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Articles: Teaching & Learning

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.

Some 93 percent of teachers believe that technology has a positive effect on student engagement.

Decades into the computer revolution, many teachers still lack the training needed to use technology effectively in the classroom, according to a new survey. It’s a major problem as schools are investing more in devices and blended learning to improve student achievement, experts say.

Students at Central Union Elementary School District, located on a military base in Lemoore, Calif., are using 21st-century technology in an unexpected place: gym class. Last fall, the district was awarded a three-year Department of Defense Education Activity grant for more than $680,000 to improve physical education and enhance parent, family and community engagement at two schools located on Naval Air Station Lemoore in California’s Central Valley.

Gifted students in the Navigator Program at Minnetonka Public Schools take fast-paced courses with gifted-certified teachers.

The number of full-time academic programs for gifted students has grown substantially in Minnesota over the past 10 years—a rare case amid a lack of federal funding and recent cuts to similar programs nationwide.

Author Rick Stiggins believes that classroom assessment is more effective than standardized tests in providing the student growth data.

Defensible Teacher Evaluation: Student Growth Through Classroom Assessment

Corwin

Author Rick Stiggins believes that classroom assessment is more effective than standardized tests in providing the student growth data needed to evaluate teachers. This book shows district leaders how to create an assessment program that evaluates teachers fairly and will help schools improve.

Each afternoon between social studies and math, Marilynn Szarka’s third-grade students start to get droopy. Szarka instructs everyone to stand up and spread out while she dims the lights, closes the door and flips on the interactive whiteboard that will take them on an aerobic adventure.

At Sells Middle School in the Dublin City School District in Ohio, school administrators are using the Complete Student Safety and Behavior System technical tool to track student tardiness and how it might relate to school fights.

It was a lunch hour more than 10 years ago when Terri Lozier, now a principal in another district just outside Chicago, was sucked into the violence of a school fight. Then a teacher, she was supervising the cafeteria when one girl tried to strangle another.

An AT&T employee volunteer, above left, helps a student in the Boys & Girls Clubs navigate a creative obstacle course to help motivate youth to be ready for successful transition into the upcoming school year.

Some of the world’s most powerful companies are increasing their influence in K12 education by funding programs that blend workforce development with public service. Corporate initiatives range from retail giant Target’s $1 billion plan to fund literacy programs to IBM’s high school STEM programs that aim to prepare the workers the company needs to fill its ranks.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn in New York City play a game called Galactic Mappers in class.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn, a New York City public school, recently got a two-week break from regular class work to build a giant Rube Goldberg machine. The project, for example, required students to use physics and geometry skills to build a complex scheme of pulleys and tubes to accomplish the simple act of popping a balloon.

As part of Activity Works programs, above, students in the “Food on the Farm” episode demonstrate how to be popping popcorn kernels for 10 minutes.

Keep activities short so teachers can easily incorporate them into busy school days. “Once teachers experience the rewards from just a few minutes of activity, they realize it’s worth it,” says Marilynn Szarka of Loesche Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Give students the reins. “Younger kids like to be led by older students. Let students choose music and activities. Let them take ownership,” says Jesus Mejia of Creating Opportunity for Physical Activity in California. “Increasing options to be engaged increases motivation to participate.”

Ken Royal is a former teacher and DA editor. He blogs at connectlearningtoday.com.

If you’re an educator, at any level or grade, sitting back and expecting education change to happen, without you getting involved, you need to stand up now. If you think that you can’t do something, or start change, you’re mistaken.

A carnival with a twist is coming to the West coast this spring. Instead of eating cotton candy and riding Ferris wheels, students will navigate a laser maze and measure their strength in volts—all while learning engineering skills.

The STEAM Carnival was created by Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based engineering and entertainment company that creates high-tech games for clients like Intel and the arcade restaurant Dave & Buster’s.

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.

Philadelphia Public Schools special education teacher Michelle McKeone developed Autism Expressed in 2011, and now uses the platform to teach digital media skills to her high school students.

A first-of-its-kind online learning platform is bringing critical digital and life skills to Philadelphia students with autism and developmental disorders.

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

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