Discussing Current Events in the Classroom

Submitted by Duncan Asiedu on Tue, 02/15/2011 - 7:38pm.
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The current revolution in Egypt has touched of a series of discussions in classrooms all across nation. This can be attributed to the fact that we’ve just witnessed a rare instance of history taking place right before our eyes. As President Obama himself stated, “we are witnessing the Berlin Wall moment for Egypt and possibly the entire Middle East.”

In general though, I feel that current events are seldom discussed in American classrooms. In the years that I've attended school in the US, there has never been a day where a teacher committed an entire class period to discuss major world events. The Egyptian crisis for example, was barely discussed in any of my classes with the longest discussion lasting merely a quarter of the class period. In addition, when the Haiti earthquake struck earlier last year, there were only brief references to it in my classes. I think one of the primary reasons current events doesn’t make it to the classroom is that some teachers have a hard time incorporating it into their lesson plans; there is little room for them to fit current events into the classroom. However, I still feel it is vital that teachers, regardless of subject, incorporate current events into lesson plans since it engages students to understand, interpret, analyze, and connect with events occurring domestically and globally. This broadens students’ understanding of key domestic and global issues and as a result enables them to better grasp issues that will undoubtedly affect them in the future.


Trends in Ed 02.15.2011-Obama Proposes 2012 Education Budget

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Tue, 02/15/2011 - 11:26am.
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Yesterday President Obama unveiled (among other things) the proposed 2012 Department of Education 77.4 billion dollar budget, which would increase the total expenditure by 4% from 2010, although similar to their never-approved 2011 budget, which clocked in at $77.8 billion.


Search Engine Optimization to lure readers?

Submitted by Megha Agarwala on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 6:09pm.
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This article in the New York Times talks about how journalists and Web publishers use Google's most searched keywords to produce content for getting ranked higher in the search results. Though facing enough criticism, this technique has helped 'The Huffington Post' to build up an audience and make money.

"What they’ve been successful at is creating the kind of brand that other sites have or would love to have, so that people want to type in ‘Huffington Post’ in their browser.”

Do you use this approach as well? Recommend it?


Trends in Ed 02.14.2011-NYC To Collect School Lunch Fees

Submitted by George Nantwi on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 5:22pm.
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Unknown to most people, New York City’s public schools require some students to pay for their school lunch.The average costs for lunch in New York City public schools is $1.50 and nearly 75% of students qualify for free lunch or a reduced lunch at 25 cents. In order to qualify for a free lunch, a student’s family income must be $28,665 or below. The figure for reduced-price lunches is $40,793. The city has lost almost $42 million in unpaid lunch fees since 2004 and at the current rate, the city is estimated to lose $8 million by the end of this academic year. The problem is a growing concern nationwide as 34% of school districts have reported an increase in the number of unpaid fees for school lunches over the past year.

School officials have often neglected or simply failed to collect the fees from parents in the past, they are now taking a staunch stance about collecting lunch fees in an effort to close their budget pitfalls. New York City’s Board of Ed’s solution is simple: they plan to take the owed money from the budget of those schools that fail to collect lunch fees from students. Some principals note the economic downturn is one of the primary reasons why some parents are unable to pay the fees while others point out that some students, who may qualify for free lunch, just don’t return their eligibility forms.


Value-Added Analysis

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 3:03pm.
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After President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top both attempted to put more accountability on public schools for student performance, it was obvious that there would be a huge demand for better analysis of teachers and teaching technique. One fairly trendy attempt is called value-added analysis.

The core of value-added analysis is the relatively simple idea of comparing a student’s performance at the beginning of the year to his or her performance at the end of the year. After controlling for various confounding factors, one (hopefully) ends up with a good measure of effective the teacher is.

Of course, as Time Magazine pointed out, it’s never that simple. Teacher’s unions, who are already under fire, won’t be eager to have their performance evaluations determined by an abstruse method of statistical analysis, particularly one that Posted in Public | Fred Rossoff's blog | login or register to post comments | read more »


7 things you should know about iPad Apps for learning

Submitted by Julia Martin on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 10:48am.
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Article From Educause

Abstract: Applications designed for the iPad offer interactive content that takes advantage of touch-screen navigation. The iPad combines robust computational functionality with a screen large enough to serve as a legitimate replacement for printed textbooks and other course materials. Where the iPad applications have led, other tablets and their attendant applications can be expected to follow, creating a more competitive and diverse market for tools of this type. Applications that live in the spaces where education and entertainment overlap can capture the imagination, enticing students to learn on their own.


