Renascence School Education News - private school

Friday, March 27, 2015

To Get Kids to Eat Healthier in School, Presentation Matters

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A new study out of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that getting kids to eat healthier boils down to taste and presentation. Researchers assigned trained chefs to a number of low-income schools in an effort to focus on the eating habits of 2,600 third and fourth-graders in schools both with and without a chef. They found that children who attended schools with a trained chef on staff ate more fruits and vegetables than those who did not. Success was measured by “plate waste,” or the food children left on their plates after finishing their meals. Schools where children ate more of the food served to them saved money, as the chefs were able to put the food they had to use more effectively…The study is the first to look into the long-term impacts that chefs and “choice architecture” have on school lunches, finding that carefully placing healthy options and having a chef on staff seemed to increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to Cohen.”(more)

Parents as Chief Advocates

Getting Smart – Nancy Weinstein

“Did you know that in addition to your responsibilities of Chief Caregiver, Chief Cheerleader and Chief Taxi driver, Chief Advocate is high on the list? If you have a child with special needs, you know exactly where I’m going with this. For those who aren’t familiar, you should know that at some point, your child, every child, will need help in a specific class, with a teacher who is not meeting their needs, with a previously undetected learning problem, with bullying. It’s the problem that doesn’t go away in a week, or even a month. It impacts self-esteem and starts to look like depression or anxiety. And you, my fellow parent, are the only one who will understand the depth of the problem. You will be the one to see the nightly struggle with homework, the tears that wait for the comfort of home, the lack of appetite, the lack of sleep. And then your time as Chief Advocate has arrived. I’ve been there, and here are some strategies I believe can help:”(more)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Do snow days hurt student progress? A Harvard professor says no.

The Washington Post – Emma Brown

“It’s become a maxim in education: More learning time leads to greater student achievement. So when schools close for snow — as they did over and over this winter across many states — the assumption is that student achievement will suffer. Not so, says Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Goodman examined weather data, student test scores and attendance data in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2010. He found that the number of canceled school days because of snow in a given year had no impact on children’s math and reading test scores. Instead, it was the number of days that were merely snowy — when schools remained open, but many students were absent — that appeared to hurt achievement, particularly in math.”(more)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New York City Holds STEM Institutes for Teachers

Education Week – Caralee Adams

“The New York City school system is ramping up professional development for its public school teachers in STEM fields and working to strengthen instruction in career education with $3.2 million in funding…”This is about college and career readiness for all kids,” said Kelli Wells, the executive director of education and skills for the GE Foundation in Fairfield, Conn., in a phone interview. “It’s not the vocational training programs of the past, but it’s really linking STEM, career tech education, and career readiness together.””(more)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beyond the Classroom: Sparking a love for understanding science

The Miami Herald – Laurie Futtermank

“Science helps satisfy our natural curiosity: why is the sky blue, how did the leopard get its spots, what is a solar eclipse? With science, we can answer these questions without resorting to magical explanations. Scientific understanding leads to technological advances, and helps us learn about enormously important topics, such as our health, the environment and natural hazards. Yet each year it seems children know less about how the natural world works and have all but lost that curiosity. Is it because kids are spending less time outdoors and getting dirty? Is it because technology has made them intrinsically less curious? Is Siri, Wikipedia or Google to blame? Is it because they are reading less and being entertained more? Or is it because they just don’t care? No matter what the reason, not knowing spells trouble for all of us. It is frightening to think that we may be cultivating a generation of kids who don’t question or ponder. A 2013 article, “Why everyone must understand science,” references the fact that people feel excluded by science and scientific discussions. Although most people use laptops, fly in planes and use appliances in the home, they don’t know what’s behind this technology. The less people know the more they are likely to be influenced by people who may not have their best interests at heart.”(more)

Here’s One Way to Improve School Lunches

Time – Alice Park

“With so many children getting about half of their daily calories from school meals, it’s critical that school cafeterias provider healthier options. The latest research suggests one way to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables If everyone had a personal chef, we’d all eat better. And if every school had a chef overseeing its recipes and menus, then kids would eat better too, right? That’s the idea behind the latest study published in JAMA Pediatrics. With 32 million children in the U.S. eating school lunches—some of those at schools where pizza is considered a vegetable—there’s a movement to bring healthy food to the school cafeteria. But could a chef really make a difference?.”(more)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Promoting school quality can be done on many fronts

