Saturday, November 28, 2009

Teachers begin using cell phones for class lessons


The Associated Press
Friday, November 27, 2009

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- Ariana Leonard's high school students shuffled in their seats, eagerly awaiting a cue from their Spanish teacher that the assignment would begin.

 "Take out your cell phones," she said in Spanish.

 The teens pulled out an array of colorful flip phones, iPhones and SideKicks. They divided into groups and Leonard began sending them text messages in Spanish: Find something green. Go to the cafeteria. Take a picture with the school secretary.

 Leonard's class at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, a middle-class Florida suburb about 30 miles north of Tampa, is one of a growing number around the country that are abandoning traditional policies of cell phone prohibition and incorporating them into class lessons. Spanish vocabulary becomes a digital scavenger hunt. Notes are copied with a cell phone camera. Text messages serve as homework reminders.

 "I can use my cell phone for all these things, why can't I use it for learning purposes?'" Leonard said. "Giving them something, a mobile device, that they use every day for fun, giving them another avenue to learn outside of the classroom with that."

 Much more attention has gone to the ways students might use phones to cheat or take inappropriate pictures. But as the technology becomes cheaper, more advanced and more ingrained in students' lives that mentality is changing.

 Read more HERE.  

Friday, November 27, 2009

Should we inflate Advanced Placement grades?

Class Struggle by Jay Mathews

The Washington Post
November 27, 2009

 The Rochester, N.Y., public schools do a fine job. Their leaders often have great ideas. But according to Rochester school board member Mike Reno, they are talking about doing something to their Advanced Placement courses that could be troublesome, even though I once thought it was a good idea. (Some people who know me say that is the very definition of a bad idea.)

Here is what Reno revealed in an email to me:

"Our district, in an effort to increase AP participation, is proposing to lower the grading scale for AP classes. The idea is based on the notion that kids in Rochester don’t want to take AP classes because they are afraid that the tougher work will lead to a lower grade, and they don’t want to damage their GPA for fear it will harm their college entrance chances. The district’s logic suggests by that lowering the grading scale, students will have a better chance of getting a better grade, and therefore be more willing to take the class.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Board of Education announces joint legislative brunch agenda

The Board of Education of Charles County will hold a joint legislative brunch with members of the Charles County delegation at 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 30, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata. The meeting will be televised live on Comcast Channel 96. All televised Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at The agenda is as follows:

Executive session - 9 a.m.

Call to order - 10 a.m.

Pledge of Allegiance

Legislative Brunch

  • Legislative issues


White House Begins Campaign to Promote Science and Math Education


The New  York Times
Published: November 23, 2009

To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists.

President Obama announced on Monday a campaign to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to spend money, time and volunteer effort to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math.

“You know the success we seek is not going to be attained by government alone,” Mr. Obama said kicking off the initiatives. “It depends on the dedication of students and parents, and the commitment of private citizens, organizations and companies. It depends on all of us.”

Read more HERE.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The playtime's the thing

A debate over the value of make-believe and other games in preschool classes is deepening as more states fund programs

By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 21, 2009

On a recent Thursday, 5-year-old Estefani Lovo Rivera took charge of a make-believe hair salon in her preschool classroom at Oakridge Elementary in Arlington County. Wielding a plastic fork as a hairbrush, dispatching customer after customer with a certain cool efficiency, she looked around the room for more classmates to entice.

"You have to come today," the budding stylist said. "Tomorrow we're closed!" 

To the untrained eye, such play appears to be nothing more than a distraction from the real letters-and-numbers work of school. But research shows that it might be an essential part in determining these children's social and emotional makeup as adults.  

Read more HERE.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alternative test may inflate score gains


'How do you know we are closing'

By Michael Alison Chandler

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lynbrook Elementary School, which serves one of the poorest communities in Fairfax County, seems to be a model for reform. Three years ago, the Springfield school failed to meet state testing goals in English. Since then, it has charted double-digit gains in passing rates for every one of its closely monitored racial and ethnic groups of students.

But the success at Lynbrook and other schools throughout the state is not only due to better teaching. More and more, students who have struggled to pass Virginia's Standards of Learning exams are taking different tests.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

School meals: the breakfast sugar overload

Valerie Strauss

The Answer Sheet:  A School Survival Guide for Parents (And Everyone Else)
The Washington Post
November 17, 2009

The first thing that jumped out at me about today’s Washington Post story about kids in D.C. schools eating federally funded breakfasts was “sugar.”

How much sugar was in the breakfast given to fourth-grader Alex Brown?

He had a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal, amount not mentioned; but a single serving, 1 cup, has 14 grams of sugar. That’s not especially high in the sweetened cereal world, but it’s not great.

Read more HERE. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bad teachers in D.C., Md. are shielded, report says

Survey data point to restrictive policies that thwart innovation

By Nick Anderson
The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A new national report card on educational innovation contends that principals in Maryland and the District of Columbia face too many barriers to ousting bad teachers.

As a result, both jurisdictions earned an F for teacher-removal policies. Virginia received an A.

Read more HERE.

Monday, November 09, 2009

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 10/10/09

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. and Public Forum is at 6 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast throughout the week. All televised Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at

Executive session - 12 p.m.

Call to order - 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, Thomas Stone High School's JROTC unit

Superintendent's update to the Board

Reports of officers/boards/committees

  • Correspondence/Board member updates
  • Education Association of Charles County update
  • Student Board member update
  • Enrollment
  • CIP update
  • Civics Mosaic/Russian visit
  • Communications update
Unfinished Business

New business and future agenda items
  • 2010 Legislative issues packet
  • Contract award approval for Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School full-day kindergarten addition

Recognition- 4:30 p.m.

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Recognition: American Cancer Society, Relay for Life

Public Forum - 6 p.m.

Action items

  • Minutes
  • Personnel