Category Archives: Education

A NEW STUDY REVEALS

Good news for education researchers. Your work is influencing district and school leaders and helping to guide their decisions.

Countering criticism that education research is often irrelevant to practice, a newly released national survey has found that the majority of education leaders value research and use it regularly.

It’s a moment for education scholars and research institutions to relish — and then ask, “So what’s next?” Can these findings trigger a wider push for evidence-based solutions? With increased collaboration between researchers and practitioners, can education research — like research in medicine or case studies in business — shape the way school leaders approach emerging needs or the toughest problems of their daily practice?

THE RESEARCH

The survey was produced by the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice(NCRPP), a collaboration among the University of Colorado Boulder, the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research, and the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. It gathered information from 733 education leaders in 485 school districts across 45 states. The respondents were superintendents, principals, curriculum supervisors, and directors of federal programs, in mid- to large-size urban U.S. districts.

The survey was careful to define research as “an activity in which people employ systematic, empirical methods to answer a specific question” — not just the practice of examining data from a specific district, school, or classroom.

Following that definition, the survey asked about the ways in which participants had used research in their work, about individual pieces of research they had used, and about the culture of research use in their department.

The results?

  • Almost all education leaders are using research to inform their decisions. Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated that they use research “frequently” or “all of the time” to support the choices they make in their work.
  • Fewer educators are using research more broadly to develop their perspectives. While 72 percent of respondents said they use research to expand their understanding of issues, most of those only did so only “frequently” or “sometimes,” not “all of the time.”
  • Responses indicated that research was most likely to come up in conversations about instruction and curricula and least likely to come up in discussions of parents or community issues.
  • Only a little more than half — 59 percent — of respondents could name a specific piece of research or study that had been useful to their work.
  • While nearly all respondents agreed that researchers provide valuable service to educators, attitudes were more mixed on the credibility of research, with over a third indicating that researchers could be biased, framing their results to make a certain point.
  • Very few respondents said that they ever contact researchers directly.

Let’s be Good Student

The world needs young adults who are ethically-aware and connected to their communities.

Ready to dig into the problems threatening the common good. But today’s college admissions process, which can consume teenagers and dictate what they do and value, instead encourages a competitive focus on personal successes and accolades. Colleges admissions do endorse community service, but too often, service commitments become sidelined, trumped up, or perfunctory.

A growing consortium of key stakeholders wants to change that dynamic, joining an effort to reform the college admissions process so it prioritizes concern for others and authentic community engagement. Those goals are part of a new approach to admissions outlined in Turning the Tide, a report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common (MCC) initiative that has now been endorsed by more than 140 colleges and universities, high schools and districts, and allied organizations and scholars.

To actually change the annual rituals of college admissions is a daunting challenge, since many of us have grown accustomed to the idea that the path to the perfect school means focusing intently on personal metrics. But the report offers a roadmap of practical steps that school counselors and college admissions officers can take to reframe the process. The advice centers on one key idea: The importance of intentional messaging that colleges will place a high value on authentic community engagement and contributions to others.

FOR HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELORS

For high school counselors, already the primary coaches in the college search process, a report that elevates the value of personal commitments and authentic connection can help lead students in the right direction.

“It’s a great tool to have as a counselor, because I can point to it and say this Turning the Tide report suggests that colleges want to see that you’re engaging in authentic service,” explains Sarah Style, a guidance counselor at Newton South High School in Massachusetts. “It gives us an opportunity to say, this is what authentic service means, and this is what it doesn’t mean.”

Here’s what that can look like in practice. First, counselors can nudge students to expand their understanding of service; rather than framing it as “doing for,” counselors can help students see it as “doing with.” To prompt them to find meaningful opportunities, counselors can:

  • Stress service that is local, skill-building, and emotionally and ethically engaging. Counselors should make it clear that it doesn’t matter to colleges if service occurs in some far-off land or whether the students were leaders. Much more important is that it is an immersive experience that aids communities and helps the student develop skills and ethical awareness.
  • Remind students with significant family responsibilities, such as working to support their families, to include those contributions on their applications. These responsibilities demonstrate the same — if not greater — commitment and caring as community service, but if the colleges don’t explicitly ask, students may be unsure whether to include them.
  • Communicate to students that admissions officers are alert to service that is inauthentic or trumped up. Students should be honest on their applications about how much time they really spent on a project, what its impact was, and what they learned from it. Most college admissions officers will detect it if they’re not honest.
  • Continue to emphasize the importance of a challenging course load and good grades. Says Style, “I would never say to lie to a student and say, ‘Don’t worry about taking difficult classes because schools aren’t going to care about that.’ I do think they’re going to care. Colleges want to admit students who are going to be successful in their institution, and I think one of the signs of that is they’ve been successful academically.”

FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICERS

Changing college admissions is a two-way street. Beyond the work that high schools do, colleges will have to indicate to applicants the value their institution places on community service and ethical development — and what exactly service means to them.

