Reviews_General Education Articles

Looking for professional articles about topics and issues related to schools? The article reviews on this page were written by graduate students in the Professional Development Studies program in MLIS at Rutgers University. The reviews focus on recent articles of interest for teacher librarians and classroom teachers. In most cases, these articles can be found in full text in databases typically included in state virtual libraries.


Accountability

Cheating & Plagiarism

Curriculum

Differentiated Instruction

Instructional Design


Mentoring

New Teachers

Research

Special Needs Students

Standards-Based Education


Teachers & Teaming

Violence in Schools

Whole Child Education



Scroll down to find article reviews related to these topics.

Accountability


Rothstein, Richard, Tamara Wilder, & Rebecca Jacobsen. "Balance in the Balance." Educational Leadership 64.8 (2007): 8-14.
This article discusses the need for accountability systems that go beyond basic skills and include the skills needed in life and work. The authors compiled a list of eight common goals of the U.S. educational system during the past 300 years. These goals are: basic academic skills, critical thinking and problem solving, social skills and work ethic, citizenship, physical health, emotional health, arts & literature, and preparation for skilled employment. Our current system of accountability only focuses on one of these goals. This creates a situation where the other seven goals are sometimes sacrificed with our absorption on basic academic skills. To change this focus the article discusses promoting a balanced curriculum that addresses the whole child. This can be encouraged by gathering accountability data on the whole child, rather than just on one aspect. Suggestions are made as to how schools and states can make changes; and how principals can help on the school level to encourage teachers, and make parents aware of the drawbacks of narrowly focused accountability systems. This well written article raises interesting questions, and gives thought provoking suggestions on how to move forward in the future to better serve our students. (M Weil)


Accountability


Rothstein, Richard, Tamara Wilder, & Rebecca Jacobsen. "Balance in the Balance." Educational Leadership 64.8 (2007): 8-14.
This article discusses the need for accountability systems that go beyond basic skills and include the skills needed in life and work. The authors compiled a list of eight common goals of the U.S. educational system during the past 300 years. These goals are: basic academic skills, critical thinking and problem solving, social skills and work ethic, citizenship, physical health, emotional health, arts & literature, and preparation for skilled employment. Our current system of accountability only focuses on one of these goals. This creates a situation where the other seven goals are sometimes sacrificed with our absorption on basic academic skills. To change this focus the article discusses promoting a balanced curriculum that addresses the whole child. This can be encouraged by gathering accountability data on the whole child, rather than just on one aspect. Suggestions are made as to how schools and states can make changes; and how principals can help on the school level to encourage teachers, and make parents aware of the drawbacks of narrowly focused accountability systems. This well written article raises interesting questions, and gives thought provoking suggestions on how to move forward in the future to better serve our students. (M Weil)

Baker, Eva, L. "2007 Presidential Address: The End(s) of Testing." Educational Researcher 36(2007): 309-317.
Eva Baker is the president of AERA (American Educational Research Association). This article is an expanded version of her 2007 Presidential Address. The article discusses the need for balance in testing: “What should the balance between promoting common performance and supporting different, either individual or locally valued, talents?” (309). She notes that current accountability system - standardized testing – has “little evidence that tests are in sync with their stated or de facto purposes or that their results lead to appropriate decisions.” (310). She identifies six tactics used to mitigate the current accountability measures: multiple measures; measures of opportunity to learn; performance assessment; formative assessment; limiting number of standards; and technology-based assessment. The article also gives a brief description of CRESST Powersource, a formative assessment system developed by the Center for Research on Evaluation and Testing at UCLA. There is also a brief discussion of international examples of assessment. Professor Baker advocates the creation of a system of Qualifications to assess student performance. Such a system would emphasis the acquisition of learning skills and accomplishments across a wide choice of areas. (S.B.)






Cheating and Plagiarism


Kohn, Alfie. Who’s Cheating Whom. Education Digest (January 2008) 4-11.
Social scientists usually equate cheating with a character deficiency in the offending student. Kohn synthesizes the results of numerous studies to conclude that cheating is very much a matter of situation and that educators should consider what those situations are. These results show that students cheat most when their teachers do not seem to care about them, and if they find their studies boring or irrelevant. Furthermore, if students are given the message that their primary goal is to achieve the highest grades, they are more likely to cheat. A school that encourages students to compete against each other for status promotes unethical behavior because students do not want to be perceived as stupid, or failures.
This article is important for teachers to reflect on how our own practices contributed to the problem of cheating. Kohn does offer some suggestions. When learning is made fun, and when students feel valued, cheating occurs less. Plagiarism is not as prevalent if the teacher emphasizes the learning process while researching, rather than the final project. When students are encouraged to work together and support each other in learning, they are learning life skills as well as achieving academically. [BW]