CUNY Students Face Tuition Hikes

Submitted by Jamal Bagigah on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 2:08am.
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CUNY students again have to deal with tuition hikes. All CUNY students face 5 percent increase in tuition and another $500 increase for students of the Hunter School of Social Work this semester. This increase comes after a 15 percent hike was imposed on students last year. The CUNY Board of Trustees have also voted for another 2 percent increase for next year's tuition but it requires the approval of the state legislature before its implemented. Since 2003, tuition has gone up a staggering 44 percent.

The hikes in tuition coincides with the raise in salaries of some top CUNY officials. The Board of Trustees approved a 9 percent salary raise for Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, moving her annual salary from $540,000 to $580,000. Seven other CUNY officials are making well over 250,000 annually. Students are enraged to see these officials receiving raises whiles their educational expenses continue to rise. The latest developments started protests by students and teachers all over CUNY campuses this past semester. At a public hearing, students noted the recession cannot be used as an excuse for the tuition hikes, and that CUNY was had been a free educational institution through two world wars and the Great Depression. Other students noted the tuition hikes would further push CUNY away from its mission of being an educational institution for the working class. Some school administrators defended the Board of Trustees stating that the increase in tuition would help in expanding the campuses and increase enrollment.


The Most Expensive Sports Game

Submitted by George Nantwi on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 12:07am.
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This past weekend’s game between English clubs and rivals Manchester United and Manchester City was billed as the most expensive sports game in history. The accumulated cost of players on both rosters was around $850 million. In global soccer, unlike American sports, in order for a club to acquire a player from another club (called transfers), the club must bid a transfer fee to the club of the player they want and the transfer is complete once both parties agree to a fee. This transfer fee doesn’t include the player’s wages as that will have to be negotiated between the player and his new club. For example, Bosnian superstar Edin Dzeko recently moved from German club Wolfsburg to Manchester City. Manchester City paid $43.5 million to Wolfsburg to acquire his services and then signed him to four and a half year deal.

Manchester City was recently bought by the oil-rich royal family of the United Arab Emirates, resulting in a proliferation of expensive superstars to what was a then relatively small and debt-ridden club. The title of most expensive sports game is set to be broken again when Manchester City plays Chelsea next month. Chelsea owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has poured millions of his own money into the club and recently spent over $80 million just to buy two players. With a supposed takeover bid from Qatar's royal family for Manchester United, next year’s game between the two Manchester teams may yet regain the title of most expensive sports game. It will be interesting to see what impact UEFA’s (Europe’s soccer governing body) new financial fair play rules, which forces clubs to spend what the club earns and not what their owners have, will have on clubs and their spending.


Khan Academy rolls out new profiles

Submitted by Ankit Ranka on Sat, 02/12/2011 - 3:44pm.
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Khan Academy recently rolled out new profiles for the learners. Here is an interesting blog post from the lead designer. Here is a software demo on youtube. It looks really good and will immensely help self paced learners.


Egypt Crisis on Vialogues

Submitted by George Nantwi on Fri, 02/11/2011 - 5:20pm.
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Hosni Mubarak officially stepped down as Egyptian president after 30 years in power earlier today. His resignation comes on the heels of over two weeks of often peaceful but sometimes violent protests by Egyptians, mainly young people. The protests in Egypt came immediately following similar protests in neighboring Tunisia, where their former leader Ben Ali was forced out of power after nearly three decades. The protests offer a historical and teachable moment as young people in the Arab world, where monarchies and dictators are the normal forms of government, have toppled two of the longest serving world leaders and a tense Middle East and an eager world waits to see which dictator or monarch will fall next.

There are currently a few videos on Vialogues on the Egyptian crisis and I encourage everyone to join in on the conversations. These are historical times, let your voices be heard. The links to videos are below.

Hosni Mubarak Final Speech

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