Five education trends for the new school year

education-trendsTrends in education are always appearing, such as iPads and online testing (and remember virtual reality classrooms?), but with recent developments in national standards and a new federal emphasis on equity, the 2013-14 school year will have a set of trends all its own.

From issues surrounding Common Core State Standards implementation to the number of tools available to create customized, affordable ebooks, educators and administrators this year will certainly have their hands full with adapting to these national education trends.

What trends have you noticed for the new school year? How is your school or district adapting to some of the five trends listed below? Leave your insights in the comment section below—we’d love to hear from you!…Read More

What we know about schools — but choose to ignore

Here’s an important piece on school reform by P.L. Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina, the Washington Post reports. He edited the 2013 book “Becoming and Being a Teacher,” and wrote the 2012 book, “Ignoring Poverty in the U.S.: The Corporate Takeover of Public Education.” This was published on his blog, the becoming radical…

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Tucson-area districts increasingly move to convert schools to charters

Arizona has seen an unprecedented surge in school districts wanting to convert some of their schools to charters, raising concerns over whether districts are unfairly using the law just to generate more money, the Arizona Daily Star reports. Charter school officials wonder if district-run charters can provide the same type of education as their schools, which usually offer specialized curricula and school choice tailored to parents and students. By the end of last month, districts throughout the state had submitted 60 applications to convert traditional schools or build new charters, including five in the Tucson area, according to the Arizona Department of Education. That’s a drastic increase from 2012-13, when only four schools, all in the Cave Creek Unified School District, were converted to charters. The year before, only two schools in the Vail School District were converted…

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Why schools aren’t businesses: The blueberry story

Larry Cuban’s 2004 book “The Blackboard and the Bottom Line: Why Schools Can’t be Businesses,” is nearly a decade old but still highly relevant to the education reform debate. In the introduction, Cuban introduces readers to Jamie Vollmer, a former ice cream company executive who became an education advocate and author of the book ” Schools Cannot Do It Alone.” He quotes Vollmer about “an epiphany” he had in the 1980s…

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Another challenge for the competency-based classroom: Explaining it

School may be out for the kiddos, but Iowa educators were studying hard this past week, The Gazette reports. The lesson? Competency-based education. The idea is simple: Unchain learning from instruction time, placing students by proficiency, not age; allowing them to advance when they master their coursework, not according to calendar year.  Competency-based education should make intuitive sense to any parent who has watched his or her child struggle to keep up with lessons, or listened to them complain about how bored they are, waiting for other kids to get up to speed. Competency-based education puts the focus on learning, not just showing up. It removes much of what disengaged students, rightly, see as arbitrary and unfair…

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Arne Duncan urged to intervene in Philadelphia school funding crisis

The Philadelphia public school funding crisis is real, reports The Washington Post. Thousands of people are being laid off, counselors, nurses, teachers, assistant principals, sports programs, arts classes and much more are being decimated. Here is a letter that American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and historian/education activist Diane Ravitch just sent to Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking him to intervene in the crisis. I’ve written about it here and here, and the letter spells out the problem in detail. (Weingarten was in Philadelphia earlier this year protesting mass school closings and was arrested with other protesters.)

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Today’s schools lack creative teaching and learning, study says

Lack of creativity in schools puts students at a disadvantage, a report says.

A new survey reveals that creative teaching and innovative learning are stifled by an over-reliance on testing and assessment, forcing teachers to stay inside a restrictive curriculum that will limit students’ ability to excel in the future workforce.

The study, sponsored by Adobe, states that “transformative change” is needed to inject a creative boost into the current education system, and that despite a worldwide demand for creativity and creative thinking, today’s students are not prepared to enter a workplace that requires inventive thinking.

“Currently, as students move from K-5 to grades 6-12 and on to higher education, creativity is increasingly treated as a specialized skill,” said Tacy Trowbridge, worldwide manager of education programs at Adobe. ”Educators and parents see that the demand for creativity and creative thinking is growing – to solve complex problems and to drive future economies – yet students are less prepared to lead the innovation of tomorrow.”…Read More

Left-brain schools in a right-brain world

When we were in elementary school, my sisters and I used to play “school,” says Tim Elmore for the Huffington Post. We’d get the chalkboard, the chairs and a map out — and one of us would be the teacher. Sometimes, we’d get the G.I. Joe’s or stuffed animals involved, to enlarge the class size a bit. When we didn’t know what we were doing, we never lost our passion. We just got creative and made something up. It was a blast. I noticed over time, my whole perspective changed. School became somewhat of a drudgery. I stopped “playing” school. More than that, however, I stopped looking forward to it and began looking for ways to get out of it. Sadly, I was like most kids. School and learning were fun when we were young, but eventually they came to mean toil and boredom. For many, school is even repulsive…

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Who’s minding the schools?

In April, some 1.2 million New York students took their first Common Core State Standards tests, which are supposed to assess their knowledge and thinking on topics such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and a single matrix equation in a vector variable, The New York Times reports. Students were charged with analyzing both fiction and nonfiction, not only through multiple-choice answers but also short essays. The mathematics portion of the test included complex equations and word problems not always included in students’ classroom curriculums. Indeed, the first wave of exams was so overwhelming for these young New Yorkers that some parents refused to let their children take the test…

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Famous rapper and British chef create “Dream School”

The Sundance Channel announced recently the greenlight of a new non-fiction television series, produced by rapper 50 Cent, called “Dream School,” which centers around troubled teens who are paired up with mentors from various professions including musicians, politicians, and more.

The premise of the show is something like this: What would happen if the kids who were the hardest to reach in conventional school, instead attended a place of learning where the educators were achievers and leaders–many of whom have become household names? In “Dream School,” classes are taught by professionals from the top of their fields-and the faculty includes professional musicians, politicians, filmmakers, scientists, actors and artists.

(Next page: Video trailer and Jamie Oliver)…Read More