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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Poudre elementary fifth-graders prep for ECO Week

A drizzly rain didn’t dampen the excitement of Laurel Elementary fifth-graders as they searched for insects, plants and rocks while learning about ecosystems at the Poudre River.

The Laurel Elementary School of Arts and Technology fifth-graders recently went on field trips to the Poudre River and to Horsetooth Mountain Park to prepare for their turn at ECO Week in October. Many fifth-graders in Poudre School District participate in the annual ECO (ecology) Week excursions to the mountains in the fall to study ecological lessons. ECO Week, which is usually held in Pingree Park or Estes Park, is a key component in helping students achieve standards in both science and social studies.

While experiences vary by participating schools, ECO Week activities may include lessons on the environment, streams, landform identification, stargazing and astronomy. Memorable group experiences, team building and hiking are often a part of the experience as well.

Reactions to SB 191 rules seem positive

The clock is ticking for the State Board of Education to adopt regulations for implementing the educator effectiveness law, and the last full public hearing on the issue drew a large crowd Wednesday.

The drafting process has been going on for months, often focused on debate over how much flexibility school districts should have in designing systems to evaluate principals and teachers. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Middle school changes credited for DPS enrollment growth

Preliminary enrollment numbers for Denver Public Schools show that for the first time, the district is educating more than 80,000 students. The official count, done Friday, shows the DPS student census increased to 81,438, up 2,015 pupils from the year before. Read more in the Denver Post.

Math-class methods multiply in Denver schools

When Julie Selsberg’s elementary school son and daughter have math homework, Selsberg reads instructions on worksheets and learns the math before helping her kids.

“We do follow how they do it first because we don’t want to frustrate them,” Selsberg said. “But sometimes they can do it our way better.” Read more in the Denver Post.

As expected, Colorado schools fall behind on yearly progress target

Fewer Colorado schools and districts met “Adequate Yearly Progress” targets established by the No Child Left Behind law this year than last year.

The data were made public Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Education. In 2011, 46 percent of schools in Colorado met their targets, down from 62 percent in 2010. Read more in the Denver Post.

Enrollment window opens in Dougco schools

The Douglas County Board of Education has approved a change to the Open Enrollment window. It will now open Nov. 1, 2011, and close Jan. 5, 2012.

The board, acting on feedback from several departments following the first year of the Douglas County School District’s new open enrollment policy, moved the window up so the district can provide staffing guidelines to schools by mid-February.

Families who wish to open enroll their student, must complete an application, available online at www.dcsdk12.org beginning Nov. 1. Applications are accepted for the following school year on a space-available basis.

As of March 15, the New Student Choice Enrollment application is available to families who move to Douglas County during the school year and want to enroll their student into a school other than their attendance area school. These families may apply for open enrollment at the requested school during the current school year. New Student Choice Open Enrollment forms are available at all district schools and on the website. Students are not eligible to enroll if the requested school is capped or has students on the prioritized wait list for the current year.

For more information, visit the district website at www.dcsdk12.org.

Study: Most U.S. states score an ‘F’ on civil rights education

American students are increasingly ignorant of the basic history of the civil rights movement, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The study finds that the further states are from the South, and the smaller their African-American populations, the worse they fare in civil rights educational standards. The report blames states’ academic standards for public schools as a leading cause. Read more in TIME Magazine.

Lack of math emphasis in schools doesn’t add up

Is U.S. education like the weather? Everyone talks about it but no one can quite figure out how to improve it?

Education theory has changed over the years from the days when students were bolted to their seats and kept their mouths shut amid threats of being sent to the principal’s office to today’s more relaxed classrooms where students roam freely and say whatever pops into their heads. Read more at UPI.

CU-Boulder initiative promotes K-12 school diversity

A new initiative housed at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado will focus on promoting school diversity and student achievement.

The Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Learning, launched this week, is funded through a $1 million grant from the Ford Foundation. The goals are to serve as a clearinghouse for ideas related to school diversity and student achievement, explain existing research and develop new research and ideas. Read more in the Daily Camera.

U.S. surpassed in education ratings

In China, students have longer school days and longer school years than their peers in the United States.

China also has more rigorous academic standards, which focus largely on math and science. China’s smartest students are pushed through the K-12 system and guaranteed spots in major universities.

That birth-to-college-graduation mentality doesn’t exist in America and it needs to change if the United States is going to compete in the 21st century global workforce, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony Miller said recently at an education conference in Miami. Read more in the News-Press.

October is Head Start Awareness Month

Join Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD) in its observance of Head Start Awareness Month through October. CPCD will be hosting community events and campaigns to spread awareness about the importance of early childhood education, both locally and nationally.


CPCD is a nonprofit organization that provides free comprehensive early childhood development and family programs for families with children, prenatal through age five, who are living in limited income homes, have special needs or experience other adverse circumstances that could challenge their readiness for kindergarten. CPCD currently serves more than 1,900 children each year in El Paso County through Early Head Start, Head Start and the Colorado Preschool Program.

Created in 1965, Head Start is the most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program in the United States, with more than 25 million alumni to date. On average, Head Start graduates rank higher in language, literacy, social conduct and physical development than their non-Head Start peers. Head Start children are also significantly more likely to complete high school and attend college than those who did not participate in the program.


  • Garden of the Gods Gourmet Community Dinner benefit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 5-8 p.m., The Carter Payne
  • 2011 WHY? Community Breakfast, Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:30-8:30 a.m., DoubleTree Hotel
  • CSBJ Diversity & Inclusion Awards, Nominee, Thursday, Oct. 20, 11:30 a.m., Cheyenne Mountain Resort
  • Three unique volunteer opportunities, Saturday, Oct. 8, 15 & 22. For more information, contact Delberta Uvalle at (719) 884-1411.

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.