To do that, college admissions officers can:

  • Include explicit opportunities on applications for teenagers to write about community service engagements or significant family responsibilities. Some students won’t explain a service commitment if they aren’t given the space to do so. Applications should also give examples of what students can include in this section. Students may not understand that caring for younger siblings or working on an anti-bullying campaign counts as authentic service.
  • Look critically at how service has impacted students. Admissions officers should use these written responses to assess how service has helped students become more cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, deepen their understanding of communities different from their own, or develop a passion for social justice.
  • Ask recommenders to consider how students work with diverse groups.Along with asking teachers and coaches about students’ intellectual engagement, growth, and leadership, colleges can ask them to comment on how well students collaborated with people of different backgrounds or perspectives, and how those teamwork skills grew over time.
  • Consider the messages imparted through admissions materials. At the University of Washington, for example, the school’s key value is contribution to the common good, says Phillip Ballinger, the associate vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “And if that’s not being perceived by families and parents, then we need to make some efforts to change that,” he says. “That’s on us to think now about making a very specific effort to actively seek students who notably stand out as people of the community in terms of their service, their connection to others, or even in a quiet way in terms of their family.”

GETTING STARTED

At the University of Washington, admissions readers have a “holistic review process” that looks at what kinds of opportunities students have had in their high school, and how they have taken advantage of those opportunities. Essay questions examine students’ day-to-day responsibilities and commitments. “If they’re already contributing to their community before college,” says Ballinger, “that’s something they’re going to want to continue doing.”

Admissions readers at the University of Rochester are looking for students with a “developmental arc,” says Jonathan Burdick, the dean of college admission and vice-provost for enrollment initiatives. And while grades are important, “we are less interested in that than we are at all the other things they still have left to do in college,” Burdick says. “We care a lot about assembling a diverse freshman class with many different perspectives, and that doesn’t always align hand in hand with higher academic achievement.”

A recent essay question at Rochester has allowed students to more directly demonstrate this path of growth. The application asked students to respond to a quotation from Frederick Douglass, who lived in Rochester, that reads, “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his power to get things done.”

Through this question, says Burdick, “The university is trying to enroll and foster independent thinkers who are positive change agents in their communities, and we want to know how they approach that ideal and do that in their own community.”

SEL Work is important

What is the key to a high quality social emotional-learning-program ? It has to be a whole school-effort.

According to developmental psychologist Stephanie Jones and her research team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They’ve spent the past five years exploring connections between social-emotional skills and positive life outcomes, in the process measuring the efficacy of many programs that teach those skills.

Their findings — developed as part of a research project called SECURe (Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding and Regulation in education) — show that a successful SEL program involves “all the adults in the building being trained in and familiar with a set of language and practices that they can use in the hallways, in the gym, at recess, in the lunchroom, on the bus — all the times when kids have less structure, and are actually engaging in social interactions, when emotions are more likely to come up,” says research manager Rebecca Bailey.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL SKILLS: WHAT DO WE MEAN?

Educators differ slightly in how they define these skills, which help kids pay attention in class, develop friendships on the playground, and make smart decisions after the school day ends, among other self-regulation tasks. Jones’s team identifies three main “buckets” of skills, based on their analysis of SEL programs and a comprehensive review of the developmental literature:

  • Cognitive regulation skills. Also called executive function skills, this bucket includes working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, and attention control.
  • Emotion skills. This group includes emotion knowledge and expression, emotion behavior and regulation, and empathy and perspective taking.
  • Interpersonal skills. Also called the social domain, this bucket includes prosocial behaviors and skills, the ability to understand social cues, and conflict resolution.

These skills look different for children of different ages, and many build off of one another over time. For example, in a first-grade classroom, conflict resolution might just mean sharing and taking turns. In an eighth-grade classroom, conflict resolution might also necessitate empathy and cognitive flexibility.

LIMITS OF TRADITIONAL SEL

In the traditional approach to SEL, school leaders might implement a curriculum that has one adult — usually the student’s teacher, school social worker, or psychologist — leading a once-a-week, class-wide lesson on a predetermined skill.  But research studies have shown that this method isn’t wholly effective.

“While a handful of SEL programs have been tested and shown to improve children’s SEL skills as well as academic, mental health, and behavioral outcomes, the effect sizes are smaller than we would expect,” says Jones. “This suggests that existing programs aren’t capitalizing on the potential to improve student outcomes. This could result from implementation challenges, or it could suggest that traditional SEL programs need a different approach.”

All about the collage

While conducting interviews with undergraduates at Harvard, Brown-and-Oxford. Warikoo discovered that many white students support affirmative action in as much as it benefits themselves.

This framing tends to fuel what Warikoo calls “the diversity bargain,” in which white students support affirmative action as long as black and Latino students on campus do not form their own organizations and friend groups, and whites do not feel overlooked through “reverse discrimination” when they apply for fellowships, jobs, and graduate school.

In a conversation, Usable Knowledge asked Warikoo, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to talk about why students in the U.S. need to understand the historical roots of affirmative action and how colleges can become communities where students can talk about racial difference.

In general, how do college admissions frame their emphasis on creating a diverse student body?

They all use very similar language. When you look at the public information, it’s all about diversity and how diversity creates this very rich learning environment. It can be diversity of talents, diversity of leadership styles, diversity of ways of learning, diversity of background. But it’s interesting that they very rarely actually use the word “race.” It’s instead about how this is going to create this great learning environment for all students.

