Author and education activist Kirsten Olson itemizes the attributes of a highly effective school. Her central point—the one that suffuses all the others—is that educators themselves need to be "passionately engaged in learning." But she expresses some doubt as to whether this is commonly the case: Many teachers and school leaders unfortunately, just aren't very interested in learning. They seem to regard it as a chore, a way to force kids to behave, something that has to be done to kids to get them ready for adult life. They lack intellectual curiosity about research in the field, breakthroughs...


A struggling elementary school in West Palm Beach, Fla., is considering returning a $20,000 gift because the donor is the owner of several gentlemen's clubs, according to the Miami Herald. Joe Rodriguez, a former Marine who has been married for 30 years and has six children, said he regrets not finishing high school, reports the Herald. Over the years, he's raised at least half a million dollars (through car washes and sporting events featuring "scantily clad women") to donate to charities for at-risk and underprivileged children. His recent donations have helped save a park for at-risk teenagers from closing ...


The controversial documentary "Waiting for 'Superman'" comes out on DVD Feb. 15—and for every purchase, DonorsChoose.org has agreed to give $25 to a classroom project listed on its website, reports The Washington Examiner. DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that connects teachers in need of classroom resources with people who want to contribute. The teachers fundraising, most of whom are in high-poverty schools, usually request a few hundred dollars for materials such as journals or microscopes. Any chance the popular charity will get flack for supporting the documentary, which received criticism for its anti-union (and pro-Michelle Rhee) slant?...


Two months after a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education told a national teacher's convention in Florida that he didn't know how to increase parent accountability, lawmakers in the Sunshine State introduced a bill that would require teachers to evaluate parents of early elementary school children, according to a CNN report. Parents would receive a "satisfactory," "needs improvement," or "unsatisfactory" rating based on their communication with teachers as well as their child's attendance, homework completion, test readiness, and sleep schedule, states CNN. It's easy to imagine that this would upset many parents, but many teachers are also unhappy ...


Former Teacher staffer Bryan Toporek just launched a new blog on Education Week about K-12 athletics, named—appropriately—Schooled in Sports. An avid sports fan himself, Bryan has already posted entries about NCAA recruiting in middle schools, phys ed requirements, and student-athlete concussions. Bryan previously reported on high school sports for the Falls Church News-Press in Virginia, and is a former NBA Team Leader for bleacherreport.com. The new blog's definitely worth a look (and an add to your RSS feed)....


In a somewhat satirical post, ASCD blogger Steven Weber proposes the idea that school reforms have killed social studies. "At some point between the standards movement and high stakes testing, some school districts decided that social studies was an add-on, rather than essential to developing a well-rounded citizen prepared for life and work in the 21st century," writes Weber. " ... [W]hat gets measured gets done and some principals even joke that 'social studies better not be taught in my school until all students are proficient.'" Since the implementation of NCLB, the amount of time spent teaching social studies has ...


Responding to the State of the Union address, Mr. McNamar of the Daily Grind thinks that if the president really wants to elevate the teaching profession, he needs to put his money—or somebody's money—where his mouth is: I'm not looking to be on the cover of Forbes magazine or sitting next to Oprah ... But I wouldn't mind being reasonably compensated. Let me be clear, I don't complain about teacher salaries often, but my paltry $45,000 after 8 years of nation building compared to the $65,000 a friend makes for managing a restaurant (he does a great ...


In Tuesday's education-heavy state of the union address, President Obama gave repeated nods to teachers--and the critical role they'll play in rebuilding the U.S. economy.


A new online series developed by the education arm of NBC News offers free videos and resources for chemistry teachers that aim to show students the subject's relevance in everyday life. The series is called Chemistry Now (no relation to Teaching Now) and has 31 weekly lessons. As of now, only three are available, but NBC Learn plans to release a new segment every week of the school year. The project, which was created in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, covers a variety of topics ranging from the chemical breakdown of all the components of a cheeseburger to the ...


Students in England will begin to see gay issues popping up in their classes, as the government pushes to raise awareness about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community, according to the Daily Mail. Beginning in February, which is LGBT History Month in the U.K., the organization Schools Out will make lesson plans with gay themes available for math, geography, science, and English teachers to download. Math problems and assigned reading will involve gay characters, and language classes will use words such as "outing" and "pride," reports the Mail. The Department of Education is backing the initiative, which includes ...


A new study says taking tests helps people learn, even moreso than some studying techniques.


Looking for ways to save money? Gift Card Granny provides a list of stores that reward teachers with discounts on everything from food, clothing, and school supplies to hotels and museums....


A Chinese mother's explanation of how she raised such "stereotypically successful" children has made more than a small stir. An excerpt from her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in the Wall Street Journal has prompted more than 7,000 comments and a sharp rebuttal from New York Times columnist David Brooks. Amy Chua—author, Yale Law professor, and parent of two musically acclaimed, straight-A students—points out the differences between Western and Chinese parenting, which she says are why the latter "produce[s] so many math whizzes and music prodigies." She points out in the Journal that the...


"Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong," Slate columnist Farhad Manjoo writes in a recent editorial. Old-fashioned typewriters used monospaced type, which produced a lot of white space between characters and words, so using two spaces after a period made the text easier to read, explains Manjoo. But as of the 1970s, monospaced type went out of style. Electric typewriters and computers now both use proportional fonts, eliminating the need for the extra space, Manjoo writes. "Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule," he says. "It's one of the canonical rules of the ...


Some teachers, students, and parents in Florida are less than satisfied with the virtual classrooms that are being used to deal with class size limitations, according to the New York Times. In response to a 2002 amendment restricting the number of students in classrooms—but not virtual labs—the Miami-Dade school district placed 7,000 students in e-learning labs for core subjects, such as math and English, starting at the beginning of this school year. Instead of teachers, each classroom has a "facilitator" who monitors students' progress and assists with technical problems, says the Times. Although this means more computer...


There's a way to improve students' test scores and it only takes ten minutes, according to a study released in the journal Science and reported on by the Chicago Tribune.


Five Ponds Press, which published two error-ridden Virginia history textbooks— leading to a media feeding frenzy—said it will distribute the corrected Second Edition books at no cost to the school districts.


Somewhat ironically, the success of Chinese students on recent international tests has been met with a mixture of embarrassment and soul-searching back home, according to a Los Angeles Times story.


This week Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report. The focus this year is on the "new economic reality" in education. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, you should. And I'm not just saying that because it's an Education Week publication. Reading it this morning, I was struck by how important this topic is to teachers (though admittedly that seems pretty obvious in hindsight). It's not something that should be of in-depth concern only to the report's target audience of administrators and policymakers. I especially encourage you to read the overview article by Sean Cavanagh. ...


Teachers should spend less time worrying about students' problems at home and more time creating a positive learning environment at school, wrote Edutopia blogger Ben Johnson. He raised the concern that some teachers, especially those in training, "think that their number one calling in life is to dig deep into the lives and homes of their students, ostensibly, so they can better understand them to teach them." But rather than doing the work fit for a school counselor or social worker, Johnson said, teachers would benefit students more if they focused on giving them the best education possible. "Of course ...


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