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Students thrive on Mandarin learning at Chicago’s top high school

Xinhua – Miao Zhuang and Xia Lin

“Upper schoolers at the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School like to warm up their get-togethers with a rendition of Jasmine, the classic Chinese folk song that U.S. President Donald Trump’s grand-daughter performed months ago during her visit to the Chinese Embassy in Washington. “Chinese is one of the most widely used language in the world. So I think learning it is super important, because so many different people speak it,” Helen, a Payton enrollee, told Xinhua in a recent interview. Xu Qun, who came from China for her Mandarin-teaching job at Payton, has noticed for a long time the trendy choice among American children, saying that “I think a lot of children in the U.S. are very young when they start learning Chinese. Some parents think Chinese is so important that they hire a Chinese-speaking nanny to look after their children.'”(more)

Illinois schools experiment with competency-based education model

Education Dive – Autumn A. Arnett

“Competency-based education is seeing growth in adult education programs as a way to help graduate more marketable future employees, and now the trend seems to be headed for the K-12 sector as well. The push toward mastery vs. time-in-class should help promote students who are better prepared for life after high school. Many of the adaptive competencies emphasized are the same as the ones employers say today’s workers are lacking, and making the development of these “soft skills” a mandatory part of their education should help close the gap.”(more)

Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office

The New York Times – David Leonhardt

“Gregory Jones, the principal of Kenwood high school, has learned that when spring finally arrives in Chicago, trouble often arrives with it. He saw it happen again on a warm afternoon last May, when students were lingering outside the school, on the city’s South Side, and a fight broke out. Jones, a trim 46-year-old with a calming presence, went to investigate. He passed a junior named Maya Space and asked her. She said she hadn’t been there. He sensed she was lying, and a cellphone video would confirm she had been in the scrum.”(more)

Arne Duncan Says STEM Programs Could Be Game-Changer For Chicago

CBS Chicago – Staff Writer

“One way to stem Chicago street violence might be more STEM programs in the city’s schools. Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan dropped in at a South Side high school Friday to give one STEM program a boost. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more. Chicago Vocational students like freshman Makiya Wright once viewed science and math like castor oil.”(more)

Foreign language in elementary school: more talk, less grammar

The Chicago Tribune Kimberly Fornek

“In language classes in area elementary schools, students spend less time memorizing vocabulary lists and conjugating verbs and more time speaking and writing the language. “We may be learning fewer vocabulary words, but the words students learn they will remember and use on a daily basis,” said Kyle Schumacher, superintendent of La Grange Elementary District 102..”(more)

Toymakers want to bring STEM to playtime, filling gaps from schools

The Chicago Tribune – Cheryl V. Jackson

“The toy industry is looking to fill a gap where schools might not be teaching STEM, said Robin Raskin, founder of lifestyle technology conference producer Living in Digital Times. “Ninety percent of parents want their kids to learn computer science, but only 40 percent of schools teach computer science,” she said during the Chicago Toy and Game Inventors Conference. Learning Resources has shifted its business mix in recent years to reflect that, to about 55 percent consumers and 45 percent schools. Its business base had previously been about 90 percent schools.”(more)