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Articles: Teaching & Learning

New Orleans schools are operated by one of three organizations. Source: The Cowen Institute.

New Orleans public schools have made great strides in the eight years since the state took over most of them due to consistently low academic performance and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

But several challenges still remain for the decentralized school district, according to an August report from the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University.

Alvin Crawley became Alexandria City Public Schools’ permanent superintendent last March after being interim since October 2013.

Alvin Crawley relishes the days he can get a little dirty. One recent day, he played kickball with students at Maury Elementary School, and then dusted off his new suit before returning to his office. Another day, he played drums and told African folk tales to fourth-graders during a lunch break at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, an elementary school. And on still another, he and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille rapped in a student-created music video to stem the cases of bullying.

Echo Meter Touch by Wildlife Acoustics
Heart and Lungs Lab App by Isygames
QBiC MS-1 Wide Angle Wearable Camera by Elmo
DataHub by Ward’s Science
Starter Electrochemistry Meters by OHAUS Corporation
Vernier Energy Sensor by Vernier
ChemAssist Mobile App by Fisher Scientific
MiScope by Zarbeco
STEMscopes by Accelerate Learning

Technology is revolutionizing the study of science in K12. New products for chemistry, biology and physics labs allow more engaging and, in some cases, safer experiments.

Following the BYOD and 1-to-1 trend, many of these products come with mobile apps so students can take their inquiries outside the classroom and analyze data instantly in the field.

Kathleen Miller is principal of Mechanics Grove School in Mundelien, Ill.

School administrators are increasingly being made accountable for improving test scores, reducing behavior issues and creating vibrant school cultures where everyone has a sense of belonging. Adding more layers to this already complicated list begins to entangle the educational system with too many change initiatives—unless we can fundamentally alter the roots of our paradigms and relationships.

A student reads a book through the Booktrack website, while hearing music, ambient noise and sound effects that match the action of the story.

A platform that pairs e-books with movie-style soundtracks is gaining attention in the K12 realm for boosting reading engagement and comprehension. But some researchers remain skeptical of its claim of increasing achievement without additional instruction.

Crew members wash and bundle produce to get ready to take to the Clarksville Downtown Market. The proceeds are donated to area hunger relief agencies.
Students spoke about their experiences with the Food Initiative program during an event in June.
Students grew vegetables such as carrots and learned how to make healthy meals.

Forty high school students from Tennessee and Kentucky spent their summer growing healthy food for themselves and the poor and homeless in their community.

The students were from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District in Tennessee and Fort Campbell Schools in neighboring Kentucky.

They planted, cultivated and harvested various fruits and vegetables in a community garden, and sold them at a local market to raise funds for area hunger-relief organizations.

Students work at a research reserve during an eight-day summer field experience developed by FloridaLearns STEM Scholars.
Summer STEM students also worked with teachers at a university research center.
Florida students get STEM instruction at a U.S. Air Force civil engineer center.

By 2018, Florida will have 411,000 STEM-related jobs, fourth highest among the 50 states, and nine out of 10 jobs created in the state before the end of the decade will be in STEM-related fields.

When hiring teachers districts should identify their needs and fix only what is broken, says consultant Joel Sackett

It’s no secret that having great educators in the classroom is one of the keys to fostering successful students and an effective school—but finding top-tier educators can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

The hiring process is especially challenging in today’s landscape, as most states have made dramatic cuts to education funding since the start of the recession.

Daniel A. Domenech is executive director of AASA and a former school superintendent for nearly 30 years.

Research shows that good teachers and principals are highly correlated with higher student achievement.

Several ongoing education programs on national and district levels are working to prepare the next generation of teachers and principals throughout the country. However, research also shows effective district leadership is also vital for high student achievement.

Superintendent Jesse L. Jackson has made communicating with ESL parents a priority at Lake Wales Charter Schools in Florida.

Lake Wales Charter Schools, an entire K12 charter district in central Florida, is the only charter local educational agency (LEA) in the state. As an LEA, the Lake Wales system functions as its own public school district, retaining administrative and financial control.

Districts must do more to ensure low-income and minority students have access to top-notch teachers, says a new report. Poor students and students of color are less likely to be taught by a highly effective teacher than are other students, but there are some pockets where change is occurring.

Common Core test tools enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers. (Photo: Smarter Balanced)

Common Core assessments are making testing easier for students with special needs, experts say. The computer-based exams include tools such as on-screen calculators and read-aloud instructions to enhance accessibility for students with disabilities while keeping them in the classroom with their peers.

Philadelphia students with autism will no longer be transferred from one school to another without parental input, a June settlement states.

Because not all of the School District of Philadelphia’s 214 schools have autism services for all grades, students were sometimes transferred to different buildings depending on the services needed, says Sonja Kerr, director of disability rights for the Public Interest Law Center.

Students at Mount Hebron Middle School in Montclair, N.J., learned basic programming to make their Finch robots dance, draw, wrestle, race and play soccer. The Finch is the white device with the glowing nose.
Clay County schools students participate in a Lego robotics competition. A series of U.S. Department of Defense grants allowed the northern Florida district to establish an extensive robotics program that runs from elementary through high school.
RobotsLab's quadcopter can give students a real-life demonstration of a quadratic equation.
VEX Robotics is another kit students use for robotics competitions.
Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center's use robotic arms from Yaskawa Motoman to learn about advanced assembly lines.
Students use Pitsco’s Tetrix system to build and program robots for competition.

The new breed of robots rolling, dancing and flying into classrooms is giving educators at all grade levels an engaging new tool to fire students’ enthusiasm for math, computer programming and other STEM-related subjects.

Cross-cutting career and college readiness skills and thinking behaviors. (Click to enlarge)

Education and business stakeholders continue to call for more rigorous curricula, instruction and assessments in order to adequately prepare students for the demands of the 21st century.

But even if implemented well, does the Common Core fully capture the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in college, the workplace and life? And what do tougher academics and more challenging courses really require of schools in terms of how best to support the diversity of student populations?