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Articles: Teaching & Learning

When Teasley Middle School in Cherokee County, Georgia, opened for the 2013-14 school year, teachers and administrators were looking for an opportunity to help students in grades 6 through 8 better understand STEM learning content. 

Teasley is a Title I school with more than half of its students receiving free or reduced lunch. It also has the highest percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities among middle schools in Cherokee County School District, which has 41,800 students and is 40 minutes north of Atlanta.

Richard Culatta, a longtime ISTE member and past recipient of the ISTE “Making IT Happen” award, is the new CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.

Richard Culatta is the new CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.

Chris Wolk is the principal at Avon Center School in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. He is a regional director for the Illinois Principal Association and a certified principal mentor with the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Principal preparation programs continue to place more demands on candidates, in some cases requiring a yearlong internship. 

Paul Tough offers practical steps that adults can take to improve students’ chances for a positive future in his book Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

In his previous book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, journalist Paul Tough looked at how non-cognitive personal qualities like perseverance, self-control and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.

The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), which helps schools find resources to teach the subject, is among several organizations campaigning for state bills that would mandate media literacy instruction in public schools. 

“The goal is not to create cynical people who don’t trust anything—it’s about creating informed skeptics,” says Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, NAMLE’s executive director. “The core is prompting learners of all ages to think critically and immediately ask, ‘Oh, how do you know that’s true?'”

Allowing students to explore news articles that spark their curiosity can provide a bigger literacy boost than having them read nonfiction texts about random topics far removed from a youngster’s interests. 

Todd Brekhus, President, myON​

What was the reasoning behind wanting to link current events to reading literacy for K8 students?

The forensic biotechnology pathway at James C. Enochs High School in Modesto City Schools, California, incorporates the science behind the popular CSI TV show to excite students about a career in the science behind criminal investigations. 

North Hills School District in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, wanted to better engage students in grades 6-12 across its English Language Arts curriculum through a commitment to education technology. 

With the move toward more rigorous digital learning, North Hills piloted StudySync, McGraw-Hill Education’s digital English Language Arts curriculum for grades 6-12, during the 2015-16 school year in two sixth-grade classrooms.

Literacy is essential for success in school, but when students at the middle and high school levels continue to struggle with reading, the consequences can be lifelong. Struggling adolescent readers are more likely to have discipline or behavioral issues, to have lower academic achievement overall and to drop out of school.

Best practices in reading instruction are always evolving, as researchers are constantly learning how to better support early literacy, particularly for young readers and struggling readers. Recent years have brought more changes to how phonics instruction is emphasized in reading curriculum. Many educators who taught during the Reading First era and later within the Common Core are uncertain about how to best support strong phonics instruction, and thus how to lay the foundation for reading success in their districts.

WELCOME RESPITE—Wellness centers at Gunn High School, left, and Palo Alto High School, right, are designed to stem the number of teenage suicides in the U.S. The centers work to teach students certain skills to help cope with stress and personal problems.

There’s a new tool in the battle against student depression, anxiety and suicide—the in-school wellness center.

Look for role models. Districts should find preschools that are already teaching STEM, consider what elements make it a strong program, and think about ways they could modify instruction for their own classrooms, says Phil Hampton, network director of VC STEM, an alliance of organizations working to enhance STEM instruction for students of all ages.

PRESCHOOL AND PINE CONES—A preschool student at Hopkins Public Schools, above, is already learning how to inspect a pine cone with a magnifying glass as part of a lesson in STEM subjects.

Preschool math performance predicts future academic achievement more consistently than reading or attention skills, according to new research from New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Alex Fertig is a psychologist for the Parsippany Troy Hills School District in New Jersey. He can be reached at afertig@pthsd.net. Ray W. Christner is a psychologist with Cognitive Health Solutions.

Our goal with this column is not to imply that school administrators should take on the role of mental health professionals, but instead it is to impart information on strategies, based on the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT. 

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