February 2009 Archives

Stay Tapped In to Stimulus News With EdWeek Widget

Edweek.org now has a widget for our coverage related to the federal stimulus. You can embed this widget in your blog or on your Web site to help readers follow the latest news and analysis on how the huge infusion of federal money is being targeted for schools. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('d313643b-e81f-4c87-82f6-f5af275ba98f');Get the Edweek.org: Schools & Stimulus widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Just click on the grey "Get Widget" tab, above, and copy and paste the code into your blog or Web site. It's easy! Our crack Web team has already posted a ...


Your Favorite Fictional Mathematician?

I recently came across this item in Plus magazine, an online publication which seeks to introduce readers to the "beauty and practical applications of mathematics." It asks readers to vote for their favorite fictional mathematicians. I was a bit surprised by the top vote-getter. Then again, maybe I shouldn't have been. (After voting, scroll to the bottom of this entry, about math teachers swooning over the appearance of a couple celebrity math geeks at an NCTM annual meeting.) What about a poll of favorite real-life mathematicians? Pythagoras? Descartes? Physicist-mathematician Einstein? I would guess the stock of John Nash has risen ...


GAO: Loss of Arts Education Higher in Some Kinds of Schools

Most elementary teachers report that instruction time for arts education stayed about the same between the school years of 2004-05 and 2006-07, according to a report released today by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Still, teachers at schools with higher percentages of minorities and that have been identified as needing improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act were more likely to report a decrease in time spent on arts education in their schools. Four percent of elementary teachers surveyed said arts education increased at their schools, and 7 percent reported a decline. In some ways, it's surprising that ...


"Carnival" for Math-Science Bloggers

A new "carnival" of blogs focused on math and science issues is open for business. For those new to carnivals—and I am one of you—they serve as a sort of clearinghouse of links to blogs, and specific posts, on a particular topic. This one is sponsored by Kim's Play Place, a blog run by a self-described "homeschooling mom to two girls with a toddler," who is especially interested in math and science topics. The carnival will publish on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. The deadline for submissions is 8pm EST on Sunday, March 8 for the...


Evaluation: Reading First Showing Some Success in California

While an "impact study" by the federal government has raised questions about the success of Reading First nationally, an evaluation in California credits the program with raising student achievement in that state significantly. Reading First, which has been the flagship reading program of the No Child Left Behind Act, is a K-3 program, but in California, even 5th graders in Reading First schools are scoring significantly higher on reading tests than those not in Reading First schools. The study by Educational Data Systems also shows that students in schools that implemented the program to a high degree had much higher ...


The Right Gesture in Math

Most teachers have probably seen their students transmit all kinds of silly, strange, and downright inappropriate gestures over the course of the school day. But sometimes in-class gestures can have a benign and productive effect, at least in mathematics. That's the conclusion of a new study published online in the journal Psychological Science this month. It found that children required to produce correct gestures learned more than children required to produce partially correct gestures, who, in turn, learned more than children required to produce no gestures. The researchers, who included Susan Wagner Cook of the University of Chicago and others ...


Calling All Chemistry Teachers (And Others)

The American Chemical Society, a big organization that seeks to take an active role in school science and math issues, is seeking to hone its message on these topics and figure out a way it can have a bigger impact. And they're looking to the K-12 community to give them ideas. The ACS, headquartered in Washington, has created a task for force to "identify a unique role for the world’s largest scientific society in transforming education in the United States." The task force is loaded with private industry officials, academic scholars, and some K-12 officials. They describe their mission ...


Brookings Report Takes on the PISA

As state leaders and education advocates weigh evaluating U.S. students using international benchmarks, a new report argues that one prominent test, the PISA, is flawed and may not be appropriate for judging American schools on global standards. The author, Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, also contends that questions asked on the Program for International Student Assessment surveys of students’ beliefs and attitudes about science reflect an ideological bias, which undermines the test’s credibility. Here's our story on the report, which includes a response from the OECD, which oversees PISA, and the National Governors ...


How to Teach About Islam and Not Focus on Religion

Teachers College released today a free guide for teachers "designed to enhance understanding of Islam and promote tolerance of Muslim students," according to the press release for the guide (download it here). After all, about one in 10 of New York City's students are Muslim, estimates Louis Cristillo, a research assistant and lecturer at Teachers College who developed the guide. But the publication gives only tangential treatment to religion in favor of focusing on the culture and identity of Muslims. Lessons focus, for instance, on the history of Muslims' presence in the United States, what contributions they have made to ...


