5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014

Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations - each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. And for many of them, that's the end of it. They gather dust in the university library or languish in some forgotten corner of the Internet.

A few, though, find their way into the hands of teachers, principals and policymakers. Each year the American Educational Research Association - a 99-year-old national research society - puts out a list of its 10 most-read articles.


We've looked over that list and compiled a summary of some of what we learned from the ivory tower in 2014.


1) What's The Best Way To Teach Math To Struggling First-Graders? The Old-Fashioned Way

Math teachers will often try to get creative with their lesson plans if their students are struggling to grasp concepts. But in "Which Instructional Practices Most Help First-Grade Students With and Without Mathematics Difficulties?" the researchers found that plain, old-fashioned practice and drills - directed by the teacher - were far more effective than "creative" methods such as music, math toys and student-directed learning.


The researchers from the University of California, Irvineand Penn State examined more than 13,000 first-grade math students in 1,300 schools nationally.


They found that first-graders who scored in the bottom 15 percent on math tests were more often subject to activities that have no evidence of fostering retention or improving performance. For example, teachers with lots of struggling students often sought to liven up their lessons by adding movement or music. But the researchers found little evidence that those methods worked.


Instead, they found that the only activity associated with gains in performance on an adaptive, untimed, one-one-one administered test is what we think of as traditional instruction. Namely, a teacher demonstrating how to solve a problem, followed by repeated opportunities for students to work by themselves, replicating the procedure with worksheets and drills.


These results run contrary to some interpretations of the Common Core, where students collaborate, talk through a problem and dissect the different ways to reach a solution. The researchers found that while this kind of learning can work for some students, those already struggling in math failed to grasp concepts as easily as they did under more traditional lessons.


Early Childhood Center helps young kids learn 'invisible skills' in academics, socialization  

Lazy afternoons do not apply to 4-year-olds. After all, training for kindergarten is a serious task.


As the minutes ticked toward the end of the day, students of Little Early Childhood Center at 16th and Piatt were hard at work. Giggles echoed through the halls as the small troops of children made their way to the classrooms for "learning through play" time.


During this hour, students were allowed to choose different activities. One child scrunched his face in concentration as he added the final piece to a teetering tower of blocks. Others sat at tables creating artistic masterpieces with markers and crayons.


To some, this might seem like the normal activities of a child. However, in USD 259's early childhood program, it's an important part of their education.

Wichita Public Schools provide pre-kindergarten programs for ages 3 to 4. The curriculum, outlined by the district, places an emphasis on preparing students for kindergarten.

"We want them to achieve academic and social competency," executive coordinator Connie Powell said.    >> READ MORE  

Magic Johnson Donates $10 Million to Chicago Program That Directs Troubled Black Youth Away From Street Violence
In Michael Jordan's city, Magic Johnson has donated $10 million to bolster a summer jobs program that benefits troubled Black youths in Chicago, which has been ravaged by street violence.

Johnson joined Mark and Kimbra Walter of the Inner City Youth Empowerment in a collaboration that will help triple the reach of the One Chicago Summer Plus program.


Its primary focus is to guide youths ages 16 to 19 away from potential troubles that come on the streets of inner-city Chicago.


"We are proud to partner on an initiative that has proven to change the trajectory of at-risk kids' lives," Johnson said in a press release. "Providing disadvantaged kids with alternatives is a step in the right direction toward helping them reach their full potential and curb violence in our neighborhoods."


Johnson's contribution highlights the former NBA great's philanthropic work since retiring from professional basketball. He's been a benchmark for other athletes, like Jordan, to study after their careers are completed.


The Robot-Assisted Language Learning in Education, or RALL-E, project is a new social robot that has the potential to transform world language learning by giving learners new opportunities to practice their conversational skills.

The RALL-E robots are Chinese-speaking human-like robots that create a safe environment for learners to practice their conversational skills. These robots create the experience of a conversation through a lifelike range of facial expressions and gestures coupled with Alelo's innovative language acquisition-based dialog software.

Designed to increase intrinsic motivation and speaking competency, the RALL-E project offers students the unique opportunity to participate in a fun, alternative practice exercise that mimics real world language use and they love it. Students are already playing with these robots in Chinese classrooms at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA.  
Chicago Program Uses Home Visits To Boost Latino Early Education
For many Latino families, early childhood education remains tenuously out of reach. Yet more and more research points to the importance of early language and educational development as soon as a child is born. One solution that has been used for years at a Chicago center might change that, and it's as simple as a knock on the door.

Gads Hill Center has been a vital community resource for underserved neighborhoods in Chicago since it was founded in 1898. With three locations in west and southwest Chicago, Gads Hill Center offers many services, including early childhood education programs, for a city that has changed rapidly. About fifteen years ago Gads Hill Center introduced a new program, home visiting, for many of these Latino families in Chicago. Now Gads Hill Center offers two home visiting programs: Home Based Head Start serves 84 children from ages three to five and Early Head Start Home Visiting which serves 90 children, prenatal to age three.


In an area like Brighton Park, which has few centers that can accommodate young children, home visiting is often the only option for many Latinos, which make up 84 percent of the neighborhood. And like many cities, Chicago is strengthening the requirements for home visitors, who must possess an Associate's Degree in early childhood education.

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How many boards
Could the Mongols hoard
If the Mongol hordes got bored?

How can a clam cram in a clean cream can? 

Denise sees the fleece,
Denise sees the fleas.
At least Denise could sneeze
and feed and freeze the fleas.

Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.

U.S. students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. The nation's high school graduation rate hit 81 percent in 2012-13, the highest level since states adopted a new uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago.


"America's students have achieved another record-setting milestone," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we're seeing promising gains, including for students of color. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, and these improvements are thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals, students and families."


Six Omaha-area school districts will serve as test beds next year for a new concept in early childhood education that school superintendents hail as rare, innovative and the best hope for lifting kids out of poverty.


Details of the plan released today show that the comprehensive program of birth-to-age-8 interventions will be launched at 10 sites serving 12 schools in the Omaha, Millard, Bellevue, Douglas County West, Westside and Ralston districts. At all the schools, at least half of students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch.


In a culture of tight school budgets, Miner's Hall Museum is working with Greenbush to introduce their exhibits to students across the state and beyond.

"With the funding cuts, it's difficult to take field trips," said Alan Roberts, a member of the board of directors at Miners Hall Museum.

Instead, he said the museum is being transported to classrooms, such as one in Madison, Kan., via a traveling trunk and interactive distance learning (IDL) lessons hosted and taught by staff at the Southeast Kansas Regional Service Center, aka Greenbush.

While IDL is not a new concept in education, iPads have expanded the options and opportunities for interactive lessons. 


Mar 9-12, Austin, TX

CUE 2015 Annual Conference
Mar 19-21, Palm Springs, CA  

2015 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting & Exposition
Apr 15-18, Boston, MA 

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