Save on Back-to-School shopping for environment

https://www.dailyfreeman.com/lifestyle/stocking-up-for-school-can-be-eco-friendly-and-economical/article_0b82eed6-7f5b-51c8-98cc-812d3275d913.html

Stocking up for school can be eco-friendly AND economical

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Earth-friendly school supplies might sound expensive, but you can be gentle with the planet and respectful of your wallet. Start by widening your idea of what’s “green.”

LOOK FOR FREEBIES FIRST

Using what you already have is the ultimate environmentally friendly move and fits with a frugal lifestyle . Look for pens, pencils, unused journals picked up at a convention, binders no longer in use, and unused or lightly used supplies from last year.

You may not have to buy at all. Chelsea Brennan, who blogs at Smart Money Mamas, says she sees posts on her hyperlocal Buy NothingFacebook group every fall requesting notebooks and other school supplies. “And then someone may comment, ‘We have those, plus three composition books that have never been written in. Do you need those?'” Brennan says she borrows, donates and receives items through the group.

SAVE ON BACKPACKS AND OFFICE SUPPLIES

For backpacks, Mary Hunt, founder of the website Cheapskate Monthly, recommends JanSport or Eastpak for durability. If you are shopping resale, those are labels to look for because they’ll last longer. And JanSport backpacks have a lifetime warranty.

Or choose a backpack made from recycled materials. Whether you choose new, used or recycled, look for sturdy zippers, pockets and supportive, padded straps. You don’t want this year’s backpack to be in a landfill next year.

Many stores now carry office-supply lines that are earth-friendly. Several companies offer pens made from recycled plastic. Pencils can be made from recycled newspaper, but they’re more expensive than pedestrian wooden pencils. A mechanical, refillable pencil might be the more economical green choice.

Notebooks and loose-leaf paper made from recycled paper can be fairly pricey. For example, a set of four college-ruled “decomposition books” at Target costs more than $25. If recycled paper products don’t fit your budget, you can still be green by making sure your student recycles used paper instead of throwing it in the trash.

Derek B. Davis, a spokesman for Earth.com, noted that many schools now bundle required items and offer them to parents. You may not save money but you’ll save gas and time.

CUT COSTS ON FOOD AND DRINK CONTAINERS

Davis thinks the item likely to have the biggest impact on the planet is your student’s reusable water bottle — hardly a budget breaker. Reusable packaging for lunches and snacks also saves you money and lets you contribute less to the enormous problem of plastic in oceans and landfills.

To estimate the impact of a water bottle, know this: Americans use an average of 13 single-use plastic bottles per month, according to the nonprofit Earth Day Network. One reusable bottle, over a nine-month school year, could keep 117 single-use bottles out of circulation. Tap water is vastly cheaper than bottled, and eliminates plastic waste and the carbon emissions needed to distribute bottled water for sale.

There are also reusable — and dishwasher-safe — containers or bags for sandwiches and snacks. You can put those reusable bags inside a reusable lunch container. Bento boxes, which have compartments for various types of food, are another alternative. Reusable lunch bags and boxes can be purchased fairly inexpensively new — or keep an eye out for used ones.

Davis, the father of a rising second-grader, notes that kids lose things, and suggests buying backups of water bottles or lunch containers if you see an especially good price.

SHOP SECONDHAND FOR CLOTHES

For back-to-school clothes, consider resale stores. You may find clothes that are practically new for pennies on the dollar. You save money and extend the life of the clothes, keeping them out of landfills. You can shop online with ThredUP and similar sites.

Finally, no matter where you’re shopping, bring a reusable bag, Davis says. Keep one handy in the car.

What will ultimately be most effective in cleaning up the Earth, he says, is kids seeing parents who weave green living into everyday life: For instance, making coffee at home, drinking from reusable cups and making their own seltzer.

When Zero Tolerance Failed

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-03-26-when-zero-tolerance-was-failing-students-this-school-turned-to-restorative-justice?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow&utm_campaign=03-28-2019&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWW1KaE5XUmxOVFZsTVRFeSIsInQiOiJqa0drYzZQWmxxNXp4MngxZkNqeWJaeE1ZYnlkRHVCZXhQUnhLWTNJaXR6dldKY2dmMzNRY05JcjMyTGswaGk4UW5NVTBrZzJpVG9QbWR4ZkN6SVA0SjVsOHFvcnRNN21iVjRFUnZscFd2M25rWmkrTkt0aVdYUzZIZDRBWjJWNSJ9&fbclid=IwAR0cJk9qgW967uPVN1O8G5iI4lM7cLTerUzLIWjCUdIzUsWdkzzuX4eBth8

By Emily Tate   Mar 26, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Even in elementary school, Luz Annette got into a lot of fights with other girls. In the hallways, in the cafeteria, in the girls’ restroom. Just about every day brought another confrontation.

These were not just shouting matches. Luz, who is now in eighth grade, was getting into physical altercations with her classmates.

“When you get in an argument, you just straight up go and fight,” the 14-year-old says, describing a lesson that was ingrained in her at a young age.

But Luz doesn’t get in fights anymore—not since the one she was involved in at the beginning of the school year, which she says was her last.

At her old school, the teachers might have broken up the fight and sent her to in-school suspension—a standard disciplinary response to altercations where “they just take you to this room and then you have to be quiet and do work” for several hours, sometimes several days in a row, she says. (She’s been in such rooms many times before at other schools.)

