Posts Tagged ‘Grades’

Six Tips For a Happy Classroom

January 6, 2012

These valuable tips come from Professor Dylan William, the inspiration behind the BBC2 series ‘The Classroom Experiment’.

* Stop students putting their hands up to ask questions – it’s the same ones doing it all the time. Instead introduce a random method of choosing which pupil answers the question, such as lollipop sticks, and thus engage the whole class.

* Use traffic-light cups in order to assess quickly and easily how much your students understand your lesson. If several desks are displaying a red cup, gather all those students around to help them at the same time.

* Mini-whiteboards, on which the whole class simultaneously writes down the answer to a question, are a quick way of gauging whether the class as a whole is getting your lesson. This method also satisfies the high-achievers who would normally stick their hands up.

* A short burst of physical exercise at the start of the school day will do wonders for students’ alertness and motivation. As any gym addict or jogger will tell you, it’s all about the chemicals released into the brain.

* Ditch the obsession with grades, so that pupils can concentrate instead on the comments that the teacher has written on written classwork.

* Allow students to assess the teachers’ teaching – they are the ones at the sharp end, after all. Letting pupils have a say is empowering and, if handled constructively, is highly enlightening.

I particularly like tip 5. We have become far too obsessed with grades. Comments from the teacher are a much better way of helping children achieve.

What ideas have you put into place that have improved the atmosphere of your classroom?


Award Slim Kids Higher Marks: Dukan

January 4, 2012

It is disgusting how some sections of society treat overweight kids. As if the stigma of being overweight in a “body beautiful” obsessed world isn’t hard enough. I am sick to death of reading negative ideas when trying to solve childhood obesity. The latest negative idea, which seeks to reward slim kids by giving them extra marks for no other reason than their body mass index readings, not only compromises the fairness of the exam process but makes children already suffering from feeling neglected and judged, feel like dirt.

Pierre Dukan, the nutritionist behind the popular but controversial Dukan diet, has suggested that France tackle child obesity by giving extra exam marks for slimness.

Dukan, who has sold 8 million copies of his diet book worldwide, made the proposal in a 250-page book called ‘An Open Letter to the Future President’, which he sent out on Tuesday to 16 candidates for France’s presidential election.

The plan calls for high school students to be allowed to take a so-called “ideal weight” option in their final year exams, the “baccalaureat”, under which they would earn extra points if they kept a body mass index (BMI) of between 18 and 25.

Those already overweight at the start of the two-year course would score double points if they managed to slim down over a period of two years.

“It’s a fantastic motivator,” Dukan told Reuters.

When we even consider adopting methods like Dukan’s we do a monumental disservice to kids struggling with their weight. These kids are often well-mannered, generous, talented and caring individuals. These are traits we should be focussing on, not weight! You will never see a suggestion that caring, empathetic, selfless and considerate kids get extra marks. These qualities pale into insignificance compared to a person’s weight.

When we employ negative inducements to entice children to lose weight, we not only make it harder for them to succeed but we also make them feel not good enough.

My view (as espoused in my novel) is that whilst I hope our overweight children are successful in losing their excess kilos, either way, let’s not let weight distract us from the qualities and unique characteristics of the person.

Whilst childhood obesity isn’t ideal, ignoring who the child is and concentrating on how much they weigh, is infinitely worse.

Is There Anything Wrong With Rewarding Children for Good Grades?

December 25, 2011

I love the way this commonly asked question is answered.

Q:  Should we be rewarding our six year-old for getting high marks on her weekly spelling test? I know better. But I can’t seem to get her to believe in self-satisfaction for doing a good job. Help.



A: I have seen this all too often in my career in education. Parents are very well intentioned and want to support their children’s learning. Rewards or bribes to perform well at school or elsewhere may work temporarily, but there is a big price to pay.

It teaches the child that learning is not worthwhile in its own right. These external rewards take away the joy of learning for learning’s sake, stifling curiosity, inquiry and creativity.

It teaches the child that a parent’s love is conditional. “If my parents want to pay me for doing well at school, what if I do not do well – will they love me then?”

In my experience, reflecting the child’s day at school back on them is a great way to go. When they tell you they got 100 per cent on a spelling test, you might say, “I bet that made you feel good!”

Similarly, when they achieve an unfortunate result, you might ask, “How did that make you feel?” This could provoke a supportive and warm conversation with your child about being frustrated that she wasn’t able to learn the words and that next time, she might do things differently.

Above all, the child needs to know you are there for them regardless of marks, behaviour, talent and ability. It is only when love is unconditional that children feel supported and can grow and mature.

Children have a very precious internal motivation to be good, and external rewards show the child that we do not trust their desire to be good or do the right thing. In short, the end result will be that the child will lose that natural internal motivation and external rewards will assume the default position. You will teach your child that nothing is worth doing unless they get something for it. I am certain this is not the lesson you want to teach.

Jean Bigelow Parent Educator/ School Principal

%d bloggers like this: