Blogs on Education Reform

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Sammamish High School is a comprehensive high school that is on the cutting edge of public education. Like many schools, we serve a diverse student body, with 45% of our students receiving free and reduced lunch support. We also serve a high percentage of special education students relative to other district schools, and currently house the district-wide program for beginning and intermediate English language learners. We have had good success with college matriculation rates, but as a community, we saw an opportunity to better serve our students and foster in them the skills and habits of mind that will make them competitive in the new economy. Along the way, we are challenging ourselves to re-imagine how school can better serve students through collaboration, authentic problem solving, and opening windows between the disciplines of school and the broader community.

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Lori DesautelsFebruary 20, 2013

This morning I sat in two inner city middle school classrooms in Indianapolis as I do most weeks. But something struck me deeply in the center of my chest as I was observing the boredom and apathy in the detached, sleepy and seemingly sad faces of many of these seventh grade students. The teachers were cheerfully present, the standards were posted, the paperwork was almost completed, there were no overt disruptions, and compliance was at hand.

The procedures, rules and transitions were hard-wired into the brains of these middle school students and adults, but an "inner" inspiration and deep subconscious yearning for something else attached to the notion of the "purpose of school" were nowhere to be found.

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Mary Beth HertzFebruary 19, 2013

Last month, I attended the unique and energizing conference, Educon, held annually at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Over the weekend of January 25th, innovative minds in education from all over the US and Canada converged on SLA to discuss emerging trends in education, share big ideas, grapple with issues and come up with solutions. The themes permeating this year's conference were Empathy, Relationships and Entrepreneurship.

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Jeremy ShermanFebruary 12, 2013

It's five minutes before the bell. My psychology students are reaching for their smartphones after our mini-field trip to the main campus library for an introduction to online reference materials.

"Wait," I say. "Before you go, I have a short question to leave you with."

The students sigh but smile, setting down their phones.

"What's left?" I ask, pausing for effect. "What is left?" They wait for me to continue. "Online, you've now got instant access to what everyone everywhere knows and thinks. In the past, to know anything you would have had to spend hours finding and memorizing it. Now it's right there on your smartphones. So what's left? If everyone has access to all this information, what is school for, and how could it possibly give you any kind of edge? What's the future of education?"

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Terry HeickFebruary 11, 2013

In 2013, sandbox video games have changed gaming more than a little. Players can now define their own terms for success, and the evolution of certain gamification elements makes this more than a fantasy in the minds of the players. There really are multiple measures of success.

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Anne OBrienFebruary 7, 2013

We hear so many negative things about public education in America -- most notably, that our schools are failing. And the reasons often cited involve educator shortcomings, for example, that colleges of education are doing a terrible job of preparing new teachers, or that the students in those colleges are not the high quality individuals we want teaching our children. We also hear that teachers unions care only about adult interests and that as a general rule the professional development teachers receive is a waste of resources.

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Erin PowersFebruary 5, 2013

As full implementation of Common Core State Standards nears, educators are searching for answers to three questions: 1) What are the CC State Standards? 2) How will they change what I do? and 3) Why are they here? Some of the details are frustratingly elusive as various groups -- publishers, school districts, states, and universities -- jockey for positions in the first post-NCLB initiative.

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Ainissa RamirezJanuary 31, 2013

This blog post is an excerpt from Save Our Science: How To Inspire a New Generation of Scientists by Ainissa Ramirez (TED Books).

The 21st century requires a new kind of learner -- not someone who can simply churn out answers by rote, but a student who can think expansively and solve problems resourcefully. As a scientist and inventor, a longtime professor at Yale University, and a woman who has always been passionate about getting kids excited about science, I believe that the key to this goal is to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. These disciplines are rooted in the kind of thinking that is now critical. One of the most important aspects of this shift is to fix the false presumption that girls are not as good as boys in science and math.

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William TolleyJanuary 30, 2013

"Every day is a workshop." -- Will Richardson

Innovate 2013, hosted by Graded School in São Paulo, ended last Sunday, and now hundreds of freshly-charged innovators are heading back to their schools from as close as Sampa itself to as far away as Mumbai. Reactions to the conference were overwhelmingly positive and the sessions I attended were first class.

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Terry HeickJanuary 23, 2013

The multiple-choice problem is becoming a bit of an issue.

While it has been derided by educators for decades as incapable of truly measuring understanding, and while performance on such exams can be noticeably improved simply by learning a few tricks, the multiple choice question may have a larger, less obvious flaw that disrupts the tone of learning itself. This is a tone that is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century as access to information increases, as the updating of information happens more naturally, and as blended and mobile learning environments become more common.

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