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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Increasing Involvement in Middle School

After elementary school, parental and community involvement takes a dive. How to improve the middle school experience during this critical time?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGqjYyaBtsc

Parents know they should be involved in their kids' education during elementary school, but as kids get older, parents become less engaged. The dropoff is greatest for the overlooked middle schools—even their names denote this neither-here-nor-there mentality. How to increase parental and community involvement during this extremely critical time for students? At GOOD Ideas for Cities RVA, the Kids Lead, Parents Follow team proposed several changes to the way parents think about middle school, and education in general. From eliminating middle school as a concept entirely and making all primary schools K-8, to creating a mentorship program that engages both elementary and high school students as advisers to middle schoolers. The team encouraged parents to ignore the imagined boundaries—school districts, grade divisions—and listen to their kids.

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Can Student Startups Solve the Education Crisis?

Could middle and high school students come up with better solutions than pricey consultants and policymakers?


How do schools ensure that more students graduate from high school and go on to college? School districts usually hire pricey consultants or rely on high-powered policymakers to figure out how to solve education's challenges. Even President Obama has offered his perspective, suggesting that states should raise the age students can legally drop out of school. Now the United States Department of Education’s new National Education Startup Challenge hopes to get some innovative and entrepreneurial help from a previously untapped resource that knows exactly what modern students are going through—students themselves.

Indeed, the challenge wants both nonprofit and for-profit startup ideas from middle and high school students that address four key areas: helping middle schoolers successfully transition to high school and graduate; helping students develop skills for success in college; helping students "choose affordable colleges that best suit student needs, consistent with their education and career goals; and increasing "the likelihood students complete their college degrees on time or early."

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Is Sixth Grade the Key to Ending the Dropout Crisis?

Students moving from fifth to sixth grade experience a significant drop in achievement.


When do students decide to drop out of high school? According to a new study of Florida schools by a team of Harvard researchers, a student begins to give up on education well before she sets foot in a high school classroom. The study found a strong correlation between a student’s middle school experience and whether she ends up doing well academically in high school.

According to the researchers, the transition from fifth grade at an elementary school to sixth grade at a separate middle school is especially critical. Students in the study experienced a “sharp drop” in math and language arts when they moved to sixth grade—unlike their peers who attended the same school from kindergarten to eighth grade.

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Uruguay's Schools Give Each Kid a Laptop, While America Twiddles Its Thumbs

One-to-one laptop programs in America are still novelties. In Uruguay, all elementary students have had a laptop since 2009.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPfKTdUfrVI&feature=player_detailpage

We spend a lot of time here in America debating the merit of providing a laptop to every student. Maine is still the only state to have a one-to-one laptop program for middle and high school students. In contrast, many of our global peers see the writing on the wall and know that computer literacy and learning with technology can't be optional in the 21st century. In particular, Uruguay's been rolling out one-to-one laptops at schools since 2009 through their Plan Ceibal program. Now that almost all students have access to computers, the South American nation is thinking about how to take the use of them to the next level.

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“The Modern Educator Is Not a Teacher”: Updating Learning for the 21st Century

Classrooms operate almost the same way they did 100 years ago. A group of of middle schoolers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area want to change that.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGvl5dg3l2M

Why do classrooms and schools operate almost the same way they did 100 years ago? A group of middle schoolers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area began asking themselves this question during a class discussion of Orson Scott Card's science fiction novel Ender's Game. More importantly, they began to wonder, "Could children, using the internet, have a dramatic impact on the world around them? Could they influence public opinion, and make a mark on their world?" Thus began "Education Evolution," a class video project that brings a student perspective to what's going wrong in the modern classroom, and offers up ideas of how it can be fixed.

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Beyoncé's Killing It with These "Let's Move" Videos

Check out Beyoncé's new video for the Let's Move campaign against childhood obesity. It's really fun.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYP4MgxDV2U

Childhood obesity has a new enemy—international superstar Beyoncé. She's been helping First Lady Michelle Obama with her Let's Move! campaign to promote the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, and she's produced a remix exercise video of her hit "Get Me Bodied," appropriately called "Move Your Body."

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