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HOW LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE AFFECTS THE BRAIN BETTER FOCUS BY SITTING ON A BALL

IS LACKOF SLEEP AFFECTING YOUR CHILD'S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE? SPECIFIC PRAISE AFFECTS STUDENTS’ OVERALL PERFORMANCE

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TABLE OF CONTENTS LEARNING EARLYAND EMERGENTREADING STRATEGIES AND THEIR CONNECTIONTO READING SUCCESS...... 10

Nelson

LEARNING OUTSIDE OFTHE CLASSROOM.............................................................................................................. 12

Kerr & Slyk

HOWCLASSROOM SET-UP AFFECTS LEARNING ....................................................................................................16

Hocevar & Jaskolka

DYNAMIC AND AFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION...................................................................................................... 19

Mme. Stella

CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT: THE IMPACTOFLIGHTAND COLOUR ONCOGNITIONAND PERFORMANCE ............................................... 22

Palumbo & Kominek

DEVELOPMENT ADOLESCENTDEVELOPMENTAND THE IMPACTONBEHAVIOR..................................................................... 28

Lopez

THE CRITICAL PERIOD OFLANGUAGE ACQUISITION.......................................................................................... 31

Mlle. Jessica

HOWDOES LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE AFFECTTHE BRAIN................................................................. 33

Mme. Jose

ADOLESCENCE AND BRAINDEVELOPMENT.......................................................................................................... 35

Chin & Foster

KINAESTHETIC LEARNING, THE BRAIN, AND THECLASSROOM........................................................................ 38

Haag

ACHIEVEMENT HOWTHE LACKOFSLEEP AFFECTS THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OFSTUDENTS............................... 42

Bosetti & Sy

THE USE OFSPECIFIC PRAISE ONSTUDENTS’ OVERALL PERFORMANCE..................................................... 44

Ross & Bancud

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEENNUTRITIONAND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT............................................ 46

Chang & Barros

THE CORRELATIONBETWEENLESSONLENGTHAND ATTENTIONSPAN..................................................... 48

Dacosta & Smith

HOWSITTING ONSTABILITYBALL HELPS CHILDRENFOCUS AND DO BETTER ATSCHOOL................... 51

Padovan & Bannon


VOLUME ONE, EDITION ONE JANUARY2017


Foreword


S Aaron Sawatsky Head of School St. Jude’s Academy

Based in the Greater Toronto Area, Aaron Sawatsky is a reformist when it comes to implementing the teaching pedagogies within an institution. Aaron is a strong advocate of growth mindset and life-long learning with over twelve years of educational leadership experience at several prestigious institutions. Due to a drastic shift in the educational landscape, Aaron emphasizes creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment that caters to the learning styles of students from varying backgrounds.

t. Jude’s Academy has come a long way in its brief yet ambitious history. Owing to solid academic concentration, top- notch educators, and an intense involvement in extra-curricular activities, we cherish our standing as one of the most competitive International Baccalaureate schools in the Greater Toronto Area. At St. Jude’s Academy, education is more than disseminating knowledge. We focus on our students’ critical- thinking abilities, character formation, and life-long learning, hence transforming them into the global citizens of future. Our teaching models are constantly acclimatized to meet the learning needs of the students, as opposed to following a rigid, onesize-fits-all educational model offered at the public schools. St. Jude’s Academy cordially welcomes students from varying nationalities, backgrounds, and faiths. We not only celebrate our diversity but also take pride in maintaining a safe and learner- centred environment for our students. With the advent of technological shift, it is imperative for schools to incorporate technology within the realms of instruction. Our approach towards technology is beyond introducing smart boards within the classrooms. It involves equipping our students with the skills necessary to conduct research while demonstrating and maintaining the responsibility and integrity, required to impart such analyses. As I witness our students’ exemplary conduct, academic rigour, and cocurricular achievements, I have every reason to believe that these young adults are precisely the kind of individuals that can make a positive contribution to the society they live in. A successful institute never works in isolation; therefore St. Jude’s Academy strives to maintain a three-dimensional relationship between the school staff, the students, and the parents, to attain a holistic learning framework. St. Jude’s Academy is continuously evolving and integrating changes while retaining its core values and the best ofits traditions. All staff members are committed to employing the best teaching techniques within and beyond the classrooms. This compilation of journals is an evidence of our team’s dedication towards enhancing the students’ learning experience while procuring the advance teaching skills.


Preface


T

he academic environment at St. Jude’s Academy directly reflects contemplative leadership, research-based pedagogical methods, and individuals demonstrating critical thinking. The practices incorporated within our academic culture embrace every aspect of the learners’educational experience including, our approaches to establishing learning environment employing the use of art, aesthetics, and co-curricular activities. Our educators plan instruction to master the concept and skill on a subject area while engaging students in higherorder thinking and problem solving. At St. Jude’s Academy, we look forward to applying the innovative research- based practices and educational insights to help our students reach their potential. Teachers are encouraged to promote alternative instructional methodologies to match the students’ receptivity levels throughout junior

kindergarten to Grade 12. Inquirybased investigation,along withan application of the findings,have always kept the St. Jude’s Academy educators and leadership team, informed. Such research would always facilitate the transformation of our educational philosophy and hence the instructional practices. Education at St. Jude’s Academy is not only age- appropriate but also context- based, with a focus shifting from academic to social to cognitive to emotional learning. This directly results in our students’ increased levels of self- confidence, self- awareness, and self- development. Our educators are trained to design a challenging yet reassuring classroom. The authors of these journals are St. Jude’s Academy teachers and academic coordinators, who are constantly striving to excel in their areas of expertise. We look forward to implementing these research findings to ratify, enhance, and alter our programs.


Learning


10

Early and Emergent Reading Strategies and Their Connection to Reading Success

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ne would find it difficult to deny that reading is one of the most valuable skills a child can cultivate. Reading can offer children the chance to develop their own imagination, it allows children to discover new things, and it enables their brains to be better adapted to combat academic problems from all subject areas. Reading is the one skill that will travel across all disciplines. In order for a child to develop an emotional and cognitive level of readiness to take on the important task of learning to read, there are many things that can and should be done to help provide support. In the 2004 research completed by Daimant-Cohen, B., Riordan, E., and Wade, R, the authors focused on the importance of early and emergent reading strategies and their integral connection to a child’s future academic success. Learning to read is not an easy task; there are many steps and stages along the way. A child’s readiness for reading, and their

level of comfort and success with learning to read is largely based on their early and emergent literacy development, which in turn “help to affect brain function in a positive and long lasting way.” (DaimantCohen, B., Riordan, E., & Wade, R. 2004). Current research has shown that if a child is struggling to read by the beginning of first grade, there is a 90% probability that that child will continue to struggle with reading at the end of fourth grade (Daimant-Cohen, B., Riordan, E., & Wade, R. 2004). This illustrates, that by ignoring the need to focus on early and emergent reading strategies, it can have a long-lasting effect on a child’s academic success. School-readiness focusing on a child’s language skills is one of the greatest ways to set a child up for success in their formative school years. This can be achieved by introducing and applying a variety of early and emergent literacy techniques during their pre-school years. Early and emergent reading

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


strategies are critical to a child’s future academic success, as they are promoted to a child during a time when their brain is developing. Studies have shown that “the brain is busy creating specific potential receptors for certain kinds of stimuli…to accept the data, to integrate it, and to make connections between other brain cells. This creates efficient neural pathways in which learning occurs.” (Daimant-Cohen, B., Riordan, E., & Wade, R. 2004). Therefore, by taking advantage of this acute time, when important language sections of the brain are being developed, by presenting repeated exposure to techniques that can help set the language-based activities, the child’s stage for a life- long passion for brain actually “hard-wires” itself to reading. (Daimant-Cohen, B., better respond to learning language Riordan, E., & Wade, R. 2004). type tasks. These are strategies that do not take Introducing language to a great deal of planning, or require a children does not have to wait until great deal ofprofessional expertise. they are approaching school age and Additionally, studies completed on it does not have to the way that a be a daunting task. young child’s brain In fact, by reading if a child is struggling absorbs and to a baby for a few preserves minutes each day to read by the beginning information found beginning at the that a child’s brain of first grade, there is a time of birth, it can connects better to allow children to concepts that are feel a sense of 90% probability that that repeated to them. comfort and By hearing child will continue to increases their favourite books and positive exposure to struggle with reading at favourite songs the language. time and time (Daimant-Cohen, the end of fourth grade again, studies have B., Riordan, E., & shown that it Wade, R. 2004). “increases children’s Early and emergent reading enjoyment, helps them feel safe, and techniques such as surrounding enables them to better retain the children with books, modeling information absorbed.” (Daimantreading, exploring print direction, Cohen, B., Riordan, E., & Wade, R. letter knowledge, telling and acting 2004). out stories and being read to daily, In the world of education, this are all simple, yet powerful research is great news. It shows

that a child’s future success with reading can be benefitted with simple strategies that can commence right away, and that can take place anywhere. Parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators can use these types of studies to create genuine experiences for children that focus on these types of early and emergent language building skills. Singing songs to young children, modeling reading, and sharing favourite stories do not require a great deal of preparation or prior knowledge on the adult’s part. But these seemingly simple experiences are the ones that can help create a life-long love and passion for reading.  

References Daimant-Cohen, B., Riordan, E., & Wade, R. (2004).“Make way for dendrites: How Brain Research Can Impact Children’s Programming.”Children and Libraries.2(1).


12

Learning Outside ofthe Classroom

Experiential learning is effective because it uses different principles than encountered in the classroom. It prepares students for the experience, receiving feedback, and for being held to high standards.” American Society for Engineering Education Through our research, we learned that there is a strong correlation between learning outside of the classroom and the positive impact of student success in all developmental domains: cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and personal. In both the Physical Education and Arts subject areas; our research almost always quantified a holistic approach to teaching. Creating opportunities for children and youth, to experience the world beyond the classroom, is essential as a central element of their learning and ‘whole’ development (Malone, 2008, p. 25). Is there a correlation between the research and your class?

