Opinion: Summer camp more beneficial than studying abroad, internships

When I was younger, I dreamt of spending my collegiate summer vacations abroad. I wanted to visit places like Spain, France and Italy (think Hilary Duff in The Lizzie McGuire Movie), USA Today reports. As I got older, I still held on to the study abroad dreams, but decided I wanted to work, too. I wanted experience. I wanted to be the coffee-grabbing, copy-making intern. Now, right in the middle of another summer vacation after four years in college, I’ve neither studied abroad nor interned somewhere. Instead, I spent my collegiate summer vacations doing something that has prepared me more for the “real world” than any study abroad trip or internship could have: I worked at summer camps…

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Watch: Fed up with lunch blogger who exposed bad school lunches revealed

It all started one day at the beginning of last year when she forgot to pack her lunch. Mrs. Q–a pseudonym that this elementary school teacher used for a year online–had to, for the first time, eat a meal from the school cafeteria with her students, reports the Huffington Post. She wasn’t happy with what she was presented with: a hot dog in soggy dough, six tater tots, a Jell-O cup and chocolate milk, USA Today reports.

“That particular meal seemed barely recognizable as food,” she told Good Morning America Wednesday. “I was struck by the fact that the students I’m working with really rely on the school for so much, including potentially their best meal of the day.”

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They dropped out of Princeton-for education reform

For the past three years, Princeton University has been home to Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin, and their non-profit organization Students for Education Reform, USA Today reports. Rather than returning for their senior year, Bellinger and Morin decided to take on running SFER full-time. The pair formed Students for Education Reform during their sophomore year…

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Court backs W.Va. school in online bullying case

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the suspension of a West Virginia student who created a web page suggesting another student had a sexually transmitted disease and invited classmates to comment, USA Today reports. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to reinstate Kara Kowalski’s lawsuit against school officials in Berkeley County. She claimed her five-day suspension from Musselman High School in 2005 violated her free speech and due process rights, and that school officials lacked authority to punish her because she created the web page at home…

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Web restrictions draw ire of some educators

Book banning has long been a controversial issue in the nation’s schools, reports USA Today.  Now some educators say banned websites pose as great a threat to kids’ education and intellectual freedom. Filtering software and school rules designed to keep out violence and pornography are also blocking key educational and otherwise useful sites, teachers say, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube –not to mention Google and National Geographic…

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Social media finds place in classroom

Among educators, Eric Sheninger is something of a social networking hero, reports USA Today. The principal of New Milford (N.J.) High School has nearly 12,300 Twitter followers (his handle: @NMHS_Principal). He and his teachers use Facebook to communicate with students and parents, and students use it to plan events. In class, teachers routinely ask kids to power up their cellphones to respond to classroom polls and quizzes. Rather than ban cellphones, Sheninger calls them “mobile learning devices.”

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College entrance exam ACT’s validity questioned

A new study has found that two of the four main parts of the ACT–science and reading–have “little or no” ability to help colleges predict whether applicants will succeed, USA Today reports. The analysis also found that the other two parts–English and mathematics–are “highly predictive” of college success. But because most colleges rely on the composite ACT score, rather than individual subject scores, the value of the entire exam is questioned by the study…

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Review: iOS4.2 software on iPad brings welcome features, unwelcome snags

Apple’s eagerly anticipated iOS 4.2 mobile software upgrade finally reaches the iPad today. The free upgrade addresses shortcomings in Apple’s otherwise prized tablet software and will feel familiar to iPhone 4 owners who can already exploit some of the latest stunts, reports USA Today. (Today’s update also brings new capabilities to the iPhone and iPod Touch.)

As on the iPhone, you can now organize iPad apps into folders to reduce screen clutter and make them a cinch to find. For example, you can put all your music apps in one folder, all your movie-related programs in another and so on. The iPad also catches up on multitasking, meaning you can run numerous apps simultaneously and easily switch among them. I listened to the Pandora and Slacker music apps in the background while I surfed the Web, read email and played games…

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More students need a laptop computer for the classroom

Back-to-school supplies for middle school students used to mean pens, notebooks, maybe a new backpack. But for a growing number of families, the list now includes a laptop computer, USA Today reports. “We would never send our own kids to pediatricians that were practicing medicine from the ’70s or ’80s,” says Mark Hess, principal of Sarah Banks Middle School in Wixom, Mich. “Why would we send our kids to schools that are practicing instructional techniques that are decades old? If we did that, it’d be educational malpractice.” A districtwide laptop program in the Walled Lake, Mich., Consolidated School District starts in the sixth grade and incorporates technology in math, science, English, and history lessons. Parents of sixth-graders have the option to buy a $784 laptop and enroll their child in the program; those kids are placed in a classroom where all students have their own laptops. Those not in the program have access to 7,000 district-leased laptops that teachers share on rolling carts. The 500 sixth-graders in Walled Lake’s laptop classrooms use their computers for most of the school day. They revise papers, solve math problems, and even take tests and quizzes on the computer. Students also use interactive whiteboards and electronic clickers to key in answers, like on a game show. “It’s just another tool for learning,” Hess says. Though they were a novelty a decade ago, “in 2010, laptops should just be commonplace.”

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Do kids learn as well on iPads, eBooks?

Compared with traditional textbooks, the iPad and other devices for reading digital books have the potential to save on textbook costs in the long term, provide students with more and better information faster, and lighten the typical college student’s backpack. Yet the track record on campus for eReader devices so far has been bumpy, USA Today reports. Early trials of the Kindle DX, for example, drew complaints from students about clunky highlighting of text and slow refresh rates. Princeton and George Washington universities this spring found the iPad caused network problems. Federal officials in June cautioned colleges to hold off on using eReaders in the classroom unless the technology can accommodate disabled students. Though many of those problems are being or have been addressed, some of the most tech-savvy students aren’t quite ready to endorse the devices for academic use. And some educational psychologists suggest the dizzying array of options and choices offered by the ever-evolving technology might be making it harder to learn, rather than easier. “The challenge for working in the electronic age is that we have so much access to information but we still have the same brain we always had,” says Richard Mayer, psychology professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “The problem is not access to information. It is integrating that information and making sense out of it.”

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