But at Austin Achieve Public Schools, a K-12 school where Luz is enrolled now, in-school suspension is not an option. In fact, the school stopped suspending students altogether in 2015, after administrators realized the practice was denying their most at-risk students important social, emotional and academic reinforcements.

Instead, the public charter school has embraced “restorative justice,” an alternative disciplinary approach that exposes students to mindfulness exercises, one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions with a social worker.

Restorative justice emphasizes repairing harm, rebuilding relationships and rehabilitating the offender over meting out punishments for infractions. As more research and case studies come out in support of restorative justice programs, schools are increasingly turning to the approach to reduce suspension rates (which disproportionately affect students of color) and improve graduation rates.

“At most schools, when kids do something suspension-worthy, you take away support,” says Reece Hartle, the middle school principal at Austin Achieve. “At our school, they get more support.”

The program has transformed the culture of the school, officials say, and it’s changed the way students like Luz handle conflict and manage their emotions.

A ‘Critical Need’

Located in the rapidly-gentrifying East Austin neighborhood, Austin Achieve was founded in 2012 by John Armbrust, a Teach for America alumnus, to set a new bar for what schools in the area could be.

Armbrust, who had taught in Atlanta and Los Angeles, zeroed in on East Austin as a neighborhood in “chronic need” of a high-quality option. The schools were consistently underperforming; the middle school most Austin Achieve students were zoned for, he says, was the lowest-performing school in the state of Texas the year Austin Achieve opened. He wanted something better for local families.

Austin Achieve is tuition-free and open enrollment. Nearly all of its 1,500 students are Latino and designated as low-income. Most will be the first in their families to go to college—an expressed goal of the school staff, who set high expectations for both behavior and academics.

In its first three years of operation, Austin Achieve responded to disciplinary violations the way many schools do: with in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension and expulsion, all of which would show up on a student’s record.

“One of the things we saw” early on, says Emily Morrison, the chief advancement officer, is that “our most at-risk scholars—those facing pregnancy, homelessness, issues at home—were also the ones affected by our zero-tolerance approach to discipline.”

In short, the students who were most frequently suspended were the same ones Austin Achieve was designed to serve.

“I didn’t start a school to serve a bunch of kids who are going to make it on their own without me,” Armbrust says. “I started this school to serve a certain population.”

The school administrators then faced an existential quandary. Were they living up to their mission? Was Austin Achieve serving its intended purpose?

Armbrust and his staff visited schools across the U.S., including ones in Nashville and San Antonio, that better supported students socially and emotionally. Through those visits, they realized “a critical need” for Austin Achieve, Armbrust says, and began thinking about how they could weave those practices into their own, homegrown program.

In the end, they decided to shift from the zero-tolerance policy they had started with to a program that keeps students in school. “We decided if we have children who are facing difficulties, we need to provide them with programs and opportunities for remedying those situations,” Morrison says, “because in some cases, going home doesn’t help them to restore, get better and grow.”

RJ in Action

Shortly after the start of this school year, when Luz ran into a girl she had not been getting along with on her way to the restroom, her instinct was to fight her. But when she and the girl lunged at each other, their friends and Hartle, the principal, saw what was happening and jumped in to separate them.

Luz, as a result, was assigned to the restorative justice program, or RJ, as it’s known at Austin Achieve.

I was building anger to her.Student Luz Annette describes how school staff helped prevent a fight.
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Few students are admitted to RJ for a single offense, Hartle says. It happens when there’s a physical altercation or when students bring drugs or other contraband to school. In most cases, students are sent to RJ after a series of episodes in which they’ve acted out or shown disrespect to their peers or teachers. “It comes out in different ways,” he says, and is usually the last resort for students after trying a number of other interventions focused around conflict resolution.

One of the first things Luz did every day during her three weeks in RJ was work on her proposal—a multi-page document that, when complete, outlines what she did wrong, who was affected, what she learned in RJ, any tools and techniques she acquired to address the source of the problem and how she plans to use those moving forward. When students like Luz think they’re ready to leave the program, they present their proposal to a panel of peers, which is made up of “ambassadors” at Austin Achieve who have been selected and trained for this purpose.

Students in RJ are expected to keep up with their regular class work, which is supported by a blended learning program the school instituted in the second year of RJ, after the teachers observed that students were falling behind. As a result, they spend a significant amount of time in RJ working on their assignments.

The rest of the day is devoted to what the school deems restorative practices, including a morning circle and a closing circle—group conversations themed around why the students are in RJ. This is when students have a chance to talk to each other about what’s going on in their lives and why they are struggling.

“It was gorgeous,” Luz gushes. “[The other students] talk about their problems and then you’re, like, ‘Oh, same,’ you know? And that was literally the best—that we had a trust in that circle. We can tell, like, everything in there—we can compare our problems and then we can help each other.”

Restorative Justice practices
Posters hanging in the RJ classroom at Austin Achieve’s middle school. (Image credit: Alex Sigillo)

They also have a daily lesson around social-emotional learning and another on mindfulness, which can involve yoga lessons, guided meditations and music therapy.

During her time in RJ, Luz’s opinion of the program improved. At first she thought it was “boring” and didn’t take it very seriously. But she began to see the merits of the exercises she was doing.

For example, the two RJ coordinators encouraged Luz and the girl she tried to fight to talk through their conflict. The two had been friends years ago, and after going through the RJ program together, they are getting along again. “With her, I made, like, a bond,” Luz says.

