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.

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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.”

School is Boring – Ed Week

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/01/09/the-kids-are-right-school-is-boring.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news1&M=58716912&U=2796909&UUID=4a2ceba1d9c3dbf87bcf2d1235a5f82a

The Kids Are Right: School Is Boring

January 8, 2019

Editor’s Note: Kevin Bushweller is the Executive Editor of EdWeek Market Brief. This analysis is part of a special report exploring pressing trends in education. Read the full report: 10 Big Ideas in Education.

The most meaningful learning happens outside school.

Take a moment to think about that statement.

It does not mean that meaningful learning is not happening inside schools. Or that all learning that occurs outside schools is meaningful.

But there is a growing argument that the most powerful, relevant learning for today’s students is happening when they connect with the rapidly changing world beyond the school walls to solve problems, explore ideas, rally for a cause, or learn a new technical skill.



Is asking better questions the key to nurturing student curiosity? Scroll down for a Q&A with Andrew P. Minigan.


I have been covering K-12 education for more than 30 years. During that time, I have watched my three sons go through the public schools, enter college, and join the workforce; my daughter is now making her way through high school. They had wonderful teachers and attended very good schools, for the most part.

What was largely missing, though, was a feeling that they were being prepared for the technological and economic changes ahead or how to make a difference in the world. They were not solving real problems and exploring new ideas—rather, they were turning in assignments and getting grades. And for all four of them, the most meaningful learning often happened when they weren’t in school.

That is also a theme that is emerging in our Education Week series, Faces of the Future, which tells stories about ambitious, creative young people who are pushing well beyond the boundaries of school, finding new ways to learn advanced computer science, tackle big challenges, map an uncharted future, and sometimes get in trouble.

Consider the case of Emma Yang, a teenager who Education Week reporter Benjamin Herold profiled last fall as part of this series. She is the youngest student to ever take part in a mentorship program to build “computational thinking” at Wolfram Research, a private company that creates computational technologies.

Initially, Emma worked on a project for Wolfram analyzing police-department data to identify patterns that might explain where, when, and why cars crash in New York City. Then she used machine-learning techniques to teach computers to recognize road signs, a vital feature for self-driving cars. She followed that up by using those same techniques to detect cancerous tumors in human lungs.

“Sometimes, when I’m curious to learn more, people will say, ‘You won’t understand ’til later,'” she told Education Week. “But at my mentorship program, they give me all the information I want, and I can go as deep into it as I want. I really appreciate that.”

Emma’s curiosity and enthusiasm to dive deeply into a topic reminded me of when I took my then-elementary-school-age daughter to visit my older brother’s University of Virginia biochemistry lab. My daughter was fascinated by the dry ice bubbling up in water, the multi-colored protein solutions in beakers, and computers seemingly everywhere. She was one of those little kids who liked to take various liquids and solids in the house and mix them up to see what would happen—so when she got to see the real thing, her eyes were bulging with excitement. And it became even more meaningful when she learned her uncle was doing research to develop new treatments for cancer.

But back at school, inside the classroom, it was a different story. There were few, if any, lab experiments and eventually science became boring and irrelevant to her. It was no longer about exploring ideas and solving problems. It was about memorizing facts and figures and preparing for quizzes and tests.

Few schools have figured out how to connect meaningful learning outside of school to recognition inside it. I saw that firsthand with one of my sons, who was in a video editing and production specialty program in high school.

As a junior, he took the initiative to teach himself the ins and outs of iMovie to produce a highlight video of him playing lacrosse that he could send to college coaches. All the learning took place outside school on his own time.

He had to learn how to take a bunch of DVDs with hours of lacrosse footage and load them into iMovie. Then he had to edit the footage down to the best highlights, organize the clips into a video narrative that flowed naturally, strip the unnecessary audio, and produce a video that was less than five minutes long. Then he had to write emails to coaches promoting the video and often follow up with phone calls.

He was learning writing skills, video editing skills, and how to market himself. To this day, he says it was the most meaningful learning experience he had during high school.

But when he asked the school if he could spend time in class working on the project or get extra credit for it, the answer was no. He was told the school did not have the flexibility to allow that because it was not part of the official curriculum.

A perceived lack of opportunity to pursue what interests them inside school can lead some kids down a mischievous path.

That was the case for Jeremy Currier and Seth Stephens, who hacked into their Rochester Hills, Mich., school district network and got access to logins, passwords, phone numbers, locker combinations, lunch balances, and the grades of all 15,000 students in the school system, according to a story by Herold that triggered a lively debate on edweek.org about student discipline and the future of work.

Now the incident and the district’s decision to expel the boys, Herold writes, are raising a big question: How can schools develop the potential of kids with advanced computing skills and a tendency for probing boundaries—before things go in the wrong direction?

