Katrina Schwartz

Even When Research Supports Changing Traditional Teaching, Parents Make It Hard

Every evening after dinner, Herman Agbavor and his 5-year-old son, Herbert, have a ritual. Little Herbert climbs into his dad’s lap, unzips his book bag and they go over his kindergarten homework.
The two of them have been doing some variation of this homework routine since Herbert was 1. That’s when Agbavor first enrolled the boy in preschool.
They live in a working-class neighborhood of Ghana’s capital city, Accra — in a cement block apartment in a multifamily house that has a television and lots of books but no indoor plumbing.

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How Passion Projects and Community Partners Create Relevant Learning for Teens in School

When a huge flood devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2008 the community was faced with a host of problems more commonly seen in big cities, like homelessness. But in the midst of this tragedy the residents began to see an opportunity to rethink how they would rebuild the core institutions of the town.
“We’re in Iowa, these are not things you deal with,” said Shawn Cornally, co-founder of Iowa BIG, a project-based school that came into being after the flood. “So the entire city was grappling with these giant questions together.”

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Why Teaching English Through Content Is Critical for ELL Students

Teaching grade-level content to students who have just arrived in the United States and whose English skills are limited is a difficult task. High school-level content specialists especially have little training on how to integrate language acquisition into their content. Often teachers deal with that by either dumbing down the curriculum to make it linguistically simpler or alternating between lessons focused on language and those about content.

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How Helping Students to Ask Better Questions Can Transform Classrooms

Educators and parents have long known that curiosity is at the center of powerful learning. But too often, in the push to meet standards and pressure to stay on pace, that essential truth about learning that sticks gets lost. Worse, many older students have forgotten how to ask their own questions about the world, afraid that if they wonder they will be wrong.

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How to Plan and Implement Continuous Improvement In Schools

In the classroom, good teachers constantly test small changes to class activities, routines, and workflow. They observe how students interact with the material, identify where they trip up and adjust as they go. This on-the-fly problem solving is so common in classrooms many teachers don’t realize they’re even doing it, and the expertise they are gathering is rarely taken into account when schools or districts try to solve larger, systematic problems.

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Building Thinking Skills to Help Students Access Their Best Work

Urban Maker Assembly Academy serves students from all over New York City, many of whom come in behind grade level. The school uses a mastery-based approach, focusing on helping each student become proficient in the necessary skills no matter how long it takes. They’re also committed to doing interesting, hands-on projects and letting students have autonomy over their learning.

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How A Culture of Improvement Goes Hand in Hand With Coaching Teachers

Helping high school students with only basic English improve their speaking, writing and listening skills requires that language be a focus of every content area. The ENLACE Academy at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts serves students who have been in the country only a few years and are just beginning to learn the language. English and content are the twin goals of every lesson.

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100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students

College access and affordability: It’s a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.

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How Debate Structures Allow English Learners’ Brilliance to Shine

Students are often attuned to current events and world affairs. Debating topics relevant to the news can be a high-interest way to engage English language learners in academic discourse that matters to them while building language skills. Structured debate also gives students opportunities to disagree politely without attacking individuals for their opinions — a useful life skill.

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Model United Nations Offers Structured Practice for English Language Learners

One of the challenges of working with newcomer English language learners who have only basic English skills is keeping content on grade level. At the ENLACE Academy for newcomers at Lawrence High School in Massachusetts, teachers have found that the structures of Model United Nations offer a good way to get students discussing a grade-level topic with materials that support language acquisition.

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