Author Archives: wp_mu_admin

A New Chapter for Computer Science Education

This week, educators, students, and others all across the country are celebrating Computer Science (CS) Education Week.

All children can benefit from CS coursework, regardless of their intended career paths, because mastering computer science principles can help students develop foundational problem-solving skills and other key aptitudes. But, despite the value in learning CS, less than one-quarter of students nationwide have access to rigorous CS courses. We need to do more to increase educators’ awareness of and students’ equitable access to these courses.

Read More

STEM Education: A Case for Early Learning

Russell Shilling is the Executive Director of STEM in the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

G.K. Chesterton captured the essence of early-childhood when he said, “Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green.” Every child is imbued with a sense of curiosity and wonder. They are born scientists, engineers, and creators ready to discover the world at every turn. The goal of education should be to sustain this engagement throughout a lifetime.
Read More

Communities Come Together to Support STEM Education

 

STEM Ecosystem Graphic

Diagram created by the Department of Education for the purposes of
illustrating the potential anchor organizations of a STEM learning ecosystem.

Cultivating a creative workforce that is ready to step into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields is vital. Students need technical knowledge in these subjects, as well as critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills; these tools will prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs. But it’s not just schools that are thinking about how best to engage students.

Last week, the White House hosted the first gathering of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, a new initiative designed to bring STEM to life for young people in real-world, high-quality and engaging ways. A STEM learning “ecosystem” creates connected learning opportunities for students throughout their community, both within and outside of school.

Read More

The Journey to 100,000 Excellent STEM Teachers

Posted by Melissa Moritz, Deputy Director of STEM, US Department of Education

This past week, Secretary Duncan highlighted the critical role of educators in “leading efforts to transform students’ lives.” As the Deputy Director of STEM here at the Department of Education, part of my job is to ensure we’re doing all we can to support educators, particularly those teaching in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In classrooms throughout the country, outstanding teachers are preparing students in these subject areas, giving them the support and tools they need to meaningfully contribute to their schools, communities and workplaces. We want all kids to have classrooms like that every year and to make that happen, we need more of these teachers.

Read More

A Focus on Equity and Rigor in Seattle-Area Schools

When Renton High School, just south of Seattle, began making International Baccalaureate (I.B.) courses the default curriculum for juniors and seniors two years ago, some in the community weren’t sure that was a good idea.

“We had to do a lot of training and had to change mindsets in some cases,” said Damien Pattenaude, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching for Renton School District and former principal of Renton High School.

The vast majority of the high school’s students come from low-income families of color, and most of them had not previously had access to the kind of rigorous, college-preparatory courses the I.B. program offers. But Pattenaude and the Renton team were determined to change that.

Read More

Launching the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative

Mentors can play an important role in supporting students’ success—whether they are near-peer mentors serving as role models for young students, or trusted adults and community leaders. That’s why a number of the U.S. Department of Education’s initiatives, including My Brother’s Keeper, leverage the power of mentors as key supporters and champions in students’ lives [to learn more about how to become a mentor, please click here].

One way that mentors can support students’ academic careers is by helping them develop learning mindsets and skills. Although these skills are not a silver bullet for improving public education, they are essential to teaching and learning. Alongside parents and educators, mentors can play a key part in supporting students’ resilience, sense of purpose and growth mindsets. When students become frustrated by challenges in the classroom, for example, mentors can help remind them that their minds are like a muscle that grows through effort. And when students feel disconnected from their classrooms, mentors can help them see how what they are learning in school aligns with what they hope to accomplish in life.

Read More

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: How IDEA Public Schools is Closing the Gap

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Secretary Duncan’s visit to South Texas, today we are highlighting IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) grantee that’s been recognized for helping Latinos, particularly English language learners, make strong achievement gains. Just last month, the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics named IDEA a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.

In 2012, IDEA won a Race to the Top – District (RTT–D) award aimed at personalizing student learning and closing achievement gaps. IDEA is also a past recipient of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and grants from OII’s Charter Schools Program. IDEA’s network serves approximately 24,000 students in 44 public charter schools across Texas. More than 90 percent are Hispanic, and a third are still acquiring English speaking, reading, and writing skills.

