July 26th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

App gives kids with autism a voice

How are apps allowing kids with autism to communicate?  (From Newsroom.)

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My View:  Don’t ban social media from schools
July 26th, 2012
10:32 AM ET

My View: Don’t ban social media from schools

Courtesy Ruth DavisBy Steve Nicholls, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Steve Nicholls is the author of Social Media in Business. He is a social media strategist hired by business executives to teach them how to implement a winning social media strategy into their organization.

The New York Education Department recently stated that in the first 11 months of 2011 there were 69 cases where teachers were accused of inappropriate conduct with students on Facebook. Some were fired as a result, and there is a growing trend by schools across the country to put a ban on social media.

This raises a question: Is prohibiting social media in schools the right way to protect children?

In my view, if the answer is yes then that would mean that as technology grows, schools are forbidden to grow with it, and that would somewhat be of a contradiction to what a school is supposed to be in the first place.

I believe it is critical that social media is allowed in schools as it presents a world of opportunities that far outweigh the risks if it is implemented safely and properly. Social media has become far too integrated into daily life on a global basis; failing to incorporate it into schools would do our children a disservice.

Think of how far the space has grown in just a few years (remember Myspace?) and imagine where it will be by the time your child is out of college. Trying to ban social media will simply not work. Just ask certain autocratic countries that have tried in vain. The question at the core of the issue is: Why ban it?

Concerned parents may point to the potential dangers and risks. What about inappropriate interaction with teachers? Or scams from online predators? Even adults fall prey to human emotion and post things they would love to have back. Why put my 10-year-old in that position?

My answer is to first acknowledge that these concerns are warranted and the threats are real. That being said, while the risks of social media are very serious, the biggest risk of all is not to embrace it. Bad people exist in all walks of life, and while we must protect against them, we must not let them hinder progress. For example, if a pedophile is found near a school playground, would you homeschool your child? I think in most instances the answer would be no.
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Space school: first two days
Apollo 15's Saturn V on the launch pad. A decommissioned Saturn V is on display at Johnson Space Center.
July 25th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Space school: first two days

by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here. If you missed it, check out her first post: Getting ready to explore space school.

Day 0

All the students arrived today. I was dropped off at a house where I met a few other students from all over the world. There were people from New Zealand, Wales, Canada, the U.S., and Costa Rica. They all seemed really cool! Eventually, my host family picked my roommate Alex (who is American) and I up.

We drove around Houston for a little bit and took pictures with T-38s and other cool things. We had some great food for dinner and discussed what the school was going to be like.

FULL STORY
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The last Weekly Reader?
Weekly Reader, now owned by Scholastic, will cease independent publication this school year.
July 25th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

The last Weekly Reader?

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) The Weekly Reader title may hold fond memories for you, but it won’t be around the way you remember it for your kids.

The magazine that brought us all kinds of kid-appropriate stories, from presidential elections to fuzzy animals, is ceasing independent publication after more than a century in classrooms.

Scholastic, which started as a classroom magazine in 1920, purchased Weekly Reader this past February from Readers Digest Association, Inc.  In recent months, Scholastic says that its editors, along with those from Weekly Reader, met with teachers to determine which features of each publication would serve their audiences in different grades and subject areas.

Beginning this school year, Scholastic Classroom Magazines will offer what the company hopes is the best of both worlds in print and digital formats.  The magazines will be co-branded with titles such as Junior Scholastic/Current Events and Scholastic News/Weekly Reader.

Representatives from Scholastic would not comment on reported layoffs at Weekly Reader, saying only that some Weekly Reader staff are working for Scholastic, while others are “in consideration for jobs” or not interested in commuting to the Scholastic offices in New York City.

In an email statement to CNN, Cathy Lasiewicz, Senior Director at Scholastic Corporate Communications, said “We are confident that the combined Scholastic News/Weekly Reader team will now offer an even better news and information experience in print and digital formats for teachers and students.” 

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Filed under: Early childhood • Elementary school • Practice • Publications
July 24th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Thank you, Sally Ride

By Meg Urry, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Meg Urry is the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the Department of Physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

(CNN) - Sitting in a meeting at NASA's Science Advisory Committee on Monday afternoon, I heard the news that Sally Ride had died. She was important to everyone in that room - mostly space scientists and NASA officials. But for a handful of women like me, she was an irreplaceable leader.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

Sally Ride wasn't the first woman to go into space, or to want to do so, much less the first woman qualified to do so. She would have been the first to tell you that. But as the first U.S. woman in space, on STS-7, the seventh flight of America's new space shuttle, she was the first woman astronaut most Americans knew about. And she used that fame for good.

Learn the impact Sally Ride had on science education for girls: FULL STORY
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More states and D.C. receive NCLB waivers; Vermont, Alabama, Nebraska reject them
July 24th, 2012
06:06 AM ET

More states and D.C. receive NCLB waivers; Vermont, Alabama, Nebraska reject them

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The White House announced on Thursday that it would grant seven additional waivers from restrictive provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. will receive the newest flexibility waivers, according to a U.S. Department of Education press release. To date, 32 states and D.C. have received waivers.

The NCLB law, also known as the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA), has many sections, and through these waivers, federal officials are allowing states to set their own standards for parts of the law. The waivers aren’t an automatic reprieve from all aspects of NCLB.

