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Articles: Teaching & Learning

An AT&T employee volunteer, above left, helps a student in the Boys & Girls Clubs navigate a creative obstacle course to help motivate youth to be ready for successful transition into the upcoming school year.

Some of the world’s most powerful companies are increasing their influence in K12 education by funding programs that blend workforce development with public service. Corporate initiatives range from retail giant Target’s $1 billion plan to fund literacy programs to IBM’s high school STEM programs that aim to prepare the workers the company needs to fill its ranks.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn in New York City play a game called Galactic Mappers in class.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn, a New York City public school, recently got a two-week break from regular class work to build a giant Rube Goldberg machine. The project, for example, required students to use physics and geometry skills to build a complex scheme of pulleys and tubes to accomplish the simple act of popping a balloon.

As part of Activity Works programs, above, students in the “Food on the Farm” episode demonstrate how to be popping popcorn kernels for 10 minutes.

Keep activities short so teachers can easily incorporate them into busy school days. “Once teachers experience the rewards from just a few minutes of activity, they realize it’s worth it,” says Marilynn Szarka of Loesche Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Give students the reins. “Younger kids like to be led by older students. Let students choose music and activities. Let them take ownership,” says Jesus Mejia of Creating Opportunity for Physical Activity in California. “Increasing options to be engaged increases motivation to participate.”

Ken Royal is a former teacher and DA editor. He blogs at connectlearningtoday.com.

If you’re an educator, at any level or grade, sitting back and expecting education change to happen, without you getting involved, you need to stand up now. If you think that you can’t do something, or start change, you’re mistaken.

A carnival with a twist is coming to the West coast this spring. Instead of eating cotton candy and riding Ferris wheels, students will navigate a laser maze and measure their strength in volts—all while learning engineering skills.

The STEAM Carnival was created by Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based engineering and entertainment company that creates high-tech games for clients like Intel and the arcade restaurant Dave & Buster’s.

The town of Hopkinton, Mass., has served as the starting point for Boston Marathon since 1924. Now, Hopkinton Middle School is incorporating the town’s historical connection with the iconic race into a new curriculum called “Desire to Inspire.”

“From the early preparations in March to the event in April, every year our community and our students become very enthusiastic about the marathon,” says Debra Pinto, a Hopkinton Middle School physical education teacher.

Philadelphia Public Schools special education teacher Michelle McKeone developed Autism Expressed in 2011, and now uses the platform to teach digital media skills to her high school students.

A first-of-its-kind online learning platform is bringing critical digital and life skills to Philadelphia students with autism and developmental disorders.

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

Superintendent Samuel DePaul exercises with third graders at Colquitt Elementary Schools in Georgia.

Third-grade students from five Colquitt Elementary Schools are doing something different with their PE class.

Thanks to the “Action Packed Family” program made possible by a grant, these kids are learning how to fight obesity by eating healthy and being active at home. The $2.5 million, five-year grant was given by the University of Georgia to its School of Public Health, to study childhood obesity.

The names of professional sports teams like the Washington Redskins have generated national controversy in recent years—to the point that three news publications will no longer publish the word “Redskins,” and instead refer to the team as “Washington.” In this political climate, some states have enacted laws to ensure K12 school mascots are culturally sensitive.

Students in the Centennial School in Bethlehem, Pa. are rewarded for good behavior rather than punished for misconduct.

Disabled students in wealthy, less-diverse districts are twice as likely as their low-income peers to be restrained or placed in isolation in school, according to new research by the University of New Hampshire.

Restraint and isolation have been used primarily on students who pose a threat to themselves or others. And few schools resort to these physical solutions: Some 95 percent of districts reported fewer than 10 instances of restraint or seclusion per 100 students with a disability in 2009-10.

Linda Gojak, NCTM president, speaks at last year’s NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Giving math teachers the training and classroom tools to effectively implement the Common Core is the biggest challenge school districts face when it comes to improving achievement.

That’s why making teachers comfortable with the new standards will be a driving force in many of the sessions at this spring’s National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) conference.

David Evans, executive director of NSTA, leads a discussion with educators about the new science standards and what it will mean for districts.

A new approach to assessing students’ three-dimensional learning should soon give teachers a clearer picture of the reasoning their students are using to grasp key science concepts. This more intensive level of assessment will be a critical tool for schools implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that are designed to boost STEM scores.

Jason E. Glass is superintendent and chief learner at Eagle County Schools in Colorado.

All across the country, discussions around improving educator effectiveness and evaluation have become synonymous. Forces from state houses and federal agencies compel us to engage in the work of redesigning evaluation systems and to devise ways of using student outcomes as a significant part of that effort.

Superintendents and the evaluations they use are coming directly into the crosshairs.

Students in the app development class at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, N.Y., met with hearing-impaired community members.

Students in a STEM pilot project at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, N.Y., have developed a number of innovative mobile apps to help the hearing impaired.

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