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What You Read This Year

Mindfulness, play, and motivation — our top stories of 2019 show a focus on growth

December 20, 2019
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The top five Usable Knowledge stories of 2019 showed that our readers cared about growth, wellness, and school climate this year. You wanted to know how to help students manage their emotions, their stress, and their behavior — and how to do it in a way that focused on capacities and assets, not on deficits.

Oh — and you also wanted to know how to make time for play. 

Here are the top five Usable Knowledge stories of the year, and pathways for learning more:

Making Time for Mindfulness
Reported anxiety in students is on the rise. Last year, a team from the Boston Charter Research Collaborative that included experts from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University found that practicing mindfulness had helped students to focus in the moment. As a result, students’ capacity to learn and regulate their emotions also expanded.

  • For more on mindfulness: Education Week offers five steps for educators to bring mindfulness practices into the classroom.

The Science of Motivation
The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University examined the brain science behind motivation. Usable Knowledge explored how educators can use these findings to inform how they can help build healthy motivation in kids.

  • For more on motivation: TED has compiled a playlist of videos about the everyday applications of motivation research. 

Teaching Social Emotional Skills All Day
Research on social-emotional learning continues to underscore its curricular value. However, teachers often struggle to integrate it into daily learning and instruction. While support from the top is needed for a true transformation, teachers can start to think about how to revise structures in their classrooms to accommodate social-emotional skill building.

Playing to Learn
In 2015, Project Zero began to study what play looks like around the world. When they consolidated their findings, they noted that educators in all grade levels can start to weave together play and teaching to develop a playful pedagogy.

School Discipline and Later Consequences
A 2019 NBER working paper found strong evidence of a correlation between school disciplinary policy and students’ later outcomes — and that male minority students are more likely to be negatively affected by these policies. The findings underscore a need for schools and policymakers to look more closely at the impact of their disciplinary measures and seek alternatives.

  • For more on school discipline: Chalkbeat explored the ways in which police presence in schools affects student outcomes.
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