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For years, fifth-graders in the Romulus (Mich.) Community School District scored below state averages on the Michigan Educational Assessment standardized tests in science. Only 31 percent of fifth graders were proficient in science while the statewide average for proficiency was more than 40 percent.
Imagine walking into a classroom and seeing a three-year-old wearing safety goggles and sawing wood or smashing tiles with a sledgehammer. Once you get over the surprise and realize that this isn't a mistake, you might start to see the benefits of such an experiment. Welcome to the world of Reggio Emilia.
For a new teacher, starting a school year is a strange mix of excitement, anticipation, and-to be perfectly honest-even panic and terror. In my first year, I was told I would be given some of the most difficult students in the school to "try a fresh approach where other teachers had failed." I spent the weekend wondering if I could really fulfill those expectations. How well I remember the anxiety of the days before meeting my first classes, when I imagined the worst and believed that accepting that job might have been a dreadful mistake.
FULFILLING HER MOTHER'S DREAM
The progress in this Hamilton City, Ohio, district led to kudos from President Bush
When Janet Baker was growing up in Hamilton, Ohio, her mother told her the president had sent her a letter stating he wanted little Janet to work hard and do her homework because he might need her help in Washington, D.C., someday. Well, it took about 45 years, but her mother's white lie has come true.
In a technology-equipped, Internet-connected science lab at Elk Grove High School in Illinois, the amoeba squirming beneath the lens of a student microscope is projected onto a screen for the entire class to observe.
Meanwhile, in the distance learning room, a human physiology class teleconferences with a heart surgeon from an area hospital, while other students chat with peers from far-away places like Australia, Japan and Bulgaria.
The Push for Same-Sex Schooling
Would boys focus more on schoolwork without the distraction of girls in their class? Would girls be more assertive in school without worrying about competing with boys? The U.S. Department of Education is willing to give the idea a try.
We ran a dramatic cover in June with the words "We're Broke" over the captions of three school district administrators and the amount of shortfalls from their upcoming budgets.