Summertime is a wonderful time for children to recharge and relax after a long school year. Unfortunately, it is also a time when many of the skills they’ve gained throughout the year are lost, causing “Summer Slide.” According to the Brookings Institute, Summer Slide means that students will begin the academic year at a lower level than they were when summer began. Skills like reading and math will decrease when they are not reinforced over the summer months. While the downtime is also restorative and important, making sure that your child gets off to a great start in the fall is, too.
At the cutting edge of educational technology are two exciting new technologies, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). Both have a place in the future of education and the world. For day to day use, AR is the one to keep your eye on. But, let’s start with a brief look at what these new technology acronyms really mean.
Teachers love to learn, and opportunities for faculty professional development are widely available. For schools, an investment in faculty development pays great dividends because teachers bring their experiences into the classroom on a daily basis. Conferences, online courses, and ongoing training will all deepen a teacher's practice. These opportunities will also affect students by modeling lifelong learning, curiosity, and minds open to challenge. In addition to these options, my school has implemented a very successful program that awards a faculty travel grant each year. Giving a teacher grant money specifically for designated for travel is an excellent way to enhance a teacher's professional development, and to broaden student learning in the classroom.
In the era of Marvel superheroes it is very easy to think superpowers are a necessity to make a positive impact. Our students are faced with so many pressures in today’s society and are constantly being told by mainstream media how to dress and act, and what to believe. This constant cloud of negativity hinders their ability to tap into their own extraordinary talents. The solution to this dilemma is character education. Character education teaches students that they don’t need the speed of The Flash or the strength of The Hulk to be an influential and successful human being. All they have to do is to tap into their own superpower, which is embracing the person they are and the person they want to become.
Often students do not recognize that math is all around them. They know it is a subject
they have to take in school, and some even enjoy it. But they often do not appreciate that it is in almost every facet of their lives. One of the best ways for students to appreciate is by doing. Adults can help students by helping them incorporate math in their everyday activities. Here are a few activities to help students appreciate the omnipresence of math.
On the first day of school, I tell my students that the hardest thing I am going to ask them to do during the year is to THINK. I don’t want them to repeat my words or recite from a textbook, but rather to give me mindful answers that they have thought about. I often start the day with a “Question of the Day.” Some examples are: Why are most barns painted red? Why do dalmatians have spots? What is your favorite day of the week? I am never disappointed with their answers. Actually, my students often think of things I didn’t, and I find great joy in sharing their responses with parents and my colleagues.
The benefits of being outdoors have been proven, both for children and adults. In September 2010 the National Wildlife Federation published an article by Kevin Coyle entitled Create High Performing Students. The research he cites reveals that outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings contributes to some of the following benefits:
- Usefully employ all of a child’s native intelligences, ranging from math and science smarts to interpersonal communications
- Quantitatively increase student motivation and enthusiasm to learn
- Help students concentrate for longer periods and help mitigate attention deficit problems
- Help students to learn across disciplines and make them better real-world problem solvers
- Measurably improve classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies.
In my fifth grade math class, students learned about fractions as they created works of art. When I first introduced the unit on fractions, I noticed my students were struggling with the concept. In an effort to combat the initial nerves of learning something new and complex, I asked students to use a ruler. I discovered that the students first had to learn to properly use the ruler itself, to understand about increments of an inch. Then, they began drawing straight lines on an x/y axis. The final result was a beautiful piece of art made one straight line at a time! Here’s how it worked:
As the Head of a school that enrolls four year olds through fourteen year olds, I am often asked “Why do you end in middle school? How does this serve children differently from other school models?” These questions have opened the door to many valuable discussions about the benefits of a school that culminates in 8th Grade. I witness the value of a PreK-8th Grade program in our classrooms and in the interactions between our students, faculty and parents every day, but with all the different educational options available to families, why should you consider sending your child to a PreK (or Kindergarten) through 8th Grade school?
Kindergarten students learn to share, and as adults we try to remember those early lessons. Middle School students also love to share, but they enjoy sharing information. A group of sixth grade students was asked to review videos on the site TED-Ed and to recommend their favorites through a class blog. Students previewed videos here, and shared their favorites with their peers. Find some student recommendations below: