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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Lynn B. Moody meets with students on the Sullivan Middle School Student Advisory Council to the Superintendent last December to discuss student issues and concerns.

“Every day on my way home from work I ask myself one question: ‘Did I do anything today that affected the life of one child positively?’” says Rock Hill (S.C.) Public Schools Superintendent Lynn B. Moody.

Superintendent Gary P. Richards (center) meets with Jane Anderson, human resources director, and Andrew Colati, social studies instructor at Wilton High School, where the district’s administrative offices are located.

According to Wilton (Conn.) School District Superintendent Gary G. Richards, most people who move to Wilton do so for its high-quality schools, which has struck a successful balance between educating its most advanced learners and ones who need more help.

STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education has been a major component to 21st-century learning in K12, but some say the acronym needs to be more inclusive. Several groups created by educators have emerged to support the push for the addition of an “A” to STEM, for STEAM, to represent the disciplines of art.

Art therapy involves creating art to help individuals of all ages cope with traumatic experiences and stress, according to the American Art Therapy Association, a national organization whose Connecticut members have been working to assist young people, their families, and the local communities to address the trauma resulting from the Sandy Hook shooting. Above, a drawing from a first grade Sandy Hook student who was at school the day of the shooting.

School psychologists are often the first professionals to reach students with mental illness, and part of their role is to help identify threats that can lead to events such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and six adults dead, including school psychologist Mary Sherlach, who was one of the first responders. But as district budgets are cut and school psychologists retire, their difficult and crucial role working with troubled students may be endangered.

The American Association of School Administrators is doing its part to improve leadership development. Between January and May, AASA consultants are providing professional development for principals and assistant principals in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools.

“People are thirsty for an opportunity to learn everything that belongs to their jobs, from budget and finances to curriculum and instruction to school operations,” says AASA Director of Leadership Development MaryAnn Jobe.

Most principals today are hard pressed to find time for the multitasking they are expected to do, from overseeing the daily operation of their schools and interacting with parents to evaluating teachers and providing them with professional development to do their jobs at a high level.

To teach Common Core effectively, teachers will have to share such teaching methods within their school districts, says Richard Vacca, professor emeritus of Kent State University and a co-author of Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum. “Traditional professional development was always kind of an add-on,” Vacca says. “The difference (with Common Core) is that it’s going to be ongoing and embedded within a district rather than” about bringing an outside person in, he says.

Whatever approach is used, writing that upholds the standards of Common Core is demanding, acknowledges Gretchen Schultz, principal assessment editor for ELA at CTB/McGraw-Hill and a content specialist in developing ELA assessments.

In the YouTube video, “Keeping Up With the Common Core: the Latest from the Field,” Schultz spells out how teachers must shift their focus to meet the requirements of the Common Core.

Back in 2010, then-elementary school Principal Catherine White focused on writing in the Attleboro (Mass.) Public Schools. And with that, the school’s fourth graders beat the state average for long composition on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

After years of controversy, court battles, and a disbanded cultural studies program, the Tucson (Ariz.) Unified School District is turning to a new program to raise the achievement of Hispanic students.

Although school counselors play an important role in students’ college and career readiness, a lack of training and focus on this task often impedes their work, according to the 2012 National Survey of School Counselors. This can directly impact student success, the survey found, since students in schools where counselors are trained and held accountable for college-related activities are more likely to go to college.

Students from a NAF Academy of Engineering in San Francisco gain internship experience on construction sites of major transit projects.

A new assessment system for high school students providing multiple measures of college and career readiness launched this fall, helping students in career-themed public high schools understand what skills they need to enter the 21st-century workforce. The National Academy Foundation (NAF), the largest developer of career-themed public high schools in the country, partnered with education research agency WestEd to create the multi-method test, marking a move toward more effectively measuring college and career readiness.

A pilot solar panel project on the roof of Aiea High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Department of Education has embarked on a first- and largest-plan-of-its-kind nationwide to install solar panels in every school in the state. The plan will reduce the sunny state’s school energy costs from $47 million per year to zero, and generate revenue from extra energy that could go back to schools, school officials say.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2011). Foreign language enrollments in K-12 Public Schools: Are Students Prepared for a Global Society?

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2012). The Role of Technology in Language Learning.