With more pressure than ever on teachers to demonstrate their effectiveness, professional development has become big business. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education gives districts more than $1 billion annually for teacher-training programs (and that's not including Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants funds), according to Beth Fertig and Sarah Garland of The Hechinger Report. But the era of accountability in education has not trickled down to PD providers themselves. The authors contend that there's been little reliable research on the companies, programs, and universities that are being hired to help teachers improve their practice. A ...


USA Today has an interesting article on the rise of Khan Academy, the popular and well-funded video-lesson provider founded by former hedge fund manager Sal Khan. As the article notes, Khan's success is partly responsible for the momentum behind the concept of the "flipped classroom," where students watch expert videos on their own time and then do "homework" or review with their teacher during normal class time. For investors and education reformers, the flipped classroom has come to represent a bold and much-needed new paradigm for instructional delivery in the digital era. But it is a source of divisiveness among ...


Two researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a robot teacher that can gauge students' level of attention and use some of the same techniques as human teachers to bring it back, according to the United Kingdom-based New Scientist.


Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews reports that a relatively under-the-radar Teacher Home Visit Program in Missouri is having a noticeable impact on student performance: A study by the St. Louis public school system last year of 616 home visits found that the third- to sixth-grade students involved had an increase in average math grades and that the grades of students not involved declined. A study of 586 home visits in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District showed students involved had better attendance. In the Missouri program, Mathews notes, the teachers are paid for the extra time they spend in ...


In a Wall Street Journal article, science writer Jonah Lehrer points to a growing body of research showing that spending time outdoors can provide significant cognitive benefits. A forthcoming study from the University of Kansas, he reports, finds that Outward Bound participants on an extended hike scored 50 percent higher on a creativity test than those not yet on the trail. Similarly, a 2009 study found that just taking a walk in an arboretum significantly boosted college students' performance on tests of attention and short-term memory. And a number of studies have shown that students with attention-deficit disorder exhibit improved ...


The New Haven Independent has a nice profile of a 7th grade teacher at a "turnaround" school in New Haven, Conn., who describes how the move from a small town to a big city forced him to reinvent his teaching style.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed new legislation that would give local school districts or the chancellor—as opposed to hearing officers—the final say on whether a teacher accused of sexual misconduct is fired, according to a press release. Under the current law, outside hearing officers decide on the cases and impose binding penalties. A statement from the mayor's office, however, claims that the law has prevented the Department of Education from terminating teachers, even after an outside investigator concluded there had been inappropriate sexual conduct. The mayor's press release provides an example: [T]he Special Commissioner...


Memorial Day Weekend Special: A Washington Post article reports on the apparent gradual erosion of the teaching profession's most envied perk—the summer break. With the nation's economy still staggering and promised salary increases on hold, the article says, many teachers opt to take seasonal jobs, continue working second jobs, or teach summer school in order to stay afloat. Some also seek to bolster their prospects for those supposed salary increases by taking courses toward advanced degrees or special credentials. Then there are the ever-present—and, the unions point out, sometimes unpaid—lesson-planning duties, staff training activities, review sessions,...


The growing numbers of second-generation Latino students attending U.S. schools pose new challenges for teachers, according to a Fox News Latino report. These students are often fluent in English but use speech infused with Spanish accents, rhythm, and usage that they pick up in their Latino communities. By the same token, they struggle with the standard English that is generally needed to perform well on standardized tests and other school assignments. Fox News Latino cites a study conducted in Texas that looked at ways to raise these students' competency in standard English. Linguists who worked on the study argue ...


Worried that her students aren't ready for upcoming English Regents exam, the normally droll NYC teacher Miss Eyre finds herself coming a bit unglued: I freely admit that I'm not handling this well. I'm taking it personally, practically as an affront to me, that my kids don't seem 100% ready this close to the test. I'm comparing my students to the other teachers' student and blaming myself for them not measuring up. I'm making myself sick over it, wondering what I've been doing wrong all year, talking myself down from freaking out on whatever child or colleague happens to be ...


A news outlet in Ann Arbor, Mich., reports on a local educator—a former nonprofit professional in her 40s with an MA in education and an endorsement in learning disabilities—who has been looking for a full-time teaching position for seven years now.


Greg Limperis, supervisor of instructional technology in Lawrence, Mass., says current school data-system dashboards are too voluminous and static to meet the instructional needs of today's teachers. So he envisions an alternative that is more timely, interactive, and mobile: Imagine with me a day when a teacher can walk around the classroom connected to the intranet or Internet and speak a question that's automatically transcribed, assigned to a student, responded to, and relayed back to the teacher to help a student. With instant data collection, a teacher can pinpoint and diagnose student trouble points, know who lacks understanding in precisely ...


Are you heading toward teacher burnout? Over on Edutopia, Rutgers University professor Maurice Elias highlights recent research on contributing factors and warning signs. He also suggests that resolving burnout generally isn't just a matter of taking a couple of days off to refresh or somehow bucking up and putting a smile on your face. You may need to confront deeper issues related to school culture: Teacher burnout is most often an organizational problem and it is insidious because it can remove dedicated teachers from the field of education, sometimes even before they physically leave their jobs. Its solution is found ...


Our Classroom Q&A blogger Larry Ferlazzo's school, Luther Burbank High in Sacramento, Calif., has been named on Washington Post columnist Jay Mathew's list of America's Most Challenging High Schools, which ranks schools based on the number of students included in advanced or college-level courses. We'd say congratulations, but Larry seems to have mixed feelings about the honor—while his principal apparently reacted to the news by calling such school rankings "meaningless" and "quite possible destructive. ..." For Larry, the recognition is particularly bittersweet—and ironic—since, he says, the school is slated to lose 21 teachers to layoffs this...


Carolyn Abbott, a 7th and 8th grade math teacher in New York City, is one unhappy educator. According to a post by sociologist Aaron M. Pallas on The Hechinger Report, Abbott's score on the New York City Department of Education's Teacher Data report has ranked her the worst 8th grade math teacher in the city.


As has been widely reported, the College Board named David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards, as its in-coming president this week. The news has brought renewed attention to a statement Coleman made during a 2011 speech to the effect that, out in the working world, you will rarely hear a request like "Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood." (You probably won't hear people being called by their last names at work nowadays, either, but that's a different story.) Since the common standards place increased ...


Gary Rubinstein, author of the blog post "Why I Did TFA, and Why You Shouldn't," which went viral after it was posted in October, buries an enticing tidbit in his recent blog post: Depending on how much free time I'll have this summer, I might be helping organize new TFA corps members to be 'disrupting' the institute if they are not getting properly trained or are feeling like they are being lied to in various ways—more to come on that in June. 'Institute,' to a TFAer, is the boot-camp-style training that incoming corps members attend for five weeks...


In his blog The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher, Ray Salazar argues that the five-paragraph essay should be tossed out the window.


Writing in The Hechinger Report, California math teacher Kyle Hunsberger reminds school leaders and policymakers that revamped teacher-evaluation systems—especially those relying heavily on student test scores—will only be as effective as the infrastructural supports that gird them: As a teacher, I need to know that my potential "value-added" metric is reliable, but I also need to know that my administrator will sit down and go over my scores with me, offering concrete suggestions on how I can improve. He might identify colleagues I could observe and from whom I could learn successful practices. He might even notice patterns...


Tennessee has created a new measure proposing that parents of students evaluate themselves on report cards.


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