September 2006 Archives

Teacher Joseph Lekuton has high standards for his middle school social studies students. His "infamous test on the whole world," as one student puts it, requires that the teenagers locate and identify nearly every country and capital on the globe. That knowledge should come in handy for them now that Lekuton will be living on the other side of the world: He recently won a seat in the parliament of his native Kenya. After a decade at the McLean, Virginia, Langley School, Lekuton declared his candidacy last April in a special election to replace several members of the Kenyan parliament ...


It may not be immediately obvious, but some chronically and terminally ill children need school. It’s a routine that returns them to normality (a time when they weren’t confined to a hospital bed), and implicit in the education process is the idea that, yes, one day I will get better and use what I’m learning. That’s what the New York City Department of Education is banking on by employing 87 licensed teachers who serve 550 students in 42 city hospitals. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for example, has been the site of state exams, graduation ceremonies, and ...


In an effort to improve student decorum and reduce distractions, school districts in the Northeast and elsewhere are increasingly turning to uniform or dress code policies. While the established research has concluded that such polices make little discernable difference in student performance or behavior, a new, small-scale study of schools in Ohio has found that schools requiring uniforms have higher graduation rates and fewer disciplinary problems. The author of that study, Virginia B. Draa of Youngstown State University, says uniforms help blur class lines between students and reduce peer-pressure issues. They may even heighten teachers’ expectations of students, she speculates. ...


Just in time for the new school year, the great homework debate is boiling over again. Harris Cooper, a noted education researcher at Duke University, has co-authored a new study finding that elementary school students gain little from most homework assignments, and that excessive amounts of homework might even be bad for middle and high school students. In his new book, The Homework Myth, education gadfly Alfie Kohn is even more strident. He calls for the complete elimination of homework, which he blames for stress, family conflict, and slackened student motivation. Other education experts believe that the problem isn’t ...


While schools across the country take time this week to commemorate the 5th anniversary of September, 11, 2001, Madeleine V. Leckie Elementary in Washington, D.C., has special reason to remember that day: It lost a teacher, a student, and two parents when American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon. Hilda Taylor, a teacher from Sierre Leonne devoted to boosting geographical knowledge, was on board the flight with her 6th grade student Bernard Brown II, as part of a multi-school field trip to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. Leckie parents Johnnie Doctor and Marsha ...


As the technology becomes more widespread, teachers are increasingly turning to blogs as a natural classroom tool. According to Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, tens of thousands of teachers across the country are now actively blogging. While many teachers maintain blogs to offer personal reflections—or just plain vent—on the teaching life, others are using them as a way to build greater classroom community and keep busy parents informed about what their children are doing in school. “The more [parents] know, the more they understand where you’re coming from...


Here’s a back-to-school idea to think about: A new study published in the journal Science found that black students who wrote a short essay on their values at the start of the school year got a lasting boost in academic performance. The study, conducted over the course two years at a suburban middle school, asked randomly selected students to write a brief explanation of the values that are most important to them. A control group was instructed to write about values that they rated the least important. Each year, the black students who wrote about positive values scored about ...


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