May 2009 Archives

According to USA Today, a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Education shows that the percentage of homeschooled children has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. In 2007, 2.9 percent or roughly 1.5 million of all school-aged children were homeschooled compared to an estimated 1.7 percent in 1999. The report also indicates an increase in the number of girls being homeschooled over boys, which were almost an even match in 1999. Girls now account for 58.1 percent of homeschoolers compared to boys at 41.9 percent. Findings from the report also reflect ...


Physicians and psychologists are becoming concerned about the effects of obsessive text-messaging on teenagers’ well-being, reports The New York Times. According to one recent study, American teens exchange an average of 2,272 text messages per month—or nearly 80 per day. While there are no definitive findings yet on the on the health effects of texting, experts are beginning to suspect that such compulsive activity may be leading to anxiety, repetitive stress injuries, and sleep issues—not to mention all manner of academic difficulties. (Note to teachers: Watch out for the kids who keep their hands under the desks ...


Everyone knows that students are often able to give teachers a hand with technology, but this is probably going above and beyond: A 17-year-old computer whiz in California has launched a new Web-based classroom management software program in hopes of simplifying teachers’ lives, according to the Contra Costa Times. Now a junior at El Segundo High School, Shahan Khan began working on the program when he was in 7th grade, prompted by teachers’ complaints about their current management system. “I decided teachers need a program that’s really easy to use,” he said. “That’s what inspired me to make ...


Education Secretary Arne Duncan is soliciting your advice, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site. In an effort to start an “open, honest conversation about education reform,” Duncan is making 15 stops around the country to talk to educators, parents, and students about what is and isn’t working in the current education system. The “listening tour” will continue online, with Duncan posing questions and seeking answers on pressing education issues, such as standards and teacher quality, through an open forum discussion on the USDOE Web site. You can participate here. The discussion has received nearly ...


Editor's note: Know a new or prospective teacher who could use some help settling into the classroom? Who doesn't, right? Well, you're in luck. We've just put together a best-of selection of our "Teaching Secrets" series, which features practical advice for new teachers written by the esteemed members of the Teacher Leaders Network. It's a great package of instantly useable information from real-life teachers—available for only $4.95. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog postings....


A study released today by the Government Accountability Office finds that the pervasive use of violent restraining and secluding techniques by teachers with students who have special needs has led to hundreds of deaths and injuries of American school children in the last twenty years, according to ABC.news. Coinciding with the report’s release is a hearing today at the U.S. House Committee of Education and Labor to determine if the seclusion and restraint of students should be against federal law. Committee chairman Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., called the report "alarming" and "eye opening," in his prepared remarks, ...


Secretary of Education Arne Duncan take note: longer school days and years may not be the key to improving student performance. According to a Miami-Dade County district report, a three-year, $100 million project to extend the school days and school year in the district’s lowest-performing public schools failed to improve student achievement, The Miami Herald reports. The School Improvement Zone, a "pet-project" of former Superintendent Rudy Crew, added an hour to each school day and increased the length of the school year at 39 elementary, middle, and high schools. The project initially earned strong praise in education circles, including ...


"The Story of Stuff," a short environmental-activism cartoon, has been making the rounds on the internet since 2007 and evoking the controversy you’d expect from a video about such a heated topic. The New York Times reported recently that teachers from elementary to high school are using the video as a tool in their classroom to spark conversation about the environment. The video—produced and narrated by activist, independent lecturer, and former Greenpeace employee Annie Leonard—takes an in-depth but accessible look at where our products come from, how they’re procured, how they’re disposed of, and the ...


Authorities in South Korea have launched an aggressive new effort to crack down on bribery of teachers, according to the Los Angeles Times. With parents desperate to give their children any sort of edge in the country's cut-throat college-admissions game, bribes to teachers are apparently commonplace in South Korea. Typically, according to the Times, the payoffs—known as chonji—are provided in cash-filled envelops, but they are also often hidden in candy boxes or other benign-looking packages. To curb the practice, officials are closing many schools this year on Teacher's Day—a national teacher-appreciation day scheduled for later this week—and...


