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Cheating on the Rise

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As competition for college acceptance, top grades and academic pressure increases, so does the incidence of cheating. Struggling students are often the ones cheating, but they aren’t alone. Studies have shown that high-achieving students cheat as much as their peers.

In a recent study, two-thirds of middle school students polled admitted to cheating on an exam, while an alarming 9 out of 10 students said they have copied or allowed another student to copy their homework.

Cheating happens in many forms, including glancing at a neighbor’s paper, copying homework, using crib notes, plagiarizing the internet and using cell phones during tests.

What can a teacher do to curb cheating in the classroom? Here are some tips:
• Studies have shown that students who feel supported in the classroom are less likely to break the bond of trust through cheating
• Collect all cell phones before tests
• Separate students with a seat in between during tests
• Encourage parents to have open conversations about grades with their children
• Establish and enforce a zero tolerance strategy against cheating

What are your experiences with cheating in your classroom?

Higher Math in Lower Grades

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Pushing students to their full potential is important, but when it comes to math, is too much too early a bad thing?

Forty years ago, algebra was a common freshman-level math course. Now, the course is offered – and sometimes even required — in eighth grade, a push that allows students to take a tract of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Pre-Calc/Trigonometry and Calculus before graduating high school. Some feel the math push was due, in part, to the United States lagging behind many other countries in the areas of math and science.

Now, some researchers have questioned if algebra is too complex of a subject for the general eighth-grade student population.

Harvard policy professor Tom Loveless, authored a study on the trend and concluded that, “There is no apparent benefit from compelling all eighth-graders to take an advanced math class.”
In fact, Loveless’s study showed that the average math achievement level in the U.S. dropped as the number of students taking eighth-grade algebra classes has increased.

Does your school offer or require students to take Algebra in eighth grade?

Why Kids Need Physical Education

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When discussing the most important subjects in school, physical education probably does not make the list. But, research has shown that students who participate in physical education class in school are generally more successful than those who do not.

According to PHIT America, a campaign dedicated to increasing physical activity and fitness to improve the health of America, physical education in school has proven to benefit children now and in the future. Benefits include:

• Improved academics
• Teaches self discipline
• Stress reduction
• Strengthened peer relationships
• Improved physical fitness

Research by the Physical Activity Council shows that not having physical education as a student often results in a sedentary lifestyle as an adult. In fact, 41 percent of Americans studied who listed themselves as totally inactive today did not participate in physical education in school.

Most states do require students to participate in physical education at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, according to a 2015-16 Shape of the Nation report. Forty-four states require elementary schools to provide physical education classes; physical education is required for middle school students in 41 states and 46 states require physical education for high school students.

Does your school require physical education classes? Are they offered year round or in blocks throughout the year?

High School Graduation Gift-Giving 101

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Cap and gown season is in full swing! For those who have multiple graduates in their lives, this can be a busy and costly time of the year. Between ceremonies, parties and gifts your schedule and budget can take quite a hit. Here are a few etiquette guidelines and gift ideas to help you navigate the graduation season:

Does a graduation announcement come with any obligations?
No. A graduation announcement doesn’t double as an invitation, and doesn’t require you to send a gift. You may choose to send a gift, depending upon your relationship to the graduate. A card is always a nice gesture.

Should I attend the ceremony or party?
If you were invited and live in town, yes. Ceremony invitations are usually reserved for close family, and parties are limited to family and close friends. If you made the guest list, consider it an honor. Plan to bring a gift.

What is an appropriate gift?
For high school and college grads, cash is king. Generally speaking, $20 – $50 is an appropriate amount to give to a graduate you aren’t close to. For family and close friends, $50 – $100 is recommended.

I’d like to give something other than cash. Ideas?
A thoughtful high school graduation gift is a T-shirt or hoodie from the college they’ll attend. Gift cards for food, gas and dorm supplies are always useful. For college graduates entering the workforce, consider monogrammed luggage or noise-cancelling headphones. For both high school and college graduates, you can’t go wrong with a laptop, tablet or smart watch.

Improving the School Desk

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Back in December, SCHOOLSin was contacted by a high school engineering student who was interested in one of our combo desks for use in a final project for an Engineering Design and Development class.

Daniel Pollard, a senior at Summit High School in Tennessee, and classmates Mason Hughes and Ryan Roberts were interested in designing a more comfortable school desk, one that especially met the needs of taller students. Pollard and another group member are both 6′ 4″ tall.

Impressed by the group’s initiative and interest in a topic that lies near and dear to our hearts, SCHOOLSin agreed to donate a USA Capitol Legacy Combo Chair Desk for use in the project.

The group recently presented its final project, a transformed desk with a new rotating padded seat (pictured above). The desk was tested and tweaked until it met the high standards set by the group and test participants. Pollard said his biggest challenge was disassembling the desk to begin adding their improvements.

All members of the group plan to continue their interest in science in college this fall. Pollard will study Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University, Hughes will study Civil Engineering at Tennessee Tech and Roberts plans to study Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee Tech.

SCHOOLSin is happy to assist these aspiring young engineers!
(Pictured left to right above: Mason Hughes, Ryan Roberts and Daniel Pollard)

OFM Office Selfie Contest

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Do you and your coworkers like to have a little fun? Check out this social media contest that can win you awesome new seating!

