Middle School: The New High School for Moms

(CNN) If you had to guess what are the most difficult years for a mother, what might you say?

Infancy? Sure, dealing with a newborn is beyond stressful, as you try to figure out how to care for an infant and adjust to a new role all on zero sleep. It would be no surprise if those years were the most taxing. But I — and probably many of you reading this — would guess adolescence, namely the high school years, which I might add I am already dreading.

But it turns out the most stressful time for moms is middle school, at least according to a new study by Arizona State University researchers published in the January issue of Developmental Psychology.

Suniya Luthar is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

“I was a little taken aback to see that apparently preadolescence is the new adolescence or junior high school or middle school is the new high school,” said Suniya Luthar, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

The study involved analyzing surveys from more than 2,200 well-educated moms across the country (more than 80% had a college or graduate degree), with children ranging in age from infant to adult. Researchers then compared how mothers who only have children in one age group (infant, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school and adult) rated their feelings about their lives.

Across the board, mothers of only middle-school-age children reported the highest levels of stress, loneliness and emptiness, and also the lowest levels of life satisfaction and fulfillment. Mothers of infants and adults were found to be the most satisfied, Luthar said.

This probably shouldn’t be a surprise. Think about what’s happening to children in middle school: raging hormones, changing bodies and brains, exposure to peer pressure and risky behaviors like experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and a clash between a desire to be independent, but still feeling dependent on Mom and Dad.

“You see this person who is almost but not quite grown-up physically, saying at one moment, ‘Leave me alone. I’ve got this figured out. Let me do it my way,’ or ‘Don’t ask me questions,’ and so on, and on the other hand, they (are) crushed in tears, and looking to you for comfort just like a child. They might cry like the children they used to be, but being able to actually comfort them is nowhere near as easy,” said Luthar, who is also professor emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

‘IT’S LIKE I WOKE UP WITH AN ALIEN’

What makes this so hard for parents is that the changes often happen so quickly, said Cynthia Tobias, co-author of the book “Middle School: The Inside Story: What Kids Tell Us, But Don’t Tell You.” which involved interviews with hundreds of middle school students across the country.

“For a lot of parents, it’s just almost overnight. You hear a lot of times, they’ll say, ‘It’s like I woke up with an alien this morning. Yesterday I had a child who loved to snuggle. Today I have a kid who can’t even stand to be around me,’ ” said Tobias.

The biggest conflicts come when parents don’t realize their children are starting to see themselves as young adults and don’t respond accordingly, said Sue Acuña, who co-wrote “Middle School: The Inside Story” with Tobias, and who has been teaching middle school for more than 20 years.

“When the parents try to treat them as if they’re still 8 or 9 years old, there’s pushback … and that catches the parents off guard and then sometimes they panic, ‘Oh no. This is what I’ve always feared in adolescence,’ and they come down harder instead of softer,” said Acuña, who also writes a blog on middle school.

Michelle Icard has been working with middle school children and teachers for over 10 years and developed a special middle school curriculum targeting boys and one targeting girls that is used at schools around the country.

Michelle Icard is author of "Middle School Makeover."

“I see these moms … you can read it on their face,” said Icard, who is also author of “Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years.” “They’re highly stressed. They’re nervous. They don’t know what to do.”

Icard said parents would benefit by knowing the facts about middle school, how children are going through what she calls “the middle school construction project” as they start to develop a new body, new brain and new identity around age 11.

“If you know that, for example, your kid has to create an identity apart from you when they are in middle school so that they can form healthy relationships with people in the future, it makes it a little easier to bear so it’s not for nothing that your kid is separating and relying on their peers. That’s how they figure out their way in the world,” said Icard, founder of the blog Michelle in the Middle.

At the same time our children are going through this “perfect storm” of changes, said Icard, many moms are kind of going through “a middle age construction project.”

For moms who chose to stay at home during the elementary school years, this might be the time when they consider going back into the work force, which can be stressful. Mothers are also adjusting to getting older themselves and feeling a bit superfluous, no longer being the center of their child’s lives. Some research also shows that marital satisfaction is lower during the teenage years versus the years after a child is born.