The answer might be by connecting those kids with meaningful learning opportunities outside of school.

Kids Sleep Start School Later

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/12/676118782/sleepless-no-more-in-seattle-later-school-start-time-pays-off-for-teens?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2042&fbclid=IwAR3YSALcXBoTjW-q25wg6danm5eppq8-0ksWRIo-yg8MZVkgDBmxrqp_iig

Sleepless No More In Seattle — Later School Start Time Pays Off For Teens

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

In Seattle, school and city officials recently made the shift. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the district moved the official start times for middle and high schools nearly an hour later, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This was no easy feat; it meant rescheduling extracurricular activities and bus routes. But the bottom line goal was met: Teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.

Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes.

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“This study shows a significant improvement in the sleep duration of students, all by delaying school start times so they’re more in line with the natural wake-up times of adolescents,” says senior author Horacio de la Iglesia, a University of Washington researcher and professor of biology.

The study also found an improvement in grades and a reduction in tardiness and absences.

Seattle’s switch to later start times is still unusual for school districts around the country, where school typically starts around 8 a.m. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement calling on school districts to move start times to 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high schools so that students can get at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. But according to the National Center For Education Statistics, only 17 percent of public middle and high schools, including some school districts in Minnesota and Kentucky, start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Getting a little extra sleep in the morning can be vital for teens, explains de la Iglesia. Once children reach puberty, their biological clock changes. “They fall asleep later than older adults and young kids,” he says.

Teens’ biological bedtime is more like midnight, he says, and if parents expect them to go to sleep at 10 p.m., it often doesn’t work. “They’ll just lay in bed and not fall asleep,” he says. Of course, this means teens need to sleep later in the morning. “To ask a teen to be up and alert at 7:30 a.m. is like asking an adult to be active and alert at 5:30 a.m.,” says de la Iglesia.

In the study, researchers compared two separate groups of sophomores enrolled in biology classes at two Seattle high schools, Franklin High School and Roosevelt High School. The first group of 92 students, drawn from both schools, wore wrist monitors to track their sleep for two-week periods in the spring of 2016, when school still started at 7:50 a.m. The wrist monitors collected information about light and activity levels every 15 seconds so researchers could determine when students were awake and when they were asleep.

In 2017, after schools changed start times to nearly one hour later, researchers looked at a group of 88 students taking the same biology classes. They also wore wrist activity monitors and kept a sleep diary.

You might think that when school starts later, teens will just stay up later. But that’s not what researchers found. Bedtimes stayed relatively constant and kids caught some extra sleep in the mornings. “We’ve put them in between a rock and a hard place where their biology to go to bed later fights with societal expectations,” says lead researcher Gideon Dunster, a graduate student studying sleep at the University of Washington.

“Thirty-four minutes of extra sleep each night is a huge impact to see from a single intervention,” says de la Iglesia.

The study also shows a link between getting more sleep and better academic performance. Students who took the biology class after the later start time got final grades that were 4.5 percent higher than students who took the class when it started earlier. That could be the difference between an A and a B, says de la Iglesia. He says sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to learn and to retain new information.

Even though researchers can’t be sure that more sleep gave students an academic edge, the school’s biology teachers say the difference was striking.

“When we started at 7:50 a.m. there would always be stragglers who were having a hard time getting here,” says Cindy Jatul, who teaches biology at Roosevelt High School. Students were groggy and noticeably different from students who took her class later in the day. “For example, if I gave them a project in the lab, they would be the most likely class to mess up,” she says.

Franklin High School science teacher A.J. Katzaroff says “there was lots of yawning” when school started at 7:50 a.m. Students had a hard time engaging in the work or in brief discussions, which is extremely unfortunate. “Some of the best practices in science education have students talk, discuss and investigate together and those are all very hard when the brain is not fully powered,” Katzaroff says.

After the time switch, many more kids were able to engage in deeper thought and scientific discourse. Katzaroff says. The number of students who were tardy or absent also decreased significantly, putting Franklin High School — which is in a low-income neighborhood — on par with students from a higher-income neighborhood. The later school start time gave them a better opportunity to make it to school on time.

“We need to give every bit of equity we can for kids in lower socio-economic families,” says Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Breuner was not involved in the study.

Breuner calls the findings “exciting” and says that while an extra 34 minutes of sleep might not sound like a lot to the average person, when it comes to sleep “every minute counts.”

Breuner says that while only a handful of school districts nationwide have switched to later start times, that is changing “as counties and cities like Seattle make changes and see positive benefit.”

Improving Teacher Empathy Improves Student Behavior

Improving Teacher Empathy to Improve Student Behavior