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Afternoon Announcements–October 24, 2011

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October 24, 2011 07:28 pm

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Here are today’s top education headlines courtesy of our policy intern, Bill DeBaun:

I hope the good folks at Education Week are off today (though I know they’re not), because they rolled out a bevy of great content over the weekend. Let’s try to stave off any looming Cases of the Mondays out there with some education-related news!

Here at the Alliance, we’re big proponents of meshing technology and education in the classroom. But technology is also useful for enhancing professional development. Education Week has a series of articles, under the heading “Virtual PD Creates Connections,” about just this intersection of technology and teacher development. Take, for example, this article about professional learning networks, “online communities that allow the sharing of lesson plans, teaching strategies, and student work, as well as collaboration across grade levels and departments,” that are becoming increasingly popular. Teachers can also use sites like Edmodo as teaching tools to engage students in conversations and disseminate homework and class notes.

Another article in the “Virtual PD” series takes a look at “hybrid professional-development“, which blends technological and traditional approaches, and which allows districts to cut costs and embed “small chunks” of professional development into teachers’ every day practice. Similar online professional development opportunities are also increasingly available to administrators.

Some of the demand for online professional development is being met by virtual schools that have long provided online professional development to their teachers. Education Week says virtual schools are expanding these PD opportunities and starting to offer them to face-to-face teachers as well.

One last article in the “Virtual PD” series examines professional development related to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Education leaders “cite the Internet as a powerful tool for sharing resources and materials across state and district lines.” Cross-pollenating these resources and materials will likely make more consistent the implementation of these standards across the 45 states that have signed on to the initiative.

From the Associated Press comes this piece about how educational belt tightening is likely to continue around the country. Educators are worried about continued school personnel layoffs and even deeper cuts to after-school programs, non-classroom activities, and classes like gym, art, and music. Many districts have already implemented cost-saving strategies like requiring students to pay to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics, but these solutions may not be enough.

Education Week (they’re still at it!) offers up “Push Is On to Add Time to School,” a look at new models for expanding the school day. The article talks about programs in Rhode Island, Houston, and other school districts to see how expanded learning time is impacting students’ lessons.

Finally, this Time article details what, at first glance, seems like a strange problem to have: children studying too much. Hagwons, “private after-hours tutoring academies,” are exacerbating a stressful, ultra-competitive learning environment for South Korean students. Authorities have implemented curfews to keep students from being up all night studying; they have also been seeking ways to reduce student stress and ease the high-tension across the educational system. There’s more on the subject in a Washington Post editorial, “In South Korea, too many college grads, too few jobs.”

That’s all for today’s afternoon announcements! Have a great rest of the day!

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