Major Math Curriculum Study

Two sets of early-grades math curricula, Saxon Math and Math Expressions, emerged as big winners in a major study released by Mathematica. A curriculum that's drawn major heat from parents in some districts, Investigations in Number, Data and Space, did not fare as well. Nor did Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics. Read my colleague Debbie Viadero's story here. Various factions in the much-discussed "math wars" are sure to go to the report for ammunition in advancing their causes. The study only focused on 1st graders, in four states. It involved about 1,300 students. Investigations is often referred to as a "reform"...


Governors Approve Idea of 'Common Core' of Standards

Don't miss my colleague David Hoff's post over at NCLB: Act II about a vote at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association to approve a policy statement that could lead to a set of national standards....


"Investigations" Curriculum: No Verdict Yet, WWC Says

One of the elementary math curricular programs that tends to raise the ire of parents locked in the so-called "math wars" is Investigations in Number, Data and Space. Well, a federal review of that program is in, and the grade is (drumroll) incomplete. The What Works Clearinghouse, a federal center for reviewing the quality of curricula and interventions on strict criteria, identified 40 different studies of Investigations. Unfortunately for those seeking a clarity on the merits of the curricula, none of the studies fell within the "review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards," the office found. "The lack ...


Tension Over Spending for Reading First

"Reading First is still out" of the spending bill for fiscal 2009 expected to soon be taken up by the U.S. Congress, according to my colleague Alyson Klein over at Politics K-12. But at the same time, Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, the top Republican in the House Education and Labor Committee, is expressing discontent about the committee's decision to kill what had been the flagship reading program of the No Child Left Behind Act....


Adapting Technology to Meaningful Lessons

Over at the Digital Education blog, my colleague, Katie Ash, has an interesting report on a discussion she heard at the Northwest Council for Computer Education's "Navigating the New World With Technology" conference in Portland. Debra Pickering, author of several books about teaching and learning that she's co-wrote with Robert Marzano, gave the keynote address about building lessons that incorporate technology. It's about the lesson, not the technology, Pickering said. From Katie's post: "At the root of those questions was something I hear over and over again from the ed-tech community—don't use technology for technology's sake. Just because you ...


Have You Hugged A Museum Today?

With all the wondrous and free exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution, we here in the Washington, D.C., area tend to take museums for granted. But the availability of such resources in communities large and small is not guaranteed, particularly as the economic crisis continues to put pressure on budgets. Schools across the country, however, rely on museums for curriculum content, class trips, and enrichment opportunities. And now schools have many more opportunities to "visit" great museums through virtual field trips. This week the American Association of Museums is calling on museum patrons to take action to ensure that all ...


What Does 21st-Century Writing Look Like?

A press conference about "Writing in the 21st Century" hosted by the National Council of Teachers of English today here in the nation's capital promoted two seemingly different strains of thought concerning the teaching of writing to students. Kathleen Blake Yancey, a professor of English at Florida State University, spoke about the value of teachers' supporting students in writing through new modes of communication, such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. People are writing "with new audiences, for new audiences, and to new audiences," she said. She stressed that the emphasis on audience with the new modes adds relevancy to writing ...


Amid Job Losses, GED Gains?

Difficult economic conditions are having an impact on students' pursuit of GEDs, recent reports suggest. The number of people seeking out the credentials, officially known as the General Educational Development test and diploma, has risen in California, according to this AP story. The article notes that in that state, where unemployment is the highest in 15 years (at 9.3 percent), the number of people taking the GED test has increased from 46,184 in 2005 to 59,416 in 2008. Just last year, the number of people taking the exam rose 15 percent in the state, according to a ...


Science and Math in the Stimulus

While the stimulus provides a major cash infusion to the nation’s schools, the flow of federal money to school and college “STEM” education efforts, in particular, is smaller and more difficult to track. As my colleagues at Ed Week have detailed in past stories, the package provides about $95 billion, total, for the U.S. Department of Education. Most science and math education programs at the federal level today are overseen by the department and the National Science Foundation, but they are also scattered across other agencies. As far as the Obama stimulus plan goes, probably the largest STEM ...