Ma, Hongyan J., Guofang Wan, and Eric Y. Lu. "Digital Cheating and Plagiarism in Schools." Theory into Practice 47 (2008): 197-203.
According to the authors, plagiarism has become more prevalent among students today due to the conveniences provided by the internet and other technologies. It has escalated to the point where many students do not even realize that they are cheating. They view copying and pasting the same as any ordinary task such as shopping. A major factor for the cheating involves peer culture. This consists of web sites that facilitate plagiarism, pressure to succeed in school as well as a lack of consequences. Essentially, many students are not able to tell the difference between collaborating and cheating. The tools for plagiarism include web sites that sell reports and papers as well as online encyclopedias. Students also utilize digital devices such as palms, calculators and cell phones. In an effort to combat the issue, the authors offer possible solutions that can be used by teachers. The ideas include utilizing anti-plagiarism software packages or internet search engines to identify cheating with punishment as a consequence. It is also suggested that teachers teach and encourage ethical behavior among the students. The authors also pose an interesting suggestion to make the assignments more relevant and meaningful for the students. This would address the finding where students reported feeling justified if they plagiarized because they perceived the assignment as meaningless but still desired a high grade. The article is a detailed and clear discussion of plagiarism as it exists today. It is effective resource for researchers and teachers who seek solutions for the problem. [AC 10/28/08]




Curriculum and Instructional Design


D’Acquisto, Linda. "Kids as Curators." Educational Leadership, 64.8 (2007) 50-51.
Linda D’Acquisto’s article describes a project undertaken by sixth grade students in Wisconsin. The project entailed creating a museum about the environment. The students were given a main concept which they used as a building point for creating their projects. The concept was, “ Humans can hurt of help the environment.” Students were put into groups and each group was given a topic within the focus of human impact on the environment. They did research in the library and contacted professionals and organizations. The class went on a field trip to a museum to get ideas on how to present the information in a way that would engage visitors. Although they did not use the term, this is an example of alternate assessment. This type of project encourages constructivist thinking. The children had guidance, but were able to create the project in a way which they felt was important. They developed their own questions and structure for the project. The project was a success and many of the children wanted to do something similar in the future. If students are engaged in the topic and are able to guide their own learning, they are more likely to retain the knowledge that they have acquired. [JH]

Armstrong, Thomas. "The Curriculum Superhighway." Educational Leadership 64.8 (May 2007): 16- 20.
Armstrong has written an article where he uses the image of a superhighway to describe how formalized and rigid education has become, stretching from PreK-college. Although the symbolism gets a bit much after a while (his final paragraph includes traffic jams, road fatigue, and collisions), the main point that students developmental needs are being ignored as educators and policy-makers rush to create curriculums that make sure that no child is left behind is a valid one. Armstrong describes the major developmental needs of early childhood, middle childhood, early adolescence, and late adolescence. He discusses the importance of play, of learning how the world works, of social, emotional and metacognitive growth, and of preparing to live independently in the real world. Armstrong gives examples of schools that are meeting some of these developmental needs. He also explains how major academic areas might be handled differently if schools were focusing on developmental needs. He gives examples for literacy, math, and science. The article is easy to read, and might be useful reading for those who are arguing against curriculums that are solely working to achieve high test scores. (CH-K)


Kirchhoff, Allison. “Weaving in the Story of Science : Incorporating the nature of science into the classroom through stories about scientists, discoveries, and events.” The Science Teacher 75 no3 (2008): 33-37.
Kirchhoff, a high school biology teacher, incorporates stories into the science curriculum to engage students metacognitively, and to help students more deeply understand the different aspects of scientific inquiry. By infusing the human element into the science classroom, Kirchhoff provides a plausible and alternative way to teach students critical thinking, reasoning, hypothesizing and testing skills, other than solely with the traditional inquiry-based labs. Students are encouraged to think about prior knowledge as well as to consider how their thinking has changed over time with regard to scientific inquiry and the nature of science. By assigning stories for homework and by reading stories aloud, the teacher incorporates strategies that assist students with diverse abilities. Each story is approximately five minutes in length. Short follow-up activities include group discussions and journal exercises. The author provides four examples of reading activities that she has used in her biology classes. However, with slight modifications these reading activities can be used in other science content areas. Lively discussions follow readings on diverse topics, such as biographies of scientists, mysterious creatures from history, social aspects that affect scientific works and discoveries, as well as readings about multicultural aspects in science. Assessments of this process include journal entry reviews and an adaptable rubric. The author also provides anecdotal evidence that reveals changes in the ways that students think about science. (HC)



Prensky, Marc."Young Minds, Fast Times: How tech-obsessed iKids would improve our schools."Edutopia ( May/June 2008) p32-36.
Prensky challenges educators to let go of their tight control on learning and invite their students into the design process. He advises teachers to skip the lectures and encourages them to enable students to become a central part of the discussions on their own learning, in essence create a user group for learning envolving the ultimate end user, the actual student. Although the article focuses on the integration of technology into the learning process; the basic underlying message for educators is the need to listen and open themselves up to discussions with students. Educators need to accept and synthesize the information provided in order to make a real change in the educational process; one that involves the student in the development of real and meaningful lessons. Through his own panel discussions with students the author encourages educators to re-think and restructure their own lessons to include students through the use of essential questions and fewer lectures. Having read the article first in print, an on-line version can be located through the Edutopia website
http://www.edutopia.org/ikid-digital-learner-technology-2008 . There were additional features available from the website for reader to enhance their own inquiry based learning experience such as links to past and present articles from Edutopia on topics related to the feature article. If the initial topic piqued the readers’ interest, links to similar articles within their own archives allow the reader can continue on their journey of discovery. (MD 11/06/08)