PhysicalEducation

When examining different models for curriculum in elementary school physical education, research supports the many positive outcomes associated with the introduction of outdoor recreation and adventure education programmes into the curriculum and/or extracurricular settings. According to Brown and Dyson “A number of studies in physical education settings give some support to the proposition that through outdoor recreation and adventure education units, students develop in multiple domains (cognitive, social, emotional, physical) and show improved selfperceptions on a variety of affective measures, as well as more positive attitudes toward physical education” (Hodges Kulinna,2008, p.224). By providing students with multiple opportunities to extend their learning outside of the classroom, particularly in outdoor and adventure education, students

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


are often placed into challenging, risky, and uncertain environments that often allow them to “discover their real abilities for the first time and develop enhanced selfconfidence and independence” (Williams, 2011). “Successful participation in today’s complex society demands making appropriate decisions and accepting the consequences of one’s choices. Insights gained from constructive adventure experiences can help instill positive values and principles such as selflessness and compassion, keeping commitments and fulfilling obligations, self-discipline, and honesty” (Prouty, Panicucci, &Collinson, 2007, p.71). Therefore, introducing outdoor/adventure education in the curriculum has the potential to help students develop into ethical and conscientious world citizens. Overall, the introduction of outdoor and adventure experiences as part of our physical education program at St. Jude’s Academy will not only aid in boosting student self

esteem but also contribute to positive identity (attitudes, beliefs, and self-perceptions), social skills (social effectiveness, communication skills, group cohesion), physical and thinking skills, positive values, and spirituality to name a few (Rickinson, 2003). The Arts

The greatest indicator of student success in the arts encompasses the learning (what I learn), and social interaction (how I interact) domains of child and youth development. One specific example (learning) occurred in the Thinking Through Artproject which engaged in museum multivisits for grades four and five. These students out performed a group of comparison students who did not participate in any type of art museum program. They not only used more critical thinking skills but they also used a variety of critical thinking categories. “For many students the positive

experience at the museum translated into an increase in marks/grades for their museum-related assignment when compared with previous assignment marks” (Malone, 2008, p.15). There are many benefits and opportunities for social interaction through the arts. “The arts change the learning experience and reach children/youth who are not being reached, connects children to themselves and each other, transforms learning and provides opportunities for developing a learning community” (Malone, 2008, p.19).A Harvard Project Zero Shakespeare & Company study looked at the key benefits of an art project with 800 high school students learning about working in creative communities and about oneself as a learner. This study looked at activities such as music, drama, and opera in out-ofclassroom locations. The study provided powerful evidence that on the highest levels of literacy, in the realms of social and personal growth


and development, and in the development of high order thinking skills, the arts provide an ideal setting for multi-faceted and profound learning (Malone, 2008, p.19). Further research also provided interesting information on what is considered out-of-classroom arts activities and bringing them into the classroom with a similar mindframe. “Informal conversation with students revealed that they looked forward to their out-of-school artmaking activities and clubs because they appreciated the freedom to make whatever they wanted to, as well as hanging out with individuals similar to themselves” (Hochtritt, 2008, p. 106). This specific resource

discussed the importance of thinking about teaching art in a different way and using alternative teaching methods by looking at our student’s lives and communities and identifying connections that can be made within the classroom. One such example given is graffiti art “In the case of art created in public spaces, and in graffiti art, the act of writing your name around the city and gaining recognition by others seems like an important method of communication for marginalized youth” (Hochtritt, 2008, p.114).Delivering an art education that holistically embraces and reflects the lives of our youth and their experiences allows for student interest, success, and ultimately the

communication of thoughts and ideas while also encompassing/expressing in a personally significant way. Could you implement the research into your class? What would that look like? PhysicalEducation

In addition to the experiential learning opportunities such as skiing, rock climbing and curling that are already offered to our students on an annual basis, developing a team building unit and/or outdoor education club would offer students many opportunities to explore their abilities, make long lasting


friendships and develop into holistic learners. Whether it be organizing an annual camp retreat to Muskoka Woods for our MYP students or having students try out some treetop trekking (high rope/low rope) courses, introducing outdoor/adventure activities would have direct positive impacts on our Health & Physical Education Program. When examining the impacts this would have on everyday Physical Education classes, research states that exposing students to outdoor experiences within a natural environment for educational purposes (grass as opposed to the gymnasium) “aids in an increased life-span, greater well-being, fewer symptoms of depression, lower rates of smoking and substance misuse but also an increased ability to function better at work and home” (Morris, 2003, p. 17). Therefore, providing various opportunities for students to engage in multiple tasks such as building igloos during the winter or introducing students to physical education opportunities in the natural environment can support student learning in various aspects. The Arts

In MYP year four and year five, we will be studying various aspects of art history. In class we will discuss important concepts, techniques, meanings, impacts etc. behind art works and art movements. A visit to a

museum/gallery would be used as an opportunity to solidify student understanding and conceptualize key concepts with a focus on critical thinking. Through our interdisciplinary

Research states that exposing students to outdoor experiences within a natural environment for educational purposes aids in an increased life-span, greater well-being, fewer symptoms of depression, lower rates of smoking and substance misuse but also an increased ability to function better at work and home. Shakespeare performance unit in MYP year four and year five, students will learn how to interact both on and off the stage. It is my hope in the coming years that as a class we are able to not only view a Shakespearean performance but to also take place in an actor/actress/on-stage workshop. This would be an excellent opportunity to experience social and personal growth and development as well as high order thinking skills. In MYP year three we have

already begun working on a Graffiti Design unit. As this program develops and expands I would like to take a trip to Toronto to view current graffiti pieces as well as open a discussion with local graffiti artists. It is my goal for this unit to work with students on the communication/expression of their thoughts and ideas on a personal level. References Collinson, Rufus &Panicucci, Jane & Prouty, Dick. “Adventure Education : Theory and Applications.” p. 71. 2007. Print. Hochtritt, Lisa. “Grounding Art Education in the Lives ofYouth: Using Graffiti Art in the Classroom.” Counterpoints Vol. 326. Critical Literacy as Resistance: Teaching for Social Justice Across the Secondary Curriculum (2008) : 101-117. Print. Hodges Kulinna, Pamela. “Models for Curriculum and Pedagogy in Elementary School Physical Education. The Elementary School Journal.Vol. 108. No. 3 (2008) : p. 219227. Print Malone, Karen. “Every Experience Matters.” An evidence based research report on the role of learning outside the classroom for children’s whole development from birth to eighteen years. (2008). Print. Morris N. “Health, Well-Being and Open Space.” OPENspace Research Centre, Edinburgh College ofArt, Literature Review About the Benefits ofBeing Outdoors.(2003): p. 1-40. Web. Oreovicz, Frank &Wankat, Phillip. “Learning Outside the Classroom.” ASEE Prism Vol. 10. No. 5 (2001) : p. 32. Print. Rickinson M. et al. “A Review ofResearch on Outdoor Learning.” Literature review of150 studies in the period 1993-2003.(2003). Print. Williams, Randall. “The Benefits ofOutdoor Adventure.” Royal Society for the Encouragement ofArts, Manufactures and Commerce.(2011). Web.

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


16

How Classroom Set-Up Affects Student Learning

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hat engages our students? How can we set up our classrooms to promote student engagement? Can we set up a seating plan that will allow for optimal learning within the classroom? Are there tools we can use to help maintain student focus? Through ourstrenuous research, we have found that student engagement is based on many factors and the strategies put forth, within educational circles. Some highly contested topics are desk arrangements within the classroom, student versus teacher seating selection, and how, as teachers, we can help our students focus better within the classroom. When it comes to a classroom set up, seating plans, and strategies used to engage our students, we found that many different factors play roles in the decision-making processes and that teachers need to be flexible and open to new ideas and strategies that will work within their classroom.

The way that a classroom is arranged affects student engagement and learning. According to a study done by Steelcase Education, “classrooms intentionally designed to support active learning increased student engagement on multiple measures as compared to traditional (i.e., row-by-column seating) classrooms” (“How Classroom Design,” 1).This study was done to prove the connection between the physical space of a classroom and student engagement. Participants were asked to share their experiences within a traditional/standard classroom with row-by-column seating versus “a classroom intentionally designed for active learning- i.e., where physical space supports a focus on engaging experiences for students and faculty” (Cohen, 1985).Within the survey, students were asked to measure “collaboration, focus, active involvement, opportunity to engage, repeated exposure to material through multiple means, in-class

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


feedback, real life scenarios, ability to engage ways of learning best, physical movement, stimulation, feeling comfortable to participate, [and] creation of an enriching experience” (Cohen, 1985). The results of the surveys show when desks are arranged for collaborative learning,grades rose (72%), students’ motivation increased (72%), student engagement went up (84%), as well as creativity within the classroom (77%). Also, students were able to remember the material learned, with ease. The results yielded that students became less passive and more active learners, which impacted student engagement. According to the survey, students also preferred group seating to the traditional style of row-by-column (3-4). However, through our research, we have found that there are positive and negative impacts as a result of various seating arrangement chosen by the teacher; we have provided the pros and cons on our poster. Not only does the physical set up of a classroom matter, but we should also consider where students are seated in the classroom. For example, if a student needs to be pulled out for additional support, it would be best to position them closer to the door to prevent distractions within the classroom. Furthermore, students who are easily distracted can be seated away from windows and doors (Bicard et al. 2012). Moreover, easily distractible students can also be placed closer to the teacher in order to “assist them, draw them back onto the task, and positively recognize them when they are focused” (“Classroom Design Tips”).

Optimal student arrangement can allow for students to remain on their task longer and make transitions smoother. We also need to consider student-seating arrangements in order to achieve optimal learning within the classroom. Teachers can choose the seating arrangement within their class or give ownership to the students to choose where they sit. While students may prefer to choose their own seats within the

class, it is important to consider the negative impacts. According to a study done within a Grade 5 classroom, by David F. Bicard, Angela Ervin, Sara C. Bicard, and Laura Baylot-Casey, when students were able to choose their seating, disruptive behaviour occurred “more than twice as often” (Bicard et al. 2012). Teachers cantherefore employ various strategies when setting up their seating plan,such as grouping students with similar


cognitive abilities, interests, behaviours, or random selection. When a teacher pairs students with different learning abilities, “this will allow the students that need help more individual attention, as well as provide an opportunity for a student with high academic performance to relearn the material by teaching it” (Hannah,2013). However, the mentor-student that is re-teaching the material may become overwhelmed when their mentee is having difficulty grasping the concept taught. A teacher can group students with similar interests. “They may have the same mindset on how to approach an assignment which will allow them to complete it more efficiently” (Webber et al., 2014). Finally, students can be randomly placed within the classroom. In doing so, students do not think they are purposefully positioned within the class due to learning capabilities or specific behaviours; they do not “take their seating arrangement personally” (Webber et al., 2014). However, this seating arrangement can place students close to individuals that do not work well together. As a result, once the teacher gets to know their students, they can better understand which seating arrangements works best within their class. As teachers, we can implement sensory modulation strategies, such as the use of therapy balls, in order to maintain as well as increase student engagement within the class. Students can benefit from using therapy balls in the classroom in order to improve attention and school performance as well as minimize classroom disruptions and keep students in their seats longer. A study was done within a Grade 4

classroom (three of the students werediagnosed with ADHD), in order to determine the benefits of therapy balls. By the end of the study, all students found the therapy balls allowed them to be more comfortable, their writing also improved, they were able to listen more attentively, and complete their work more efficiently (Schilling et al., 2003). Their teachers also found