For all these reasons, Icard suggested moms make sure they have a passion, hobby or something that they enjoy for themselves when their children are in middle school. “You’ll be modeling good self-care for your kid and when things get really tumultuous and they’re illogical and they’re unpredictable, you have something to dive into that makes you happy and that does a lot for stress reduction.”

THE ‘BOTOX BROW’

What parents might not realize is that their children may act like they don’t want a relationship with them during the middle school years but they really do, said Tobias and Acuña, who heard over and over again from children who wanted their parents to be involved in their lives.

Cynthia Tobias (left) and Sue Acuña, co-authors of "Middle School: The Inside Story"

The quandary is that on the one hand, kids will say their mom is always asking them questions such as who are they texting, but on the other hand, they’ll say their mom never wants to know what’s going on in their lives and never listens, said Acuña.

“I say to them, ‘Well, do you want your parents asking questions or not?’ ” she said. Their reply? “Well, they just have to know when it’s a good time to ask a question.”

I can hear mothers of middle school children screaming at this very moment: How are we supposed to know when it’s a good time to ask a question?

Acuña, who has three sons, all now in their 20s, described how she would find one of her sons during the middle school years slumped in his bedroom with the door open. She’d walk by and ask if he was OK. Then she’d say, “Is this where I’m supposed to be concerned parent and talk to you or is there where I’m supposed to give you your space?”

Her son would usually say he was alright, but then as soon as she started to walk away, he’d say something like, “It’s just that I don’t understand why people act the way they do,” she said. That was her cue to slink back into his room, sit on the floor and be prepared to listen.

Icard, who has an eighth-grader and a sophomore in high school, said mothers should learn how to listen and become more neutral in their responses by adopting what she called a “Botox brow.”

“I say to parents. You don’t actually have to get Botox. … but you have to have that look like your brow doesn’t wrinkle,” she said.

“Studies show that kids cannot read facial expressions and their default is thinking you’re angry when you’re not,” she said. “So adopt a ‘Botox brow’ and have a really neutral face when you’re talking to your kid. You’ll be surprised how much your kid opens up to you and starts coming to talk to you more.”

Middle-schoolers often feel their parents don’t take them seriously and sometimes we, as parents, don’t, said Tobias, who along with Acuña put together free guides for parents, including “The No-No List” for talking to kids in middle school.

“We’ll catch ourselves saying, ‘Oh for heaven’s sake, wait until you’re old enough and you have to pay a mortgage and then you’re going to think it’s no big deal,’ but to them, their whole world right now is middle school so they can’t even think in terms of what we’re talking to them about sometimes,” said Tobias, who taught high school for eight years and has written 13 books about learning styles and strong-willed children. “So I think they just want a little chance to be heard. They want to be understood and listened to and they want to make sure that we do take them seriously.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT GIVING UP

Acuña, who teaches eighth grade, said parents should also realize other communication mistakes they often make with their middle-schoolers, such as interrupting them or finishing their stories. Think how you would feel if someone did that to you as an adult, she said. That is how a child will feel.

The most successful kids, she said, in her experience, are the kids who feel their parents have their back no matter what and that even if they mess up, their parents will be supportive.

She described her parent-teacher conferences, which are led by the student presenting his or her work to the parent. “The successful kids, they’ll tell their parents, ‘Yes, I messed up here. This is what I’m going to do to work on it’ and their parents are very supportive,” she said. “The anxious kids are the ones who when they say to their parents, ‘Well, here’s a test I didn’t do well on,’ the parents go off on them. … The parents are upset and critical and (say), ‘Well you are going to be grounded for that.’ These are the kids who are afraid to take risks because they don’t feel that their parents will support them.”

Figuring out how to talk to your tween or teen and how involved to be could make even the most relaxed parent a tad crazy, but the bottom line from the middle school experts I talked with is that parents should do everything in their power to resist the urge to toss up their hands and give up.

“The parents have this tendency to just (say), ‘Fine. You don’t want to talk. Just don’t talk,’ and walk away,” said Tobias, who has twin 24-year-old sons. “But the kids themselves, they told us over and over, ‘We do want to keep a relationship with our parents. There’s so much going on we just can’t do it. We hope that they don’t walk away.’ “

Middle school is not a time to “tread water and wait out until they go through it,” said Acuña. “It’s not just a phase they’re going through. There are some key things happening and it’s a really important time to develop a relationship that will carry you through the teen years and into young adulthood.”

