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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Students are doing less hand-raising and more clicking as online classes become increasingly popular in K12 instruction, both in combination with brick-and-mortar classrooms and in independent full-time virtual schools. “It’s exploding,” says Barbara Treacy, director of EdTech Leaders Online, a program of the nonprofit Education Development Center that works with educational organizations to develop online courses and professional development.

In December 2012, in the case Zeno v Pine Plains Cent School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a New York district was liable under Title VI for student-on-student harassment, upholding a $1 million reduced jury verdict.

Chinese teacher Dun Zhang presents a lesson to three different Dublin City, Ohio high schools at once via interactive video conference.

At Dublin (Ohio) City Schools, Chinese teacher Dun Zhang teaches class in three different high school buildings—at the same time. With a shrinking budget and a desire to keep the foreign language program, the district moved to a blended model this year, with a combination of in-person, online, and video conference classes, to save money while reaching as many students as possible.

I have been a school social worker in the small Westmoreland Central School District in central New York for 26 years. And I have experienced what is now documented in research, that schools are seeing more children with mental health difficulties, such as fear and anxiety. These problems occur for various reasons, including family and tempermental issues, and often emerge at an early age.

Raymond Lauk at Paul Revere Primary School teaching Literacy Through Laughter.

Being fired as chief of the Lyons Elementary School District in Illinois a decade ago was the best thing to happen to Raymond Lauk, at least career-wise. It forced him down a path to the corporate world, specifically GE Security, as the education solutions manager, which taught him how to focus and to later create better school environments.

School administrators need to adapt to rising numbers of autism cases, despite reports from the U.S. Autism and Asperger Association that show educators have been overwhelmed and unable to provide for all the affected students for years.

It’s not a new reality show: Exploration Nation helps students understand STEM.

In April, three Texas middle school students joined marine veterans and a team of surgeons on a 12-day expedition through the jungles of Central America, learning about sustainable agriculture, reforestation, and ecosystems, and helping create a mobile surgical clinic for an indigenous Nicaraguan tribe that lacks access to medical treatment.

The expedition was part of a science education program called Exploration Nation, featuring real students applying STEM topics to the real world.

With the Next Generation Science Standards coming soon, elementary school teachers need more preparation to effectively teach complex STEM subjects, according to the fifth National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, released in February. While about 80 percent of elementary teachers feel very well prepared to teach reading/language arts and math, less than half feel very well prepared to teach science, and only 4 percent are prepared for engineering, the nearly 7,800 respondents nationwide reported.

David EvansPROMOTING STEM

Oceanographer David L. Evans was appointed executive director of the National Science Teachers Association in February, and will work to promote STEM education and professional development for the Next Generation Science Standards.

Most children consume too much omega-6, which is found in soybean oil, and is an ingredient in many processed foods. But they don’t get enough omega-3, a fatty acid found in foods generally consumed less frequently, such as flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, grass-fed beef and soybeans (though not soybean oil). 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most children and adolescents in the United States eat too much sugar, fat, and salt, but not enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Further, they consume about half their “empty calories” in the form of soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk (CDC, 2013).

At the recent annual conference of the International Bullying Prevention Association, I co-facilitated a session with a panel of students who are leaders in preventing bullying in their school. I asked the 600 professionals in the room how many also rely on student leadership to prevent bullying, and barely 30 raised their hands. The students’ insightful and passionate presentation on confronting these real-world problems became the “buzz” of the conference.

Controversy over so-called “fat letters” mailed from district offices to parents, informing them if they have an overweight, healthy weight or underweight child, is erupting across the nation.

Since 2004, overall interest in STEM majors and careers among high school seniors has increased by more than 20 percent, according to a new report from STEMconnector, an online STEM news source. And the southern states of the U.S. have the highest concentration of students interested in STEM, at 36 percent, compared to other regions.

Released in February, the “Where are the STEM Students?” report revealed that mechanical engineering was the most popular major or career choice among STEM-interested students, at 20 percent, while biology was second at 12 percent.

Starting this April, 1,500 eighth graders across nine middle schools in the Ouachita Parish School System in Monroe, La., will learn the keys of character building and life skills through a new pilot program based on a fantasy fiction novel.

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