In order to receive these ESEA flexibility waivers, states provided evidence that they would initiate education reform efforts approved by the Obama administration, including linking student test scores to teacher evaluations.

Many supporters of the 2002 law say that the intent of NCLB is to improve education for all students, including poor and minority students, but critics contend that the law has created a “teach to the test” culture in too many classrooms.

Read more about NCLB and NCLB waivers

States are asking for waivers because they consider NCLB’s goals unattainable or even unrealistic. The law mandates that all students be proficient in reading by the end of third grade by 2014, and that all students will graduate from high school. States are far from accomplishing these goals; almost half of America’s schools are failing to meet these NCLB mandates.
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Getting ready to explore space school
July 23rd, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Getting ready to explore space school

by Montse Cordero, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Montse Cordero is a 17-year-old student from Costa Rica, participating in the Foundation for International Space Education's United Space School, a two-week summer program in Houston. She'll be blogging about her experiences in the program here.

In February, I got an e-mail that I’d been hoping to receive for almost three months. It was from Estrategia Siglo XXI, a Costa Rican nonprofit organization that promotes science and technology, saying I’d earned a scholarship for United Space School in Houston. It made me extremely happy, and it began a long period of waiting for July 22.

In November, I was invited to apply for one of two scholarships to attend United Space School. I’d barely even heard of it, so I went online to find out what it was about, and I fell in love. It's a program that invites teenagers from all over the world to Houston.

FULL STORY
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My View: Education is key to breaking the bonds of poverty
July 23rd, 2012
06:32 AM ET

My View: Education is key to breaking the bonds of poverty

Courtesy Bill ParrishBy Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is the senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on the Southside of Chicago.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Our current education policies are binding some of our children into a future in which their social fabric is tattered and sometimes broken.

Our nation has not truly committed to eliminating structural economic inequality since President Johnson’s war on poverty. With over 46 million Americans living in poverty, and nearly 50 million who are food insecure, and close to 25 million Americans looking for a job while we face record-breaking rates of foreclosure, we must provide a common foundation beneath which no child falls.

We can do this by giving all children fair and equal opportunities to learn. Yet, by failing to authorize a new federal education framework, Congress has left the states with two choices: to continue the failed policies of No Child Left Behind or apply for a waiver and be subjected to unrealistic requirements and reforms that aren’t much different.

As the parent of two children in public school I am saddened by the tone of the debate about the future of education and the lack of imagination in popular reform proposals that seem to be directed largely at privatizing our school systems. Many of the men and women shaping policy can afford private schools, tutors and have access to other well-funded supplemental programs, but it is our children in struggling communities who are becoming casualties of these education battles.
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5 tips on talking to kids about scary news
July 20th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

5 tips on talking to kids about scary news

By Sasha Emmons, Parenting.com

(Parenting.com) - With tragic story of a mass shooting in Colorado flashing on the news this morning, parents may find themselves awkwardly fielding questions from their kids. How do you explain that scary events do occur while still making your children feel safe?

We talked to Dr. Paul Coleman, author of How to Say It to Your Child When Bad Things Happen, to find out the best ways to talk to kids about disturbing images and events.

Wait until they're older. Until around age 7, Dr. Coleman suggests only addressing the tough stuff if kids bring it up first. "They might see it on TV or hear about it at school (or heaven forbid even witness it), and then you have to deal with it. But younger children might not be able to handle it well," says Dr. Coleman.

Parenting.com: The best cities for families

Keep it black and white. Yes, the world can be a cruel place, but little kids, well, can't handle the truth."Younger kids need to be reassured that this isn't happening to them and won't happen to them," says Dr. Coleman. Parents may feel like they're lying, since no one can ever be 100% sure of what the future holds, but probability estimates are not something small kids can grasp, and won't comfort them.

FULL STORY
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My View: 10 reasons the SAT matters
July 20th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

My View: 10 reasons the SAT matters

Courtesy The College BoardBy Kathryn Juric, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Kathryn Juric is vice president of the College Board’s SAT Program.  She leads global program strategy for the SAT, which is administered annually to nearly 3 million students worldwide.

The College Board created the SAT to democratize access to higher education by providing an objective measure for evaluating a student’s college readiness.  This function has endured for more than 80 years and for those who doubt its value, here are 10 reasons why the SAT continues to be an integral part of the college admission process:

1. The SAT has a proven track record as a fair and valid predictor of first-year college success for all students, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status.  The most recent validity study utilizing data from more than 150,000 students at more than 100 colleges and universities demonstrates that the combined use of SAT and high school GPA is a better predictor of college success than HSGPA alone.

2. The SAT gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their college-preparedness despite inconsistent grading systems throughout the nation’s high schools.  And SAT scores provide a national, standardized benchmark that neutralizes the risk of grade inflation.

3. The SAT tests students’ ability to apply what they have learned in high school and to problem-solve based on that knowledge – skills that are critical to success in college and the workforce.  The College Board conducts regular curriculum surveys to ensure the content tested on the SAT reflects the content being taught in the nation’s high school classrooms.

4. Despite what some testing critics have said, colleges still depend on college entrance exams as part of the admission process.  According to a 2010 survey published by the National Association of College Admission Counseling, admissions officers ranked college entrance exam scores as the third-most important factor in the admission process – behind only grades in college prep courses and the strength of the student’s high school curriculum.
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