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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Welcome to the Edutopia Blog

This post kicks off what I hope will become a new way to interact with you, our visitors, and the team at The George Lucas Educational Foundation. As we bring more and more Edutopia content and community to the Internet, we want to open up the channels of communication with all of you.

This blog will be a source of information about Edutopia, with the goals of being transparent about our new initiatives and providing a chance for you to hear directly from staff -- and for us to hear directly from you.

As chief operating officer, I have agreed to maintain and develop the conversation and posts -- and I'm very excited to do so! My goal is to have multiple voices from our diverse team on this blog so you can get to know us better and hear a range of perspectives.

GLEF StaffCredit: Edutopia.org

Our team (pictured above at a recent staff retreat in San Francisco) consists of about 35 people with mixed backgrounds in education, journalism, technology, and other areas. We are an entrepreneurial, fun, and collaborative group with a shared passion to improve public education.

In the coming weeks, I hope to introduce a few staff members with more in-depth profiles. To kick off, you might check out the blog post of our community manager, Betty Ray, who has been a great addition to our team as we expand the online opportunities for you to seek and share solutions with each other.

So, grab our RSS feed (in the scroll bar of your browser) or bookmark this page, and stay tuned for the inside scoop from Edutopia!

Cindy Johanson

Comments (10)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kim McLaughlin's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I viewed the Chicago Digital Youth Network and and loved it! It gave me so many ideas for my school and classroom! i teach 5th grade at Olson Elementary in Woodstock,IL District 200. It was interesting how this activity or class is integrated into the students school day so it's a part of the curriculum. I also liked that it was offered as an after school program and that participants could access the programs at home so they could continue the work they needed to do. Students have many opportunities to design and implement projects connected to and extending their curriculum which is so important for teachers and kids. One really important aspect of this program is that kids critiqued each others projects giving "warm and cool" feedback. There is also plenty of opportunities for kids to collaborate if they choose. What an outstanding program!

Patty's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am attending Walden University and this is my first time with blogging. I was just wondering how many school days other states do per year. I am from Ohio and we do 180 per school year. However they are trying to pass a new law to increase it to 200. The school levies all around my area are failing even after trying 3-4 times and by adding more school days we are adding more expense so I am not sure why the Governor thinks this is a good plan. Trust me, I would be all for it because I know it would help with our scores on the achievement test but they are not saying they are going to give any more funding towards the schools to help pay the extra cost. Any thoughts?

Chris Jones's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I too am attending Walden University and this is also MY first time blogging! I am a Kindergarten teacher in Arizona, and we also attend school 180 days. We begin school the first week in August, take a week off during fall, 2 weeks for winter, and a week in the spring. Some extremely remote schools here are going to a 4 day to save on gas. They just go longer days to make up for the total number of hours needed to be in school. It does save on gas and expenses, but it seems if the children are from working class families, then it would be more expensive for the parents because of child care. My district is staying on the 5 day week. I believe it would be more expensive for the teachers as well. We would go through more supplies, and this year money is already extremely tight for everyone.

Sharla Head-Jones's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am an instructor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL. I landed here via an online class at the University of Florida titled, Designing Technology Rich Curriculum. It has been a blast to learn about the wonderful educational resources available on the Internet. I have always used the Edutopia magazine as an educational resource for literature reviews. Now, I have embraced Edutopia as an online resource as well. Thank you for all the wonderful articles that empower educators with knowledge and information to enrich the lives of our students and their families. I have been taken by the wealth of information shared through the articles about multiple intelligence. This has been an awesome reading journey because I, too, uphold the beliefs about multiple intelligence.
Thanks so much! I will share this information with colleagues!

Katy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hey Patty! It's Katy, from your class! I am all up in arms about Strickland's plan, and I, too, would like to know what others outside of Ohio feel about extending the school year. Not to mention the all-day kindergarten mandate. We are cutting our all-day programs in our Title buildings because of no funds, and now we'll have to provide it in ALL buildings for 2010-2011! Not that I disagree with all-day kindergarten because I believe we truly need it, but we don't have the funds as it is. Our 4th levy has a special election next Tuesday, and we can't seem to pass one to save our life! How are we going to pay for everything he wants now?

Michelle Grace Fuentes's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I teach in Oklahoma at a charter school and we go to school for 197 days per year. I personally love our school year, however it does make for a really long year for the teacher. We start school the last week of July and go until the first week of June. The second week of June our summer school program begins for 5 weeks. This means that basically we are a year round school, which is what our school board is planning on us doing in the future. We also have a longer school day than most, we go to school from 7:30 to 3:15 each day and have Saturday school from 8-12. While we do spend more on supplies and salaries we must do it to get our students where they need to be.


James Dinwiddie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Rigor Revisited

I would like to share views about the use of the words "rigor" and "rigorous" in an education context. The video introducing the George Lucas Foundation describes their advocacy for a "rigorous" curriculum. Many educators have heard parents say something like, "My child needs a really rigorous curriculum," or "Our school emphasizes rigor."

Here is the definition of "rigor":

* Main Entry: rig*or
* Pronunciation: \'ri-g@r\
* Function: noun
* Etymology: Middle English rigour, from Anglo-French, from Latin rigor, literally, stiffness, from rigere to be stiff
* Date: 14th century

1 a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
2 : a tremor caused by a chill
3 : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
4 : strict precision : exactness
5 a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli c : rigor mortis

Synonyms for rigor from MS Word 2000:
severity, strictness, harshness, firmness, inflexibility, rigidity Antonym=flexibility

I'm quite certain that educators and parents advocating for "rigor" don't intend what this word defines, and would never recommend "severity", "inflexibility" or "rigidity" for any learning environment. However, I continually hear this word misused by educators who should know better.

Rigor does have an educational context. It derives from the teaching emphasis of the pre-modern era; of "rote and rod"; of pedant teachers administering inflexible and stiff curricula with a harsh, severe, even cruel attitude. Is this what we're advocating for? Are we truly implying such a regression?

Please share your thoughts, but don't advocate for some other meaning of "rigor" because there really isn't one. Words count and so do their meanings -- especially for educators. Let's choose some different words to advocate for the type of education we really want.

Howard Knights's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

just to let the team know that I roamed the site - several discussion forums - and I really thing it is great! Thanks.

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