The Valley News Dispatch, which covers New Kensington, Pa., reports that area educators have differing views on whether the advent of technology is hurting students' spelling skills.


Still more on the potential benefits of meditation for schools: A new study out of University of California at San Francisco finds that regular meditation practice can improve teachers' emotional well-being as well as help them become more aware of others' feelings, according to PsychCentral. The study, to be published next month in the journal Emotion, involved 82 female school teachers who underwent a customized 8-week meditation training program. The researchers chose teachers for the study because their work is seen as particularly stressful and fast-paced. In addition to reducing indicators of stress and depression, the training appears, as a ...


Michael Cholbi, a contributor to an interesting teaching philosophy blog called In Socrates' Wake, reviews recent research discounting the influential theory that students have distinct learning styles that teachers should try to cater to (which is not to say, he cautions, that students don't have important learning differences). He adds that adherence to the learning style theory can have "Dweck effects" on students, causing them to adopt fixed mindsets about what they can and cannot learn. He expands: And if, as I have argued before, disciplines tend to come with certain learning styles built in (philosophy requires strong verbal skills, ...


Our Classroom Q&A blogger Larry Ferlazzo (who seriously seems to have more time in the day than the rest of us) has been appointed to California's newly launched Educator Excellence Task Force, designed to make recommendations on teacher evaluation and professional development (among other things). Ferlazzo, a one-time community organizer, acknowledges that he is by nature skeptical of the efficacy of task forces but he thinks this one, chaired by renowned teacher advocate Linda Darling-Hammond, has a chance of making an impact. Congrats and good luck, Larry....


The ever-impressive Atul Gawande—surgeon, New Yorker contributor, and public health researcher—has provided plenty of blog fodder for us here at Teacher over the last few months. And his keynote address at the 2012 ASCD Conference on Sunday was no exception. Gawande began by explaining why he'd been chosen for the address. "We have something really fundamental in common. As doctors and teachers, we are both privy to the secrets of people' lives," he said. When he began writing about his work as a doctor, he said, he became more and more intrigued by the question of "how we all...


In a recent Education Week Commentary piece, William J. Oehlkers and Cindy DiDonato argue that, for new tech platforms like tablet computers to reach their educational potential (and not become mere classroom distractions), they must be used in the context of project-based learning: In project-based learning, students identify an authentic, messy debatable question, inquire as to possible answers, and respond by making a presentation, producing an innovation, or planning an event. They use technology to search for information, communicate with others locally and abroad, store vital information, and present their findings. We call this version of project-based learning technology-inquiry education, ...


Live from the ASCD Annual Conference in Philadelphia This morning I had a nice sit down with several of ASCD's featured authors. Allison Zmuda, who wrote Breaking Free From Myths About Teaching and Learning, told an administrator and me that the inspiration for the nine myths addressed in her book came from her son, who returned home from early elementary school one day declaring, "I'm a bad reader." He said the other kids read faster than he did—one girl would finish five books from the "just right" box in the time he could read one. Zmuda started to research...


Live from the ASCD Annual Conference in Philadelphia A few more noteworthy moments from Saturday. • The mid-day keynote address was given by Reed Timmer, host of the Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers. He showed some exciting footage of himself driving an armored car into a tornado. The connection to education was, well, thin at best. (Timmer's parents were teachers. He pushed the notion that STEM education can be fun—especially when teachers use clips like the ones from his show. Hint, hint.) To me, the hour could have been better used, but unfortunately it was the only presentation going at the time...


Live from the ASCD Annual Conference in Philadelphia In a jam-packed post-lunch session, Alan Blankstein, author of Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles that Guide Student Achievement in High Performing Schools, gave a fun, if hurried, presentation on creating a school culture that breeds successful students. He kicked things off with a true demonstration of what engagement can look like—getting the audience of mostly administrators up and clapping (and even swaying their hips) as he danced down the aisle to Aretha Franklin's "Respect." He went on to explain the importance of using interdisciplinary, multi-modal instruction to keep kids...


