A team of teachers at a New York elementary school recently concluded a character-education unit they based on the fictional Hogwarts School in the "Harry Potter" book series. In this commentary, physical-education teacher Kevin Yarnell describes how the students participated in the unit across disciplines.
Advocates for teaching students digital literacy back changes made to the United Kingdom's technology curriculum to emphasize learning code, but they argue that more schools need to integrate the use of technology and social media across all subjects. "Becoming literate in how the technical world works is equivalent to reading, writing and maths. We need to look at this fourth literacy as mainstream," said Mark Surman, Mozilla Foundation's executive director.
Nearly 80 school districts and charter schools in Ohio have pulled out of the Race to the Top program since winning grants in 2010, in part, because the cost of implementing the mandates exceeds the federal award. Districts also cite having to switch a year early to the state's new teacher-evaluation system, which uses test scores to grade educators. "We were spending a disproportionate amount of time following all the requirements," said Mike Johnson, superintendent of Bexley schools, which has turned down a grant for this year.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing plans to require that intern teachers who join the field via alternative methods are subject to additional credentialing regarding English-language learners. Potential options include providing training before teachers enter the classroom, offering waivers and administering a competency test to determine if teachers are knowledgeable about ELLs.
At the recent SXSWedu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, the changing role of teachers as facilitators of classroom learning was a primary focus, SmartBrief senior education editor Melissa Greenwood writes in this blog post. Among the suggestions offered by speakers were to teach students to use technology to find answers on their own, put context before content and approach learning in a less formal way. Other ideas included educators acting as "spark igniters," who help students discover what drives their own passion for learning, and allowing students to help craft curriculum.