Vouchers Improve Public Schools (Pro-Voucher Group Says)

A report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice says that vouchers improve the academic achievement of public schools. The author, Greg Forster, reviewed 17 empirical studies on that topic. All but one found that vouchers improved public schools, and none found that vouchers detract from them, according to the report. Twenty-four school-choice programs now exist, in 14 states and the District of Columbia, which serve about 160,000 students, the report says. Forster's evaluation examines voucher efforts in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, and other areas. The Friedman Foundation is home to "the nation's leading voucher advocates," according to a description ...


Out-of-Class Science Ed on Capitol Hill

Informal science experiences—trips to zoos, museums, TV shows, computer games, and the like—can play an important part in improving students' science learning, a recent study found. Now the House Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, is delving into that topic, holding a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 26, on those out-of-school science connections. The scheduled speakers include Joan Ferrini-Mundy of the National Science Foundation; Phillip Bell, who co-chaired a National Academies panel that studied the topic recently and produced a report that I wrote about last month (linked above); and Robert Lippincott, the senior...


Software to Teach Students Financial Responsibility

Call me cynical, but I chuckled when I read the following statement in a press release pitching software to teach students about personal finances: With concerns growing over the nation’s lack of personal finance skills and increasing credit card debt, this simulation allows students to experience what life is really like in the real world. Have any of you been hearing about "the nation's lack of personal finance skills?" Not me. Laugh out loud. It seems like a good idea for teachers to teach students about personal finance. But it also seems to me that it's NOT JUST STUDENTS ...


Researcher: Let Children Play!

An early-childhood researcher at the University of Illinois is featured in this Science Daily article, which argues that unstructured playtime is a critical part of literacy development. Pushing more traditional kinds of academic work in early childhood at the expense of play, Anne Haas Dyson says, is akin to "banning the imagination." Many early-childhood experts have pointed out the importance of play in developing inquiry and critical-thinking skills that are the building blocks for later learning. But there has been a movement toward more formal instruction in pre-K and kindergarten as a way of getting children on grade level by ...


Fordham Study Adds Fuel to the Fire

If U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has started a fire in proposing that states adopt common academic standards, a report released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is adding kindling to the flames. The report looks at how the academic standards in 28 states are playing out in 36 elementary and middle schools. Basically, it found that it's much easier for schools to make adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind Act in some states rather than other states. "Can we now officially say that accountability as currently conceived and practiced is a joke?" ...


The National Standards Naysayers

After posting a series of items on national standards on this blog, like this one, I got an email from Neal McCluskey over at the Cato Institute. There are naysayers when it comes to national standards, for sure. McCluskey, the associate director for the Center for Educational Freedom at the Libertarian institute, is among them. And remember, the nation's initial foray into national standards was contentious and largely ineffectual. So it's only fair to present the counter argument. In his response to the Weingarten piece, McCluskey argues that standards do not guarantee quality. He elaborates in a handful of Op-Eds ...


Color Community Colleges Green

In another sign of the growing interest of renewable energy lessons in schools, community colleges—a destination for many high school graduates—are getting into the act. One example is Kalamazoo Valley Community College, in Michigan. The college's officials have announced a new program to train wind-turbine technicians, according to this story. A similar program for wind-turbine workers is being created at North Iowa Area Community College. Iowa has no shortage of wind, the author of this blog item, a native Midwesterner, will attest. I learned of those programs through an organization that works heavily with community colleges, the Association...


Cutting Kindergarten? Oh, My!

In Massachusetts, three school districts are rethinking whether to offer full-day kindergarten for free, and the school board of a California district recently discussed cutting kindergarten altogether. The Boston Globe reported this week in "Schools reconsider full-day programs" that one district halted a plan to add full-day classes, another wants to charge fees for parents that opt to enroll their children in full-day kindergarten, and another has already announced fees. The Capistrano Unified School District in California recently announced a list of possible budget cuts that included eliminating kindergarten. That idea didn't go over well with some parents, who wondered ...


Resource: Book on How to Read Maps

One essential skill I wasn't taught in my kindergarten-through-master's-degree education was how to read a road map. I learned this skill on my own through trial and error after I bought my first car at the age of 25 and worked as a reporter-intern at the Indianapolis Star. I'm spatially challenged, and maps and MapQuest directions are now my lifeline when I visit a new city for Education Week. And even then, sometimes I get lost. So if learning how to read a wide range of maps—from a highway map to Google Earth—isn't yet part of state academic...


