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Articles: Teaching & Learning

COMPASSION IN ACTION—At Johnston Elementary School in Buncombe County Schools, police officers spent time with students last summer after three shootings in the community. The school uses “compassionate response,” which in part means giving students specific duties to feel proud of themselves and valued by staff.

Educators across the country have boosted student performance by weaving social-emotional lessons—such as regulating emotion, accepting mistakes and coping with stress—into everyday instruction.

DA’s Districts of Distinction program, which honors innovative projects in America’s public school districts, will be showcased in a special annual edition of the magazine each July, starting in 2017.

Pamela Davis Smith is the principal of Highland View Elementary, a Title I school in Bristol, Virginia.

In a perfect world, every child would have access to food, shelter and clothing. They would have loving, attentive parents. They would arrive at school eager, focused and ready to learn. Unfortunately, our pre-K through 5 school, like a growing number of U.S. public schools, does not reside in that world.

While developing reading skills as early as possible is vitally important because of its strong correlation to overall academic achievement, engaging elementary students with reading both in school and at home can be a challenge. At the Oak Grove Elementary School—part of the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida—administrators took an innovative approach to address the reality that just 17 percent of their preK-3 students were reading at grade level.

Superintendent Michael Kuzniewski has increased graduation, testing and proficiency rates.

For decades, the J. Sterling Morton High School District in the Chicago suburbs was in bad shape. In 2008, when Michael Kuzniewski became superintendent, he vowed to change all that, with help from a new school board.

Model students: Students at Cupertino High School in California learn the basics of math modeling during an AoCMM workshop.

High school math classes focus traditionally on solving equations. The world of mathematical modeling emphasizes creating equations.

The nonprofit Association of Computational and Mathematical Modeling is developing a free mathematical modeling curriculum that it plans to share with teachers by early 2017. It will show students how to construct equations that solve complex real-world engineering, science and computing problems.

 Students in Howard County’s health and engineering academies recreated motorized miniature cars, available on the market, to help preschool students with physical challenges have some fun.

A project for young children with physical challenges enabled a group of high school students in Howard County Public Schools’ allied health and engineering academies to tailor motorized miniature cars to improve accessibility for some of the district’s preschool students.

myON helps Tennessee district measure  reading by reading, leading to measured growth

When Christopher Marczak joined Maury County Public Schools in Tennessee as superintendent in fall 2015, he quickly realized that while every school in his district of 12,000 students was doing the best job possible, each had a vastly different approach to teaching literacy.

Michigan has transformed its arts assessment model by introducing a website where teachers can share assignments and grade them using a common rubric. Many sample projects, above and right, were uploaded to the site during field testing.

Four years of development in Michigan has produced an arts platform where educators can share a curriculum and better methods for assessing student work. The instructional materials align with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which emphasizes the arts as part of a “well-rounded education.”

Julie Lindsay's new book offers educators guidance on creating global learning environments.

Julie Lindsay believes that, in today’s increasingly turbulent societies, it is vital that children experience other cultures and develop the skills that will help them in a connected world. Empowering educators with the tools to foster this environment in the classroom is a critical part of the process.

Using tablets, apps and YouTube videos, students at a Minnesota elementary school have added new virtual elements to paintings and other artwork, so their masterpieces include videos that not only get them engaged, but also help them better understand ideas behind the art itself.

Terry Schmitz,  Founder,  The Conover Company

Most SEL programs today rely on surveying students. But surveys are self-reflective, so they tend not to be accurate. If you ask students if they have issues with time management, they might say no, even if they do.

Educators in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas find success using Everyday Mathematics every day

When the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, wants to turn around elementary schools, it looks to Principal John Haynal. He’s already improved outcomes at two elementary schools in this, the country’s fifth largest school district. In Clark County’s Franchise School program, principals who have demonstrated academic growth supervise an additional school using the same or similar practices that have led to success while continuing to supervise their original or “flagship” school.

Collaborative work: Grandview Elementary School teachers sit in on a professional development workshop on fluency. The Washington district’s homegrown curriculum is created by district coaches and consultants, along with teacher input.

When only 13 percent of sophomores at the Grandview School District in Washington passed the state math exams six years ago, administrators decided to develop their own curriculum.

Paul S. Haughey is principal of Millville Elementary School in the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District in Massachusetts.

Elementary schools differ in many ways—even within the same district—but new principals can follow leadership practices in keeping the focus on teaching and learning every school day.

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