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STEM classes growing in popularity for girls

North Jersey – Meghan Grant

“During the last few years, the STEM courses offered at Rutherford High School have seen an uptick in enrollment, particularly among female students. The district is planning a STEM Day for girls on Feb. 16, with nearly 65 eighth grade girls signed up to attend. Standing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, is the merging of science and technology coursework learned in a laboratory setting. There are currently 30 students enrolled in the required, year-long introductory course, Foundations of Technology. Next year, it will be offered as half-year class to allow more students to enroll.More advanced courses include Technological Design, Advanced Design Applications, Engineering Design and Honors Physics.”(more)

How One Teacher Let Go of Control To Focus On Student-Centered Approaches

KQED News Mind/Shift – Linda Flanagan

“When Kristine Riley looks back on how she used to teach her students, she sees order and control. Her third, fourth and fifth grade gifted-and-talented classes had been structured and orderly, and students sat in designated seats. She had assigned the same tasks to every student and had hoped for roughly the same answers from all of them. She used to believe that it was her responsibility as a teacher to impart information to her students. Riley had decided what was important and students were expected to learn what they were taught. Riley is also a conscientious teacher and regularly looks for ways to better herself on behalf of her students in Edison, New Jersey public schools. So after a colleague she admired and teachers she followed on social media began extolling the learning advantages of letting go of control in the classroom, Riley decided to give it a try.”(more)

School lunches: A key part of a child’s health and education

New – Sherry Sakowitz-Sukkar, M.D.

“Getting the kids ready to go back to school often involves shopping for school supplies, new clothes and attempting to get everyone back into a normal sleep routine. However, another key part of ensuring that kids are prepared to tackle the new school year is sending them to school with a healthy lunch. And, fortunately, packing a healthy lunch is easier and faster than you might think.”(more)

‘Biliteracy’ Seal On Student Diplomas Will Recognize And Reward Bilingualism

NJ Spotlight – John Mooney

“New Jersey has joined more than a dozen other states that endorse an official seal on high school graduates’ diplomas and other records that signifies they are proficient in a second language. Known as the State Seal of Biliteracy and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie last week, the mark is aimed as a way to highlight the language abilities of thousands of New Jersey’s graduates as they enter the workforce and college…“As a career educator I recognize the great benefit to students of mastering more than one language. This is a skill that will not only help them to expand their understanding of other world regions, but will also help to provide them additional career opportunities in the future,” said Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), one of the prime sponsors of the bill.”(more)

New Jersey Bill Would Require 20-minute Recess for K-5 Students

Education News – Grace Smith

“In a victory for play, the New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill requiring state public schools to offer children a 20-minute recess. Supporters explained that recess is a necessary part of students’ day because it allowed young people time to practice social skills and to be active, which will ward off health problems later in life. The bill is aimed at students from kindergarten through fifth grade and calls for having recess outside whenever possible. At this time, New Jersey does not require an activity break…The recess period is mandated to be at least 20 minutes each day in an effort to promote communication, creativity, physical activity, and cooperation among children. If signed by the governor, the change will take place during the next school year.”(more)

After a $45 billion announcement, a question looms: What is personalized learning?

The Hechinger Report – Nichole Dobo

“It remains to be seen exactly how and where Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, will spend the estimated $45 billion they’ve declared they will donate to charitable ventures, including education. But their announcement this week made one thing clear: in education, the two are focused on the potential of “personalized learning.” For those who don’t follow education trends closely, the couple’s charity announcement Tuesday, in the form of an open letter to their newborn daughter, served to introduce the idea of “personalized learning.” Many people equate it with any classroom that is technology-rich, but that isn’t always the case. Personalized learning can be achieved without high-tech tools, and the underlying concept reaches back long before computers were commonplace. Generally speaking, personalized learning gives students lessons that match their individual preferences and needs. Children get choice and flexibility in how they will spend their school day. They can move faster or slower than peers; they are, at times, autodidacts. The idea is that this will be more engaging, and also prepare students to be independent and take responsibility for their own progress.”(more)