Schools turn to Chinese language classes with help of Chinese government
The plaque for the Confucius Classroom at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee is unveiled at the classroom's dedication.
December 28th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

Schools turn to Chinese language classes with help of Chinese government

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN Radio

Listen to CNN Radio's podcast on learning Chinese in U.S. schools from Susanna Capelouto.

(CNN) About 75 students at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee, finished their first semester of Mandarin Chinese. Hillsboro Principal Terry Shrader says the inaugural class has been a success.

"We feel like, with the flattening of the world economy, that students who are able to learn some Mandarin and learn something about the Chinese culture have a leg up when they move into college and eventually the work force,” Shrader says.

Hillsboro offers the International Baccalaureate, a specialized high school diploma that focuses on global and cultural skills. Students here have to take a second language; until this year only Spanish and French were offered.

“We have a really strong world language department,” says Shrader, “but we can only expand when we have the resources.”

Those resources came from Chinese Ministry of Education though the Confucius Center at the University of Memphis. The center promotes Chinese language and culture at the university level and at high schools, says Dr. Hsiang-Te Kung, who runs the center.

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Teachable moments in the news: Occupy Wall Street protests
The scene in downtown Manhattan as thousands get ready to march over the Brooklyn bridge on November 17, 2011.
November 22nd, 2011
08:08 AM ET

Teachable moments in the news: Occupy Wall Street protests

Editor’s note: As curriculum writers and journalists, we think there are teachable moments in almost everything that’s going on. In this ongoing series, we’ll take a look at individual news stories as they develop and give teachers and parents some ideas on how to approach them with your kids.

By Donna Krache, CNN

You might be in front of a classroom full of ninth-graders, or there might be protests in your community that prompt a discussion among students. There’s an opportunity to both connect what students are learning to real-world events and encourage them to think critically as they formulate opinions. One way to do that is to ask them questions that dovetail into what they are learning in class. Here are some suggestions in different subject areas to get you started:

Civics/Government: Why do Americans have the right to protest? What do you know about the 1st Amendment? What are some of the responsibilities associated with the rights we have?

U.S. and World History: What other movements in history have you studied? What political or economic events set the stage for these? Which movements were most successful in creating change? Why?

Media literacy: What do you think is the message behind these protests and who is producing it? Where would you go to get information about what is going on? How do you decide what information is credible?

You can also use the story to guide students on how to formulate opinions based on information. You could ask questions like: Do you have an opinion on the protests? If you don’t, how would you go about forming one? What kinds of information would you look for to prepare you to come to a conclusion? If you have an opinion on this story, what factors helped to shape your view?

For cost-free, commercial-free news produced for middle and high school classrooms, check out CNN Student News.

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November 18th, 2011
08:01 AM ET

Tough talks across differences

By Janet Penn, Special to CNN

Courtesy Janet Penn and Patrick JonesEditor’s Note: Janet Penn is the founder and director of Youth LEAD (Youth Leaders Engaging Across Differences), formerly Interfaith Action. She works with civic and interfaith groups across the country to give teens the skills they need to communicate respectfully, then trains teens to facilitate these conversations and organize to address challenges facing their communities. Janet holds a MBA and MSW in community planning from Boston College and a BA from Oberlin College.

Two students are arguing about the recent Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. in your class. “The Palestinians are shelling innocent Israelis.” “The Israelis are illegal occupiers.” Tempers flare and a wider argument ensues. You’ve got a lesson to get through and find yourself saying, “Let’s not talk about this now. It’s just too hot to handle.” Or how about this scenario: Your daughter (in this case, my daughter) turns 18 and comes home with a tattoo on her ankle. You’ve never told her that she could get a tattoo. She knows you’re adamantly against tattoos. You’re angry that she went against your wishes, and frustrated that there’s nothing you can do.

It happens all the time. Our kids don’t always do what we say. Our students don’t always listen to different points of view. How could these scenarios have ended differently? Well, the process is simple, but it’s not easy.

Filed under: After High School • At Home • High school • Resources • Voices
November 10th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley – Educator and Parent Guide

Educators and Parents: This Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch this program with their students. CNN provides Educator and Parent Guides for all of its "In America" programming.

While much of the country struggles to emerge from a recession, California's Silicon Valley is booming, and technology companies like Facebook, Skype, and Apple are seeing their valuations soar. CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports that the ownership of this digital boom is mostly young, white, and male. For her fourth Black in America documentary, O'Brien asks why, according to industry analyst CB Insights, less than one percent of all venture capital money went to digital startups with African-American founders in 2010. She follows the progress of eight strangers after they were selected to live together for nine weeks in a unique, technology-focused "accelerator" developed to help African-American digital entrepreneurs secure funding to establish their businesses. Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley airs November 13th at 8pm ET/PT and re-airs Nov. 13 at 11:00p.m. ET/PT

Watch or record "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley" when it airs on CNN on Sunday, November 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and re-airs Nov. 13 at 11:00p.m. ET/PT. By recording the documentary, you agree that you will use the program 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.

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Filed under: CNN Student News • In America • Practice • Resources • STEM • Technology • video
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