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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Sep. 24 to Oct. 1 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read and create awareness to protect access to books, says Barbara Jones, Director of American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, the group behind Banned Books Week. Local communities across the country celebrate Banned Books Week to emphasize the importance of our First Amendment rights and give kids the opportunity to read barred stories.

Ten years may have passed, but the memory of Sep. 11 remains vivid in the minds of those who lived through it. Although students may have been very young or not yet born, when the World Trade Center was attacked, educators have found ways to memorialize at their schools and in their curriculum. Building fragments, particularly, have made their way around New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. A steel beam from the North Tower was delivered to Barnegat Township (N.J.) School District and will be displayed at the district's high school.

By the fall of 2012, the Next Generation of Science Standards will be available for states to adopt. Part 1 of the process, the Framework for K12 Science Education, was released July 19 by the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Traditionally, states have developed their own individual standards by extracting components from science benchmarks set forth by organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since 2006, Lisa Gatti and her staff at Pal-O-mine have reached out to schools across Long Island, N.Y. to help at-risk students through their Equine Assisted Learning (EA L) program. Gatti, a former teacher for at-risk students and lifelong equestrian, saw early on the benefits of EAL for students who can't succeed in a nontraditional setting. Pal-O-Mine, a nonprofit organization, was originally founded in 1995 and is affiliated with EAGALA, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

In August, as the back-to-school clothing and supplies were hitting the stores, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools launched its own new "product line of services" to its student clientele, including additional magnet schools, a conservatory for the arts, salad bars, and new technology and online digital tools for students. This "ritual of reinvention" is a signature program of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, as he's unveiled similar plans each year since joining the district in fall 2008.

The Deerfield Township School in New Jersey has been working on improving literacy across all grade levels of this PreK-8 school. To encourage curiosity in reading among students, Superintendent Edythe Austermuhl personally mingles with students in their classrooms and libraries to hold informal book talks and find new readings. The school librarians have noted that if they label a book as a "Recommendation by Dr. Austermuhl," the book often has a waiting list.

School lunch programs have been under a fierce attack since the wellness wave hit the nation with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, says Dennis Barrett, director of food services at Los Angeles Unified School District. But according to Barrett, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put stricter guidelines on food, such as reduced sodium and increased portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, over five years ago.

Mobile learning is on the rise, and consequently, so is the need for mobile connectivity. According to a 2010 survey of E-rate consumers, including public schools and libraries, conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 50 percent of respondents said they plan to implement or expand the use of digital textbooks and other wireless devices.

Most educators are at least superficially familiar with the term "Response-to-Intervention," or "RTI." Since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), which prohibits states from requiring school districts to use IQ-achievement discrepancy criteria in the identification of students with specific learning disabilities and encourages the use of Response-to-Intervention, a scientific, research-based approach (Mandlawitz, 2007), "doing RTI" has become a veritable catchphrase in schools and classrooms throughout the country.

In a major address on educational policy last March, President Barack Obama underscored his priorities for the pending reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. "We will end what has become a race to the bottom in our schools, and instead spur a race to the top by encouraging better standards and assessments," he promised. "This is an area where we're being outpaced by other nations. They are preparing their students not only for high school or college, but for a career. We are not."

"Yeah, but I don't have enough time."

"Yeah, but I can't do that and cover my content."

"Yeah, but what if it doesn't work?"

"Yeah, but that's not how it was when I went to school."

What do you hear when people say, "Yeah, but?" Resistance? If you listen differently, you can hear opportunity.

Almost all of the 15 percent of Florida’s public school students identified as having learning disabilities are not exempt from the state’s push for rigor. Up until now, these students were eligible for classes using standard curriculum “with modifications,” which, according to the Florida Department of Education, were adapted to individual learning disabled students, and were usually less complex than general education courses.

When it comes to competing for jobs or gaining admittance to colleges, students can boost their chances of success by earning technical certifications.

When Deborah Jewell-Sherman began to lead the Richmond (Va.) Public Schools in 2002, she faced a board of education that had voted 5-3 to hire her. And with that, the board stipulated that she increase the number of accredited schools from 10 to 20 within a year. If she couldn't, her contract would be terminated.

garden

What was once 28,000 square feet of paved schoolyard asphalt is now a full-fledged garden complete with walkways, a storage shed and an iron fence. The 500 preK-5 students at Brooklyn, N.Y.'s P.S. 216 elementary school are the first students in the city to experience an Edible Schoolyard program.

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