January 31st, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed – An L.A. teacher reviews her review
When Los Angeles teacher Coleen Bondy opened her evaluation, she found that the district considers her a below average teacher. Bondy argues that her evaluation was unfair because it only measured the outcomes from her least motivated students. She also believes that test scores by themselves are a poor method of evaluating teachers.

MySA.com: Textbooks tied to tests
The Texas State Board of Education ruled that annual standardized tests won't be rewritten until state lawmakers provide funding for districts to buy new textbooks. The board said a disconnect between information found in textbooks and testing materials based on the new curriculum wouldn't be fair to students.

KCTV 5 News: Student develops free tutoring program to those in need
A Kansas City college student quit his job as a tutor to start a non-profit that offers free tutoring to high school students.

CBS Baltimore.com: Baltimore Co. Parents Offer To Pay For School’s Air Conditioning; Officials Say No
Some Baltimore County parents are concerned that their children will suffer when hot weather comes back this spring, so they offered to pay for air conditioning window units. The school district turned down the offer, and requested $70 million from Maryland instead.

Click on Detroit: West Bloomfield Schools closed due to vandalism
A Michigan school district canceled the first day of the second semester after vandals put 15 buses out of commission.

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Filed under: After High School • Curriculum • Policy • Practice • Resources • Teachers • Testing • Today's Reading List
January 31st, 2012
10:15 AM ET

College admits fudging students' exam scores

by the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - An admissions officer at Claremont McKenna College in California has resigned after the school's president revealed that the officer had inflated college entrance examination scores for incoming freshmen since 2005.

"As an institution of higher education with a deep and consistent commitment to the integrity of all our academic activities, and particularly our reporting of institutional data, we take this situation very seriously," college President Pamela B. Gann wrote in an e-mail Monday to students, faculty and staff.

Gann wrote that a lone administrator reported composite scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test that were exaggerated by 10 to 20 points. That employee, whom she did not name, has resigned, she said.

Such scores are often used in various comparisons of colleges across the country, including U.S. News & World Report's prestigious annual rankings.

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Filed under: College • Practice
The Great Moonbuggy Race
Racers from the Huntsville Center for Technology geared up for the Great Moonbuggy Race
January 31st, 2012
07:45 AM ET

The Great Moonbuggy Race

By Pamela Greyer, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Pamela Greyer is a K-12 science educator, STEM education consultant and NASA solar system ambassador. She is the former site director of NASA’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy Chicago Program and continues to mentor and engage youths in NASA engineering competitions and contests.

In 2004, I became a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educator. At the time, STEM was an emerging concept in the education landscape and just another acronym used by NASA condensed from a series of words.

I had no idea the influence that teaching in the STEM fields would have on my life - as an educator, on my ability to inspire my students to develop a love of science and most importantly, to introduce my students to and engage them in engineering.

As an inner-city high school science teacher from Chicago, I am always looking for new opportunities to involve my students in STEM learning. I am ecstatic this year because I have a team of high school students entered in NASA’s 19th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race. FULL POST

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Filed under: High school • Practice • Resources • STEM • Voices
January 30th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Answers to your ‘flipped school’ questions

Courtesy Troy Stein by Greg Green, Special to CNN

Editor’s note:  Greg Green is the principal at Clintondale High School  in Clinton Township, Michigan. His guest post on this blog titled “My View: Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed” generated more than 500 comments and was shared thousands of times on social media.  In this post, Green offers answers to some of the questions you asked the most.

The response to my guest post last week about flipping the classroom on CNN’s Schools of Thought blog was overwhelming and thought-provoking. While I appreciate that there are varying opinions, I would like to respond to some of the topics that were frequently brought up in the comments section, to provide some further food for thought on the issues.

1. Does the flipped model replace teachers with video? Does it turn teachers into classroom monitors rather than actual teachers?

There were many comments on the role of teachers in the flipped model, some questioning whether the flipped classroom replaces teachers with video instructions. I would argue that the opposite is true. The flipped instructional model makes teachers more valuable in the classroom. They are no longer just delivering information during class, but facilitating learning and comprehension with their students and providing one-on-one instruction.

Teaching is one of the only professions where people are expected to be experts in everything. In other jobs, people specialize in certain areas. Teachers, just like everyone else, are interested in certain subjects more than others. If a math teacher at our school also happens to be a Civil War buff in his or her spare time, why not have that teacher create a video lecture on the Civil War? And if one math teacher is better at explaining calculus while another specializes in geometry, why not have them share lectures with each other? Sharing knowledge this way and making it available 24/7 online benefits everyone. It enables our students, partners and guardians, and even community members, to learn by giving them unlimited access to information.