For nine consecutive years, 100 percent of IDEA’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college, and achievement scores have consistently been above the state’s average. We checked in with Tricia Lopez, IDEA’s Director of Special Programs, about what’s behind the network’s success and how the RTT–D grant has been helping the network meet its goals.

Read More

Turning College from an Aspiration into a Reality: Aspire’s Approach

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new program under the Charter Schools Program (CSP), called the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program. This competition provides money to help successful public charter schools serve more students. The Department has now invested over $260 million in charter management organization (CMO) grantees working to launch over 500 schools—of which about 250 have already opened—across 20 states. Just this week, we announced the newest cohort of these CMO grants—so it seemed like the right time to explore how a current CMO grantee is helping students succeed. Aspire Public Schools is a two-time grantee under the CMO competition—with demonstrated success in getting students into college.

Read More

The Children’s Literacy Initiative

In this conversation, Gina Post, a bilingual 2nd-grade teacher at Sumner Elementary School in Camden, N.J. discusses her work with the Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI). CLI is a Philadelphia-based organization that supports teachers focused on early literacy. In 2010, CLI won a $21.7 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Validation grant, and has demonstrated significant impacts on students & teachers. You can learn more about their i3-supported work here.

Q. Can you describe CLI’s approach to training?

A. The training was very methodical and hands on. The coaches were very involved. My teaching practice just seemed like it changed overnight for the better. The way it would generally work is my coach would come in and we would have a pre-conference. We would decide what I was going to teach that day and then we would walk through it. My coach also was there during the lesson, and she would model the best practices.

Q. How did CLI change your classroom?

A. It’s now very print rich. Everything hanging up was made with my students. When my students come in at the start of the year, the classroom is bare. Every time we put something up, we’ve created it together or they’ve created it. They reference what’s on the wall when they’re doing independent work. Or, I reference routines and procedure. We agree on these as a class community, we write it down, and hang it up during the first weeks of school.

CLI also created a classroom library for me with about 50 new, high-quality, bilingual books. They’re beautiful award-winning books, and half are in Spanish. When I came in to my classroom, the teacher before me had retired. I inherited what she had. Also, a lot of the materials we get in urban environments tend to be pre-fabricated books or a part of a set curriculum. They’re not individual books like you can find when you go the library or if you want to study an author.

Q. How did CLI change your teaching practice?

A. Before CLI, my writing lessons weren’t as explicit. I wasn’t as sure how to focus the students’ writing. It was much looser. As an example, I didn’t do the mini-lessons at the start of a persuasive writing lesson with an explanation of phrases the kids might start with. I also didn’t have an anchor chart with sentence starters, which I can use to send the students back to as a reference while they’re working. The way it works now with writing assignments is each day I’d add another step and another one and by the end of the four-week unit on opinion writing, seven-year-olds have crafted amazing pieces. Writing was much more of an open-ended activity before. It wasn’t explicit.

Q. Can you share a story of success from your classroom that you attribute to this new approach to reading and writing?

A. In the spring, I was reading the book “A Cricket in Times Square” with my students. We worked on it for about a month, and I had them make paper-bag puppets of their favorite character and do an in-depth analysis of the narrative from point of view of their character. When it was time for a share out, they came to the circle with their puppets and took turns sitting in the author’s chair. My English language learners, who previously didn’t want to speak out loud because they were afraid they’d make mistakes and were afraid they’d be made fun of, started having intelligent conversations out loud about characters in the book. These quiet, shy kids were comparing and contrasting events in the story. They were having this really thoughtful discussion about the book. I was simply there to make sure everything went smoothly. I was just so excited to see that.”

Young Women Empowering Their Communities: Championing Change

Cross-posted from the Department Homeroom.

Cross-posted from the White House blog.


Summary: On Tuesday, the White House honored 11 young women who are leading and empowering their communities as Champions of Change.


On Tuesday, the White House honored 11 young women who are leading and empowering their communities as Champions of Change. The program brought together young women from diverse backgrounds to share their stories of leading in their communities. The young women spoke of how they found the strength to lead, to inspire others and of those work of mentors and teachers who they relied on for help.

Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

As part of the event, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an important an important new fact sheet on implicit bias and inclusive STEM education and in conjunction with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence published a new report “Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas in the U.S., 2015.”

Read More