She also took away some practical techniques for managing her anger, she says. One of the things she learned is impulse control. Now, when she gets mad, she counts to 10 in her head before responding. She also has the option of going in to the RJ classroom at any time to talk through her feelings with one of the coordinators.

The whole experience has given her a new perspective.

“It’s just like a silly thing right now, getting in a fight,” she says proudly, echoing her teachers. “And then we’re about to go to high school, and it’s just, like, I’m thinking right now of going to college. Ten years later, I’m not going to care about a fight.”

I could have just gone to jail.Seventh-grader Monse talks about her school’s reaction to contraband.
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Introducing School-Wide Restorative Practices

The school staff has had to adjust and iterate on the RJ program multiple times since its launch. They shortened the average length of stay for students in RJ, from nearly a month to about two weeks. They’ve improved the instructional element, too. In addition to better utilizing blended learning, the school also requires that teachers check in with their students in RJ at least once a week during their planning period.

The RJ classroom is isolated from most academic classrooms on campus, but it doesn’t look all that different from them. The room features whiteboards, a projector and standard desks. But it also has several couches, two dedicated teachers (the RJ coordinators, who work full-time on the program) and typically no more than eight to 10 students at a time.

RJ classroom couches
RJ classroom Mr. Peters
Above: The cool-down area of the RJ middle school classroom. Below: Kenn Peters, one of two full-time middle school RJ coordinators, speaks with a student in the RJ program. (Image credit: Alex Sigillo)

“Having a five-to-one staffing ratio is not sustainable if we were doing that everywhere,” Armbrust acknowledges, “so it’s showing the world this is our priority. We’re going to spend some full-time salary dollars on this person because it’s important.”

But the school’s embrace of a restorative justice program didn’t just benefit the students with the greatest need. Shortly after Austin Achieve launched an RJ program, it also introduced a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum to all students across all grades.

“We saw the restorative practices working in the smaller pilot environment for the most at-risk kiddos and thought, ‘This should be something that we do district-wide,’” Morrison says.

During those SEL lessons, students learn about emotional intelligence and how their brains work so they can better talk about what they’re feeling and why they may be feeling that way. They tailor these lessons to each age group, Morrison says. So elementary students, for example, learn about good and bad decision-making through the lens of their “wizard brains” and their “lizard brains,” respectively.

These lessons are supposed to set up the students to address conflict through honest, open conversations called “restorative circles,” which are practiced widely throughout the school by students who may never see the inside of the RJ classroom.

The circles can happen one-on-one or in a group, and they can address conflict among peers or between students and teachers. A teacher or administrator usually mediates the discussion, asking what happened, why it happened and what techniques the students have learned in their SEL classes to be able to overcome the conflict or repair any harm done. In many ways, the circle is a condensed version of the proposal students in RJ have to complete.

The mediator present helps assess the conflict by using a mood meter, which kids can use to identify the emotions they’re experiencing.

Austin Achieve Mood Meter
The mood meter used at Austin Achieve, adapted from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

“It’s a very different way of discipline because it’s not about the adults, and it’s not about immediate fixes,” Hartle says. “It’s been really cool to build the idea that you can … be heard by each other and be able to come up with what each person needs to feel comfortable moving forward.”

The students have transitioned to the circles and the RJ program well, Armbrust says. They take both seriously and are proud of the new school culture it’s created.

“Now, it’s cool to be good,” he says. “And when we enroll new kids, [students] will be like, ‘Yo, that’s not the Austin Achieve way. Like that’s just not how we roll here.’”

Kids Shouldn’t Sit still and be Quiet

https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2019/04/08/4-things-teachers-shouldnt-be-asking-their.html?cmp=eml-enl-cm-news1&M=58809068&U=2796909&UUID=4a2ceba1d9c3dbf87bcf2d1235a5f82a

4 Things Teachers Shouldn’t Be Asking Their Students to Do

April 8, 2019
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Spiderman’s Uncle Ben could have been speaking directly to teachers when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

As teachers, we can make kids do almost anything we want. They’re smaller than us. We have all kinds of power over them, from getting them in trouble at home to taking away the things that make school tolerable, like going outside for recess or sitting with their friends in class. But just because we can make our students do what we want doesn’t mean we should.

Children aren’t just smaller versions of adults. They are their own kind of being. They need to move, talk, question, and explore more than we do, because they’re in the midst of that mind-boggling explosion of cognitive, physical, and social-emotional growth that marks childhood in our species. When it comes to behaviors like staying quiet or sitting still, it doesn’t make sense to hold young children to norms better suited to adults, because the way they experience the world is fundamentally different from the way grownups do.

In school, we often ask children to do things that are unreasonable given their developmental level. Worse still, we sometimes ask them to do things we would never expect of adults.

Take these four examples.

1. Silence

Many schools expect a monastic code of silence while students are traveling the halls. The rationale makes sense at first glance, and it’s one I’ve explained to my class many times: “Other students are working right now, and we don’t want to disturb them.”

Still, if I were a kid, I’d wonder: “If that’s true, why aren’t teachers silent in the hall?”

Every time I run into a colleague in the hallway, we talk together while we walk to wherever we’re going. We chat about anything and everything, from the chances we’ll get a snow day tomorrow to the latest season of “True Detective.” This kind of conversation doesn’t seem to bother the kids working in classrooms off the hallway. Why would the voices of kids be any different?

Chatter in the hallways, or even the squeaking of wet shoes on the floor as a class returns from recess or P.E., doesn’t seem to bother most students. In fact, the only occasions when I’ve seen kids completely distracted by what’s happening out in the hall are those times when a teacher is reprimanding his or her class—often at a far greater volume than whatever commotion their students were causing to incur the reprimand.

