June 12th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Possible Chicago teachers' strike, lecturers vs. teachers, and children's emotions

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

Chicago Tribune: 9 out of 10 CPS teachers authorize strike
As negotiations between union members and Chicago's school district continue, 90% of the city's unionized teachers have authorized a strike. The union and district have reached agreement on several items, but remain split on teacher pay and linking teacher salaries to student performance.

Education Week: Telling Is Not Teaching
Walter Gardner scoffs at the advice that some college professors give to public school teachers. Most college professors lecture, Gardner says, and wouldn't survive long in a modern K-12 classroom.

PsychCentral.com: Teachers Need More Training to Handle Children’s Emotions
A new study suggests that when dealing with children's emotions, teachers tend to rely on how they respond to their own emotions. The study's author suggests that learning how to deal with children's feelings should be incorporated into teacher training.

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Filed under: Behavior • College • Curriculum • Issues • Policy • Practice • teacher unions • Teachers • Today's Reading List
My View: Get students to think beyond the numbers
June 11th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

My View: Get students to think beyond the numbers

Courtesy Teachers College Columbia UniversityBy Anand Marri, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Anand R. Marri is an associate professor of social studies and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He led a team of faculty and students at the college who created a free 24-lesson high school curriculum about the federal budget, national debt and budget deficit

Young adults are graduating from high school and college into an economy that appears to have lost its footing. They are typically finding fewer jobs of any kind, let alone of the sort for which they have prepared. Even worse, today’s flat economic growth will have a profound effect on the careers and personal prosperity of these new graduates for decades, just as it will on the size of the national debt and the nation’s fiscal challenges.

As they listen to the fiercely partisan debates that have created gridlock in Washington, young citizens must surely wonder whether it is possible to recapture the vitality of the economy and its potential for growth while also remaining faithful to America’s tradition of collective responsibility toward those who are more vulnerable. There never will be hard-and-fast answers to how to negotiate between these competing priorities, nor should there be. We are a democracy, and, beginning with the Constitution, we have derived strength from our ability to work through the choices that present themselves in each era, under each new set of circumstances. That is the tough work of citizenship.

However, most young Americans today do not understand the budget process.

As a result, they cannot analyze public policy options. Nor can they responsibly engage in influencing policy decisions in ways that reflect an informed point of view – or even those that consistently represent their own best interests. High school educators should focus hard on questions that go to the heart of democratic citizenship – but right now, such topics, at best, come in for scarce consideration in high school economics courses. Federal budget issues remain almost entirely absent from the broader social studies curriculum, which speaks volumes about our failure to engage young people in some of the most pressing moral and civic issues of our times.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Issues • Voices
College classes that offer Slot Math?
Ever wonder how slot machines produce a profit? There's a college course that covers that topic.
June 1st, 2012
06:32 AM ET

College classes that offer Slot Math?

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - Admit it. You took one or two of “those” classes in college.

It's the kind of class that made your parents stop reading the newspaper and glance up at you with that “Seriously?” look. You convinced them that this was part of the college experience and necessary to a well-rounded education.

To be fair, maybe some of these different curriculum offerings might have been required if you had an out-of-the-ordinary major. But we’re going to guess that most of you took some strange classes for fun – and to keep your sanity.

Put yourself on a college campus today and you might be tempted to take some of these actual courses that we found in college catalogs. (Note to incoming freshmen who are registering now for the fall: You didn’t get the idea here.)

Do you find math dull, uninspiring? There’s a new game in town. Consider Basic Slot Math at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (where else?) The class is an offering of the UNLV International Gaming Institute. Even the course description isn’t the stuff of standard algebraic monotony: “How do slot machines produce a profit, or for that matter, how do all casino games produce a profit?” What are the odds on getting into this class?

Popular culture is awash with zombies. At Chicago’s Columbia College, you can take this fascination to an academic level by taking Zombies in Popular Media. Explore “the history, significance and representation of zombies in horror and fantasy texts.” The course demands look pretty intense, so you may want to hope for the zombie apocalypse to preempt the final exam.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a course in Digital Poetry, where you can experiment with creating poetry for wireless access on handheld devices. Flash-animated poems, digital videos and interactive poems are all elements of the syllabus.
Hypertext haiku?
Never thought it could be done.
An approach to try.