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Filed under: Practice • Technology • Voices
January 30th, 2012
07:05 AM ET

Virtual schools on the rise, but are they right for K-12 students?

by Athena Jones, CNN

CHANTILLY, VIRGINIA (CNN) - It's a Tuesday morning in January, and seventh-grader Katerina Christhilf is learning algebra. But it's no ordinary class. This one takes place entirely online, led by a teacher a few miles away.

As part of her training to become a ballerina, Katerina takes dance lessons four times a week, including up to eight hours on Fridays. All that training makes it hard to go to a conventional school, so she takes science, literature, composition, vocabulary, history, music, art and French - a full course-load - from the comfort of her home, through Virginia Virtual Academy, a program run by K12 Inc. that began operating in the state in 2009.

"Ballet is really important to me and it's usually in the mornings, so if I went to school I would only be able to go on the weekends," Katerina explained. "Sometimes I'll study in the morning and I'll do a few classes and then I'll go to ballet for maybe like three or four hours and I'll come back home and I'll do some more."

Katerina is one of a growing number of students who go to school online full time. About a quarter of a million students in kindergarten through 12th grade were enrolled in full-time online schools last year, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a 25% increase over the previous year. Some parents choose these schools because their children are struggling in traditional schools; others do so for their flexible schedules.

But as the number of students learning online full time has grown, so have questions about the effectiveness of that approach.

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Filed under: At Home • On air • Practice • Technology • video
January 29th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

Social media and schools

CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz discusses how schools are trying to develop social media policies for teachers. The video includes comments from the Schools of Thought article Students, teachers and social networking.

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Filed under: Carl Azuz • CNN Student News • On air • Policy • Technology • video
January 28th, 2012
12:46 PM ET

University of Alabama students beat foster care odds

By Julie Peterson, CNN

(CNN) For the more than half a million kids in foster care in the United States, traumatic childhoods are often commonplace. With their home situations constantly changing, students in foster care frequently miss school, and academic growth can be handicapped. Two percent of foster care children go on to earn college degrees, according to the Atlanta-based nsoro Foundation .

But two University of Alabama seniors who faced similar difficult paths in the foster care system have defied the odds to become high achievers on theTuscaloosa, Alabama, campus.

Both Caroline James, 23, and Sean Hudson, 22, entered foster care at age 11. They each describe stories of serious abuse in the homes of their biological families.

Filed under: After High School • College • Issues • Voices
Christa McAuliffe Day
Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off on January 28, 1986.
January 27th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

Christa McAuliffe Day

by John Martin, CNN

I touch the future. I teach. - Christa McAuliffe 

Twenty-six years ago this Saturday, I was home from school. I remember that because I watched as the Space Shuttle Challenger launched a New Hampshire high school teacher and six NASA astronauts into the sky. Their flight only lasted 73 seconds  and ended in tragedy, but McAuliffe’s legacy as a pioneer and a teacher endures. This Saturday, the 26th anniversary of that fateful flight, is designated Christa McAuliffe Day in her honor.

In August of 1984 President Ronald Reagan announced that a teacher would be the first civilian in space. McAuliffe was one of 11,000 applicants to the Teacher in Space program. She wasn't a science teacher; her field was social studies.  On her application she said, “I watched the space program being born, and I would like to participate.” In July of 1985, Vice President George H.W. Bush announced McAuliffe's selection as the first teacher in space. Before the launch on a frigid January day, McAuliffe remarked, “Imagine a history teacher making history.”

Courtesy NASA
During the Challenger mission, McAuliffe was scheduled to perform a number of experiments and lessons for the classroom. The Public Broadcasting System planned to televise two of her lessons. Her first lesson, “The Ultimate Field Trip” would have featured a tour of the shuttle, while her second lesson, "Where We've Been, Where We're Going," was meant to demonstrate the impact of the space program on technology.

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers • Technology
January 27th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Education and expectations

Some people say minorities are suffering because educators have low expectations of their kids. Suzanne Malveaux explains.

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Filed under: Issues • video
January 27th, 2012
12:46 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

WAVY: Hundreds of VB teachers face layoffs
In order to cover Virginia Beach school district's $40 million deficit, 640 teachers received notices that they might not have a job next year. Most of the cuts will come from teachers who are in their first through third year of teaching.

NPR: Kids Have A Say In Louisville's School Lunch Menu
New federal school lunch guidelines are aimed at reducing fats and increasing fruits. The district worried that students wouldn't like the new foods, so they formed a student committee that performs taste tests.

U.S. News: What Does a College Budget Look Like?
A mother and daughter examine the daughter's college budget from two different perspectives. in her case, less than half of the money went towards tuition.

SacBee.com: Loomis kids give ailing principal a literacy lift
Principal Rick Judd hopes to return to his school soon after his cancer treatment is complete. Judd had implemented an independent reading program where students pick their own books. Now, the kids are reading to keep him going.

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