Smith, Rick, and Mary Lambert. "The Positive Classroom: Assuming the Best." Educational Leadership 66 (2008): 16-21.
Smith and Lambert, through the illusions of reciprocating legal contracts and two way radios between students and educators, try to make it clear to us that we need to always assume the best of our students. We need to assume students want to learn appropriate behavior This is not a recommendation for us to act as “Pollyanna” and view our students through “rose colored” glasses but an invitation to put our best and most consistent foot forward with our interactions and actions. As educators we need to always presume the best and go from their. This article is not a feel good piece but offers five concrete strategies to create a classroom environment that enables students to feel safe with reliable structure in order to encourage student learning: Use tone, volume and posture to deliver our message; Implement a “two-by-ten Strategy” by focusing on the most difficult students for two minutes each, ten days in a row thus creating a personal connection; Use a rubric for behavior and not just content, addressing areas such as volume, lining up and dismissal time; Use visuals whenever possible to model desired behavior for activities such as getting ready, putting away materials. This article reminds us that viewed with a positive attitude disciple becomes a “teachable moment” for all and not just a knee jerk reaction to the moment. By not just using these techniques but incorporating them into our being we can make all students feel safe with in a structured environment that can promote student learning. (MD 11/17/08)


Brookhart, Susan, Connie Moss, and Beverly Long. “Formative Assessment That Empowers.” Educational Leadership 66.3 (Nov. 2008): 52-57.
Brookhart, Moss and Long describe the successful implementation of formative assessments in the rural Armstrong School District in Western Pennsylvania. This three year initiative with the Center for Advancing the Study of Teaching and Learning in Pittsburgh began with six teachers and subsequently expanded across the district. Formative assessments included both teacher-student and student-teacher communications, transforming the traditional assessment process to one in which students were provided with opportunities to think for themselves, share their understandings with teachers and peers, and become more aware of and in control of their own learning. Student ownership of learning through formative assessments led to increases in achievement, motivation, time on task and student engagement in tasks. State tests supported the positive feedback from teachers involved in the initiative, and indicated a dramatic decrease in the percentage of students scoring at the lower levels for every grade level. Further evidence of student ownership of learning is provided by actual classroom observations.
Recognizing the complexity in integrating teaching skills that build environments to promote student ownership of learning, build on self-efficacy and self-regulation, the authors of this article realistically acknowledge the time and growth involved on the teacher’s part in developing and integrating these new formative practices into classroom routines. This article successfully connects the integration of formative assessments with student motivation, provides evidence of increases in achievement on State tests, and touches upon a number of skills the teacher will need to develop to improve teacher practice. (HC 11/16/08)



Differentiated Instruction


Tomlinson, Carol Ann and Jane Jarvis. "Teaching Beyond the Book: When the Manual Doesn't Fit the Learner, Stop Studying the How-To List and Start Studying Your Students." Educational Leadership. 64.1 (Sep2006):16-21.
In a diversified classroom of students, teaching by the book doesn't always reach everyone and teachers need to be flexible and look for their student's strengths to discover the best way to challenge them to learn. With more than 35 years experience as a teacher, Carol Ann Tomlinson recognizes what it takes to be an effective teacher. Referencing the work of researchers and experts, her genuine learning examples are readily applicable and valuable. She states: "It's not a matter of either teaching the curriculum or teaching students. Good teaching is inevitably the fine art of connecting contents and kids - of doing what it takes to adapt how we teach so that what we teach takes hold in the lives and minds of students." Tomlinson offers five principles that she feels reflect the power of teaching to a student's strengths. Her excellent examples of teacher/student experiences for each principle are supported by expert studies. She asserts that a teacher who focuses on student strengths teaches positively, helps students see themselves positively, helps them to see strengths in one another, helps see learning positively, and helps students overcome weaknesses. Locating a student's strength, whether using Gardiner's Multiple Intelligences of verbal, logical, kinesthetic, visual, or interpersonal, and adapting the lesson to the strength, not only benefits the student, but the teacher and the entire class. The students see themselves as capable and the achievement level for all rises. The positive rewards shown in Tomlinson's examples of successful student learning inspire the teacher to the need to focus on lessons that reach all students. The gratification for all concerned is reached when true understanding occurs. It is important to remember that as teachers, we can learn as much from observing our students as they can learn from us.
[CC]