A Forum on "STEM"

Researchers from around the country are coming to the National Science Foundation this week to discuss cutting-edge and otherwise innovative research on science, technology, mathematics, and engineering ("STEM") education topics. On Thursday, Feb. 19, educational psychologists, cognitive scientists and others will present information on work funded through NSF's Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering program, known as REESE. A number of researchers will make presentations from 3:30 to 5 p.m., at NSF's offices at 4201 Wilson Boulevard, in Arlington, Va. A full roster of the participants, along with background information on their research, is available ...


Science Group Boycotts the Big Easy

At a time when cities are starved for revenue, New Orleans will lose a little bit of convention-related cash as a result of the state's new policy on teaching evolution. According to this story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that the organization is choosing Salt Lake City over New Orleans for its 2011 convention. The reason? The group's objections to the Science Education Act, signed into law by the Republican governor last year. That law gives teachers permission to use supplementary materials on topics such as evolution ...


Oklahoma Evolution

Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, Oklahoma legislators took up a bill that would have allowed students to "analyze, critique, and review" scientific theories, including evolution. Lawmakers, by a narrow margin, weighed and measured the proposal and found it wanting. The state's Senate Education Committee rejected the "Science Education and Academic Freedom Act," sponsored by Republican Sen. Randy Brogdon, by a 7-6 vote, according to this story in the Associated Press. The bill's language bore a resemblance to "academic freedom" measures considered in other states. It asserts that scientific subjects such as evolution, global warming, and ...


Gender Bias and Science

At a time when many educators are looking for ways to encourage more students, and more girls in particular, to take an interest in science, a new study suggests gender bias in male and female views of their high school teachers' abilities could be setting back those efforts. The study finds that male students rate their female science teachers significantly lower than their male teachers in biology, chemistry, and physics. Females students also rate women teachers negatively, though only in physics. Those attitudes' show up despite male and female teachers showing roughly the same level of effectiveness in preparing students ...


AFT's Weingarten Pitches National Standards

Now AFT President Randi Weingarten is making a case for national standards. In this Washington Post commentary, Weingarten says it is time to revisit the need for a common set of rigorous standards for all U.S. children if we are to be competitive with high-performing countries that already have such a system in place. "I am not talking about federal standards for every subject taught in American public schools, nor am I proposing that state and local education authorities lose all say on curriculum," she writes. "I certainly am not suggesting that teachers be forced to provide instruction in ...


The End of the Big Ed Conference?

Jim Burke, the English teacher, author, mentor, and celebrity or sorts among his peers, is now a blogger. And one of his first blog items makes quite a claim. He's been to more than his share of big education conferences, from the niche English-teacher meetings to the more all-encompassing type events. But he thinks that they are on the demise. He points to his own observations, and the fact that several of his own speaking engagements this year were canceled for lack of attendance. The cost and time away from the classroom are too much to ask anymore, he argues. ...


Is Little Bill Clinton Failing or is the Test Failing Him?

I mention over at Learning the Language that reporters for the Christian Science Monitor have found a refugee kid named Bill Clinton Hadam in Georgia and are following him for a series "Little Bill Clinton: A school year in the life of a new American." One of the latest installments of the series, "Who's failing—the student or the test?," explores what's at fault in that a school doesn't get credit in adequate yearly progress calculations under the No Child Left Behind Act for the progress of an English-language learner such as little Bill Clinton....


Where in the World Is Democracy?

Take a guess at which countries in the world are "not free." Among them are China, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Sudan, according to the Map of Freedom that is part of a new Web site, Democracy Web. And which countries would you put in the column of "free?" The Map of Freedom says that Argentina, India, Mongolia, Ukraine, and South Africa are all free. Jordan and Ethiopia get a partly free ranking. The site is sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the Freedom House and is aimed at supporting teachers to educate students about democracy. It comes with a study ...


Reading First Positions Getting Cut

One of the more visible benefits of the federal Reading First program was that the $1 billion-a-year funding provided for reading coaches in each participating school. Those coaches were assigned to work with teachers to improve practice and expand their understanding of the research on literacy development. Now, with the funding stream dried up and the growing economic woes across the country, schools are starting to abandon some of the basic tenets of the Reading First program, particularly when it comes to the additional staffing it required. See these news reports out of Florida and New York. The extensive professional ...


Book Accessories?

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is accusing Scholastic Inc. of using school book clubs to sell video games, jewelry kits, and toy cars, The New York Times reported this week. A spokeswoman for the Boston-based advocacy group said it reviewed brochures for Scholastic's book club for 2nd and 3rd graders and for 4th through 6th graders and found that 14 percent of items weren't books. The group claims that an additional 19 percent of items in those brochures were books accompanied by trinkets, such as stickers or toys. Judy Newman, the president of Scholastic Book Clubs, stands by the ...


