Weekly Roundup for March 30, 2012

Spring has sprung! Time to start planning your school garden.

Jess Tonn>   A new report by Education Sectorcomplete with infographic—illustrates this important truth about expanding learning time: It isn’t just the amount of time added to the school day, but the quality of the teaching and learning that happens during that time that makes a difference.

>   In NYC, school budget gaps have public school parents paying for after-school programs, art teachers, librarians and other learning essentials. One parent even said that without the monthly payments he and his fellow parents provide, “there’d be no science teacher in the school.”

>   I wish I’d been in the audience at this presentation about social media policies in schools at the ASCD conference this week. Here’s what surprised me most from the presentation’s PPT: 72% of 3rd-5th grade students at one school reported participating in social media sites other than the seven identified in a survey their teacher prepared (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Foursquare, Club Penguin, Webkinz and Whyville). Clearly, we adults have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to kids and the Internet.

>   Maybe LAUSD will lead the way? This week they became the first district in the country—at least of its size—to hire a social media director.

>   Bilingualism was on many folks’ minds this week, possibly making them smarter. Education Week published this feature story on the rise in bilingual programs across the country, while The New York Times ran this op-ed about why bilingualism is good for your brain.

>   Set your DVR to record the next episode of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Finding Your Roots this weekend, as Geoffrey Canada will be traveling to Virginia to learn about his family tree. If his story is as moving as last week’s guests’—Cory Booker and John Lewis—I advise having a box of Kleenex handy.

>   Calling all systems builders: Check out United Way’s new online toolkit designed to improve “out-of-school time quality, access, sustainability, data collection and evaluation, and alignment and coordination.” Lots of good stuff in there.

>   If you agree with the authors of this study, who contend that high school kids are reading below grade level, consider this: Exposure to magic à la Harry Potter may improve creativity, while connecting with other teens online may turn fans of The Hunger Games into social justice activists.

>   For some “messy and unpredictable” (aka STEM) literature, take a look at the list of authors that will be presenting at this year’s USA Science & Engineering Festival and Book Fair in DC, April 28-29.

>   How do some math teachers unwind at the end of their workdays? By getting together to learn new geometry proofs and theorem applications, of course.

Featured Friday Funding Opportunity:

Operation Green Plant
America the Beautiful Fund gives free seeds to community groups striving to better the world through gardening. Recipients must pay shipping and handling.

Deadline: Rolling

And now for something completely different:

Women’s History Month ends tomorrow, but you still have plenty of time to visit the online version of the “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court” exhibit at the New York State Capital. The exhibit tells the stories of 37 women from New York who have “been the driving force between almost every reform movement in our state.” Maybe your name will be on the list someday?