Feds: Poverty ‘poses a serious challenge’ to American education

New information from the federal government is the latest to show tremendous gaps in college attainment between socioeconomic and ethnic groups, the Huffington Post reports. A new study from the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department, analyzed gaps in access and persistence across gender and racial lines as mandated by Congress. The report, released Tuesday, shows that postsecondary attendance is lower among youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds as well as those from Black and Hispanic backgrounds compared to Whites and Asians. The study also showed that more females were enrolled in undergraduate or graduate study than males…

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Rhee at GOP convention: Reform will require ‘getting ready for a fight’

Former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee called for classroom teachers unhappy with the system to brace themselves for battle, says the Hechinger Report. She spoke during a panel following the showing of “Won’t Back Down,” a film to be released this fall about a parent and teacher fighting to take over a failing school.

“There is a difference in my mind between teacher union leadership and rank-and-file teachers,” she said, adding that most teachers got into the profession wanting to have a positive impact. Fixing problems, she said, is “going to require teachers steeling themselves up and getting ready for a fight.”

“Won’t Back Down” features Maggie Gyllenhaal as the parent of a dyslexic daughter with a clearly incompetent teacher, and Viola Davis as a teacher who is convinced to try to shake up the system…

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Thousands of Canada teachers protest pay freeze

Canadian teachers on Tuesday protested proposals for a two-year pay freeze and curbs to their collective bargaining rights to help pay down Ontario province’s $14.8 billion budget deficit, the AFP reports. Waving placards that read “Stop bullying me,” an estimated 5,000 teachers gathered outside of the Ontario legislature, accusing Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty of “betraying” them, live television showed. Public broadcaster CBC said the demonstrators were joined by peers from across Canada in a massive show of solidarity, while thousands of students in neighboring Quebec province continued raging against tuition hikes. McGuinty won elections in 2003, 2007 and last October with the support of teachers. But more recently he has said the province cannot afford teacher pay hikes and their banking of unused sick days that would cost the province $473 million…

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How to Save Money and Boost Staff Productivity with Improved Communications

By adopting unified communications, schools can reduce costs, ease network maintenance, and improve the flow of information among staff, students, and parents. Best of all, schools can do this while leveraging their existing assets through a unique “blend and extend” approach that offers a cost-effective path toward the future. Download Whitepaper

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How classroom games can help build reasoning skills

Students can discuss different strategies and probabilities by playing simple games.

While most students enjoy games, even the simplest kind—such as tic tac toe—can help children develop important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and mathematical reasoning, experts say.

During a webinar hosted by edWeb, Sarah DeLeeuw and Patrick Vennebush from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics demonstrated how basic games can help students become more engaged in math lessons.

Many rudimentary games give students a chance to make their own decisions, reflect on those decisions, and talk about strategies with their peers, the panelists said. In addition to promoting communication skills, students can learn from one another and explore different ways to play games.

Tips for teaching with games include:

  • Do not show children how to play at a higher level—let them advance on their own.
  • Encourage them to explore and do their own thinking while playing games.
  • Do not reinforce correct behaviors or try to correct the wrong ones.
  • Play with individual children whenever possible, to help them reflect on their own choices during game play.

Games can help educators adhere to the Standards for Mathematical Practice found in the Common Core State Standards, the panelists said. Those standards are:

  1. Makes sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Games offer an opportunity for teachers and students to develop strategies, and teachers can incorporate the standards of mathematical practice in the natural progress of a game’s strategy.

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Student critically wounded on first day of school, teacher subdues gunman

A 17-year-old student is in critical condition after he was shot on the first day of school today in a Baltimore suburb and a quick thinking teacher subdued the teenage gunman, ABC News reports. The alleged shooter was another student who was 15, Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said. The suspect was arrested, Johnson said. The school, Perry Hall High School, was evacuated. The 15-year-old student, whose name was not released, walked into the school cafeteria at 10:45 a.m. and fired one shot, the chief said. A student described the weapon to ABC News affiliate WMAR as a shotgun. Police haven’t confirmed the type of weapon used. A teacher grabbed the boy with the gun and wrestled him against a wall, holding the gun away from the shooter. A second staffer, a school resource officer, was outside the cafeteria and rushed in to help the teacher subdue the suspect until cops arrived, police said…

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Will.i.am to debut new song on Mars, promote science education

From the files of what will they think of next, singer-songwriter-producer will.i.am will debut his next song on Mars. NASA announced the news itself via press release on Friday, the Huffington Post reports. The song, “Reach for the Stars,” will beam down from the Mars Curiosity rover to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. on Tuesday, where the Black Eyed Peas singer will hold an event to promote science education. According to NASA, “Reach of the Stars” deals with will.i.am’s “passion for science, technology, and space exploration.”

will.i.am’s connection with the Mars Curiosity rover goes back to last year, when the singer teamed with NASA for his i.am.FIRST program. During an appearance on Fox News last August, it was joked that will.i.am would debut one of his songs on Mars to see if any intelligent life exists on the planet…

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Filemaker Pro + Filemaker Go – The ultimate SIS (and much more)?

Why would you possibly develop your own student information system, special education management system, library information system, school financial system, or other data collection and reporting tools? Asks Christopher Dawson for ZDNet. There are so many turnkey solutions on the market, from free and open source to expensive and proprietary, it hardly seems necessary, right? A long, long time ago, I made my living programming Microsoft Access front ends for clinical trial data collection tools. Access was (and still is) quite powerful, but getting it hooked into the web, especially with built-in tools, wasn’t exactly an elegant process. I’ve built more than a few rocking Access applications through the years, but most of that went by the wayside as the world moved away from client-server applications and towards web-based LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL, PHP) solutions to data collection and reporting. So when the folks at Filemaker contacted me and suggested I check out some of the educational applications of the Filemaker ecosystem, I was a bit skeptical…

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