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What’s Trending In Ed. Tech?

If you think there’s a lot of mobile technology in schools now, just wait five years.

That’s among the most compelling findings of the Software & Information Industry Association’s Trends Report for Education Technology, released last week.

Expect a big jump in cloud computing, an embracing of students using cellphones, better and faster mobile devices for educational use, and so much specialization that you generally can’t keep track, say the study’s authors. Equally, expect technology businesses to adopt their models or suffer consequences. —Ian Quillen


Dropouts and Discipline

Next to the persistent achievement gap, the factor most often cited as evidence of the failure of public schools is the appalling dropout rate. The usual explanations for the existence of dropouts include poor relationships between students and teachers, unsafe campuses, lack of interest in the curriculum, and personal problems.

But recently, another factor was added to the list. According to testimony from three public hearings in Massachusetts, excessive discipline for nonviolent offenses such as tardiness, truancy, profanity, and insubordination exacerbates the dropout rate.

If this provocative explanation for the dropout rate is true, which is debatable, it has direct implications for teachers. Every time schools suspend students, they unwittingly increase the possibility that those students will eventually drop out. On the other hand, if schools don’t suspend students for violating policies, they are sending a clear message that unacceptable behavior has no consequences. —Walt Gardner


Reflections of an Itinerant Learner

I finished my official duties as the 2009 National Teacher of the Year last week. I ended my journey at the starting point, my classroom. A student asked me, “How do you feel?”

Good question. I had spent the past 12 months holding a suitcase and carrying a title that should come with a disclaimer. The National Teacher of the Year is a moniker that cannot belong to any single educator because our nation is filled with so many gifted but unsung teachers. Educators who quickly made me feel like an amateur. But the title is a treasured key that unlocked doors not opened to most teachers. Doors that led to rooms filled with politicians, bureaucrats, policymakers, union leaders, and academics. These are the movers and shakers who direct the course of our education system. I’m not sure if they listened to what I had to say, but I tried my best to be heard. —Anthony Mullen


Diminished Reporting

The recent Hechinger Report article about the diminished expectations for the children of the Great Recession does a good job laying out trends ranging from education attainment to job possibilities. But there’s no mention of the obvious: Males are especially affected.

With nearly 80 percent of the layoffs involving men, and projections that men will fall even farther behind in education—with the percentage of female enrollment in four-year colleges rising to 59 percent—this seems like an issue worth covering.

But these reports rarely take on that controversial topic. That’s unfortunate, because we’re all going to be affected, starting with a less competitive workforce and ending with fewer male “marriageable mates.” —Richard Whitmire


Summer Flicks

With graduation season upon us, I thought I’d offer a few of my favorite terrific, cheese-tastic movies about teaching, schooling, and adolescence.

Now, we’re going to shy away from heavy, serious flicks, because you risk getting into precious one-upsmanship and the whole thing just gets too intense.

I’ve opted instead for the kinds of films that can spark a Doritos-fueled discussion about teens, teachers, and schools.

Here are some snippets from the Top 10 list, found in full on the blog:

“Lean On Me”: OK, so it’s kind of an awful movie, with all kinds of troubling messages. But Morgan Freeman is volcanic, and there are some touching scenes.

“Superbad”: It just captures the joys and tribulations of home economics.

“Clueless”: Yeah, I dig this. So sue me ...

“The Breakfast Club”: A quarter-century later, its still a classic window into how we think about high school life. —Rick Hess

Vol. 29, Issue 35, Page 8

Published in Print: June 16, 2010, as Blogs of the Week
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