D.C. Public Schools See Improvement in Math Scores

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

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

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

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

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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Science Teacher Uses YouTube to Reach More Students

November 29th, 2009

Robert Rasmussen, an eighth-grade science teacher at Park View Middle School, does not consider himself an expert in computers or technology. Nevertheless, he still seems to excel at finding new ways bring technology into his classroom for the benefit of his students. After thinking about how he could reinforce the concepts he was covering in class, Rasmussen realized that he could record educational videos with catchy graphics and well-crafted scenes and upload them to YouTube. Rasmussen has come to realize that today’s students are computer savvy and that as an educator, he can “infiltrate their world” and bring science directly to their homes simply by uploading these educational videos to popular websites like YouTube.

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Arizona Teacher Recognized for his Ability to Inspire Students in High-Needs District

November 29th, 2009

Many teachers would say that they have dreamed of becoming educators their entire lives, but Andy Townsend, a fifth-grade teacher at Elvira Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, may not be one of them. After receiving his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Arizona, Townsend initially began a career in sales and in his spare time he coached youth sports. As a coach, he soon came to realize that the most rewarding part of his day was the time he spent with the kids. After making the decision to become a teacher five years ago, Andy Townsend has recently been selected for the 2009 Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona Exemplary Teacher Initiative in recognition of his commitment to inspiring a new generation of students in his high-needs district. Each teacher receives $10,000 in savings bonds and is given the opportunity to mentor promising University of Arizona student teachers.

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Teacher Shares Fulbright-Hays Summer Travel Experience with Students

November 25th, 2009

This past summer, Debby Edmonds, a teacher at J.E. Robins Elementary School in West Virginia, spent thirty-nine days in New Zealand and Mongolia. However, this was no vacation. Edmonds was granted the opportunity to experience first-hand the rich cultures and unique customs found in these countries through the Fulbright-Hays Program, which offers international trips for educators and students. Since having returned to her classroom in West Virginia, Edmonds’ goal has been to expose her students to different ways of life found outside West Virginia and outside the United States. She has presented photos and video from her trip to students at school and has also utilized sites like Google Earth to search for even more media to share. She believes that her personal experiences during the summer have helped her students get a better feel for how other groups of people around the world live.

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Kansas School District Offers Engineering Classes at Elementary-School Level

November 25th, 2009

One Wichita school district is set to become the first in the nation to offer state-of the-art engineering classes at the elementary-school level. The Derby School District has adopted Project Lead the Way, a national program that establishes an engineering curriculum in elementary schools. School administrators say that the program, which emphasizes hands-on and computer-based activities, is designed to spark students’ interest in math and science from an earlier age. Administrators also point out that even if students do not go on to become engineers, the program will reinforce basic math skills that can be applied to many career paths.

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New Campaign Promotes Math and Science Education

November 23rd, 2009

The White House recently announced a new campaign by which various companies and nonprofit groups will join forces to encourage students to pursue further study in science, technology, engineering and math. President Obama reiterated that the success we seek as a nation depends on the dedication and commitment of not just government, but also students, parents, private citizens, organizations, and companies. The new campaign called Educate to innovate focuses on activities outside the classroom and aims to show young people just how rewarding and fun science can be.

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