They’re Being Bullied. But Are They Telling You About It?
Look out at the students in your classroom. Do you know for certain which students are being bullied? Having to deal with bullying is an unfortunate reality for many students. Today, students not only have to face the possibility of being bullied in person (traditional bullying), but also being bullied online (cyberbullying). Yet, authors Ylva Bjereld et al. note that parents and teachers are significant counter-forces to bullying. Not only do teachers and parents help victims cope with bullying, but they can help prevent future incidents and end current behaviors as well (347). Indeed, Bjereld et al. explain that when children communicate their experiences as victims of bullying to adults, especially parents, they are better able to manage the bullying and have fewer negative mental health effects, such as depression (347).
Building Peer Support and Friendships for Autistic Students in General Education Classes
Over the past 15 years, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have spent increasing amounts of time in general education classrooms. Authors Erik W. Carter et al. explain that between 2001-2012, students with ASD “who spent more than 40% of their school day in general education classrooms increased from 39.6% to 57.6%” (207). Although ASD students are exposed to general ed content alongside their school peers, the general ed environment is socially challenging. Previous studies have documented that students with ASD “have few peer interactions in general education classrooms, spend limited time in close proximity to classmates, and infrequently participate in collaborative work with peers” (207). This relative isolation can be attributed to both the students’ social challenges, as well as instructional formats that limit the number of opportunities ASD students (and students in general) have to interact with peers (208).
Classroom remote devices. Smartphones connected to education apps. As clicker technology becomes more widely available, teachers’ use of clickers (devices that can collect student responses in real-time) is becoming increasingly common in both K-12 and university classrooms. While teachers use clickers across a range of subjects, authors Cui Liu et al. argue that there are common themes when it comes to the effectiveness of those clickers on student learning.
For their paper, “The Effects of Clickers with Different Teaching Strategies,” Cui Liu et al. analyzed 128 peer-reviewed articles about the use of clickers in the classroom to gain a better understanding of the types of teaching methods (using clickers) that produced positive outcomes on student learning. The authors note that thus far the majority of research on clickers has been conducted in college classrooms. The 128 papers chosen for their literature review reflect that high number, with 113 of the studies taking place in college classrooms, 6 at the secondary level, 2 at the elementary school and 7 in other types of education environments (607).
In their article, “Honors Students’ Perceptions of Their High School Experiences: The influence of Teachers on Student Motivation,” Del Siegle et al. explore what motivates gifted students in high school. Specifically, the authors investigate teachers’ characteristics and practices that help motivate high-achieving students (36). For this study, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with four separate focus groups, each consisting of between 6-8 freshmen at a top-ranked public university. 71% of the focus group participants were female and every participant graduated in the top 4% of his or her high school class (39). These students were all academically successful and had valuable information to share about how teachers motivated them throughout high school.
And Now Presenting…! How Dramatic Arts Integration Increases EL Students’ Use of Academic Language in the Classroom
Now create a skit!
In their paper, “The Influence of Classroom Drama on English Learners’ Academic Language Use During English Language Arts Lessons,” Alida Anderson and Sandra M. Loughlin investigate the effect of classroom drama (aka dramatic arts integration) on English Language learners’ use of academic language in class.
Anderson and Loughlin note that contextualized language-learning tasks, such as dramatic arts-based activities, have a powerful effect on students’ acquisition of academic language, as these types of activities support “connections between concepts and language expression” (265). However, decontextualized language instruction is often the norm in ELA classrooms, in which “language-learning tasks…are removed from immediate or accessible meaning beyond the language itself” (266). Yet there is a powerful case for contextualized learning environments, given that they “foster academic language proficiency through discovery and experiential approaches that integrate basic communication skills, new information, procedures, tasks, as well as vocabulary, structures, and functions in academic discourse” (267). In this learning environment, teachers would provide “action-based language opportunities” that enable “collaboration, discussion, and planning” (267).