What’s troubling about that?

I don’t want people to get me wrong. I believe in the diverse learning environment, and I think that diversity of race and ethnicity does improve the educational experiences, not just of white students, but also of students of color.

But the problem is that just stopping there ignores what affirmative action has historically been about. If you think about its early roots in higher education in the 1960s, it was about opening the doors of these places that had very few African American students on their campuses. The universities were worried that the race riots happening all around them were going to spill onto their campuses. They wanted to be seen as leaders and forward thinking about race and racial inclusion. So it was not about a diverse learning environment. It was about racial justice. And we have to recognize that that is part of the reason we have affirmative action.

The other reason why it’s so important is for creating a diverse leadership — having a leadership in society that looks like the people who live in society. And that’s symbolic. My kids are growing up in a society where it’s just normal to have a black president. It’s normal to have a woman who may be the next president. That’s not the panacea to everything, but it’s a start. And one way to do it is to create diverse student bodies in select colleges to then take up those leadership positions.

What happens when students don’t understand that the purpose of affirmative action isn’t only to create a diverse environment, but also to support people of color?

I think that lack of understanding leads to this “diversity bargain” that I discuss in my book. Beyond that, more generally, there’s a lack of acknowledgement of the fact that we have ongoing racial inequality in American society. There are so many ways in which race continues to shape our lives in American society, and ignoring that leaves us very little hope for changing it. Even when students want to talk about race, they don’t have the tools or understanding to dig into these conversations.

So how can colleges talk about race and diversity in ways that foster a productive understanding of racial difference?

One of the things that I think about is just fostering an understanding of American history. Students often learn that we had slavery in this country, and then we had segregation, and then we had the civil rights movement, and here we are now. But that’s not the whole story, right? To give you an example, students don’t learn about the systematic exclusion of African Americans from first-time homeowner loans, which created residential segregation and poverty in African American communities. They don’t learn that the GI Bill that led to social mobility for a lot of working class whites in the 1950s didn’t include nondiscrimination clauses, so African Americans couldn’t access it fully. There are so many moments in which African Americans were systematically excluded by seemingly race-neutral policies that weren’t explicitly Jim Crow laws, and I think an understanding of that history would go a long way.

Another thing is providing opportunities for students to develop the tools to engage with each other. A lot of campuses try this in fits and starts; the way you do it is to provide opportunities for dialogue. Those kinds of initiatives signal to students that talking about race is important, that we expect this of them — and that it is hard, and everybody’s going to make mistakes, you will offend someone, someone will offend you, but this is part of the process.

Any other suggestions?

The way we talk about admissions and meritocracy is, to me, also flawed. This idea that somehow there is this magic formula that these colleges do and then they get “the best” students in the country on campus is false. Yes, absolutely, students at elite colleges worked incredibly hard in high school. But there are so many people who work incredibly hard, who don’t have the same opportunities, or don’t have access to all of these resources that other students have.

So a very simple thing is, stop publishing those admit rates. There’s this belief that the lower it goes, the better a college is. It fuels this idea that this is the best of the best. And then, you have a college where black and Latino students are pretty severely underrepresented, and that’s telling students that, well, most of the best of the best are white and Asian, not black and Latino. And I think that’s not true.

Do you think colleges should overtly say that they strive to create a diverse campus not only so everyone benefits, but also because they’re committed to helping students with fewer opportunities succeed?

Absolutely. And that “we’re committed to addressing racial injustice in American society.” They can and should say that.

Do you need that camp is needed ?

Summer camp For so many kids is neede. It signifies care-free days of swimming, playing sports,and traveling in freedom from the demands of the school year. actually that Camp means no homework, no-studying, and no teachers.

But significant learning is still taking place at summer camp — even if the campers don’t necessarily realize it.

SUMMER LEARNING (WITHOUT THE BOOKS)

All those classic camp dynamics — being away from home and parents, making new friends, being part of a team, and trying new things — are building blocks to crucial social-emotional skills.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) can encompass a variety of practices, but most experts agree that a child with high SEL skills is successful in five core areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. These skills are increasingly understood to be central to success in school and inprofessional life beyond, but schools don’t always have the time or capacities to teach them explicitly. Obligations to complete curriculum and boost student achievement often make it difficult for teachers to prioritize community building, goal-setting, or problem solving in their classrooms.

Unconnected to the commitments of the school day, summer camps (particularly overnight camps) can dive head-first into social-emotional learning — and many do. These opportunities are especially importance for low-income students, many of whom already have fewer opportunities to gain these skills outside of school.

A 2005 study of 80 camps by the American Camp Association (ACA) found significant growth in children’s social-emotional skills after a session of summer camp. Camp staff, parents, and children reported increases in children’s self-esteem, independence, leadership, friendship skills, social comfort, and values and decision-making skills, from the beginning to the end of a session.

WHAT A GOOD CAMP EXPERIENCE LOOKS LIKE

It’s not just the new environment and flexible schedule that builds kids’ social-emotional skills. Many camps have an intentional focus on social-emotional learning.YMCA camps, for instance, explicitly discuss their four values — honest, caring, respect, and responsibility — constantly, through songs, skits, and rallies. And most camps train staff to coach kids on becoming more independent, socially aware, and reflective.