Teaching About Homelessness

Here in the Washington area, many public schools have gotten involved with teaching children about homelessness through participation in the annual Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon, which is a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless or try to prevent homelessness. Full disclosure: For five years I organized walkers to participate in this event to raise money for a local soup kitchen. And more schoolchildren in this area are increasingly homeless themselves, according to "Schools Face Sharp Rise in Homeless Students," published Feb. 8 in the Washington Post. So I was eager to take a look at a ...


An EPA Blog—for Kids

The Obama administration has pledged to make the federal government's work more transparent and to give the public more opportunities to make its opinion known on issues through technology and other means. Whether those campaign visions come to fruition remains to be seen. But the administration is launching a new online tool to allow students to share ideas and opinions on environmental policy. It's a new blog called "Greenversations," run by the Environmental Protection Agency. The site is aimed at encouraging students to share ideas about the environment and energy issues, and reducing personal energy use. In an announcement of ...


The $37.40 Question

Over at Jim Burke's Ning at The English Companion, a teacher raised the question of what to do with the remaining budget her department has for the rest of the school year. All $37.40! In the comments, someone suggested buying coffee and bagels and getting the teachers together for a brainstorming session on how to tap into other resources. The department had to make an expensive purchase of textbooks for middle school students, but now there is little left for the interactive whiteboard they were hoping to buy for one classroom. I'm sure a lot of districts are facing ...


If You Ban Them, Readers Will Come

There is a fairly regular stream of stories in the news about schools and districts tackling requests to ban or restrict students' access to books that a parent or community member finds offensive or inappropriate. I wrote about one case in Fayetteville, Ark., that sparked heated debate over dozens of books, including classics and young adult literature. Banning books seems to have become a time-honored tradition in some places, and challenges happen so frequently that the American Library Association began commemorating the fight against unreasonable censorship in schools more than 25 years ago with Banned Books Week. The latest effort ...


In Search of "World Class" Math

Someone recently forwarded me this link to a citizens' organization that is apparently tracking the revision of state math standards in New Jersey. Many of its members' concerns, and their language, will seem familiar to anybody who's followed debates over K-12 math over the years, particularly in state academic standards. For instance, the coalition's members are concerned about students at early grades becoming too reliant on calculators, and they say the draft state document is misleading from a mathematical standpoint. (I'm not certain if the draft has been reworked since then.) Nothing unusual about those complaints, as far as these ...


School Shooting Survivor: "I Choose to Be Happy"

A newsletter published by the Kentucky Department of Education for teachers recommends a book written by a school shooting survivor for the reading list of middle and high school students. The book, I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor's Triumph Over Tragedy, is written by Missy Jenkins, now 27, who was one of eight student in a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, Ky, shot by a 14-year-old student, Michael Carneal. Three students were killed. Jenkins was paralyzed from the chest down. Her message is that bullying, even in its mildest form, can have ramifications, according ...


The Business Lobby Takes a Beating

Since I write about math and science education, I spend a good amount of time reporting on topics where elected officials, influential advocacy groups, and big businesses seem to speak with one voice—agreeing, to a large extent, about middling U.S. performance on international tests, unfocused math and science curriculum, poorly trained teachers, and the need to help prepare students for crucial subjects, like algebra, which are springboards to more advanced studies. The general thinking on a lot of these issues is that schools can and should be listening to the business lobby. After all, employers presumably know what...


The Knowledge to Decipher the Message

Many civic education experts and historians have touted the potential for tapping into the enthusiasm surrounding the recent presidential election and the inauguration to get students interested in related school lessons. All well and good, but only if students have the background knowledge to understand the process and the rhetoric, Robert Pondiscio writes in this Ed Week commentary. As the communications director for the Core Knowledge Foundation, Pondiscio is hitting on the message the foundation has long promoted about the importance of rich content. But this piece brings a compelling and relevant twist. "President Obama’s inaugural address placed us—all...


New York Times Pitches National Standards

A New York Times editorial on the stimulus bill this week makes a pitch for national academic standards amid recommendations, like this one among some think tanks and policy groups. Education Secretary Arne "Duncan’s main goal should be to replace a wildly uneven patchwork of standards with a coherent system of national standards and tests that would allow parents to know, at last, how their schools compare with schools elsewhere in the country," the Times writes. Of course even if everyone agreed to creating national standards in core subjects, it would take years of debate to figure out what ...


