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The Answer Sheet: November 8, 2009 - November 14, 2009

The List: Naked runs, primal screams and other weird college traditions

Here is a list of some non-academic traditions at some of our finest colleges and universities. Note how many involve running naked in public, or loud screaming. Discuss and share the traditions you followed at your school. Naked Quad Run, Tufts University--Students run clotheless around the Rez Quad several times on the night of the final day of fall semester classes in December. The university provides refreshments.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 14, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  College Life  | Tags:  college traditions  
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How well do kids do research today? Should they ever look at Wikipedia?

Parents: How extensively do your children do research for school papers? Does anybody still own encyclopedias? Teachers: What/how many sources do you require when you assign a research paper? Is Wikipedia acceptable as a source?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 13, 2009; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Tags:  research papers, wikipedia  
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The List: 10 best college presidents, as determined by Time

E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University tops Time magazine's list of 10 best college and university presidents.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 13, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  The List, college presidents  
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The List: Students from China lead rise in foreign enrollments at U.S. colleges

Foreign enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is up this fall--with students from China leading the way--but overall growth seems to be slowing, according to a newly released survey of 701 institutions of higher education.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 13, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  foreign enrollments at u.s. colleges  
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Blasingame: When ‘Twilight’ author Stephenie Meyer visited my class; Why Edward Cullen & other vampires attract readers; What the next big thing is in adolescent lit

By James Blasingame Today, I will explain why I don’t think we’ll ever see a stake driven through the heart of the young adult vampire novel (Sorry about that, but I couldn’t resist).... What young woman in her right mind (well, in her daydreams, anyway) would not prefer the impossibly handsome, but possibly dangerous, alleged badboy who drives through the McDonald’s drive-through on his motorcycle over the definitely nerdy-but-nice, good boy who finishes her shift at said McDonalds with her and asks her to the prom while saturated in vegetable oil?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 12, 2009; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Tags:  Adolescent Literature, New Moon, Twilight  
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Teen: Writing a research paper without the Internet is hard

Studying over the Internet is very distracting; there are so many different ways to get sidetracked that it almost seems inefficient. If I learned anything from staying up until the early morning, it’s that there are actually a few merits to those dusty old encyclopedias. That’s not to say that I’ve stopped using search engines lieu of textbooks, because I haven’t and you shouldn’t either.By Adam Turay.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 12, 2009; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Tags:  Internet, books, studying  
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Should parents be required to volunteer at their children’s school?

This isn’t just an academic question.A bill was introduced in the Ohio legislature last year that would force parents with kids in underperforming schools to volunteer for 13 hours each school year--or face a $100 fine. It didn’t pass, but this year, there is a bill requiring parents to attend at least one conference with a teacher each school year but before Dec. 31, or face a $50 fine. Today The Answer Sheet’s Group of moms takes up the issue of parent involvement in schools. Should it somehow be made mandatory?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 12, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Tags:  The Group, parents volunteering at school  
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A school that wanted to sell grades. Really.

Just when I was worried that capitalism was dying in the United States, what with young people these days expecting to get their news and their music pretty much for free, along comes Rosewood Middle School in North Carolina to take away my concerns. How? By selling grades. Really. This is a different scheme from one that a number of schools adopted in the hopes of getting kids to perform better--paying cash for grades, which, in its own way, was a wonderful capitalist enterprise.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 11, 2009; 2:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Grades  | Tags:  grades  
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Zac Efron talks about education, cheating in school

Here is another in an occasional series of conversations about education I am having with people from different walks of life.... Zac Efron: "The conscious decision not to go to college was the toughest decision I have ever had to make.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 11, 2009; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Arts Education, Talking Out of School  | Tags:  Talking Out of School, Zac Efron, arts education  
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Why it is so important to read aloud to your kids

I want to share this email I received from a reading specialist in response to my recent blogpost about parents pushing academics on preschool kids, who actually learn best through well-designed play.... Said Barbara Bosworth: "If we want to change America, we need to change how parents read to their children."

