Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quick Hits

Should athletes be allowed to skip physical education?: About a dozen Cincinnati-area districts are allowing some student athletes, cheerleaders and band members to opt out of state-mandated gym classes. Some educators say such students already are committed to physical fitness, while others argue that physical education can teach teens about lifelong fitness and nutrition. (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Florida magnets prepare teens for careers in education: Ninth-grade students in a Florida district are getting a head start in a possible teaching career through a high-school magnet program designed for those interested in becoming educators. Students practice the use of classroom technology, learn how to emphasize important information in lessons and study other topics. The program intends to add more grade levels, and upper-level students will have the chance to shadow teachers, work in elementary schools and perhaps even go to college for free. (The Tampa Tribune)

Helping children may improve seniors' health: Senior citizens who volunteer in schools not only help struggling readers, they help themselves, according to studies. Seniors who committed to spending at least 15 hours a week in classrooms said they were more active than they had been previously, reducing their rates of depression and likely helping themselves regain mobility, according to a Washington University study. (The Baltimore Sun)

Research: Facebook users report lower GPAs, less study time: Students who use Facebook, a social-networking Web site, have lower grade-point averages than their peers, according to a study of college students. Researchers say their data do not show that Facebook causes lower grades, but perhaps suggest a common trait among users, such as procrastination or a short attention span. (TIME )

Columbine lessons help educators prevent other shootings: In the almost 10 years since the shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School, school leaders have been working to head off school violence. Student relationships with school staff are key, as are anti-bullying efforts and safe avenues for students to report potential danger, said Jeff Daniels, a West Virginia University counseling psychologist who has studied schools that have prevented student violence. (USA TODAY)

"Affordable" is this year's prevailing prom theme: High-school students from Florida to Massachusetts are working to make their proms more affordable by carpooling or dressing up school buses rather than renting limos. "The first thing I thought about was the recession," said Marilyn Orr, who is organizing her high school's junior prom. "I thought, we need to make this prom affordable." (Orlando Sentinel) & (The Boston Globe)

Study: Understanding concepts is important to children's learning: Students learn more when taught general math theories that help them understand formulas and procedures or when allowed to compare ways of solving problems, according to Vanderbilt University research. "Teaching children the basic concept behind math problems was more useful than teaching children a procedure for solving the problems -- these children gave better explanations and learned more," said Bethany Rittle-Johnson, a Vanderbilt University assistant professor of psychology and human development. "This adds to a growing body of research illustrating the importance of teaching children concepts as well as having them practice solving problems." (ScienceDaily)

Is accelerated math appropriate for all students?: A Maryland district that has increased student test scores in math with the help of accelerated math classes for all is coming under fire from some parents, who say the academic push may be stressing students, columnist Jay Mathews writes in The Washington Post. Educators say rigorous classes help prepare young students for advanced courses in high school. (The Washington Post)

Students inspire educators to stay the course: A group of Georgia teachers writes that it is students who keep them in the classroom despite all the challenges that come with their job. "When you believe that all students can learn and have the opportunity to prove it, a wonderful thing happens. You see a light come on, a face smiles, a quiet determination, a few tears -- from students, parents and even teachers," one teacher writes. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Study: Privatized Philadelphia schools perform worse than public schools: Students at struggling Philadelphia middle schools taken over by private managers perform worse on state tests than children at district-run schools, according to a study. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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