Getting students to engage — not just comply

I have students in my mainstream ninth-grade English and in my English as a Second Language (ESL) classes complete a simple “Reading Log” every Friday, the Washington Post reports. It has five columns — ones for the day, title of the book, the number of minutes read, space for a student signature and one for a parent signature. Though I leave it on for a reason, the “parent signature” box has remained blank for years. I tell students at the beginning of the year that I expect that they will read a book of their choice at least two hours each week, and that if they promise to me that they will tell the truth on the log — even if they read less some weeks — that I will eliminate the requirement of a parent signature…

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D.C. charter schools to give standardized tests to young children

The use of standardized tests to measure very young students  keeps expanding, The Washington Post reports. Now public charter schools in Washington D.C. will soon be giving new standardized tests to very young children — aged 3, 4 and 5 — for the purposes of assessing their academic progress and ranking schools according to the results. What will be optional for each school is whether to evaluate students in social-emotional learning, which early childhood experts say should be at the center of education for the youngest students.This move in D.C. charters is part of a disturbing shift in early childhood classrooms around the country, as they increasingly mimic what older students do academically…

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The disturbing shift underway in early childhood classrooms

A disturbing shift is underway in early childhood classrooms around the country, The Washington Post reports.  Many classrooms, especially those that depend on public funds, look more and more like classrooms for older children where standards, testing, and accountability rule.  Federal and state mandates are pushing academic skills and testing down to younger children, even preschoolers.  These days, there is less and less emphasis on promoting child development, active, play-based learning, and hands-on exploration for our nation’s youngest learners…

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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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Facebook: Contact information for 6 million users may have been exposed through bug

The Washington Post reports that Facebook said contact information for as many as 6 million of its users may have been exposed through a bug recently reported to the company’s security team. In a company blog post written by Facebook’s security team, the social network said that the flaw allowed some people to see users’ e-mail addresses or phone numbers without permission.  “When people upload their contact lists or address books to Facebook, we try to match that data with the contact information of other people on Facebook in order to generate friend recommendations,” the company said in the post. “Because of the bug, some of the information used to make friend recommendations and reduce the number of invitations we send was inadvertently stored in association with people’s contact information as part of their account on Facebook.”

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Scientists create high-resolution 3-D atlas of human brain

The Washington Post reports that a 65-year-old woman’s brain was cut into 7,400 slices to create the most detailed three-dimensional atlas of the human brain ever made, bringing researchers one step closer to reverse-engineering the brain’s convoluted circuitry. Brain atlases are essential reference tools for researchers and physicians, to determine which areas are “lighting up” during a task or thought process, or during image-guided surgery. The better the atlas resolution, the better doctors can target ever-smaller parts of the brain and their individual function…

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Apple trial defense: A guilty verdict would send chills across internet industry

Apple lawyers on Thursday closed their arguments in a federal antitrust trial with fierce warnings that a guilty verdict would sends chills across the internet industry, The Washington Post reports. After three weeks defending Apple against Justice Department charges that it led an e-books price-fixing conspiracy, the company’s attorney said Apple acted legally when it aggressively pursued business deals with publishers. “The government is taking perfectly sensible business agreements to infer sinister conduct,” Apple attorney Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn said in his closing remarks at U.S. District Court in Manhattan…

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A majority of all American adults own a smart phone, poll says

The Washington Post reports that for the first time, a majority of American adults are now smartphone owners, according to a study released Wednesday. The Pew Center for Internet and American Life found that 56 percent of all American adults now use mobile phones that run an operating system such as Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone. That’s up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011…

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Why K-12 online learning isn’t really revolutionizing teaching

For those familiar with past efforts to install new technologies in schools, the many claims for online instruction transforming traditional teaching and learning in K-12 public schools either cause snickers for their hyperbole or strike a flat note in their credibility, Larry Cuban reports for The Washington Post. Consider the following answer that Clayton Christensen, author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Transform the Way the World Learns,” gave to this question posed to him by an interviewer: “Do you think that education is finally ready for the internet?”

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Principal: Why our new educator evaluation system is unethical

A few years ago, a student at my high school was having a terrible time passing one of the exams needed to earn a Regents Diploma, The Washington Post reports.  She took the test several times, but despite her very best efforts and the best efforts of her teachers, her score barely budged. Mary has a learning disability that truly impacts her retention and analytical thinking.  Because she was a special education student, at the time there was an easier exam available, the RCT, which she could take and then use to earn a local high school diploma instead of the Regents Diploma…

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