By Valerie Strauss  | November 11, 2009; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Fairfax County Public Schools, Parents, Reading  | Tags:  preschool, reading aloud, reading instruction  
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What should schools do when they become the target of hate groups?

Some Washington area schools are being targeted for protests by an extremist church from Kansas whose website attacks gays, blacks, Jews and other minorities, as well as any whites who manage to get along with them. On Monday, Westboro Baptist Church members protested at private Sidwell School in the District, where President Obama’s two daughters attend. Yesterday it was Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School in Montgomery County because, the church website says, the school has a diversity club.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 11, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Civics Education, High School  | Tags:  Sidwell Friends School, hate groups  
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Hall of Shame: Willingham uses science to blast 'eyeQ'

By Daniel Willingham eyeQ is a computer program currently being tested in Salt Lake City Schools which the makers describe as “an effective tool for Brain Enhancement, Reading Improvement, and Vision Therapy or Eye Training.” Indeed, near-sighted users are promised that they will likely see an improvement in their vision. Improvements in reading speed of 100% in less than one month are described as typical.....But the claims made are fantastic (doubling your reading speed in one month) and anyone with any experience in human neuroscience would tell you that the science is confused.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 10, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Tags:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Hall of Shame, eyeQ  
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How many injuries before kids should hang up their cleats?

How many concussions would you allow your child to have before you decided that perhaps he or she should retire from the travel soccer team? In the past month alone I have heard about several dozen injuries to young athletes, both on school and athletic teams, and I am starting to wonder just how many families are so obsessed with sports that the child’s health suffers.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 10, 2009; 11:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  youth sports injuries  
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How can sick students catch up on schoolwork?

Here’s how Math Department Chairman Steve Katz is helping kids at Bethesda’s Westland Middle School keep up with their schoolwork when they are ill or simply need a refresher: He is “capturing” key parts of his lessons on video and posting the segments on a website available 24/7.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 10, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  Promethean boards, capturing instruction  
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The lost educational opportunity at the zoo

I’m guessing that the people at the National Zoo who decided not to allow the public to watch two lions do with a misguided deer what lions do with weaker wildlife either were worried about a lawsuit of some sort or forgot that kids watch nature in its gruesome glory on Animal Planet and Discovery all the time.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Tags:  National Zoo  
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The last Bracey Report: Myths about mayoral control, 'high quality' schools, standards

The last "Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education," takes on these assumptions: 1. High-quality schools can eliminate the achievement gap between whites and minorities. 2. Mayoral control of public schools is an improvement over the more common elected board governance systems. 3. Higher standards will improve the performance of public schools.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Learning, National Standards, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  Gerald Bracey, achievement gap, content standards  
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Is the gold standard of higher ed best practices flawed?

The supposed gold standard on best practices in higher education was released today and it says that more colleges and universities are exposing more kids to high quality learning experiences. That sounds good--unless you believe the author of a new look at the engagement report, which questions the survey’s methodology and its conclusions.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  higher education, student engagement  
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The rush to hold kids back – does it make sense?

In the past few years, jurisdictions across the country have moved to push back the starting age for kindergarten, including Montgomery County and the District of Columbia. Some believe that older children are more mature and academically-inclined than their younger counterparts. States also see it as a quick way to boost test scores. And parents may be increasingly jumping aboard this trend toward “redshirting,” holding children out of school until they are older or having them repeat a grade. It is not at all unusual to see a 6 1/2 year old in kindergarten or a high school freshman old enough to get a driver’s license. Is it really best for kids?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Guest Bloggers, Montgomery County Public Schools, Parents  | Tags:  redshirting, school readiness  
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What, exactly, is political correctness in schools?

With Christmas approaching, we are bound to hear complaints that schools are being “politically correct” by refusing to let kids sing Christmas carols or having Christmas shows. Instead, they have “winter festivals.” Is this a sign of political correctness or of sensitivity to all religions? What other examples do you see at your school that you consider politically correct? Or is political correctness largely a myth?

By Valerie Strauss  | November 9, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  political correctness  
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