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"Minnesota’s largest school district has agreed to sweeping changes designed to prevent the harassment of gay students in a plan that federal officials call a national model."
"The Minnesota district and its antibullying procedures became entwined in a nationwide debate over how homosexuality and gender diversity should be discussed in schools. Conservative Christian groups, while condemning bullying, argue that singling out sexual orientation for protections or teaching tolerance of same-sex marriage amounts to endorsing sinful practices.
In response to conflicting pressures, Anoka-Hennepin officials had devised an unusual policy, directing teachers to remain neutral on any questions involving sexual orientation. But some teachers said that this hampered their ability to support gay students and that the overall climate was still hostile.
Last month, the district rescinded the neutrality policy in favor of a requirement to 'affirm the dignity and self-worth of students' regardless of race, sexual orientation, disabilities or other factors. In addition, according to the new agreement, the district will strengthen measures to prevent, detect and punish bullying based on gender or sexual orientation, hire a full-time 'harassment-prevention' official, bolster mental health counseling and identify harassment 'hot spots' on the campuses of middle and high schools. The six students who sued will receive a total payment of $270,000."
"The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today approved two pieces of legislation to rewrite elementary and secondary education law. The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) was approved by the committee in a vote of 23 to 16. The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) was approved in a vote of 23 to 16.
'With these proposals, we aim to shrink federal intrusion in classrooms and return responsibility for student success to states and school districts. We’ll untie the hands of state and local leaders who are clamoring for the opportunity to change the status quo and revive innovation in our classrooms. And we will free states and school districts to provide every child access to the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed,' Chairman Kline said.
'The policies in these bills weren’t drawn up behind closed doors in Washington. They come from the ideas, accomplishments, and creativity of superintendents, school chiefs, principals, and parents around the country. These proposals have been written with the input of these leaders, who work with our children every day, and reflect our shared goal of providing all children access to a quality education,' Chairman Kline continued. 'I am pleased the committee took another step closer to lifting the burden of an ineffective law by approving the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.'"
"Margaret Moore is the founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital. Paul Hammerness, MD, is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Together, they hope to get at the physical and psychological roots of chaos. In a recent interview, Moore told Big Think that there is a cognitive basis for chronic disorganization.
Organization, she says, is not just about a cluttered desk. It’s about self-regulation, a skill that is developed by the pre-frontal cortex--the seat of executive function in the brain. The left pre-frontal cortex regulates your attention: it evaluates, judges, makes decisions. Modern life, with its barrage of incoming emails and phone calls and texts, taxes the pre-frontal cortex, inhibiting the brain’s ability to focus. Those who have naturally strong self-regulation can handle the overload—and those who don’t are left feeling guilty and out of control.
But the plasticity of the brain means we can all learn to be better focused and more organized. 'When you can focus all of your brain on one thing, that’s when you’re at your best,'
"Active learning may overthrow the style of teaching that has ruled universities for 600 years."
"Serendipity provided the breakthrough he [Eric Mazur, Harvard's Balkanski professor of physics and applied physics] needed. Reviewing the test of conceptual understanding, Mazur twice tried to explain one of its questions to the class, but the students remained obstinately confused. “Then I did something I had never done in my teaching career,” he recalls. “I said, ‘Why don’t you discuss it with each other?’” Immediately, the lecture hall was abuzz as 150 students started talking to each other in one-on-one conversations about the puzzling question. “It was complete chaos,” says Mazur. “But within three minutes, they had figured it out. That was very surprising to me—I had just spent 10 minutes trying to explain this. But the class said, ‘OK, We’ve got it, let’s move on.’
'Here’s what happened,' he continues. 'First, when one student has the right answer and the other doesn’t, the first one is more likely to convince the second—it’s hard to talk someone into the wrong answer when they have the right one. More important, a fellow student is more likely to reach them than Professor Mazur—and this is the crux of the method. You’re a student and you’ve only recently learned this, so you still know where you got hung up, because it’s not that long ago that you were hung up on that very same thing. Whereas Professor Mazur got hung up on this point when he was 17, and he no longer remembers how difficult it was back then. He has lost the ability to understand what a beginning learner faces.'
