NELMS NEWS Node 2011
An annotated list of current events &
issues related to the middle level


The Touchy-Feely Future Of Technology

In 1975, when then-composer and performer Bill Buxton started designing his own digital musical instruments, he had no way of knowing he was helping to spark the next technological revolution. But nine years — and a master's in computer science — later, that all changed.

NPR 12/26/11


Rules to Stop Pupil and Teacher From Getting Too Social Online

Faced with scandals and complaints involving teachers who misuse social media, school districts across the country are imposing strict new guidelines that ban private conversations between teachers and their students on cellphones and online platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

N.Y. Times 12/17/11


70+ Gift Ideas for Every Kid on Your List

Looking for the perfect kids' gift? Need a special present for a teen? Common Sense Media's editors make it easy to find age-appropriate DVDs, movies, video games, books, music, TV, mobile apps, and websites. Our top selections help you find kid, tween, and teen gifts they'll love -- and that you'll feel good about giving.

Commonsensemedia 11/14/11


Brain Rules School

Jose and DeShawn are building a robot in STEM lab. Their Problem Solving Block includes a customized playlist of 10-minute puzzles, challenges, and ST Math -- a visual and game-based approach to math. Every third day their playlist recycles through concepts they've already mastered to keep the skills fresh.

Huffington Post 12/4/11


Principals Protest Role of Testing in Evaluations
Through the years there have been many bitter teacher strikes and too many student protests to count. But a principals' revolt?
"Principals don't revolt," said Bernard Kaplan of Great Neck North High School on Long Island, who has been one for 20 years. "Principals want to go along with the system and do what they're told."

New York Times 11/27


Think digital cheating is something only other parents' kids do?
Common Sense Media's groundbreaking new study, conducted in partnership with The Benenson Strategy Group, reveals that cheating via cell phones and the Internet is more widespread than parents might assume. More importantly, many students don't consider what they're doing to be cheating..

Common Sense Media 2011


Candidates seek to limit federal role in education
WASHINGTON—When it comes to education, the Republican field of presidential candidates has a unified stance: Get the federal government out of schools. How they'd do that varies. 11/14


National Study Finds Widespread Sexual Harassment of Students in Grades 7 to 12
Nearly half of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year, according to a study scheduled for release on Monday, with 87 percent of those who have been harassed reporting negative effects such as absenteeism, poor sleep and stomachaches.

New York Times 11/7


In a Standardized Era, a Creative School Is Forced to Be More So
DURHAM, N.H. — Every spring, Linda Rief, who is in her 25th year of teaching English at Oyster River Middle School, has eighth graders do a semester long "genre" project. They pick a subject area like mysteries, read masters like Agatha Christie, study the writer's craftsmanship ("Explain how the author foreshadows doom"), then draft their own.

New York Times 10/30


A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute
LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school's chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

New York Times 10/22


Maybe Teach Them Math, Science and Chess
The 120 elementary school children sat so quietly and intently that you might have assumed this was a mass detention period.
But it was chess, not confinement, in an Oak Brook hotel ballroom on Columbus Day. And the lessons learned might assist school leaders everywhere, including those attempting a systemwide resuscitation for Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's very disciplined, if impatient, mayor.

New York Times 10/15


FCC opens access to social media sites for e-Rate users
Now that even the staid Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has loosened its tight rein on social media networks, it's time for more educators to use these tools to improve classroom instruction and home-school communications.

eSchool News 9/26


Education Impact of Jobs Bill Under Debate
Educators and analysts are taking a hard look at whether the $55 billion K-12 portion of President Barack Obama's nearly $450 billion jobs plan will provide the jolt to schools still feeling the pinch of a sputtering economy that the administration hopes.

Education Week 9/19


Obama Calls for $60 Billion to Save Teacher Jobs, Fix Schools
President Barack Obama called for $30 billion in new money to stave off teacher layoffs—and $30 billion more to revamp facilities at the nation's K-12 schools and community colleges—as he outlined his vision for spurring the sputtering economy in a speech to Congress Thursday night.

Education Week 9/8


Many U.S. schools adding iPads, trimming textbooks
For incoming freshmen at western Connecticut's suburban Brookfield High School, hefting a backpack weighed down with textbooks is about to give way to tapping out notes and flipping electronic pages on a glossy iPad tablet computer.

eSchool News 9/6


Hurricane Shuts Down Schools Along East Coast
Hurricane Irene swept ashore with less ferocity than feared, but widespread power outages, downed trees, and the continuing danger of flooding still kept students out of school in dozens of districts along the Eastern Seaboard and in New England—and for some extended the summer break.

Educaiton Week 8/29


Schools Restore Fresh Cooking to the Cafeteria
GREELEY, Colo. — The idea of making school lunches better and healthier has gathered steam in many parts of the nation in recent years, but not equally for every child. Schools with money and involved parents concerned about obesity and nutrition charged ahead, while poor and struggling districts, overwhelmed by hard times, mostly did not.

NY Times 8/16


What is CNN Student News?
CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN. This award-winning show and its companion Web site are available free of charge throughout the school year.

CNN Student News


To the High School Students of Kershaw County School District…
My name is Chris Crutcher and I've been informed that my book, Angry Management, has been removed from your summer reading list because a concerned parent, Douglas Berry, brought the "number of expletives" in the text to the attention of your district's Director of Communications.

Chris Crutcher web site


The Critical Years
Articles in this series will look at changing theories of how middle school should be taught..

