Monday, March 30, 2009

Tapping Student Ability

In Steve Barkley's new book, Tapping Student Effort, he uses this formula to guide us in doing just that. Many students believe that if you don't have the "ability" you might as well not even try. Steve discusses ways to help change their way of thinking and get them on the road to success.

Effort X Ability + Manageable Task = Success
Belief and Vision

Effort is the sweat that goes into a task. Ability is what we bring to the table. A manageable task is one that is not too easy or too hard, just challenging enough to provoke curiosity and to drive one to accomplish it. The idea is that as effort is applied, ability grows and appreciates exponentially. The first try will be the hardest but with the same effort on the next trial, the task will be easier; greater results will be produced. As more effort is applied, the payoff will increase. The "struggle" is the element that produces true growth. (I can lend you my book.)

In an article entitled "Springing into Active Learning," author Allison Zmuda states that "too many students have become compliant workers who simply follow directions and complete the necessary paperwork on time (we would like more of these though!)….Students need to learn to embrace struggle as a necessary part of growth." Ms. Zmuda then gives examples of geniuses in our society who had to struggle before they succeeded. Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots in his career. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb on his 2001st try. Linus Pauling said, "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas." (I can make you a copy.)

I have been working with Cynthia Barthuley's classes periodically this year. Her consistent insistence upon the use of planners is boosting her students' achievement. However, they need your support in their other classes - a few moments at the beginning of every class period to review concepts learned and at the end of every class period to write down assignments and organize papers. Before break we took all of her students' photos in graduation gown with cap and "diploma" in hand to help them visualize the "pay off" of their efforts. (Stress her academic "word of the week" for teamwork across the curriculum - a manageable task - see side bar above.)

Effort X Ability + Manageable Task = Success
Belief and Vision

View some photos below and to the right of staff who are tapping student effort on a daily basis:

Counselors Madalyn and Lily help students assess their interests in order to schedule classes which will increase their abilities in those areas.

Jim and Taylor tutor students after school to support them in their core classes and boost their confidence toward attaining academic goals.

Ted tutors students during lunchtime and after school in the Titan conference room.
John excites students about history and encourages them to participate in a sport to increase their physical strength as well as their mental prowess - think wrestling.
Tate and Andy go the extra mile in demonstrating the need for math skills in every day living. Tate hugs a mathbook. Andy combines math and breakfast for a heathy start.

Mari imbeds culture into her Spanish classes, role-playing famous Spanish speakers.
Larry multiplies ability to understand world issues through teamwork, an essential skill at home, in the workplace and for a peaceful world.

Robert points out Julie Ann's assessment chart; continual self-assessment is key in helping students increase ability.

Check out our mystery person who is flying to great heights: Click on The Teacher. I have added this URL to my links for future reference.

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