English Language Learners


Corder, Greg. “Supporting English Language Learners: Reading in the Science Classroom.” Science Scope 31 (2007) 38-41.
In this increasingly complex world science literacy is an important component of a student's education. This is a special challenge to students learning English as a second language In this article Corder points out that English Language Learners (ELLs) are handicapped academically by their language deficit and also face cultural and socioeconomic barriers. Fortunately research has shown that there are techniques that educators can use to overcome these obstacles and effectively promote science literacy in students who are ELLs. Corder argues that our public schools must provide differentiated instruction to these learners based on legislation including NCLB. He describes several specific techniques that teachers can use. The first involves setting a clear language objective as well as a content objective. The objective must be presented to the students in a straightforward fashion and reinforced. A second technique recognizes that these learners may lack necessary background information and suggests such methods as modeling steps, using visuals and pre-teaching key vocabulary. Since science texts may be too complex for the ELL, the text can be linguistically modified This can be done by highlighting text, writing notes in the margins or adding visuals. Sometimes it is necessary to rewrite entire passages but it is important to retain the major concepts and only lower the readability level. This article provides a practical solution to the problem of developing the reading skills of English Language Learners, while at the same time enabling them to grasp important scientific concepts. It will be useful to both science teachers and ESL teachers.
(HM 10-30-08)


Leaman, Heather. "One World, Many Languages: Using Dual-Language Books." Social Studies and the Young Learner 21
(September/October 2008): 29-32.
In an age when almost a fifth of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, it is more important than ever to foster global literacy and language diversity. Although many educators are aware that books are available in Spanish, few realize that they can order materials in such diverse languages as Hmong and Gujarati. This article lists specific websites and catalogs which provide these resources. It gives examples of lesson plans based on dual-language books, which can be customized to a school’s demographics and curriculum. Some of the skills learned through dual language media include: increased cultural awareness, knowledge of different alphabet systems, a greater respect for religious beliefs, and similarities between world cultures. There are many benefits to this type of educational experience, and such a lesson could apply to many subject areas. Social Studies, Language Arts, and World Language are each mentioned in detail. The sample lessons encourage creativity and analytic thinking as well as providing information about cultures and their languages. Teachers and librarians could enrich their current program and find new ideas for lessons by applying some of these examples to their own lessons.
(EO 11/3/08)



Language Arts

Rhodes, Joan A., and Tammy M. Milby. “Teacher-Created Electronic Books Integrating Technology to Support Readers with Disabilities.” The Reading Teacher 61 (2007)255-59. There are many benefits of using electronic books to support student learning and assist readers with disabilities. The NCLB mandates using available technology to assist students, and holds states responsible for the test results of all students. Studies show that special needs students still lag behind others. Assistive technology is one way teachers and librarians can help close this gap. Electronic books provide many of the benefits of audio books, but also increase interactivity. It is crucial that all children are able to read and respond to literature on a daily basis. A child who is unable to comprehend the story will have difficulty learning to sequence events, find the main idea of the story, and make personal connections. The use of e-books increases student understanding and help the special needs student become more fully integrated into the classroom. It enables them to participate more fully in language arts instruction. This article gives specific guidelines for creating e-books without copyright infringement. It also gives an example, which illustrates how an elementary teacher can make use of e-books within a sample lesson plan. The supports offered within this medium scaffolds learners, enabling all children to succeed in the classroom. It is very important to integrate this resource into regular classroom instruction to ensure that all children learn literacy skills, and foster their confidence. (EO 12/08) Literacy


Fisher, Douglas, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp. "Shared Readings: Modeling Comprehension, Vocabulary, Text structures, and Text Features for Older Readers." The Reading Teacher 61 (2008): 548-556
This article discusses an investigation of how teachers use a modeling technique known as shared reading in their classroom. Educators acknowledge that explaining text (through modeling) is an important component of literacy instruction. For this investigation, a group of 25 teachers from 25 different schools were selected to participate in this study. Each teacher was observed on three different occasions while they conducted a shared reading and think-aloud with their students. Once the observations were completed, the teachers were then interviewed. The results showed that teachers modeled their thinking on four different types of shared reading categories: 1) Reading comprehension: the teacher uses strategic moves to understand the text and construct meaning; this includes inferencing, summarizing, predicting, clarifying and using pictures. 2) Vocabulary: the teacher focuses on solving an unknown word, using both inside and outside word strategies. 3) Text structures: used to help readers predict the flow of information; structures include comparing/contrasting, problem/solution, story grammar and cause/effect. 4) Text features: these are the components of the text that add or increase understanding of the text; examples include headings, captions, illustrations, charts and tables. The authors of this article note that many teachers have eliminated a shared-reading practice, which is troubling; because there is much evidence that shows that shared reading positively affects student achievement. This article is especially helpful to classroom teachers and teacher-librarians who would like to increase their skills in shared reading. (NM 11/2/08)