Live from the ASCD Annual Conference in Philadelphia It was pretty darn sunny in Philadelphia yesterday—record-breaking temperatures even for this time of year. It's cloudier now but I'll be inside for much of the next two days, along with 8,000 or so educators attending the annual ASCD conference. The sessions here really run the gamut—from Common Core to bullying to ed-tech to leadership. And with about 50 going on at any one time, it's a veritable head spin for the indecisive. This morning, I was decisively headed to a session on teacher evaluation with the much-revered...


If you're working in a school right now, this is probably all you're hearing about today (I'm not working in a school and it's been a dominant topic of conversation in my social circles). The premier of "The Hunger Games." The Columbus Dispatch jumped on "The Hunger Games" hubbub to write about the many benefits of teaching the popular novel. According to the article, Andrea Garnett, a 7th grade language arts teacher who works in a district that has been using the books as part of the middle school curriculum for the last four years, said, "When I have a ...


You know teacher evaluation is becoming a big deal when there's an app for it. And guess what, there is: The online PD service Teachscape this week announced the release of a new iPad app designed to make it easier for school leaders to collect and upload classroom-observation data. ... Meanwhile, Ariel Sacks tells of her disappointment on finding that a planned new app for English teachers is oriented around pre-created lesson materials. ("Am I off-base? Is that appealing to anyone?") She goes on to ponder the kinds of apps teachers really need: ... anything that can help us organize ourselves and ...


A new study published in the Child Development journal concludes that teachers and parents play a more important role than peers do when it comes to keeping adolescents engaged in school.


Renee Moore points to a potential hitch in all the recent strategizing around college and career readiness: We have "chronic lack of counselors in our nation's high schools." She highlights data from the The American School Counselors Association showing that in California the ratio of students to school counselors is 815-to-1. Nationally, the ratio is a little better but still eye-catching at 459-to-1. One solution, says Moore, would be for the counseling role to be taken on by trained cross-functional teams in schools. Under this plan, "cohorts of students [would be] served by a team of teachers, counselors, and other ...


According to Time.com, a few studies out there have found that readers may have an easier time remembering and digesting the material in a text when it's in print versus a digital format.


This seems worthy of note: Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that it will no longer publish its signature product in print, according to CNNMoney. While the news might spark a pang of nostalgia for some (you know who you are), no one seems terribly surprised: Apparently print sales currently amount to less than 1 percent of Britannica's total sales. And the company seems to get—how could they not?—the sea change that has taken place in the way people access information. "The younger generation consumes data differently now, and we want to be there," says Britannica president Jorge Cauz. The...


Was there a particular instance when you knew you wanted to teach, or an incident that made you realize that the teaching profession was for you?


Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp caused some buzz (what else is new?) by writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal condemning the public release of teachers' value-added scores in New York City. She writes: So-called value-added rankings—which rank teachers according to the recorded growth in their students' test scores—are an important indicator of teacher effectiveness, but making them public is counterproductive to helping teachers improve. Doing so doesn't help teachers feel safe and respected, which is necessary if they are going to provide our kids with the positive energy and environment we all hope for. Kopp...


Writing in The Huffington Post, Kevin Wilner, director of the National Education Policy Center, laments the MetLife Survey's finding that teacher job satisfaction has dropped precipitously over the past two years. He attributes the drop to a reckless media and policy environment that has assailed teachers' standing and values: While this 15-point plummet is no doubt caused in part by the bad economy and budget cutting, it's also hard to overlook things like Waiting for Superman, the media deification of Michelle Rhee, and the publishing of flawed "scores" that purport to evaluate teachers based on students' test results ... Similarly, teachers ...


A report released this week, based on survey results from 57,883 students in grades 6-12, found that only slightly over half of students feel that their teachers care about them.


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