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Sep 2007

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Cover Story


DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHED THE FIRST-EVER X-FACTOR Student Achievement Awards last spring, with the exclusive sponsorship of AutoSkill International Inc., a company that creates intervention software solutions to help close the proficiency gap in K12 schools.

Like the business world, schools such as Red Clay (Del.) School District count on e-mail to communicate. "It's instantaneous. It's the best way to go," says Judith Conway, instructional technology coach in the district.

Although many first- and second-year teachers will put on a brave face for their colleagues and administrators, a glimpse of professional woes can be found by browsing beginning teachers' online message boards.


This fall, the 45,000 students in the Seattle Public School system will be encouraged to create and publish pictures, videos and other work to their personal Web pages, where they'll even be able to create communities of "friends" online.


Dr. Beverly L. Hall's goal when she became the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools in 1999 was to transform the struggling K12 school system into one of the nation's leading urban districts. Hall targeted the youngest students first, implementing a standards-based curriculum at the elementary school level. In 2003, 75 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded the state standard for reading, and 67 percent met or exceeded the state standard for math, up from 47 percent and 43 percent respectively in 2000.

Today's youth often search for videos based on their interests on Web sites such as YouTube. They communicate with friends through instant and text messaging. Such technology has changed how young people learn, according to Martin McGuire, the Chicago Public School District's digital media systems team lead.

Asking questions is one of the most commonly used instructional strategies in K12 classrooms. Researchers have identified effective questioning as a tool for building students' basic and higher-level skills. Here is what is known and what's new about using questions.

In summarizing research on effective schooling, researcher Kathleen Cotton (1999) identified several ways teachers can ask questions to promote learning:

1. Use questions to engage students and monitor their understanding.

2. Structure questions to focus students' attention on key ideas.


Reaping the Benefits of "Intelligent Classrooms"

In June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the cases Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education that race may not be used as a criterion for desegregating schools. Experts fear that the decisions will make long-established busing programs, magnet schools, charter schools and other initiatives aimed at increasing student diversity and educational opportunity unconstitutional.