I'm reading the Common Core's take on a meeting earlier this week hosted by the National Education Association about the approach to learning promoted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Our reporter who inquired about attending the meeting, Stephen Sawchuk, was told he wasn't invited. Lynne Munson from Common Core reports that attendees represented education associations and the meeting had the agenda of "how quickly more students can get signed on" to using 21st century skills. She expresses her organization's concern that the teaching of skills may not be integrated with content knowledge. She says that none of the ...


As a newcomer to the curriculum beat, I'm excited to learn that educational resources have changed in one really big way since I was in school: Access to primary sources is now easy. I was introduced to some of the 15.3 million items that have been put online by the Library of Congress at an education forum hosted this month by that institution. It's common now for teachers to draw on the library's collection of photos taken during the Great Depression when teaching about the 1930s in the United States, but I learned that the library has much more ...


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has named Kichoon Yang, the provost at Northwest Missouri State University, as its new executive director. Yang, who replaces outgoing executive director Jim Rubillo, will take over the post on July 1. Rubillo had announced his intent to retire last year from that position at NCTM, an influential, 100,000-member organization based in Reston, Va. Before working at Northwest Missouri State, Yang was dean of the College of Natural Sciences and professor of mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa from 2001 through 2004, according to NCTM. He also was a program director ...


My colleague David Hoff has a good read about the argument, made most recently by the Alliance for Excellent Education, that the United States should more actively participate in international testing and data collection. Specifically, the Alliance says the United States should increase its participation in the research conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which runs the PISA test. The Alliance also faults U.S. officials for not taking part in another, advanced study for another international test, the TIMSS. American students already take part in the PISA, but our country could benefit much more if ...


Teachers often use manipulatives—boxes, shapes, figures and games—which students can handle during in-class activities to explain math and science concepts. A colleague of mine forwarded me a link to a site that offers teachers interactive math and science resources and Web-based "virtual manipulatives," which seeks to help educators build student understanding. In addition to housing interactive tests and features that allow students to manipulate shapes, the site offers general suggestions on teaching for math and science educators. The entries include tips on how teachers can use popular games to explain math ("The Math in Video Games") and the ...


In this New York Times op-ed, E.D. Hirsch Jr. calls for improvement in the reading passages on standardized tests to reflect the content of the curriculum. Hirsch has railed against the teaching of reading strategies over subject matter, and, as the founder of the Core Knowledge curriculum, promotes a rigorous, content-laden framework for K-12 schooling. "Teachers can’t prepare for the content of the tests and so they substitute practice exams and countless hours of instruction in comprehension strategies like 'finding the main idea,'” he wrote. Test scores have not show significant improvement, however, "because the schools have ...


Last year I wrote about one of the nation's most prestigious universities making its lectures and audio, video, and print course materials available for free to the public online. A lot of K-12 science teachers, it turns out, were interested in making use of those resources, which were offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a related move, MIT has announced plans to make all of the scholarly articles published by its faculty available for free online. The university will make those papers accessible at no cost through an opensource, online system called DSpace, which was developed by the ...


They're going to be debating common ancestry in Texas this week. Common ancestry is a core piece of the theory of evolution, and as such, it's broadly accepted by the scientific community. It posits that humans and other living things have descended from common ancestors through an evolutionary lineage, and that all living things share common ancestors. Yet some members of the Texas state board of education want to insert language in the standards that calls common ancestry into doubt. The board, following up on a preliminary vote in January, is scheduled to consider language that says students should "analyze ...


A few years ago, a California parent filed a lawsuit objecting to a Web site, sponsored by a public university in her state, that basically espouses the view that believing in evolution is not incompatible with belief in God. Many scientists, who are Christians and believers of various stripes, share that view, though the plaintiff in the lawsuit apparently does not. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of that parent, Jeanne E. Caldwell. Our school law blogger Mark Walsh has a nice summary of the case, with plenty of background information, here....


There are many efforts under way in the United States to increase students' passion for science, run by private companies, nonprofits, state and local governments, and universities. But I'm not sure that any of those programs are as large scale as the Science and Engineering Ambassadors effort, which is under way in Britain. The program arranges to have volunteers from British science, engineering, and technology companies come into schools, with the aim of encouraging students in their math- and science related studies. Currently, 18,000 volunteers from British companies are participating, which is sponsored by the U.K. government (specifically ...


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