We should take a close look at the times we expect kids to be silent in school. We need to distinguish between those times it’s truly for the good of the students, and when it has more to do with the appetite for control so deeply inculcated in adults placed in charge of children.

2. Sitting Still for a Long Time

Teacher Alexis Wiggins shadowed high school students for two days, doing whatever the students did, and was shocked at what she experienced.

“I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot—circling around the room to check on student work, kneeling down to chat with a student … we move a lot. But students move almost never. And never is exhausting.”

For young kids, sitting still is even harder. There’s a lot we can do to make it easier on them.

• Build in strategies like Total Physical Response for learning vocabulary, so students are moving while they learn.

• Take brain breaks—including dance parties. There are plenty of great videos on websites like GoNoodle, or you can make up motions to classic children’s songs like Raffi’s “Biscuits in the Oven” and “Tingalayo.”

• Let students get up—without raising their hand for permission—whenever they need to get a book from the class library, grab a pencil, or just stretch their legs for a minute.

• Above all, keep the teacher talk time to a minimum. A useful guideline is that students should be able to listen attentively for their age in minutes—five minutes for a kindergartner, 15 for a sophomore in high school. Save most of your words for conversations with students one-on-one or in a small group. Children, like adults, learn the most when they’re engaged in meaningful work—not sitting and listening while the teacher does all the talking and thinking.

3. Forced Apologies

I have definitely been guilty of this one. I’ll break up a heated argument, then immediately demand that one or both kids apologize to one another, while their faces are still flushed with emotion from their recent conflict.

The early-childhood program my daughter attended never made the children tell each other, “I’m sorry,” because an apology extracted by an authority figure isn’t a true expression of remorse.

Forced apologies don’t seem to offer much satisfaction to the child who receives them, either—seeing the other child mutter “sorry” while glowering at his shoes pretty much never makes the recipient of the apology feel better.

Turbulent emotions take a long time to settle. We need to give kids that time.

4. Zero Tolerance for Forgetfulness

My friend and 1st grade teacher Cameron McCain has a great line when teachers start grumbling about our students: “It’s like we’re dealing with a bunch of 7-year-olds around here!”

His point is well taken. I get frustrated when Josh, who has been in my class for 17 months now, still forgets to check out a book or do his lunch choice when he gets to school. But like most adults I know, I’m a lot like Josh. I once turned on the coffeemaker without putting the coffeepot in first. (I didn’t realize what I’d done until hot, fragrant coffee started splattering onto my kitchen floor.)

I forget sometimes that not only are my students human, they’re really young humans. When they lose their lunch tag for the third day in a row, or ask the exact same questiontwo other kids asked 30 seconds ago, we need to take a deep breath and offer them a sizeable dollop of grace.

Kids Are Kids. That’s Exactly Who They Should Be

We need to think hard about the demands we place on our students. Just because they obey the strictures we lay down doesn’t mean those edicts are fair.

We can’t expect the children in our care to behave like miniature adults. They need to move around more than we do. They need to make more noise than we do. They need to experience new concepts with their fingers, senses, and imaginative ability to consider not just the world as it is, but as it could be. Their curiosity, enthusiasm, and sense of wonder will never lend itself to straight lines and silent deskwork.

We spend so much time bending them to our way of doing things. We should pay more attention to theirs.

The Growth Mindset Problem

https://aeon.co/essays/schools-love-the-idea-of-a-growth-mindset-but-does-it-work

Carl Hendrick

is the co-author of What Does This Look Like in the Classroom? Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice (2017). He is currently writing a book with Paul Kirschner on foundational works in education research. He lives in Berkshire, where he teaches at Wellington College

Over the past century, a powerful idea has taken root in the educational landscape. The notion of intelligence as something innate and fixed has been supplanted by the idea that intelligence is instead something malleable; that we are not prisoners of immutable characteristics and that, with the right training, we can be the authors of our own cognitive capabilities.

Nineteenth-century scientists including Francis Galton and Alfred Binet devoted their own considerable intelligence to a quest to classify and understand human cognitive ability. If we could codify the anatomy of intelligence, they believed, we could place individuals into their correct niche in society. Binet would go on to develop the first IQ tests, laying the foundations for a method of ranking the intelligence of job applicants, army recruits or schoolchildren that continues today.

In the early 20th century, progressive thinkers revolted against this idea that inherent ability is destiny. Instead, educators such as John Dewey argued that every child’s intelligence could be developed, given the right environment. The self, according to Dewey, is not something ‘ready made’ but rather ‘in continuous formation through choice of action’. In the 1960s and ’70s, psychologists such as Albert Bandura bridged some of the gap between the innate and the learned models of intelligence with his idea of social cognitive theory, self-efficacy and motivation. One can recognise that there are individual differences in ability, Bandura argued, but still emphasise the potential for growth for each individual, wherever one’s starting point.

Growth mindset theory is a relatively new – and wildly popular – iteration of this belief in the malleability of intelligence, but with a twist. In many schools today you will see hallways festooned with motivational posters, and hear speeches on the mindset of great sporting heroes who simply believed their way to the top. These are all attempts to put growth mindset theory into practice through motivation. However a growth mindset is not really about motivation, but rather about the way in which individuals understand their own intelligence.

