Tuesday, 16 May 2017

GCSEs: A revision guide for anxious parents

Child and parents

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Thousands of pupils across England, Northern Ireland and Wales have started their GCSE exams, marking the beginning of what can often be a stressful and anxious time for teenagers and parents alike.
From preparing their favourite dinners, to managing expectations (yours and theirs), experts offer their tips on what parents can do to help in the coming weeks.

1. Brain food

hardboiled egg, water with lime and popcornImage copyright

Stress, anxiety and late-night cramming can all affect appetite, but parents can help to ensure children maintain a well-balanced diet and aren't missing meals.
Exams generally start at either 09:00 or 13:30 - allowing plenty of time for breakfast and lunch.
Nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens recommends making breakfast the most important meal of the day, filling up on energy-giving oats and eggs, which contain a nutrient called choline - thought to help cognitive performance and improve memory as we age.
As for revision snacks, consultant Dr Alex Richardson recommends popcorn over crisps as it is higher in fibre, so releases energy more slowly, and is lower in calories.
Make sure your child is well hydrated, as mild dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches and diminished concentration.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends eight to 10 glasses a day, but sparkling water still counts, and can be made less boring by adding lemon, lime, cucumber or mint.
Research has suggested students who take water into the exam hall may even improve their grades.

2. Bedtime

sleeping girl and alarm clockImage copyrightAGES

It won't come as a surprise to parents that teenagers need (and like) a lot of sleep. In fact, they need eight to nine hours a night.
But exam season can see priorities change.
Lisa Artis from the Sleep Council argues a good night's sleep is more beneficial than doing last-minute revision into the early hours.
"When you sleep well, you function and perform better and your memory is better, meaning you retain what you have revised," she said.
For those too nervous to sleep, Lisa says the hour before bed time is crucial.
"Have a good routine before bed. Relaxing properly will help sleep when you're stressed or anxious. Avoid screen time - including television - and get off social media."
Lisa suggests worried students should write down their anxieties, which can "free your mind of them".
"Parents can encourage children to study out of their bedrooms," she added. "If they are sat on their bed cramming, it becomes a place associated with stress."
If another room is not an option, Lisa suggested "zoning" - creating a desk or work area that is not their bed.

3. Support Vs Pressure

pile of booksImage copyrightS

Parenting coach Anita Cleare says it's important to "find ways of being supportive without being imposing".
"They know the exams are important. Us ramping up the pressure is not going to help," she said.
While some parents may opt for large rewards, pending results, Anita suggested smaller rewards throughout the process.
"These can be little things like a takeaway or a trip to the cinema after a certain number of hours of revision."
Clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew has been advising a lot of concerned parents in recent months.
"I tell them to look after their teenagers almost as if you would a younger child. You have got to nurture them through this time," she says.
This can be anything from preparing their favourite dinners to offering to run them a bath.
"Give them permission to take a break from revision in between working hard."
Dr Andrew suggests writing a weekly revision timetable, with scheduled gaps for socialising or exercise.
"A moderate level of anxiety will help us perform, but beyond that, we start to be impaired by it."

4. Positive parenting

post it note reads: Good things are going to happen todayImage copyrightMAGES

Anita - who is also founder of the Positive Parenting Project - favours an optimistic approach during exam time.
"A failed exam is not the end of the world. It is important to put things in perspective," she says.
Anita - who has a son completing GCSEs this year - admitted parents are often more anxious than their children.
"We can't make anybody learn, you can only provide the conditions that are conducive to it."
Not all exams go well and telling your child "I'm sure it went better than you thought", isn't always helpful according to Dr Andrew.
She said it is important to validate the way they are feeling and talk through it after an exam, before helping them to move on and focus their energy on the next exam.

