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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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"...


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....


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 ...


"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....


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 ...


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 ...


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