August 2006 Archives

Getting hauled out of the classroom on day two wasn't exactly how Eric Hamlin had expected to kick off a new year at a new school. But Hamlin, a geography teacher at Carmody Middle School in Lakewood, Colorado, was suspended for allegedly flouting state law. His offense: displaying flags from other countries. Yes, that's right. Colorado law says that foreign flags may hang in classrooms only when they are relevant to the curriculum. After a little detective work, Principal John Schalk determined that Hamlin had no lessons planned for the immediate future that would relate directly to the flags in ...

You know those nine pizzas? The ones your very excellent mother just served? The pizza days are over, pal. With the world's prominent astronomers voting yesterday that Pluto will no longer be classified as a planet, the mnemonic device several generations of schoolchildren have used to remember the order of planets in our solar system is now missing a vital piece. Teachers planning astronomy lessons using an old solar system model may find themselves plucking out the smallest Styrofoam ball and rewriting the memory aid to feature noodles, nuts, or nothing. On the plus side, though, many educators recognize that ...

In an effort to squeeze every possible ounce of the day into test preparation, many schools have reportedly cut back on arts and enrichment programs. The Houston Independent School District, however, is taking the opposite approach. The district has launched a $1.75 million initiative to increase arts offerings in its schools. The money, according to HISD superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, will be used in part to train teachers to integrate music, dance, and other arts into core academic courses like math and science. In announcing the program, Saavedra pointed to research showing that, in fact, arts education boosts student engagement ...

What's a sign that your curriculum might not be effective? Well, if the subject in question is sex ed, then the finding that 13 percent of your high school's female population was pregnant last year could be a hint. The Canton, Ohio, school board has decided to rethink its abstinence-only sex ed curriculum after reviewing statistics showing that 65 of the 490 female students at Timken High School were pregnant in 2005. The new curriculum, which was developed by a committee that included a minister, "moves beyond the 'Just Say No' approach." Among the priorities were replacing circa-1988 health textbooks ...

At one time, "neatness counts" was as common a classroom phrase as "raise your hand," and penmanship ranked right up with math and spelling on the weekly educational roster. But in an increasingly digital world, the skill—or art—of neat handwriting may be going the way of the ditto machine. Some educators are bemoaning penmanship's fall from grace in the face of increasing testing demands and ubiquitous computer use. The concern is especially strong among occupational therapists who work in public schools. "Handwriting is the number-one way elementary school students provide feedback to their teachers about what they've ...


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