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Curriculum Update

Students from a pilot school, Cowan Fundamental Elementary in Sacramento, California, examine hungry pests. (Photo: Amy Karle)

A new curriculum released by the USDA teaches middle school students about the most dangerous invasive species threatening the nation’s trees, plants and crops.

Available this fall, “Hungry Pests Invade Middle School” is the first curriculum created by the USDA that focuses on all 18 species, including the khapra beetle, the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Asian longhorned beetle.

A physical education program that brings commercial-grade fitness equipment to under-resourced schools—along with a curriculum based on boosting confidence and fun—dramatically increases students’ performance on California’s standardized physical fitness test, according to a UCLA study titled “Targeting the Body and the Mind: Evaluation of a P.E. Curriculum Intervention for Adolescents.”

ool credits the Cyber Civics curriculum with raising test scores and eliminating poor digital student behavior.

Test scores have improved and online bullying incidents have been virtually eliminated at a California school that added weekly digital literacy instruction to its curriculum five years ago.

In response to an online bullying incident in 2010, parent Diana Garber and Journey School, a public K8 charter with 400 students in California’s Capistrano USD, created the Cyber Civics curriculum for the middle school grades.

Following market trends, print curriculum products are down 8 percent, according to a new report. The most frequently cited medium for delivering curriculum products was online/digital delivery with 83 percent, followed by print at 65 percent.

In terms of sales of digital resources, if all of the digital product applications are grouped together, this segment was up 43 percent for all of 2013.

The 2014 annual survey of the American Psychological Association found that teens reported stress greater than did any other age group.

With that in mind, a new pilot study, published in the spring issue of the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, describes how a stress-reduction/resiliency-building curriculum developed by the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital helped a group of Boston-area high school students significantly reduce anxiety.

In the middle school STEM lab at New Canaan Public Schools in Connecticut, students frequently choose to learn with flight simulators rather than 3D printers, video games and other technological options.

“It’s definitely our most popular tool,” says Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan’s middle school STEM teacher. “Not only do the flight simulations expose our students to aviation, they’re so exciting and fun that our students often don’t realize how much they’re learning from them.”

This required curriculum for kindergarten through grade 10 at Chicago Public Schools celebrates the growing diversity in the district.

Responding to the growing diversity of its students, Chicago Public Schools has launched a new curriculum focused on the cultures of Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Nine out of 10 students recognize the importance of developing technology skills early to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce, according to new research published by CompTIA, an information technology industry association.

The September 2014 survey of 1,000 middle school students further found that most rate their tech skills as average or above. In the study—“The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology”—students also said they wanted more instruction in the following:

New York City students may soon learn formal lessons on climate change as a proposed curriculum continues to win endorsements from leading environmental groups.

Two groups, the Alliance for Climate Education and Global Kids, have been encouraging the New York State Department of Education to add climate change to the city’s K12 curriculum.

The effort, centered on Resolution 0375-2014 now before the New York City Council, was endorsed in February by The Natural Resources Defense Council.

Featured in Boston’s new history curriculum, this donated photo from Discovery Roxbury shows an integrated classroom at the city’s David A. Ellis School in the 1930s.

Though known as a cradle of American history in colonial times, Boston was also a hotbed of desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Boston Public Schools has mandated a new curriculum to teach students about the civil rights movement in the city. The History of Boston Busing and Desegregation curriculum marks the 40th anniversary of the decision—which was controversial in 1974—to desegregate city schools and allow children to be bussed outside of their neighborhoods.

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