This week's Take5 is all about a topic that we spend a lot of time focusing on as middle school educators: TEENS. We talk screen time, cell phones, overall struggles that teens experience and ways schools can help. Then we end with an uplifting story about students who set out to build something real -- a sailboat -- and summer reading list for middle schoolers (and students of all ages).
Take5: the Power of Houses in Schools, Alleviating Math Anxiety, Books to add to your Summer Reading List and More.
While many of you are already basking in summer, some of us are still teaching. Our school year ends for students this week, but I know many East Coast schools are still in session as late as next week. Whether you are winding down this school year or already looking to the year ahead, we hope this week's Take5 helps inform your teaching. We touch on the weighty topic of suicide prevention. We also offer tips for supporting the creation of Houses in schools to promote belonging, strategies for spotting math anxiety in kids and stopping it in its tracks, and share a newly developed method for tracking cell phone use. Lastly, consider adding YA books to your summer reading by checking out a Best of 2018 YA List. So take a few minutes to Take5.
Cell phones. I want them out of middle school classrooms (and elementary school classrooms if by some chance they've made their way into the world of K-6 students). And no, I haven't always wanted them out. This is tech-loving me, doing a 180 degree reversal of where I stood a mere months ago. I once believed that phones were instructional tools that if managed correctly could enhance learning. But the research plus my experience this year has dramatically altered my thinking. Because I care about kids, about teaching and learning, about school communities, and equity, I want these cell phones gone - put in lockers from the moment the first school bell rings until the end of the day. So why the sudden change in my thinking?
Take5 touches on so many things that are at the forefront of my mind these days. First: cell phones. A believer in technology, I no longer think the value of cell phones outweighs the distraction. The research supports my view when it comes to middle schoolers. This week's post also explores the power of "math talk," poverty in wealthier school districts, how to spot and encourage teacher resiliency and how a school turned its hallways into a cure for antsy students.
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