According to the theory, if students believe that their ability is fixed, they will not want to do anything to reveal that, so a major focus of the growth mindset in schools is shifting students away from seeing failure as an indication of their ability, to seeing failure as a chance to improve that ability. As Jeff Howard noted almost 30 years ago: ‘Smart is not something that you just are, smart is something that you can get.’

Despite extraordinary claims for the efficacy of a growth mindset, however, it’s increasingly unclear whether attempts to change students’ mindsets about their abilities have any positive effect on their learning at all. And the story of the growth mindset is a cautionary tale about what happens when psychological theories are translated into the reality of the classroom, no matter how well-intentioned.

The idea of the growth mindset is based on the work of the psychologist Carol Dweck at Stanford University in California. Dweck’s findings suggest that beliefs about ourselves can have a profound effect on academic achievement and beyond. Her seminal work stems from a paper 20 years ago that reported on a research project with schoolchildren that probed the relationship between their understanding of their own abilities and their actual performance.

In the experiment, a group of 10- to 12-year-olds were divided into two groups. All were told that they had achieved a high score on a test but members of the first group were praised for their intelligence in achieving this, while the others were praised for their effort. The second group were subsequently far more likely to put effort into future tasks while the former took on only those tasks that would not risk their initial sense of worth. Praising ability actually made the students perform worse, while praising effort emphasised that change was possible.

Dweck’s work suggests that when people believe that failure is not a barometer of innate characteristics but rather view it as a step to success (a growth mindset), they are far more likely to put in the kinds of effort that will eventually lead to that success. By contrast, those who believe that success or failure is due to innate ability (a fixed mindset) can find that this leads to a fear of failure and a lack of effort.

Imagine two children who are faced with taking a test on a tricky maths problem. The first child completes the first few steps but then hits a wall, and instantly feels demotivated. For this child, the small failure is incontrovertible evidence of simply not being good at maths. By contrast, for the second child, this small failure is merely a barrier to eventual success, and confers an opportunity to improve overall maths ability. The second child relishes the challenge, and works to improve – that child is displaying a growth mindset. According to the theory, the key to encouraging this disposition is to praise the effort and not the ability. By telling children that they are smart or intelligent, you are merely confirming the idea of innate ability, fostering a fixed mindset, and actually undermining their development. Dweck’s claims are supported by a lot of evidence, indeed she and her associates have spent more than 30 years exploring this phenomenon, including taking the time to respond to criticism in an open and transparent way.

Growth mindset theory has had a profound impact on the ground. It is difficult to think of a school today that is not in thrall to the idea that beliefs about one’s ability affect subsequent performance, and that it’s crucial to teach students that failure is merely a stepping stone to success. Implementing these ideas has been much harder, however, and attempts to replicate the original findings have not been smooth, to say the least. A recent national survey in the United States showed that 98 per cent of teachers feel that growth mindset approaches should be adopted in schools, but only 50 per cent said that they knew of strategies to effectively change a pupil’s mindset.

The truth is we simply haven’t been able to translate the research on the benefits of a growth mindset into any sort of effective, consistent practice that makes an appreciable difference in student academic attainment. In many cases, growth mindset theory has been misrepresented and miscast as simply a means of motivating the unmotivated through pithy slogans and posters. A general truth about education is that the more vague and platitudinous the statement, the less practical use it has on the ground. ‘Making a difference’ rarely makes any difference at all.

A growing number of recent studies are casting doubt on the efficacy of mindset interventions at scale. A large-scale study of 36 schools in the UK, in which either pupils or teachers were given training, found that the impact on pupils directly receiving the intervention did not have statistical significance, and that the pupils whose teachers were trained made no gains at all. Another study featuring a large sample of university applicants in the Czech Republic used a scholastic aptitude test to explore the relationship between mindset and achievement. They found a slightly negative correlation, with researchers claiming that ‘the results show that the strength of the association between academic achievement and mindset might be weaker than previously thought’. A 2012 review for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the UK of attitudes to education and participation found ‘no clear evidence of association or sequence between pupils’ attitudes in general and educational outcomes, although there were several studies attempting to provide explanations for the link (if it exists)’. In 2018, two meta-analyses in the US found that claims for the growth mindset might have been overstated, and that there was ‘little to no effect of mindset interventions on academic achievement for typical students’.

‘Kids with the growth mindset aren’t getting better grades’

One of the greatest impediments to successfully implementing a growth mindset is the education system itself. A key characteristic of a fixed mindset is a focus on performance and an avoidance of any situation where testing might lead to a confirmation of fixed beliefs about ability. Yet we are currently in a school climate obsessed with performance in the form of constant summative testing, analysing and ranking of students. Schools create a certain cognitive dissonance when they proselytise the benefits of a growth mindset in assemblies but then hand out fixed target grades in lessons based on performance.

Aside from the implementation problem, the original growth mindset research has also received harsh criticism and been difficult to replicate robustly. The statistician Andrew Gelman at Columbia University in New York claims that ‘their research designs have enough degrees of freedom that they could take their data to support just about any theory at all’. Timothy Bates, a professor of psychology at the University of Edinburgh who has been trying to replicate Dweck’s work in a third study in China, is finding that the results are repeatedly null. He notes in a 2017 interview that: ‘People with a growth mindset don’t cope any better with failure. If we give them the mindset intervention, it doesn’t make them behave better. Kids with the growth mindset aren’t getting better grades, either before or after our intervention study.’