Foster, Karen K, Deb Theiss, and Dawna Lisa Buchanan-Butterfield. "Pourquoi Tales on the Literacy Stage." The Reading Teacher 61.8 (2008): 663-667.
Pourquoi tales are stories about how humans or animals originated and why they look or behave a certain way. The characteristics and elements of pourquoi tales are described briefly and research is cited that encourages using literature to enhance reading and writing. The authors then discuss three instructional strategies using song, digital art or drama in conjunction with pourquoi tales to encourage active student participation and contribution, stressing the positive outcomes when students construct their own learning in social situations. Students can create story frames based on a pourquoi tale and use a familiar or original tune to sing the parts of the story out loud. Software programs such as Sketchy can be used on hand held computers to integrate technology in literacy learning. Using this program, students construct graphic images for each story frame and animate them, creating a movie of the pourquoi tale’s sequence and development. Finally, each group of students can compose a short sentence that depicts part of a pourquoi tale and have one child dramatize each word while saying it aloud. Pourquoi tales are enjoyable, simple stories that lend themselves to creative performances. This article offers a variety of innovative and appealing ways to enhance students’ understanding of how language works. These strategies also present many opportunities to engage and motivate students by allowing them to work in groups, create performances, and discuss, compare and evaluate each other’s work. (SF 11/15/08)


Paquette, Kelli R., and Cathy C. Kaufman. "Merging Civic and Literacy Skills." The Social Studies 99 (2008): 187-92.
Many schools today are neglecting history and civics lessons in favor of a test driven emphasis on reading and writing. Concerned with the “civic void” that is being left by this practice, Paquette and Kaufman, professors of education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, propose in this article that social studies content including civics be combined with activities that will reinforce and improve students' literacy skills. Suggesting that government mandates to improve student achievement have led to lessons which encourage rote learning, the authors propose strategies that will actively engage the learners to increase comprehension,construct meaning from information, use problem solving to apply knowledge and present information to others. Due to its interesting historical narratives, Paquette and Kaufman use Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster's The Century for Young People(2000) as the basis of their activities. Among the methods that the authors employ are questioning strategies that encourage students to discuss the material and ask diverse questions. Another tool that is suggested is a three-level reading guide that requires students to find meaning on three different cognitive levels, literal, interpretive and applied. A third recommended method has students talking with partners about the topic using their background knowledge and sharing their perspectives with the group before reading the text. This well researched article gives educators the tools to ensure that students emerge as informed responsible citizens while at the same time learning how to critically approach text and increase their comprehension. (HM 11-12-08)



Mentoring


Metz, Steve. "Supporting New Teachers." Science Teacher 74 (Summer 2007): 8-8.
In this article, the author discusses difficulties with teacher retention in the United States. In the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, the student dropout rate is 40 percent. Being that the dropout rate is so high, it is not easy to retain highly qualified teachers. New teachers can feel alone and helpless even when working in a school around various other teachers. Yet, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. To help make this situation better, a “mentor program” was put into effect by the school system. This program has the highly qualified senior teachers helping the new teachers. To be a successful mentor, you must have good training; just being a good teacher is not sufficient. A mentor must be dedicated. Now, after the mentor program has been instituted, 85 percent of new teachers are retained. Mentoring programs are important, which is why thirty-three states now require this program. This article was very interesting to read. It is a wonderful, upbeat article for any new teacher or school librarian who is struggling with their first year of teaching. The article also shows how a new teacher can inspire a more experience teacher. (BK)


NCLB


Wright, Wayne E. “A Catch-22 for Language Learners.” Educational Leadership 64.3 (Nov. 2006): 22-27.
Wright discusses the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law as it relates to English Language Learners (ELLs) and how it does very little to live up to its name for this sub-group. Forcing students to take and pass a high-stakes language arts or math test in English before they are proficient in the language makes little sense and sets schools with high ELL populations up for failure to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets. Furthermore, teachers are forced to teach to the test rather than provide their ELLs with the linguistic and cultural support that will help them become more proficient in the English language. Wright contends that these students should be excluded from the regular testing until they are proficient enough to participate. He also suggests that schools should develop high-quality language programs that help these students become the well-educated, bilingual citizens that our global economy needs.
Wright makes sense with these suggestions. In considering the reauthorization of NCLB, Congress should directly address the contradictory and illogical requirements related to the ELL sub-group. Accountability should be tied to the student progress in English proficiency rather than content area knowledge. Only then will our schools be adequately serving the needs of these students and the community at large. (RR)

Toch, Thomas. “Turmoil in the Testing Industry”. Educational Leadership 64.3 (Nov 2006):53-57.
To face the challenges of NCLBs testing demands, schools have been focusing on teaching what is on the test. What comes into question is the type of testing and extent to which the administered tests actually measure the skills and knowledge that NCLB law would like to achieve. This article tells us that these tests are not measuring high-level achievement. Factors such as demanding time-constraints, inadequate federal funds and lack of qualified test specialists for creating and grading tests have led to the development and adoption, by many states, of tests that focus and measure low-level, basic skills. Developing high-quality tests is a long, involved process, cost-prohibitive for many states. The result of tests that focus on basic skills is teachers and schools that emphasize those skills leading to insufficient measurement of student achievement and the achievement gap. Advanced tests would lead to schools teaching advanced skills. Development of advanced tests using “open-ended” and “constructed-response questions” requiring a deeper understanding and analysis of information would better measure higher learning and thus advance the instructional standards and goals of the NCLB Act. These problems should be addressed and corrected before we will see an improvement in student and school performances. (KM)

