Magnets are Tool For Learning
Displaying kids' work is one way to boost performance.
by Douglas Keyes, Lansing State Journal, August 20,
For more articles like this
Get yourself a magnet - lots of them. The school year is about
to begin, and I am guaranteeing a sure-fired strategy for
Several years back, my journalism students were developing ideas
for the next issue of the school newspaper. I posed a simple
question: "What was the last thing of yours your parents posted
up on the refrigerator door?"
Having two elementary-aged daughters at home then and a
refrigerator door plastered with their drawings and school
projects, it seemed like a funny idea for a high school story.
Instead, it became quite revealing.
My brightest students had a hard time admitting that even into
their senior year, their parents still were putting stuff up
there. Some only were willing to admit that to me after class -
as if it were some skeleton in their closet.
After lots of discussion, laughs, and stories from those who
said the last thing of theirs was a speeding ticket or a list of
undone chores, I found myself asking all my classes the same
Throughout the day, the question sparked interest, laughter,
anger, regret, embarrassment and pride. I found that those
students enjoying success in school readily admitted to recent
refrigerator postings. Conversely, I found those who had little
interest in school guessing it had been a bare refrigerator door
since elementary school.
Now, I admit I have never been given a big research grant for
this. Nor have I quantified and qualified my statistics in a
scientific manner. Nevertheless, the results of my questioning
were quite insightful.
We've known all along, really. Success in academics is most
influenced by parental involvement and their clear signal that
they care about school, teacher feedback, grades, essays,
projects, and extracurriculars. Every year from kindergarten on
... it doesn't stop. Parents' actions count.
This transcends economic, racial and gender breakdowns. It is
simple. And if there's been a divorce, that just creates more
refrigerator doors to fill up. So be on the lookout for both
doors and magnets.
Magnets come in the mail free with pizza delivery phone numbers;
they show up as business promotions all the time. As you stand
in the checkout line with your groceries, those magnets are
right there calling to you. Give in. Make that refrigerator door
as filled up as you can for as long as you can.
You may even have to buy the kind with clips in order to hold
that junior year research paper with the big red A on it. Or a
B, or C ... you have to start somewhere.
My daughters are now in college, and their academic
accomplishments continue to go on the door. It's not to brag,
but to let them know their work still counts with me. They see
it every time they come home to raid the fridge.
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to