In particular, camps foster relationship skills and social awareness by:

  • Introducing children to an entirely new group of peers. Camp may be the first time children have spent substantial time with people whose background — home, race, or religion — is different from their own.
  • Setting up opportunities for children to find their own friends. According to education researcher and longtime camp counselor and director Claire Gogolen, counselors often begin a session by leading icebreakers and regularly sorting a cabin group into different pairs. These activities give campers explicit opportunities to get to know each other, allowing them to figure out who they want to become better friends with.
  • Creating a space where silliness is accepted, and bullying is not. Without the need to plunge into academic content, camps have time to use the beginning of a session to prioritize group norms, says learning specialist and former camp counselor and director Ari Fleisher. Counselors can make it very clear that bullying and teasing are not acceptable. At the same time, camps can encourage songs, jokes, and general silliness that allow campers to relax and be themselves.
  • Taking a break from technology. Many overnight camps restrict or prohibit phones and computers. For many campers, this means it’s the first time they’ve made friends without the help of Instagram or Snapchat, and they learn how to navigate social cues to build and maintain friendships in “real life.”
  • Modeling teamwork and sportsmanship. During staff training, many camps stress the importance of adults demonstrating cooperation and friendship to their campers. When campers are surrounded by positive role models — particularly role models closer to their own age than teachers are — they learn how to get along with peers who may be different from them.

Camps also nurture self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision making by:

  • Requiring children to solve day-to-day problems on their own. With limited contact with parents, campers have to learn how to manage their own conflicts, whether it’s a disagreement with a bunkmate or not getting their first-choice activity.
  • Presenting activities that are new to everyone. Counselors often purposefully lead games and activities that none of their campers have tried before, says afterschool specialist and former camp counselor Nicky DeCesare. Without the fear that some peers will already have a leg-up on lava tag or basket making, children may be more likely to decide to try new things.
  • Offering kids the chance to set and accomplish daily goals. The sheer amount of new activities makes it possible for kids to continually set and achieve goals, deepening their understanding of personal limits. One day a camper may be set on reaching the top of the climbing wall, and the next she may be determined to collaborate with her group to create a new song.
  • Helping children uncover new skills. Kids who are usually immersed in academics may become aware of new skills that they didn’t know they had. For children who struggle in school, these opportunities can increase self-confidence.
  • Providing time for reflection. Many camps begin or end the day with reflection activities, in which campers can think about the challenges they’ve faced, how they’ve grown, and what they’re excited for. These moments, rare in a typical school day, can develop self-awareness and mindfulness for all kids.

Study Tips for Success

images (20)Exams Are Part of Life, so you must be effort about it :

Many exams involve writing or using a computer. Others may take the form of an oral test or a practical exercise to demonstrate skills learned.

Because the outcome of exams and tests are so important, it’s natural for a person to feel stressed in the run-up to the big day. The key to performing your best at this crucial time is to do everything you can to minimize this tension. The tips given in this article will help you perform the best you can in your exams.

Steps to Effective Revision Study

Steps Important to note
Distraction-free environment No TV or phone calls!
Prioritize your work Tackle most difficult task first
First read-through of material For general comprehension only
Second read-through Make notes of key points
Use your senses to help memory Listen to audio and DVD as well as reading text
Test yourself to rehearse for the exam This can be done with a study-buddy
Take short breaks during study periods Exercise or short naps can help refresh you
Continue to self-test periodically Helps to reinforce learning

 

Plan Your Revision and Look at Previous Exam and Test Papers

Making a revision timetable should not be a bigger project than the revision itself. Don’t be tempted to subdivide each hour into the minutiae of the subjects you need to study. Keep any study timetable as simple as possible.

Try and get some exam papers from previous years. These will give you an idea of the type of questions that are likely to appear in this year. Your school of college may be able to provide these. Alternatively, you can buy previous years’ papers direct from the examining boards.

Your teachers and lecturers may give some hints on the topics likely to be on the examination paper. However, their hints are based on guesswork and you should still make sure you cover the majority of the syllabus in your revision plans.

I recommend you read “Study Skills 365”. This handy book has 365 hints and tips to help you study more effectively. By learning one new study tip each day you can increase your exam skills in small, easy chunks. The tips are concise and witty. One of my favorites is quoted below.

The Right Time Can Make the Difference

“Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you hit your stride around midday? Experiment studying at different times during the day and find out what time works best for you. By finding your ideal study time, you may end up working less with more reward.”

(Joshua Shifrin “Study Skills 365”)

How to Revise in Three Easy Steps

  1. The first time you revise your course texts and lecture notes you are reading to gain a broad understanding of the subject. At this stage it’s more important that you grasp overall concepts than to make revision notes.
  2. You will revisit the topic in a second reading. At this stage you should underline key phrases or jot down keywords as you go through your course notes. This active learning method will help you to understand and remember your subject in greater detail.
  3. The notes you make doing this will also act as an aide memoir (something that jogs your memory on key points) which can be referred to a few days before the exam.

