Saturday, April 14, 2012

Play to Win! - Ideas on Student Achievement Best Practices

A Post on Student Achievement Best Practices

by Susan Varner, Media Coordinator

Student achievement best practices revolve around giving students engaging activities that they will remember.
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Most of the students in our upper elementary school play recreational ball of some form, and, like generations before them, dream of being a pro athlete. After flashing photos of current faces in the sports world - Manning, O'Neal, etc., I ask the kids "do you think that these guys played rec ball when they were 10 ?" After the realization that they probably did, I move onto "Do you think that, between seasons, they watched tv, played video games, & ate lots of junk food ? Or do they practice the skills that they are missing, and keep their bodies in shape? " Then, we go on to talk about playing ball for the school team, getting into college, - increasing skills through practice, keeping in shape, etc. - ending up in the pros as a great success -  all the while keeping the focus on these world class athletes who the kids see as the ultimate success stories.

After the kids  are really "into" the discussion, I stop and pick up an easy reader. The kids are RIGHT THERE, and I tell them that, after learning to read in first grade, they had just stopped practicing, content with the basic skills, then they would still be reading first grade books. And, at this age, if they don't try new words, find new skills, don't read during the "off' season, don't keep up with their 'teammates',  then eventually, they will lose their skills and fall so far behind that they will never make it past this level of reading. Just as if Michael Jordan had stopped practicing after learning how to make a free throw in rec ball - would he NOW be MICHAEL JORDAN ?

It is a awesome discussion, and the faces of the kids are the proverbial "lightbulb". Each year, after this discussion, the students bombard me with requests for books that are "a little bit hard" - and this, after all, is exactly what I want them to do !

I hope that you will try this with your kids and let me know how it turns out !

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