Our friends at OFM are giving away three sets of stools to three winners in their OFM Office Selfie Contest. The contemporary soft seating stools make the perfect seating in any educational setting.

“Outside home, we spend more time in the office than anywhere else, but we often take our coworkers for granted,” said Blake Zalcberg, president of OFM. “We hope that by snapping an ‘office selfie,’ people will take a minute to appreciate their work family.”

To enter, contestants must take a “selfie” on their cellphone in an office setting with their coworkers, then upload the photo to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #OFMOfficeSelfie. Winners will be selected in three categories: Best Selfie with the Most People, Most Creative and Best Overall.

For complete rules, visit OFM today.

We’ve Been Slimed!

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It’s sticky, gooey, a little bit messy and kids can’t keep their hands off of it. Homemade slime has made its way into our homes, schools and most definitely our kids’ hearts.

Recipes for homemade slime – which is typically made from simple household ingredients like Elmer’s glue, Borax, cornstarch and water – have been on the internet for years, but the craze really took off this school year. Thousands of social media pages dedicated to slime can be found on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, with satisfying images and videos of the stringy substance being stretched and swirled.

The slime craze has been so strong that Newell Brands, the parent company of Elmer’s Glue, said recently that it has upped the production of glue to keep up with the demand of its slime makers. It’s not uncommon to see empty store shelves where the orange-tipped glue bottles once sat.

Some schools have banned slime in the classrooms, saying that it causes a distraction and can leave a mess if not handled properly. Other teachers welcome slime, applauding the students’ creativity and recognizing its stress-relieving capabilities as it’s stretched and manipulated.

There have also been several cases reported where the Borax ingredient has caused contact burns and irritations on the hands of young slime makers. When using Borax, keep in mind that its primary use is for cleaning and it should be handled carefully. Safe, borax-free slime recipes can also be found on the internet.

Has the slime craze hit your classroom? Do you allow it in class?

Virtual Field Trips

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Field trip season is upon us! As the school year wraps up, millions of students will head out to zoos, museums and parks. But there’s another way for your students to experience new and exciting places – and they don’t even have to leave the classroom. Virtual reality field trips have become quite popular, and if you’re not already using VR in your classroom, your students are missing out on a great learning opportunity.

The internet is full of virtual field trips, so it’s easy to find several tailored to a particular grade level. They range from short and simple to detailed and complex. And thanks to the availability of inexpensive headsets, VR field trips cost far less than traditional travel.

Here are a few VR field trip apps to get you started:

• Google Expeditions – Built specifically for the classroom, Google Expeditions is the most popular VR field trip app. Teachers become tour guides as they take their students deep sea diving or to the Great Wall of China.
• Discovery VR – The Discovery Channel has expanded into the virtual space by converting popular shows like Shark Week and Secret Space Escapes into videos. They also offer virtual field trips to faraway destinations like Nepal, Italy or South Africa.
• Titans of Space – This program lets students take a self-guided tour of the solar system in their own space pod. They’ll get a sense of the true scope and size of the planets and learn many interesting facts along the way.

Virtual reality can capture your students’ attention in ways that books and lectures cannot. VR field trips are a great way to supplement your lesson plans or engage minds during rained-out recesses. As VR technology continues to expand and improve in quality, classroom VR field trips are expected to grow in popularity. While they may never fully replace old fashioned field trips, they allow students to explore exotic and interesting destinations that can’t be reached by bus.

Ethos Chair is Key to 21st Century Learning

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Collaboration is the buzzword in today’s classroom and for good reason. Through collaboration, students learn the benefits of working together towards a common goal, often leading to deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

To be the most effective, a classroom should fit the collaborative model through furniture that supports group learning. The Ethos Chair from Haskell does just that.

The Ethos Chair is more than comfortable seating. The chair provides ample storage, a roomy workspace (on models with an attached tablet arm) and excellent mobility for use anywhere in your classroom. The chair features a one-piece, easy-clean plastic seat that swivels 360 degrees for ideal sight lines and collaboration during active learning.

Since the Ethos Chair comes with six dual-wheel casters, it allows for smooth transition between activities in your dynamic classroom. Store books and bags close at hand in the oversized opening conveniently located at the base of the chair.

The Ethos Chair supports up to 300 pounds, so it is a comfortable choice for students of any body type. Since the chair is backed by a lifetime warranty, it is an excellent investment for your classroom.

We are happy to offer the Ethos Chair to our customers in five contemporary colors. Read more about the Ethos Chair online onlineor call us today at (877) 839-3330.

Tiny Homes for Teachers

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A school district in Colorado is considering a unique incentive in recruiting new teachers – offering up tiny homes to its staff.

The Eagle County School District, located near the upscale skiing community of Vail, is weighing the option of tiny homes after difficulties recruiting and retaining teachers because of the high cost of living in the area.

The median home cost in Eagle County is $630,900, according to Sperling’s Best Places. The district reports that for the 2016-2017 school year, first-year teachers earned an average annual salary of $41,000.

According to Education Week, the district is looking at the possibility of adding up to 18 tiny homes – each usually under 400 square feet – to 50 acres of land it owns in a nearby area.

Would you consider living in a tiny house for your dream job?

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