"If you want to find your happy place, just go to the library." ~ Lizzie K. Foley, Author

Posts tagged ‘middle school’

The research proves our impact!

This is not my work, just something that was shared with me to pass along:

VERY important article by Keith Curry Lance and Linda Hofshine, School Library Journal, Sept 1, 2011:

“Something to Shout About: New research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores”

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/891612-312/something_to_shout_about_new.html.csp

Laying off librarians has a negative effect on fourth grade reading scores (2004 to 2009): “fewer librarians translated to lower performance—or a slower rise in scores—on standardized tests.” Most important, Lance and Hofshine present evidence showing that the negative effect was due specifically to laying off librarians, not overall staff changes.

“We found that 19 of the 26 states that gained librarians saw an average 2.2 percent rise in their National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade reading scores. Meanwhile, 9 of the 24 states that lost librarians had a 1 percent rise … the increase in scores of states that gained librarians was two times that of states that lost librarians. Scores remained unchanged for 6 states that gained librarians and 12 that lost librarians. Three states that lost librarians had an average decline of -1 percent, and one state that gained librarians experienced a -0.5 percent decline in scores.”

” … the magnitude and significance of the relationship between librarian staffing and test performance was reduced only very slightly when taking into account overall staff changes in schools … Whether a school had a librarian remained an important factor in reading test performance, regardless of what was happening with overall staffing numbers.”

Correlation between percent change in school librarians and percent change in reading scores for all students: r = .567.  Correlation when controlled for percent change in total school staff: r = .562 (partial correlation).

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Teacher Intervention in Bullying Prevention

Bullies are becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in our schools.  Many schools respond to this situation by implementing zero tolerance policies, but are they working?  Are school-wide anti-bullying programs an effective measure against peer victimization?  Educators need to look at their school dynamics, consider their student population, and make informed decisions.

What is bullying?

Bullying is the physical, verbal, or psychological abuse.  In an educational setting, it usually occurs in the “unowned” areas, such as hallways and restrooms, where adult supervision is minimal.  Examples of bullying behaviors include name-calling, racial slurs, hitting, spreading rumors, or social ostracism.

Who becomes a bully?

Is a bully a kid with low self-esteem?  Is he the biggest kid in the class?  These are our stereotypical associations, but research actually shows this is not usually the case.  Bullies tend to be seen as “cool” kids. They have a high self-esteem and many friends.

Who becomes a victim?

While bullying is often associated with such personality characteristics as shyness, sometimes it is a temporary predicament brought on by transitional factors such as moving to a new school, or delayed pubertal development.

Is being bullied a natural part of growing up?

No, it is not.  Bullying is not a character-building experience our children need to live through and learn from.  It lowers their self-esteem and increases their vulnerabilities.

Are boys more likely than girls to be bullies?

No, they are not.  In fact, there has been much research done in recent years on the so-called “mean” or “alpha girls.”  These girls tend to be psychological bullies.  Their bullying often involves damaging reputations or social ostracism.

How should educators intervene?

The first thing we need to realize is that one size does not fit all in this situation.  There are three groups to consider, all with different needs.

  • The bully needs to learn to control their anger.  They need to accept responsibility for their problems and learn to acceptable, healthy ways to deal with them.
  • The victim needs support to develop their self-esteem and a positive self-image.  They need to know it is not their fault that they were targeted by the bully.
  • The by-standers that observed the bullying taking place need to be educated on the proper responses.  They need to know that it is not okay to watch these kinds of things take place without doing anything.

Teachers need to be sure they never ignore a bullying incident.  This shows the bully that their behavior is unacceptable as well as helping the victim to feel less defenseless in the situation.  These incidents can serve as a “teachable moment” in which they can discuss with the class what happened and what could have been done differently by everyone involved (not just the bully and/or the victim).

Perhaps the most powerful lesson we can teach our children is a respect and appreciation of diversity.  By accepting the differences in one another, the students will find fewer faults and learn tolerance.  How can we teach this?  Through literature, movies, studying history, learning about other cultures, talking, writing, collaborating, and interacting.  By creating 21st Century learners.

Teaching through video game design

Can you imagine the look on their faces when you tell your students that you’re going to teach them how to design a video game?  Could you possibly hit any closer to home for most of these kids?  What do they love more than video games?  Well, other than their cell phones maybe…  And is this something that’s only possible for the most tech-savvy of us in the trenches?  No!  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Look at this site I found while reading Scholastic Instructor (Summer, 2011, p.16).

Gamestar Mechanic  is geared towards the 4th – 9th grades, students begin playing individually, completing quests to learn the principles of video game design.  As a reward for earning enough experience, they are awarded a design workshop in which they design their own game.  They can then publish these games to share, as well as playing games designed by other kids, and they can review one another’s games.  Students will learn art and design, problem-solving, writing/storytelling, as well as working on their STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills.

Older kids will enjoy a similar website called Activate!   Again, the students are creatively solving problems (though here they are real-world environmental-related problems).  They design games, and can enjoy those created by others.   They are also asked to provide feedback.  The more they offer, they greater their own rewards.

Both of these programs are meant to take place in 4 lessons, and both involve computers and worksheets to teach the students.  For more information, view Scholastic’s article (complete with videos and the research behind these sites).  Level UP!