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At Bee Cave Elementary School, students gather around the teacher for story time in one small space, allowing the school to save energy and money in areas of the room that don’t need lighting.

Lighting is often the overlooked energy hog in the room—accounting for 26 percent of the energy used in a typical school. Retrofitting lighting can reduce that by as much as 50 percent, and it's is often simpler and less expensive than upgrading HVAC systems, producing a quick return on investment.

High school student interns at Frederick County Public Schools interview a teacher to learn pros and cons of the district’s next textbook adoption process.

Teaching research skills once meant asking students to turn stacks of library books into essays on the poetry of Emily Dickinson or the causes of the Civil War. But today, it’s just as likely to mean asking second-graders to design a museum exhibit on the physics of flight or encouraging a 10th-grader to make the case for backyard chicken coops.

Mt. Airy City Schools in North Carolina revitalized arts classes to launch its STEAM programs.
The Tukwila School District is one of the most diverse in the nation. Administrators say STEAM instruction provides a more sure pathway to college and career success.
<div class="box"> <h2>STEAM leaders learn to innovate</h2> <ul> <p>Teachers and principals in Florida’s Santa Rosa County School District this fall began training to become STEAM leaders by writing jingles about the Wright Brothers.</p> <p>They also learned about the physics and history of flight as they worked in teams to develop products that improved upon Orville and Wilbur’s aeronautical inventions. Then they wrote the jingles for ads they devised to promote their products, says Karen Barber, director o

Injecting the arts into science, math, engineering and technology encourages students to think creatively and critically in traditional STEM subjects that, until the recent and widespread adoption of new standards, didn’t often encourage students to think outside the box.

A student and teacher at Washington’s Highline Public Schools use markers in the PreK Play and Learn program.
Howard County Public Schools in Maryland aims to close racial and economic achievement gaps through a new elementary school model.
Students from Corbin ISD in Kentucky study creatures in the Redhound Summer Enrichment Program.
An instructor at Washington’s Tacoma Public Schools works with students via the Whole Child Initiative.
Comprised of enrichment activities focused on STEM, Suffolk’s LEAP program helps the district keep at-risk students on track during the summer break.
Better preparing students for college and career, Utica’s Center for Science and Industry is equipped with 3D printers, robotics and multimedia technology.
Portola Valley students participate in the district’s Fitness & Wellness for All program. Using technology-based instructional practices, 98 percent of fifth- graders and 100 percent of seventh-graders met capacity goals on California’s fitness tests.

The 35 school systems honored in this round of District Administration’s triannual Districts of Distinction awards program represent creative initiatives from 19 different states that have successfully prevented dropouts, increased college acceptance rates and fostered early language skills for children in poverty.

Evan Long, an NCSS presenter, will speak on the C3 Framework and brain-targeting teaching. One C3 project garnering strong interest is the New York State Toolkit, a free open source K12 social studies curriculum based around the C3 inquiry and on which Long assisted as a graduate student.

Injecting “social responsibility” lessons into social studies classrooms better prepares students to become informed citizens eager to participate in a democracy. Educators will learn about the many ways to reach this goal at this year’s National Council for the Social Studies conference.

Educators have long stressed the importance of showing students how classwork connects to future careers.

And this year, the importance of forging real-world connections is taking center stage at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual CareerTech Vision Conference, taking place in New Orleans from Nov. 19 to 22.

Preparing students for an increasingly global workforce means teaching them not only how to speak a second language, but how to think critically in that language and have a deep understanding of the culture and geography that are embedded in it.

Increases in rigor and depth are a focus of this year’s American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference, which will be held Nov. 20 to 22 in San Diego.

In the Morgan County Charter School System in Georgia, counselors take part in a workshop that involves community partners in business. It teaches counselors how to encourage students to get college and career ready. Above, counselors learn about energy, in part due to a partnership with the local Georgia Power company.

With national attention intensifying on preparing students for college and careers, the nation’s estimated 103,000 school counselors in K12 schools are playing a more critical role in preparing students for life after graduation.

Little Kids Rock, a national organization dedicated to ensuring music ed through modern bands, partners with Nashville Public Schools’ guitar students one day last spring.

Some districts can’t find music teachers while others struggle to buy instruments. Many administrators must cut music classes to prepare students for testing. Still, schools large and small have kept the music playing with innovative grants, online fundraising and by scouring their budgets for any available resources.

Ken Donovan, facilities/security manager at Stonington Public Schools in Connecticut, shows off a school’s lockdown emergency button. When pushed, the button will lock the doors, bar access to other floors, issue an audible warning that an intruder is present and alert to local police cruisers.

School administrators across the country are turning to portable panic buttons, cloud-based crisis management systems and other technology in the search for new ways to keep students and staff safe. The price tag can run from a few thousand dollars to well into six figures, but administrators say the cost is worth it.