Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quick Hits

Obama: Every student should use e-textbooks by 2017:  President Barack Obama's administration is expected to recommend today that public money -- once reserved for paper textbooks -- be allowed to purchase iPad tablet computers, Kindles and related software. Obama's goal is that every student use electronic textbooks by 2017, officials say. Part of the push stems from the expected cost-savings that comes from e-textbooks, rather than purchasing updated paper textbooks. (USA TODAY)

Ferris Bueller @ 50

Resources for observing Black History Month in the classroom:  Black History Month, which begins today, dates back to 1926 when educator and historian Carter G. Woodson started a weeklong observance in February, the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event was expanded to a month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. The theme of this year's observance is "Black Women in American Culture and History," and the editors of this blog offer a list of online resources for educators teaching related topics to students. (Schools of Thought blog)

Lawmakers concerned about accountability drop under NCLB waivers:  Some states' requests for waivers from No Child Left Behind could reduce school accountability under the federal education law, according to two Democrats in the U.S. Congress. "We urge you to require from all applicants robust and meaningful accountability measures when approving requests for flexibility" under the NCLB law, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. George Miller, wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Education Week)

Research looks at how humor affects children's brains:  Researchers assessed brain scans of 15 children ages 6 to 12 and found that watching funny videos activated their mesolimbic regions, which process rewards, and temporal-occipital-parietal junction, which processes incongruities. The study showed that positive videos also activated the brain's reward-processing region, but not the area that processes perceived incongruities. HealthDay News

Fla. ranks schools amid criticism from some educators: Florida's Education Department on Monday released a new ranking of the state's 3,078 schools. The rankings of elementary and middle schools are based on the results of state tests, while the high-school rankings also consider graduation rates, AP courses and other indicators of college readiness. Some educators say the new system fails to account for the effects of poverty on student achievement. "It's not that standardized test results don't tell us anything. They're very accurate measures of the size of the houses near a given school and the income levels of the people who live in those houses," said Andy Ford, president of the teachers' union. (Orlando Sentinel), (

States not setting bar high enough in NCLB waivers, officials say: Most states that have applied for waivers from No Child Left Behind have insufficient plans for holding schools accountable for the achievement of all students, according to an initial review of waivers by the Department of Education. Officials say nearly all states failed to set the bar for achievement high enough in their applications and lack plans for closing the achievement gap. Similar concerns were shared in December with 11 states that have applied for waivers. (The Washington Post)

Should the legal dropout age be changed?: President Barack Obama proposed in this week's State of the Union address that states require students to stay in school until age 18, compared with the typical dropout age of 16. Rhode Island has increased its dropout age, but efforts elsewhere have fizzled amid criticism that forcing students to stay enrolled could cause classroom problems. (The New York Times)

Teaching students about presidential campaign speeches: The writers of this blog post offer ideas and resources for teaching students about presidential stump speeches ahead of this year's elections. Students are first taught about the purpose and structure of campaign speeches and are given techniques for analyzing them. Students then craft persuasive presidential speeches of their own. (The New York Times)

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