Luthar, the researcher and psychology professor who has two kids of her own, ages 21 and 25, agreed and also urged mothers to reach out to other moms of middle-schoolers for support.

“If ever there were truth to the saying, ‘It takes a village,’ it’s now,” she said. “It’s not it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to raise a preteen.”

Why do you think middle school is the most stressful time for mothers? Share your thoughts withKelly Wallace on Twitter @kellywallacetv or CNN Health on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off

The New York Times
Adam Grant Adam Grant JAN. 30, 2016

THEY learn to read at age 2, play Bach at 4, breeze through calculus at 6, and speak foreign languages fluently by 8. Their classmates shudder with envy; their parents rejoice at winning the lottery. But to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, their careers tend to end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Consider the nation’s most prestigious award for scientifically gifted high school students, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, called the Super Bowl of science by one American president. From its inception in 1942 until 1994, the search recognized more than 2000 precocious teenagers as finalists. But just 1 percent ended up making the National Academy of Sciences, and just eight have won Nobel Prizes. For every Lisa Randall who revolutionizes theoretical physics, there are many dozens who fall far short of their potential.

Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee.

What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.

The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Research suggests that the most creative children are the least likely to become the teacher’s pet, and in response, many learn to keep their original ideas to themselves. In the language of the critic William Deresiewicz, they become the excellent sheep.

In adulthood, many prodigies become experts in their fields and leaders in their organizations. Yet “only a fraction of gifted children eventually become revolutionary adult creators,” laments the psychologist Ellen Winner. “Those who do must make a painful transition” to an adult who “ultimately remakes a domain.”

Most prodigies never make that leap. They apply their extraordinary abilities by shining in their jobs without making waves. They become doctors who heal their patients without fighting to fix the broken medical system or lawyers who defend clients on unfair charges but do not try to transform the laws themselves.

So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule.

 

Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules,” the Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports.

Even then, though, parents didn’t shove their values down their children’s throats. When psychologists compared America’s most creative architects with a group of highly skilled but unoriginal peers, there was something unique about the parents of the creative architects: “Emphasis was placed on the development of one’s own ethical code.”

Yes, parents encouraged their children to pursue excellence and success — but they also encouraged them to find “joy in work.” Their children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that set them up to flourish as creative adults.

When the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a study of the early roots of world-class musicians, artists, athletes and scientists, he learned that their parents didn’t dream of raising superstar kids. They weren’t drill sergeants or slave drivers. They responded to the intrinsic motivation of their children. When their children showed interest and enthusiasm in a skill, the parents supported them.

Top concert pianists didn’t have elite teachers from the time they could walk; their first lessons came from instructors who happened to live nearby and made learning fun. Mozart showed interest in music before taking lessons, not the other way around. Mary Lou Williams learned to play the piano on her own; Itzhak Perlman began teaching himself the violin after being rejected from music school.

Even the best athletes didn’t start out any better than their peers. When Dr. Bloom’s team interviewed tennis players who were ranked in the top 10 in the world, they were not, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, doing push-ups since they were a fetus. Few of them faced intense pressure to perfect the game as Andre Agassi did. A majority of the tennis stars remembered one thing about their first coaches: They made tennis enjoyable.
SINCE Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000-hour rule” suggesting that success depends on the time we spend in deliberate practice, debate has raged about how the hours necessary to become an expert vary by field and person. In arguing about that, we’ve overlooked two questions that matter just as much.

First, can’t practice itself blind us to ways to improve our area of study? Research reveals that the more we practice, the more we become entrenched — trapped in familiar ways of thinking. Expert bridge players struggled more than novices to adapt when the rules were changed; expert accountants were worse than novices at applying a new tax law.

Second, what motivates people to practice a skill for thousands of hours? The most reliable answer is passion — discovered through natural curiosity or nurtured through early enjoyable experiences with an activity or many activities.

 

Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things. Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.
No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It’s a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition,” Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn’t intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart’s sonatas. “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty,” he said.

Hear that, Tiger Moms and Lombardi Dads? You can’t program a child to become creative. Try to engineer a certain kind of success, and the best you’ll get is an ambitious robot. If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours.

