Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.


Feedback for Thinking: Working for the Answer

Teacher at the chalkboard looking toward students

We run the risk of giving the wrong kind of feedback for students, and it’s not because we are bad people. We love our students. We want them to be successful, and sometimes these desires can actually get in the way of a student truly learning.

Take a typical situation of a math problem involving money. A student is unable to determine the percentage that he or she should be getting, and is struggling with multiplication of decimals. Often we notice this struggle and “swoop in” to save the day. As educators, we sit down with that student and show him or her how to do it, pat ourselves on the back, and move on the next student. In fact, we didn’t “save” that student’s day — we may have made no difference at all. Feedback that simply shows a child how to do something won’t cause that child to think. He or she will merely learn to replicate what the teacher did without truly “getting” the concept being taught.

3 Strategies for Structured Teaching

We need to move away from this type of feedback and toward feedback that causes thinking and metacognition. Here are three ways that teachers can guide students in the right direction, as described by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in their book Better Learning Through Structured Teaching.

1. Questions

We all know that asking questions can help us check for understanding, but questions can also be great tools for having students really articulate their ideas in a deeper way, and allowing them to think about it. Try asking open-ended questions to probe student thinking and push them to think deeper. Instead of “Do you understand that?”, move toward questions that cause students to explain and justify their ideas.

2. Prompting

Prompts are statements and questions that cause students to do metacognitive work. We teachers should not be doing their thinking work for them during guided instruction. We should be empowering students to think by using the right type of question or statement. Take this example. A student is working on a written assignment, and the teacher notices that he or she may be missing commas. The teacher says, “I see this paragraph has some commas in it, but the next paragraph seems to have none.” This will cause the student to look at the paper with the idea of adding more commas if necessary.

3. Cueing

Similar to prompting, cueing “shifts the learner’s attention.” Cues are often more specific. There are many types, such as verbal, gestural, and visual. Even highlighting an error on a paper can cause students to think about how they might fix the error without necessarily giving away the answer. With this cue, you prompted thinking. Similarly, a verbal prompt like, “This step in the problem is tricky, don’t forget how I modeled it this morning” will shift the students to think and reflect about their process and perhaps move in the right direction. Don’t forget that even pointing to something can serve as a cue for students to think.

Errors Versus Mistakes

As you see students struggle with concepts and notice a “wrong” answer, consider this reflective question: “Is it an error or a mistake? How can I find out?” Through specific questioning, you can dig deeper to find out what’s going on in a student’s head, and make the thinking visible for both of you. Sometimes a wrong answer means a mistake. This implies that a student really does know a concept and only made a misstep in the application of learning. As the teacher, you only need to redirect. However, if you uncover that there is an error, it means that a student really does not understand the concept, and he or she will require a different type of instruction, perhaps further modeling or teaching, and different kinds of prompting, cueing, and questioning.

Debunking ADHD myths: an author Q&A

With the rise in the number ADHD diagnoses, fierce controversies have emerged over the mental disorder—how we should classify it, how best to treat it, and even whether it exists at all. We have only recently (within the past century) developed our understanding of how it affects those diagnosed, with the number of papers on “attention deficit” exploding within the past decade. But with the sheer amount of information on ADHD that’s out there, it’s easy for anyone these days to be completely overwhelmed. What do we believe? Who should we believe? Psychologist Stephen P. Hinshaw and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Ellison, authors of ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know, answered a few questions for us in hopes of debunking some myths about the disorder.

Isn’t ADHD just an excuse for bad parenting, lazy, bratty kids, and pill-poppers?

This is a prevalent myth—and one we spend a lot of time debunking in our book, in interviews, and in our public talks. Despite the skepticism and the stereotypes, substantial research has shown that ADHD is a strongly hereditary neurodevelopmental disorder. The quality of one’s parenting doesn’t create ADHD—although it can influence a child’s development—and children with this condition are not lazy but instead handicapped in their capacity to focus attention and keep still.

It’s not? Well, isn’t it just a plot by pharmaceutical firms that want to sell more stimulants?