The age-old student practice of slacking off and generally behaving less than angelically toward the end of senior year could have more serious consequences than usual this year, according to an article by two college-admissions experts published in USA Today. Because of the economic downturn, colleges are unsure how many of the incoming freshmen they have admitted will be able to accept their offers, and consequently have been admitting more students than usual, write Robin Mamlet and Christine VanDeVelde, who are working on a book about the admissions process. In the event that schools end up over-enrolled, however, they will ...


Job-hunting educators have long held New York City as an enticing location because of its historically high need for teachers. But, according to The New York Times, a new city-wide policy requiring schools to hire public school teachers internally may leave many otherwise-qualified candidates out in the cold. In an effort to cut costs and avoid teacher layoffs, the city department of education recently ordered principals to hire only internally—including from a pool of teachers “whose jobs have been eliminated and many who have earned unsatisfactory ratings.” Hard-to-staff positions like speech therapy and bilingual special education, schools that opened ...


Our multi-talented and tireless intern Liana Heitin, a former special education teacher, was featured last week in a local news segment on Teacher Appreciation Week. Have a look: Teacher Magazine's Liana Heitin in the News from Education Week on Vimeo. More information on the book The Ultimate Teacher: The Best Experts' Advice for a Noble Profession with Photos and Stories, which includes a couple pieces by Liana, is available here....


If you work with students, you may well have thought, or even said, "This job is driving me crazy!" A 27-minute-long video, produced by the U.K.-based Teachers.tv, and presented by The Guardian, suggests you might be on to something. The lushly produced video presents in-depth interviews with several British teachers who have lost their positions as a result of mental illness. They discuss what led to their diagnoses, and how their lives have changed as a result. One former teacher reports he can no longer "even drive past a primary school" as it makes him physically sick. ...


Researchers at the University of North Carolina may have located an area of the brain that is overdeveloped in children with autism, reports CNN. Using brain imaging, the researchers scanned 50 toddlers with autism and 33 without, and found that the amygdala, which controls the ability to read facial expressions and emotions, was 13 percent larger in children with the developmental condition. "We believe that children with autism have normal-sized brains at birth but at some point, in the latter part of the first year of life, it [the amygdala] begins to grow in kids with autism," said the study’s...


Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has over $100 billion at his disposal, more than any previous ed secretary, to bring about significant reform to America’s public schools. In the latest episode of PBS’ NOW, host David Brancaccio talks to Duncan and takes a close look at his record of reform as CEO of Chicago Public Schools to get an idea of the things he might have in store for the U.S. Brancaccio visited one of Duncan’s “turnaround” schools in Chicago’s South Side, Harvard Elementary. The school was in rough shape when Duncan took it over. Of ...


This morning Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” announced the launch of The Great Give-Back Birthday for DonorsChoose.org, the Web site that enables “citizen philanthropists” to donate online to classrooms around the country. In a brief video posted by the Huffington Post, Colbert, whose birthday is May 13, explained that he created his own “birthday page” on the charity site. In lieu of gifts, he is asking his friends, family, and fans to donate to his favorite classroom projects. To create a birthday page visit the site here. Last month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ...


On April 16th, we highlighted a heart-wrenching New York Times story about Tiffany Clay, high school senior and talented violinist from the financially depressed town of Newark, Ohio. Tiffany, the story reported, lived with her boyfriend, a high school dropout, and was working 35-40 hours a week at Sonic, the drive-through chain that is headquartered in—take note—Oklahoma City. Due to financial hardship, Tiffany planned to abandon a promising career in music to pursue the safer path of nursing. Well, the story subsequently took on a life of its own. According to the Newark Advocate, Tiffany’s school orchestra ...


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