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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Five tips for identifying a good school

You have been checking the Web sites. Talking to friends. Maybe you have even been on a conga line of parents snaking through a classroom on an overcrowded school tour. This much you know: choosing the right school for your child is an important decision. Read more in the New York Times.

Two very different schools in one building: Does it work?

Denver Public Schools students, parents, teachers and administrators formed a lengthy parade before school board members Thursday night as efforts continued to sway opinion prior to decisive votes slated for next week.

Among the many proposals the board will decide Nov. 17 is a plan to find a home for a new KIPP charter elementary school, which could lead to a second school being located at an already-crowded middle school, which might mean hundreds of those students must be shifted elsewhere. Read more in Education News Colorado.


Colorado teacher evaluation rules approved

The State Board of Education approved regulations Wednesday that will govern evaluation of principals and teachers under the landmark 2010 law requiring annual reviews and that at least 50 percent of evaluations be based on student academic growth.

Senate Bill 10-191 sponsors (from left) Carole Murray, Christine Scanlan, Mike Johnston and Nancy Spence at Wednesday’s meeting. But the regulations will not have an immediate impact, given the law’s long implementation timeline, the fact that key parts of the rules remain to be filled in and that the document will be subject to special review by the 2012 legislature. Read more in Education News Colorado.

Goodbye, CSAPs, hello tests of the future

The State Board of Education got a peek Thursday at the brave new world of 21st-century, multi-state testing, a world that could well be coming to Colorado.

Members heard presentations from executives of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC, two organizations that are developing multi-state achievement tests in language arts and math that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. Read more in Education News Colorado.

Target and Heart of America Foundation unveil new school library

Late last month, Lasley Elementary along with Target Corp., The Heart of America Foundation and Target volunteers, revealed the school’s newly renovated library. The unveiling celebration was the first time students and teachers saw the space since the renovation process began four weeks ago. The brand new library features 2,000 books, eco-friendly design elements, a complete technology upgrade including iPads, as well as new furniture, carpet and shelves. As part of the library unveiling event, each student and his or her siblings also received seven new books to keep for their home libraries.

Knowing that hunger greatly affects a child’s ability to learn and focus in the classroom, Target also incorporated a Target Meals for Minds school-based food pantry site as part of the school’s renovation process. The food pantry will allow Lasley Elementary students and their families to choose from a variety of staple foods and fresh produce to take home.

The renovated library is part of the national Target School Library Makeover program through which Target revitalizes local school libraries, with a focus on helping children read proficiently by the end of third grade. Lasley Elementary is one of 42 schools chosen by Target and The Heart of America Foundation to receive a complete library makeover this year.

By the end of 2011, Target will have transformed a total of 118 elementary school libraries through the Target School Library Makeover program, which represents an investment of more than $22 million.

Nixed taxes, state cuts put area districts in tight spot

Schools have cut budgets for several years, and the choices of what goes next are running out. The classroom might be the target. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Loveland house an ‘innovation lab’ for students

The 1910 Victorian house on Third Street in downtown Loveland looks like any other in the neighborhood, except for the sign on the door: “Be you, a quiet revolution.” Read more in this AP story.

Thousands more Denver teachers get new laptops

Thanks to savings from the voter-approved 2008 Bond Program, thousands of Denver Public Schools teachers are receiving new laptops as part of the DPS Teacher Laptop Project, which aims to provide teachers with the tools they need to better implement data-driven instruction and to incorporate technology-based instructional resources more effectively into their classrooms.

In addition to receiving laptops, teachers will also be trained to use Safari Montage, a state-of-the-art digital media streaming resource. DPS recently partnered with Safari Montage for both its streaming media content and digital media management tools. The Safari project will allow teachers to access digital instructional media resources from respected educational publishers, such as PBS and National Geographic. The project will also provide teachers with access to media resources, digital TV, and digital video recording.

During the first round of laptop training and distribution, over 2,000 teachers received new laptops. The second phase of the project is kicking off this week at Smith Renaissance School of the Arts with Superintendent Tom Boasberg, DCTA President Henry Roman and DPS Chief Operating Officer David Suppes handing out laptops and hearing from teachers how they will utilize the laptops as education tools in the classroom. Laptops act as a portable tool for teachers to access student data and curriculum and lesson planning resources.

Using 2008 Bond savings, DPS is able to cover 70 percent of the cost for a laptop for all district teachers. Schools will need to provide a 30 percent match. In all, an estimated 5,700 laptops are planned for purchase, providing all teachers with new laptops by the end of the three-year project.

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.