Sunderman, Gail L. and Gary Orfield. (2007). "Do States Have the Capacity to Meet the NCLB Mandates?" Phi Delta Kappan (89.2 (2007): 137-139.
No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years, and not necessarily discussed in a positive light. This article states that in order for the law to work to its fullest potential, Congress needs to step in and provide definitive roles for states while giving them adequate resources and providing educators the understanding to make the program work. The authors continue on, arguing that "while the law authorizes a separate program for school improvement, the federal government has never appropriated funds for it." Often times schools are required to disclose information that gets them branded as "failures" or "needs improvement" which was implemented to enforce academic change and equality but instead alienates lower-performing schools ever further. What is needed is "a restructuring of how state agencies function and the development of new expertise in areas where state agencies have not operated before, areas that have typically been left to other levels of the education system." While I find these ideals novel and applaud the authors for their insight, many of the requirements fail to solve the problems. It would be take more than the number of years left before the program is supposed to be deemed a success for these changes to be made and progress recorded. Although I agree that individual states are failing to make the grade, handing the project over to Congress might make things that much harder for the states that are severely struggling. Although the authors claim they are merely looking for additional resources, allowing Congress to partake may potentially create more red tape, more hassles, and more problems.
(TM)

"Policy Implications." Phi Delta Kappan 89.1 (Sept. 2007): 46-48.
This editorial analysis of the 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll on American Education shows significantly declining public support for the No Child Left Behind Act. The poll touches on other educational issues, but the implications for NCLB could be important as the act comes up for reauthorization. Those polled do not disapprove of NCLB’s central goal – achievement for all students – but express dissatisfaction with the outcomes and with some of the main tenets of NCLB. A bellwether for NCLB may be in the widening gap between those who are satisfied and those who are not – 31 percent to 41 percent. In 2006, they were only one point apart at 32 percent and 31 percent, respectively. The poll shows strong disapproval of methods of determining adequate yearly progress (AYP), with a majority favoring improvement in student performance on standardized tests rather than passing rates. Standardized testing also came in for harsh criticism, with 43 percent of the general public and 52 percent of parents saying there is too much testing. Congress may want to pay attention to the results of this poll showing that the general public is beginning to agree with educators that some aspects of NCLB are hindering rather than promoting across-the-board achievement in American schools. (MKR)


New Teachers


Luft, Julie., Bang, EunJin., and Gillian H. Roehrig, G. (2007). Supporting Beginning Science Teachers. The Science Teacher, 74.5 (Summer 2007) 24-9.
Though geared toward experienced science teachers helping novice science teachers, this article is applicable to any teacher (including the school librarian) concerned about attrition rates. The authors discuss five types of support a new teacher needs: logistical, instructional, conceptual, psychological, and philosophical. In addition, a novice teacher goes through three stages: teacher-centered, instruction-centered, and learner-centered. By conversing with an instructor and analyzing the type of questions they have, an experienced teacher can determine which stage and what support is needed. By practicing good listening skills and offering the right support for each stage, teachers can ensure the neophyte will grow professionally and know they are not alone in the school community. Included in the article are charts which give clear, concrete examples of questions and responses collected in the authors’ research. Web links and other research citations began the article with a strong research-based tone, but the information presented, while seemingly helpful, did not provide evidence-based indications that attrition rates were alleviated by following these suggestions. Still, this is an induction method that can be performed immediately, on an individual level to improve science (or any subject if extrapolated) teaching in a school community.
(AM)


Research


Phillips, Mark. "Backwards into the Future -- Again." Phi Delta Kappan, 88.9 (May 2007) 712-714.
By stating, “test results are a cover for thinly veiled attacks on progress approaches” to education, Phillips denounces “How Well Are American Students Learning” the prestigious Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy published report. Phillip’s philosophy supports progressive education, which “favors activity-based learning, learning how to learn, and learning for self-awareness and personal growth”. The report’s major section, “The Happiness Factor in Student Learning.” denigrates progressive education by showing the latest flawed data of U. S. student learning. It questions whether students who are happier do better in math test scores. International students are compared to determine if those who have a poorer education are happier than those whose test scores are higher. Phillips cites Japanese students, who have “high test scores in math and low scores for student confidence and enjoyment of math”. He claims the study is flawed in that its “researchers never measured happiness at all” but were really measuring “enjoyment of mathematics”. Phillips claims that the U.S. is preparing students for their “world beyond high school and college” by using progressive education methods.
The points this article address are both timely and confrontational. Phillips confronts issues that are relevant to today’s dichotomy of the education system in our country. (AG)

