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Research Roundup Dec 1,2014

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 01, 2014

Bringing Education to African Girls   New York Times

Ms. Cotton was award the World Innovation Summit Education Prize for her role as founder of Camfed, an organization that has helped millions of young girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Through direct sponsorship to young women’s education, Camfed works to ensur girls remain in school. “Besides financially supporting students, the organization trains teachers, mentors and community activists. It has also created a 25,000-member network of Camfed graduates who use their own experiences to teach and advise their communities, something the organization calls a “virtuous cycle.”


What It Takes to Fix American Education The Daily Beast

“We’re spending way too much time focusing on who is ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ debates over education, and not enough on implementing proven solutions.” Jonah Edelman writes how education reform is not a quick fix, but a process that involves many long term changes. He believes students, teachers, and parents should all have a voice in the discussion. 


Sacramento City Schools Focus on Emotional Learning The Sacramento Bee

The school district of Sacramento is adding social learning to their curriculum for all grade levels. A teacher says, “The aim, is to move students toward responsible decision-making and making ethical and constructive choices about themselves and their social behavior.” Another questions, “It’s about what kind of future generation we are creating within our current set of students and what kind of world do we want to model for them? Social and emotional learning is at the heart of education. It has got to be. Otherwise we’re lost.”


IU Partnership Helps High School Students Learn Art of Film-making, Produce Movies The Republic

Susanne Schwibs, an experimental film professor at IU and Noel Koontz, a film literature teacher at academy decided to bring their classes together through service learning. “"When (IU students) learn and try to teach techniques to the high school students, they get a deeper understanding of what they themselves are doing," Schwibs said."Film-making is collaborative," Koontz said. He continues, "bringing the learners together helps to mimic the film-making process, and it gives his class a chance to try different kinds of techniques to create a narrative hands-on.”


Education policy lags behind research findings Boston Globe

There is new development in literature on how children develop skills that are crucial to academic and life-long success, and the development of the brain. The NIH study of a Chicago preschool program found that by age 24, children who participated in the program had lower rates of depression, violent crime and incarceration, and were more likely to attend four-year colleges and to have health insurance than children who did not participate in the preschool program. Learning requires that children be able to pay attention, be patient, persist, persevere, face their mistakes, and remain focused when frustrated. Each of these skills is rooted in the ability of children to understand, control and manage their own emotions.

8 No-Prep Methods to Reduce Classroom Bullying: By Beth Morrow

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on October 13, 2014

With the continual crush of standards and tests in our classrooms, it’s tempting to bypass the more creative and less structured social activities that don’t end up on a bubble sheet.

The irony is that those feel-good moments are the only opportunity many students have to get to know each other in a socially positive environment as people, not competitors. Bullying is often the result of one person seeking power or attention--or both--from someone lacking confidence in their own social self-worth. The danger is that in eliminating deliberate social skill-building activities, students do not have exposure to or experience in building their own self-worth.  By cutting out these confidence-building moments, it’s as though we are expecting fewer bullying behaviors by eliminating the very tools that can help improve the situation.

We frequently claim we need more time to improve classroom climate but more time is not a prerequisite. Here are eight no/low-prep ways to infuse our classrooms with the behaviors we most want to see from our students.

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Enhancing SEL Learning at P169M

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on January 21, 2014

Our series of blog posts focused on social-emotional learning (SEL) continues. In this post, we introduce you to P169M, a District 75 school using SEL as a common language to enrich individual and group instruction needs.

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How Do We Build a Moral and Ethical School Culture in the 21st Century?

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on June 17, 2013

Written by Dimitry Anselme, the Director of Program Staff Develop­ment at Facing History & Ourselves and a Presenter at the 16th Annual National School Climate Center's Summer Institute

I have to admit that I struggled before writing this post: What do I have to offer on this topic that has not already been said or done?” The effort to build moral and ethical school communities has a long history in American education. There are countless examples of schools and teachers, across the country, already implementing best practices on this subject. 

However, as I reflected more on the issue, I was struck by the urgency of now.  What is different is that we are engaging in this exploration today in an education environment intensely focused on raising test scores, on identifying metrics and benchmarks to measure student learning, and on teacher effectiveness as evidenced by clear student outcomes.  Many of these attempts at accountability in teaching are important. It is also valuable not to lose sight of our education mission, and let the national discussion on education reform center around these benchmarks and metrics alone. The dialogue of how to build moral and ethical schools is urgent today because it deepens our national conversation and will allow us not to reduce education reform solely to a set of legislative efforts backed by test scores.

 I realized that instead of thinking of how to build moral and ethical schools, it would be more useful, instead,  if we were to think of the conversation as being about  how to sustain the practice of  building moral and ethical schools. Let us focus on developing the habit or the professional discipline of seeking how to build such schools. We recognize that this is an on-going process. We may never fully get there.  Building moral and ethical schools, is not about identifying one program,  one curriculum or a series of practices to  implement at our schools, but instead building moral and ethical schools is a habit, a practice that we commit to as educators.

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A Somber Meditation on the “High Holy Days of Testing”

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on April 15, 2013


Schools throughout our country have entered a most special time of the academic year. An air of solemnity, severity, stricture, sobriety, and “something of profoundly great import going on” is palpable and permeating.   Why is this time different from all other times in the school year? For the vast majority of K-12 public schools throughout the land, we have begun the most important “high holy days of testing”. High stakes testing has begun in earnest and those stakes are much higher than ever before (as is evident from recent noteworthy events). The next few weeks will see well-heeled routines discarded, any sense of new content or learning put on hold, and rigor replace vigor in every facet of the school day. 

This week’s deluge of testing, as has been the case for most years since NCLB and Race to the Top made sure that standardized testing occupied a primary spot in school accountability, comes after a lengthy preparation period. Almost a Lenten-like vigil accompanies the weeks (and even months) that lead up to actual tests.  And the tradition of “giving up” things certainly occurs as well. Schools sacrifice many different “niceties” to ready themselves for testing.   Some of the things that need to be curtailed or denied might be recess, creative expression, “fun”, higher order thinking activities, social emotional growth, service-learning, the arts, civic educational opportunities and a promotion of student voice.

This vigil for the “high holy days of testing” will also include the requisite (and highly ritualized!) preparations. All bulletin boards must be shrouded. All books or classroom resources that might give an unfair advantage must be removed. Any computers or other electronic devices need to be disabled. Every potentially distracting form of stimulation (including children’s displayed artwork) has to be expunged. And we will begin hearing the almost mantric expressions in the days leading up to tests: “Get a good night’s sleep”. “Eat a healthy breakfast”. “Don’t stress”. “You can do it”.

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