May 2006 Archives

In 1948, when a teacher and part-time art critic encouraged his employer, New Trier Township High School, to buy “Still Life with Flowers” by a then-relatively-unknown artist, it seemed like a good idea. The teacher, Frank Holland, planned to use it in class as a prime example of American modernism. Plus, it was going for just $62.50. Turns out Holland’s was a great idea: Christie’s auction house recently sold the school’s painting for $3.1 million to an anonymous bidder. The art classes at New Trier got a lot of use out of “Still Life” over ...


A group of Latino students at Steele Canyon High School in Rancho San Diego, California, had planned to skip classes to attend pro-immigrant rallies this spring. But English teacher Kim Dickinson found that, while the students had strong feelings about the topic, they didn't really know much about the immigration legislation being protested. She challenged them to do more than just add a few more bodies to the protesting crowd. She invited the students back to her classroom and encouraged them to research the issues behind the rallies. Their discussion grew to include dozens of other students and now, two ...


He’s a baseball coach who finds inspiration in photographs of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer. That’s because 44-year-old Steve DeCaro is also a physics teacher at Mattituck High School on Long Island. For four years, in fact, he’s fused physics and America’s pastime in a way that’s raised achievement levels both in the classroom and on the field. It took a while. For years, the ex-jock who fell in love with physics as a high-schooler (and subsequently earned a master’s degree in the subject) lived two lives, unable to interest his students in ...


Most graduating seniors at the top of their class get up in front of peers and parents to make a speech. Gallatin High School valedictorian Chris Linzy did just that, but now the Tennessee teen faces disorderly conduct charges carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail for his attempt to speak—plus the possibility he won’t receive his diploma. “This is blown so far out of proportion,” said the boy’s father, David Linzy. “This wasn't an incident where he vandalized something, streaked across the stage, or set off fireworks." He did break the rules, however. At Gallatin...


Middle school language arts teacher Janice Ramsey has hit upon a paradox: Many kids say they hate writing, but, what with e-mail and instant messaging, they’re virtually doing it in their sleep. Building on that opening, Ramsey, who teaches at Booth Middle School in Woodstock, Georgia, has developed a writing curriculum that’s oriented around e-mail composition. Instead of blaming e-mail for the world’s grammatical ills, that is, she uses it to teach kids about structure, style, and voice. “What’s associated with e-mail? Plain old letter-writing,” she reasons. Who knew? Ramsey says working in the electronic medium ...


It's not just gas prices that are up these days. For students at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, the cost of ketchup has gone through the roof. Enterprising senior Kirk Alvers has calculated that while gas prices are hovering at $3 per gallon, the cost of ketchup in the school cafeteria is $18 for 36 ounces. The price spike is connected to a new cafeteria policy under which students ordering burgers and fries must purchase, at 25 cents for two, any ketchup packets they want beyond the three that come with the meal. Principal Kristine Marchiando explained the new ...


Recess is on the chopping block, and its supporters are stamping their feet, complaining loudly, and talking to anyone who will listen. And that's just the parents. Kids are getting involved, too, through a massive "Rescuing Recess" letter-writing campaign spearheaded by the National PTA and the Cartoon Network. New government study results show that the percentage of schools that don't have recess is on the rise. And while the recess-less schools are still in the minority—only 7 percent of 1st graders and 13 percent of 6th graders have no recess—many parents sense that school-sanctioned playtime is under attack,...


The 1999 Columbine High School massacre has inspired movies, books, and plays, so it's not entirely surprising that the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history would one day be made into a video game. Still, the freeware Super Columbine Massacre RPG is decidedly creepy. Using cartoonish, Donkey Kong-style graphics of the school and killers, interspersed with news photos of the tragedy, the program puts the gamer in the black trench-coated role of Eric Harris as he and Dylan Klebold shoot teachers and classmates to death. Though many victims and afflicted family members predictably find the game in unspeakably bad ...


"No pass, no play" isn't a new idea. For years, school districts have been requiring high school athletes to maintain basic academic standards in order to suit up for the game. But in one Texas school district, simply attending football games as a spectator could soon require passing grades. The same goes for band concerts and other extracurriculars. The superintendent of DeSoto schools says this "No pass, no attend" policy is only in the "thinking out loud" stages, but parents and students are already choosing up sides. Brittany Jackson, a 9th grader, was outraged at the proposal. "Just because a ...


Thousands of high schools seniors in California may be putting in last-minute cap-and-gown orders. A Superior Court judge in Alameda County has struck down the state’s high school exit exam, meaning that some students who’ve yet to pass the test may get to graduate this spring, after all. Judge Robert Freedman ruled that the exit-exam requirement, which was being enforced for the first time this year, discriminates against minority and low-income students who are poorly served by California’s school system. “Students in economically challenged communities have not had an equal opportunity to learn the materials,” he said, ...


The California Senate has approved legislation that would require the state’s schools to teach students about the historical contributions of gay Americans. If signed into law, the measure could have ramifications nationwide, since California’s curriculum carries a great deal of weight with textbook publishers. Advocates say teaching students about the role of gays in American history is a natural extension of current civil rights studies in social science courses. They also believe it would foster a more accepting environment for kids who are gay or lesbian. Opponents, however, called the legislation an affront to family values (“Happy Mother’s...


