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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Improving special education teacher training is a priority in many U.S. districts, especially considering shrinking school budgets. This fall, 22 states received a total of $24 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education to invest in the teachers who have the biggest effect on the outcomes of students with disabilities.

Students in a high school science class are excited about their upcoming class project in the school pool. The teacher has emailed the parents, sharing details about the project, but no permission forms to participate are sent home.

STEM education is moving out of classrooms and onto smartphones, with a new mobile platform called Active Explorer that aims to inspire student interest in the sciences. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) partnered with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative and mobile virtual network operator Kajeet to create the program.

Students nationwide are protesting the new nutritional guidelines for school lunches that went into effect this year thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. From parody videos to cafeteria strikes, students are speaking out against the smaller, healthier portions, which include almost twice as many fruits and vegetables as last year, and less saturated fat and sodium. They are hungry, they say, and the healthy options aren’t tasty, leading some to discard their fruits and veggies.

America’s dropout crisis is so severe that one in four students does not finish high school. Unless graduation rates increase, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, with an estimated national loss of $1.5 trillion in lost wages and increased social costs due to crime and health care, according to a 2012 report “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic.”

Girl learns Chinese

Bibb County, Ga. is better known for being at the heart of confederacy than for its international interests—until now. This fall marked the beginning of a new curriculum for the school district, with Mandarin Chinese classes now required for all pre-K12 students. Haitian-born superintendent Romain Dallemand’s goal is to have all students become fully bilingual in English and Mandarin by high school graduation.

Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman (center, in red) helps TCCS students celebrate the opening of the school's new location in September.

The Teachers College Community School (TCCS), a university-assisted public pre-K8 school, opened the doors of its new permanent home in West Harlem, N.Y. in September. The school, which initially opened in fall of 2011 in a different location, represents a unique collaboration between the Columbia University Teachers College and the New York City Department of Education to provide a strong public education for members of the community, as well as education training for university students.

New Directions PD column

Educators pursuing professional development can learn anytime, anywhere, using personalized global classrooms with hand picked “teachers” and “textbooks.”

You have an open Tuesday night? Take up a live chat with Australian educators about math curriculum.

What about a long commute? Listen to a podcast about classroom evaluation.

In fact, online resources are so ubiquitous and accessible that we must ask if traditional, school-based PD will go the way of the Walkman and the Laserdisc.

Although best practices in student instruction and learning have evolved dramatically over the past couple of decades, new approaches to educator professional development have lagged behind considerably. The traditional whole group, one-size-fits-all strategy universally recognized as ineffective for teaching students, has too-long remained the status quo for many school and districts leaders.

  • Manufacturing biodiesel fuel.
  • Building a geodesic-domed greenhouse.
  • Measuring the environmental impact of abandoned industrial canals.
Eugene G. White reads to students during a “Read Across America” event in his district. One of White’s reforms was to centralize the curriculum, and in turn, better support students.


Eugene G. White is a superintendent of firsts. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school in his segregated town of Phenix City in southeast Alabama. Both academically and athletically inclined, White scored high enough grades—and points—to earn a basketball scholarship to Alabama A&M University, where his education led to his becoming a teacher, basketball coach and the first African-American high school principal in two Indiana high schools.

Lakeside High Ga. compete

In the weeks leading up to a presidential election, it’s hard to dismiss the importance of civic education, with campaign speeches, debates and advertisements blaring everywhere. Yet the National Assessment of Education Progress reports that only one-fourth of high school graduates are proficient in topics such as the American political system, principles of democracy, world affairs and the roles of citizens.

Banned Books LogoTo raise awareness of how school districts block web access for its students, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has designated Wednesday, Oct. 3 as Banned Websites Awareness Day (BWAD). As a part of the second annual Banned Books Week, the AASL is asking school librarians and educators to share how overly restrictive filtering web sites negatively affects student learning.

Expanded Learning ModelsAs the debate over whether increasing the school day or year will improve student achievement trudges on, a new report reveals there is just not enough evidence to support this theory.