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Filed under: College • Curriculum • Practice
May 31st, 2012
12:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

Salon.com: Cheating runs rampant
Daniel Denvir says than emphasis on high stakes testing at the federal and state levels has led to rampant cheating among U.S. school districts. His article also says that subjects outside of reading and math have been hurt as well, including science, physical education and the arts.

Education Week: NCATE Accredits First 'Nontraditional' Program
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has accredited iTeachU.S., which can now recommend teachers for licensure in the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The online provider is the first non-higher-education-based teacher preparation program accredited by NCATE.

Washington Post:College dropouts have debt but no degree
The percentage of college dropouts who have students loans has risen over the past decade. Public policy has pushed more students towards college, and some education experts say that more needs to be done to help students reach graduation.

ED.gov: Student Voices of Military-Connected Children Inspire Guidance from Secretary Duncan
After meeting with children of members of the U.S. military, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote a letter asking school districts to consider the needs of military children. The students told Secretary Duncan of the hardships they face when transitioning to new schools and difficulties in connecting deployed family members with school activities.

MySanAntonio.com: Vaccine adds to cost of college
Vaccination against meningitis is now mandatory for most students at Texas colleges. At around $140 per shot, the vaccine against the rare but potentially fatal infection could cost as much as one or two textbooks.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Economy • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
Summer 'brain drain' worse for poor kids
Studies show that children lose some of their skills over the summer if their brains are not stimulated.
May 31st, 2012
06:07 AM ET

Summer 'brain drain' worse for poor kids

By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) - Some call it ‘the summer slide.’ Some call it ‘the summer brain drain.’ But whatever you call it, summer learning loss is a real phenomenon that has plagued students since summer vacations began.

Fourth-grade teacher Marian Valdez says that much of what kids learned in the 3rd grade they seem to forget over the summer.

Listen in as Jim Roope talks to teachers and students about summer:

“We spend the first couple of months, especially in math, reviewing, going back over the facts, time tests, those kinds of things,” said Valdez, who teaches at Washington Elementary in Los Angeles.

The first known report about summer learning loss came in a 1906 New York Times article by William White. He tested students in math before and after the summer and a found loss of skills. So for more than a hundred years, we’ve been trying to stop the summer knowledge leak.

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Filed under: At Home • Behavior • Curriculum • Podcast
May 24th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

Arizona Daily Star: Students who didn't pass AIMS can't walk in Tucson Unified graduations
Roughly 100 Tucson seniors will not be allowed to walk in graduation ceremonies after they failed part of a state-mandated test. Some parents argue that the students didn't receive enough preparation for the test or the time to remedy the situation.

The Atlantic: Do Cell Phones Belong in the Classroom?
In many American high schools, teachers and students are at odds over cell phone use. While some teachers consider the devices distractions, others say educators should learn to incorporate cell phones into their lesson plans. Robert Earl argues that whatever philosophy is applied, students have to learn to love learning.

Edutopia.org: The Homework Trap
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kenneth Goldberg has a list of suggestions about how parents should approach the issue of homework with their kids.

Connected Principals: Lessons Learned
A veteran teacher shares 13 lessons learned during a 13-year career in the classroom.

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May 15th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Today's Reading List

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

Los Angeles Japanese Daily News: USC Honors Nisei at Graduation
Nine Japanese-American students who were forced into internment camps while they were students at University of Southern California during World War II graduated from USC on Friday. A small group protested the graduation because the honorary degrees are only being conferred upon the living, and because some were denied their transcripts if they continuted their education elsewhere.

AZCentral.com: Some schools removing valedictorian title
Some Arizona high schools are honoring more of their best students, not just the top two who used to earn the titles valedictorian or salutatorian. Some top students prefer the competition for the title and are afraid the lack of one hurts them in the hunt for college scholarships.