Classrooms intentionally designed to support active learning increased student engagement on multiple measures as compared to traditional classrooms. the use of therapy balls to be beneficial. Teachers noted a decrease in noise level, improvement in student work overall, students remained calmer, and “although students [were] bouncing, they [were] more focused on what [the teacher was] saying (Schilling et al., 2003). As a result, this study shows how the use of therapy balls is an effective way to help all students to be more engaged within the classroom. In conclusion, we have found that there are many factors that affect student engagement and learning. While we have not found the answers to all our questions, we have been able to explore various ways of classroom set up, seating plans, and tools that can be used within the class to promote student engagement. With regard to a classroom set up, the way a

classroom is arranged depends on many factors and therefore we as teachers need to be flexible in moving furniture around based on the task at hand. When setting up a seating plan, there are many different ways this can be done; this is largely based on the classroom composition. The use of therapy balls can also increase overall student engagement and decrease classroom disruptions. As a result, as the educator in the class, you need to find the strategies and methods that work best for you and your students. References Bicard, David F., Angela Ervin, Sara C. Bicard, and Laura Baylot-Casey. "Differential Effects OfSeating Arrangements On Disruptive Behavior OfFifth Grade Students During Independent Seatwork."Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 45.2 (2012): 40711. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P MC3405935/.

"Classroom Design Tips."Classroom Design Tips. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. http://behavioradvisor.com/ClassroomDesign.h tml. Cohen, Robert. The Development ofSpatial Cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1985. Print. Hannah, Ryan, "The Effect ofClassroom Environment on Student Learning"(2013). Honors Theses. Paper 2375.http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/honors_th eses/2375 Webber et al. "How Classroom Design Affects Student Engagement – Steelcase."Steelcase. June 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. <http://www.steelcase.com/insights/whitepapers/how-classroom-design-affects-studentengagement/. http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/honors_theses/2 375 Mitch, Katz. "Sample Classroom Floor Plans." Sample Classroom Floor Plans. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/742. Schilling, O. L., Washington, K., Billingsley,F.F., &Deitz, J. (2003). Classroom seating for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Therapy balls versus Chairs. American Journal ofOccupational Therapy, 57, 534-541. "Seating Arrangements."TESOL Class. 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. http://www.tesolclass.com/classroommanagement/classroom-seating-arrangements/.


Dynamic and Effective Communication: The Effectiveness ofLearning A Language WithoutTranslating

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n my sixteen years of teaching adults and children how to learn French as aSecond Language (FSL), my main purpose has always been to immerse my students not only into a new languagebut also into a new culture. Many brain research projects have proved that learning a second language has certainly had an impact on brain development. The brain is the most complex organ in our body; it weights 3.3lbs and contains more than 100 billion neurons that we start to lose by age 30. However, we maystimulate and maintain a healthy brain by learning a new language and by travelling.

translating. It is also essential to identify a language in the process of learningit by relating it to a single person. For example, a child could learn different languages at the same time by learning English at school, speaking French with their mom and Spanish with their dad. It is essential that parents and teachers at school do not mix the languages since the child will associate each one of them with a

Figure 1 (right): Human Brain

When we are learning a new language and travelling, we are also getting new perceptions and creating new memories and emotions.Fora new language, it is recommendedto learn without BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy

19


language. Studies in Neuroscience prove how our emotions, our memory, our personalities and motivation to learn the new language could affect us and even create barriers that may affect the learning process. We may encounter barriers such as cultural differences, accents, poor listening skills, distractions, noises, and assumptions or misconceptions that may affect our emotions and delay or completely block the learning process. Also, most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply, creating the biggest barrier ofall. Normally, children perform a cognitive operation; they learn instinctively without big concerns or frustrations contrary toadults who usually usea word translation and end up doing mental translations without getting the real message. This is explained as the brain stresses out, the brain blocks anddoes not retain any information. According to Alden S. Blodget, in order to learn something properly, your brain needs to form neuronal pathways – your cells need to make connections between each other to represent coherence. In other words, learning is easier when the content is meaningful; we learn from relevant, significant experiences and when our brain is actively engaged to produce a conscious effort. For example, adults will be more interested in learning vocabulary about their life experiences while children will be more interested to learn about toys, games, etc. Students who speak more than one language, make connections to other languages they already know; it becomes easier since they are using the prior knowledge and they

have already created concepts and pathways that will relate to the new language. For example, when you learn French, other Latin languages such as Portuguese, Italian, or Spanish may become easier to learn. You may recognize the word “Bonjour” in French and therefore “Bongiorno” in Italian. Studies suggest that the difficulty some students of a second language may have is not withunderstanding the words of the second language, but with the motor skills of forming the words with the mouth and tongue. This may explain why this type of learner can oftentimes comprehend a question asked in the new language, but are not always able to form a quick response and become more insecure. The more you practice, the more effective your brain will be at learning, memorizing and applying strategies to communicate in a foreign language. With enough practice, words and phrases become automatic hence you do not feel your brain shrinking its translation

duties. It all just happens naturally. When you finally realize that you are starting to understand and process not just individual words and short phrases, but whole sentences without even translating them, it is evident that the person is acquiring the new language. For example, being able to understand comedy in another language is a good sign ofits acquisition. Figure 2 (above): Communication Breakdown

It is important to implement metacognitive, visualization, and interactive strategies with facial expressions, hands gestures in our classrooms in order to communicate effectively without translating. With the metacognitive strategies, in other words, “thinking about how to think”, teachers need to figure out what strategies should be implemented. This process may require a prior knowledge or even an individualized form of teaching. For example, when beginning a new unit whereI needto ask students for


their attention to starting a new lesson, I may simply raise my hand, point to my lips, touch my ear and brainstorm on the board to develop the vocabulary needed for the new topic that needs to be taught and discussed. In a regular situation, when the student requires a pencil in class, he may simply do the action of writing- such situations approach learning strategies in a natural, visual, interactive,and common way oflearning. Figure 4 (below): Metacognitive Strategies (Ifyou do not speak French and you are able to understand this image, congratulations! You are using your metacognitive strategies)

When it comes to the interactive strategy, it is not only a dynamic way to learn but also a good way to measure comprehension and assess if students have actually mastered the topic studied. Nowadays, technology

plays a big role in facilitating the learning since students could easily availthe Internet and find games on the subjects of interest. In our classroom, when students are being open-minded, creating mental pictures to try to perceive and understand a message through dynamics, signs, and visual support, they process the interactive learning, helping them to be innovators. Also, they increase collaboration that implants social skills. They are motivated to participate and develop their critical thinking strategies. They may also be encouraged through obtaining house points (ZBP, TSP, KIP) at St. Judes’ Academy. In conclusion, French students or any other student of a foreign languageare able to effectively process and apply a real communication without translations. However, they have to be active receptors, open-minded, and attentive just as they were when they first learned their mother

tongue language without any books or someone to translate for them. Teachers need to be real innovators who will help students face their barriers by creating a dynamic and interactive class. It is a big challenge to communicate to someone when it requires more than words to be able to transmit a message but we have to use what MalalaYousafzai called ‘the power of education’; meaning that we need to reach our potential by liberating and not enslaving, the mind.

References DemianBattaglia, Annette Witt, FredWolf, Theo Geisel. “Dynamic Effective Connectivity ofInter-Areal Brain Circuits” (Published: March 22, 2012). PascalTrends, “A Mechanism for Cognitive Dynamics: Neuronal Communication Through Neuronal Coherence”, Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol. 9 No. 10, October 2005. Alden S. Blodget, “Learning, Schooling and the Brain: New Research vs. Old Assumptions”(2014). Jean Berko Gleason, “The Development of Language”, Second Edition (1989).


22

Classroom Environment:

The Impact ofLight and Colour on Cognition & Performance

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ight and colour have powerful effects on our brain and psychological wellbeing. Light is required not only for vision, but also for a variety of non-visual functions; including mood, cognition, and memory. Typically, most students spend several hours in a classroom on daily basis. Hence the design, décor and structure of the classroomstrongly impact students’ cognition and behaviour. In fact, studies have shown that classrooms painted with bright colours, lighted with full-spectrum lighting, and devoid of virtual noise reduces students’blood pressure, off-task behavior, aggressiveness, disruptiveness; and improves academic performance ( Johnson & Maki, 2009). In this article, we are interested inexploring the impactofwithin classroom light and colouron the learning, wellbeing and behavioural modification of students. Lighting has a strong influence on our immediate surroundings.

Warm soft lighting is generally connected with comfort and relaxation, bright yellow light is associated with sunlight or being active, and red and green lights always make people think of Christmas and parties. These emotional states happen subconsciously and generate a great influence on how people perceive, learn and interact. The effect of lighting and colour enhancement is not any different in a classroom environment. A study involving 160, 000 elementary and middle school students found that lighting was a major contributor to students’ health, wellbeing and education. ( Jensen, 2008) The study showed that students exposed to more natural light for six months experience: - 65% reduction in visual problems - 55% reduction in fatigue - A significant drop in illness and infections This study was recreated in

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


2007 with a smaller sample size of 21,000 students with more focus on the school facilities, architectural maintenance, and classroom styles. Each classroom was assigned a code indicating the amount of sunlight it had access to throughout the school hours. The study concluded that students in a classroom setting with the most sunlight progressed up to 20% faster on math tests and an astonishing 26% faster on reading test compared to classrooms with a lower sunlight code. ( Jensen, 2008) These numbers are astonishing considering raising math or language scores by 5% or more is typically unheard of. The impacts of natural lighting improve the quality of student learning and cognition. These studies have demonstrated that the effects are both vivid and long lasting. The two studies above have influenced a number of other educational studies to conduct further research. The Heschong-

Mahone research group conducted a number of projects on sunlight and the variable effects. They concluded that sunlight had highly positive results in controlled environments. The research demonstrated significant drawbacks including glare, sun penetration, and absence of visual control. (Green Schools, 2006) The study revealed that direct sunlight from classrooms with windows facing east or south had a negative effect on student performance. This was due to glare as well as temperaturerelated issues. These issues were easily overcome by adding controls including blinds, light switches, and thermostat controls that the teacher could adjust when necessary (Green Schools 2006). Another aspect of natural lighting is refracted in the physical development of the brain. Children and adults are influenced by a number of physical environmental factors especially sunlight. This can be seen regularly

with studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter months. Earthman examined the relationship between student achievement and student behaviour. He concluded that the physical environment including sunlight directly influence moods, behaviour, and achievements. (Impacts of Daylight, 2014) The more natural light or sunlight a student has access to the more likely they are to have social success and positive behaviour in school. Colour choices also have an impact on the teaching and learning process within a classroom. Colour can affect a studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention span, as well as both teacher and studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sense of time (Sinofsky and Knrick, 1981). When paint colours are carefully planned, attention spans are improved. Carefully chosen colours avoid a monotonous environment and help students stay focused through mental stimulation,

