Bill Costello, who specializes in teaching parents and teachers strategies for educating boys, has published a column at EducationNews.org about his observation of a reading gap between boys and girls in Japan. Boys are outperforming girls in Japan in math, according to the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. But at the same time, Japanese girls are outperforming boys in reading, he writes. And the reading gender gap is more than 50 percent greater than the math gender gap, he notes. Costello is concerned that the reading gender gap, of girls outperforming boys, is a problem all ...


It looks like the Smithsonian Institution doesn't want to be outdone by the Library of Congress in reaching teachers with images of artifacts they can use in their classrooms. The educational arm of the Smithsonian museums has created virtual tours for students and teachers to explore African-American and Latino history. The tours feature artifacts such as Mohammed Ali's 1974 red boxing gloves and Roberto Clemente's Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. The African-American tour is available now, and the Latino one will soon be posted (in the meantime, check out the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum), according to a press release announcing this new ...


The Census in Schools program provides lesson plans that can help teachers to teach math, geography, civics and government, history, economics, and language arts. One of the goals of the program is to promote data literacy. Hmmm, that's a skill I've had to acquire and use often as a journalist. It seems to me that a lot of jobs require the ability to understand data, charts, and maps. I browsed the Teaching Materials section of the Census in Schools Web site and found a "We Count" map showing the population in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ...


South Korea's curriculum and school system draws a lot of scrutiny and praise because of the country's top-notch performance on international tests. The Republic of Korea, as it is officially known, is continually found near the top of the rankings of nations in math and science, on the TIMSS and PISA, two prominent country-by-country comparisons. Imagine entering South Korea's school systems from a nation where education is de-emphasized to the point of leaving students without the most basic reading and math skills. A Washington Post story from this past week describes just such a scenario. It's about North Korean defectors ...


Last month I attended an event marking the 20th anniversary of the National Assessment Governing Board, the independent panel that oversees the NAEP. There were a lot of good presentations, but one in particular that I've been meaning to write about was given by Peggy Carr, the deputy commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. Carr was speaking on a panel about achievement gaps between minority and white students. Her talk focused on what the NAEP, the nation's most prominent test of student academic skill, which her agency administers, tells us. She offered a lot of intriguing information breaking ...


Several big organizations, in a letter to President Obama, are calling for more federal support for career and technical education (the subject formerly known as voc-ed). The primary federal vehicle for those efforts right now is the Perkins program, currently funded at more than $1 billion a year. I've seen Perkins, which was reauthorized a few years ago, described as the largest single high school program in the country. President Bush repeatedly sought to kill the Perkins program, and got nowhere, probably at least partly because of career-and-tech programs' strong popularity in Congress. Critics have said that career-oriented programs do ...


The president of a major professional organization for science teachers has a new online essay on what seems like a familiar topic: "professional learning communities." Page Keeley, of the National Science Teachers Association, argues that too many learning communities are unfocused, and need to have a much clearer mission in order to improve science teaching and learning. What is that mission, as Keeley sees it? It may seem obvious, but the focus of PLCs—which can be found in schools everywhere today—needs to be on improving instruction, rather than on management or departmental issues, or on loosely defined ...


A number of states require schools to teach all students about Native American tribes in their states, but few states support such requirements with a line item in their budgets. So teachers glean resources to teach about Native Americans wherever they can. One possible resource for the classroom is a PBS series about Native Americans, "We Shall Remain," which is also available on DVD. The series starts Monday, April 13, and continues for five episodes. The titles are "After the Mayflower," "Tecumseh's Vision," "Trail of Tears," "Geronimo," and "Wounded Knee." The promotional text for the series calls it a "provocative ...


The journal Science has an interesting item about a proposal, included in the $410 million budget measure approved by Congress last month, apparently aimed at identifying and cultivating supreme mathematical talent at the K-12 level. The article (subscription required) says that a $3 million earmark for the National Science Foundation was included in the spending plan with the potential to create a new institute serving "profoundly gifted" students in math. The spending was supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, according to the story. How would that money create a new institute for gifted children? The story says ...


It's common for science teachers to try to craft classroom lessons out of things that students see every day and can easily understand. I remember a lot of the science teachers I had during my school days talking about the physics of baseball, probably with good reason. It's a sport that's rich with opportunities to discuss science.Kathy Willens/AP I was reminded of this when I read a new interview in Scientific American with Alan Nathan, a physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign who has studied science's connection to the sport. In the interview, Nathan ...


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