An enduring criticism of growth mindset theory is that it underestimates the importance of innate ability, specifically intelligence. If one student is playing with a weaker hand, is it fair to tell the student that she is just not making enough effort? Growth mindset – like its educational-psychology cousin ‘grit’ – can have the unintended consequence of making students feel responsible for things that are not under their control: that their lack of success is a failure of moral character. This goes well beyond questions of innate ability to the effects of marginalisation, poverty and other socioeconomic disadvantage. For the US psychiatrist Scott Alexander, if a fixed mindset accounts for underachievement, then ‘poor kids seem to be putting in a heck of a lot less effort in a surprisingly linear way’. He sees growth mindset as a ‘noble lie’, and notes that saying to kids that a growth mindset accounts for success is not exactly denying reality so much as ‘selectively emphasising certain parts of’ it.

Much of this criticism is not lost on Dweck, and she deserves great credit for responding to it and adapting her work accordingly. In a recent blog, she noted that growth mindset theory ‘is on a firm foundation, but we’re still building the house’. In fact, she argues that her work has been misunderstood and misapplied in a range of ways. She has also expressed concerns that her theories are being misappropriated in schools by being conflated with the self-esteem movement: ‘The thing that keeps me up at night is that some educators are turning mindset into the new self-esteem, which is to make kids feel good about any effort they put in, whether they learn or not. But for me the growth mindset is a tool for learning and improvement. It’s not just a vehicle for making children feel good.’

For Dweck, it’s not just about more effort, but rather purposeful and meaningful effort. And it’s not just in the classroom where she feels that the growth mindset is being misunderstood, it seems to be happening in the home too: ‘We’re finding that many parents endorse a growth mindset, but they still respond to their children’s errors, setbacks or failures as though they’re damaging and harmful,’ she said in an interview in 2015. ‘If they show anxiety or overconcern, those kids are going toward a more fixed mindset.’

Dweck might be right that the theory is not always well understood or put into practice. There is always the danger of disappointment in the translation from educational laboratory to classroom, and this is partly due to the Chinese whispers effect, whereby research becomes diluted and distorted as it goes through its journey. But there is another factor at work here. The failure to translate the growth mindset into the classroom might reflect a profound misunderstanding of the elusive nature of teaching and learning itself.

Effective teaching, at its best, defies prescription. The same resources and the same approaches that are successful in one classroom can be completely ineffective in another. In his book Personal Knowledge (1958), Michael Polanyi defined ‘tacit knowledge’ as anything we know how to do but cannot explicitly explain how we do it, such as the complex set of skills needed to ride a bike or the instinctive ability to stay afloat in water. It is the ephemeral, elusive form of knowledge that resists classification or codification, and that can be gleaned only through immersion in the experience itself. In most cases, it’s not even something that can be expressed through language. As Polanyi put it so beautifully in his book The Tacit Dimension (1966), ‘we can know more than we can tell’. As a contrarian colleague once said to me about his frustration with the increasing codification of the classroom: ‘Perhaps we should be brave enough to allow it to remain a mystery.’

Good teachers are like good actors, not in the sense that they are both artists, but in the sense that the best teachers teach you without you realising that you’ve been taught. If students get a whiff of being part of an ‘intervention’, then it is likely that the very awareness of this will have a detrimental effect. The growth mindset advocates David Yeager and Gregory Walton at Stanford claim that these interventions should not be seen as ‘magic’ and should be delivered in a ‘stealthy’ way to maximise their effectiveness – miles away from the standard use of motivational stories, posters and explanations of brain plasticity. As they put it in 2011: ‘if adolescents perceive a teacher’s reinforcement of a psychological idea as conveying that they are seen as in need of help, teacher training or an extended workshop could undo the effects of the intervention, not increase its benefits.’ Pedagogy is not medicine, after all, and students do not want to be treated as patients to be cured.

How students learn well can be very counterintuitive. You might think it is safe to assume that, once you motivate students, the learning will follow. Yet research shows that this is often not the case: motivation doesn’t always lead to achievement, but achievement often leads to motivation. If you try to ‘motivate’ students into public speaking, they might feel motivated but can lack the specific knowledge needed to translate that into action. However, through careful instruction and encouragement, students can learn how to craft an argument, shape their ideas and develop them into solid form.

The idea that videos of failed sportsmen can translate into a growth disposition is unrealistic

A lot of what drives students is their innate beliefs and how they perceive themselves. There is a strong correlation between self-perception and achievement, but there is some evidence to suggest that the actual effect of achievement on self-perception is stronger than the other way round. To stand up in a classroom and successfully deliver a good speech is a genuine achievement, and that is likely to be more powerfully motivating than woolly notions of ‘motivation’ itself.

One reason for this might be the over-generalised picture of the growth mindset: it tends to be talked about as a global or general skill as opposed to a domain-specific one. Many interventions focus on kids having a kind of global attitude to their own intelligence that can then be transferred to any learning situation but this is rarely the case. For example, some students can have a positive mindset in maths but a negative mindset in history due to a highly variable range of factors. The idea that a workshop on the plasticity of the brain and some videos of famous sportsmen who have failed in the past can translate into a domain-general growth disposition is simply unrealistic.

Students are most engaged when they are being supported through specific tasks to stretch their understanding beyond its current base, but ‘engagement’ doesn’t necessarily mean they’re learning anything. As the New Zealand education researcher Graham Nuthall showed in The Hidden Life of Learners (2007), ‘students can be busiest and most involved with material they already know. In most of the classrooms we have studied, each student already knows about 40-50 per cent of what the teacher is teaching.’ Nuthall’s work demonstrates that students are far more likely to get stuck into tasks they’re comfortable with and already know how to do, as opposed to the more uncomfortable enterprise of grappling with uncertainty and indeterminate tasks. The psychologists Elizabeth Ligon Bjork and Robert Bjork at the University of California, Los Angeles, describe such activities as ‘desirable difficulties’, which refers to the kinds of things that are difficult in the short term, but that lead to greater gains in the long term. These point to a range of strategies that are more prosaic and less attractive than growth mindset interventions – familiar strategies such as testing, self-quizzing and spacing out learning.