Sinclair-Tarr, Stacy, and William Tarr, Jr. "Using Large-Scale Assessments to Evaluate the Effectiveness of School Library Programs in California." Phi Delta Kappan 88.9 (May 2007): 710-711.
In summarizing their award-winning doctoral dissertation, the authors highlight the finding that there are “statistically significant positive relationships” between student achievement and professionally-staffed school libraries. When over 4,000 California schools were examined, a pattern of higher standardized test scores (at the elementary and middle school levels) emerged when school libraries were present. Interestingly, no such clear pattern was found at the high school level. Those school library program elements that showed statistical significance in regard to enhancing student achievement include collection size, hours of operation, technology offered, and “curriculum-integrated skills instruction.” Based on their study, the authors offer the recommendation that “policy makers need to develop a clear vision for the school library and communicate that vision to all constituencies.” (SL)


Wolfgang, Lori G. "Building Fluency, Word-Recognition Ability, and Confidence in Struggling Readers: The Poetry Academy." The Reading Teacher 62 (2008): 4-13.
The Poetry Academy was developed to help struggling readers improve their word recognition and reading rate. The initiative was focused in third grade. The students were given pretests to demonstrate who needed help. The lower scoring group was then given short poems to take home and read aloud to as many people as they could. Every time they recited the poem the student would obtain a signature from their listener. This would go on for one week. The next week the process would start again.
The experiment was such success the author, Lori Wilfong, decided to make her work into a controlled research study on the effectiveness of the poetry group. There were 86 students in the study. Thirty-six students were in the treatment group and fifty were in the control group. Community volunteers were used to run the program. The groups were judged on three main criteria: word recognition per minute, percentage of word recognition and lastly comprehension. The students were also evaluated by their teachers and other faculty members.The group practicing the poetry was a success in every area that was evaluated. The children also demonstrated a new confidence in their reading ability.
This comprehensive article taught the value of using poetry as a teaching aid in reading. I was surprised to see the success rates the Wilfong was able to foster by such a seemingly simple idea. The information was presented in a way that any classroom teacher could duplicate easily. This should be required reading for all K-5 reading teachers. (AB 9/28/08)






Special Needs Students


Mastropieri, Margo A., Thomas E. Scruggs, and Sheri L. Berkeley. “Peers Helping Peers.” Educational Leadership. 64.5 (2007): 54-58.
This informative article addresses the various ways educators can support special needs students in an inclusive classroom. The authors argue that peer assistance, cooperative learning, and class-wide peer tutoring will improve student learning. This article is based on the general classroom, but the three strategies can easily be used in the school library. Peer assistance includes average students reading directions to special needs students and holding doors for students in wheelchairs. Cooperative learning occurs when teachers assign group work. Cooperative learning works best when groups are small and there is only one special needs student in the group. Peer tutoring in reading is an example of class-wide tutoring. The school library is a wonderful place for peer tutoring in reading because it allows the teacher librarian to pair a strong reader with a less strong reader to read to one another. The authors argue that collaboration between students improves the learning of all students and provide studies to support their argument. In addition to academic improvements, students will also learn responsibility and acceptance. This is a helpful article with strategies that classroom teachers and teacher librarians are sure to find useful.
(LC)


Steele, Marcee M. "Helping Students with Learning Disabilities Succeed." The Science Teacher 75.3 (Mar. 2008): 38-42.
Steele, a professor of special education, asserts that students with learning disabilities (LD) can be successful in the science classroom if appropriate modifications are made and compensatory strategies are taught. The author reviews typical LD characteristics, such as auditory and visual processing disorders, memory deficits, having one low basic academic skill, and organization, attention or focus difficulties, and how they can impact a student’s performance in the science classroom. The author states that it is vital for science teachers to discuss students’ individual needs with special education teachers to determine the best plan of action for each student’s situation. She then offers a variety of modifications that can be provided to help students during lectures and class time, strategies for coping with textbook reading assignments and homework, tips for organizing study time for classroom or state assessments, along with test taking strategies to optimize performance. This article describes a practical approach to incorporating into the science classroom modifications and strategies that will benefit high school students with learning disabilities. The author has also included a useful summary of all the modifications, grouped by scenario, at the end of the article. Some of these ideas will be helpful for all high school students, regardless of disability, and teachers can easily adapt them for other subjects or younger students. Teachers implementing these strategies can have confidence that they are arming their students with coping skills to take them through school, college and beyond. (SF 11/02/08)



Standards-based Education


Landsman, Julie and Paul Gorski. (2007). Countering Standardization. Educational Leadership, 64.8 (2007) 40-44.

This article explores, and attempts to refute, five myths* that contribute to the current pressure on teachers to improve standardized test scores. These myths, according to the authors, are inconsistent with both research and common sense. In order to regain the humanity lost in standardization Landsman and Gorski instead advocate the subversion of such myths by valuing what’s wrongly considered “non-essential” in schools (e.g. art and recess) while discussing real-world problems. The authors’ message is clear and poignant. In addition, they present concrete evidence from research that the increased emphasis on standardization resulting from these myths is indeed detrimental to both teachers and students. However, myths can sometimes be used to set up a straw man argument. Though their claim against standardization, per se, is justified it would behoove the authors to include prominent advocates of the myths themselves. While Landsman and Gorski show no indication of foul play this would give more weight to their counterarguments.