"Every child is different and will respond differently to pressure," she adds.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

As Microsoft renews push into the classroom, educators give Google highest marks in new study

Microsoft made a big splash last week when it announced a new education-oriented operating system, Windows 10 S, and debuted a brand new Surface Laptop, but a new study says Microsoft will need a lot of extra credit to catch up to the top tech company in schools, Google.
The study by EdWeek illustrates how far ahead Google is of its tech contemporaries. Google’s low-cost Chromebooks are by far the most popular school-provided device, with 42 percent of educators and administrators saying they use them often. The next closest number is 15 percent for PC laptops.
(EdWeek Chart)
And it’s not just hardware. Google for Education, and its G Suite, which includes programs like Gmail, Hangouts, Drive and more, are the most frequently used set of productivity tools in 68 percent of U.S. classrooms. Microsoft productivity tools are the top choice in 17 percent of classrooms, and Apple tools are popular in only 1 percent of classrooms.
So why Google? Its products are easy to use, educators and administrators say, and affordable.
“It is compatible with other educational sites and easy for students to access at home,” a Houston-area teacher surveyed by EdWeek wrote. “Many children don’t have computers, and Google makes it easy to do assignments from their phones.”
Beyond products, educators and administrators have the most faith in Google’s ability to help students learn. In response to a hypothetical question where educators were allowed to hire one company to increase student achievement, Google was far and away the top choice at 52 percent. Apple Education was the second most common choice at 13 percent. Microsoft came in sixth out of eight companies at 6 percent. Amazon was only favored by 1 percent of educators.
(EdWeek Chart)
Educators don’t see Google losing its lead any time soon. EdWeek asked school administrators, including superintendents and chief financial officers, about future school district spending on various devices over the next couple years, and 90 percent said their schools would increase investments in Chromebooks. For reference, the next most popular device by this metric was the iPad, with 33 percent predicting increased investment.
Microsoft Surface devices and PC laptops got lukewarm receptions in terms of future investments. About 29 percent of educators predicted greater spending on PC laptops with 26 percent seeing more Surface devices coming to classrooms. On the flipside, 22 percent and 19 percent of educators predict a decline in spending on PC laptops and Surfaces, respectively.
As Microsoft and Google battle it out, Amazon is quickly becoming a major player in the education technology scene, according to an analysis of the study by EdWeek Senior Editor Sean Cavanaugh. Many schools use Amazon Web Services for cloud storage, and the online retail giant has a marketplace customized for education. Amazon is also testing a service called Amazon Inspire, which is focused on “the search, discovery, and sharing of digital educational resources.”

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Exam revision students 'should smell rosemary for memory'

By Sean Coughlan Education correspondent

rosemaryImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
With the exam season approaching and revision under way, university researchers have suggested that the smell of rosemary could enhance memory.
A study found that pupils working in a room with the aroma of rosemary, in the form of an essential oil, achieved 5% to 7% better results in memory tests.
Mark Moss from Northumbria University said the findings were consistent with tests on adults.
Dr Moss said the study supported traditional beliefs about rosemary.
He said that rosemary had been associated with memory for hundreds of years.
Ancient Greek students wore garlands of rosemary in exams - and Ophelia, in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, says: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."

Herb power

The study, to be presented this week at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society, will back the "received wisdom" that rosemary can assist memory.
In the tests carried out by Dr Moss and Victoria Earle, 40 pupils aged 10 and 11 carried out a series of memory tests in rooms with and without the aroma of rosemary.
The pupils did not know that they were taking part in memory tests related to scent - but Dr Moss said that those exposed to rosemary had on average an improvement of 5% to 7% in results.
This small-scale test followed up earlier research on adults which had suggested a link between rosemary and memory.
Dr Moss said it confirmed that children as well as adults seemed to be influenced.
But he said there was variability in the level of impact and some people did not seem to respond at all.

'Electrical activity'

He said the human sense of smell is highly sensitive and sends messages to the brain, setting off reactions and responses.
There are neurotransmitters in the brain associated with memory and Dr Moss suggests that these can be affected by scents.
He described it as "almost like a drug interaction" where the brain is influenced by what is being inhaled.
"It could be that aromas affect electrical activity in the brain or that pharmacologically active compounds can be absorbed when adults are exposed," he said.
Dr Moss said the next step should be to extend the study, with "large-scale trials of aroma application in education settings".

