June 27th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

House GOP leaders to discuss deal on student loans

By Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh, CNN

(CNN) - House GOP leaders are expected to discuss whether or not to extend a rate cut on student loans at a meeting Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, top Senate leaders from each party indicated they had reached an agreement but were waiting to hear whether House Republicans would accept the deal.

The White House issued a statement praising the Senate deal and pressed House Republicans to accept it.

"We're pleased that the Senate has reached a deal to keep rates low and continue offering hardworking students a fair shot at an affordable education," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "We hope Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the president as soon as possible."

House GOP leaders were still looking at the details, said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. He also declined to say whether they would bring the deal up for a vote in the House.

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Filed under: College • Financial aid • On air • Policy • Politics • video
The evolving classroom: Lessons go virtual
Former teachers Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier, co-founders of LearnZillion, say the TeachFest event is a way for award-winning teachers to spread their knowledge beyond their classrooms.
June 27th, 2012
06:08 AM ET

The evolving classroom: Lessons go virtual

by Rick Bastien, CNN

(CNN) On any given Sunday night, your child’s teacher might face this problem: How do you come up with a lesson plan for 20 or more students for an entire week when all your students are learning at a different pace?

Mike is great at reading but needs help in math. Katie excels in science but struggles with writing. They both need to pass the same state tests. And with states picking up new high standards for education, there isn’t always a precedent of how to teach. Even with textbooks and years of experience, the best teachers can struggle to find new ways of teaching complex subjects, especially when each student learns differently.

This is a problem that Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier are determined to solve. The two former teachers co-founded LearnZillion.com, a social venture that provides free lessons for students, all in organized YouTube-style videos.

The formula is simple: Videos have to be about five minutes long, illustrated by hand and voiced by a real teacher. The product simulates a real-classroom effect —it’s like your favorite teacher drawing the math lesson on the chalkboard, except that you can play it over and over if you don’t quite understand it. At the end, you take a brief quiz. But as it turns out, this resource is mostly utilized by teachers looking for new ways to teach the topics with which their students are struggling .

In other words, teachers need help from other teachers. Jonathan Krasnov, Learnzillion’s publicist notes, “Even great teachers don’t teach everything great.”

Westendorf was the principal of E.L. Haynes, a charter school in Washington, D.C., when he came up with the idea.

He told CNN, “We started using it because we came across the Khan Academy site.  We liked this idea of instruction being captured and delivered to students. Then we said, ‘What if it could be based on the Common Core Standards,  [which mostU.S.states have now adopted] , so that it is aligned with what students need? … It was out of these ‘what ifs’ that I came up with a prototype.”

Westendorf plans for LearnZillion to eventually make profit by selling services to school districts, such as lessons tailored to the needs of the school. But he says that the lessons posted online will always be free.

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers • Technology