In a lengthy article published in The Atlantic that's being debated across education blogs, former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein makes the case that "a major realignment of political forces" is needed to improve the nation's education system.


They say that authentic literacy assignments can help prepare students for college. But Tobie Lynn Trachina, a 4th grade English-language learners teacher in suburban New Orleans, is taking the concept to a new level by having her students actually read and analyze college and university informational materials. As part of the project, the students have to write an essay comparing various aspects of three different schools and then, by means of a graphic organizer, choose which one they would attend. Trachina told the The Times Picayune that the project has helped the students better understand what colleges and universities have ...


What do you do when a good and kind student—a teacher's "favorite"—suddenly begins to show signs of disengagement and defiance? The drama teacher who writes at the Apple a Day Project finds herself in this situation. In a thoughful post, she's ponders whether she should swoop in and try to figure out what's going on in the student's life, or whether she needs to stop projecting her own worries and interpretations onto him and just give him space. "Yup," she sighs, "it's always the favorites that really get you ..."...


Recently, amidst teacher bashing, budget cuts, and unimpressive international rankings, it's been hard to feel good about the state of education in this country. But having spent the last week in Nicaragua and seen a slice of the education system there, I have to say I'm feeling a bit better about the way things are going on our turf.


The journal Science is publishing a study finding that, in an introductory college physics course, students placed in an experimental, collaborative-learning class performed significantly better on an end-of-course exam than students who were given a traditional lecture-based class.


Educators are more tech-savvy today then they were just two years ago, according to a survey overseen by Project Tomorrow. The findings, based on feedback compiled from 35,525 teachers, reveal a substantial increase in educators' personal use of smart phones and Facebook, as well as a 50 percent jump in the use of podcast and videos in classroom instruction. Another interesting revelation is that teacher interest in teaching an online class has grown by 76 percent since 2008. Homework also continues to be the number one way that teachers integrate technology use for student learning, above other methods such ...


When the Wasilla (Alaska) High School symphonic jazz choir's plan to sing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" at this year's graduation ceremony was suddenly cancelled due to parental complaints about the Freddy Mercury's sexual orientation, an angry—and resourceful—choir member took the matter to a local gay and lesbian support group and thence to the ACLU. The performance is back on again (although the lyrics about killing a man have been excised). "We were joking about singing Elton John's 'Candle in the Wind,' instead," noted one choir member. "I guess no matter what you do, someone's feathers are going to...


Prior to its semi-controversial Evening of Poetry event last night, the White House held a poetry workshop yesterday afternoon in which poets Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, and Alison Knowles (among others) discussed their craft and took questions from students. The video is now available....


With some 6,000 New York City teaching jobs on the chopping block, Chester E. Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, reassures Gothamites that teacher layoffs aren't necessarily bad for education, so long they aren't seniority-based. Resulting increases in class sizes, he argues, can be outset by improvements in teacher quality and technology. NYC teacher Ms. Eyre—who, despite a distaste for crowds, was planning on attending a rally for public schools this afternoon—is considerably less sanguine: I'm rallying for the kids in my class who already get too little of my time one-on-one and who desperately...


An editor in Minnesota recalls his time working as a volunteer in a struggling inner-city Minneapolis high school and what it taught him about the difficult odds teachers face in working with impoverished students. There is a great deal going on in poor students lives, he stresses, that is almost nighmarishly out of educators' control: In a sense, the reformers are right: Teachers are often the most important people in these kids' lives -- no one else is helping. But I felt these kids slipping from my grasp one by one, even when they were sitting right in front of ...


In case you missed the fireworks last week, Diane Ravitch recaps the negative reaction to Education Secretary Arne Duncan's open letter to teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. A memorable way of putting it: It [the letter] should have been about as controversial as the president's annual Thanksgiving message, but in this case the letter backfired. Teachers reacted to the letter with outrage, as if it were addressed to the turkey community on Thanksgiving Day. As Ravitch notes, the department insists that the negative feedback does not represent the views of the majority of teachers or at least teachers as a ...


Are the nuns ahead of you? Contributing to Powerful Learning Practice's "Voices from the Learning Revolution" feature, Sister Geralyn Schmidt, wide area network coordinator for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., explains how the diocese's recent integration of Web 2.0 technology into instruction is helping teachers enhance essential skills and further the schools' educational mission of outreach and discovery. She also has some advice to teachers who are wary of technology and new approaches to pedagogy: As educators in the 21st century, we must model lifelong learning, and not be reluctant to say to our students (who often understand more ...


This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times released a major update to its elementary school teacher value-added ratings, much to the chagrin of many teachers, administrators, and civic leaders in the community. The teachers' ratings are determined by their students' progress on the California Standards Tests for English and math. This is the second time that the Times has caused a stir related to teacher ratings. Last August, the newspaper released teacher performance data for about half the number of teachers that were released on Sunday. When the Times invited teachers to view their scores before publication, only a few ...


Hot on the heels of the release of an updated set of teacher standards, a different consortium has released a similar set for teacher-leaders—those teachers who now serve in the coaching, mentoring, curriculum writing, and other roles that have proliferated over the last decade.


Yesterday I had the chance to speak with several Teacher Ambassador Fellows at the teacher town hall meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of Education.


Political blogger Matthew Yglesias points to a new report showing that nearly half of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate. In that light, he contends, it's hard to argue against the need for standardized testing in schools: Under those circumstances, I find it difficult to be seized with worry that schools are going to be ruined by teachers "teaching to the test" too much. It is true that school districts that have started taking testing more seriously now need to step up and also take the possibility of outright cheating more seriously. But the fact that huge numbers of kids ...


The White House hosted a 30-minute webinar yesterday directed at students and teachers about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Ben Rhodes, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting, began by recapping the tragic events of 9/11 and the raid on the compound last Sunday, during which Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Students were also briefed on Bin Laden's involvement in al Qaeda, and were shown a map of Pakistan that indicated where Abbottabad, the town in which he was hiding, is located. A couple of photos were ...


The Economist provides some fascinating—and starkly depressing—data on male employment levels in the U.S., finding that, among the so called G-7 nations, America has the lowest percentage of "prime-age" males in the workforce. Along with race, low education levels appears to play huge part in this: If you adjust official data to include men in prison or the armed forces (who are left out of the raw numbers), around 35% of 25- to 54-year-old men with no high-school diploma have no job, up from around 10% in the 1960s. Of those who finished high school but did ...


Loudoun County, Va., one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, is developing its own corps of teachers through an initiative it started eight years ago called the Teacher Cadet program. According to the Washington Post, Loudoun created the program in order to recruit and train a new generation of Loudoun natives who could fill some of the several hundred teaching positions that open up in the jurisdiction each year. Currently, there are about 200 students participating in the program, a jump from the 34 students who participated the first year. Students in the program get first-hand teaching experience when ...


The Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Pa., reports on a young elementary school librarian who has transformed his facility into an invaluable technology resource center for teachers and students. But that still might not save his job: He is among 20 school librarians the district is planning to furlough next fall. "It's difficult to think how different this place is going to be next year," says the school's principal, who credits the library in part for a recent jump in students' literacy scores. (HT: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, from Facebook)...


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