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December 2013 | Volume 55 | Number 12
More than Words: Developing Core Speaking and Listening Skills
If you've flipped to an episode of Sesame Street lately, you might have noticed something strange happening to Cookie Monster. The frenetic furry beast is actually—gasp—trying to tame his cookie-fueled impulses. It's part of an effort to introduce young minds to the concepts of self-control, patience, focus, and other skills essential to academic success. In fact, PBS's brainchild is devoting its entire 44th season to building self-regulation skills in its viewers.
Not to be confused with compliance, self-regulation is essentially the ability to manage your emotions and behaviors, and it is considered to be foundational to school readiness. In their new book, Self-Regulated Learning for Academic Success (ASCD, 2013), Carrie Germeroth and Crystal Day-Hess explain that when a student has difficulty with self-regulation, it often "translates into poor work habits, trouble concentrating, low motivation, and behavioral problems."
Fortunately, self-regulation can be modeled and taught. Germeroth and Day-Hess believe that one way teachers can support self-regulation is by providing appropriate praise and feedback. They offer the following advice, which is targeted to specific grade levels but can be applied across the continuum:
When we praise students by saying, "You did so well on that assignment! You must be really smart!" we set them up to feel "stupid" any time they don't do well—or to avoid challenge for fear that failure will mean they're no longer "smart."
By contrast, praise for effort focuses students on the benefits of hard work. When a child learns to associate task outcomes with the effort invested, he's more likely to attribute failure to a lack of effort and to adopt new strategies and work harder until he succeeds.
Collecting, selecting, organizing, and reflecting on a portfolio of work actively engages students in self-regulated learning. In the early elementary grades, portfolios may include drawings, journal entries, or emergent writing pieces; in upper elementary, the portfolio should include tests or reports.
Verbal and written feedback should focus students on what they can do to improve their work and give them a sense of control over their academic success (Zumbrunn et al., 2011).
Source: Adapted from Self-Regulated Learning for Academic Success, by C. Germeroth and C. Day-Hess, 2013, Alexandria, VA: ASCD. © 2013 by ASCD.
Copyright © 2013 by ASCD
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