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February 23, 2010
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News for the Education Profession

ASCD SmartBrief Special Report:
Meeting Students Where They Are (Part I)
No two students are alike, and educators must make the most of their time in the classroom to best meet students' needs. But with varying challenges, strengths and learning styles, how do educators do this?

This two-part ASCD SmartBrief Special Report, "Meeting Students Where They Are," offers educators insight on how to develop instruction that helps all students learn.

Part I examines how to best reach out to students and develop teaching methods that meet their strengths. Part II, to be published Thursday, looks at how to differentiate instruction so that it meets the needs of all learners.

If you don't receive ASCD SmartBrief on a daily basis and find our report on Meeting Students Where They Are useful, we urge you to sign up for our timely e-newsletter. ASCD SmartBrief delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for FREE.
  At a Glance 
  • Effective teachers meet students where they are
    Principles of cognitive science such as "know your students" may seem simple, but practicing these principles requires finesse, writes Marge Scherer, editor in chief of ASCD's Educational Leadership. The educators who write in this issue describe the complex art and science of "meeting students where they are." Authors describe how to discover what students don't understand and when it is important to adjust the pace or find different ways to present an idea. Topics include differentiated learning, student psychology, engagement, grading practices and home visits. Educational Leadership (2/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Should all students have the same goals?
    Many education-reform advocates see college as the goal for all students, but for some schools, college preparation is not the only sign of success, writes Jack Schneider, a former high-school history teacher. Schneider uses the example of the lead character in the movie "Precious" -- about a poor, abused teen mother -- to demonstrate that different students have different needs. He cautions reformers against taking a one-size-fits-all approach to education, saying that different approaches and varied goals will benefit students more. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (1/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
The Responsive Classroom® works! Research confirms the benefits: higher academic achievement, better social skills, fewer problem behaviors, greater teacher efficacy, and higher-quality instruction. K-6. Read the research
  Understanding Students 
  • When students don't like school
    Despite intentions to meet her students where they were, Jessica Towbin found that her students were disengaged and uninterested in school or learning. Towbin, a language arts and social studies teacher in Seattle, writes that she altered that behavior through an inquiry-based approach. "'Starting where the kids are' became an exercise not merely in diagnosing their skills, but also in discovering who they were and what was important to them," Towbin writes. Educational Leadership (2/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Students offer tips on teaching with technology
    For tips on how to best use technology in the classroom, many education-technology experts say, teachers should consult students, who often are left out of such conversations. This article offers a variety of student perspectives. One high-school student says it is important that technology be easy to use, like the student-response system he uses to take tests. Another student says iPods should be used in class, while some say they would like more access in school to technology such as SmartBoards. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (2/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Educators must understand students' currencies
    In order to reach students, teachers have to understand their "currencies," writes Robyn R. Jackson, author of "Never Work Harder than Your Students." Most conflicts in classrooms are the result of a breakdown in currency exchange, she notes. The goal for teachers is to discover what currencies they want from students -- such as attention or participation -- and how to receive them by giving students what they need. "When you start where your students are, when you find that common currency you both carry, you communicate to students that it's OK to be exactly who they are. You create spaces for students to leverage who they are and what they know to access the curriculum," Jackson writes. Educational Leadership (2/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
NEW! Sammy and His Behavior Problems See how a master teacher helps one child gain control of his behavior so that he—and his classmates—can learn. Discover strategies to help the Sammys in your own classroom or school. Pre-order by March 10, get 20% off! K-6. Read a sample chapter.
  Instruction That Meets Student Strengths 
  • Researcher: Academic games can improve student learning
    Using academic games in classroom lessons can significantly improve student achievement, according to Robert J. Marzano, an ASCD author and the CEO and co-founder of Marzano Research Laboratory in Colorado, who has helped conduct more than 60 studies on the practice. Marzano writes that teachers should incorporate games that offer a low-stakes competition and are focused on a particular lesson. After the game is over, teachers also should take time to discuss the results with the class, he writes. Educational Leadership (2/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Technology helps teachers customize lessons for students
    New classroom technology could provide the tools needed for teachers to individualize lessons for their students, experts say, and a number of technology-immersed classrooms across the country are already providing such models of dynamic, customized learning for students. In one New York City middle school, the School of One program combines face-to-face instruction, online lessons and software-based activities to move middle-school math students through the curricula at their own pace. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (2/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Should teachers consider individual learning styles?
    Altering teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles has not been shown to translate into higher student achievement, according to a review of research on the issue commissioned by an Association for Psychological Science journal. The review's authors are calling on schools to divert funding used for teaching by learning styles to proven teaching methods. Some critics disagree and say students learn best when their individual needs are met. eSchool News (free registration) (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Winner of the AEP Golden Lamp Award, this multimedia kit offers powerful, practical, school-based teacher learning. Includes detailed instructions for leading 8 study sessions plus DVDs. Purchase once, use again and again. K-6. Learn more.
  Reaching At-Risk Learners 
  • Mentors tutor students in high-needs schools
    Eight schools in Florida's Miami-Dade district have enlisted 82 City Year corps mentors to assist students in high-needs schools. The trained mentors, who wear red jackets, help students improve their reading skills by working in small groups during class. "They teach us things we haven't caught on to with our regular teachers. They help us with the word of the day, and we play some games, too," one student said of the City Year volunteers. The Miami Herald (free registration) (1/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Dancing Classrooms program helps at-risk students
    Educators say a successful dance program for at-risk students that began in New York City is helping students in Pittsburgh. The Dancing Classrooms program was made famous in the 2006 movie "Take the Lead" starring Antonio Banderas, and it works to teach struggling students character lessons through ballroom dancing. The lessons have been integrated into the students' music and physical education classes, and one teacher said students' social interactions have improved. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  ASCD Resources 

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