It’s not interesting. It’s not relevant. Too often teachers hear these phrases from students in science and mathematics classes. In their article, “The impact of college- and university-run high school summer programs on students’ end of high school STEM career aspirations,” Joseph A. Kitchen et al. argue that in order to inspire students to not only find interest in STEM content, but to ultimately choose STEM career paths, it is essential for STEM classes and programs to keep content relevant. The authors show that instructors can significantly and positively alter students’ perceptions of STEM subjects by engaging students with real-world applications and actual professionals in STEM fields (13).
The authors note that it is during high school when many students start seriously considering their future career paths. Given that high school students’ aspirations are still malleable, it is also a prime time for STEM instructors to promote not just present understanding of STEM subjects, but students’ future trajectory for STEM career choices (12).
Strong Students Get Stronger and the Struggling Continue to Struggle
The “Matthew”-effect originally described the concept that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” (3). However, since the term’s coining in 1968, it has been applied to the educational phenomenon in which “strong students get stronger and struggling students struggle even more” (3). In their paper, “Is teacher judgment accuracy of students’ characteristics beneficial for verbal teacher-student interactions in classroom?,” authors Maralena Pielmeier et al. explain that students with already high pre-achievement and high levels of confidence in a given subject are more likely to be verbally engaged in class, while students with lower pre-achievement and self-confidence are less engaged. However, if teachers can accurately judge students’ levels of student achievement and confidence, they may be better able to address the needs of lower performing students and help mitigate the “Matthew”-effect.
Instructional Differences in High-Poverty Elementary Schools: High vs. Low Performing
As of the 2013-2014 school year, 25% of U.S. public schools were designated as high poverty (37). The status of these schools not only reflects the economic position of the 20% of American children who live in poverty, but also the ever-widening academic achievement gap (37). In their paper, “Exploring instructional differences and school performance in high-poverty elementary schools,” authors Regina G. Hirn et al. note that there is a well-documented link between socioeconomic status and school achievement (37). They remark that compared to affluent students, poorer students are less likely to “become proficient in reading or math” and tend to have “poor trajectories throughout their lives—including being more likely to be in poor health, to have children with poor health, to have children as teenagers, and to have children who do not do well in school” (37-38). Along with student poverty, Hirn et al. explain that high-poverty schools’ hiring trends also negatively contribute to student achievement. In particular, high-poverty schools “tend to employ teachers with less experience, lower levels of education, and lower retention rates than those in wealthier areas” (38).
For Hirn et al., No Child Left Behind, licensure, and credential requirements have failed to address the achievement gap problem in the United States. They argue that to address the problem of low achieving schools, it is necessary to examine the teaching practices within those schools (38).
Want Students to Memorize Content? Have Them Draw It.
It is typical for a teacher to ask students to write down information so that they can learn and memorize some given content. But authors Frits F.B. Pals et al. question whether writing information is the most effective way for students to memorize class material. In their paper, “Memorisation methods in science education: tactics to improve the teaching and learning practice,” Pals et al. examine the efficacy of writing versus student-created drawings for long-lasting student retention of content. In addition, the authors investigate whether “muttering” during writing or drawing makes a difference for memorization and retention of material, as previous studies have suggested (238). In particular, the study focuses on student memorization of science propositions.
The college years are an exciting time in a student’s life, as they present opportunities for transition, growth, and learning. However, authors Ronny Bruffaerts et al. remark that the college years are also a “peak period for the first onset of a broad range of mental disorders” (97). Indeed, previous studies have revealed that up to 50% of college students may have one or more common mental health problems (97). These students are twice as likely to drop out of college without earning a degree, compared to their peers who do not have mental disorders (97).
In their paper, “Mental health problems in college freshmen: Prevalence and academic functioning,” Bruffaerts et al. examine the pervasiveness of mental health problems in college freshmen and how those mental health problems affect student academic functioning.