Archive for December, 2009

Fifth Grade Teacher Shares Lessons from NWP Workshops with Students

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Phyllis Blau, a fifth grade teacher in West Milford, NJ, is in her second year of attending workshops given by the National Writing Project (NWP). The workshops, which are held four times a year at Rutgers University, allow teachers to focus on their writing skills and learn new ways to make writing more exciting for students. Margaret Valentine, the West Milford District English supervisor for Grades 7-12, explained that teachers find writing to be one of the more difficult subjects to teach. In order to overcome this challenge, the NWP offers workshops that are taught by other teachers. The idea is that the best trainers of teachers are other teachers. Teacher Phyllis Blau maintains that the techniques she learns at NWP workshops have made a noticeable impact on her students’ feelings on writing. Students seem to be more enthusiastic about learning new techniques that some novelists take years to master.

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Fifth Graders to Communicate with International Space Station Commander

Monday, December 14th, 2009

On Tuesday, December 15th, a select group of fifth graders in Connecticut will have the opportunity to speak with International Space Station commander Jeff Williams as he orbits two hundred miles above the Earth’s surface. Williams, who has been in orbit aboard the International Space Station since October 2nd, will answer students’ questions on various issues including the importance of water recycling aboard the space station as well as the effects of the space environment on the painted lady butterflies that were recently brought into aboard the shuttle Atlantis. In their classrooms, students have been preparing for this moment by identifying the challenges that need to be overcome in order for people to be able to live and work in space.

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New Graphical Programming Language Introduces Kids to Computer Science

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

When we think of computer programming, many of us imagine lines of cryptic code interspersed with semicolons and complex syntax. This common perception about computer programming prevents people from trying to learn programming languages even though programming languages can teach important problem solving and analytical skills which can be applied to a variety of professions. Moreover, the perceived difficulty of learning to code scares away many young people who would otherwise be interested in computer science. Mitchel Resnick and some colleagues at the MIT Media Lab have set out to change these stereotypes. They have developed a new graphical computer programming language called “Scratch” that is geared towards children ages eight to sixteen. Resnick and his team hope to address the concern that while today’s youngest generation has access to a wealth of technology, they may not be digitally fluent with these technologies.

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Apply for a Summer Workation Winternship!

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Looking for something to do this winter break? Do you want to get some start up experience?

This winter, Summer Workation, is looking to hire an inaugural class of 10 winterns from around the world to be part of a groundbreaking social entrepreneurship project. Summer Workation aspires to help teachers find summer growth opportunities so they can return to the classroom as stronger teachers. You can learn more about us at

Winternships are available in:

>> Content Development
>> Sales/Marketing
>> Research

We are looking for driven teachers/students who are interested in becoming a part of this exciting new venture.

Winternships are unpaid, but are a great opportunity for anyone interested in start-ups, web 2.0, social entrepreneurship, or education.

All winterns will work remotely from home. Because of the nature of the winternship, time dedication is flexible. All winterns are given incredible creative freedom. Winterns can expect to spend approximately 10-15 hours a week on their projects, and can take on more responsibility if they choose. Winternships are available during the winter holidays from December to January.

Please submit your resume to info[at] by December 22, 2009. Be sure to specify which winternship you are interested in.

Any questions? Please contact info[at]

D.C. Public Schools See Improvement in Math Scores

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

According to a recent federal report card, D.C. public schools saw measurable improvements in mathematics scores over the past six years. Although suburban districts on the outskirts of Washington D.C. continue to outpace D.C. public schools, the improved math scores suggest that reform efforts led by D.C. School Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and her predecessor are having a positive impact on student achievement. In fact, over this six-year period, D.C. public schools progressed at a faster rate than many other urban school systems, which for the most part, saw little or no improvement. However, there is still much room for improvement as D.C. public schools remain below the national average when it comes to test scores. Some educators attribute the rise in math scores to an increased focus on the use of games, calculators, and written responses.

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University Research Team to Catalog Web’s Educational Content and Develop International Internet Classroom

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Thousands of web pages containing free, high-quality educational resources can be found on the Internet. However, cataloging all these websites and centralizing this information in a way that benefits teachers around the world is a daunting task that nobody has yet figured out how to accomplish. In spite of this, Paul Cohen, Professor and Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Arizona, says that building a website that centralizes all of the high-quality educational resources on the Internet is not only feasible, it is necessary. At the University of Arizona, Cohen and his team of researchers have set out to develop an “international Internet classroom” that can potentially function as a “one-stop-shop for educational resources,” as one member of the research team named Tasneem Kaochar put it.

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After-School Programs Keep Students, Faculty and Even Families Focused on Education

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Even after the last school bell rings at the end of the day, hundreds of students remain inside the classrooms of De Anza Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California, sometimes staying as late as 6:00 P.M., to study vocabulary, practice math, and receive homework help. Supported by state and federal funding, as well as teacher volunteers, nearly half the students at De Anza Elementary take advantage of the after-school program that is designed to reinforce concepts learned during the school day. According to the California Department of Education, the extra hours of learning that students receive have resulted in measurable improvements in student achievement. Programs such as these provide valuable insight into the costs and benefits of longer school days, which many education officials have been calling for.

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Technology Helps Bring Classroom Management Under Control

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Classrooms are becoming more and more high-tech with the passing of each school year. Internet-capable devices like laptops, iPod touches, and in some cases, mobile phones provide unprecedented access to a wealth of information and as a result, are quickly finding their way into schools as learning tools. However, the reality is that when using these devices in the classroom for educational purposes, students might easily become distracted by email, instant messaging, games, and popular websites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. These distractions reduce the benefits of having this new technology in classrooms since learning stops until students refocus their attention on the day’s lesson. One school district in Washington State has found a way of using technology to prevent distractions and keep everyone focused and working toward the same goal. The new tech-based classroom management system uses software created by LanSchool Technologies and allows teachers to remain in control. The system enables teachers to display their computer screen on student monitors; shutdown, logoff, or restart student computers; disable students’ keyboards and mice; and monitor students’ activity in real time. The new system gives teachers the upper hand by making it difficult for students to become distracted by the technology they know all too well.

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Kindergartners Spend Three Hours Outdoors Each Day

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Across the nation, schools have been thinking up new ways to reconnect children with nature. Some schools plant gardens that are tended to by students, some plan field trips, and others have come up with truly original ways of encouraging students to go out and explore all that nature has to offer. The forest kindergarten program at the Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs, New York has come up with an original solution: each day, regardless of the weather, students spend three hours outdoors. The forest kindergarten program takes outdoor learning to a new level. The program is offered at more than 100 Waldorf schools across the United States, all but a few of them private.

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