Figure 1 : Benefit of Daylight on Students


thereby increasing productivity and accuracy. Colour can increase school pride, reduce disruptive behavior and aggression, and provide a supportive background for classroom activities (Daggett et al., 2008). Visual stimulation through colouractually rewires the brain and allows it to make stronger connections while fostering visual thinking, problem solving and creativity (Daggett et al., 2008). Which colours are best used in schools? Classrooms should actually incorporate a variety of colours, based on students’ age, gender, subject, and activity level, to help reduce monotony andenhance visual perception. However, using too many colours (more than 6 in a learning environment) strains the brain’s cognitive abilities (Sinofsky &Knrick, 1981). When planning classroom colours, consideration should be given to the stage of development of the students who will be spending time in that environment, as well as the activities that will be held in a particular area. In general, bright colours stimulate

brain activity and respiration. Cool colours lower blood pressure and improve muscle relaxation. Designers recommend mild colours for walls and floors and areas of independent work, like a reading area. Strong and boldcolours can be used in areas that require attention, such as a wall behind a white board (Zernike, 2001). According to research by the International Center for Leadership in Education, the best colours for various parts of the school are as follows: - Hallway: refreshing colours such as green, blue, or school spirit colours, - Media centre: restful colours such as light green, cream, or aqua, math- colours that encourage logic, such as indigo and blue - Language andSocialStudies: colours that encourage communication, such as sea green, or orange.

Although brightly lit environments with primary colours are often thought to be the best environments for primary students, in fact, research has shown that young children are sensitive and responsive to nuances in colour. Young children are particularly attuned to the colours of nature and human skin tone (Fielding, 2006). Colour should reflect the goals of each space, as well as the learners who will use the space. We are aware of the benefits of natural lighting on children’s bodies and brains, so how can we work to provide these benefits to students in classrooms without windows? One way is by providing full spectrum lighting. “Academic achievement and physical development may both be dramatically affected by the type of lighting used in schoolrooms,” reports Warren Hathaway, A Canadian psychologist. Hathaway concluded that full-spectrum lighting fosters swifter learning, better health and stronger growth than two other commonly used types of light. “For two years, Hathaway tracked 327 10-to-12year-olds at schools employing energy-efficient yellow sodium vapor lamps, full-spectrum fluorescent lighting with ultraviolet light inhibited or enhanced, or traditional ‘cool-white’ fluorescent light. Students in schools featuring full-spectrum lighting (with or without UV enhancement) made faster academic progress, were sick less often and recorded greater gains in height and weight than those exposed to sodium or cool-white light (Hathaway, 1993). In conclusion light and colour have massive effects on student’s physical wellbeing. Natural light


and colour both have shown a positive correlation to mood, cognition, memory, as well as physical and mental health. For years educators have rebuffed the idea that natural light influenced student learning and success. A number of recent studies have suggested otherwise, providing new details and insightsto the brain’s fascinating reaction to lighting and colour. At St. Jude’s Academy, we work hard to ensure our students’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. On the one hand, our classrooms are equipped with the essential resources to facilitate learning, while on the otherhand; our administration ensures students’ surroundings are designed to elevate their mood and consequently academic performance.

Natural light and colour both have shown a positive correlation to mood, cognition, memory, as well as physical and mental health. References Daggett, William, et al. (2008). Color in an Optimum Learning Environment. International Center for Leadership in Education. Fieling, Randall (2006). Learning, Lighting and Color.Lighting Design for Schools and Universities in the 21st Century

Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning. Washington, DC: National Academies, 2007. Print. Hathaway, Warren (1993). Full Spectrum Light Outshines Others in the Classroom Jensen, Eric. Brain-based Learning: The New Paradigm ofTeaching. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin, 2008. Print. Johnson, Heidi S.S. & Jennifer A. Maki (2009). Color sense. American School & University Magazine Online. Sinofsky, E.R. &Knirck, F.G. (1981). Choose the right color for your learning style. Instructional Innovator, 26(3), 17-19. Yacan, Safak. "Impacts ofDaylighting on Preschool Students 'Social and Cognitive Skills."Interior Design Program: Theses (2014): 22-33. Nterior Design Program at DigitalCommons@University ofNebraska. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. Zernike, Kate (Aug. 5, 2001) The Fend Shui of Schools, The New York Times.


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Adolescent Brain Development And The Impact On Behaviour

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dolescence is defined as the period in a person’s life that begins with puberty and ends in the mid to late-20s. It can be a time of both, disorientation and discovery, as well as the transition to independence and self-identity. Many people (parents, teachers) view this time period as one fraught with rebellion, emotional upheaval, lack of understanding and confusion. This behaviour, however, stems from the complicated developments of the adolescent brain, and can be both wonderful and terrifying experience for teens and the adults who have to deal with them. Understanding not just how students behave in this key transitional and developmental stage of life, but also why they behave in this way, can help inform what we teach, when we teach and how we teach it, so that we can bring out every adolescent student’s fullest potential. In order to understand the importance of brain development

during adolescence, it is imperative to know what is happening to the brain at the physical and chemical levels. A child and adult brain operate very differently from an adolescent brain; this is due to the processes an adolescent brain is undergoing during the period between puberty and adulthood. In the article, “The Role of Puberty in the Developing Adolescent Brain,” the author explains that, “The beginning of adolescence occurs around the onset of puberty and is therefore marked by dramatic changes in hormone levels and in physical appearance (including rapid physical growth, changes in facial structure, and the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics,” (Blakemore, 2012). This transition is usually a drastic, quick and sudden event. The changes in hormone levels during adolescence have a profound effect on an adolescent’s appearance.An increase in, “the gonadal steroid hormones estrogen and testosterone, as well as their weaker adrenal counterparts,

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


influence the…brain and behaviour,” of adolescents, (Blakemore, 2012). An adolescent’s behaviour can change so much during puberty that they become unrecognizable to their own parents. One of the key neurological changes during this time is an increase of activity in the limbic system of the brain and a slow development of the pre-frontal cortex. “The limbic structures are involved in many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival. Such emotions include fear, anger, and emotions related to sexual behaviour,” (Sasek, 2000). The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for regulating the limbic system and keeping behaviour in check. During adolescence, teenagers are a mess of emotions, risk-taking, and reward-seeking while they have a developing pre-frontal cortex that is not yet up to the challenge of regulating the limbic system. This leads to a “more impulsive action in teens,” says adolescent brain researcher Adriana Galvan. Additionally, teenagers have a far more active striatumthan adults or children. The striatum is part of the limbic system that is responsible for our brain’s “reward system,” (Galvan, 2013). The exponentially higher excitation of the striatum in adolescencemakes them much more excited and manipulated by rewards. The reward handed out by the brain with the activation of this system is dopamine. The adolescent brain releases a higher amount of dopamine when a rewarding event

occurs. Once the pre-frontal cortex is fully developed, this excitation is monitored and more stable. This explains why teenagers often seek high-risk to high-reward seekingbehaviour and activities (for example: skipping school and rebelling against parents). At the same time, finding the right reward or motivation can lead to an enthusiastic willingness to

participate in a teenager that is not restrained by the adult pre-frontal cortex. I believe that understanding this key stage in development will help teachers implement classroom procedures and routines that will actively engage student enthusiasm and creativity. Another key change during adolescence is a substantial increase in the grey matter within the prefrontal cortex that declines as the brain matures. This grey matter is

comprised of synapsis or connections across the brain. At the beginning of adolescence, according to Jayne Blakemore in her Ted Talk “Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain,” there is an endless possibility of synapsis that a person can develop, use, and maintain. Depending on environment, interest, access, peers, etc. these synapsis are pruned away over time and what remains, makes up who a person is and how an individual brain works. As such, the development of an adolescent is highly reliant on the environment. The abundance of synapses in the adolescent brain can also explain the seemingly slow, inattentive behaviour often found in teens, (Blakemore, 2012). The pruning of these synapses is why adults seem better focused than their teenage counter-parts. These synapses in large part also explain why teens and adults use different cognitive strategies for social decisions. An adolescent pre-frontal cortex has far more synoptical possibilities when confronted with social decisions, while an adult brain’s route has been fixed and finalized through years of pruning. This is particularly evident in a teens’ lack of ability to, “take into account someone else’s perspective to guide ongoing behaviour,” (Blakemore, 2016). Furthermore, according to Blakemore, “risk-taking is higher in adolescence,” (Blakemore, 2016). On the surface this may seem like trouble, but it actually allows for more diverse thinking, problem solving and action than one would


normally see in adults.Teenagers are more likely to launch and suggest seemingly outlandish ideas, but these wild ideas can yield creative solutions that an adult brain is just not wired to deliver. As an English teacher, I often find students making connections between themes, characters, and events that I could never have thought. Understanding the intricate wiring of an adolescent brain helps me encourage this out of the box thinking. Students need to be encouraged to test out their developing synapsis and find what problem solving pathway works best for them. Rather than fearing teenage rebellion, risk-taking behaviour and often-inattentive attitude, we as teachers should relish in the capabilities and possibilities the adolescent mind offers. We are the

ones who can influence them in their primary formative years. We have the power to shape their attitudes, beliefs and thought systems at a level that is rivalled only by their peers. Understanding this power will help us make informed decisions in terms of what we challenge and demand of our students. They can take as much as we can dish out, and if we can convince their developing minds of that possibility, it will stay with them for life. The brain they develop at adolescence is the brain they will keep as adults. It is up to us to ensure that students develop the neurological pathways and habits that will allow them to be successful in life. We should relish in their risk-taking and push them far outside their comfort zones because that is what their brains crave. We need to learn about our

students so that we can provide them with the proper motivation that will actually stimulate and satisfy their overactive limbic system. Let us harness the unadulterated, unfettered possibilities of the adolescent brain and unleash their creativity and ingenuity on society.