Adam Grant is a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a contributing opinion writer. This essay is adapted from his new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

Want Your Kids To Do Better In Math? Have Them Trace Math Problems With A Finger

By Angela Laguipo, Tech Times | January 31, 2016

Not all kids are fond of math, and for them, solving math problems can be a tedious task. A new study suggests that students who trace certain math problems using their fingers are able to solve them more quickly and easily.

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that students who used a technique called finger tracing were able to solve math problems with more ease than others.

The researchers said that students who used their fingers to trace over examples while at the same time reading arithmetic and geometry material were able to perform better by completing tasks more easily and quickly than those who did not apply the technique.

Tracing involves using the index finger to physically trace and touch the angles of a triangle in geometry, for example. The research team believes this may help reduce the load on working memory and enhance the ability to retain complex information.

“Our findings have a range of implications for teachers and students alike. They show math learning by young students may be enhanced substantially with the simple addition of instructions to finger-trace elements of math problems,”says corresponding author Dr. Paul Ginns.

In the study published in the journal Learning and Instruction and Applied Cognitive Psychology, the researchers recruited 275 children from ages 9 to 13 years old. They discovered that tracing over math elements while reading them enhanced the children’s understanding of problems in algebra and geometry. Previous studies have also confirmed that finger tracing helps kids recognize shapes and letters.

Dr. Ginns says this simple and zero-cost teaching technique can help teachers assist students by giving them specific instructions to “trace over” important elements in mathematical textbooks.

The researchers are now looking for more ways to use the technique on more complex and harder math problems that require higher levels of cognitive ability.

They add that they are confident that the new technique can be used in the classroom setting and even in subjects other than math. Further research is needed to explore the technique.

The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

World Economic Forum

Image: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Written by
Alex Gray, Senior Writer, Formative Content
Tuesday 19 January 2016

Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.

 

By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics.

 

These developments will transform the way we live, and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. What is certain is that the future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace.

 

A new Forum report, The Future of Jobs, looks at the employment, skills and workforce strategy for the future.

 

The report asked chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global employers what the current shifts mean, specifically for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.


What skills will change most?

Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes.

 

Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).

 

Whereas negotiation and flexibility are high on the list of skills for 2015, in 2020 they will begin to drop from the top 10 as machines, using masses of data, begin to make our decisions for us.

 

A survey done by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society shows people expect artificial intelligence machines to be part of a company’s board of directors by 2026.

 

Similarly, active listening, considered a core skill today, will disappear completely from the top 10. Emotional intelligence, which doesn’t feature in the top 10 today, will become one of the top skills needed by all.

 

Disruption in industry

The nature of the change will depend very much on the industry itself. Global media and entertainment, for example, has already seen a great deal of change in the past five years.

The financial services and investment sector, however, has yet to be radically transformed. Those working in sales and manufacturing will need new skills, such as technological literacy.

 

Some advances are ahead of others. Mobile internet and cloud technology are already impacting the way we work. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing and advanced materials are still in their early stages of use, but the pace of change will be fast.

 

Change won’t wait for us: business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining people so everyone can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

The Annual Meeting is taking place in Davos from 20 to 23 January, under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding

Edutopia

Whether it’s an app or a piece of paper, exit tickets are quick, ungraded assessments of how you’re teaching and what students need from you next.

Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding (Transcript)

Erin: There’s been a wonderful real-time change in the way we’re able to adapt to student needs.

Marguerite: What formative assessment am I using daily, so that I can measure whether or not in that class period, kids are learning the material? A good Exit Ticket can tell whether or not a kid has a superficial understanding of the information, or has some depth of understanding. And then the next day the teacher can differentiate their lesson based on student needs. An Exit Ticket is a formative assessment linked to the objective of the lessons.

Shannon: Typically they’re short, just a few questions and they’re focused on one particular skill. And we design them ourselves. They’re just what I want to know if the students mastered that day in the classroom. It can also be used to kind of anticipate something that you might be working on for the next day’s lesson. Do they already know it, or do they know parts of it? Where can you kind of start your lesson?

