Daily recess bill for Florida elementary schools passes House panel

Daily recess bill for Florida elementary schools passes House panel

Written By: Leslie Postal
Article Source: Orlando Sentinal

Jan 26, 2106

Florida’s elementary school kids would get 20 minutes of recess a day — every day — under a bill that unanimously passed a Florida House education panel this morning.

More than 30 people, many of them dubbed “recess Moms,” spoke in favor of the bill (HB 833) that would mandate recess in Florida’s public elementary schools.

The bill would require 20 minutes of daily, uninterrupted recess for all students –– a break that could not be taken away for academic or discipline reasons.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Angela Browning, an Orange County mother and a leader in the recess issue, after the House K-12 education subcommittee voted. “We just feel like we’ve finally been heard.”

But Browning said her group is frustrated that the Florida Senate has not yet heard its companion bill and fearful that the chairman of the Senate‘s education committee, Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, will not schedule it for a vote.

In the House meeting today, several mothers told lawmakers that recess has disappeared from Florida’s schools, to the detriment of their children. They said they have argued for changes with their local school boards but had met with only partial success so became convinced a state law was needed.

They said students, faced with increasing academic demands, need a daily break where they can run around, play and socialize.

“Recess is educational time well spent,” said Kristi Burns, a Lake County mother and one of several local parents who traveled to Tallahassee to push for the bill’s passage.

Lawmakers on the House subcommittee agreed, voting unanimously for the bill, sponsored by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando.

Plasencia, an Orange County high school teacher and coach, said he needed to be convinced a lack of recess was an issue — and was by parents from across the state.

“The schools get to decide whether or not they participate in recces,” he said, and too often recess is only recommended and “that means it’s not happening.”

Like Plasencia, several lawmakers said they initially thought local school boards should be in charge of recess policies. But after meeting with parents became convinced state action was needed.

“This should be handled at the local level, but when it’s not handled at the local level… then it is incumbent on us to take on this issue,” said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, the panel’s chairman.

Copyright © 2016,  Orlando Sentinel

Math and the Brain: Memorization is overrated, says education expert

Math and the brain: Memorization is overrated, says education expert

Written by Andrea Ford
Article Source: http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2015/02/03/math-and-the-brain-memorization-is-overrated-says-education-expert/

February 3rd, 2015

Remember being drilled multiplication tables? Or taking a timed math exam? These have been common activities in school, but Stanford experts say they’re not really helpful to kids learning math facts. In fact, they deter students who might otherwise be excellent mathematicians.

Jo Boaler, PhD, is a professor of mathematics education and lead author on a new working paper, “Fluency without Fear.” As part of the research, educators looked at MRI scans of students who are better and worse at math memorization. The only difference in the brain shows up in the hippocampus, the working memory center, leading researchers to believe that there are no differences in math ability, analytical thought, or IQ between the groups. Moreover, the working memory shuts down when under stress. This makes it harder to recall facts when under time pressure, and seems to particularly affect high-achieving and female students.

Boaler’s research shows that students are better at math when they’ve developed “number sense,” or the ability to use numbers flexibly and understand their logic, which comes from relaxed, enjoyable, and exploratory work. Investigators found that high-achievers actually use number sense, and not rote memorization; likewise, it’s not that low-achieving students know less, but that they don’t use numbers flexibly.

Boaler told Stanford News, “They have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly… Number sense is the foundation for all higher-level mathematics.”

So, good math students are not necessarily fast math students, which is a common misconception. In fact, many mathematicians are slow with numbers, because they think carefully about them. The danger is that kids who aren’t fast with math sometimes become convinced they’re not good at it, and they turn away.

Compare times-tables drilling with how English is commonly taught. Students learn words by using them in many different settings: reading novels or poetry, writing thoughtful pieces, speaking about their thoughts or observations. “No English student would say or think that learning about English is about the fast memorization and fast recall of words,” says Boaler.

Boaler teaches a class for educators, “How to learn math,” in which she encourages a variety of math activities, including those that focus on the visual representation of number facts. Visual and symbolic number associations use different pathways in the brain, and connecting them deepens learning, as shown by recent brain research.

 Photo by Jimmie