This innovative style of learning grew into 'peer instruction' or 'interactive learning,' a pedagogical method that has spread far beyond physics and taken root on campuses nationally. Last year, Mazur gave nearly 100 lectures on the subject at venues all around the world. (His 1997 book Peer Instruction is a user’s manual; a 2007 DVD, Interactive Teaching, produced by Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, illustrates the method in detail.)
Interactive learning triples students’ gains in knowledge as measured by the kinds of conceptual tests that had once deflated Mazur’s spirits, and by many other assessments as well. It has other salutary effects, like erasing the gender gap between male and female undergraduates. 'If you look at incoming scores for our male and female physics students at Harvard, there’s a gap,' Mazur explains. 'If you teach a traditional course, the gap just translates up: men gain, women gain, but the gap remains the same. If you teach interactively, both gain more, but the women gain disproportionately more and close the gap.' Though there isn’t yet definitive research on what causes this, Mazur speculates that the verbal and collaborative/collegial nature of peer interactions may enhance the learning environment for women students."
The premise of American Digger, which is being hosted by a former professional wrestler, was laid out in a recent announcement by Spike TV. A team of "diggers" will "scour target-rich areas, such as battlefields and historic sites, in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history." Similar locales are featured in National Geographic's Diggers. In the second episode, set in South Carolina, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 buttons, bullets, and coins were recovered at a former plantation.
After viewing the first two episodes of Diggers, Iowa's State archaeologist John Doershuk posted a review to the American Cultural Resources Association listserv, in which he lamented: "The most damaging thing, I think, about this show is that no effort was made to document where anything came from or discussion of associations—each discovered item was handled piece-meal."
"Live from the TED Stage in Long Beach, the 2012 TED Prize winner – the City 2.0 – spoke through the voices of world leaders, advocates, and visionaries, calling on people around the world to forge a new urban outlook.
In December, for the first time ever, the TED Prize went not to an individual but to an idea on which our planet’s future depends: the City 2.0. This is the city of the future in which more than ten billion people must somehow live happily, healthfully, and sustainably.
Today, the official “wish” of the City 2.0 was unveiled in the form of a film showing the wish’s key phrases on billboards, graffiti and stock market tickers. Its message: “I am the crucible of the future…where humanity will either flourish or fade. Dream me. Build me.”
Accompanying the wish is a new online platform that allows citizens anywhere to participate in the creation of their own City 2.0.
With context and urgency expressed through talks on the city by Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, Harvard professor and economist Edward Glaeser, and Vice Mayor of Long Beach Suja Lowenthal, the words of the City 2.0 wish called for action with these words:
“Imagine a platform that brings you together, locally and globally. Combine the reach of the cloud with the power of the crowd. Connect leaders, experts, companies, organizations and citizens. Share your tools, data, designs, successes, and ideas. Turn them into action.”"
[On Wednesday, February 29] this year’s TED Prize wish will be revealed from the stage at TED2012 in Long Beach, CA…and you can watch it live.
The webcast of this session will be free to everyone on February 29, 2012 @ 5pm PST (1am GMT). It will be viewable here. No login or password will be required. (If you are interested in watching a livestream of the whole conference, check out our TEDLive program.)
Don’t forget to make sure your computer hardware meets the minimum requirements needed to view the session.
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Minimum hardware requirements.....
A BC principal shares what personalized learning actually means for students. He reflects on this graphic: "I can see how a more personalized system that aims to meet the needs of individual learners may come into conflict with current systems aimed at presenting a predictable, standardized education system that is more representative of a “one-size-fits-all” program."
He concludes his post:
"To me, a more personalized learning environment will be one that:
> is richly designed around critical thinking;
> incorporates creativity and innovation both in its own design, but also in the design of learning outcomes;
> is flexible enough for students at any age to move at their own pace and to explore topics that might not be formally a part of our curriculum;
> offers students choices in how and when they learn;
> creates and encourages collaborative learning teams."
Thanks Kathleen McClaskey for curating this!
Via Kathleen McClaskey, Barbara Bray
"There was no single profile for the teachers who ranked highest based on the test-score data released Friday, but many questioned the utility of the rating system in which they excelled."