Renewable-Powered Lessons--and Schools

I've received a lot of responses to a story I wrote this week about the growth of "green" lesson plans and curriculum in schools. Some of the reaction has come from schools that are drawing power from solar energy and crafting lessons about the power of the sun. One sun-powered display that I didn't have room to get in the story can be found in the Lagunitas school district, outside San Francisco. (It's pictured on the right.) It was designed and built by Borrego Solar, also located in California. Borrego has seen more school districts use solar installations in recent ...


Black History Month

A friend of mine who works at one of the District of Columbia's public libraries tells me that February is the most important month at her library because it's Black History Month.The library schedules special programs to feature African-Americans. So since I'm new to the curriculum beat here at Education Week, I decided to do a Web search to see just how big Black History Month is in schools. Some schools have put together impressive collections of resources that can be used for lessons marking Black History Month. Here's a sampling: —Lakewood City Schools, in Ohio, has links to Web...


Pew's New Encyclopedia on Evolution

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released a terrific series of resources on evolution, all of them free and accessible online here. Those documents cover current events and examine recent fights over evolution in the states, but perhaps more important, they offer a clear guide through some of the social, legal, and religious dimensions of those battles. The documents are being put forward to coincide with the 200-year anniversary of British naturalist and evolution pioneer Charles Darwin's birth. Pew's documents offer recaps of recent state skirmishes on the theory, many of which will be familiar to ...


Choose Math, Choose a Career

Taking math seriously, and learning to enjoy it, will probably make your life easier in high school. It will almost certainly help you get into college and increase your odds of succeeding once you get there. But what kinds of career options are out there for students with talent in math and a love for that subject? I recently came across a good online resource that seeks to answer that question for students. It's the "Career Profiles" page, offered on the Web site of the Mathematical Association of America. As the name suggests, the site aims to answer the question "why...


Core Knowledge Does Not Equal 21st-Century Skills

The folks at Common Core and Core Knowledge take issue with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's equating core knowledge with 21st-century skills. In blog posts here and here, the organizations take shots at the Democrat's P-16 education plan, outlined in his 2009 budget proposal. It calls for "mastery of core knowledge, critical thinking, possibility thinking, knowledge creation, development of strong interpersonal skills and effective work habits." I have a feeling that the governor and the Common Core/Core Knowledge advocates have two distinctly different ideas about content. "For the sake of Ohio’s students, we hope the governor and his advisors ...


Going Mobile

Sometimes an in-class lab is not enough. I recently received a notice about a bus that is being used in Chicago-area schools as a sort of mobile science classroom to teach students about clean-air and environmental issues. It's one of a number of mobile science labs I've heard of over the years. The idea is pretty simple. You retrofit a bus or vehicle of some sort, which you then send from school to school, so that teachers make use of it to teach students about a specific science concept—in this case, environmental issues. The bus is officially known as the...


Resource: Indian Museum's Online Showcase

Today, the National Museum of the American Indian launched a searchable online collection of 5,500 items and photographs. The online collections site, called the "Fourth Museum," is part of a plan by the museum to put its whole collection of more than 800,000 items online (see today's press release about it), which is expected to take four years. The Washington Post describes the effort in a Jan. 30 article. The online collection could be a boost for teachers who are attempting to carry out new state laws or regulations that require them to teach students about the tribes ...


The Club, the Stiletto, and Evolution in Texas

Rodney Ellis is fed up, and he's fighting back the way state legislators usually do. The Texas state senator, having witnessed the latest hubbub over the teaching of evolution on his state's board of education, has filed a bill to strip the board of the bulk of its authority over textbooks and curriculum. According to this story in his hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, Ellis' move would leave the board with more narrow duties under the state constitution. The measure is unlikely to pass, even Ellis, a Democrat, acknowledges, because of conservatives' influence in the legislature. So Ellis has filed ...


Reasoning Through Chinese, US Science Skills

There's a long-running debate about how the skills of U.S. students compare with those of their peers in nations like China. A recent study seeks to cut through the speculation with research from both nations' university systems. In an article published in the journal Science, a team of researchers found that first-year Chinese university students easily beat American freshmen in a test of their knowledge of specific scientific concepts in mechanics, electricity, magnetism. Yet the U.S. students equaled their Asian counterparts when it came to a measure of their broader scientific reasoning ability. The students tested in the ...


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