Topical Expression

Meri's Musing about Topics of Interest

Archive for the ‘Education Best Practices’ Category

School Schedules and Sleep – Motherlode Blog –

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Some excellent comments to this article

“As a middle school teacher, I face classes of exhausted students every day. Research has shown that adolescents body clocks are wired for them to naturally want to sleep late and stay up late. I believe that middle and high schools should start later in the day–say 9:30 rather than 8 or 8:15 at the two schools I have worked at.”

“My high school pushed classes back 20 minutes without any problems except more awake students- with some of the coaches even advocating the change!”

“The start times of school days are a national disgrace. I slept through most of high school, simply because it started two hours earlier than my body clock could handle. Parents should actively demand that school days sync better both with their children’s body clocks and their own work schedules. How many parents, who don’t have to get to work until 9:00 or even 10:00 AM, are exhausted by the commotion of getting children out the door by 7:00 AM? Not to mention the fights to get children to go to sleep far earlier than their bodies are ready to.”

via School Schedules and Sleep – Motherlode Blog –

Written by Meri

August 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Silver Lake Regional School Committee Recommends Healthier School Start Times

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“The committee will, after months of data gathering and careful consideration, and by a unanimous vote, be making a recommendation to the Silver Lake Regional School Committee for a delay in the start time of school by 45 minutes at their next meeting to be implemented for the school year 2010-2011.”

From their Q&A:

Question: Can’t we just tell our teens to go to bed earlier? Parents need to be stricter.

Answer: No, it’s not that simple. In last week’s information, we described the difference between circadian rhythm and sleep hygiene. While parents can certainly help with good sleep hygiene they do not have any input over their child’s circadian rhythm that changes during adolescence.

Written by Meri

August 31, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Stop. Think. Act: Social & Emotional Learning: The Program | Learning Matters

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Here’s a great program doing what Ohlone Elementary has been doing for many years. Learning how to recognize feelings and how to handle them clears the way for learning.

“A small but growing number of schools recognizes this and, starting from a young age, teach what’s called Social and Emotional learning.In this program, we visit a school where learning to recognize feelings one’s own and others’ and how to handle them before they get in the way are just as important as traditional acad

Written by Meri

July 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm

My Favorite Mathematician on Math Education – Stats not Calc!

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TED: Arthur Benjamin’s formula for changing math education

Written by Meri

June 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Pay Attention – Video

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“We have learned to ‘play school’.  We study the right facts the night before the test so we achieve a passing grade and thus become a successful student”

“teens expect to be able to create, consume, remix and share”

“Why dont we pause for the next 10 hours and see how that feels”

Written by Meri

June 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Fisher: Teen suicide needs attention – San Jose Mercury News

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Thanks to Patty Fisher for her thoughtful article in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

“Suicide may be the third leading cause of death among teens, but it is preventable. I have to wonder how we would treat this health threat if we were really determined to eradicate it, the way we are determined to eradicate the latest viral disease. Would we spend more money on mental health care? Put the train tracks underground?

A few years ago, two students in the same class at Gunn’s crosstown rival, Palo Alto High, died on the Caltrain tracks within a few months of each other. It was a wake-up call for Paly parents, including myself. There were meetings about student stress, calls for homework holidays and starting the school day later.

Five years later, I’m sad to say, they still haven’t changed the school schedule. Kids are as stressed out about homework as ever. Getting into college is tougher than ever, and with the current economic climate, pressures will only get worse.

I don’t know how many wake-up calls it takes for a community to get serious about addressing the issues of teen depression and suicide.

One should have been enough.”

via Fisher: Teen suicide needs attention – San Jose Mercury News.

Written by Meri

June 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Union Square Ventures: Hacking Education

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I like these VC’s.  They are driving a dialogue about all the possibilities in education opened up by technology.

Our current educational model is based on information access.  Students had to go to a physical school to get access to scarce resources (knowledge in the form of a teacher and books).  That said, there is much  more to a school and classroom than the knowledge transfer. The community and social aspects are very important. But there is a way to better leverage the whole body of knowledge now available via technology to provide something closer to a personalized curriculum than this outdated one-size-fits-all, guess what’s in the teacher’s head, age-based educational model.

There are some good ideas being floated here.  One example,

“Fred pushed the conversation about disaggregation to another level when he suggested that in the future, he’d like to see students be able to opt in or out of a school on a class by class basis.”

Written by Meri

June 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

APS Observer – The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters

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The surprise in this article for those of us Malcom Gladwell fans is that he was the number-one Canadian runner of his age.  Eric Wargo, an APS Staff Writer, writes up Gladwell’s perspective on child prodigies.  Gladwell asks  where is the evidence that early ability predicts future success. Well there isn’t any. We are pushing our kids to hit milestones early,  and Gladwell explains  why this does more harm than good.

“We think of precociousness as an early form of adult achievement, and, according to Gladwell, that concept is much of the problem. ‘What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement.’”

“Unfortunately … many of the things that really matter in predicting adult success are not fixed at all. And once you begin to concede the importance of these kinds of non-intellectual, highly variable traits, you have to give up your love of precociousness.”

via APS Observer – The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters.

Written by Meri

May 31, 2009 at 3:11 pm

The Way We Live Now – Kindergarten Cram –

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Peggy Orenstein in her NYTimes article “Kindergarten Cram” astutely asks “How did 5 become the new 7, anyway?”

Peggy describes her experience in trying to find a kindergarten that didn’t assign homework.  Parents and educators keep pushing kids to perform earlier, in spite of the  lack of evidence of any benefit, other than parental bragging rights that fade by 4th grade.  She quotes Edward Miller, the co-author of  “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” a report by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, ““It makes a parent proud to see a child learn to read at age 4, but in terms of what’s really best for the kid, it makes no difference.”

Peggy had a hard time finding a kindergarten that didn’t assign homework because of the pervasive myth held by many parents that early acquisition of skills is a predictor of future success.  Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, helps dismantel this myth of prodigy by systematically debunking the notion of  “natural talent” of many well know figures, by adding up their hours of hard work, and by describing their learner mindset and the incredible circumstances surrounding their success.

Many thanks to the wonderful Ohlone Elementary PTA for publishing Peggy’s article on the front page of the school’s newsletter.

Written by Meri

May 30, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Another red herring on teen sleep deprivation: Correlation does not imply causation

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WebMD recently posted a red herring on teen sleep deprivation entitled:  “Gadgets Keep Teens Up at Night“, reporting on a study of 100 teens and pre-teens ages 12-18.  “The majority of participants used some form of technology in the nighttime hours”, meaning after 9pm,  most multi-tasking multiple technologies.   “Teens getting eight to 10 hours of sleep per night tended to have a lower multitasking index. Teens with a high multitasking index also drank more caffeine.”

What did this all show? Correlation does not imply causation. No where in the article is the well established research on the shift in adolescents biological clocks. These teens are not tired at 9pm so, yes they are doing things.  Does TV and computer games after 9pm delay their sleep once they do get tired, sometime after 11pm? No way to tell from this study.

And yes,  our teens are drinking caffeine, because our school and sport start times don’t match the biological sleep needs of the very age group we are trying to teach, and they are chronically tired.

The study does confirm what we already know, teens are chronically sleep deprived, and not because of caffeine: “Across the board, only 20% of the adolescents obtained the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep. Those getting inadequate sleep were more likely to fall asleep during class. Although caffeine consumption tended to be lower in the group getting a good night’s sleep, that correlation did not reach statistical significance.”

Written by Meri

May 30, 2009 at 8:42 am


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