A Case for Finger Counting New research suggests that young children may make gains in math by counting with their fingers.

Photo of a girl’s hands as she uses her fingers to do math

Teachers generally start telling children to stop counting on their fingers around the end of first grade—they’re learning to do math in their heads, and finger counting is sometimes seen as a crutch or even a sign of weak math ability.

A new British study published in Frontiers in Education suggests that this may be a mistake because finger counting seems to boost math learning when paired with number games.

In the four-week experiment, 137 6- and 7-year-old children were split into five groups. One group participated in finger-counting exercises such as counting from 1 to 10 using each finger, showing the correct number of fingers when told a specific number, and doing simple addition or subtraction problems using their fingers. The second group played number games (e.g., dominoes and card games). The third and fourth groups did both—they performed finger-counting exercises and played number games. The final group was the control and didn’t participate in either the exercises or the games.

Continue reading “A Case for Finger Counting New research suggests that young children may make gains in math by counting with their fingers.”

The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources Get a roundup of educational grants, contests, awards, free toolkits, and classroom guides aimed at helping students, classrooms, schools, and communities. Check this page weekly to get the latest updates!

 

Photo of hands at keyboard

NEW! Small Research Grants from Spencer Foundation
Deadline: August 1; November 1, 2017

The Small Research Grant program from the Spencer Foundation supports education research projects with budgets of $50,000 or less. In general, the foundation funds projects that “will contribute to the improvement of education,” and the foundation accepts proposals in several areas of study, including the relationship of education and social opportunity, new civics, instructional resources, organizational learning, and purpose of education. See a list of past winning projects, as well as application details online.
Prize: Grants average about $50,000.
Mockingbird Foundation Music Education Grants
Deadline: August 1, 2017 Continue reading “The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources Get a roundup of educational grants, contests, awards, free toolkits, and classroom guides aimed at helping students, classrooms, schools, and communities. Check this page weekly to get the latest updates!”

Teachers: Summer Reading to Cultivate Your Emotional Resilience Immerse yourself in these books to renew yourself for the coming school year.

 By Elena Aguilar

 

Ever since I was a young child, the long days of summer have been for reading. Early in the morning and late into the night, sitting on a beach or lying on the living room floor, I devoured book after book. Novels took me on the journeys and adventures I yearned for; memoirs connected me with shared humanity. Books made me stronger: They put my sadness and loneliness into perspective, suggested routes around the obstacles in my life, and gave me clues as to how I could not only surmount challenges, but thrive in spite of them. By the end of summer, my literary immersion had renewed me for another school year.

A teacher discusses a project with a small group of students.

Continue reading “Teachers: Summer Reading to Cultivate Your Emotional Resilience Immerse yourself in these books to renew yourself for the coming school year.”

Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key

What’s ideal when it comes to collaboration in our classrooms? Here’s one coveted scenario: several children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level task, discussing, possibly debating an issue, making shared decisions, and designing a product that demonstrates all this deeper learning.

A photo shot from above of four girls working together at a table.

As teachers, we’d love to see this right out of the gate, but this sort of sophisticated teamwork takes scaffolding. It won’t just happen by placing students together with a piece of provocative text or an engaging task. So how do we begin this scaffolded journey? Here are some steps for supporting students in deep and meaningful collaboration.

Continue reading “Deeper Learning: A Collaborative Classroom Is Key”

Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners…..

Introduce game dynamics like leveling up and earning badges into your classroom to boost student engagement. By John McCarthy

Illustration showing a computer and various icons connected to games and gameplay.

Playing games is fun. Some people pour hours into games without complaint, whether it’s shooting 200 free throws or completing a guild raid in World of Warcraft over several hours.

You can tap into that kind of engagement through gamification—applying game elements to non-game environments to encourage higher participation and motivation. A simple example is a hotel chain, airline, or credit card reward system, where points earned offer customers perks like free rooms, flights, or upgrades, or other amenities. Continue reading “Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners…..”

The Search for the Perfect Kindergarten

You’re not alone in this big decision. We’ve tapped the brains of parents and experts to guide you through the process in this multi-part series.

illustration of people in a forest of pencils

 

Many of today’s parents remember their earliest years in school as simple times. They went to the closest public elementary school or to a private school their parents chose. Kindergarten was a rewarding and meaningful experience: Play was encouraged; they made their first real friends; they learned how to tie their shoes.

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Overcoming the Principle of Least Effort

 

A student confidently speaks to her class as her teacher smiles in the background.

Challenging students to dig in and achieve their potential during instructional hours confronts a mighty obstacle: the principle of least effort, the idea that people apply nominal effort to achieve a basically acceptable result instead of pushing themselves in pursuit of greatness.

We might be tempted to conflate low effort with laziness, but that misses an important physiological point: To conserve finite attention funds, our brains are designed to avoid tasks that are cognitively demanding. Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, describes two modes of thinking. The efficient and fairly unconscious mode is System 1. Involuntarily reading a Wheaties box, scorning new “athleisure” clothes, and opening a combination lock are all System 1 mental events.

Continue reading “Overcoming the Principle of Least Effort”