Improving Learning

A comprehensive look at the latest trends, expert advice and recent studies into improving student learning. Explore the latest studies into links between student performance, sleep and music. See why schools are opting for later start times and year round schedules.
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Your child’s success in school is dependent upon a wide variety of factors. Certainly, the quality of programming at your child’s school, the quality of your child’s teacher, and access to quality resources are all critical components of your child’s success. But the factor that is most important for your child’s academic achievement is your involvement in their educational process.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, parental involvement is twice as predictive of a child’s academic success than socioeconomic status. Yet, the same report also notes that a lack of parental involvement is the largest issue facing public schools today. There are likely many reasons for this gap, not the least of which is that some parents just don’t know how to help their children when they bring schoolwork home. However, involvement in your child’s education does not begin and end with struggling to help them with homework. There are many methods you can employ to help your child achieve his or her academic potential, and here are nine ways you can naturally incorporate into your child's academic support. 

 

 

Create a Routine and Stick to It

A major barrier that many parents face is simply finding the time in their schedules to sit down with their children to talk about school, review work, and provide assistance when needed. This has become even more difficult in recent years as children have become so involved with technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and social media that can occupy much of their time.

To overcome these barriers, develop a daily schedule whereby your child has a specific time to attend to their schoolwork. The time that your child uses for homework may vary, but their input should be sought as to when homework time will be. Bear in mind that it is generally accepted that homework should not be done right after school. Children need some time to unwind, have a snack, and let their brains recharge after a long day of academic work. Instead, setting aside time before . . . read more

While some school districts have moved to year-round schedules, most still adhere to the traditional nine-month calendar, with a winter break, spring break, and a lengthy summer break sprinkled throughout the year. These vacations offer much-needed respite from school, but even spring break, which is typically only a week, can have a measurable negative impact on a child’s mental acuity. At 10-12 weeks, summer vacation can result in a substantial brain drain that can significantly impact your child’s education.

 

What is Brain Drain?

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. According to research, over the course of summer vacation, students lose between 2 to 2 ½ months of math skills from the previous year’s learning. This loss of computational understanding is experienced by children regardless of their background or family income. Some students also experience significant setbacks in reading ability as well. Students with a low socioeconomic status can lose up to three months of reading skills in just 2-3 months of summer break. These deficits also appear during the shorter winter and spring vacations, although not in nearly as robust a fashion.

The vacation brain drain is a serious issue for children of all ages, but the stakes are much higher for kids in high school. With SATs, ACTs, AP and IB courses, and other high-demand academic requirements, high schoolers can little afford to return to school having lost 2-3 months of academic skills. Fortunately, this brain drain can be substantially or completely reversed if children participate in meaningful learning over the course of their various vacations.

 

Source:  www.expandedschools.org

 

Meaningful learning doesn’t necessarily mean your child needs to attend summer school or spend each day of winter break hunched over a book. There are all sorts of fun and creative ways that you can keep your child’s mind active. Many of these methods make learning fun so that your child won’t even realize that he or she is learning!

 

Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

Keeping your children engaged in . . . read more

It’s back-to-school time, are your kids ready? One of the most stressful parts of back-to-school season is making sure your children get everything they need, without breaking the bank.
 
Teachers today seem to request more and more supplies than ever before. Whether physical or electronic, it’s a tall task to find and purchase the items at a reasonable cost. We’ve paneled some school, retail, and savings experts to get the best tips and strategies so you can get the best supplies on a smart budget.
 
Here are 10 expert back-to-school shopping tips.
 
1. Use supplies from last year
 
Before you do anything else, check last year’s school supplies to see if they are still in useable condition. Don’t purchase new supplies if the old ones can be made to last a while longer. Lunchboxes, backpacks, clothes, sports equipment, and other school paraphernalia can often make a return appearance. Sometimes, you’ll find unopened packs of pens, pencils, and other items that you may have forgotten about.
 
2. Make a list – and stick to it
 
Make a list before leaving the house. According to Dr. Deborah Gilboa, also known as parenting expert “Doctor G,” says a list is vital to staying on budget. “We tend to shop more responsibly when a list is guiding our purchases… [It] helps cut down impulse buying.” Many teachers also hand out supply sheets for their students and it is a good idea to bring this document along on shopping trips so that children get exactly what they need for any particular class.
 
Tim Sullivan, Founder of TeacherLists.com, says sticking to a teacher’s assigned list is mandatory. “Many teachers color code their classes to help keep track of assignments. If the teacher asks for an orange folder, buy an orange folder. If you buy a green one, chances are you’ll have to buy an orange folder anyway.” If you lose track of a teacher’s list, you may be able to find it online. “Because every school has a different . . . read more
The educational outlook for black boys has long been bleak. In Oakland, nearly one-third of African-American males drop out of high school. In Chicago, black boys lag behind other students in nearly every single measure of academic success. In schools throughout the nation, in large cities and small rural communities, black boys rank near the bottom in most measures of academic achievement and near the top in terms of the number of discipline referrals and suspensions.
 
Some of these statistics must be taken with a grain of salt, however. The American public school system has historically been less than responsive to the needs of black students, but particularly so for black males. Boys of color face many obstacles in life that include absent or unresponsive fathers, violence in the home and in their neighborhood, pressure to join gangs, and substance abuse. Yet schools regularly overlook these factors as being outside their realm of responsibility. Racial profiling by school officials, biased discipline policies, and a culture that engenders fear of young black males compound the problems for an educational system that is unprepared to manage the social, emotional, cultural, and academic needs of black boys.
 
Further compounding the issue is that institutional failures of public school systems serve to label young black students as something they are not. Black males are more likely to be removed from regular education settings and are more often misclassified as mentally retarded. These incorrect actions are taken due to a black student’s poor performance in the classroom; however, the cause of that poor performance is frequently due to factors other than the student’s individual abilities. Rather, schools don’t have the resources to address home and community influences on academic ability, and oftentimes do not afford the same enriched learning opportunities to black students that white students enjoy. In fact, white males are more than twice as likely to be enrolled in gifted education programs, and only minimal numbers of black boys are enrolled in AP courses.
 
Combined with the fact that most teachers are . . . read more
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by a cadre of experts from the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other stakeholders, including K-12 science teachers and government officials from 26 states. The standards establish benchmarks that gauge student learning at each grade level from kindergarten through the twelfth grade in the areas of life science, physical science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The standards direct student learning along three dimensions:

  • Practices: Students master investigative behaviors that are key to scientific exploration and theory development about the natural world. These include, but are not limited to, the steps of the Scientific Method and their associated practices.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Students learn concepts that are applicable to all disciplines of science, using common ideas such as patterns, cause and effect, stability, and change. Using this framework provides an organizational structure in which children can relate knowledge from one scientific field to another.
  • Core Ideas: Seminal concepts within science focus the curriculum on ideas that have broad applicability, provide key tools for understanding ideas and solving problems, relate to social or personal concerns, and are learnable over the course of multiple grades at increasingly deep levels of rigor.

These new-generation standards emphasize the importance of science in daily life, but also seek to prepare students for a rapidly evolving workforce that relies heavily on a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM-related careers have grown at three times the rate of non-STEM careers over the last decade, and large gaps between the supply of trained workers and current STEM job openings is a primary reason why educators have pushed for more robust science instruction for K-12 students. Developers of the NGSS believe their in-depth and comprehensive framework will improve science education and lead to a more skilled workforce.

 
Additionally, while these standards are intended to bring cohesion to science education across the country, . . . read more
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IMPROVING LEARNING