References Blakemore, Sarah. “Mysterious Workings ofthe Adolescent Brain”. TED. 2012. Lecture Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne, Stephanie Burnett, and Ronald E Dahl. “The Role ofPuberty in the Developing Adolescent Brain.” Human Brain Mapping 31.6 (2010): 926–933. PMC. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. Galvan, Adriana. “Insight Into the Brain”. Ted. 2013. Lecture Sasek, Catherine. “Mind Over Matter”.U.S. Department ofHealth and Human Services. Web. 2000.


The Critical Period for Language Acquisition

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tudies have shown that there is a high correlation between the age and the ability to achieve a native or near native-like proficiency in a second language. Children are believed to have the ability toacquire a second language more easily than adults due to both biological and environmentalsociological factors. A hypothesis, known as the critical period hypothesis, was proposed by Lenneberg (1967) to describe a period during which second language acquisition can be easily achieved. The critical period occurs between the ages of two and the onset of puberty, which is around the age of ten and twelve. Language acquisition taking place beyond this period will be difficult toattain. This research paper will further develop some educational strategies that may be incorporated into the French program at St. Judeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Academy to better assist students of various ages in their language learning. With respect to the biological

factors, the plasticity of the human brain is reduced with age; as a result, children are more likely to recover speech ability compared to adults after damage to the left hemisphere of the brain (Penfield, 1959). With regard to the environmental-sociological factors, children are able to learn a language more effectively because they are more exposed to physical activities and play situations whereas adults are less engaged in physical movement and play situations (Asher & Garcia, 1969). Children also benefit morefrom non-verbal messages that go along with verbal language. As a result of this research, it is advisable to encourage students to learn a new language at an early age if possible. A child can easily benefit from the neuroplasticity when they are younger, giving them the ability to attain a second language without much effort. I am pleased to see that students at St.Jude's Academy begin to learn French in Junior Kindergarten,

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which is a very good age to start, according to the critical period hypothesis. This research is not to discourage older learners from acquiring a second language. It is essentially an encouragement to those who are considering learning a new language to start at an early age for better results. Of course, there are older learners out there that have achieved high proficiency in language learning. The age factor is not the primary factor that affects second language acquisition. Since we cannot change the biological effects of the brain on language acquisition, we can consider the environmentalsociological impacts and formulate ways to help French as a second language (FSL) students in this aspect. For example, children are more receptive to non-verbal cues compared to adults. As a result, I

should use more gestures and incorporate more visual tools and physical movements to enhance language learning in my classroom. When learning a second language,

Students at St.Jude's Academy begin to learn French in Junior Kindergarten, which is a very good age to start.

make an effort to reduce first language interference by using only the target language and avoid translation. With these approaches in mind, students will gain the most effective results in the French programduring their language learning process.

References Asher, J.J., & Garcia, R. (1969). The Optimal Age to Learn a Foreign Language.The Modern Language Journal.38, 334-341. Lee, K.H. (1995). Age Differences in Second Language Acquisition: An Educational Perspective. The Korean Language in America.Penn State University Press.1, 281â&#x20AC;&#x201C;291. Lenneberg, E. (1967).Biological Foundations ofLanguage. New York: Wiley & Sons.

adults tend to use their language to understand grammatical components of foreign language. Therefore, I

first the the will

Penfield, W., & Roberts, L. (1959).Speech and Brain Mechanisms. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


How Does Learning A Second Language Affect The Brain?

How does it affect the learning process in class?

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everal studies conducted on the effects of learning a second language (such as French) on the brainshave demonstrated multiple physiological and cognitive benefits. Language is a way to develop higher order cognitive functions particularly at a very young age when most brain folding is happening. The main features of these functions are reflective awareness and deliberate control. When learning our native language, the primitive or less complex aspects are developed first, as we connect environmental subjects for our first words and develop more sophisticated concepts such as grammar, as we grow older. The opposite is often true about our second language as most people use their native language as a reference for simple concepts and indulge into greater, higher level functions instantly. This is automatically testing the two previously mentioned higher order cognitive functions, reflective awareness, and

deliberate control. As the brain is a system of millions of interconnected neurons, possibly billions, or even trillions, the cognitive functions developed in language learning does not only apply to the language functions of the brain but open gateways to other analytical and social skills.

Direct Benefits 1. The general boosting of brainpower: as the second language introduces new distinct rules and etymology. 2. Multi-tasking ability is developed. 3. It aids in self-discovery and self-actualization. 4. It makes a person more flexible and open to the cultures. Language is a doorway to a particular colour and/or culture. So, learning a new language enables a person to have a broader understanding of that race or culture.

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According to (Beckham, Robert D. “Why study a FL.” The University of Tennessee at Martin. Globe-Gate Research/University of Tennessee), several studies show that people who learn more than one language outscore those who only know one language on tests of verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Children are often more creative and flexible when they learn two languages at an early age as well as boosting students’ skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.The bilingual brain is used to handling two languages at the same time. This develops skills for functions such as inhibition (a cognitive mechanism that discards irrelevant stimuli), switching attention, and working memory. MRI scans showed specific parts of the brains of the language students developed

in size whereas the brain structures of the control group remained unchanged (The Guardian, 2014). Our brains change and adapt as a result of experience. Studies have shown that people who are multilingual have a higher density of grey matter in their brains. Additionally, older individuals who are multilingual, tend to have a better-maintained white matter in their brains. Studies showed that learning a second language significantly delayed the onset of many brainrelated diseases such as Alzheimer and dementia, compared to those who can only speak their native language.There is an improvement within mental muscle since learning a language involves memorizing rules and vocabulary, which enhances the mechanism of how we learn; memory and problem solving. It increases the size of the brain language center and the hippocampus, which is the area responsible for forming, storing and retrieving stories. It also increases the number of neural pathways between parts of the brain. It does, in fact, modify the brain’s structure, specifically the brain’s inferior frontal cortex. The cortex is a multilayered mass of neurons that plays a major role in cognitive functions such as thought, language, consciousness, and memory. According to several hiring practices

around the globe, including those of the Government of Canada, employment prospects increase tremendously when the candidates demonstrate their ability to bridge the cultural gap with their knowledge of several languages. Within the current global context in which we live, it becomes easy to understand that the many benefits of learning a second language transcend the scope of the classroom. In conclusion, learning a second language brings several benefits to the individuals and the collectivity. On the individual level, it improves the brain’s connectivity, functions such as decision-making and problem solving, and delays the brain ageing process. On the collective level, it promotes and improves communications by providing common grounds such as language and culture.

References Cognitive Benefits ofLanguage Learning, Washington International School & Northern Michigan University Beckham, Robert D. “Why study a FL.”The University ofTennessee at Martin. Globe-Gate Research/University ofTennessee, n.d. “What Happens in the Brain When You Learn a Language?”The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 04 Sept. 2014). “Learning Second Language ‘slows Brain Ageing’ – BBC News.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Jennifer Smith on behalfofKwintessential, the translation specialist. Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital The Neuro at McGill University and Oxford University.


Adolescence and Brain Development

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esearch on the brain development during adolescence offers insights to educators in understanding the decision-making competence of their students. Extensive brain studies have helped parents and early childhood educators understand that the brain is nearly fully-grown by the time a child is two or three, it has helped them to understand that brain development until the age of six is crucial since that is when the brain is developing neurological pathways at a rapid pace, and it has helped them to appreciate the importance of a child’s learning so early on in life. However, more brain research now is dedicated to the adolescents. Time, perception, social behaviours, working memory, and decisionmaking, are all linked to the prefrontal cortex and it is developed during adolescence. The research is helping the parents and the educators in understanding the development of executive functions, their pace of development, and how

they can be nurtured. Educators of adolescents conduct a balancing act for themselves: When is a student “old enough” to make decisions on their own and deal with the consequences versus when an educator feels the need to step in and provide a “safety net”. The following will outline the newest research of adolescent brain development, a focus on decisionmaking and the nurturing of it, and the approach educators should take when preparing students for the “real world”. Brain development research in relation to adolescence directly focuses on the maturity ofthe fontal lobeand limbic system during the ages of 12 to 18. The frontal lobe includes the primary motor cortex, the superior and middle frontal gyrus, and the inferior frontal gyrus. (Evans, 2007, p.40) These areas specifically focus on voluntary control of movements of body parts; the planning and execution of behaviour, high-level executive functions, decision-making

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processes, speech production, language processing and comprehension, and the recognition of speech. (Evans, 2007, p.40) During adolescence, the pre-frontal cortex links to the midbrain reward system, which allows adolescents to become hypersensitive to the value of novel experiences. Furthermore, the dorsolateral parts of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of judgment and problem solvingand the emotional centres in the limbic system, incased in the cortex, are not developed until the early '20s. (Harvard Health Publications, 2015) Lastly, hormonal changes impact the adolescent brain as it pours out adrenal stress, sex hormones and growth hormones affecting the limbic system, which is important for the regulation of arousal and mood. The aforementioned portions of the brain can offer insights into the actions and decision-making of the adolescents. Research demonstrates how abstract reasoning, memory, and the formal capacity for planning are fully developed in the brain by age 15 or 16, but the emotional state that they are in can influence their reasoning capacity. (Harvard Health Publications, 2015) The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is a popular psychological experiment where subjects are given four decks of cards to choose from, to earn as much money as possible. Within the four decks, there are two advantageous decks of cards and two disadvantageous decks of cards. The original purpose of this study was to test patients with pre-cortex dysfunctions and their riskmanagement/ decision-making skills. Many researchers have

adopted this experiment to test adolescent decision-making. In a combined study conducted by Cauffman, Shulman, Claus, Banich, Steinbern, Graham, and Woolard, a modified versionof the IGT was usedto measure effective decisionmaking between the ages of 10-30. Their findings identified that as age increased, so did the chance of choosing from the advantageous decks. This explains how the adolescent brain is developed enough to recognize abstract reasoning. This study describes how adults choose better decision-making options based on the outcomes, whereas adolescent decision-making stems from reward seeking; controlled by the emotional cues undeveloped in their brain. Overall, the increase in self-regulatory competence, which occurs gradually and is not complete until the mid20s, makes mid-adolescence a time of heightened vulnerability to risky and reckless behavior. (Steinberg, 2008, p. 83) We decided to try and test these results with St. Jude’s Academy students over the course of a twoday observation. Students were given a survey at the beginning of day one that included tenclosedended questions relating to proper decision-making. All students answered the questions appropriately making the ethical decision on each question. For example, one question asked students to answer “right” or “wrong” for the following statement: “Using personal devices in class for non-educational purposes.” 100% of the participants answered that using a personal device in class for non-educational purposes was wrong. However, due

to peer-influence, and we believe, their brain development, soon after the survey, Student A used his phone right after the survey, Student B started playing a game on her phone and showed Student C. In addition, Student D began messaging on his personal device during class time and later opened his laptop to change a funny picture on his desktop. Lastly, Student E also opened his laptop to play a game during class time. All these actions happened in one 80-minute class, even though all students indicated on the survey that these actions were inappropriate. Over the two days, students were actively on their devices for personal reasons in every class they attended. For accurate results, teachers were asked not to intervene. The two-day study illustrated that students had the capability of making the right decision when asked as a hypothetical question – which highlights the connection to the ability to recognize abstract reasoning – yet when placed in an environment to showcase the actions necessary to match the reasoning, students were unable to follow through. The reasoning for this connects back to the undeveloped adolescent brain in the pre-frontal cortex and emotional cues in the limbic system. We understand the limitations to our study, which includes (but is not limited to): sample size, length of the study, and socio-economic status. However, our results can be related to the IGT due to the pleasure-seeking results. Based on our results, we can ascertain how the student mind works and assist in helping students make the right choices.