Marguerite: Some teachers use Poll Anywhere. Some teachers utilize a Google form where kids can enter in their information. Then that Google form will then organize the data for the teacher into an Excel spreadsheet. And some teachers just use paper and pencil.

Shannon: First thing, what’s our number one Exit Ticket? I just want to know, key points. What are the best things that your group came up with? Your Connections, so historically, a current events connection. A connection you made to–

Shannon: I just wanted to see where each group kind of really got to in their discussion in terms of depth. It lets me see which group, if they’re not reaching that level, for example, that I should spend a lot more time talking with them and helping them to develop that, and which groups are working really well independently.

Erin: We use the digital Exit Tickets, weekly or daily depending on the unit.

Shannon: And we purposefully use one, so every ninth grade student, we have that data.

Erin: We teach the same course, and we co-plan every single day’s lesson together. And that gives us a real opportunity to discuss what our data is showing, and what do we need to change? We can use Exit Tickets to focus in on just understanding one small concept. For instance, today’s Exit Ticket asked them to identify what elements were in Persuasion, what elements were in Argument. And then we gave them examples of Pathos, Ethos and Logos. They had to identify which of those elements were the most prominent. So that gave us an idea of whether or not they could differentiate between the three.

Shannon: So let’s talk through our unit, first let’s do Persuasion first.

Erin: A lot of them understand that Logos belongs with Argument, but they’re also lumping in additional elements. And I’m definitely seeing that the entire group needs to review differences between Argument and Persuasion.

Erin: Argument has Logos only. Today, you’re going to be using Logos, Pathos and Ethos for Persuasion. And it’s important just so you know there’s a different between them.

Erin: About Persuasion, I think that’s where we’re going to be able to pull out the students that need just a little bit more reteaching.

Shannon: So clearly like the text isn’t working for them, so let’s do that same visual thing.

Erin: I think advertisements that they’re already familiar with, so that they have a place of prior knowledge and context.

Erin: Logos, Pathos or Ethos? We’re looking at this beautiful advertisement of Superman. What is the most prominent persuasive element you see here?

Shannon: Let’s have our higher level groups, since they’ve demonstrated through this Exit Ticket that they can definitely identify those three things in what they’re reading. Let’s move them up to Author’s Purpose.

Erin: People on the computers in the back, you’ll be watching a video, and writing a one-paragraph response. You’ll turn it in at the end of the class.

Marguerite: When you look around the room, you would think they’re all working on the same activity, but in actuality, it’s at different levels.

Trace: They’ll sit down with you, they’ll help you learn the material, to make sure you get the full grasp of what we’re learning in that class.

Shannon: Using data driven instruction in the classroom in the form of Exit Ticket, really allows a teacher to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses as they’re walking into your classroom every day. There’s no one who’s falling through the cracks.

Overview

Exit Tickets: Checking for Understanding

Exit tickets are a formative assessment tool that give teachers a way to assess how well students understand the material they are learning in class. This tool can be used daily or weekly, depending on the unit being taught. A good exit ticket can tell whether students have a superficial or in-depth understanding of the material. Teachers can then use this data for adapting instruction to meet students’ needs the very next day.

How It’s Done

Teachers typically use exit tickets to assess what students have understood from the day’s lesson. Exit tickets are not a test, but a way to understand students’ comprehension of a particular topic. With this information, teachers can adjust instruction and plan how to best meet student needs by modifying and differentiating instruction. Exit tickets allow teachers to see where the gaps in knowledge are, what they need to fix, what students have mastered, and what can be enriched in the classroom.

Designing An Exit Ticket

Teachers design their own exit tickets. A good exit ticket is linked to the objective of the lesson, focusing on one particular skill or concept that students should have understood that day. Exit tickets can pose questions that are multiple choice, short answer, or even a couple of sentences in response to a question. Three to five questions make for a good exit ticket, and students should be able to complete the whole thing in just a few minutes at the end of a class period.

Exit tickets are only as good as how they are designed. It may take a little practice to get your questions precise enough for students to give you the information you need. General questions (“Do you understand?”, “Yes or no?”, etc.) don’t really give the information that will help you work with your students. Exit tickets with questions that assess understanding, apply the concept, or demonstrate the concept work best.

