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Week of 1/24/11: Teaching & learning tidbits

Cursive handwriting not taught at some schools

At the beginning of the current school year, Pam Bates learned that her daughter, Kaylin, would not learn how to read or write in cursive. This is the first year Stober Elementary, in Jefferson County, has not taught the flowing penmanship. Watch the 7 News report. The debate over the demise of cursive in Colorado public schools first heated up on EdNews Parent. Share your thoughts.

Special education resource fair Saturday

Aurora Public Schools will host a resource fair for people with disabilities and their parents, caregivers and educators beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Professional Learning & Conference Center, 15771 East 1st Ave. in Aurora. The event features workshops for teachers and caretakers, a special education student art show, door prizes and a raffle fundraiser. Topics include:

  • How children learn and why they struggle
  • Reducing unwanted behaviors through structure and routine
  • Understanding special education: Key things that parents need to know (Taught in Spanish with English interpretation available).

D-49 paying ‘hundreds of thousands’ to trim its ranks

The Falcon School District 49 board said in an “open letter” Thursday it was paying “several hundred thousand dollars” to end obligations to employees whose positions were being eliminated, but declined to give details. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette. This comes at the same time Falcon district officials want to see higher test scores and graduates well prepared for college and the workplace. That’s why the growing school district on Colorado Springs’ eastern edge is moving to  become an “innovation district,” which would allow it to seek exemption from some state and local rules to try new things. Read this Gazette story.

‘Obsessed’ teacher uses space to enthuse students

Fifth-grade teacher Jami Seabolt on Thursday showed her Space Club at Skyway Park Elementary School how to make paper space shuttles. Seabolt also is flying high because she recently learned that she is one of 38 teachers nationwide – including 12 from the Pikes Peak region – named to the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation’s prestigious teacher liaison program. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Colorado students outperform peers in science

Students in fourth grade and eighth grade took science tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and Colorado students scored better than most of the country. Watch this 9News report.

Boulder Valley plans preschool additions

More preschool spots for low-income students soon will be available at Boulder Valley elementary schools, but adding spots at Boulder schools is proving tricky because of space issues. Read more in the Daily Camera.

CU-Boulder answering Obama’s call for more math, science teachers

In his life sciences class Wednesday, teacher William Leary devised a mock disease, and middle-school students worked to diagnose it and imagined ways to prevent an epidemic. The exercise at Boulder’s Casey Middle School fit into the unit that Leary is teaching on epidemiology. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Adams 12 Five Star Schools board to discuss “21st century learning”

The Board of Education is hosting a community meeting to discuss 21st century learning and provide input regarding values and priorities for developing successful students and graduates in the district. The event will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, at Thornton High School, 9351 Washington St., Thornton. For more information contact Frances Mullins at 720-972-4007.

Beattie Elementary spared by one vote

The Poudre School District Board of Education voted no Tuesday night on a motion to close Beattie Elementary School in Fort Collins after a drawn out fight by parents and community members to save the school. Watch the 9News report.

Improving the odds of turnaround success

As efforts to turn around some of Colorado’s lowest-performing schools intensify, a report issued this week urges state leaders to focus on three key areas to better the chances of success. Read more in Education News Colorado.

President Obama cites Denver school

President Obama highlighted a Denver school, Bruce Randolph 6-12, as an example of  “what’s possible from our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Randolph was on the brink of state closure in 2004-05 when Kristin Waters, then the principal of one of Denver’s highest-performing middle schools, and her teacher Chrisanne LaHue created a reform plan. Read more in Education News Colorado.

Aurora schools chief goes door-to-door for truants

Schools chief John Barry joined staff members going door-to-door on Tuesday to reach students who are chronically truant. The school district says the aim is to invite those students back to school. Watch this 9News report.

Colorado House to mull tax credits for private, home-school parents

If a Centennial lawmaker has his way, some parents who send their children to private school or home-school them could benefit from tax credits beginning next year in a plan opponents say is simply school vouchers by another name. Read more in the Greeley Tribune.

Boulder Valley schools boost dropout-prevention efforts

Johnny Fernandez hated seeing teens, year after year, give up on school and slip away to an uncertain future. “I feel responsible for every single kid,” said the assistant principal at Lafayette’s Centaurus High School. “You get tired of seeing kids disengage.” Read more in the Daily Camera.

Jeffco board balks at school-closure plan

The Jefferson County school board has announced  that it has decided to delay action on a five-year plan that would close several elementary schools. The plan, first proposed to the school board Jan. 6, would phase out as many as 10 elementary schools and replace or consolidate several others. Read more in the Denver Post.

Teachers catch up on technology

Crystal Courts is one of 200 people giving up their Saturday to improve their Monday through Friday. She’s attending the Jefferson County School District’s first ever Tech Share Fair. “I think kids have access to so much more. There’s so much information out there,” Courts, a third grade teacher, said. “So, I was kind of hoping to get a better idea how I could use it with my kids.” The Tech Share Fair is designed to help Courts and her colleagues learn more about cloud computing, new programs and internet applications to find the smartest ways to use their Smart Boards. Watch the report on 9News.

Students’ ingenuity changes lives

Here’s a scenario that may sound like a school teacher’s dream; a group of students are given an assignment that captivates them so much, they choose to come to school an hour before the bell rings to work on it, for four months. Lynette Havens doesn’t need to pinch herself because this is no dream, it is reality. Lynette is a teacher at Bollman Technical Education Center in Thornton. This school is part of Adams 12 Five Star School District. As part of a pre-engineering class, students are taking part in a national project which requires them to create a device for someone with a disability. Watch this 9News report.

State’s smallest district ponders future

The Agate School District boasts a top-notch facility. A $1.8 million capital construction grant from the state in 2003 paid for a sparkling new cafeteria and kitchen in the district’s one school. The gym has been updated, and spacious new locker rooms were added. There’s even a new fitness room housing state-of-the-art equipment. Read more in Education News Colorado.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.