Stories tagged school


This year the Saint Paul Public School District has changed the school year system from semesters to quarters. Some students have difficulties adjusting to this change and some actually like it this way. Some positive things about this change are that, you get more electives, so it’s really good for seniors who are behind in credits, and to have the chance to try new quarter classes that you couldn’t before.The negative thing about this are teachers are rushed in lesson plans, plus credit requirements are higher this year and students are also rushed in school work assignments. So we need your opinion in the following poll to determine whether quarters are best or semesters.


Does the wrong kind of praise discourage schoolchildren?: Photo courtesy of Community Consolidated School District 15, Chicago, and NIST

All parents face the challenge of motivating their children to do well at school. Many tell their kids how smart they are to encourage them. But now comes a study showing that too much praise can be a bad thing:

The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”


Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice... was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.

A second round of tests actually showed that students praised for their intelligence did worse on later tests than students praised for their efforts.

The lead researcher explains the phenomenon:

“Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control. ... They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

Of course, a lot of this was explained by John Holt in his 1964 classic How Children Fail. But it's always good to get a reminder.

Elementary School Tools is a site for sharing ideas and lesson plans. It is really new but the community is growing. As of today, I see eleven Halloween themed activity ideas.