If you’ve heard about “summer slide,” then you know it means students can lose months of learning over summer vacation. On the other hand, just like adults, kids can really use a break.
Summer offers a relaxed time for students to reinforce missed concepts, catch-up with the class, and prepare for the coming year. For students in need of some extra support, check out these Summer Learning options, from summer school to online courses.
TeamUP! Tutors makes it easy to avoid summer brain drain while still leaving plenty of time for the most important part of summer… Play! During summer vacation, our tutoring packages can be put on hold to accommodate family vacations and summer camp plans. Just let us know which dates work or don’t work and get the best of both worlds this summer.
Want to know more about summer slide? Check out our Summer Enrichment Guide and find out what the experts have to say about the perils of learning loss as well as resources you can use at home to keep young brains active all summer long.
To address budget issues, more than 100 school districts in 17 states have switched to a four-day week with other financially strapped districts considering the shift. Students and teachers make up the missed hours with a lengthened school day.
While there is little research to determine the potential impact of this change, The Principals’ Partnership claims a four-day school week does not positively or negatively affect student achievement and offers the following pros and cons:
Student drop-out rates and disciplinary referrals decline
Student and teacher attendance improves
Longer classes with fewer transitions increase efficiency of instruction at all grade levels
More time for extracurricular activities and personal business, such as doctor appointments
School saves on utility bills, substitute teacher pay, buses, and building maintenance
Child care issues for working parents
Concern about how younger students will hold-up during long school day
According to the Wall Street Journal’s, Schools’ New Math: The Four-Day Week, “Teachers who still work the same number of hours over four days, instead of five, generally don’t see a reduction in salary. But staff who can’t make up the lost time, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, are often hard-hit, losing as much as 20% of their pay.”
“No grade is more at-risk than the ninth-grade.” So begins a review of the transition to ninth grade by The Principals’ Partnership. While the report focuses on evidence linking ninth-grade success to high school completion, the point that truly grabbed my attention was:
“Ninth-grade classrooms are often filled with students of the same chronological age, but who possess very different levels of maturity.”
Eccles & Wigfield 1997
If you’ve ever wondered why one student quickly grasps the point of an assignment, breaks it down, and steadily completes the work while another expresses confusion and barely scrapes by, differences in maturity may just be your answer. This disparity can lead to unnecessary frustration, worry or guilt by teachers, students and parents.
Additionally, “Ninth-grade students report concerns related to academic, organizational, and social issues during the transition to ninth-grade. Dealing with a larger, more competitive, and grade-oriented environment than the middle school contributes to the stress (Eccles et al., 1984).”
“Every human being goes through many stages of cognitive, moral, social, physical, and emotional development (Craig & Baucum, 2002; Wood, 2007). Many students have little difficulty with these changes and have few problems adjusting to the different levels of schooling (Craig & Baucum, 2002). However, other students struggle with the developmental process and need extra support.”
So, the next time your child brings home a low grade while his friend, who sat through the same lectures and completed the same assignments, gets an A, consider that the two friends may share many common qualities, just not academic maturity. In time, with positive encouragement and extra academic support, the differences will likely become less noticeable and eventually disappear altogether.
Are you frustrated by an underachiever in your life?
If you’ve ever wondered how your child can spend hours on the computer, but only minutes on algebra, a newly released study may have the answer. It appears that those who are “chronically uninterested in achievement” are not operating out of a desire to do badly (or secretly put family members over the top), but may simply have different goals. Ones that involve FUN.
University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracín (photo), who conducted the “chronic achievement motivation” research with William Hart, of the University of Florida, discovered that those who value excellence and hard work generally do better than others on specific tasks when they are reminded of those values. But when a task is presented as fun, the same individuals often do worse than those who say they are less motivated to achieve.
For students, these findings suggest that how a teacher or parent encourages them to strive for excellence may spur on one person to try harder, while another could become less motivated.
“Those less motivated to achieve will excel on tasks seen as fun.”
The study, presented in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests that those who are motivated to achieve will perform worse when achievement messages are combined with the concept of fun. The same cues, however, seem to enhance the desire – and ability – of people who lack achievement motivation. “It’s not that those with high achievement motivation always perform better,” Albarracín said. “You can also get the low achievement motivation folks to perform better than the highs when you present a task as enjoyable and fun.”
So, the next time you gear up to give your child a pep talk on good grades, keep in mind that people who are highly motivated to achieve differ dramatically from those who aren’t in their response to messages meant to inspire them to excel.
“The competitive mindset, the achievement mindset becomes a huge de-motivator for those who don’t necessarily value excellence as much as they value their well-being,” Albarracín said. “Perhaps the reason they don’t care to do well is because they want to do something else; they want to enjoy themselves – which is not a bad goal.”