Education Week: Charters Bills Go Down in Alabama, Mississippi
Recently, charter school bills have been popular in the Deep South. However, in Alabama and Mississippi this legislative session, charter school measures died before they could hit pro-charter school governors' desks.

U.S. News: 3 Etiquette Tips for New PTA Members
Parent-Teacher Associations can have an impact on school budgets, curriculum, and other activities. The article offers advice on how parents who are new to a school can introduce themselves to the PTA.

Wired.com: Girls Impress FIRST Championship With Project That Could Save Lives
Thousands of students gathered in St. Louis recently to compete in a national robotics competition, which includes the Junior FIRST Lego League. The Hippie Pandas, an all-girl team from New York, invented a way for people to pasteurize milk safely, and their invention is already in use in Nicaragua.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Economy • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
May 10th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Voters in America: Vets Wanted? Educator and Parent Guide

(CNN Student News) - Teachers and Parents: Watch with your students or record "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" when it airs on CNN on Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET and PT, or Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and PT. By recording the documentaries, you agree that you will use the documentaries for educational viewing purposes for a one-year period only. No other rights of any kind or nature whatsoever are granted, including, without limitation, any rights to sell, publish, distribute, post online or distribute in any other medium or forum, or use for any commercial or promotional purpose.

The Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" with their students.

Documentary Description: Multiple deployments interrupt lives and careers and can lead to health and financial challenges. Narrated by former U.S. Army infantryman and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez, "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" looks at the unique burdens for families of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it follows the reintegration of members of the Georgia National Guard's 877th Engineer Company into civilian life. Deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, half of these veterans faced unemployment when they returned to the U.S. The documentary also examines whether the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Bill passed in November 2011 is of any help as our nation's heroes make full transitions back to the lives they left to defend America, and it offers insights into how veterans' unemployment may impact their decisions as they head to the polls this November.

All of the In America parent and teacher educator guides are developed by CNN Student News. CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN. This award-winning show and its companion website are available free of charge throughout the school year.

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Filed under: After High School • CNN Student News • Curriculum • Economy • In America • Military • veterans • video
May 4th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

Cooperative Catalyst: Behind the Standardized Test Curtain
Todd Farley wrote a book about his experiences working for some of the biggest standardized test publishers. Farley says there are a few reasons why schools shouldn't trust the industry to handle exam scoring.

Mail Tribune: 'It's Our Education'
Nearly 100 Eagle Point High School students walked out of school - not to spite their teachers but rather to support them. The Oregon school district and its teachers union have been trying to negotiate contracts for more than a year, and the teachers have threatened to strike beginning May 8.

Georgia Health News: Long weekends risky for teens?
A North Georgia town says it's seeing a higher teen birthrate and more teens having sex in general. Health officials say a four-day school week implemented this year has caused teens to have nothing better to do on Mondays.

Wired: My Standard Based Grading Notes
Physics professor Rhett Allain has started to use standards-based grading with his college students. Allain provides his methods and results, similar to a lab report, and says that his new method of grading measures what students understand and isn't just a measure of effort.

DesMoinesRegister.com: 32 heads are better than 26: Class breaks twin record
The Guinness World Records certified that Valley Southwoods Freshman High School has the "Most Twins in the Same Academic Year at One School." The 16 sets of Iowa twins beat out the old record by three pairs.

Education websites awarded Webbys
Salman Khan started the Khan Academy from a converted walk-in closet in his Silicon Valley home. His website was named the 2012 Webby Winner in the Education category.
May 4th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Education websites awarded Webbys

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Khan Academy took the top prize for education in this year's Webby Awards, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday. TED Talks won the Webby People's Voice Award. The academy will dole out the awards for Internet excellence on May 21. In contrast to the long speeches you see at award ceremonies like the Oscars, each winner will be allowed to say just five words – shorter than most tweets.

And the nominees in the category of Education Websites are....

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media provides parents and educators information about the media-rich world we all live in. The non-profit organization says that students spend more time with traditional and digital media than with families or teachers. For parents, the site offers reviews of many types of media, from books to movies to websites.

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Filed under: At Home • Curriculum • Resources • Technology
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