Clearly, something has gone wrong somewhere along the way between the laboratory and the classroom. The US education scholars Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan Lytle outline a fundamental problem with the education system. Teachers, they say in their book Inside/Outside (1992), are subject to top-down models of school improvement, and are often passive objects of study in the educational research that underpins those models:

The primary knowledge source for the improvement of practice is research on classroom phenomena that can be observed. This research has a perspective that is ‘outside-in’; in other words, it has been conducted almost exclusively by university-based researchers who are outside of the day-to-day practices of schooling.

In a very real sense, teachers have been given answers to questions they didn’t ask, and solutions to problems that never existed. It is not surprising that they feel subject to fads and theories about students that do not hold up to scrutiny. For example, the problem of how to plan lesson content to match the individual ‘learning style’ of students has now been proven to have been a waste of time, and a sad indictment of how much time and energy has been expended on theoretical interventions with little to no evidence to support them.

Recent evidence would suggest that growth mindset interventions are not the elixir of student learning that many of its proponents claim it to be. The growth mindset appears to be a viable construct in the lab, which, when administered in the classroom via targeted interventions, doesn’t seem to work at scale. It is hard to dispute that having a self-belief in their own capacity for change is a positive attribute for students. Paradoxically, however, that aspiration is not well served by direct interventions that try to instil it. Yet creating a culture in which students can believe in the possibility of improving their intelligence through their own purposeful effort is something few would disagree with. Perhaps growth mindset works best as a philosophy and not an intervention.

All of this indicates that using time and resources to improve students’ academic achievement directly might well be a better agent of psychological change than psychological interventions themselves. In their book Effective Teaching (2011), the UK education scholars Daniel Muijs and David Reynolds note: ‘At the end of the day, the research reviewed has shown that the effect of achievement on self-concept is stronger that the effect of self-concept on achievement.’

Many interventions in education have the causal arrow pointed the wrong way round. Motivational posters and talks are often a waste of time, and might well give students a deluded notion of what success actually means. Teaching students concrete skills such as how to write an effective introduction to an essay through close instruction, specific feedback, worked examples and careful scaffolding, and then praising their effort in getting there, is probably a far more effective way of improving confidence than giving an assembly about how unique they are, or indeed how capable they are of changing their own brains. The best way to achieve a growth mindset might just be not to mention the growth mindset at all.

Screenagers – Screen time management apps

https://www.screenagersmovie.com/parenting-apps/?utm_source=Event-Based+Emails&utm_campaign=75ef0be95a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_22_06_11_COPY_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dbb13e7af1-75ef0be95a-160404857&mc_cid=75ef0be95a&mc_eid=709fdfd970

SCREENTIME MANAGEMENT APPS

Screen time on iPhone and iPads

Apple’s own Screen time built into the hardware on iOS 12 for iPhones and iPads (Cost: Free)

  • Small box as well as an app that pairs with your router
  • Pause the Internet button
  • Individual content filters for each family member
  • Set time limits on apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Netflix and more
  • Set a recurring use schedule on each device

OurPact

  • The control phone can block other phones for any period of time and unblock at any time
  • Set a recurring use schedule on each device
  • Block specific apps

    Moment

  • Set limits on screen time
  • Tracks how much you use your phone during the day
  • Gives usage reports
  • Has a coach function

    Pocket Points

  • A great app for students
  • Gain points by keeping your phone locked when you’re on campus
  • Use points to get discounts and coupons to businesses near you
  • Pocket Points is popular among college students and is trying to grow their high school presence
  • You can request a high school or university on the app

    Bark

  • Social Media monitoring
  • Text monitoring
  • Email monitoring
  • Parental Alerts
  • Works with schools too

    unGlue

  • Set limits on screen time
  • Set a recurring use schedule on each device
  • Get usage reports
  • Remotely turn off the internet to an individual device or to all devices
  • Block adult content

Protect Your Kid

  • Set limits on screen time
  • Block access to apps
  • Organize apps into groups and set rules
  • Set recurring device schedule
  • Block adult content

Screen Time Parental Control

  • Set bedtime and school time restrictions for specific apps
  • Set limits on screen time
  • Pause a device or give Bonus time
  • Block all apps at lights out
  • Block specific apps

Mobicip

  • Set limits on screen time
  • Set a recurring use schedule on each device
  • Set content filters
  • Block apps and internet usage

Curbi

  • Available for iPhone and Android
  • Remotely turn off the internet to an individual device
  • Get weekly usage reports
  • Set recurring device schedule
  • Block adult content

NetSanity

  • Available for iPhone and Android
  • Remotely turn off the internet to an individual device
  • Set recurring device schedule
  • Block adult content

FamilyTime

  • Available for iPhone and Android
  • Geofence locations
  • Track device locations
  • Get usage reports
  • Set recurring device schedule
  • Block adult content

