Weekly Roundup for November 18, 2011

Abstract student drawings

Abstract portraits by 5th graders at PS 59 in the Bronx.

Jess Tonn>      The Shanker Blog examined the secrets behind the success of high-performing charter schools this week, which Diane Ravitch summed up as: more time, more money, more attention.

>      In The Answer Sheet blog, Alfie Kohn explained how children’s play is being sneakily redefined—and then questioned whether we really need to define ‘play’ at all (see point #4).

>      Start preparing for the first ever Digital Learning Day—2/1/11, also known as my mother’s birthday—by reading Bill Tucker’s review of Fordham Institute’s latest working papers on digital learning. Here’s hoping they follow his advice for their next publication and explore “how digital learning might also change and possibly more tightly align the roles of informal and out-of-school educators, including those in museums, cultural institutions, youth development programs, and of course, homes.”

>      For those informal educators out there who already are using digital learning, our friends, and former intern, over at The Hive Learning Network NYC recently published this great guide for running Hackasaurus Jams with kids.

>      Have you heard about the phenomenal science program at our ExpandED School Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School? Read about it, and other science success stories, in the National Center on Time and Learning’s new report on informal science education. (And then check out our most recent annual report to take a tour of a TMALS expanded school day.)

>      The Afterschool Alliance released its latest issue brief on critical issues for middle school youth this week, demonstrating how expanded learning and after-school programs can “overturn losses that occur in elementary school and give children who have fallen behind a second chance to get back on track to successful literacy development.”

>      I’ll close with this mind-bender for the week: Congress says pizza served in a school lunch counts as a vegetable, but Herman Cain says that too many vegetables make a pizza less pizza-y. How about we end the confusion by just serving kids broccoli instead of pizza?

Featured Friday Funding Opportunity:

Project Orange Thumb Grants
Community groups can apply to win $5,000 in cash and tools to support community gardens and their role in neighborhood beautification and horticulture education. One applicant will receive a complete garden makeover.

Deadline: December 15

And now for something completely different:

I have two words for you, folks: Baby. Penguins.

The jury is still out among my friends about whether the penguin chicks are cuter than Senior Keeper Juan Romero. I’ll let you decide for yourself.