Month: June 2019

Recently, teachers at the John Thomas School of Discovery (JTSD) in Nixa, Mo., brought the timeless board game “The Game of Life” to life during a math class simulation, allowing students to have fun while learning about the realities of adulthood. Students at JTSD learned all about budgeting, taxes and interest during the unconventional activity.

Sixth grade teachers created the game as a way for students to learn about how adults continue to utilize math skills far after school ends. JTSD educators say they will continue to use the math lesson in the future, to allow students to have fun while learning math during the summer portion of the extended school year.

While teenagers sometimes act as if they know everything and do not need anyone, they probably need a champion more during these trying years than ever before. Teens today face a great deal of pressure and distractions that steer them away from meaningful connections. If I put no limits on my 15-year-old son’s use of technology, he may just game himself into oblivion.

Relationships and connections are powerful. They create the space to be vulnerable, learn about yourself and others, express emotions, and share dreams and fears safely. While relationships with peers are often incredibly meaningful to teens, having a “champion” adult in their corner who is not their parent or caregiver can make all the difference.

Some 28 years ago, the George Lucas Educational Foundation set out on a mission to celebrate and encourage K-12 innovation. The Foundation ultimately blossomed into what is now Edutopia, as well as a research arm.

In the last 10 years, Edutopia has evolved into a pretty strong web presence. It has about 13 million visitors a month across all platforms — social media, email and web.

The research group is newer; it is a second division of the organization. The division is doing multiple research projects that look at the differences and capacities for a rigorous project-based learning approach to instruction. The Foundation has several projects in elementary, middle and high school underway.

When boys and girls were asked to draw a scientist in a study several decades ago, the results revealed a stunning bias: 99.4% of the drawings depicted a male scientist. Out of 5,000 drawings collected between 1966 and 1977, only 28 were of female scientists, all of which were drawn by girls.

Since then, nearly 80 studies have repeated this experiment with more than 20,000 students across all grade levels, and the results of all these studies were reviewed in a meta-analysis published last year.

Today, more than half of girls draw a woman when asked to draw a scientist, a number that is risen steadily since the 1960s.

21st CCLC Cohort 10 Grant Awards Announced

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is pleased to announce the completion of the competitive grant review process for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Cohort 10 grant and the awarding of 74 new grants for a total of more than $22 million in 21st CCLC grant funds for 2019-2024. This includes 18 school districts, seven charter schools, three colleges and universities, four intermediate units, two faith-based and 28 community-based organizations, which also includes two nationally affiliated service organizations.

The 21st CCLC program is authorized under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. Funds are intended to provide students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools with additional services to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects; to offer students a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs, and to offer literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

PDE established the following state priorities for 21st CCLC funding for 2019-2024:

• STEM/STEAM education
• Workforce, career readiness and college readiness
• Planning for transitional vocational/technical services
• High school credit recovery
• Underserved geographic locations
• CSI and/or ATSI designated schools


At a “codeathon” for high school girls hosted in April by e-commerce company, actress and activist Laura Dern offered one hypothesis. There is a misconception that professional coders work only at stereotypical technology companies, she said in an interview. In reality, teaching girls coding at early ages opens career doors even beyond STEM fields.

“Coders and girls in STEM are women learning a language to allow them to be in every industry,” she said. “They are artists. They are inventors. They are going to cure diseases. They are in the world of AI. They will be cinematographers with a whole new concept of film and computer-generated imagery and motion capture. They’re fashion designers – they’re everything.”

Developed as an extension of AdvancED’s K-12 STEM certification, the early-childhood recognition emphasizes learning environments that help develop young children’s curiosity and critical thinking skills.

“The content is important, but what we’re really looking at is creating children’s ability to think and look at the world through that inquiry, problem-based, project-based and engineering design process,” Lisa Sutherland, AdvancED’s director for early learning services, said in an interview.

In such classrooms, the “T” in STEM refers less to technology and more to tools, such as magnifying glasses, building materials and scales for measurement. AdvancED also wanted the certification to be relevant for classrooms serving infants and toddlers, not just those entering schools.

Out-of-school time needs to be nothing like school. One effective and highly motivating way is to use thematic curriculum, which organizes reading, writing, math, social studies and science lessons connected to an overarching theme. The idea of thematic curriculum is not new. Out-of-school academic and enrichment programs can offer thematic curriculum that will provide cohesive programming that offer rich learning experiences that are highly engaging and connect to the larger community.

Nationally, just 13.2% of federal child care assistance dollars go to families who were either working and pursuing education or training (7%) or solely pursuing education or training (6%), according to the report. Parents pursuing an education are “usually the lowest priority” both for child care assistance programs and for workforce development programs, said Gina Adams, a co-author of the report and senior fellow at the Urban Institute with a focus on early childhood issues.

Philadelphia and School District officials announced that five more elementary schools will join the Community Schools initiative in the fall. The idea of community schools is to make school buildings into neighborhood hubs for health, recreation and social services. It is a model that is growing in popularity nationally. Ultimately, each school will look different, because each will assess its community’s unique needs, build partnerships and develop a plan. The theory is that reaching the “whole child” and aiding families in primarily low-income neighborhoods creates a better learning environment.

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