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With new focus on curriculum, Gates Foundation wades into tricky territory

Chalk Beat – Matt Barnum

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a new plan intended to help public schools: improve the materials that teachers use to teach. “Our goal is to work with the field to make sure that five years from now, teachers at every level in secondary school have high-quality aligned curriculum in English, math, and science,” Bill Gates said in a speech last fall, describing curriculum as “an area where we feel like we’ve underinvested.” It’s part of a revamped strategy for the philanthropy, which has become one of the most influential forces in American education over the last two decades.” (more)

Nurturing Kindness in Young Children

Edutopia – Betty Ray

“Are humans essentially good, or evil? It’s a question that has fascinated philosophers, artists, and playwright for centuries, and inspired some of our greatest creative works, from Othello to Guernica to Hamilton. Increasingly, biologists and neuroscientists are wading into the debate, armed with sophisticated brain imaging equipment that provides a window into the tangled neural circuitry that offers clues to our best intentions—and our worst.” (more)

Cross-Curricular Critical Thinking Is Integral to STEM Success

Ed Tech – Amy Brown

“Whether you’re teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), STEAM (STEM with art) or STREAM (STEAM with reading), the proof of success is in preparing students to be ready for everything. While upgrading the acronym to include elements of visual learning and literacy shows that we’re striving for equal importance for all education topics, having a strong cross-curricular, well-rounded cohesive education is what is really important.”(more)

Teaching Current Events in the Age of Social Media

Edutopia – By Heather Wolpert-Gawron

“With each click of the mouse or flip of the channel, our society is inundated with headlines focused on natural disasters, sexual harassment allegations, countries on the brink of war, and teen suicides. While none of this is anything new, the bombardment of these stories is unique to this generation of student. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and questionable media sources (or questionable reporting techniques) have become their own newsworthy headlines. As a result, life can appear dark, far darker than in pre–social media days.”(more)

Is A Solid Curriculum a Constraint on Teacher Creativity?

Education Next – Kathleen Porter-Magee

“In education we have been conditioned to believe that mandating curriculum is akin to micromanaging an artist. That’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous. And, as Robert Pondiscio has persuasively argued, it simply makes “an already hard job nearly impossible [for teachers] to do well.” Yet study after study has demonstrated that requiring teachers use a proven textbook or curriculum to guide their teaching is one of the surest ways to improve outcomes for students. In 2009, Cory Koedel and Morgan Polikoff published results from a study comparing the effects of mathematics textbook choices on student achievement in California. They found that “non-trivial gains in student achievement are attainable simply by choosing more effective curriculum materials.”(more)

Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum

Edutopia – Eli Sheldon

“As defined by Jeannette Wing, computational thinking is “a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts of computer science.” To the students at my school, it’s an approach to tackling challenging questions and ambiguous puzzles. We explicitly integrate computational thinking into all of our classes, allowing students to draw parallels between what they’re learning and how they’re approaching problems across all disciplines.”(more)