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Parents' mobile use harms family life, say secondary pupils

Dad checking phone ignores daughter

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nParents who continually check their mobiles can leave children feeling upset and ignored, suggests research

Education reporter

An overuse of mobile phones by parents disrupts family life, according to a survey of secondary pupils.
More than a third of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds who responded to a poll said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices.
And 14% said their parents were online at meal times, although 95% of 3,000 parents, polled separately, denied it.
The research was carried out by Digital Awareness UK and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
Among the pupils:
  • 82% felt meal times should be device-free
  • 22% said the use of mobiles stopped their families enjoying each other's company
  • 36% had asked their parents to put down their phones
Of pupils who had asked their parents to put down their phones, 46% said their parents took no notice while 44% felt upset and ignored.
Despite this, only a minority of parents (10%) believed their mobile use was a concern for their children - although almost half (43%) felt they spent too much of their own time online:
  • 37% said they were online between three and five hours a day at weekends
  • 5% said it could be up to 15 hours a day over a weekend
Research last year by DAUK and HMC showed almost half of secondary pupils were checking their mobile phones after they had gone to bed, amid warnings that they were arriving at school tired and unable to concentrate.
According to the new research, almost three-quarters of pupils (72%) said they were online between three and 10 hours a day - but for 11% this could rise to 15 hours at weekends and holidays and 3% said it could reach 20 hours.
And children's greatest worry about their own online use was lack of sleep, with 47% highlighting it as a major concern.
But among parents, only 10% worried about children's time online leading to sleep deprivation.

Boy using devices at nightImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionPupils worry about sleep deprivation through going online at night

Mike Buchanan, headmaster of Ashford School in Kent and chairman of the HMC, which represents leading private schools, said it was time for parents, teachers and pupils "to rewrite the rulebook" on mobile devices, which "have become an integral part of life at school, work and play".
"Our poll shows that children are aware of many of the risks associated with overuse of technology but they need the adults in their lives to set clear boundaries and role model sensible behaviour.
"To achieve this, we need to join up the dots between school and home and give consistent advice," said Mr Buchanan.

'Wake-up call'

Emma Robertson, co-founder of DAUK, said too few parents knew how long their children were online, particularly at night, "or what they are actually doing online".
"We hope these findings will be a wake-up call for families and motivate them to have serious conversations about the safe and healthy use of technology," she said.
The research comes ahead of the HMC's spring conference, which will explore new ways of working between schools and families in both the state and independent sectors.
Parents and pupils at a leading academy chain, which runs both state and private schools in England, were invited to take part in the research earlier this month.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Applying Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs In Our Classrooms

simple truth:

Before expecting students to reach their potential, teachers need to meet students at their current levels.

research tells us:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a popular motivation theory that is widely referred to in educational circles.  In this theory, Abraham Maslow suggested that before individuals meet their full potential, they need to satisfy a series of needs.  It's important to note that Maslow based his theory more on philosophy than on scientific evidence.  If interested, you can find limitations of this theory here.  However, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can provide teachers a reminder and framework that our students are less likely to perform at their full potential if their basic needs are unmet.
At times it can be confusing to apply theory into the practical realities of a classroom.  So let's talk specifics.  We may have a limited influence on the home lives of our students.  Though once they enter our school, we have the opportunity to assess student needs and then work to adapt our instruction to meet their needs.  Below are the general stages in order and descriptions of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
Are any students entering our classroom without their Physiological needs met?  Is this student getting all of their basic physical needs met?  These basic needs include food, water, sleep, oxygen, and warmth.  If all students have these needs met, the next stage is Safety.  How safe and secure does this student feel in their home?  What about in our school, and specifically in our classroom?
Do all students have a feeling of Love & Belonging in our classroom? Does each student feel that they belong to a group?  Do they have strong relationships with their peers?  The next stage is Esteem.  Do all students feel good about themselves?  Are we giving powerful verbal feedback to support their self-esteem?  Do they believe that their peers think positively about them?
Maslow's final stage is Self-Actualization.  In theory, if students have all of the previous stages met, they can achieve and create at their full potential.  Do we automatically assume that all students should be achieving at their full potential once they enter the classroom?  We know that this is not a reality, we just need to look at ourselves when we're impacted by any of the characteristics noted above.

