Monthly Archives: September 2014

Are Extracurricular Activities Really Extra?

Child happy with Extracurricular activities
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Depositphotos 16026637 s 1 216x300 Are Extracurricular Activities Really Extra?Growing up, I was one of those kids who belonged to a variety of groups. I was a cheerleader, vice-president of my class, thespian, honors student, Sunday school scientist and party-girl. Through these varied experiences, I was able to develop a wide range of skills and also get a clearer picture of my likes, dislikes, and talents. The trick was that I generally did one extra-curricular activity at a time so I never felt over-extended.


Today, opinions about extracurricular activities run the gambit from “children are burned out from having an over scheduled calendar” to “if my kid doesn’t get away from candy crush I might just crush him!” Which leads to the question: Are extracurricular activities really extra?

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Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?

Students using social media in he classroom

Depositphotos 10450050 s 222x300 Is Social Media in the Classroom a Necessity or Distraction?I recently had a telling experience while sitting at a friend’s dinner table. The mother asked her son how his class was today. He answered, “It got deleted”. Let’s be honest. Unless you are living under a rock, most of us are not only reliant on our computers for daily functioning but are also involved with social media in one form or another. In this digital era, our youngsters may no longer know the difference between something getting cancelled and something getting deleted.


Though I have no doubt that by the time our elementary school students graduate high school there will be many more “new and improved” digital social outlets, social media today is more than just a way to connect to friends. It has evolved into a serious tool used for education and business as well. As many of our young people are practically born with a Smartphone in hand, is bringing social media into the classroom a necessity or a distraction?

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Video: The Myths of Chartering

Zero Chance of passage

Guest Post by Ember Reichgott Junge


What a fun interview with Bob Bowdon of Choice Media TV, in New York City! We talked chartering and education issues from the 1990s to now, and he even included a 1997 C-Span clip of my presentation to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. I was in New York to participate in the Writer’s Digest conference, where my book, Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story was recognized as the 2013 Grand Prize Winner of the Self-Published Book Awards. Whether you are a long-time veteran in chartering and education or just curious to learn more, I think you’ll find this a fun conversation!

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Are Single Gender Classrooms Better?

Girls in a single gender classroom

singlegender 300x212 Are Single Gender Classrooms Better?From time immemorial, private religious schools have had single gender classrooms. For the past 15 some odd years, a few public schools have begun to experiment with this option in hopes that both boys and girls will thrive. Though somewhat “untraditional” to the public school system, perhaps this tactic will resolve many of the challenges we find in schools today.


Studies have found many positive outcomes to single sex classrooms. Some of them are as follows:


  • Girls tend to more actively participate in classroom discussions
  • Girls participate in more outdoor activities without worrying that they will be considered too tom-boyish
  • Boys tend to strive for better academic achievement
  • Boys enjoy joining an orchestra or studying poetry without worrying about seeming too feminine
  • Boys learn to collaborate more and compete less
  • Self-confidence seems to increase in both sexes
  • Both sexes feel freer to explore non-conventional subjects like computers, mathematics and technology
  • Both sexes seem to thrive on having less “sexual stimuli” around them
  • Both sexes can be taught using learning patterns more geared towards their gender
  • Both sexes seem to focus better on academics with less distractions
  • There are fewer drop-outs for both genders


Though most would agree that successful education is a joint venture which includes proper instruction, parent commitment and structured environment, it does appear that gender-appropriate education can be a key which takes success in education to the next level.

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New Literacy Law-Too Much and Too Late?

Literacy! Children reading together

Depositphotos 14085122 s 300x220 New Literacy Law Too Much and Too Late?In the continuing effort to get our children reading, fourteen states have enacted a policy requiring third-graders who do not meet a reading standard to attend summer school and/or be held back. Summer school is costly and studies show that students held back often drop out of school. Is there a solution? This appears to be a complicated issue for many.


Although some say that summer school might improve student literacy, many wonder where the extra funds will come from. In North Carolina, districts could not rely on state funds to cover the extra expenditure. Non-profit foundations were needed to supplement the summer schools costs.

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