Understanding the research presented, educators have an obligation to guide students from not only recognizing abstract reasoning, but acting upon it as well. Therefore, it is imperative that educators be aware of their role in often making the final decision that removes the emotion from the decision. For example, showing students the consequences of their actions. Poor decision-making from students offers teachable moments for educators to continue the coaching process involved in helping students make the right decisions, as opposed to being disheartened and insensitive to the research.This research encourages educators to be aware of the developing adolescent brain and strategies to shape their decisionmaking. Some of the strategies that

educators can use in the classroom to promote healthy decision-making are: • Providing reasonable due dates and timelines with follow-up • Develop essential classroom agreements together • Allow for problem solving opportunities, so students can participate in reflective thinking • Present opportunities for students to think critically • Have students set appropriate goals and coach them into reaching them. The adolescent brain continues to develop in the pre-frontal cortex and limbic system until their mid20s, affecting their decision-making skills. Research suggests that although adolescents recognize abstract reasoning, their emotional

and reward-seeking functions can influence their decisions and actions. Ultimately, it is the role of an educator to provide teaching strategies that guide and coach adolescent students in understanding how to demonstrate healthy decisions.

References Cauffman, Elizabeth, et al. "Age Differences in Affective Decision Making as Indexed by Performance on the Iowa Gambling Task." Developmental Psychology. 46.1. (2010): 193207. Article. Evans, Karen, et al. "The Brain and Learning in Adolescence."Understanding the Brain: The Birth ofa Learning Science, part 2. (2007): 185-210. Harvard Health Publications.Harvard Medical School, July 2015. Web. 18 March 2016. Steinberg, Laurence. "A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-taking." Developmental Review. 28.1. (2008): 78-106. Article.


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Kinaesthetic Learning, the Brain, and the Classroom

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y first ideas about the how we learn, has changed brain and intelligence dramatically. There are many myths began in elementary about the brain that I thought to be school. I came to believe that some true that are now debunked. One of kids were smarter than others and these is that you are born with a this determined oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s place in the certain number of brain cells and society. My Grade 6 teacher these die offas you age. My Biology arranged student tables into groups teacher told us that these lost cells were never to be of four. These groups recovered. Max were placed around the room in order of They couldn't all be Cynader, Director of the Brain Research decreasing academic performance. As the kinaesthetic learners, Center in BC, states that we grow school year could they? thousands of brain progressed, we all cells daily (Cynadar, knew how well someone was doing based on where 2013). An enriched environment they were seated. It was humiliating can stimulate even more growth to be moved down. The kids at the than that. What he means by an smart grouping did not associate enriched environment is one where with kids at the lowest table. It was there are different types of stimuli, a scary classroom to be in! such as social, cognitive, and Although we sat in groups, we did physical. He does agree that areas not do group work. We spoke when of the brain shrink as we age, but the teacher stepped out the room. physical exercise, especially cardio, The classroom is a very different and resistance exercise can grow brain areas as we age. place in 2016. I took up piano lessons a few Likewise, the way we think about the brain, intelligence, and years ago. I love music, but never BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


had the opportunity to have lessons as a child. My music teacher warned me that she did not have much success with adult learners, not because they were too old to learn, but because there were many other commitments they had that did not allow them to practice enough to progress. It was an up and down experience for me. Playing with one hand was easy. Putting hands together was a challenge. With practiceand time, I was successful. My teacher was thrilled with my progress until we started pedal work. The best way to describe trying to do this was to say that my brain lacked the neural pathways needed to send the message to my feet to pedal at that moment while both hands were playing. This was so taxing to me that I felt like throwing up and had to take a break and try again the next day. Each day I get, could endure a bit more until success happened. This experience addresses other myths. One such myth is that there are windows of opportunity – times when learning must occur or it will be too late. Instead, we now know about neuroplasticity; learning can occur at any stage of life (Sperling, 2015). Plasticity is the process by which the brain changes (Cynadar, 2013). In order to bring about changes in your brain, you need to challenge it, and it will respond. Learning is “the formation of new synapses and dendrite branching,” (Zull, 2002). Carol Dweck’sgrowth mindset philosophy is one that I wholeheartedly embrace and one, which I wish, I knew about as a young learner. She would say, “I can’t do it – yet.” I found a great activity to teach Canada’s regions to my Grade 4s a

few years back. It involved representing the regions on a map using materials such as cotton wool for the Tundra, yellow lentils for the plains, and tin foil for the Canadian Shield, etc. The regions were a new concept to the Grade 4s. At the same time, we reviewed provinces and territories using map colouring activities. Students wrote a test on this work. The class performed much better on the regions portion than the provinces and territories

portion ofthe test, even though they had learned about provinces and territories in the previous grade. This got me wondering about how valuable kinesthetic learning is.Kinaesthetic learning is a kind of learningthat is active instead of passive. It is doing instead of watching. “Kinaesthetic-tactile techniques are used in combination with visual and/or auditory study techniques, producing multi-sensory learning” (Gibbs, 1995). I wondered


why everyone in the class did better on the regions if the reason for the difference was kinaesthetic learning. They couldn’t all be kinaesthetic learners, could they? Madrazo & Motz (2005) say that most retention occurs when students teach others, practice by doing, and when there is a discussion in groups. This helps to explain the difference in scores; when learning about provinces, there was colouring and labelling of maps, involving some activity, while the regions work involved much more activity, discussion, and visual and tactile stimuli. It was also a much more enjoyable activity for students. The more a student is engaged in learning, the more parts of the brain are actively stimulated ( Jagust & Budinger, 1993). Group work’s positive setting and interaction generate new thought and a motivation to learn (Masrazo & Motz, 2005). The release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, occurs during group work. Dopamine plays a role in memory, attention, comprehension, and executive function (Willis, 2007). There is better retention of learning when it is associated with positive emotions (Willis, 2007). Students working in cooperative groups create a relaxed, stress free, and supportive learning environment for each other. Learning while experiencing anxiety can hinder learning. The amygdala is a part of the brain responsible for feeling and perceivingemotions and warning of danger (McGill, 2016). Learning situations such as being called on to answer questions before the whole class may cause anxiety. This anxiety results in no flow of information in or out of the

amygdala and no new information being stored (Toga and Thompson, 2003). Group work allows more time for students to be involved in the discussion, compared to when the teacher is addressing the whole class (Gibbs, 1995). What are the implications for the classroom? • Growth Mindset: We need to teach kids to think along the growth mindset, to help them realise that they have a potential to grow new brain cells.Along with this comes the philosophy oflife-long leaners. • Make it challenging: Students and teachers need to realise that improvement in the areas of weakness can be made if there is an environmental challenge. The “curriculum should enable firing of the right networks and neurons (strategies), repeated firings (practice), and make the learner feel good” (Zull, 2002). • Types ofLearners: We are not limited to one or a few ways of leaning, e.g. visual, auditory. Instead, we use all stimuli to learn (Sperling, 2015). • Use multisensory learning: Examples include language (reading, writing, speaking), sensory motor, metaphors, humour, spatial, temporal, music, emotion, etc. (Madrazo&Motz, 2005). • Cooperative Group Work: Cooperative group work is valuable by providing a much stress-free opportunity for a higher level of participation by students and better learning. Students contribute their strengths to the group and learn from others. In literature circle, discussions of about four students, everyone has the opportunity to read, speak, and listen. They participate in different roles

(discussion director, illustrator, summarizer, etc.), share their work, and see the work ofothers. • Processing Time: It is okay if it doesn’t make sense today. After a break or a good night’s sleep, it might make sense. Our brains replay and rehearse what has happened during the day (Cynadar, 2013).

References Cynadar, M. Enhancing the plasticity ofthe brain: Max Cynadar at TEDxStanleyPark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chr3rQ6 Vpcw&list=PLPNDZReAUu5Li9fzrpYJI86eCXQhDJhv. YouTube. Published on Apr 26, 2013. Web. April 27, 2016. Gibbs, J. (1995). Tribes. Sausalito, CA: CenterSource Systems.http://www.houghton.edu/academics/a cademic-resources/center-for-academic-successand-advising/study-advisement/generalstudy-information/kinesthetic-learningstyle/Houghton College. Kinesthetic-Tactile Learning Style.n.d.Web. Accessed April 27, 2016. Jagust, W., &Budinger, T. (1993).New neuroimaging techniques for investigating brain-behavior relationships.NIDA Research, 124, 95. Print. Madrazo, G.M., Jr., and Motz, L.L. Brain Research: Implications to Diverse Learners. Science Educator. Spring 2005. Vol. 14, No. 1. Print. Brain.McGill.ca. The Amygdala and Its Allies.N.d. Web. Retrieved April 23, 2016.http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_04/d _04_cr/d_04_cr_peu/d_04_cr_peu.html Sperling, J. McKinsey on Neuroscience and Learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp60MM tJ_30. YouTube. McKinsey LD, Published March 12, 2015. Web. April 27, 2016. Toga, A., &Thompson, P. (2003).Temporal dynamics ofbrain anatomy.Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, 5, 119–145. Willis, J. 2007. Cooperative Learning is a Brain Turn-On. Middle School Journal. Zull, J.E. (2002). The Art ofChanging the Brain: Enriching the Practice ofTeaching by Exploring the Biology ofLearning. Herndon, VA: Stylus Publishing, Inc.