Technology offers an easy way to work with exit tickets, using Poll Everywhere or Google Forms. Students can easily use their tablet, smart phone, or computer to fill out exit tickets, and these apps can immediately compile the information for teachers. The first time you organize your class roster into these apps will require a bit of set-up, but once completed, you’ll have an easy recourse to manage your data. Paper and pencil are a great option, too. This requires more teacher effort to compile responses, but still gives you the benefit of knowing where you students stand in relation to the material.

Spend some time designing an exit ticket the day before you teach. Upload the form and set it up in Google Drive for students to access, or print out the copies if it’s pencil and paper.

How Often and When?

Some teachers use exit tickets daily, while others use them only once or twice a week, depending on the unit. Exit tickets are given at the end of a class period, and should only take a few minutes for students to complete. Remember to set up an exit ticket by letting students know it’s not graded and not a test or a quiz, just a reflection of what they understood that day.

Compiling Data

After students submit their exit tickets, a teacher will have to compile and “read” the data results. If you’ve used a Google form, the information can be uploaded to Google Drive to automatically create an Excel spreadsheet. If you’ve used pencil and paper, it will take a few minutes to organize and compile your data in a way that gives you an overall picture of your classroom.

Using Data to Differentiate Instruction

Exit ticket results help teachers differentiate instruction:

  • How did the group of students do overall?
  • How many kids really understand the purpose of what you’re doing in class and can move forward with it?
  • For those who can’t, how will you change your lesson plans that night so that you can meet your students’ needs the next day?

Exit tickets allow you to use your data to identify student strengths and weaknesses, and then plan for the next day’s instruction. Perhaps one group will get more direct instruction around the basic concept, while another group will work independently. Perhaps only one or two students need some additional help, and you’ll plan accordingly. The key to differentiation is that you have high expectations for all students and a clear objective. If you know what you want students to master, differentiation allows you to use different strategies to help all the students get there.

Other Uses for Exit Tickets

Exit tickets could also be used to preview what students know about topics that the class hasn’t even discussed yet. It can give a teacher some information about where to start his or her lesson on a new topic the next day.

Sometimes teachers also use entrance tickets, which are given at the beginning of a class period. You start off with two questions assessing what students know from the previous day’s lesson. And right away, you understand from these questions how you need to start today’s lesson. Entrance tickets help you answer this question: “What do I need to do differently right now in order to meet the needs of my kids?”

Resources

11-Year-Old ‘Sick of Reading About White Boys and Dogs’ Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks

11-Year-Old 'Sick of Reading About White Boys and Dogs' Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks12

Marley Dias is an 11-year-old New Jersey resident who’s spent more time giving back to her community in her brief time on this planet than most of us will spend in a lifetime. She’s received a grant from Disney, traveled to Ghana to help feed orphans, and now—in her latest act of altruism—she’s rounding up children’s books that feature black female leads so that she and her peers have more fictional characters to look up to.

The project, titled #1000BlackGirlBooks, started when Marley complained to her mother about reading too many books about white male protagonists in school.

From the Philly Voice:

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”

Marley is looking to collect 1000 books featuring black female protagonists by February 1. She is nearly halfway to her goal.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Marley says. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects—and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

“For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them—to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have,” Marley’s mother, Janice Johnson Dias, tells thePhilly Voice.

Marley, who hopes to one day edit her own magazine and “continue social action” for the rest of her life, will catalog the donated books and transport them to a children’s book drive in Jamaica. She and her mother are also trying to start a small library in Philadelphia.

A fundraising website describes Marley’s project thusly:

Frustrated by the lack of books about black girls in her school curriculum, Marley Dias launched this campaign to collect 1000 books where black girls are the main characters. The #1000blackgirlbooks project is her BAM social action project for 2016. Books will be donated to Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica where her mother and GrassROOTS’ President, Dr. Johnson Dias, was raised as a child.

She is currently taking both cash and book donations. Books can be sent to the following address:

GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052

Keep up the good work, young shero.

Teaching Math With Modular Origami

Scholastic.com

By Alycia Zimmerman on January 22, 2016

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to attend a workshop by Rachel McAnallen (aka Ms. Math) about teaching geometry with a fun and tactile method: origami! Since then, introducing my students to modular geometric origami is one of my favorite teaching moments each year. Origami math gives my tactile and spatially gifted students a chance to shine, it helps students with sequencing and direction following, and it’s a fun way to introduce a wide range of geometry terms and concepts.

