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Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine

Flickr/OddHarmonic

While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?

No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.

EWA Radio

What Grit and Perseverance Could Look Like in the Classroom
EWA Radio: Episode 31

(Flickr/Steven Depolo)

Nestled within the new-agey sounding concept of “noncognitive factors” are fairly concrete examples of what parents and educators should and shouldn’t do to prepare students for the rigors of college and careers. Gleaned from research into brain development and human behavior, a toolkit is emerging on how to make the best of the scholarship focused on qualities like grit, persistence and learning from mistakes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond NCLB: New Era in Federal Education Policy?

Screenshot of a tweet by @KristenRencher

Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is There Room for Games in Education?

Flickr/Games For Change

Allen Turner recently recalled the day his grade school teacher said it was time to learn about the U.S. Constitution, beginning with its famous preamble. But Turner, now a video game designer and professor at Chicago’s DePaul University, already knew it. So did all his classmates.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Chicago High School’s Turnaround

Reporters visit Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago's North Side as part of EWA's 68th National Seminar (Jessica Smith for EWA)

Five years ago, Nicholas Senn High School on the Near North Side of Chicago was one some educators felt lucky to avoid. While student discipline might have been an issue elsewhere, “you would say, at least it’s not Senn,” Principal Susan Lofton said.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond the Buzzwords: Understanding ‘Deeper Learning’

Students work on robotics projects as part of the LEGO Education program, one approach to a "deeper learning" mindset in classroom instruction. (Flickr/Jeff Peterson)

Focusing on student learning, and structuring the school to fit students’ varied learning paces, is proving to be a game changer, said panelists at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, moderated by journalist Katrina Schwartz of Mindshift at KQED Public Radio.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Urban Schools Landscape: Lessons From Chicago

Students a campus operated by the University of Chicago's charter school network. The Windy City's education policies took center stage during a session at EWA's 68th National Seminar. (Seong-Ah Cho, Urban Education Institute)

Urban education leaders crammed a marathon of Chicago’s public education woes and wonders into a 45-minute session (more akin to a 5K race) at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.

Sara Ray Stoelinga, the director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute, joined colleague Timothy Knowles for a breakfast panel titled “10 Lessons to Take Home From Chicago” at the EWA event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Impact of Principal Turnover

Flickr/Simon Cunningham

Joe Nelson wasn’t the only principal along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 2005 to face rebuilding a school in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But he did it with exceptional leadership, focusing on setting up reward systems for students and teachers and creating an environment where they could flourish despite the devastation around them.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

White House School Arts Program Expands to D.C., New York

Yo-Yo Ma performs at the 2008 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. He's one of several dozen artists affiliated with Turnaround Arts. (Source:
By World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

A program that pairs celebrities with struggling schools to develop their arts education is expanding to more large cities, The U.S. Department of Education announced today. 

Known as the Turnaround Arts initiative, the $10-million effort pools public and private funds to teach music, dance and other arts disciplines at schools that are considered among the worst in their respective states.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Thrive at U. of Chicago Charter School

Kindergarteners at the NKO campus of the UChicago Charter during a visit by EWA members in April 2015. (Beth Hawkins for EWA)

What’s most notable about the Chicago kindergarten class where assistant teacher Nichelle Bell is temporarily in charge is what is not happening. Teachers are not redirecting pupils, who are not off-task. Hands are not in other people’s spaces. Voices—those of children and adults—are not raised.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Global Context: Rethinking Career and Technical Education

The Global Context: Rethinking Career and Technical Education

The United States should look to countries like Switzerland and Singapore – both seen as having strong, successful vocational education systems – if it wants to address the widening skills gap among young people.

That was the consensus of two of the three panelists during a discussion on rethinking career and technical education during the Education Writers Association’s 68th national seminar in Chicago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Dollars to Schools That Need Them

"Covering the Economics of Education," April 20, 2015.

At a speech in December, Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took the United States to task for the way it funds schools.

“Public education spending is often lower for students in lower-income households than for students in higher-income households,” she told the audience at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, in Boston.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Don’t Study The Way Science Says They Should

Henry Roediger listens as Bror Saxberg answers a reporter's question at EWA's 68th National Seminar in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EWA)

Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.

“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Video Games Good for Kids?

Riding the subway to work the other day, I glanced over at the commuter next to me, tapping away on his smartphone. But he was not texting. Clad in jacket and tie (and earbuds), he was engaged in virtual hand-to-hand combat.