Achievement


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How the Lack ofSleep Affects the Academic Performance ofStudents

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leep plays a vital function in maintaining individuals’ good health and mental well being. The quantity and quality of sleep can help preserve one’s mental and physical health while improving the basic quality of life. Sleep deprivation is rampant due to the increased number of working hours and enhanced voluntary participation in leisurely activities. It is inferred that the average sleep schedule is being compressed to compensate for the modern demands of the everyday life. In this article, the relationship between the amount of sleep and the academic performance of students will be discussed. It is crucial for a child to receive 9 - 9 ½ hours of sleep per night because their body is still developing and growing. However, with the present circumstances of homework load, extra-curricular activities, social gatherings, parental work, and personal affairs, the required amount of sleep is not always attained (NIH, 2012). The factors

that were tested varied among different studies. Nonetheless, it has been established that sleep deprivation affects the attention levels, memory, alertness, vigilance, and decision-making of students, etc. (Aloha & Kantola, 2007). Studies have shown that the two processes that determine the sleep and wake cycle to regulate sleep are: Homeostatic process S and Circadian process C. These processes measure individuals’ alertness and vigilance. The homeostatic process S is dependent on sleep and wakefulness and the latter “control(s) [an] endogenous circadian pacemaker, which affects thresholds for the onset and offset of a sleep episode” (Aloha & Kantola, 2007). In studies, test subjects would be sleep deprived for 24 hours or more and then different types of test would be executed to assessfor attention, memory, alertness and vigilance – some tests included simultaneously counting backward, memorizing words, and subtraction tasks. In the first test,

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individuals had to divide their attention with uneven workloads while working on their memory, speed, and accuracy. This was known to put “high demands on cognitive capacity” on students (Aloha & Kantola, 2007). It was determined that the test subjects would try to ease the load by simplifying the procedures of the task. In addition, it was displayed that even though individuals were able to switch between the two tasks, there would be more time and improvement focused on one task and the other task would weaken. However, in some cases, the accuracy of the jobs would remain integral, as the performance speed would decline. This was the main idea of the study, as there would be a sort of trade-off between speed and accuracy (Aloha & Kantola, 2007). Consequently, students are seen to receive low grades, fall asleep in class, and increase the number of absences, which in turn hinders their academic performance. Furthermore, non-academic performance, moods, and overall behaviour are also being compromised as a result of the lack of sleep. It is shown that children and teens become more irritable, cranky, and easily frustrated with individuals, tasks, and their immediate surroundings. Teens that are sleep deprived tend to be involved in risk-taking behaviours that are detrimental to their health and safety, such as drinking or reckless driving. Teachers, although cannot control a child’s sleeping schedule and patterns, can help a tired student in several ways in the classroom. While it is easy to abruptly wake up a student who fell

asleep by asking them to repeat the instructions, this method does not promote a safe and respectful environment. Instead, a suggestion would be to have the class work on an activity and then gently tap the student on the arm or shoulder. This allows for the teacher to maintain a student-teacher relationship by not embarrassing them in front of the class. Teachers should not begin by telling the student that he/she must stay awake, instead, ask the student why he/she is tired and if he/she needs to go get a drink or go to the

Teens that are sleep deprived tend to be involved in risk-taking behaviours that are detrimental to their health and safety, such as drinking or reckless driving. washroom. Finally, teachers should not show offence to their students falling asleep during the class. Such approach demonstrates understanding, compassion, and positive communication between the teacher and the student. Teachers can also tryto work one-on-one with such students to show concern for their health and well being. Another approach is to allow the student to get up and stretch or get a drink of water if necessary. However, it is important that the student understands the consequences of falling asleep in a classroom and the steps that follow if such behaviour

continues. All in all, the most important takeaway is to keep the conversation positive, but also show that the behaviour must stop. Additionally, teachers should want to help solve the problem and make the student feel comfortable, but also show that falling asleepduring a class, is not acceptable. If the problem becomes seriously consistent without any signs of subsidence, the teachers must report the situation to the administration. To summarize, sleep is an important factor in a teenager’s life and it should not be overlooked. By getting the optimum amount of sleep, teens will be able to learn, memorize, and perform tasks in a safer and more effective manner. Although teachers cannot control students’ sleeping patterns, they can show them the importance of sleep and the consequences it can have on one’s body. There is a lot of pressure on students to perform well in school and outside of school, but one should remember that they are still growing. So maybe there has to be a change of mindset to reevaluate what truly is important: a child’s performance outside of school or a child’s health.

References NIH. (2012, February 22). Why Is Sleep Important? Retrieved December 13, 2016, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/healthtopics/topics/sdd/why Aloha, P., &Kantola, P. (2007, October/November). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Retrieved December 13, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P MC2656292/. Methis, M. (2009). Strategies for Dealing with Sleepy Students. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.teachhub.com/strategies-dealingsleepy-students


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The Use OfSpecific Praise On Students’ Overall Performance

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raise is a powerful yet underrated tool for educators. By simply using positive reinforcement, students can be guided towards appropriate behaviours. There are three types of praise including: specific, positive, and non-verbal praise (Chalk & Bizo, 2004, p. 336; Bani, 2011, p.53). Typically, praise is used to provide general reinforcement such as, “Great work, Sally!” or “Good job, Michael!” However, studies have shown that in order to be effective, students need to understand the root of the compliment. When used successfully, specific praise can have a dramatic impact on student’s academic, social-emotional performance, and classroom environment. In order to understand how to effectively utilize this tool, it is important to properly define praise. Positive praise is described as a positive remark regarding a student’s behaviour; it does not provide reasoning for the praise.

For example, if Michelle did a fantastic journal a positive praise would be “Way to go, Michelle!” Non-verbal praise often goes hand in hand with positive and specific praise as it is used to express feelings to another individual. For instance: facial expressions, eye contact, clapping, thumbs up, or stickers (Bani, 2011, p.53, p.62). Specific praise is utilized the least but has been found to be the most effective. It is an indirect method for guiding students towards a particular behaviour. This is due to the fact that while implementing specific praise they are providing reasoning behind the compliment they are giving the student. For example, “Excellent use of your vocabulary, John!” This helps students to comprehend what they did successfully and how to repeat the behaviour again (Chalk & Bizo, 2004, p.336). Aside from altering behaviour, specific praise can also be a useful tool for influencing students’ overall performance. A teacher’s goal is to provide

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


students with the necessary tools and abilities in order to become a well-rounded student. The use of specific praise has been found to have several academic benefits. The practice of using specific praise can result in an increase in the on-task behaviour while a decrease in the disruptive behaviour (Chalk & Bizo, 2004, p. 346; Floress & Jenkins, 2015, p. 254). This stems from the fact that students now understand why they are being praised and are more likely to make it a habit. They internalize the learning strategies they are obtaining from the specific praise provided to them. For instance, “Nathan, you are doing a great job at crossing-off your numbers as you count.” Over time, students further develop an understanding of the strategies that will improve their academic performance. An important aspect of elementary education is feeling accepted and safe in the classroom environment. When developing a classroom environment, students feel more open and comfortable in a climate in which they are complimented and admired (Bani, 2011, p. 62). Creating a warm classroom environment also promotes children to treat others the way they want to be treated; therefore fostering a classroom of inclusion. Providing students with specific and non-verbal praise throughout the day results in children feeling important, which leads to an increase in academic self-concept (Chalk & Bizo, 2004, p.346). Therefore, the students feel more successful in their activities, which results in an improvement in their academic performance. As the students are successful they stay

interested in the activities they are completing; they strive to achieve their best while upholding a positive attitude (Bani, 2011, p. 62). In order to achieve these academic and social goals, the teacher has several questions to reflect upon with regard to how to implement this praise. This is a concept of self-monitoring. These questions will allow a teacher to ensure they are correctly implementing praise into their classroom. These questions include: Am I guiding the students towards the behaviours they need to work on? Am I praising the children who need it the most? Am I allowing them enough time to internalize this praise? Is it effective for specific individuals as well as the whole class? Keeping aware of the choices a teacher makes allows them to continually reflect upon their actions and increase the likelihood of praising students in the classroom. Research shows that teachers should use specific praise 18-30 times per hour (Floress & Jenkins, 2015, p. 260). It is important that teachers use selfmonitoring to reflect upon themselves, praise students more purposefully and assist their overall development as learners. The importance of stressing why a student is being praised cannot be stressed enough; this is the concept of specific praise. Without the reasoning, students are less likely to internalize the behaviours and strategies the teacher is trying to reinforce. These behaviours and strategies are

embedded as students’ academic self-concept was increased and they believe in their abilities. The teacher ensures that praise is being completed strategically by using self-monitoring and asking themselves questions to reflect on. Using specific praise and selfreflection, educators can create a safe, warm and receptive classroom.

References Karen Chalk and Lewis A. Bizo. “Specific Praise Improves On‐task Behaviour and Numeracy Enjoyment: A study ofyear four pupils engaged in the numeracy hour.” Educational Psychology in Practice 20:4 (2004): 335-351. Web. 19 Jan. 2007. Margaret T. Floress and Lyndsay N. Jenkins. “A Preliminary Investigation ofKindergarten Teachers’ Use ofPraise in General Education Classrooms.” Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children andYouth 59.4 (2015): 253-262. Web. 02 Apr. 2015. Maria Bani. “The use and frequency ofverbal and non-verbal praise in nurture groups.” Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 16.1 (2011): 46-67. Web. 19 Feb. 2011.


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The Relationship between Nutrition and Academic Achievement

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here is no doubt that eating healthy foods is good for one’s body, health, and overall wellbeing. But could eating nutritional, healthy food also impact one’s success in school? In the past decade, there have been many studies conducted throughout North America aimed to answer this very question. Particularly, research studies in Alberta, Canada and the United States of America show healthy eating habits may have a positive effect on higher achievement in schools. This article will demonstrate how healthy eating can positively influence a child’s academic achievement and how programs such as the Breakfast Club, can also help to play an important part in enhancing one’s school performance. What is healthy eating? According to the Alberta Health Services, “healthier eating habits are typically characterized by a variety of foods, adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, large

amounts of vegetables and fruits, and moderate amounts of fat” (Alberta Health Services, 2016). When students consume healthier foods, they are getting the important nutrients needed for optimal cognitive functioning. Similarly, when students consume unhealthy foods (high in sugar and low in vitamins and minerals), they may not be getting enough for cognitive growth. A research in Alberta demonstrates that boys and girls aged 4-18 consume less than 42% of at least 5 daily servings of vegetables and fruits recommended by the Canada Health Food Guide (Alberta Health Services, 2016). Likewise, a staggering 97% of boys aged 9-18ingest too much sodium and 30% of girls and boys eat more energy than they need to (Alberta Health Services, 2016). Why is this a problem? Obesity is a disease that has grown at a faster rate than any one could have ever predicted. 22% of Albertan children and youth are obese (Alberta Health Services, 2016).

