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How to teach … algebra

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“In algebra, X marks the spot. Well, sometimes it’s N or Y. Either way, that spot can often leave children’s heads spinning, as they find themselves face-to-face with funny-looking equations that need to be simplified. Maths doesn’t always have the most positive reputation among young people (or older people, to be fair) and algebra – with its signs, symbols and substitutions – is up there with the least beloved of it. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Presented in the right way, it can even be exciting and magical. So how can you help your students get to grips with the topic?.”(more)

The 4 essential elements of passion-based learning

E-School News – Jill Badalamenti

“Teaching students effectively means getting to know them — and their passions. Think back to when you were still in school. What do you tend to remember most? Do you think back to the unique field trips you went on? The cool science experiments? What about a favorite teacher? For me, it was projects and Mrs. Gianni. That’s what I remember most about school and the teacher that comes to mind. Mrs. Gianni had blond hair that always looked like it needed to be dyed. She was young and energetic. I also remember the way she made me feel, her high expectations, how she was always smiling, and how I felt like I could be anything in her eyes.”(more)

Playground-related brain injuries on the rise

CBS News – Kathleen Doheny

“For some kids, playgrounds aren’t all fun and games. Playground-related brain injuries have risen significantly in the United States over the last decade, health officials say. Despite improvements in playground safety and design, between 2001 and 2013, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries annually among kids 14 and younger. The statistics were compiled for a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”(more)

The good news behind America’s bad test scores

The Christian Science Monitor – Josh Kenworthy

“American schools just got their biennial report card, and the results aren’t exactly worthy of the honor roll. Fewer than half of America’s high school seniors are prepared for college – even fewer than in 2013. The gap between the strongest and weakest performing 12th-graders in math widened in the past two years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called “the nation’s report card.” It also showed that students in the lowest percentiles (25th and 10th) for math and reading performed worse in 2015 than in 2013. Those in upper percentiles (75th and 90th) remained steady or improved their scores. It also showed that more students had fallen below the scorecard’s lowest “basic,” category in both those subjects.”(more)

National Teacher Day: Why We Thank Our Educators — Today, and Hopefully Every Day

The Huffington Post – Kermit S. Randa

“Tuesday we celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Day, an annual occasion to pause from the hectic pace of our lives to say “thank you” to our teachers. The celebration, part of Teacher Appreciation Week, honors our nation’s educators and recognizes the positive difference they make not only in our classrooms but also in our lives. It’s virtually impossible to separate the contributions of the teachers we’ve had from the successes we’ve achieved as parents, as workers, as members of our communities … and together as a global society. Their role is that valuable. In fact, if it were up to us, we’d make every day National Teacher Appreciation Day, or National Teacher Day, as it’s also called.”(more)

Data Reveals How Some College Students Sleep

KQED News Mind Shift – Anya Kamenetz

“Sleep has a big impact on learning. And not just when you do it in class. Sleep deprivation affects memory, cognition and motivation, and the effects are compounded when it’s long-term. For those reasons, there’s been lots of interest in the education world in studying the sleep habits of children and adolescents. But until now, most sleep studies have been limited to short-term surveys with small numbers of participants. That’s changing with the advent of wearable activity trackers. These devices include an accelerometer that detects movement and tries to decide whether you are running, sitting or sleeping. They can’t directly measure whether people are asleep, so experts say they’re not as accurate as hooking someone up to machines in a lab.”(more)