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How do we find good teachers?

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on January 08, 2009

Malcom Gladwell made a bit of a splash in the education community with an article in the December 15, 2008 issue of the New Yorker. In it, Gladwell compares the difficulty of finding good teachers to the difficulty NFL teams have finding good quarterbacks: the problem is that you don’t know who is good at it until you see them on the job.

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Should we pay students to get good grades?

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 16, 2008

Getting students motivated is one of the hardest jobs for teachers. Not everyone is moved by the intrinsic value of education or the desire to get good grades. So how do you motivate students? According to Harvard economist Roland Fryer, you should pay them.

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The Challenge of Assessing School Climate

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 01, 2008

This month, ASCD's Educational Leadership focused two pieces on the importance of school climate measurement. Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote along with Terry Pickeral (ECS) and Molly McCloskey (ASCD) that's now available for you to read for free online. Think about how you feel right now as you read these words. Are you distracted? Worried? Sad? To the extent that this is the case, these feelings would naturally affect your ability to concentrate, reflect, and make judgments about what you're reading. And you're an adult with well-developed coping and concentration strategies! Common sense tells us that students who feel safe, connected, and engaged in school are more likely to learn well. In the last 30 years, a growing body of research has confirmed the importance of the learning climate for children and adolescents. Compelling empirical research shows that a positive and sustained school climate promotes students' academic achievement and healthy development. Not surprisingly, a positive school climate also promotes teacher retention, which itself enhances student success (Center for Social and Emotional Education, 2007; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli, & Pickeral, in press; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). . .

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The Gender Gap in Math and Science

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 24, 2008

One of the most curious issues in education is the gender gap in math and sciences. Despite the fact the more females than males attend college, 80% of BA degrees in physics, engineering and computer science are completed by men. Women are consistently underrepresented in math and science careers, both in the private sector and in academia. What can explain this? According to new research, culture plays an important role. The study, from a concerned group of mathematicians and scientists, looked at participation in high-level math competitions to see whether there were differences by gender. The results point to significant differences among countries: “All members of the United States team were boys until 1998, when 16-year-old Melanie Wood, a cheerleader, student newspaper editor and math whiz from a private school in Indianapolis, made the team…By comparison, relatively small Bulgaria has sent 21 girls to the competition since 1959 (six since 1988), according to the study, and since 1974 the highly ranked Bulgarian, East German/German and Soviet Union/Russian IMO teams have included 9, 10 and 13 girls respectively.” (New York Times) This striking conclusion should compel American educators to ask: what classroom practices will help encourage girls to get involved in math and science?

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Emotional Skills and Economic Inequality

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on October 17, 2008

As a researcher, it is always exciting to incorporate new ideas and findings from different academic disciplines. Recently, Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman provided some useful insights that can help connect issues of economic inequality to the work being done here at CSEE: “...an emerging literature shows that much more than smarts is required for success in life. Motivation, sociability, the ability to work with others, the ability to focus on tasks, self-regulation, self-esteem, time preference, health, and mental health all matter. In an earlier time, these traits were part of what was called ‘character.’ A substantial body of research shows that earnings, employment, labour force experience, college attendance, teenage pregnancy, participation in risky activities, compliance with health protocols, and participation in crime are all strongly affected by non-cognitive as well as cognitive abilities.”

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