"One was a scion of the family behind the celebrated Italian bakery, Arthur Avenue Bread, and has since been promoted to assistant principal.
Another, a San Francisco transplant, was in her first job at the front of a classroom and insisted that her special-education students at Public School 49 in the Bronx be held to the highest standards.
A third said she benefited from the small class sizes at the tiny Special Music School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: never more than 17 fifth graders, so she could group them by skill level in English and math and work closely with each student.
In the days leading up to the release on Friday of the city’s Teacher Data Reports, which are an effort to assess how much individuals added to the progress of students in their charge, many critics worried about the shame and humiliation low-scoring teachers would be subjected to, especially given the ratings’ wide margins of error. But the ratings also shined a spotlight on the educators who, at least by this measure, were best able to help their students post gains on the state’s standardized tests."
"Mustering willpower is a struggle for almost everyone — and it's getting harder. We, as individuals and as a society, lack self-control at precisely the time we need it most.
Willpower is about more than resisting our bad habits. It's the mental discipline that allows us to cultivate good habits, make better decisions, and control our own behaviors — everything from dieting effectively to powering through difficult problems at work. It's a quality that can separate the most productive businesspeople from the least productive. And it's a trait that many of us lack. Surveys of more than 1 million people show that self-control is the character trait modern men and women recognize least in themselves."
YouTube isn't just trying to emulate television on the computer, it just set a new standard for viewing video by blowing away the boring old TV with a series of features it announced.
As you’re watching a video on YouTube, you’ll be able to scan ahead and see thumbnails of what’s to come. The series of new features turn the video scrubber into a magnifying glass of sorts, letting you peek into all of the moments in a video. You can drag along to see a flipbook style of screens, or hovering over an exact moment to see what’s going to happen or what happened previously.
Via Barbara Bray
"Distressing new federal data on the disciplinary treatment of black students adds urgency to investigations into the treatment of minority children in a dozen school districts around the country by the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. The agency, which is negotiating policies with some of these districts, needs to push for procedures that keep children in school.
The new 2009-10 federal data, drawn from more than 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students, covers a range of issues, including student discipline and retention.
Black students made up only 18 percent of those in the sample but 35 percent of those suspended one time and 39 percent of all expulsions. Blacks, in general, are three-and-a-half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, and more than 70 percent of the students who were involved in arrests or referred to law enforcement agencies were black or Hispanic."
"Videogames can change a person's brain and, as researchers are finding, often that change is for the better.
A growing body of university research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. The specific benefits are wide ranging, from improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability.
People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study. Indeed, the most adept gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people, other researchers found. Moreover, practiced game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that someone can normally keep in mind, said University of Rochester researchers. The studies were conducted independently of the companies that sell video and computer games."
"Cafeteria food is supposed to be healthy -- and cheap. But it's getting harder to be both, unless you get creative."
"You can lead students to nutritious food, but can you make them bite? The answer to that increasingly relevant question is yes, if you get creative.
At Saint Paul Public Schools, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Jean Ronnei, director of nutrition and commercial services for the school district, is sharing her personal passion for fresh, healthy food with students. A few years ago, Ronnei and her staff began testing healthy recipes in the district's nutrition center, and they've been doing it ever since.
In addition to serving students only whole grains and brown rice, rather than less nutritious white bread and white rice, Ronnei and her team have come up with a few hits (a fresh corn-and-barley salad with tomato and cilantro, for instance) and some flops (kids turned their noses up at her veggie meat loaf). They recently tested teriyaki chicken edamame over brown rice, which students loved. 'I'm extremely proud of that one,' she says.
From Portland, Oregon, to Atlanta, school menus are being redone with health in mind, even as budgets shrink and parents tighten their wallets. Managers are finding more appealing types of food to serve and more appetizing ways to serve it. And part of that appeal is education. So, along with their fruits and veggies, many students are now getting a serving of nutrition smarts."
"State colleges are cutting financing for technical, engineering and health care programs as the need for training in those fields grows."
“'There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill,' said Ronald G. Ehrenberg, the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute and a trustee of the State University of New York system.