Author Dr. Stephen Gavazzi says, “Nearly every family with a teen who has problems in school is told what they’re doing wrong. But knowing what’s wrong won’t fix anything. Your problems won’t solve your problems, but your strengths will. That’s why we focus on assets.” He goes on to explain that academic struggles are a family responsibility and not the sole responsibility of the student, adding “We have to get away from the shame and blame focus.”
A Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at The Ohio State University and director of the University’s Center for Family Research, Gavazzi cites evidence based upon years of research to demonstrate, “…. the most effective way to build a plan for getting your teenager to a place that better reflects their academic abilities is through a focus on their current strengths.”
Paying special attention to 5 Facts about Strong Families, the author provides a series of step-by-step exercises designed to get parents and teens to work together to in order to create new opportunities for success in school. For more information, visit Gavazzi’s blog.
Each day, teachers come to work ready to teach and serve the needs of children. Students arrive curious and eager to learn. Unfortunately, in addition to the small group of students who are a perfect fit for our institutions’ academic mold and other groups of young people who eventually figure out how to squeeze in and get by, many of our nations’ children find themselves the wrong shape entirely: stuck on the outside desperately trying to find a way in until, defeated, they lose confidence, accept negative labels such as slow or stupid, and simply give up.
A new book “shows how schools can, and must, develop expertise in ‘learning variation’ and apply this knowledge to classroom instruction in order to address the chronic learning challenges and achievement gap faced by millions of students. Schools for All Kinds of Minds: Boosting Student Success by Embracing Learning Variation puts the focus on discovering kids’ learning strengths (not just deficits) that can lead to academic success even for struggling students.”
According to book reviewer and Great Schools president, Bill Jackson, “When students don’t ‘get it,’ teachers (and parents) need a better answer than, ‘Try harder!’ This book gets teachers pointed in the right direction by asking and answering the questions: ‘What is the underlying brain process that needs to be strengthened to help a particular student progress?’ and ‘How can I do that?’”
One cloud hanging over the All Kinds of Minds program is strong data vs. anecdotal evidence based on case studies. Independent research firms hired by All Kinds of Minds found that teachers rated the organization’s strategies as useful, but were unable to provide statistical evidence for a clear impact on either special education or overall academic achievement. What was cited as meaningful was how the program enhanced teacher understanding of, and therefore ability to address, students’ learning differences.
Where in the past a teacher might have labeled a student lazy or unmotivated, once both student and teacher were able to identify the student’s strengths and weaknesses, teachers were better prepared to help struggling students succeed (Chapter 4: Consider how gaining a deeper understanding of your students can help you avoid faulty assumptions, misinterpretations, and unwarranted labels). As better understanding between students and teachers is fostered, teachers found they had more empathy and sympathy for struggling students and were therefore better able meet their needs.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says it is time to overhaul of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, claiming the eight-year old Bush law “was too punitive, was too prescription and actually led to a lowering of the bar, a lowering of expectations.”
Under NCLB, schools are evaluated based on student test scores. In an effort secure federal aid, 13 states actually lowered standards for math, reading and science. The Obama administration proposes a common set of standards that crosses state lines and tests for career or college readiness.
Presenting to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Duncan cited 27 percent of American high schoolers drop out and that only 40 percent of the country’s young people earn a two-year or four-year college degree. “I believe that education is the one true path out of poverty. It has to be the great equalizer in our society,” added Duncan (see complete speech here).
Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the senior Republican on the Senate education committee commented, “What we have learned is that a better balance is needed between prescriptive federal mandates and state and local flexibility. The blueprint seems to reflect this belief.” The reform is under fire from teachers unions for dumping all of the burden without any of the authority onto teachers.
For the coming school year, the state faces thousands of teacher and administrator layoffs along with increased class sizes. The UC system and community colleges have experienced a 20 percent decrease in funding over the last three years while student fees have gone up 182 percent since 2002.
“The less affordable education becomes, the less likely low-income students will be able to get a college education,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association and professor of history at California State University Los Angeles.
Earlier this year, Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education’s government and public affairs division proclaimed higher education as “something that we all ought to be concerned about because we do know that in the 21st century nations that invest in science and technology and education will outperform those that don’t make those investments.”
With rescinded college acceptances resulting from inappropriate online content rumored at nearly 7%, exactly how risky is it for a college-bound student to post personal content on the web?
A panel of admissions deans from Princeton, Grinnell, Penn, Bryn Mawr, Marquette, UVM, Williams, and Wesleyan explain what matters and what doesn’t in this Wall Street Journal On Campus video moderated by Unigo.com CEO Jordan Goldman. The bottom line is that admissions officers are looking for students of high character who will contribute positively to their campus communities. Students who demonstrate character and integrity in all aspects of life, both online and offline, have nothing to fear.
Other videos in this series answer questions about the importance of SAT scores, college application red flags, letters of recommendation, what makes a great essay, appropriate parental involvement, and other areas of concern to those going through the college application process.