Nancy Flanagan has written another of her all-too-numerous to count insightful posts. This one is called I’m OK–You Have Self-Esteem. She approaches the concept of self-esteem in a thoughtful and balanced way, and it’s another of her “must-reads.” In that post, she mentions a study that came out last year that, as she puts it, “dared to suggest that kids perform better when given the simple assignment of writing for fifteen minutes about their strengths, to re-affirm their competence.” I remember reading about it in the New York Times , and also remember thinking to myself that I needed to find out more about what exactly the researchers had the students do. That task has languished on my “to do” list until Nancy’s post prompted me to finally get around to doing some digging. Here is my summary of what the researchers actually did (you can purchase the article here. I don’t think the article itself is very helpful, but the online addendum is). They had students write three-to-five times during one school year about their values. The first two times, students were given this list of values: athletic ability, being good at art, being smart or getting good grades, creativity, independence, living in the moment, membership in a social group (such as your community, racial group, or school club), music, politics, relationships with friends or family, religious values,...Read More
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Stanford researcher Geoffrey Cohen and others have conducted several experiments over the years having students do a simple writing exercise about their values that has resulted in increased academic achievement over the course of a year. I’ve written in detail about what they’ve done and how I regularly replicate the exercise in my classroom. You can read about that process in these two pieces, one here in my blog (Useful Writing Exercise For Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem) and the other a guest post at The New York Times Learning Network (Guest Post | Helping Students Motivate Themselves). These same researchers have been tracking these middle school students who have done these exercises and have found that these academic improvements apparently last for years, with them choosing to take more academically rigorous high school classes and being more likely to attend college. You can read a summary of these new results at Ed Week, How a Simple Writing Exercise in Middle School Led to Higher College Enrollment. Unfortunately, the link to more information about the study that’s within that article doesn’t work, but you go directly to the research itself here. Happily, it’s not behind a paywall! Share...Read More
I’ve previously posted here on the blog and also written in my books about research that shows the benefits of having students do simple self-affirmation activities. In Giving Students “Reflection Cards,” I describe its effect on developing self-control and how I apply it in the classroom. In Useful Writing Exercise For Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem and in Simple Writing Exercise Said To “Narrow Achievement Gap,” I talk about what studies have found about its effect on student academic achievement and, again, how I apply it in my classroom. Today, another study was released demonstrating the positive impact of these kinds of activities. Though the headline on the story is a bit of hyperbole (saying it can “overcome poverty” is bit overstated — I think that omits a broader perspective on inequality in society), it’s good to see proof reinforced. Here’s a useful excerpt from the article: Zhao and co-authors Eldar Shafir of Princeton University and Crystal Hall of University of Washington theorize that self-affirmation alleviates the mentally overwhelming stigma and cognitive threats of poverty, which can impair reasoning, cause bad decisions and perpetuate financial woes. This study builds on previous research by Zhao and colleagues from Princeton, Harvard and University of Warwick, which found that poverty consumes so much mental energy that those in poor circumstances have little remaining brainpower to concentrate on other areas of life. As a...Read More
Photo Credit: Oliver Hammond via Compfight I’ve previously posted about a simple writing exercise that was shown to particularly help African American students increase their academic achievement (see Useful Writing Exercise For Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem) and expanded that into a full-fledged lesson plan in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves. Two new studies have now shown that it can be equally effective with Latino students. My previous blog post and the new studies (along with my lesson plan) do a good job explaining the process but, simply put, the idea is to have students write briefly about values that are important to them. Here’s how one of the researchers behind the new studies describes why it’s effective: “When you look at what the students write, you see that they are generally not boosting their egos or self-aggrandizing. What they do is remind themselves about who they are, and what is important to them. They are reaffirming a narrative about themselves that they are okay people who have core values that will be with them through the ups and downs of school. And this helps the students see threatening events from a broader perspective, and these threats become less of a stressor and less disruptive of their academic motivation and efficacy.” Share...Read More
I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see back issues of those newsletters here and my previous “Top Ten” picks at Websites Of The Month. These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly “Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. This month’s list is longer than usual. Here are the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference): “Languages smarten up your brain” I Like Fotobabble Third Anniversary Of This Blog — What Have Been My Most Popular Posts? “Myths of Independent Reading” Crocodoc A Question On Teacher Attire The Power of “Touch” In The Classroom A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits Have You Ever Felt Like You & Your Students Are “Enduring” Class Instead of Enjoying It? The Saddest School-Related Statistic I’ve Heard In Awhile…. “Brain-Priming” TIME Magazine Can Do Better Than This… “Idolizing Just One Person Undermines The Struggle” Students Annotating Text If You Teach ELL’s In Grade Six Or Above, These Are “Must-Have” Resources Call Me Cynical, But I Just Don’t Think This Workbook Is Going To Help...Read More
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