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Curriculum Update

High schools will soon have access to a free curriculum based on the Academy Award-winning film and memoir 12 Years a Slave.

The National School Boards Associaton is partnering with New Regency entertainment, Penguin Books and the filmmakers to give public high schools copies of the 2014 Best Picture winner, the book it’s based on and a study guide. Talk-show host Montel Williams is coordinating the distribution of the movie.

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.

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.

Fifth-grader Cici Collins’ (second from the right) cancer survival story inspired a Common Core-aligned curriculum for her entire class last fall.

Upon entering middle school last fall, cancer survivor Cici Collins had no idea her story would inspire a new curriculum for her entire grade.

Wisconsin middle and high school students are learning more about their state’s farming and produce industries through a new curriculum developed by the state’s Ag in the Classroom program.

The “Telling Our Agricultural Story” curriculum includes print and online materials that highlight information about local farms and their production methods, says Darlene Arneson, the Ag in the Classroom coordinator.

Philadelphia schools are taking a new approach to arts instruction by introducing students to art and music they can find in their own backyard. With the new Literacy Through the Arts curriculum, created with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, students in grades one through eight are not only learning about these local institutions but also about the musicians and artists whose work featured there.

SWOT students writing out code on paper. Thanks to a fundraiser this past fall, students will be using computers instead.

Students enrolled at the Scholars Working Overtime (SWOT) program in Las Vegas have been learning how to write computer programming code in an unusual way—without computers. Throughout the fall, coding was practiced on pen and paper until the funds were raised to bring a computer lab to the program.

Utah elementary school students spend half their instructional time in English and half in a world language.

When it comes to foreign language study, Utah is emerging as a national trendsetter. The state’s five-year-old dual-language immersion program will likely give Utah students a leg up in the future job market and foreign affairs, and could serve as a model for other states, language experts say.

Growing demand and a shortage of qualified foreign language teachers has opened the door for commercial companies, including Rosetta Stone and Middlebury Interactive, to enter the educational marketplace.

More than 20,000 schools and districts have integrated Rosetta Stone into their curriculum since 1991.

Some educators are making a push to bring a renewed emphasis to social studies, as subjects like history and civics have taken a backseat to math, science and English in the nation’s rush to improve academic achievement.

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