In the digital game, he was Spider-Man, battling some muscle-bound monster or alien — lots of kicking and punching, and finally K.O. flashed on the screen.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Real World’ + Academic Learning = A High School Diploma

Ryan Marquis, center, guides his classmates through an engineering project he designed as part of his work-study internship. (Jim Vaiknoras for The Hechinger Report)

A few months ago I spent time with students at Pittsfield Middle High School in rural New Hampshire. They’re participating in a program known as “Extended Learning Opportunities”, which lets them step out of the traditional classroom setting and explore their personal interests. A central goal is to help them find the connective tissue between their academic studies and potential career goals. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

After-School Programs: What Reporters Need to Know

Students work on an enrichment activity as part of the ChillZone after-school program in Lakewood, New Jersey. (Flickr/Kars4Kids/Creative Commons)

Education reporters spend plenty of time writing about what happens during the regular academic day – but what about the enrichment activities that can benefit students after hours? And how do those extra-curricular opportunities factor into an individual child’s long-term chances of success in school and beyond? 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Bringing the Learning Home on Snow Days

Kindergarten students at Atkinton Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. use their district-issued iPads. (Credit: Farmington Area Public Schools.)

As many states dig out from yet another winter storm, school districts are struggling to keep the academic calendar – and student learning – from being derailed as a result of record numbers of snow days.

But increasingly, educators are using technology to turn campus closures into opportunities for students to complete academic assignments on their own.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How One Charter Group Took a Start-Up Approach to Teaching

Classroom with Chromebooks Flickr/kjarrett (CC BY 2.0)

At Summit Public School: Denali, young learners do it differently. Most of the students at this Bay Area-area school complete their coursework on school-issued Chromebooks, where they access a portal to online videos, assigned readings and interim assessments they take at their own pace. It’s a competency-based approach to proving they have mastered the subject at hand. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Finding (And Keeping) Great Principals

(Flickr/Eric E Castro)

How much do you know about your district’s approach to hiring principals? Is there a cohesive effort to attract, train, and retain the most talented leaders? Or is it a scattershot approach that ultimately lets strong prospects slip away?

Webinar

Are Teachers Data-Savvy?
Webinar on Student Data

Are Teachers Data-Savvy?

As tools and data profiles of students become easier to use, are teachers sufficiently data literate to make sense of the information at their fingertips? Do teachers have the skills and access to data in useful formats, and are the school leaders and institutions responsible for their professional development providing them the training they need? The stakes are high: Teachers behind in data literacy may miss out on innovative ways to track student progress, personalize instruction, and improve their own practice.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Study: Replacing Principals Tied to Boost in Student Test Scores

Flickr/ecastro (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As more research emerges on the sizable effect school principals have on student learning, some experts are asking whether removing principals who are rated poorly can lead to learning gains among students.

A new report scrutinizing schools in the nation’s capital suggests replacing low-performing principals with new ones is correlated with a modest boost in student academics.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Letting Teachers Lead Without Leaving the Classroom

By his third year of teaching, Jonas Chartock was overwhelmed, acting as a department head and taking on a variety of other roles at his school in addition to his regular duties at the front of the classroom.

“What I could tell you is I wasn’t being trained to do any of them,” Chartock said.

Those experiences helped drive Chartock’s decision to leave the classroom and to pursue a career in education leadership outside the school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Impact Academy: Rethinking Student Assessment

Sophie Wellington at Impact Academy, Nov. 19, 2014. (EWA/Lori Crouch)

On a recent Wednesday morning, 11th-grader Sophia Wellington took to the undersized stage at the front of her high school gym and with seamless poise demonstrated what smarter student assessment could look like.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What It Takes to Build Great Teachers

Author Elizabeth Green speaks to EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (Emily Richmond/EWA)

If 49 multiplied by 5 is 245, why would a student think the answer is 405? And who is more likely to know this – a mathematician or an elementary math teacher?

Elizabeth Green, the author of “Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How to Teach It to Everyone), posed this question to a roomful of education reporters at EWA’s October seminar in Detroit.  

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teaching Math: More Than Mastering the Numbers

Dean Deborah Loewenberg Ball, University of Michigan School of Education, speaks to EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (Emily Richmond)

Deborah Loewenberg Ball began her career as an elementary school teacher, working for 15 years with a diverse population of students. But math stumped her.

“That troubled me,” Ball said Oct. 21 during her keynote presentation at the EWA seminar on teaching held in Detroit. “I would work really hard on how could I make the math make sense to the students, … but on Fridays they would know how to do things and on Monday they would have forgotten.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Nashville Magnet School Students Sing Different Tune

More than a few reporters at EWA’s National Seminar who signed up for the visit to Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville suggested that the campus would certainly be infused with country music elements. Perhaps cowboy hats and boots on each student, with future Taylor Swifts and Scotty McCreerys singing their way through the halls – right?