I had NEVER created origami before the abovementioned two-hour workshop. You absolutely do not need to be a talented origami artist to pull off these lessons with your students. With the straight-forward tips below and a few minutes of practice, you’ll be ready to guide your students through an origami math experience that will have them clamoring for more. (That’s when you can hand them an origami book and challenge them to figure it out!)

 

I was bursting with pride upon making my first “skeletal octahedron.” Students feel a similar sense of accomplishment when completing their origami structures.

 

What is Modular Origami?

Modular origami is the fancy name for geometric origami that is made up of many repeating “units” that are then assembled to create a more complex geometric form. Unlike traditional origami that uses a single sheet of paper to fold a figure, modular origami uses many sheets of paper that are folded into basic modules or units. Once you learn how to make the basic unit for a design, you repeat the process to make enough copies of the unit to assemble your final form. (For a look at some modular origami projects, check out my Pinterest board.)

Although the process of making the units is repetitive, I find that many students enjoy it as a calming, almost meditative process. I often introduce this activity right before standardized tests, because the repetitive folding soothes some students and gives them a purposeful active for jittery hands. I always have a few students who find folding the units to be a chore. I team these students up to divide and conquer the unit folding work and then assemble a joint final product. I’ve had so many students become nearly obsessed with folding units — they bring origami paper to lunch and recess (especially on rainy days) to get in extra folding time.

A student shows off his first modular origami creations: sonobe cubes. (See the video tutorial below to make these simple cubes.)

 

What Supplies Will We Need?

I buy very inexpensive origami paper for my students since we go through a fair amount of it, like this 500-sheet pack of 6”x6” paper. I keep a pack or two of fancier paper on hand for special projects that individual students tackle. Colored copier paper cut into squares also works well.

The only other supplies you’ll need are a Popsicle stick and a Ziploc bag for each student. The students use the Popsicle sticks to press “crispy creases” into the paper, and the bag to hold all of their units before they assemble the modules into the final design.

 

How Do I Incorporate Math Into Origami?

The math comes entirely through the discussion as you guide the students through making a module/unit. I sit all of my students down and VERY slowly go through the stepwise process of making the first module for a design. I model the process using the document camera, and I have a couple of student experts circulate to help other students who get stuck. (I pre-teach the folding process to these student experts so they are available to be my assistants.)

Before, during and after each fold, we discuss the shapes that we are pressing into the paper, we classify the angles, and I invite the students to name each step to help them remember the sequence of paper folding. This way, students can remember that “the large trapezoid comes after the double horizontal rectangle step.” By folding while discussing geometry, students are also more likely to memorize vocabulary-heavy geometry; they create kinesthetic associations to go along with the geometry terms.

Two of my student experts show off their icosahedrons. Empowering these guys to assist their peers not only helps to build their confidence, it also means that struggling students get timely hands-on support.

 

How Do I Get Started With Modular Origami?

The sonobe cube uses a very simple modular origami unit: the aptly named Sonobe unit. As a cube with six faces, this design requires six units. That makes for a pretty short project. Students can get the feel for modular origami without having to create dozens of units for a single project. And Sonobe cubes are so much fun to assemble! You can find plenty of online tutorials about the Sonobe cube, or follow along with my video below. Plus, once your students have mastered the Sonobe cube, they can use the same units to make octahedrons and icosahedrons.

 

What Do We Do After Our First Project?

After you teach your students how to make the Sonobe cube (and possibly the other Sonobe shapes), you might like to help them through one other project. An octagon-star is another favorite because it is a transforming shape — the final design transforms from a star to an octagon and back. For the second project, I provide written directions, but I still walk them through the process step by step. I have the students refer to the written directions (and diagrams) so they can learn to follow origami directions independently.

Students who caught the modular origami bug will be so motivated after learning the first two projects, that they will likely want to figure out other origami designs. I provide a basket of modular origami books and printouts that they can peruse to choose other projects. At that point I step back and let my students become the expert origami crafters — their skills soon surpass my basic ones, and I am very happy to take on the role of appreciative spectator.

  

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