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From DA

Although some forward-looking school districts are using the Internet extensively in school-based lessons and allowing students to roam online with some restrictions, experts still worry that fear of predators is gripping parents and administrators.

A variety of organizations provide resources online intended to both educate students about using the Internet safely, and offer professional development tools for K12 educators that help with relevant instruction, leading class discussions and integrating the topic into their existing curriculum. Here are just a few examples.

CyberSmart!

CyberSmart! Education Company

Curriculum is free; workshop fees vary

With a national teacher shortage projected to start peaking this year as baby boomers retire and budget shortfalls restrict state and local funding for teachers, rural school districts are working to keep the teachers they have while seeking new ones at little if any additional cost.

As I've edited this publication over the last several years, the line between what is deemed the responsibility of parents to teach their children, and what educators are expected to teach students in nontraditional areas of learning seems to be getting fuzzier all the time. With each issue, I waver on this parent-educator conundrum. In DA's September 2008 issue, we ran "Districts Weigh Obesity Screening"—a feature article about the trend toward mandating the measuring of students' body mass index, with parental notification. These initiatives seem intrusive and make me feel uneasy.

Q: Your role as national PTA president is slightly different from previous presidents.

Since 1999, Scott County Schools in Kentucky has been a leader in digital storytelling thanks to its director of technology, Jeanne Biddle, who with the district's previous tech coordinator, Leslie Flanders, launched a tool to help teachers improve the writing skills of their students in preparation for state assessments.

I retired in June 2010. I thought it would be an easy decision. It was not. It was difficult because I was leaving behind what had defined my professional life for nearly three decades. My journey as a student began in a oneroom schoolhouse in the poorest county in Maine. My journey as a superintendent began in Wiscasset, a small town on the mid-coast of Maine, wound briefly through Easthampton, Mass., and culminated in a 19-year tenure at Waterford (Conn.) Public Schools.

When rural district administrators need to hire teachers, they have to sell their districts. Here is what just two midwestern districts are doing to do that.

When the Plymouth (Ind.) School Corporation, a district of 3,500 students, brings teacher candidates back for final interviews, administrators show them the school, even the room, where they would teach and the technology and other resources they would have available.

Graduation rates of rural districts range from a low of 52 percent in South Carolina to 100 percent in Nevada, according to the report “Why Rural Matters,” which the Rural School and Community Trust released in November 2009.

06/2010

DA's New Curriculum Newsletter Draws Praise

Congratulations on the March 3 issue of Curriculum Leader! This is an excellent example of the type of materials I like to present to administration and faculty. Your compilation of topical subject matter is timely and relevant to the needs of curriculum directors.

Laura Beltchenko, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Wauconda (Ill.) CUSD #118

As the nation prepares for common core standards in math and English language arts, a framework to guide new science standards in elementary and secondary education—where students are showing only mediocre achievement compared to other nations—is getting closer.

 

Under Fire

Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, is being sued by the DPS school board for interfering with academic decisions. Bobb has filed an appeal against an injunction banning him from these actions.

With budgets cut to the bone, music education programs in many districts have been trimmed and even eliminated. Student interest in them, however, has never been higher. A new study released by the National String Project Consortium (NSPC) indicates that, just prior to the economic meltdown, the number of students playing string instruments had increased from 18 percent in 1997 to 29 percent in 2009. While the study confirms promising news for interest in music education, it also predicts a national shortage of string teachers for 2010 through 2013—a loss of 1,000 teachers each year.

Education reformer and writer Whitney Tilson, who helped launch Teach for America in 1989, has a dream: that little boys and little girls of all economic backgrounds in the United States have the same education.

He put his dream into a documentary film, A Right Denied: The Critical Need for Genuine School Reform, which was released in April 2010 and produced by documentary filmmaker Bob Compton.

An experimental initiative that tests the potential of augmented reality for K12 education began in San Diego in April, that equips fourth-graders from city schools on field trips to the San Diego Museum of Art with specially developed smartphones.

The emerging field of augmented reality is in its infancy. In the most general sense, the term "augmented reality" refers to mobile technology that enhances, or augments, the physical environment around the user with digital information.

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