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel – Alan j. Borsuk

“What a day I had on Wednesday. I talked with or listened to significant, interesting people who, I believe, each want to see things get better for children in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin and nationwide. But the differences in what they said! I felt like I was getting thrown from side to side in a roller coaster. How do I sort it all out? First there was Todd Ziebarth, one of the leading charter school advocates in the country. Specifically, he’s senior vice president for state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and he’s involved in trying to get the Legislature to allow more independent charter schools in Wisconsin and to provide more money to those schools. Some of the best schools in Milwaukee are independent charters, Ziebarth said, and he’s right. Later Wednesday, I got a news release from a reputable research organization known as CREDO at Stanford University, which found that students in independent charter schools in Milwaukee were making more progress overall than students in Milwaukee Public Schools. Why aren’t there more green lights to create such schools? Ziebarth asked. Good question. Then, in the afternoon, I got a call encouraging me to take an interest in a statement signed by the leaders of more than 30 government and nongovernment bodies involved in Milwaukee’s complex education scene. A lot of them aren’t known for cooperating with one another, and this was an encouraging example of working together, initiated by the Milwaukee Succeeds campaign.”(more)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Schools Nationwide Struggle With Substitute Teacher Shortage

The Huffington Post – Tom Coyne

“Carrie Swing wasn’t alarmed when her fifth-grade daughter, Ivy, spent a day in a first-grade classroom at her San Francisco school, filling out worksheets and helping younger students read because no substitute could be found for her absent teacher. But when it happened the next four days too, Swing became so concerned that she considered quitting her public relations job to homeschool her daughter. “The situation was really awful,” Swing said. “The kids had a sense of, `Nobody’s in charge here,’ and I think that was really hard on them.” Although Ivy’s school represents an extreme example, districts throughout the country have reported struggles finding substitute teachers. School officials say the shortage worsened as the unemployment rate improved, and job seekers who might have settled for a part-time job such as substitute teaching are now insisting on full-time positions with better pay and benefits. Geoffrey Smith founded the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State, which in 2008 spun off into an online training program for substitutes. He said he’s unaware of any national statistics about unfilled substitute teaching posts, although an unscientific survey conducted by his organization last year found 48 percent of districts responding reported severe or somewhat severe shortage of substitute teachers.”(more)

Friday, March 20, 2015

As Awareness of the School-to-Prison Pipeline Rises, Some Schools Rethink the Role of Police

The Huffington Post – Harold Jordan

“As talk of law enforcement reform continues to swirl in the aftermath of the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report, some communities have quietly made progress in addressing how police interact with students. Traditionally, police stepped on school grounds to respond to emergencies, such as those involving threats or major acts of violence, or to provide security, such as at arrival and dismissal times and at special events. What’s new is the growing trend of having police stationed in schools full-time. In other words, schools have become some officers’ beat. And like traditional policing, many officers walk this beat armed. The consequence has been the rise of the school-to-prison pipeline…The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Reform …noted that, “School district policies and practices that push students out of schools and into the juvenile justice system cause great harm and do no good”…The task force recommends that schools work with police to do everything they can to “find alternatives to student suspensions and expulsion,” such as through diversion programs.”(more)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Prepare Kids for Success in Math

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Imagine learning to fluently read and write Chinese in one hour a day for only 180 days each year. Impossible!


Now consider learning the foreign language of math in one hour a day for 180 days each year. Realistic?


If the goal is to ensure basic proficiency in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and percentages, the level of exposure is probably adequate. If the goal is to get students to the math levels required for high quality 21st Century employment, there is not nearly enough time.


For success in math, kids must be able read, memorize, organize, and write and sketch legibly. In addition, they need strong spatial abilities, excellent sequential processing skills, and attention to detail.


All these skills take many years to hone. Sadly, most early education programs have a heavy focus on reading and memorizing, but have little (or inadequate) emphasis on organization, handwriting and sketching, attention to detail, sequential processing, and spatial orientation.


Part of the problem is early childhood education teachers are taught in programs where these skills were not a priority, so they either have weak skills themselves and/or do not understand the importance of teaching the skills.


Then there are curricula problems. Most early childhood education curricula are developed by individuals or teams of individuals who have years of experience with humanities and social sciences so spatial, sequential processing, and attention to detail skills are not priorities.


Another challenge is that these technical skills are generally not imperative in math until students reach late elementary school. As a result, teachers, school administrators and regulators often believe students are performing well even though they have skills deficits.


The combination of curricula that does not include the necessary skills, instructors who not well equipped to teach the skills, and delayed feedback on skills deficits is a recipe for disaster.


To correct the problem, we must change our early childhood education graduation requirements to include a 50/50 balance between the humanities/social sciences (psychology, sociology, language arts, etc.) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses.


Then, we need curricula developed by well-balanced teams that include equal representation from the humanities/social sciences and STEM.


Finally, we need a way of confirming that preschool to grade three students are obtaining these necessary skills.


With these changes, our kids should have the skills to succeed in math, the humanities, engineering, and social sciences!