As if the College Board hasn't had a bad enough run of publicity lately, company officials are now reporting lower-than-average SAT scores among this fall's incoming freshmen. Though the complete national results won't be in until late summer, preliminary surveys of 15 colleges and universities found SAT scores averaging 10 to 20 points below the expected levels. Experts point out that this year's seniors were the first to take the "new" SAT, which includes an essay-writing section and clocks in at a whopping 3 hours, 35 minutes. These added stresses, it's hypothesized, could have caused both fatigue and performance anxiety ...


These days, prom organizers are taking a page from nightclubs' book by carding partygoers at the door. Except at the prom, they're making sure guests are young enough. In many high schools, new policies govern how old students' prom dates can be. And in most cases, 20 or 21 is the cutoff. At one Minnesota school, the rule was implemented after a past prom where a student brought a 48-year-old date. "A 48-year-old at prom just seemed very unwholesome to us," said the school's prom adviser. Concerns about alcohol use also come into play; many schools ban dates who are ...


Just because Mitchell Yaksh is graduating in a class of one doesn't mean he's celebrating the occasion alone. Along with his principal and teacher—his father and mother, respectively—about 140 relatives and friends were on hand recently for the homeschooler's pomp-and-circumstance-laden commencement exercise. Though the school itself is just a den in his family’s Atlanta home, Mitchell wore a cap and gown and received an official-looking diploma at the ceremony, just like his six older siblings had. "We wanted them to be able to look back and say … they never felt that they missed out on anything,"...


Last August, outside of a season-opener football game between rival high schools in Miami, Florida, 17-year-old James "3J" Lewis was shot and killed. His best friend, Derrick Chiverton's, gut reaction was understandable: He wanted revenge. But classmate Brittany Little suggested instead that Derrick play the titular role in an off-Broadway play called Zooman and the Sign, which would later be performed at a theater festival. "I wanted to find an outlet for us to channel our anger," explained Brittany, a senior at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. "We did the show in memory of James, and it hit a lot ...


It’s not often that you hear about a professional-development event that rocks. But some 400 educators gathered at a South Los Angeles middle school this weekend for a conference on the uses of hip-hop as an instructional tool. Workshop participants were encouraged to let students compose hip-hop songs as a way to get comfortable with the writing process. They also learned how to help students analyze rappers’ lyrics using the conventions of English Lit. The goal of the conference—organized by graduate students at UCLA along with local community groups—was to give teachers a way to make learning...


A high school teacher in Paducah, Kentucky, was relieved of her employment after school administrators discovered she appeared in an adult movie more than 10 years ago. Tericka Dye, a science teacher and volleyball coach at Paducah’s Reidland High School, said she deeply regrets having made the film, explaining she was broke and suffering from untreated bipolar disorder at the time. All the same, McCracken County Schools Superintendent Tim Heller told her in a letter that her “presence in the classroom would cause a disruption to the educational process,” particularly for “students who viewed the video or know about ...


Isn’t it about time your 6th graders finally got serious about what they're going to do with their lives? Some lawmakers and education leaders in Florida apparently think so. A new bill in the state’s legislature would mandate intensive career studies for middle schoolers. The measure is part of package of reform proposals put forth by a task force assembled by Republican Governor Jeb Bush. Under the recommendations, kids would also be required to develop an academic and career plan for their high school years. Advocates argue the career-studies requirement would add rigor to the middle school curriculum ...


It seems that the old is new again. And by "the old," we mean "weird 1960s fad of gardening-material-as-drug." Thanks to the Internet, teenagers are re-discovering something experts had thought was left far behind in the psychedelic era: Ingesting morning glory seeds in great quantities can lead to an LSD-like altered state. The emerging trend is hard to quantify because purchasing morning glory seeds is, of course, legal. But some garden shops have been keeping a closer eye on their inventory after seeing teenagers buy or steal large quantities of the flower seeds. "You think, 'Hmm,'" said Kristy Peterkin, ...


Spring is in the air, and an 18-year-old’s thoughts turn to, well, just about anything but schoolwork. In acknowledgement of that premise, some high schools are devising novel ways to treat the dread condition known as senioritis. Instead of forcing graduating seniors through the academic paces, they’re encouraging them to go ahead and start thinking about life after high school. New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Illinois, for example, has created a “senior program” designed to help kids learn real-world skills. Students can work as teachers’ aids, participate in community projects, and attend discussion forums on topics ...


Turns out students were listening during health class: In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a group of 4th- and 5th-graders refused to sell candy bars and potato chips as part of a fundraising drive for a trip to Washington, D.C. The students argued that selling the junk food went against the healthy-eating lessons they'd learned that year. For a little while, it looked like the trip would have to be cancelled, but donations from supporters—including $16,000 from diet guru Dr. Atkins' widow, Veronica—rolled in to finance the excursion. The candy-free students are enjoying their D.C. visit this...


Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Nancy Flanagan: A team of NEA-affiliate consultants: Ellen Holmes (ME), Jim Meadows read more
  • Tisha Rinker: Who was the presenter? read more
  • Susan Morrison: PD several times per week? Gasp! Are teachers to read more
  • Nancy: What a fantastic story! I hope the students are enjoying read more
  • Sclgoya: Education change, like fossil formation (http://www.k5geosource.org/content/dd/fossil/pg1.html (first page only)), can read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here