Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Quick Hits

Obama: Every student should use e-textbooks by 2017:  President Barack Obama's administration is expected to recommend today that public money -- once reserved for paper textbooks -- be allowed to purchase iPad tablet computers, Kindles and related software. Obama's goal is that every student use electronic textbooks by 2017, officials say. Part of the push stems from the expected cost-savings that comes from e-textbooks, rather than purchasing updated paper textbooks. (USA TODAY)

Ferris Bueller @ 50

Resources for observing Black History Month in the classroom:  Black History Month, which begins today, dates back to 1926 when educator and historian Carter G. Woodson started a weeklong observance in February, the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event was expanded to a month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. The theme of this year's observance is "Black Women in American Culture and History," and the editors of this blog offer a list of online resources for educators teaching related topics to students. (Schools of Thought blog)

Lawmakers concerned about accountability drop under NCLB waivers:  Some states' requests for waivers from No Child Left Behind could reduce school accountability under the federal education law, according to two Democrats in the U.S. Congress. "We urge you to require from all applicants robust and meaningful accountability measures when approving requests for flexibility" under the NCLB law, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. George Miller, wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Education Week)

Research looks at how humor affects children's brains:  Researchers assessed brain scans of 15 children ages 6 to 12 and found that watching funny videos activated their mesolimbic regions, which process rewards, and temporal-occipital-parietal junction, which processes incongruities. The study showed that positive videos also activated the brain's reward-processing region, but not the area that processes perceived incongruities. HealthDay News

Fla. ranks schools amid criticism from some educators: Florida's Education Department on Monday released a new ranking of the state's 3,078 schools. The rankings of elementary and middle schools are based on the results of state tests, while the high-school rankings also consider graduation rates, AP courses and other indicators of college readiness. Some educators say the new system fails to account for the effects of poverty on student achievement. "It's not that standardized test results don't tell us anything. They're very accurate measures of the size of the houses near a given school and the income levels of the people who live in those houses," said Andy Ford, president of the teachers' union. (Orlando Sentinel), (

States not setting bar high enough in NCLB waivers, officials say: Most states that have applied for waivers from No Child Left Behind have insufficient plans for holding schools accountable for the achievement of all students, according to an initial review of waivers by the Department of Education. Officials say nearly all states failed to set the bar for achievement high enough in their applications and lack plans for closing the achievement gap. Similar concerns were shared in December with 11 states that have applied for waivers. (The Washington Post)

Should the legal dropout age be changed?: President Barack Obama proposed in this week's State of the Union address that states require students to stay in school until age 18, compared with the typical dropout age of 16. Rhode Island has increased its dropout age, but efforts elsewhere have fizzled amid criticism that forcing students to stay enrolled could cause classroom problems. (The New York Times)

Teaching students about presidential campaign speeches: The writers of this blog post offer ideas and resources for teaching students about presidential stump speeches ahead of this year's elections. Students are first taught about the purpose and structure of campaign speeches and are given techniques for analyzing them. Students then craft persuasive presidential speeches of their own. (The New York Times)


Anonymous said...

E-textbooks in five years? We don't even get textbook money anymore, much less the funds to buy every student the hardware tablet, install needed infra structure support for mass wireless usage and licensing fees for access to the ebooks. By the way have you ever noticed what shape your textbook is in once a middle schooler has carried it around for a year? Give me break!

Anonymous said...

When are we going to have Hispanic American history month in schools? Folks from Mexico southward by in large actually came here by choice unlike most Asian and African people during the first century of our country's existance? As the fastest growing minority who will soon pass African Americans as the largest minority in this country, what about us. For that matter, what about Asian American, Arab Americans or ....? Why this special treatment?

How ironic this month in Alabama recent legislation endorses exportation of "illegal" aliens, specifically Hispanic Americans, at the same time we are suppose to celebrate African Americans and their struggle for civil rights and contributions to this country.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, forced enrollment until age 18 is not a matter of age but of student support. Forcing kids to stay in a place in which they are not successful or feel they do not belong or function two additional years is not going to necessarily give us more graduates. Simply implying that we as adults know better than our children and hoping that these two additional years will result in some intellectual,social or perspective change without having intentional, focused people, programs and proceedures to suport these at risk kids is only going to result in more failure for both the individual students and the system being forced to sustain them against their will. Honestly, as adults do we tell ourselves "Hey, I am not successful here and I really don't enjoy being at this place, but I am going to stick with this job an additional two years until I turn __ (current age plus 2 years)." Heck, no we look for a new job because we sense that our current conditions are intolerable and/or we place no value on what we are engaged at performing.

Unfortunately, as we all know drop outs don't suddenly pop up when one starts driving a car or enters their sophomore year of high school (hopefully). The seeds of disenfranchisement are sown many years earlier in most cases and they are nurtured by both intent as well as neglect due to instructional, social, intellectual, organizational, familial and even financial catylists.

If we would address the specific causal factors involved in each kid's desire to disengage, we would not have to create superficial legislation to force them to remain at a place where children are suppose to be getting support and preparation for their next steps in life.

I am not intending to hang this solely on educators, but we have to have investment in these kids who need a more focused effort and that is not going to come about through a piece of legislation or a one size fits all instructional/assessment platform which some leaders feel is the answer to a 21 century homogenized population of students. If you are going to treat them all the same, they have to be the same and as we know none of us are the same.