Even large tuition increases have not fully offset state cuts, since many state legislatures cap how much colleges can charge for each course. So classes get bigger, tenured faculty members are replaced with adjuncts and technical courses are sacrificed.
State appropriations for colleges fell by 7.6 percent in 2011-12, the largest annual decline in at least five decades, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University. In one extreme example, Arizona has slashed its college budget by 31 percent since the recession began in 2007."
PARIS—Jules Hoffman, one of last year's Nobel prize winners for physiology or medicine, was selected to become an immortal yesterday. That is the moniker given to the 40 members of the French Academy, a body established in 1635 to define the French language and ensure that its standards are maintained.
In a secret ballot among the 23 members present, Hoffman won 17 votes in the first round to earn the spot held by scholar and author Jacqueline de Romilly until her death in December 2010. The immunologist will join fellow Academy of Sciences member François Jacob, ophthalmologist Yves Pouliquen, philosopher Michel Serres, economist/novelist Erik Orsenna, and former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. But Hoffman will have to wait about a year to be formally admitted.
"Here's what I wonder: Can my 12-year-old son Tucker, a kid who lives for anything having to do with basketball, learn just about every math concept he needs to be successful in life in the context of playing the game he loves?
I posed that question on my blog a few months ago, and the post elicited more than 60 responses from readers who connected basketball to the study of bivariate data, complex equations, statistical analysis, slope, variables, predicting outcomes, probability, geometric shapes, mean, median, mode, averages, arc, force, angles, percentages, fractions, linear inequalities, volume, speed, mass, acceleration, and dozens of other concepts that are no doubt part of Tucker's K–12 math curriculum (Richardson, 2010). And when I showed him some of the great ideas that teachers had left on my blog, he lit up. "Really?" he asked. "I could do that?"
Yes, I think he could. That's not to say that he wouldn't need good teachers to help him make sense of those concepts along the way. But now more than ever, Tucker (along with the rest of us) lives in a moment when personalizing the learning experience is not just a possibility—it's almost an expectation. We personalize our playlists through Rhapsody and iTunes, our reading through Amazon and Twitter, and our search results on Google and Bing.
But in the midst of this culture of customization, what about education? Are we personalizing learning for our students in ways that make school more relevant and inspiring? Largely, the answer is no."
"A new study concludes that many bird species will not be able to adapt and survive the effects of climate change, which may not be a good omen for other species."
"A just-published analysis of some 200 separate studies of the impact of climate change on birds is grim.
There are about 10,000 bird species globally and most of them live on land. Based on the middle range of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projection of warming—3.5 degrees Celsius or 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100— 534 to 800 tropical land bird species could become extinct, out of a total of 7,565 species. Worldwide, of all of the 8,500 or so land bird species, as many as 600 to 900 could disappear.
And for each degree of climate warming above that, the experts say, another 100 to 500 birds might go extinct.
'It’s yet another wake-up call,' said Cagan H. Sekercioglu, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah and one of the authors of the study, which was published online in Biological Conservation. 'Birds are sentinels of what’s happening to the planet, the canary in the coal mine,' he said. 'If this is happening to birds, and they can migrate, then for other organisms, it’s going to be worse.'"
"Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently appeared on a panel with Michelle Rhee, the former head of the same Washington school district that his department is now investigating."
"Mr. Duncan is the education secretary.
Ms. Rhee was the chancellor of schools in Washington from 2007 to 2010.
Since last summer, the Office of the Inspector General in Mr. Duncan’s department has been investigating whether Washington school officials cheated to raise test scores during Ms. Rhee’s tenure.
You would think Mr. Duncan would want to keep Ms. Rhee at arm’s length during the investigation. And yet there they were, sitting side by side last month, two of four featured panelists at a conference in Washington about the use of education data.
“This is an amazing panel, so I’m thrilled to be part of it,” Mr. Duncan said in his opening comment.
If there is any hope of getting to the bottom of what went on in the Washington schools — whether Ms. Rhee is as amazing as Mr. Duncan said, or whether test scores were inflated by cheating — it is through the inquiry by the inspector general. (Catherine Grant, a spokeswoman for the office, confirmed that an investigation was under way, but would not give details.)"