Pharmaceutical firms have worked hard to expand awareness of ADHD as they pursue profits in a global market last estimated at $11.5 billion. But they didn’t create the disorder. Moreover, studies have shown that stimulant medications—the most common treatment for ADHD—can be quite helpful for many people with the disorder and are generally safe, when used as prescribed. Our position on medication boils down to this: there is no “magic bullet,” and medication should be used with caution, due to potential side-effects and valid concerns about dependency. But you shouldn’t let Big Pharma’s sometimes remarkably aggressive tactics dissuade you from trying medication, if a doctor says you need it.

But aren’t we all getting a little ADHD because of how much we’re all checking Facebook and Twitter?

Everyone in modern society is facing a new world of devices, social media, and demands for rapidly shifting attention. It’s quite possible that the evolution of technology is moving faster than our brains’ capacity to adapt. Still, it’s important to make a distinction between distraction that can be controlled by turning off your email versus genuine ADHD, which arises from the brain’s inefficient processing of important neurochemicals including dopamine and norepinephrine. While most of us today are facing environmentally-caused problems with distraction, people with ADHD are at a significant disadvantage.

How fast have US rates of ADHD been increasing, and why?

The short answer is: really fast. US rates of ADHD were already high at the turn of the millennium, but since 2003, the numbers of diagnosed children and adolescents have risen by 41%. Today, more than six million youths have received diagnoses, and the fastest-growing segment of the total population with respect to diagnosis and medication treatment is now adults, particularly women.

The current numbers are staggering. For all children aged 4-17, the rate of diagnosis is now one in nine. For those over nine years of age, more than one boy in five has received a diagnosis. Among youth with a current diagnosis, nearly 70% receive medication.

Why are US rates so much higher than anywhere else?

Epidemiological studies show that ADHD is a global phenomenon, with rates of prevalence ranging from five to seven percent, even in such remote places as Brazil’s Amazon River basin. Indeed, diagnosis rates are much lower, for a range of reasons that include simple lack of awareness, cultural differences, and resistance to US-style “medicalization” of behavioral problems. Rates of diagnosis and treatment are now rising, in some cases dramatically, throughout the world, even as they still lag considerably behind US rates. One major factor in this trend is increasing pressures for performance in schools and on the job.

What might be causing some of the high rates in the United States?

One issue that seriously concerns us is the likelihood of over-diagnosis in some parts of the country. The danger of over-diagnosis is heightened by the fact that determining whether someone has ADHD remains a somewhat subjective process, in that, like all mental disorders, there is no blood test or brain scan that can decisively determine it.

“Gold-standard” clinical processes, which include taking thorough medical histories and gathering feedback from family members and teachers, can guard against over-diagnosis, but all too often the diagnosis is made in a cursory visit to a doctor.

What danger might there be of under-diagnosis?

The same quick-and-dirty evaluations that fuel over-diagnosis can also lead to missing ADHD when it truly exists. That is, the clinician who insists that he or she can detect ADHD in a brief clinical observation may overlook the fact that children and adults may act quite differently in a doctor’s office than they do at school or in the workplace. This is equally concerning, because whereas over-diagnosis may lead to over-treatment with medication, under-diagnosis means children who truly need help aren’t getting it.

I keep hearing that ADHD is a “gift.” What does that mean?

Celebrities including the rapper will.i.am and business superstars such as Jet Blue founder David Neeleman have talked about the advantages of having ADHD in terms of creativity and energy, and many ADHD advocates have championed the idea that the condition is a “gift.” We support the idea of ADHD as a kind of neuro-variability that in some contexts, and with the right support, can offer advantages. But do look this gift-horse in the mouth; ADHD can also be a serious liability, and needs to be managed throughout a lifetime. Consider the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who rose to stardom only to be embarrassed by drug and alcohol problems. Longitudinal studies show that people with ADHD on average suffer significantly more problems with addiction, accidents, divorces, and academic and employment setbacks than others. ADHD is serious business.

Is ADHD really more common in boys than girls?

