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Articles: Teaching & Learning

At Metro Nashville Public Schools, students learn about criminal justice, science, media and music. Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School students perform all roles of a live broadcast on TV, from cameraman to reporter.
A Stratford STEM Magnet High School senior processes a mock crime scene with skills obtained through his criminal justice class in the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies in Nashville schools.
A Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School student prepares for a live broadcast from the school’s radio station.
A Stratford STEM Magnet High School Stratford student examines various chemicals used in her classes in the Academy of Science and Engineering.

Magnet schools have made a big comeback in America’s education system, offering curricula that span the spectrum—from medicine to the arts to language immersion. The revitalized programs provide plenty of hands-on experience, while the academic themes are infused into traditional classes such as math and English.

Bill McCarthy is the assistant head of Lower School at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City.

Several years ago, I attended a four-day training on instructional coaching at the University of Kansas, led by Jim Knight, an expert in the field. During this training, Knight presented a comprehensive model that can easily be implemented as part of internal professional development in schools.

As the academic year began at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, we discussed how this could constitute an effective and important model for our own professional development.

A look, from the U.S. Census, at the number of students served by the IDEA. (Click to enlarge)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The law fundamentally changed the way students with disabilities are educated in America, and the way states fund their K12 education programs.

IDEA requires the federal government to provide 40 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure in the United States, multiplied by the number of special education students in each state, to educate students with disabilities.

In "The Teaching Brain," Vanessa Rodriguez and her co-author separate teaching from the learning process.

In The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education, Vanessa Rodriguez and co-author Michelle Fitzpatrick go to the intersection of education, neuroscience and daily experience to explore how the mind of a teacher works, and more important, how it can be made more effective.

A Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School planes wood pieces for a toolbox and stonecutting. Hands-on projects like this prepare students for later study in the trades as they relate to preservation.
a historic-structures mason at the National Park Service’s Historic Architecture Conservation & Engineering Center instructs students in the trades.
A student in the “Introduction to Historic Preservation” class.
Students are introduced to masonry through stonecutting demos in the freshman “Introduction to Historic Preservation” class.
Field experiences for students include walking tours of New York City. Above, a teacher at Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School explains landscaping decisions in a local park.

New York City students are getting a taste of carpentry and other trades through a partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) focused on refurbishing historical buildings.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar challenged NPS’ New York regional department about five years ago to gather ideas to increase involvement with local communities that were not engaged with urban national park sites.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

Gaps in high school graduation rates are narrowing. National Center for Education Statistics data shows that nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup has seen a growth in graduation rates.

President Barack Obama’s proposed FY16 budget invests in programs that have improved student outcomes. Some highlights that will provide more funds for college-and-career readiness include:

Teachers from Teachers College, Columbia University's new program visit nations like Colombia and then build capstone projects to bring their global learning back to U.S. classrooms.

Students join African drum circles in Virginia, debate immigration in the Bronx and participate in overseas book clubs in Minneapolis and Philadelphia. Teachers have brought these activities and others to their classrooms from a growing number of globally-focused teacher prep and professional development programs.

Superintendent Debbi C. Burdick has brought her Arizona district's state ranking up to fifth out of 227.

Immersing students at Cave Creek USD with foreign language catapulted them above state average test scores. Superintendent Debbi C. Burdick and the governing board launched a world language program that included Spanish and Chinese programs beginning in elementary school.

A Champions of Wayne student receives her award for reaching an academic goal at a large ceremony at the end of the year.

A mentorship program’s $200 incentive for academic achievement is successfully motivating students in a district located in the heart of the declining automotive industry. "Champions of Wayne" was created by a school psychologist who mentored a handful of students and engraved their names on a four-foot trophy if they achieved an academic goal.

A snake is the centerpiece of a lesson at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston. It’s a program of Expeditionary Learning, a non-profit that partners with district public schools and charters providing innovative curriculum and teacher-created resources.
Students at the World of Inquiry School #58 in Rochester, New York, work on a science experiment as teacher Chris Widmaier oversees the project. The education program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides grants to fund this kind of deeper learning in schools nationwide. The program aims to increase economic opportunity and civic engagement in a changing world.
At the Richland School District in South Carolina, elementary students build and use engineer skills for different projects.
Envision Academy students at Oakland USD show off their art projects. This is another program made possible with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

When four South Carolina districts joined forces in 2013 to compete for a federal Race to the Top grant, their shared educational vision was clear: Teach students to be creative innovators and independent learners. The challenge was finding a model to encompass all the sweeping changes they wanted to implement.

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Nine out of 10 students recognize the importance of developing technology skills early to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce, according to new research published by CompTIA, an information technology industry association.

The September 2014 survey of 1,000 middle school students further found that most rate their tech skills as average or above. In the study—“The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology”—students also said they wanted more instruction in the following:

Predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring.

Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom.

These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process.

New York City students may soon learn formal lessons on climate change as a proposed curriculum continues to win endorsements from leading environmental groups.

Two groups, the Alliance for Climate Education and Global Kids, have been encouraging the New York State Department of Education to add climate change to the city’s K12 curriculum.

The effort, centered on Resolution 0375-2014 now before the New York City Council, was endorsed in February by The Natural Resources Defense Council.

Featured in Boston’s new history curriculum, this donated photo from Discovery Roxbury shows an integrated classroom at the city’s David A. Ellis School in the 1930s.

Though known as a cradle of American history in colonial times, Boston was also a hotbed of desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Boston Public Schools has mandated a new curriculum to teach students about the civil rights movement in the city. The History of Boston Busing and Desegregation curriculum marks the 40th anniversary of the decision—which was controversial in 1974—to desegregate city schools and allow children to be bussed outside of their neighborhoods.