try this:

  • To support our students' physiological needs, we can ensure that all students have access to water in their rooms.  Water bottles are a simple solution and research shows the many benefits of hydrated students.
  • To support our students physiological needs, we can ensure that we have nutritious snacks available.  Foods with slow-burning complex carbohydrates (such as granola bars) can help students sustain energy levels throughout the morning or afternoon.
  • To support our students physiological needs, we can ensure that if a student is in desperate need of sleep, they are allowed to take a short nap at school.  If not, research indicates that sleep-deprived students learn less and may even disrupt the learning of others.
  • To support our students' safety needs, we can continuously equip students and monitor the climate of our classroom to decrease bullying.
  • To support our students' love and belonging needs, would all students feel like our classroom has a family or close-knit feel?  Are we actively making sitting arrangements and putting students in groups where they feel supported?
  • To support our students' esteem needs, we need to provide affirmative, concrete, and transparentfeedback so that students know their specific strengths and can articulate when they've used them to succeed in our classrooms.  Do we create opportunity for peers to share specific positive feedback with each other?
  • In theory, when we support students in all of those stages noted, students can perform at their fullest potential, which is the self-actualization stage.  Do we always expect students to perform at their best, even if they are in need of support in lower stages?

review & share this:

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Pupils need internet lessons to thrive online, say Lords

Girls using phones close upImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet should be as important for children as reading and writing, says a House of Lords report.
Lessons about online responsibilities, risks and acceptable behaviour should be mandatory in all UK schools, the Lords Communications Committee argues.
The internet is "hugely beneficial" but children need awareness of its hazards, said committee chairman Lord Best.
Industry leaders said education was key to keeping children safe online.
The Lords report builds on findings by the Children's Commissioner for Englandin January that the internet is not designed for children, despite them being the biggest users by age group.
"Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment.
"Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world," say the Lords.

Fake news

Lord Best added: "There is a lot of material which makes the internet harmful but it can also be hugely beneficial - a way for children to interact and find out about the world."
However, they need to cope with online pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, he said, as well as building resilience to the addictive properties of internet games which are "designed and developed to keep users online, missing out on sleep as they stay in their bedrooms glued to the screen".
Children also need to be aware of the dangers of fake news and covert advertising online, he added.
The report argues that "digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child's education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly".
It should form the core of a new curriculum for personal social health and economic education, it adds.
It backs the government's move to make sex and relationships education statutory in England but says PSHE should also be mandatory in all schools, with the subject included in inspections.
Child on bed using phone and laptopImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionToo many teens miss out on sleep as they stay online 'glued to the screen' said Lord Best
The report notes "a worrying rise in unhappy and anxious children emerging alongside the upward trend of childhood internet use" and calls for more robust research into a "possible causal relationship" alongside immediate action to prevent children being affected.
Overall, the report says the internet should "do more to promote children's best interests" but found self regulation by industry was "failing" and that commercial interests "very often" took priority.
Meanwhile, it adds, government responsibility is "fragmented" with little co-ordinated policy and joined-up action.
Other recommendations include:
  • Content control filters and privacy settings to be "on" by default for all customers
  • All online businesses to respond quickly to requests by children to remove content
  • A children's digital champion to be appointed to argue for their rights at the highest levels of government
  • An industry summit, chaired by the prime minister, on redesigning the internet to serve children better
"This issue is of such critical importance for our children that the government, civil society and all those in the internet value chain must work together to improve the opportunities and support where the end user is a child," the Lords conclude.
The Internet Services Providers Association rejected calls for stronger regulation, while backing the report's call for better education.
James Blessing, who chairs the ISPA, said that the UK was regarded as a world leader in keeping children safe online "through a self-regulatory approach".
"We believe the most effective response is a joint approach based on education, raising awareness and technical tools," he said.
The government said it wanted to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to go online.
"Ministers have begun work on a new internet safety strategy that will help make this a reality, and we will carefully consider the recommendations included in the Lords Communications Committee Report as part of this process," said a spokesman.