How to Study Effectivel

Throughout your revision period if you eat healthily and exercise regularly it will help to reduce your stress levels. It’s tempting to think it doesn’t matter if you exist on junk food because you’re too busy to prepare real meals. But a good night’s sleep and a balanced diet can help improve your mental alertness and ability to study.

The day before you sit the exam you should make sure that you have eaten proper meals and have taken some exercise. This will help you to relax and achieve a good night’s sleep. Alcohol should be avoided the night before an exam as its effect is to dehydrate you. Drinking water during revision period and examinations is thought to improve a student’s academic performance.

The Day of the Exam

If you are studying at school, college or university, then your exam may be held in a room you’ve in before. However if you’ve been following a distance learning course then the location of the exam may be new to you.

Whatever your situation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the test location. Think about how you’re getting there. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a traffic jam on your way to an exam. It’s a good idea to do a practice run a few days before the exam to see how long the journey will take you. On the actual day of the exam make sure you allow some extra time for the journey “just in case”.

 

D you ready for the exam ?

You just remember that there is no magic formula guaranteeing exam success. Experts agree that only hard work, planning-and-starting early, preferably during the spring term, will maximise most people’s chances.

There are a few wily short cuts that can make a big difference – but the exact approach can only be determined by the person who is going to have to sit the GCSE, A-level or other exam.

The first and most basic point is to make a solid revision plan, says Dr Val Brooks, a specialist in educational assessment from Warwick University’s Institute of Education. “Research on undergraduates shows that those who have a working style based on breaking down tasks into small, manageable parts end up with better degrees,” she says.

Revision should never simply be seen as soaking up knowledge. Pupils should try to get involved in what they are studying – preferably by trying to marshal the topics they are revising.

Parents should not stop their children from revising with a friend, if they are explaining concepts to one another, she says. This can be one of the best ways to understand a complicated subject. Writing out plans for exam answers and doing timed exam questions are also important.

Anyone who is going to sit an exam needs to have as good a knowledge as possible of the marking scheme, according to Dr Brooks. Teachers should pass on to pupils details of specimen material from exam boards. These model answers help to show exactly what the difference is between an A star and a C grade, and show students just how much work they need to do.

It is generally better to have a series of intensive study periods followed by a short break. The length of time individuals can concentrate for varies, but Dr Brooks believes a 40-minute session followed by a 10-minute break and another session is a good way to start.

Writing down key points can help to build up a sort of index in a student’s memory that can unlock more detail once they have written down a few key words.

Dr Rosemary Stevenson, a researcher in learning at Durham University’s psychology department, says: “People who say they can’t revise are talking themselves out of it. Motivation is at the root of learning. That is why some people find it easier to learn than others, although how we learn is a very complicated subject.”

Some students, for example, like to use colour-coded charts, while others favour writing out notes. There is a lot of research on different learning styles, but no clear view about which technique is best. Colour coding, for example, may help students to learn facts, but it won’t help their understanding – which is the key to doing well.

Being organised is one of the most important skills any student can have. It is also the best defence against a panic attack during an exam.

If you start to panic, the best thing is to control your breathing by taking slow, deep breaths. After that, you should move on to another question before coming back to the difficult section later.

Students who are extremely anxious about exams should consider professional counselling. But for this to be successful, it is necessary to start during the spring term, because it usually takes several weeks to take effect.

George Turnbull, spokesman for the Associated Examining Board and author of the booklet How to do Better at Exams, advises students to be realistic and to start revising soon. “For most students, the hardest thing is getting started. It’s best to do about 10 minutes a night and build up to doing more revision later,” he says.

If parents try to intervene too strongly, they may end up turning revision into a battleground. The best way for mothers and fathers to help is by being supportive. During the final few hours before an exam, they should do everything to help students to feel relaxed.

And anyone taking GCSEs or A-levels, remember: history is littered with famous people who did not do well in exams.

First cereal and toast, then the work begins

It is 8am and the rain is lashing the classroom windows. Early- morning revision at Coundon Court School is about to begin.

The room smells strongly of toast. Around 20 16-year-olds are crunching their way through breakfast laid on by the Coventry comprehensive to fortify themselves for maths GCSE revision. Also on the menu is the Fibonacci Sequence and revising square numbers.

The school is unusually silent at this early hour and the pupils uncharacteristically quiet. Downstairs another group is revising science, refreshing their knowledge of photosynthesis.

Maths teacher Simon Ellis is in favour of the 8am slot. It is the best time to teach, he says, though he knows he is teaching the converted: the harder-working students.

Most revision-class pupils are aware that they have reached make-or-break time for their GCSEs and that a grade C in maths is vital. Vicky Vincent- Betts, 16, speaks for many: “The GCSE exams are not far away. They’re just nine weeks off and I’m quite worried about them.

“For the first couple of weeks it was quite hard to start school this early, but I’ve got used to it and I’ve saved time by cycling instead of walking.”

Matthew Jones, 15, doesn’t mind getting up at 7am. He knows he needs maths and it seems sensible to come in early one day a week if that made the difference between a C and a D.

Coundon Court runs the classes as part of a series of additional revision sessions that began two years ago. There are also lunchtime, after-school and holiday classes, though the early-morning sessions were only started this school year.

Teachers coming in early are given time off in lieu. The school is a technology college and has been given extra funding which helps to cover the cost of employing more part-time staff.

