and the Harvard Family Research Project. Session topics include community engagement in education reform, the teacher-parent relationship, building strategic partnerships, and ensuring school readiness.
Move your school and community along a continuum from connecting with stakeholders to empowering partners. Read comments and watch presentations by Healthy School Communities mentor sites from Ontario, Canada, and Indiana for ideas and strategies.
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.
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.
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:
Connecting learning today with students’ futures engages and prepares them to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. In March, we looked what it means for students to be ready and able for their complex and demanding futures.
Learn about Quest Early College High School, winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Located in Humble, Tex., Quest prepares a very diverse student population for the next phases of their lives by creating a learning environment that allows students to practice taking college courses, work at businesses in their community, and experience the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with Kim Klepcyk, principal at Quest Early College High School; Denise McLean, a teacher and former student at Quest; and Micaela Casales, a current student at Quest, as they discuss strategies for preparing students for college, careers, and citizenship.
Hearanother viewpoint on what it means to be college- and career-ready and the value of citizenship skills in a conversation between Molly McCloskey, managing director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD and host of the Whole Child Podcast, and Jay Mathews, education columnist for The Washington Post and author. Mathews also answers audience questions on a range of topics including the importance of teacher-student relationships, KIPP charter schools, and the responsibility of education journalists.
Practice skills such as inquiry, critical thinking, collaboration, public presentation, and reflection that students will use as adults through problem-based learning in the classroom.
Take action about the need for college- and career-readiness standards that include proficiency in reading, math, science, social science, the arts, civics, foreign language, health education and physical education, technology, and all other core academic subjects. Use ASCD's legislative agenda and the the Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child tool to guide discussions and decision making in your states and communities.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Discussrecent 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?
Consideractive 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.
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to find more resources, research, and stats, including links to
A one-pager from the National Education Association on the importance of physical education as an essential component of education.
Findings from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study examining the association between school-based physical activity, including physical education and academic performance, including indicators of cognitive skills and attitudes, academic behaviors, and academic achievement and implications for schools.
A request for your input from PE2020, an initiative from NASPE, to answer the question: What should physical education look like in the year 2020 and beyond?
Ways parents and family members can play an active role in supporting a healthy environment at school and at home from SPARK.
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?