education

Benefit of Song in the Classroom

Benefit of Song in the Classroom

A little tune goes a long way! Studies show that teaching children through songs actually helps them retain information in the classroom. Music helps keep boredom at bay by incorporating a creative element to the traditional academic setting. 

The Benefit of Art Education

Typically, when a school has to undergo budget cuts, the first programs to go are the arts: drama, painting, music, etc. These programs are seen as expendable and worthless compared to sports and standardized test prep. However, a recent study conducted by the Houston Education Research Consortium found that that’s not the case.

The study examined 10,548 students’ art education experience and growth throughout the courses. Three significant results were found after increasing students’ art education experience:

  1. Reduced disciplinary infractions

  2. Increased writing achievement

  3. Increased students’ compassion for others

Art education for young children certainly has benefits. These benefits include: motor skill development, language development, decision making, visual learning, inventiveness, and cultural awareness.

Other research shows that, in high school, the benefits differ. Students in high school art classes show higher standardized tests, higher graduation rates, more community service, less time watching TV, less time being bored in school, more office positions held, and less drop-out rates. Students in low socio-economic status that had art programs reported only 4% drop out rates compared to a 22% drop out rate from students without art programs.

“As a teacher, I know that the two main factors that contribute to a lack of arts education are funding and time. With a greater emphasis being placed on math and literacy skills and on standardized testing, fine arts have been some of the first programs to be cut from a school budget and curriculum. This is disappointing, considering the research that links literacy skills to music and points to an intimate connection between rhythm, speech recognition, and reading”

-Keira Quintero, Pre-K-5th grade general music at Forest Glen Elementary School

Trouble arises when schools lose funding and have to resort to cutting programs. Typically, the arts programs are the first to go. Options are available to schools in these situations such as grants and community programs. The National Endowment for the Arts in 2015 funded over $74 million to nonprofit arts organizations.

Learn more about the benefit of arts education and art education funding here.

At KlickEngage, we are working to ensure that children in low-income communities have equal opportunity to succeed academically. Want to learn more? Ask us a question here.

3 Suspension Alternatives for Positive Student Outcomes

Every year, over 1.5 million public school students face suspension or similar exclusionary policies due to behavior deemed “counterproductive” or “disruptive” by their districts or administrators.  For students of color, the odds of being suspended are roughly three times that of their white counterparts.

Suspensions are a common disciplinary practice because they’re convenient and inexpensive in comparison to restorative measures.  The problem? Suspensions aren’t effective in improving long-term student outcomes. In fact, the U.S. Department and Education and the DOJ released this joint statement on suspension effectiveness in 2014:

“Studies have suggested a correlation between exclusionary discipline policies and practices and an array of serious educational, economic, and social problems.”

In this post, we’ll examine three suspension alternatives that can be easily integrated into existing school policies at virtually any scale:

  1. Buddy Classrooms

  2. Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs)

  3. Restorative Justice

1.Buddy Classrooms

The concept of a buddy classroom is simple enough -  students demonstrating disruptive behavior are provided a change of scenery and de-escalation activity in another classroom. In practice, however, an effective buddy classroom system requires deliberate planning and consistency.

Classrooms should have designated de-escalation areas, predetermined activities, and periodic teacher check-ins.  Perhaps most importantly, students must have a clear understanding of the buddy classroom process. It’s critical for students to understand that this is not simply an opportunity to reduce time spent on rigorous academic activities and that they’ll be expected to complete all activities missed in order to achieve their long-term academic goals.  

The specific processes in place for a buddy classroom can (and should) vary based on the unique characteristics of your community’s student population, but an example might look something like this:

The fourth-grade team at Langston Elementary School has agreed to implement a buddy classroom system. Ms. Newton and Mr. McKee will partner up, as will Mrs. Jackson and Ms. Wilson.  Each teacher implements a “cooldown area” in the corner of their classroom. When a student arrives from a buddy classroom, they have all the resources they need to articulate (in writing or drawing) the emotions they’re feeling. Students know that the buddy teacher will check in with them every 15 minutes with the expectation that the student will be ready to return to their classroom after 3 check-ins maximum. Students are expected to complete all missed academic work during recess (or after school, lunch, specials, etc).

For students who require buddy classrooms on an increasingly frequent basis, a more structured solution may be preferred.

2. Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs)

Buddy classrooms are a great option for students who require occasional time and space to de-escalate from disruptive behaviors, but this policy will likely prove unsustainable for students who require significant behavioral support several times per week (or per day). This is where Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs - or DAEPs - come into play.

As the name suggests, these programs acknowledge that traditional disciplinary measures (detention, suspension, expulsion) do little to help students self-correct disruptive or destructive behaviors. These traditional methods of discipline are focused more on convenience - isolate the student creating a disruptive environment to ensure that others can learn effectively. Rather than continuously suspending (and ultimately expelling) students with behavior issues, DAEPs are implemented to ensure that students are given the resources and support they need to achieve academic objectives while also preparing them for productive roles in a larger society.  

Looking for specific examples? The most effective DAEPs are highly customized - often tailored to the needs of individual students. Many school districts, like Bryan ISD in Texas, post their DAEP vision and goals online.

3. Restorative Justice

Through restorative justice - also called restorative practices -  stakeholders (teachers, administrators, classmates) seek to strengthen their relationship with a disruptive student rather than removing that student from the classroom environment, thereby eroding trust between the parties involved.  

A policy of restorative justice must be implemented at the school-wide level, and requires a fundamental shift in approach to disruptive student behavior.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 1.01.18 PM.png

An example of restorative justice in action might look something like this: During an art project, Jordan gets up from his desk to get a pair of scissors. As he does, he accidentally slides his chair into Kyler’s back. Before Jordan can apologize, Kyler shoves Jordan against his desk, spilling paint everywhere in the process.  

In a school with traditional disciplinary processes in place, Kyler could face suspension for this confrontation. However, research indicates that the restorative benefits of suspension are essentially nonexistent for the student exhibiting disruptive behavior, while the drawbacks - less instructional time, increased likelihood of chronic absenteeism, social alienation - are rampant.  

If Jordan and Kyler attended a school with a policy of restorative justice in place, then suspension wouldn’t be the default outcome in this instance.  All post-altercation decisions would be made through the lens of rebuilding the relationship between the two students and empowering Kyler to learn from his mistakes.  

For example, Kyler, Jordan, and their teacher might set some time aside to talk through what happened and how the situation escalated. As an outcome of this conversation, Kyler may realize that it’s important to understand a situation before reacting to it.  Because restorative justice seeks to repair the damage caused by a conflict, Kyler may also help the custodian clean up the mess caused by his altercation with Jordan.

Conclusion

There’s a mounting body of evidence that exclusionary discipline practices like suspension are ineffective when it comes to improving student outcomes. Alternatives to suspension can be systematized, efficient, and most importantly, effective when planned and executed properly.

At KlickEngage, we are working to ensure that children in low-income communities have equal opportunity to succeed academically. Want to learn more?  Ask us a question here.