But the headteacher, David Kershaw, says the revision sessions would have gone ahead anyway because they are crucial to raising standards, particularly in helping students who might have got a grade D to achieve a C.

The school has an impressive record of improving GCSE grades. The percentage of pupils gaining five A-C grades has risen by a fifth over the past four years, to 58 per cent.

A guide to the guides

There is a huge range of guides to help students study for exams – in book form and on the television, and increasingly through multimedia. In addition, students are helping one another. Here are some aids:

n It is possible to buy a guide to revising GCSE physics written by sixth-formers at Manchester Grammar School, based on their own experiences.

n The Associated Examining Board and Barclays Bank have published a free booklet, How to do Better in Exams. To order, phone 0990 102222.

n Longman is one of a number of publishers producing traditional study guides. The guides, written by experienced examineers, cost pounds 9.99 and cover 21 GCSE subjects. Longman produces exam practice papers (pounds 4.99 each) and a CD-Rom covering English, maths and science (pounds 19.99).

n The BBC has produced a GCSE Bitesize package including books, television programmes and an Internet site. The package covers seven subjects, and the books cost pounds 4.99 or pounds 6.99. The TV programmes are designed to be recorded, and access to the Internet site is free.

n Manchester Grammar School’s physics revision guide costs pounds 6.95 and is on sale in Waterstone’s and Dillons bookshops.

In their own words …

Gareth Fowler,16, five GCSEs at C and above.

“Extra tuition in maths was critical for me. I got a lot of help on how to answer questions. I found exam technique a bit difficult. I also had help making sure I could understand things like Pythagoras’ theorem and trigonometry.”

Carl Hudson, 16, five GCSEs at C and above, A-levels in information technology and geography.

“I got extra tuition in maths and it raised my grade from a D to a C. I want to work as a computer technician, and I wouldn’t have had any hope of getting a job without it.”

Sukhbir Atwal, 17, English, history and media studies at A-level, says having extra help has improved his maths grade. “I was on for a C in maths and I could have just carried on, but I wanted to get a higher grade and going to a revision session helped me.”

Marie Hancocks, 16, English, history and geography A-levels: “I went to several revision sessions. They were a confidence- booster and gave me pointers about how to lay out answers.”

success stories

School: Sharnbrook Upper, Bedfordshire.

Claim to fame: Grant-maintained comprehensive with Ofsted award of excellence.

Passed/failed: 62 per cent of pupils gain five A to C grades at GCSE. Students come from what Ofsted called a ”slightly favoured” catchment area.

n Pupils advised to take half-hour breaks every two hours and then revise another subject. Staff say research has shown it is difficult to concentrate on revising the same subject for more than a couple of hours.

n Sixth-formers encouraged to talk to GCSE pupils, urging them to study.

n Parents are shown how to help their children revise.

TOP TIP

Fred Birkett, deputy headteacher: ”Preparing your revision properly can increase your mark by two grades. March is about as late as you can leave starting to revise”.

The school: Manchester Grammar

Claim to fame: Founded in 1515, it is the largest independent day school in Britain. It has a 100 per cent pass rate for gaining five A to C grades at GCSE.

How Much of Costs of Specialized Teaching

Division of labor has worked wonders for the production of clothing and computers. It doesn’t have the same transformational effect on productivity in teaching.

Teacher specialization, a model in which teachers specialize in certain subjects and teach them to a rotating group of students, has a negative effect on student scores, attendance, and behavior in an elementary school setting, according to a new working paper by Fryer, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Why? Specialization does have benefits: It gives teachers more time to prepare lessons and lets them teach subjects with which they are more comfortable. But specialization also has costs: It gives teachers fewer opportunities to tailor pedagogy to individual students and to follow through on behavior coaching.

For elementary school teachers, in-depth knowledge of specific subjects might not be as valuable as in-depth knowledge of individual students.

THE RESEARCH

Fryer’s study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, describes a two-year, randomized field experiment in grades three, four, and five at 50 traditional public schools in Houston. The study split the schools into two groups of 25; in one group schools maintained their original system of one teacher per class; in the other, principals reorganized the school day so that teachers taught one or two of their strongest subjects to multiple classes.

In the schools in that latter group, students stayed with the same class all day; only the teacher changed. Depending on how many teachers there were per grade, each taught either math, reading, science and social studies, math and science, or reading and social studies.

To gather data, Fryer compared students’ reading and math scores from the three years leading up to the experiment to scores in the two years of the experiment. The results, he writes, “are surprisingly inconsistent with the positive effects of division of labor typically known to economists.”

  • Students with multiple teachers scored, on average, slightly lower in both math and reading relative to students with one teacher. Special education students with more than one teacher did even worse, as did students taught by inexperienced teachers.
  • Specialization also negatively affected behavior and attendance.
  • A teacher survey revealed that teachers in those schools were significantly less likely to report that they provided tailored instruction for their students.

A DIFFERENT TYPE OF SPECIALIZATION

Why the negative effects? Fryer and his research team offer several possible reasons.

