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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Updated July 1, 2013:

“Do a triangle pose,” a teacher says to her third-grade students during one of their bi-weekly yoga classes. “Good. Now a gorilla pose. Now you’re a mountain.”

This is yoga at Encinitas USD’s nine K6 schools. The poses’ names have been changed to be less religious. They are part of a complete physical education program designed to help students stay calm, focused and physically active throughout their day, says Encinitas USD Superintendent Timothy Baird.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium.

One significant impact of this year’s federal budget sequester is its toll on scientific research, with many organizations and research institutes facing the likelihood of huge cuts to their funding. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, for example, could have $8.6 billion taken from its budget, while the National Institutes of Health anticipates $1.5 billion in cuts. And the National Science Foundation, which faces $283 million in cuts, is under additional pressure from Congress to fund only “approved” scientific research.

Schools are not getting a big enough bang for their education technology buck, according to a new report. While computers and internet access are common in the classroom, students are often using this technology for simple foundational exercises, rather than higher-order data analysis or statistics work that will help prepare them for the modern workforce, the report from the Center for American Progress found. This issue is most prevalent in schools with primarily low-income students, further widening the digital divide.

A human-like robot that can mimic emotions and play interactive games can help students with autism develop social skills.

Aldebaran Robotics’ “ASK NAO” robot, which is about two feet tall, mimics an emotion with gestures and sounds, and waits for children to recognize the emotion. It may then ask children the last time they experienced such an emotion. It also can teach autistic children time, taking turns, basic conversation, and other communication skills.

Many teachers will spend this summer learning classroom strategies to best align with upcoming Common Core standards.

Common Core is the topic teachers have requested most for summer professional development, says Karen Beerer, Discovery Education’s vice president of professional development for Common Core State Standards. “Contrary to popular belief, the standards are not one size fits all,” she says.

Native American students face a dropout rate of over 12 percent—more than double that of their white peers and higher than that for black and Asian students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

High teacher turnover rates and few native teachers in the classroom are part of the problem, says David Thomas, a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson. The Indian Education Professional Development Grant seeks to change that by providing Native Americans a chance to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree and become teachers or administrators.


Shelley Holt, Los Angeles USD instructional director for secondary schools, was named one of ASCD’s 2013 Emerging Leaders for her work helping principals use data to develop plans for monitoring instructional outcomes.

prof opinion science experiment

Education and business leaders, the press, and the president have all called for increased emphasis on STEM in K12 schools, and NGSS, the “Next Generation Science Standards” released in April are a response to those priorities ( The standards do an outstanding job of defining science and engineering for our time.

Saikaly and his team make their way up Mount Everest.

Adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly was approaching the top of Mount Everest Friday when he took some time out of the climb to speak to a high school classroom in Canada about his journey.

Students talked via Skype to Saikaly at his base at the mountain’s Camp 2, about 22,500 feet above sea level. They asked him about adjusting to the cold climate, his diet (lots of eggs, meat and potatoes), how to train for such a feat (plenty of exercise and hiking trips), and what keeps him motivated (hot showers, strawberries, and his family).

A student at the Beech Hill School in the Otis (Maine) School Department learns chemistry in a hands-on science lab over Skype.

Four students in Maine had the unique chance to study organisms on their shoreline this past year to help contribute research to a new chemical bond discovery that Vanderbilt University researchers made three years ago.

Two kindergarten classes are speaking Spanish throughout most of their days in a successful opt-in, dual-language program in the Tigard-Tualatin (Ore.) School District.

Joseph Lopez, El Paso ISD’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, talks with the district’s Texas Literacy Initiative administrators. The program has been implemented in 39 of El Paso’s 94 schools to promote better reading and writing skills.

With more than 30 years of education experience, Joseph Lopez brought grant money and state funding to help grow student achievement.

After the Newtown tragedy last December, an outpouring of gifts from around the world inspired Sandy Hook Elementary School first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig. She created a new social curriculum that teaches students about compassion, kindness, and caring for others—an antidote of sorts for the hatred and pain inflicted upon their school children, their families, and their community.

With the Common Core standards comes an increasing focus on literacy across subjects: today, 77 percent of educators believe developing students’ literacy is one of the most important parts of their job, a new survey found.

“It’s much more widely understood today that every educator has a responsibility to improve student literacy, which is the gateway to learning in all disciplines,” says Kent Williamson, director of the National Center for Literacy Education, which conducted the survey of 2,400 educators nationwide.

Students in the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District use robotics kits to build moving dioramas that integrate poetry and engineering. Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination.