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3 winning characteristics of a school STEAM program

E-School News – Chris Fornaro

“I started my career at The Shipley School, an independent K-12 school located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, at an innovative and exciting juncture. In 2014, Shipley was starting an engineering course from scratch, and having spent several years in the industry as an engineer and several more as a math and science teacher in Philadelphia-area schools, I jumped at the opportunity to pioneer a new program as an Upper School (grades 9-12) teacher.”(more)

Think big, start early: New effort to close gender gap in science starts in preschool

CBS News – Shanika Gunaratna

“Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, according to numbers released last year from the National Science Foundation. Other data shows they lag behind men in securing higher paying jobs at a number of major Silicon Valley companies.”(more)

This district’s blended learning program is putting struggling readers back on track

E-School News – Judith Culang and Linda Baker

“In Neshaminy School District, northeast of Philadelphia, nearly 20 percent of our struggling K–2 students spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week in small-group reading intervention. To limit the time these students spend in intervention programs, we have an “all hands on deck” approach: With parental involvement and our blended learning model, Neshaminy educators identify and build upon students’ strengths to lay the foundation for reading success. Our blended model starts with an engaging digital curriculum, one-to-one instruction, and small-group work. After we implemented this approach districtwide last year, we saw enormous growth in a majority of our students, especially among struggling or reluctant readers. Ten to 15 percent of students entering the intervention program at the start of the school year were able to “graduate” and transition back to the traditional classroom by January. We have found that by focusing on phonics and the skills needed to decode the English language, our students are able to bring what they’ve learned into the classroom, effectively bridging the gap between intervention and our ELA curriculum.”(more)

Education’s Mr. Fix-it

The Christian Science Monitor – Sarah Garland

“Several students sit around a conference table at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia on a surly winter’s day, the kind that makes even the school’s drafty classrooms seem welcoming. They are there to give their assessment of the school – and they’re not afraid to be blunt. “I like this school, but I kind of don’t,” says Chynah Perry, age 15, a thin girl with straight posture and stylish black-rimmed glasses. “It’s strict. Real strict.” Quaseem Foxwell, a linebacker on the football team, says several of his friends left the school because of the tough rules. Yet he defends the strictures. He says he improved his own behavior after a heart-to-heart with his teachers and administrators.”(more)

Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)

Quality STEM education is essential – and not just for the college-bound

The Philadelphia Business Journal – Bob Kessler

“With the end of the school year comes a crossroads for Philadelphia’s graduating seniors. Those heading off to college know what the next several years will hold, but for students interested in a different kind of career, the path may not be so clear. For these students, who may be mechanically minded, hands-on learners, a quality technical education could make the difference between a winding path that leads to uncertainty or being on the road to rewarding, long-term careers, and helping to fill the nation’s skills gap. Quality technical training programs can prepare students to work in the skilled trades, where jobs are abundant, pay well, and offer plenty of opportunities for advancement. In the transportation sector, for example, the nation will need 37,000 skilled service technicians each year between now and 20201 Average annual wages range from $35,000 to $54,999, and those who do well can become service managers, service directors or own their own businesses.”(more)