First of all, as Fryer writes, “Production of human capital is far more complex than assembling automobiles.” These results add to evidence that boosting student achievement has few simple fixes — particularly in a school district like Houston, in which 88 percent of students are black or Hispanic, about 30 percent have limited English proficiency, and about 80 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Teacher specialization also usually means that students move classrooms throughout the day (even if they stay with the same class of students), and these constant transitions can decrease instructional time.

Mostly, the findings suggest that teaching elementary school requires a different type of specialization than the one examined in this experiment. It seems that for a young child, it’s important to have a single teacher who knows that child well enough to customize teaching to his or her needs, who spends enough time with students to be able to understand and respond to their behavior, and who has few enough students to focus energy on building relationships with them.

How to pass examimantion and it’s easy simple way

unduhan (15)There’s more to life than books you know but not-much-more. If you are studying in school-or-college right now.

You probably identify quite strongly with that sentiment. You might feel your whole life revolves around exams, and no-sooner is one lot of study out of the way but you’re immediately pitched into another! If you take up a profession such as medicine or accountancy, the bad news is that exams continue well into your twenties. Fortunately, there are a few-things you can do to make the pain easier.

Photo: No-one much enjoys sitting exams. Make sure you’re prepared and you’ll stand a far better chance of success. Photo by Charles Oki courtesy of US Navy.

1. Ask the teacher

As far as you’re concerned, teachers probably have a single function: to help you pass your exams and either get a job or move on to the next stage of your education. Teachers themselves see things a little differently—don’t forget that they have to get hundreds of students through exams each year—but generally their aims are in tune with yours. Remember that your teacher is not your opponent or your nemesis: he or she is not out to frustrate you or irritate you. However it might seem at the time, teachers are always trying to help you. Take advantage of that help and you’ll never regret it. Ask for help whenever you need it: that’s what teachers are there for.

2. Beat the teacher

Having said that, as you’ll have discovered for yourself, there are many good teachers and quite a few bad ones. Most of your teachers care passionately about how well you do (even if they don’t let on) and one or two truly couldn’t care less what happens to you (especially if you don’t care very much yourself). The first top tip I have is not to rely on teachers to get you through your exams. Teachers will help you enormously, but ultimately it’s your job and yours alone. The older and more senior you get, the more you’ll find that teachers and lecturers put the responsibility of passing exams onto their students. What does that involve in practice? The first thing is to understand the curriculum or syllabus you’re studying and exactly what you’re expected to know about each subject. Ask your teacher to supply you with a copy of the curriculum you’re working to or look it up for yourself on the Web. (Note that different examining bodies may use slightly different curricula, so be sure to find the correct one.) Armed with this information, you will at least know what you need to know, even if you don’t know it. Got me?

 

3. Understand the marking scheme

Before you go anywhere near an examination, it’s vitally important to understand how the marks are allocated. You might find that 75 percent of the mark comes from the exam you sit at the end of the academic year, while the remainder is allocated by your teacher based on coursework or projects you do during the year itself. It’s very important you understand the marking scheme, whatever it is, right at the start. If 90 percent of your mark comes from coursework and you do that poorly all year, you can’t expect to save yourself at the last minute with a sudden good exam performance. Similarly, even if you’ve done brilliant coursework, if it counts for only 10 percent of your total mark, you still need a good performance in the exam. If you understand where your marks will come from, you can allocate your efforts accordingly.

4. Plan your revision

More than 20 years after I last sat an exam of any kind, I still get a recurring nightmare about not having started my revision in time! Chore though it is, you can never really spend too long revising. Teachers will tell you that it’s generally easier to spend a small amount of time each day revising over a long period than to try to cram in all your revision the night before your exam. But different strategies work for different people. Some people find concentrated revision suits them best. Some prefer to revise one subject entirely before proceeding with another topic; others prefer to alternate revision between different subjects. As you become proficient at exams, you should find a pattern that works for you. One good tip is to make revision a habit: treat it like a job and make yourself revise between certain set times of the day whether you feel like it or not. No-one ever feels like revising, but if you get into a routine where you always begin and end at the same time, you’ll find it a whole lot easier. Another good tip is to intersperse your revision with relaxing activities to stop your brain overloading. Go for walks, listen to music, hang out with friends, play sports—whatever you like— as long as you understand the distinction between break and distractions. Probably give reading books a miss until your revision is done, however.

5. Prioritize weak subjects

Aim to revise everything but devote more time to things you don’t understand or know less well. It sounds obvious, but it’s surprisingly hard to do. Why? Because we like doing easy things—so our tendency, when we revise, is to concentrate on the things we already know. If you’re not sure what your weaker subjects are, ask your teacher or look at the marks you’ve received on coursework through the year. Prioritizing weak subjects also goes back to understanding the marking scheme. Let’s suppose your examination involves you writing three essays. Most likely they will carry equal marks. Even if you know two subjects off by heart and get perfect marks, if you can’t write a third essay you risk losing up to a third of the marks. So weak subjects will have a disproportionate effect on your total mark, dragging your overall grade down much more. That’s why you should give weak subjects most focus.

Success In ACCA Exam

images (19)Here the tips to pass the exam of ACCa. it easy if you learn and effort about it.