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“Students, especially girls, who are overweight tend to have poorer academic outcomes and are more likely to experience difficulties in math and reading” (Alberta Health Services, 2016). In fact, between 1978 and 2008, the percentage of Canadian overweight and obese children and youth rose from 18% to 26% (Alberta Health Services, 2016). Unhealthy eating is an issue that affects several schools throughout the country. Because of the neuroscience of the brain, schools play a very important role in academic achievement and nutrition. As stated by GenYouth Foundation, “research on the area of the brain that controls functions relative to thinking, concentration, and acting (or not) on impulse – a network involving the prefrontal cortex – indicates that the school environment is key to the development of these areas” (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). In order for the brain to develop normally, it must have various macronutrients (fats, protein, water) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). Due to the fact that the brain develops through childhood, it is imperative that children receive these nutrients to fully develop cognition. In other words, poor nutrition may have a negative impact on brain functions. Although more research is needed in this area, studies do show a correlation between diet quality and academic performance (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). It is inferred that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is this true? In 2012, “a study released by the Toronto District

School Board showed that giving children a nutritious breakfast each morning has a direct effect on their academic performance” (CBC News, 2012). According to the study, test results showed a dramatic improvement in reading, mathematics and science scores. Furthermore, grade 7 and 8 students who ate a healthy breakfast at school increased their standardized test results by 10% in comparison to those who did not eat breakfast (CBC News, 2012). This strong emphasis on breakfast has been a common topic in the United States of America as well. According to The Wellness Impact, breakfast programs can be one of the most helpful ways to improve school and student wellness (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). In another study reported in this article, two groups of students, breakfast eaters and non-breakfast eaters, completed the same math problems. The results showed that breakfast eaters had fewer mistakes and non-breakfast eaters showed more mental effort during math exercises (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). Likewise, other studies have shown that breakfast eaters pay better attention in class, behave better and are less likely to be late or absent (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). As a school, what can we do to ensure our students thrive in their classroom and school community? Implementing a school breakfast program seems to be the answer. By

implementing this program, it is the simplest and most cost-effective way to enhance learning with a direct impact on students (GenYouth Foundation, 2016). Ensuring students are ready to start their day with a full stomach will help contribute to higher academic achievement and brain development. Furthermore, it is also important to educate students on active living and healthy eating habits. Together, we can positively impact the lives of our students while creating a healthier and a smarter generation.

References "Healthy Weights Initiative."Alberta Health Services. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/in fo/nutrition/if-nfs-evidence-briefschoolperformance.pdf> GenYouth Foundation, National Dairy Council, American College ofSports Medicine, and American School Health Association. "The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments." GENYOUth Foundation. Midwest Dairy Council, 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <http://www.genyouthnow.org/wp-content/ uploads/2013/02/The_ Wellness_Impact_Report.pdf>. News, CBC. "Toronto Study Links Breakfast with School Success."CBC News. CBC/Radio Canada, 11 May 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toro nto-study- links-breakfast-with-school-success1.1179699>.


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The Correlation Between Lesson Length And Attention Span

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he article ‘The “ChangeUp” in Lectures’ by Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish really speaks to us because, as teachers, we are always looking for ways to improve our lessons to keep students’ attention and focus to learning. Luckily for us, we work in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school where we strive to help students develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills needed to live, learn, and work in the “real world”. This means that our lessons, activities, and projects follow the model of inquiry based learning; providing significant scenarios and problems rather than facts. The article starts off by saying that when we receive a volume of information our brain reduces it to meaningful chunks (categories). Learning involves fitting this reduced information into already existing categories or sometimes forming new ones. As teachers, our role is to make general ideas and topics more specific so that

students can find a connection between the new information and what they already know. Once a new concept has been introduced, students require a chance to practice thinking in terms of that idea. Some examples include asking students to create their own example of the topic, summarize it, or explain it to a friend. According to the article, this “approach works with the mind’s natural processes and thus improves learning compared to a traditional lesson.” (Middendorf& Kalish, 1995). When examining attention span, both adults and university students had an attention span of approximately 15-20 minutes, with attention decreasing as the lecture went on. This means that primary students would have a much shorter attention span. An interesting point made in the article was that the students remembered the most information from the first five minutes of a lecture (Middendorf & Kalish, 1994, 1995). In order to ensure that students are not losing

BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy


interest as well as processing the information being taught, lessons should include relevant activities that involve students so that they are not bored. Changing our lesson approach allows students to get involved in their own learning. “Active learning” allows opportunities for students to practice concepts you want them to learn. “Making classrooms into a social learning experience instead of a solitary one helps to avoid student passivity” (Middendorf & Kalish, 1994, 1995). After reading the article “The “Change-Up” in Lectures” by Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish,a colleague of mine; Vanessa DaCosta, and myself (Brittany Smith) were interested to know how long it would take our younger students to lose interest during our lessons. In the classrooms, we

discussed the purpose of our study with our students and asked them to get involved. We asked them to give us a specific hand gesture when they found themselves beginning to lose interest, getting distracted, or not paying attention. Our lessons usually run about 15-20 minutes in length. Our study found that most students in our grade 1/2 combined class and grade 2 class started to find themselves losing interest at the 8–12 -minute range of a lesson. We decided to use three of the strategies suggested in the article over a three-day period. Each day we used a different strategy at the 10-minute mark of our lesson. We wanted to see how students would come back for the remainder of the lesson after having a break while still focusing on the learning task at hand. The three strategies we focused on from the

article were; brainstorming, thinkpair-share or paired discussions and write a question as part of a KWL (Know, Want, and Learned) chart. We found most students grasped the concepts better as they were discussing and learning from their peers. Students were showing “active learning” by working through their questions together, helping each other understand just what it was they were learning about. We were able to witness students telling each other, “This is how I would figure out the problem.” or “This is how I would answer the question, how would you?” Students were able to hear a variety of answers to the same questions and showed great inquiry throughout. We found this tied in well with our IB objectives as students were inquiring and investigating with each other asking questions, researching answers and showing many of the learner profiles. After these brain breaks, students came back to the lesson “reset” and ready to continue listening. They also came back to the lesson more prepared with knowledge learned from their peers. At the end of the three-day period, students were asked to give their own feedback on how they felt the strategies worked. Most students claimed they were able to understand and attain the learning


objectives of the lessons better because they were able to discuss with their peers. Others described the brain breaks as a “fun” way to learn with their peers. Using the ‘write a question’ as part of a KWL chart strategy seemed to really peak students’ interests as they could see their questions as a class and were excited to investigate and find answers to each other’s questions. We found that many students went one step further and continued the investigation while at home with their parents. Not only did this show us the important act of collaboration from the IB standpoint but it also showed us that they had much more interest in the learning objectives as they were taking on the responsibility of their own learning. This has inspired us as teachers to implement a type of wonder wall in the classroom where students will be required to write their questions throughout the year and other students and staff would be able to write a response to their questions.

The article has inspired us, as teachers, to implement more of the strategies listed in the article. Using more of these inquiry-based strategies will have many benefits for our students, our classroom, as well as St. Jude’s Academy. It will help us within our school because IB is a huge part of our curriculum at St. Jude’s Academy and inquiry ties into the IB program perfectly. For our classroom, these strategies are a way to improve our lessons and to keep students’ attention and desire to learn, which in turn makes them excited to come to school. Lastly, these strategies will help

us continue to shape ourstudents to develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills, needed to live, learn, and work in the “real world”.

References Middendorf, J. and A. Kalish (1996) The "Change-Up"in Lectures, NationalTeaching andLearning Forum, (5) 2. Retrieved September 12, 2008, from: http://www. ntlf.com/html/pi/9601/article1.htm.


How Sitting On Stability Ball Helps Children Focus And Do Better In School

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rain research confirms that Today, many studies have shown physical activity such as; that they are slowly becoming moving, stretching, and highly effective for young children walking can actually enhance the as well. When a child sits on a ball learning process. In order to help chair, they are able to direct their students in this capacity, stability natural kinesthetic energy and need balls have been for movement in a proven to increase positive way, academic the child Teachers who swapped because performance, on a ball chair has posture, and focus out traditional chairs to constantly move within a classroom his body on the for stability balls chair to maintain setting. Not only does it benefit those his/her balance noticed a change in with ADD or (Lynch, 2014).And ADHD, but also posture, enthusiasm for that movement, children with a however slight, strong need to reading and other desk helps them focus. fidget, reach their So rather than work and paying full potential in the squash a child's attention in general. innate need for classroom. Stability balls movement, ball were originally chairs channel their developed in the 1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s for physical physical energy in a positive way, therapy purposes. Now they have allowing them to focus on their moved from the rehabilitation work more completely (Lynch, setting into the athletic arena and 2014).Additionally, "There is a are currently being used in the neurological pathway that goes from fitness world (Messinger, 2014). your body's balance and movement BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: Educational Insights From St. Jude's Academy

51


system to your alert system in your brain. Movement actually allows for alertness and attention," says Diana Henry, an occupational therapist who travels the country offering school-based and individual occupational therapy services. Sitting in any chair for more than a short (10-minute) interval is likely to have negative effects on your physical self, hence your mental self, and at a minimum, reduce your awareness of physical and emotional sensations ( Jensen, 1998). The pressure on the spinal discs is 30 percent greater when sitting than when standing ( Jensen, 1998).In addition, children cannot see as far as adults can. As a result, they compensate by leaning over, rounding their backs, and creating strain. Typically, poor sitting posture creates pressure on the diaphragm

and internal organs. This restricts internal organ function, reduces blood circulation and oxygen to the brain, and increases fatigue ( Jensen, 1998). Teachers who swapped out traditional chairs for stability balls and even stationary exercise bikes noticed a change in posture, enthusiasm for reading and other desk work and paying attention in general, according to a 2010 article in "Education World." Teachers interviewed for the story were unsure how the change would impact students, but they agreed that once students got used to the novelty of the stability balls or other options, their focus and overall performance improved (Roland, 2015). In conclusion, the use of stability balls versus traditional

chairs in the classroom shows that when the brain is stimulated, it’s more focused on learning, and when there is a stronger focus on learning, teachers and students benefit alike.

References Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind (ASCD, 1998). Lynch, Karen. “How sitting on a ball helps kids focus and do better in school” (2014). Messinger, Erin, "A Comparison ofStability Balls Versus Chairs in the Classroom: Student Preferences and Effects on Classroom Management"(2014). Education Undergraduate Research. Paper 13. Roland, James. “What Are the Benefits of Stability Balls in Schools?” (2015).


© St. Jude's Academy, 201 7

Beyond the Classroom Vol 1 Ed 1 2017  

The first edition of BEYOND the CLASSROOM: Educational Insights from St. Jude's Academy. A pre-kindergarten to grade twelve private school l...