*1. The arts, recess, physical education, and second language are frills; 2. Standardized curriculum is essential for the success of every student; 3. Teaching critical thinking and social consciousness is political; 4. A student’s failure to learn reveals a deficiency in aptitude in the student or a lack of attentiveness on the part of the student’s parent; 5. Students learn most effectively when they are tracked into classes with peers assumed to be similar in ability. (BP)


Teachers and Teaming


Friend, Marilyn “The Coteaching Partnership.” Educational Leadership. 64.5 (Feb 2007) : 48-52.
This article addresses the emergence, necessity and implementation of coteaching within the school environment, specifically as it relates to special needs students. Aspects addressed in the article include understanding the challenges of coteaching, coteaching within context, addressing teacher and administrator fears and expectations as it relates to coteaching, professional development and preparation and logistical concerns of coteaching. While detailing many theoretical aspects of coteaching, the article also provides abundant examples of just how to realize coteaching in a non-coteaching environment, examining administrative issues through to actual relationship building among educators in order to coteach. The article is organized in a topical manner, where each issue is appropriately addressed: Understanding the Challenges, Coteaching in Context, Professional Development and Preparation, Measuring Results, Tapping All Students’ Potential, and Logistical Concerns are just a few. With substantial references and acknowledgments from leaders in this profession, the article substantiates the many measurable results co taught lessons and classes provide. (TT)


Violence in Schools

Hart, Valentine. “Confronting Racial Harassment”. Educational Leadership 64 (March 2007): 70-72.
How bad is the violence in your child’s school? Do you know the violence rate in your child’s school? Many parents strive to have their children attend a good public school system, but this is not always the case. Within this article, we see racial violence come into play. A school bathroom is always a “good place” to start mischief. Racial graffiti was found on the wall and all the school did was lock the bathroom door and write a note stating “vandalism”. In this particular article, the vandalism on the wall said “Go home Mexicans” and “Go back to where you came from”. Racial violence is a very serious matter, and the interm-principal at Deering High did a good job of listening to one of his student’s pleas against this violence. The principal took this to the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence. Everyone needs to be aware of what is happening in their school, whether you’re a student, principal, teacher, librarian or a custodian. Schools need to stress that they will not tolerate racial violence, or any type of violence for that matter. This article was an eye-opener. It was very impressive how one student and a principal changed a high school, for the better. (BK)


Whole Child Education


Huguelet, Joyce. "No More Haves and Have-Nots." Educational Leadership 64.8 (May 2007): 45-47.
As we are all experiencing the NCLB law/movement in education, this timely article focuses on the Winter Park Elementary School in Wilmington, North Carolina and how that school decided to focus on putting the needs of the "whole child" first. Seeing the range of socioeconomic situations among the students in the school, the parents and teachers decided to create a mission statement that would zero in on "making learning meaningful, addressing individual learning styles, and meeting the social and emotional needs of children." They wanted to create an emotionally safe environment where the students could really focus on interacting with each other and learning while promoting equity among students. Because 45% of the students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch, new practices needed to be put into place, such as: free ice cream on Fridays for all students (paid for by the PTA), free yearbooks, school supplies, school t-shirts, and no collecting of money for gifts for anyone. In addition, there are no "contests" at the school. Instead, they focused on celebrations and performances that included the talents of the whole student body. The teachers at Winter Park formed study groups where they explored educational philosophies of such well- known educators as Alfie Kohn. Although this article was not written by an well-known educator, but rather the principal of the Winter Park Elementary School, its value lies in the fact that we can all learn how a wonderfully nurturing school environment was created through the process of collaboration and how children successfully learned to value others from different social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. And that is a beautiful thing. (JP)

Conoley, Jane Close. "Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones and Words Can Really Hurt Me." School Psychology Review 37.2 (June 2008): 217-220.
Conoley’s article discusses various aspects of bullying in schools with particular focus on LGBT students. In general, victims are usually chosen based on their physical appearance, clothing, grades or behavior. As expected, they develop negative perspectives of schools as well as their peers. On the other hand, their classmates view bullying as a tolerable means of reinforcing acceptable behavior and conformity within the school community. Teachers are perceived as being inept or unwilling to intervene in situations especially if the victim is perceived as being LGBT. Reasons for their reactions (or lack thereof) include physical intimidation as well as attitudes that this is normal development and required for preparation for adulthood. There are also teachers who simply ignore bullying because it coincides with their own bias. Teachers have blamed university programs for not preparing them to deal with matters involving violence in the schools. Conoley offers various solutions to address the issue. Teachers need to lead by example. They need to avoid stereotyping students and advocate for the rights of the victims. There should also be a higher teacher presence in hallways, stoppage of bullying at lower levels (name calling, pushing, etc.) and punishment for violators. There also needs to be support from parents and administrators. In addition to addressing victim’s emotional and physical needs, they should also be educated on ways to protect themselves. While the article focuses on LGBT students, the basic principles can apply to many situations. It is well written and insightful into some of the causes and possible solutions of the problem. This is an effective article for educators, administrators and parents who are looking for information about the problem as well as ways to address it. [AC, 11/14/08]