EWA Radio

Is Kochs’ High School Finance Class Pushing Conservative Agenda?
EWA Radio, Episode 8

This week, Emily and Mikhail talk to Joy Resmovits of The Huffington Post, who discusses her story (written with colleague Christina Wilkie) about the Charles G. Koch Foundation’s creation of Youth Entrepreneurs: a public high school finance course being used in schools in the midwest and south, which was designed to introduce students to free market theory and economics with a distinctly conservative point of view. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Happens When States Take Over School Districts?

Dan Varner of Excellent Schools Detroit speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

State takeover districts have been lauded as the savior of children left behind by inept local school boards — and derided as anti-democratic fireworks shows that don’t address the root causes of poor education. Three panelists took an hour during EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville to get beyond the flash and noise and discuss the real challenges of state school takeovers, a process all acknowledged is disruptive.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Kids Got the Beat: Arts and Music Enrich Student Learning

When Sandra Ruppert was growing up in Los Angeles every classroom at her school, Hancock Park Elementary, had a piano. And every teacher could play it.

“I made my first trip to the opera in third grade, learned ballroom dancing in the fourth grade and took violin in fifth grade,” Ruppert told those in attendance at “Kids Got the Beat,” one of the final panels of EWA’s 2014 National Seminar, held last month in Nashville. At her school, “there was artwork in the halls and seamlessly integrated into all kinds of classes.”

Seminar

Diving Into Data Workshop

Data journalism is more than just reporting on numbers.  It’s taking the records of a half-million students and uncovering alarming absentee rates. It’s tracking the attrition of students from neighborhood schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core: Angles on Assessments

Jacqueline King speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

The current generation of assessments being taken by students across the country is something like a bad boyfriend. 

That’s according to Jacqueline King of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, who made the point at EWA’s National Seminar held last month at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. When a better guy (or test) comes along, she continued, it’s hard to take it seriously.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Judging Principals: Inside the Evaluation Debate

How should we judge the performance of Baton Rouge education reporter Charles Lussier?

That was the question posed by Vanderbilt University education professor Joseph Murphy, who suspected that by the second afternoon of EWA’s National Seminar his audience was ready for a fun exercise. Murphy talked about the difference between Lussier’s inputs (such as his education and technical skills), the work he does and his results (readership and response to his articles).

“What if we measure him on whether the paper increases circulation? Do you buy that?” Murphy asked.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Lawsuit: California Students Shortchanged on Class Time

A class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday accuses the state of California of failing to provide adequate classroom instructional time to minority and low-income students.

The suit, Cruz v. State of California, was brought by students who attend seven economically disadvantaged schools in the state. Schools in Los Angeles and Compton are included in the lawsuit, as are Bay Area schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Don’t Underestimate School Boards’ Impact

When it comes to the decisions that most directly affect the business of public education and what happens in classrooms, few people are as influential – and often as unacknowledged – as local school board members.

Indeed, a new report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests the makeup of local school boards can have a measurable effect on student achievement.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Ten Questions to Ask on School Leaders

When I was covering the education beat in Las Vegas, an annual survey of teachers in the Clark County School District (the nation’s fifth-largest) always yielded plenty of fodder for stories. But what struck me in particular was the No. 1 reason – year in and year out – given by teachers when asked why they had decided to leave a school. It wasn’t overly challenging students, or low pay or a long commute. Rather, it was dissatisfaction with their principals.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Innovations in Classroom Technology

With lawmakers on both sides of the aisle touting the value of a computer science education, and President Obama using a video message to urge every American to learn how to code, it seemed like the ideal time to revisit a session from EWA’s 66th National Seminar, which held at Stanford University in May. We asked some of the education reporters attending to contribute blog posts from the sessions

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New School of Thought on Back-To-Class Coverage

My inbox is filling up with back-to-school pitches, for everything from the latest vocabulary-building phone app to a microwave bag that will allow college students to cook ears of corn and whole potatoes. (The latter sounds like a potential starchy straight line to the Freshman 15.)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Using ‘Linked Learning’ to Prepare Students for College — And Career

We asked some of the journalists attending EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford University in May, to contribute posts from the sessions. Michelle Sokol of the State Journal in Frankfort, Ky. is today’s guest blogger. 

Students used to receive their technical education in one classroom and academic education in another — but it’s not your father’s shop class anymore.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 3

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 3

As the Q&A concludes, Khan fields questions on adapting lessons for an international audience, the MOOC model, and solving the problem of credentialing in online ed.

Multimedia

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 2

A Conversation with Sal Khan, Part 2

During the Q&A, Khan discusses the history of distance learning, the structure and composition of his videos, and how Khan Academy is beginning to approach assessments.