Education Update: 5/13/15

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Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

Teaching Emotional Smarts To Boost Academic Success

Bellevue Schools are turning to an approach called “RULER” in order to improve learning and student behavior. Created by Yale researchers, RULER, is “aimed at teaching students – and teachers – how to Recognize, Understand, Label, Express and Regulate emotions”. The approach draws from decades of brain research on “Emotional Intelligence” and the complex link between feelings and thinking. Success with RULER has been reported in a variety of school settings including public and private schools, and among both affluent and economically challenged student populations.  Ruler is now being used in more than 800 schools across the country, including other school districts in the northwest such as Seattle Public Schools.

We Think Better on Our Feet, Literally

A new Texas A&M University study finds that students “show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.” The study involved around 300 children ranging from second to forth graders who were monitored for an entire school year. The study measured student’s engagement with particular tasks while situated on standing desks compared with those at traditional sitting desks. The results indicated that students in standing work stations were more productive in completing academic tasks than their counterparts. Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Public Health, who headed the research study states,”The key takeaway from this research is that school districts that put standing desks in classrooms may be able to address two problems at the same time: academic performance and childhood obesity.”

Create the Learning Community Vital to Project-Based Learning’s Success

Project-based Learning, though not a new pedagogy, relies on building a learning community in order to be successful. Laura Thomas, director of the Antioch Center for School Renewal, believes that teachers must create a strong learning community in the classroom in order for project-based learning to work. When students learn to communicate with each other, the collaboration process of project-based learning becomes easier, conflict resolution becomes a conversation between the students and teacher, and a supportive class culture is established. “Paying attention to these underlying structures of the classroom will result in big payoffs in the depth and quality of the project-based learning students do, Thomas said.”

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