New York Times


Arne Duncan's 'Plan B' May Leave 'No Child' Behind
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is signaling that he's prepared to give public schools relief from federal mandates under No Child Left Behind if Congress does not pass the law's long-awaited overhaul and re-authorization this year.

National Public Radio 6/12


Think Twice Before Reaching For A Caffeine Boost…
Caffeinated energy drinks are everywhere, and new products are being introduced all the time.

Caffeine has many well-known benefits. Even so, last week the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report recommending that children and adolescents never use energy drinks.

National Public Radio 6/6


U.S. Reforms Out of Sync With High-Performing Nations, Report Finds…

The United States' education system is neither coherent nor likely to see great improvements based on its current attempts at reform, a report released this week by the National Center on Education and the Economy concludes.
Education Week 5/27


New Rating System Targets Media's Education Potential…

A nonprofit group aimed at helping educators and parents shape children's media consumption will move beyond rating movies, video games, and websites for appropriateness and begin evaluating those same media offerings' educational potential..
Education Week 5/24


Researchers Probe Causes of Math Anxiety

Math problems make more than a few students—and even teachers—sweat, but new brain research is providing insights into the earliest causes of the anxiety so often associated with mathematics.
Education Week 5/11


E-Rate Applications Surge in 2011

Applications for the federal E-rate program were up to 44,139 for the 2011 funding year, representing $4.31 billion in requests, the highest level in nearly a decade, according to an analysis released this week.
The Journal 5/4/11


A New Measure for Classroom Quality

Of all the goals of the education reform movement, none is more elusive than developing an objective method to assess teachers. Studies show that over time, test scores do not provide a consistent means of separating good from bad instructors.
NY Times 4/30/11


Standards, Testing, and Accountability: A Failed Experiment

It seems as if Americans are constantly bombarded by reports of doom related to our educational system. A recent documentary, Waiting for Superman, has highlighted the disturbing and sad situations in our schools.
Education News 4/10/11


Chocolate Milk Divides School Officials and Nutritionists

Controversy over the nutritional value of chocolate milk has made some schools stop serving it, while advocates argue the ban hurts overall milk intake.
Education News 4/14/11


Standards, Testing, and Accountability: A Failed Experiment

James Alexander, Ph.D., Professor - It seems as if Americans are constantly bombarded by reports of doom related to our educational system. A recent documentary, Waiting for Superman, has highlighted the disturbing and sad situations in our schools.
Education News 4/10/11


Obama says too much testing makes education boring

President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.
MSNBC 3/28/11


U.S. Is Urged to Raise Teachers' Status

To improve its public schools, the United States should raise the status of the teaching profession by recruiting more qualified candidates, training them better and paying them more, according to a new report on comparative educational systems.
The New York Times 3/16/11


Obama Pushes Overhaul of No Child Left Behind Law, but Testing Will Remain Central

When it comes to his domestic agenda, President Obama frequently gets criticism from conservatives for what they see as overreaching on issues that he didn't define during his campaign. At the same time, he's often criticized from the left for what it sees as a betrayal of campaign promises and far short of the transformational "change" that help propel him to the White House.
PBS 3/14/11


The Way You Learned Math Is So Old School

Your fifth-grader asks you for help with the day's math homework. The assignment: Create a "stem-and-leaf" plot of the birthdays of each student in the class and use it to determine if one month has more birthdays than the rest, and if so, which month?
NPR 3/5/11


An Interview with David Kirp: Kids First

My experience as a member of the 2008 Presidential Transition Team, where I was working on education policy, prompted me to write Kids First. We must have met with 150 groups, each with its' particular cause-the needs of English language learners, Vocational Education Students, Native American, Head Start students and so on—and while each group was doubtlessly well-intentioned, no one was interested in linking these concerns.
Education News 2/24/11


Study: Many students in eighth-grade algebra not prepared for it

Statewide test data showed that schools increased the number of students taking Algebra I in eighth grade by 80 percent between 2003 and 2010, but many are also failing the subject.
Education News 2/20/11


Studies Take Aim at Playground Gossip

Gossip and social ostracization may come far down on the list of concerns for educators trying to prevent bullying, yet emerging research suggests relational bullying, though often the most frequently overlooked, may hold the key to changing an aggressive culture in schools.

Of the three major types of bullying—physical, verbal and relational—relational aggression, has been the latest and least studied, both because it involves less visible, immediately dangerous behavior than fighting or verbal abuse, and in part because it involved more nuanced relationships among the bullies, victims, and bystanders.
Education Week 2/1/11


Text messaging 'improves children's spelling skills'

The use of "textisms" can improve literacy among pupils by giving them extra exposure to word composition outside the school day, it was claimed.
The conclusions come despite fears that the use of abbreviations such as "CU L8R", "Gr8" and "innit" can undermine children's reading and writing.
The Telegraph 1/25/11


Cursive Disappearing From Students' Writing Skills

Georgia educators say that timeworn tradition of learning to write in cursive may soon disappear from most children's school lesson plans.
Cursive isn't listed anywhere in the new curriculum standards Georgia teachers may start using next school year, although those standards could be changed..
Education Week 1/19/11


As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up

Ninth grade was supposed to be a fresh start for Marie's son: new school, new children. Yet by last October, he had become withdrawn. Marie prodded. And prodded again. Finally, he told her. "The kids say I'm saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook," he said. "They don't believe me when I tell them I'm not on Facebook." But apparently, he was...
N.Y. Times 12/4/10


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