Net Nanny – Parental controls, not great for mobile but good for PCs
Mobile Fence – Parental controls and GPS tracking for Android devices
Verizon Family Base – Monitor wireless activity and set usage limits
AT&T Secure Family – Manage internet and email activity on computers
T-Mobile Family Mode – Manage minutes, messages and downloads on phones
Sprint Mobile Controls – Monitor phone usage
XFINITY TV Online parental controls – Restricts what children can watch online

DRIVING

Do No Disturb While Driving on iPhone
Cell Control – For Android and iPhone
Drive Safe Mode – For Android and iPhone
DriveMode – Available on Android
All the big carriers have apps to help you on this too. Ask your carrier for the latest

ARTICLES

Think your kid (or you) could be a screen zombie? Take the ‘Screenagers’ test – Los Angeles Times
Learning How to Exert Self-Control – New York Times
Compulsive Texting Associated with Poorer School Performance Among Girls – American Psychological Association
Compulsive Texting Takes Toll on Teenagers – New York Times
Teaching Self-Control Tips –  Provides evidence-based information about parenting and child development.

ORGANIZATIONS

Common Sense Media – Empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.
Center For Humane Technology – Former tech execs worried that technology is “hijacking our minds and society” and are working to raise awareness inside tech companies.
Family Online Safety Institute – International, non-profit organization that works to make the online world safer for kids and their families.
Empowering Parents – Committed to providing parents with sound advice through podcasts, an active blogging community and parenting programs.
Above The Fray – Program to educate parents and teachers about what life is really like online for young people and to give adults the tools they need to begin meaningful dialogues at home and at school.

 

Association Between Screen TIme and Test performance

January 28, 2019

Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test

JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 28, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5056

 

Key PointsQuestion  Is increased screen time associated with poor performance on children’s developmental screening tests?

Findings  In this cohort study of early childhood development in 2441 mothers and children, higher levels of screen time in children aged 24 and 36 months were associated with poor performance on a screening measure assessing children’s achievement of development milestones at 36 and 60 months, respectively. The obverse association (ie, poor developmental performance to increased screen time) was not observed.

Meaning  Excessive screen time can impinge on children’s ability to develop optimally; it is recommended that pediatricians and health care practitioners guide parents on appropriate amounts of screen exposure and discuss potential consequences of excessive screen use.

Abstract

Importance  Excessive screen time is associated with delays in development; however, it is unclear if greater screen time predicts lower performance scores on developmental screening tests or if children with poor developmental performance receive added screen time as a way to modulate challenging behavior.

Objective  To assess the directional association between screen time and child development in a population of mothers and children.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This longitudinal cohort study used a 3-wave, cross-lagged panel model in 2441 mothers and children in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, drawn from the All Our Families study. Data were available when children were aged 24, 36, and 60 months. Data were collected between October 20, 2011, and October 6, 2016. Statistical analyses were conducted from July 31 to November 15, 2018.

Exposures  Media.

Main Outcomes and Measures  At age 24, 36, and 60 months, children’s screen-time behavior (total hours per week) and developmental outcomes (Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition) were assessed via maternal report.

Results  Of the 2441 children included in the analysis, 1169 (47.9%) were boys. A random-intercepts, cross-lagged panel model revealed that higher levels of screen time at 24 and 36 months were significantly associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months (β, −0.08; 95% CI, −0.13 to −0.02) and 60 months (β, −0.06; 95% CI, −0.13 to −0.02), respectively. These within-person (time-varying) associations statistically controlled for between-person (stable) differences.

Conclusions and Relevance  The results of this study support the directional association between screen time and child development. Recommendations include encouraging family media plans, as well as managing screen time, to offset the potential consequences of excess use.

The Art of Speaking Should be Taught

https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/46546/why-the-art-of-speaking-should-be-taught-alongside-math-and-literacy?fbclid=IwAR0W5efiuvxZaqeGav39wTTD29v1nNxogCRaWi8RuDs7WltlQ15sH_X2wIU

Why The Art of Speaking Should Be Taught Alongside Math and Literacy

Students at School 21 practice structured verbal tasks in every subject and class. (Edutopia)

Classrooms in the U.S. often focus most attention on literacy and math, largely because those skills are considered foundational and are tested. However most people will also need to communicate their thoughts and ideas to other people through oral language, and yet effective communication strategies are often not taught with the same precision and structure as other parts of the curriculum.

School 21, a public school in London has made “oracy” a primary focus of everything they do. From the earliest grades on up teachers support students to find their voice, express differing opinions politely, and challenge one another’s thinking. These are skills called for in the Common Core, but can be hard to find in many classrooms because students haven’t been taught how to make “turn and talks” truly effective.

The Edutopia team visited School 21 and captured some amazing videos of students practicing their communication skills with support from teachers.

Another key element of the School 21 program is “well-being,” a social emotional learning curriculum that is once again embedded throughout students’ experience of school. In the following video, the communication skills teachers have helped foster become supremely important as even young students grapple with difficult topics like race, difference, diversity and kindness.

SPONSORED BY

Because oral communication is a core tenet of School 21, students continue to build on their skills throughout school until arguing an opinion and defending with research are almost second nature to them. The school also tries to help students see the progress they’ve made by offering culminating moments when they can show off their public speaking skills in front of real audiences.

Speaking is a part of almost every classroom, but it can be easy to assume that students already know how to do things like challenge an idea or back up an argument with evidence. In reality, those oral communication skills must be explicitly taught like other core skills in school. And a well-spoken, confident young person will have occasion to use those communication skills throughout his or her life. Peter Hyman, School 21 cofounder and executive head teacher, says, “We need to elevate speaking to the same level as reading and writing.”

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