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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Obama to visit Denver school

President Obama will make a metro-area visit next Tuesday and likely will tour a Denver school, several sources have told Education News Colorado.

The visit is part of the president’s campaign to promote his $447 billion jobs proposal. Read more at EdNews Colorado.

NCLB waivers in works

President Obama today unveiled a sweeping plan to give states the flexibility they have been clamoring for under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law.

“The goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable … but experience has taught us that in its implementation, [it] had some serious flaws that are hurting our children,” the president said in a White House speech, flanked by students, principals, state education leaders, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Read more in the Christian Science Monitor.

School staffing cuts not as deep as originally thought

The Thompson School District has rehired nearly one-third of the teachers laid off at the end of last school year.

The district eliminated 95 licensed staff members, including teachers, counselors and instructional coaches, who were in their first or second year with the district. Read more in the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

500 Poudre H.S. freshmen get laptops

Freshmen at Poudre High School are receiving laptops today as part of Poudre School District’s technology initiative. Read more in the Coloradoan.

Polis legislation aims to boost K-12 computer science education

Advanced placement computer science students sit on one side of Anthony Jiron’s classroom at Boulder High.

On the other are C++ programming students in an honors-level course. Jiron teaches the two courses simultaneously. Combining the classes this year was a creative way for Boulder High to save the low-enrollment computer courses from being nixed. Read more in the Daily Camera.

Early achievers losing ground, study finds

A new study finds that many high-performing students lose ground from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school, and the authors ask what that means for America’s role as a world leader in innovation. Read more in EdWeek.

Changing rules on educator effectiveness

Rocky Mountain PBS and Education News Colorado hosted a lively panel discussion Friday on the state’s new educator effectiveness law, which will dramatically change how Colorado teachers and principals are assessed. Read more at EdNews Colorado.

In classroom of future, stagnant scores

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at their desks or in clumps on the floor. They’re studying Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” — but not in any traditional way. Read more in the New York Times.

Astronaut, children connect across thousands of miles

BOULDER – Tuesday was a day some children in Boulder will not likely forget anytime soon.

They gathered at the University of Colorado’s Fiske Planetarium for a special conversation. They got the chance to talk with astronaut Mike Fossum. But he wasn’t there in person, he talked to them from the International Space Station as it orbited the planet. Check out this 9NEWS report.

Aurora high school named expeditionary mentor school

William Smith High School has been designated an Expeditionary Learning Mentor School for the 2011-2012 academic year. The award recognizes William Smith High School as one of the top performing schools in Expeditionary Learning’s national network of 165 schools in 30 states. William Smith High School consistently exceeds district averages on all standard measures, including ACT and CSAP achievement and growth.

Scott Hartl, President and CEO of Expeditionary Learning, noted that “Expeditionary Learning’s Mentor Schools stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the highest performing schools in the nation because of their students’ academic achievement, college readiness skills and deep engagement in learning. They will be an invaluable resource for our entire network.”

As an Expeditionary Learning Mentor School, William Smith High School will host professional residencies, showcase best practices and play an active role in bringing all EL schools to the same high level of performance.

“We’re excited to join Expeditionary Learning’s national network of high achieving schools and contribute our voices to the dialogue on educational reform, both here locally and nationally,” said William Smith High School Principal Jane Shirley.

Expeditionary Learning partners with school districts and charter boards to open new schools and transform existing schools at all levels, preK-12, and in all settings – urban, rural, and suburban. The EL model challenges students to think critically and to take active roles in their classrooms and communities, resulting in higher achievement, greater engagement with school, and college readiness. The national network of EL schools and professional colleagues includes 165 schools, 4,000 teachers, and 45,000 students.

Denver teachers pen 13 biographies to fill gaps in Colo. history

Teachers struggled for years to find books on local historical figures written for young students.

After three years of work, nine Denver Public Schools teachers have published 13 biographies to help third- and fourth-graders connect with Colorado’s distant past. Read more in the Denver Post.

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.