1. Planning: Before you start to prepare for your next ACCA exams, take some time out to decide how you plan to prepare yourself for the examinations. Do not wait until the results of your previous examinations have arrived since by then you would have already wasted two precious months of the exam session.

When planning, consider for example the exams that you intend to undertake, the amount of time you have to prepare for the exams, your expected work routine, family commitments and so on. Try to draft a timetable based on the number of expected days you have for each paper you intend to appear in the ACCA examination.

When forming your own timetable try to be flexible and realistic. The most important thing however is to actually draft one since a written plan is more likely to secure your commitment and motivation early in the exam session than one that only exists in you mind.

2. Familiarity with Syllabus and Structure: Studying the syllabus of ACCA exams would help you to focus on just the examinable topics. Syllabus guide also details the depth at which a certain topic is examinable by referring to the ‘intellectual level’ of a particular topic. Guidance about intellectual levels referred to in the syllabus and how to use them can be found in the following article from Student Accountant:

http://www2.accaglobal.com/students/student_accountant/archive/2007/72/3256683

It is essential that you cover the entire range of topics given in the syllabus. You should also try to familiarize yourself with the exam structure early in the preparation.

3.Examiner’s Approach Interview: Examiner’s Approach Interviews available at ACCA Website give you first-hand insight into what examiners are looking for in answers provided by a student, which syllabus areas they consider to be most important and how they intend to approach the examinations in the future. They are therefore a must read for anyone intending to perform well in the ACCA exams.

Examiner Approach Interviews may be accessed from the following link:

http://www2.accaglobal.com/learningproviders/tuition_provider/interviews/

4. ACCA Approved Study Texts: You may wish to consult notes provided by your tuition providers or friends but you must always study at least one of ACCA’s approved study texts (latest versions) to be on the safe side. The approved study texts are thoroughly reviewed by ACCA for coverage of the entire syllabus and also for any revision incorporated after changes in the syllabus. Therefore, you will be taking a huge risk by relying solely on exam notes which may not be as comprehensive or up to date as the text books.

Studying Phase

5. Objective Oriented Approach: Try to set achievable targets for each day. The targets you set should be focused on factors that will actually help you to succeed in ACCA exams (e.g. to cover a chapter or syllabus area in one day, to attempt a past paper, etc). Setting targets based on for example number of hours may not be as effective.

6. Concepts: Always try to understand the underlying concepts behind a given topic. While you may be able to earn some marks for pure knowledge (particularly in the Knowledge Module), most number of marks in ACCA exams are for application of your concepts in a given scenario. Building your concepts right from the beginning in your ACCA studies will help you further down the road as you build upon those foundations in the more advanced papers.

7. Seek Help: If you are struggling with a particular topic, do not be embarrassed in asking your teacher or a friend to help you. Get help immediately and avoid letting things to pile up until it is too late.

Practicing Phase

8. Past Papers Practice: Extensive past paper practice under exam conditions is essential to improve time management, concept building and stress management during the exam. Nothing hurts your chances to pass more than unanswered questions because of lack of time. Always time your practice questions and although it might be very tempting, never peek at the answers before you have finished! Simulating exam conditions during past paper practice will not only help you in keeping track of time during the exam, it will also assist you in managing stress.

ACCA students are extremely lucky to have Model Answers to past paper questions from the examiners themselves. It is very helpful and vital resource for students as it provides them insight into how an answer may be ideally structured and drafted.

However, care must be taken when studying the suggested answers. Firstly, the answers may only reflect the syllabus, laws and standards in place at the time of the respective examination. Exam kits from ACCA approved publishers may be more appropriate for practice of subjects that are constantly evolving such as Financial Reporting and Taxation. Secondly, do not waste time memorizing chunks of the model answers since they have been provided for the purpose of guidance only. Examiner cannot possibly expect a student to produce an answer of such caliber and depth under exam conditions. However, you should try to learn the general content, logic, flow, style and structure of the model answers and try to reproduce those qualities in exam.

9. Examiner Reports: Examiner Reports are published on ACCA Global Website after every exam sitting highlighting the common mistakes and problem areas encountered by students. It is surprising how few students actually make use of this resource. A careful read of the examiner reports could assist you a lot in improving your exam technique especially in case you have been stuck with a paper for quite some time now and have not been able to figure out the cause of failure yet (or have been attributing it to bad luck!).

10. Marking Schemes: Marking schemes can help you in judging the number of distinct points that you need to mention in respect of a given question and the depth of your answer. Studying marking scheme when practicing past paper questions can assist you in understanding the relative marking for different types of question requirements. A typical marking scheme for example would allocate one mark per point for a basic question requirement such as ‘list’, ‘identify’ or ‘define’. More than one mark per point is usually reserved for question requirements that require students to demonstrate a higher capability such as ‘explain’, ‘compare’, ‘distinguish’, ‘analyze’ and so on. An awareness of the likely basis of how your answer will be marked by the examiner can guide you in writing the right number of points in your answers and in appropriate detail instead of focusing on just one or two main points. So for example, if a 10 mark question asks you to ‘list’ certain factors, it would be safe to assume that a brief list of ten, short and punchy, points can secure most marks on offer. If however a question requires you to ‘explain’, it would be better to provide five points with a bit more detail.

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