Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quick Hits

What technology expectations should teachers have for students?:  Elementary-school computer teacher Mary Beth Hertz highlights a table she created to showcase the technology abilities students should demonstrate in each grade. In kindergarten, students should be able to turn on a computer and use a one-word log-in. Beginning in second grade, students should be able to type, and in third grade they should be able to save a file, Hertz writes. By fourth grade, students should know basic online etiquette, and, in sixth grade, they should be able to collaborate with their peers on a digital project. (Edutopia)

Calif is first state to require LGBT content in history lessons:  California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed into law a bill mandating the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be included in social studies lessons. It is hoped that the bill, which school districts must implement by January, also will help reduce bullying of LGBT students. "History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books," Brown said in a statement. (Christian Science Monitor) (New York Times)

Tight budgets send some NYC principals back to the classroom:  Several school principals in New York City are taking on additional teaching duties to cut costs at their schools. One Brooklyn principal is planning to expand his usual semester of teaching into a full year, and is encouraging his assistant principals to take on teaching roles as well. Some principals at other schools are filling in as study-hall monitors or as math and reading coaches. (WNYC)

How will U.S. Supreme Court decisions affect students, schools?:  Several cases involving education-related issues and children's rights were among those decided during the 2010-11 U.S. Supreme Court term, which ended last month. The court supported the legality of a school-voucher program in Arizona, ruling that the arrangement does not constitute government support for religious schools. In addition, the court upheld children's First Amendment rights in barring California from preventing the sale of violent video games to minors and offering additional protections to children being questioned by the police in North Carolina. (Education Week)

"Parent-trigger" standards advance in California:  The Board of Education in California has approved regulations that will guide the implementation of its "parent-trigger" law, which allows parents to petition for changes in staff and programs at low-performing schools. Under the regulations, which could go into effect after a public comment period, the state is required to create a website about the trigger process, petitioners' financial support is to be made public and petition signatures are to be verified based on existing school documents. (Los Angeles Times)

Appeals filed as funding cuts leave some NYC schools with few options:  Some principals and school leaders in New York City are filing appeals with the state, arguing that "creative" budgeting will not be enough to help their schools weather the statewide financial crisis. "I can make creative decisions. I can have a teacher doing two different jobs within a school. I can decide to have a literacy coach or not a literacy coach," said Lisa Siegman, principal of P.S. 3 in the city's West Village. "But I can't allocate more funds. I can't go to larger class sizes." (GothamSchools)

How writing can improve student learning in math and science:  Writing can help students develop the cognitive skills needed for successful learning in other subjects such as math and science, says former neurologist and teacher Dr. Judy Willis. In this blog post, Willis suggests teachers integrate writing throughout the curriculum, using digital tools that allow students to share their work anonymously and relate personally to topics. (Edutopia)

Should students take algebra in eighth grade?:  More of California's eighth-grade students are taking algebra, but data indicate that one-third of seventh-graders are not prepared for the course. The push for earlier algebra lessons primarily has been among disadvantaged schools, while wealthier schools require students to prove they are ready to enroll. A study this year suggested that algebra courses benefit students who are ready for the material but leaves unprepared students "with almost no chance for success." (Daily Breeze)

NCLB waivers could have strings attached:  Education Secretary Arne Duncan has indicated that states could receive waivers for key provisions of the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for offering alternate accountability systems, according to schools chiefs. Waivers could be issued if Congress fails to reauthorize the federal education law. Some state leaders say they would support accountability systems that focus on measures such as students' academic growth over time, graduation rates and Advanced Placement enrollment. (New York Times)

Legislative proposal would boost Title I funding for poor, rural schools:  A House bill would allocate more Title I federal funding to rural schools with a high number of students from low-income households. The measure would alter the complicated formula by which Title I funds are distributed to lessen the focus on high-density populations and increase the emphasis on student poverty. If it advances, the bill could be part of the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (Politics K-12)

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