Just like all other childhood neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism, Tourette’s, severe aggression), ADHD truly is more common in boys, at a rate of about two-and-a-half to one. But too many clinicians still don’t seem to understand that ADHD can and does exist in girls. One issue here is that girls—and women—often manifest the problem differently than boys and men. Whereas males may be more hyperactive, females may be more talkative or simply daydreamy. Although girls and women have historically been under-diagnosed, the rates are catching up in recent years, which is a good thing, given that the consequences of the disorder, when untreated, can be serious.

Can adults have ADHD?

Adult rates of ADHD are real and quickly growing. One reason is that as awareness has spread about childhood ADHD, many parents are starting to confront the reasons for their own lifelong and untreated distraction. There is debate about whether children ever “grow out of” their ADHD, or whether some merely learn how to cope so well that it is indistinguishable by adulthood. But the best estimates are that close to 10 million adults—about 4.4% of the population—are impaired to some extent by the disorder. That’s a prevalence rate of about half of the childhood rate.

– See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/11/adhd-myths-wentk/#sthash.CtCDga5J.A6Uc3C10.dpuf

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

Research Is In: The Real Impact of Class Size and School Diversity Answers to common questions parents have about kindergarten.

By Youki Terada
Does Class Size Matter?

When evaluating schools, the first thing parents often look at is the class size, or number of students being taught in a particular classroom. Yet while smaller classes can be beneficial for students, research suggests that it’s not guaranteed.

A 2014 analysis by the National Education Policy Center found that smaller classes generally lead to higher test scores for students—especially in earlier grades and for students from disadvantaged backgrounds—but only if teachers are properly trained and adjust their instruction accordingly.

For example, in smaller classes teachers can tailor instruction to meet students’ specific needs, or spend less time on classroom management and more time on activities that engage students and improve learning opportunities. If teachers make these kinds of adjustments, smaller classes can yield positive results.

Despite these benefits, smaller class sizes may not be cost-effective compared with other improvements. Studies show that highly trained, well-supported teachers in large classes can be just as effective as less-experienced teachers in smaller classes. In a 2015 report titled What Doesn’t Work in Education: The Politics of Distraction, Professor John Hattie concludes that decreasing class size yields only a small net improvement in learning because teachers rarely alter their teaching style when moving from a larger to smaller class.

The takeaway: While smaller classes may be beneficial for students, don’t assume that they guarantee positive results. You should look for high-quality, experienced teachers first and foremost—even if they are teaching in large classes.

Entire article: https://www.edutopia.org/article/choosing-kindergarten-what-does-research-say-youki-terada


Meeting of Minds

its-about-starting-over-andcreating-something-better-1Click on picture/ image for podcast link

Parents and teachers help shape the lives of children. The contributions that both can make is invaluable. To a large extent, the view of the child is shaped by those around him or her.

Parents and teachers know more about the children in their care than they may think. Therefore, it is critical that both work together for the benefit of the child.

Note these three (3) reasons in this podcast as to why parents and teachers should work together to benefit the children in their care.


Copyright © 2017 Allick Delancy

All rights reserved.

The information in this podcast and any materials produced or associated with this podcast are for educational purposes and not all tips may apply to your specific culture.

Coming Soon! Educational Psychology Podcast for Teachers and Parents.

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Join me weekly as I talk about the collaboration teachers and parents should have to promote all-round development of students.  It is my belief that the teacher and parent/ guardian must be consistent with behaviour, approach and expectations for the child to move seamlessly form the school environment to the home environment and vice versa.  The podcast is design to make practical, research material in the field of parenting and education.  I encourage you to leave a comment on what you think of each episode.

I commend you teachers and parents for the efforts you are making to train your students and children to think and behaviour in the most appropriate manner.  Using the information from this podcast will enhance your efforts and contribute to the child school and home life.

Music for this podcast is made available by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

All the best!

“ZigZag” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

NB: For ethical reasons, Mr. Allick Delancy is unable to give personal advice concerning a child, adult or family member over this network.  The information in this podcast and any materials produced or associated with this podcast is for educational purposes and not all tips may apply to your specific culture.

Copyright © 2017 Allick Delancy All rights reserved.