DEN Trend Report: 10/15/14


Looking to learn more about what’s trending in education?!?  Here’s a recap of this week’s news.
*If you read this feed, all you’ll owe is a comment below. Let us know what captured your eye and why!


Should We Tailor Difficulty of a School Text to Child’s Comfort Level or Make Them Sweat? (The Hechinger Report)

This example of leveling—adjusting the difficulty of text to suit the ability of the reader—comes courtesy of Newsela, an online reading program for students in grade three through high school that offers stories about current events “written to multiple levels of complexity.” Although Newsela went live less than 18 months ago, the notion of leveling students’ reading material goes back more than six decades. Today, technology is changing the nature of this long-established pedagogical practice. At the same time, proponents of the Common Core are raising new questions about the educational value of leveling, seconding the standards’ emphasis on having all students grapple with the same “complex texts.”

Web-Era Trade Schools, Feeding a Need for Code (New York Times)

A new educational institution, the coding boot camp, is quietly emerging as the vocational school for the digital age, devoted to creating software developers. These boot camps reflect the start-up ethic: small for-profit enterprises that are fast (classes are two to four months), nimble (revising curriculum to meet industry needs) and unconcerned with SAT scores or diplomas. Most are expensive, but some accept a share of the graduates’ first-year earnings or a finder’s fee from employers as payment.

Coding with the Kindergarten Crowd (eSchool News)

Introducing coding to kindergarten students helps them reflect on their own learning as they develop 21st-century skills such as problem solving and creativity, experts say. Coding has emerged as one of the most popular learning trends in recent years, and when it comes to programming, young students are proving just as capable as older students.

As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works (The New York Times)

The idea is that teachers, like doctors in medical residencies, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can be responsible for classes on their own. At Aspire, mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children. Once internalized, the thinking goes, such skills make all the difference between calm and bedlam, and can free teachers to focus on student learning.

It’s 2014. All Children Are Supposed To Be Proficient. What Happened? (NPR ED, Blog)

So, what is proficiency, anyway? Did the 100% goal ever make sense? What were the impacts of setting such a goal, positive and negative? And where do we go from here?

Creating Successful Blended-Learning Classrooms (Education Week)

We all know the feeling of having our class finally approach cruising altitude—only to hear that our peers, administrators, and the Internet at large have just discovered the next best way of ensuring student success.

For some educators, blended learning—that is, learning that combines face-to-face instruction with online work—is turbulence in their flight path. Peter West recently addressed the challenges that experienced educators face when considering a blended model. When teachers embrace blended-learning environments, they have to relinquish authority over content and time—the comfort of cruise control—in exchange for an asynchronous, individualized, and messy process.

Play, Informal Learning Cultivate Kids’ Interest in STEM (Scientific American)

Informal learning is powerful enough that it’s the centerpiece of some educational programs. At the New York Hall of Science, the late director, Alan J. Friedman, said he wanted to get children out of the classroom and venture into the unknown, without instruction, without help. (Full disclosure: I work for a communications firm that doespro bono work for the Hall of Science.) In helping children understand science by experiencing it firsthand, Dr. Friedman made the subject come to life for thousands of them.

Obama Wants 6 Million Children In Preschool By The End Of The Decade (Huffington Post)

“If we make high-quality preschool available to every child,” Obama said last Thursday, “not only will we give our kids a safe place to learn and grow while their parents go to work; we’ll give them the start that they need to succeed in school, and earn higher wages, and form more stable families of their own. In fact, today, I’m setting a new goal: By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool. That is an achievable goal that we know will make our workforce stronger.”

Kindergarten-Readiness Tests Gaining Ground (Education Week)

For 20 kindergartners at Parr’s Ridge Elementary School, the morning is packed with singing and dancing, playing an alphabet game with sticks, and cutting big oval shapes out of paper. And while these are typical classroom activities, many also double as something else: parts of an assessment.

Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It (The Atlantic)

I follow Steve Strogatz on Twitter, and while I don’t always understand his tweets (“Would you like Bayesian or frequentist statistics with that?”), I do find them fascinating. When Steve tweeted that he’d be teaching an introductory math course for non-math majors at Cornell University (#old_dog#new_tricks#excited), I emailed and asked him to tell me more. Why would a veteran professor of higher math choose to spend a semester in the company of undergraduates, many of whom would rather visit the dentist than spend two hours a week exploring mathematical concepts?

Superintendent Gets New Guidance on Technology in Decisions (Education Week)

Superintendents confronted by tough technology decisions have a new toolkit designed to help them improve students’ classroom experiences, teacher professional development, assessment, and other policies and practices.

Tech Companies Hope to Introduce Coding to 100 Million Students (Wall Street Journal)

In an effort to attract more — and more diverse — programmers, the CEOs of two dozen big tech companies, including Microsoft, Google and, will launch a campaign Wednesday with non-profit to introduce computer science to 100 million students world-wide.

“Deeper Learning” improves student outcomes. But what is it? (Hechinger Report)

The report, supported by the Hewlett Foundation, found that “deeper learning” schools graduate high schoolers on time at rates 9 percent higher than other schools, a win for teachers and students alike. The study paired 13 “deeper learning” schools, all members of Hewlett’s Deeper Learning Network, with other schools that have comparable student demographics (including underserved student populations) and incoming achievement levels. Graduates of the “deeper learning” schools were over 4 percent more likely to enroll in four-year colleges, and they were slightly more likely to attend selective schools. But what the heck is “deeper learning?”

Should Teachers Be Using Social Media in the Classroom? (PBS News Hour)

I have found the quietest students in my class speak the loudest on social media.
One day, Nadia, a very quiet and reserved student, walked into class and said, “Mr. Goble, guess what? “What?” I asked “I received a comment on my blog from a person in Australia,” she said. “You’re right! What we produce does extend beyond the walls of our classroom!”

3 Ways Technology Buoys At-Risk Students (eSchool News)

Interactive learning and other technology-enabled strategies can increase engagement and significantly improve achievement among at-risk students, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).

Fostering an Early Love of STEM Through The Power of Storytelling (Huffington Post)

It’s no secret that the U.S. is at a crossroads when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The U.S. is losing its lead in both research and development and creation of new science and engineering graduates. According to the National Math and Science Initiative, in 2008, 31 percent of U.S. bachelor degrees were issued in science and engineering fields, compared with 61 percent in Japan and 51 percent in China. To create more scientists and engineers, it is essential to create an early love for science and there is no better way to encourage that love than to capture that early curiosity with play.


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