Civics education is as important as mathematics and literacy instruction, according to new research from the American Enterprise Institute. Scholars from various disciplines contributed to the research, which suggested that teachers expand their civics understanding, and model and teach civic engagement to help boost students' practical knowledge of the subject.
Schools nationwide are working to improve students' achievement in science, in part by introducing them to lessons in earlier grades. Students in Florida are not tested in science until fifth grade, but at one elementary school, third-grade students are performing science experiments. Teachers say a part of their strategy is to excite students about science through hands-on lessons, not just memorization exercises.
In this article, educators and administrators share the ways they are using social media as part of the school environment. Some report using tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to stay informed about trends and potential uses of classroom technology, while others say the tools provide an effective means for communicating with parents. Still others say social media is an essential component of distance-learning programs to keep online students connected with those in the physical classroom.
A middle school in Minnesota this year is offering a new course in challenge-based learning, where students work independently on their own community-oriented projects. The course helps develop students' research, technology, presentation and teamwork skills, said teacher Rick Olson, who acts as guide, rather than a lecturer. "It's entirely student-driven. It's giving them almost total autonomy . . . they can come in and choose a topic that they're passionate about," he said.
Education officials in Florida conducted an official tally of students and teachers last week to determine whether schools are complying with the state's limits on class sizes. Changes made last year lifted enrollment caps on more than 500 classes, including foreign language and Advanced Placement courses, which are no longer subject to the restrictions under the change. Some see benefits to allowing more students to take the specialized courses, but others remain opposed to the larger classes.