Have you ever wondered why a cake rises? How the bubbles get in the soda bottle? What makes a bathtub boat float or sink? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re in good company. Educators from around the country recently gathered at the Children’s Museum in Boston to investigate questions like these, part of a national initiative to bring high-quality, hands-on science to thousands of children in afterschool programs around the country.
What does it take to turnaround an “underperforming” district? This question becomes more urgent every day as the number of districts earning this designation grows—and the consequences get tougher.
For EDC’s Barbara Miller, “turnaround partner” for the Winchendon (Massachusetts) Public Schools, the answer begins with some hard thinking about where an outside advisor like herself can have the biggest impact quickly.
At first glance, Jane Parfitt’s pre-K classroom at the Highland Park Child Care Center in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, looks like any good preschool classroom. There’s the writing center and book corner, the dramatic play area, the blocks, easels, and cubbies. There’s the alphabet strung on the wall, along with quilts and family pictures.
What does it take to close
the achievement gap in science? Researchers in EDC’s Center for Children & Families would tell you that real solutions involve starting early. They’ve developed Foundations of Science Literacy, a college-level science course for preschool teachers. Foundations introduces fundamental concepts in the physical sciences at the adult level along with strategies for making the material
fun and accessible for preschoolers.
EDC’s work with eight Rhode Island middle and high schools to improve student performance on state standardized tests has produced initial successes, according to Leslie Hergert of EDC’s Center for Family, School, and Community.
In response to the in-service training needs of Mali’s primary education teachers, USAID/MALI began support of the “Teacher Training via Radio” program, or “FIER” (Formation Interactive des Enseignants par la Radio) in 2004 in seven regions.
dozen middle and high school teachers seated around a U-shaped table
are scrutinizing stacks of papers spread out before them. The papers
include a math problem that one of the teachers’ classes worked on the
previous week, copies of student work on the problem, and a transcript
of the classroom conversation among one group of students. EDC’s Mark
Driscoll stands at the center of the U, leading the teachers through a
careful analysis of the “artifacts” before them.
professional education for teachers and administrators has been a
rapidly expanding industry over the past several years. Educators and
districts across the country have been drawn to the convenience
provided by online courses and workshops. But how effective are these
courses, and what features determine the success of an online offering?
Since 1997, EDC has been working to improve literacy instruction in Guinea as part of a comprehensive school reform program known as the Fundamental Quality and Equity Levels (FQEL) Project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
EDC has been selected by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a lead organization to implement the Assistance to Basic Education (ABE/BE) initiative, USAID’s new Indefinite Quantity Contract mechanism to support quality basic education around the world.
More than 75 percent of teachers use the Internet every day for instructional purposes. Are they finding what they need? Are they equipped to integrate it into their classes? Do the materials improve the quality of instruction? These are some questions that EDC’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT) addresses in a new report on a PBS Web site called In Search of Shakespeare.
Peru’s Ministry of Education and EDC are working together to improve education quality and promote digital literacy in the Junin, Pasco, and Ucayali regions. Photojournalist Karl Grobl recently traveled to the Pasco region in Peru to document the work we’re doing with teachers to develop project-based learning through the use of technology to engage and enliven the classroom. By project-based learning, we mean the use of strategies that encourage active, student-centered learning and provide opportunities for students and teachers to work and learn together.
“Good early child care programs build on what each child brings to the center—in terms of culture, language, and experiences,” says EDC’s Costanza Eggers-Piérola. “But
how do non-Latino staff reach out to Latino families? How do they reinforce early literacy skills among non-English-speaking children? How do they attract and support Latino staff members?”
Since 1997, EDC has been working to improve elementary education for nearly every child in the West African nation of Guinea. The program, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is reaching more than 6,000 schools and nearly one million children through teacher training, radio based instruction, and other educational materials.
Nearly half of the new teachers in America’s classrooms today will leave the profession within their first five years of teaching, according to a recent report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, with science and mathematics experiencing even higher rates of teacher turnover than the profession as a whole. This new data has shifted the focus of policy discussions about the supply and professionalism of America’s teaching force from strategies for recruiting teachers to strategies for keeping them.
The school administrators’ role has never been more challenging. They oversee increasingly complex, high-tech facilities while serving more and more diverse communities. But the central task remains the same: improving teaching and learning within a school or a district.
Over the past several years, a number of educators and school districts have experimented with different models of online professional development (OPD)Web-based courses designed to supplement or take the place of face-to-face workshops. However, little is known to date about the impact of OPD offerings on students, classrooms, and schools.
Some researchers approach schools with a certain level of arrogance: ‘We know what’s right, and we think we’ll make your lives better if only you’ll let us.’ It’s well intentioned but it’s very misguided. We have a different mindset at EDC; we hold firm to the notion that our collaborations need to be done in partnership and that our work is not about importing knowledge into a district.
the East Side of Pittsburgh, Vonnie Holbrook is known as “the
math lady.” A teacher in Pittsburgh for 24 years, she has
taught mathematics in many schools and to many children from
kindergarten to eighth grade.
How can teachers create an environment that engages even their most challenging children? How can they foster children’s ability to think scientifically as part of their everyday experiences? How can they improve young children’s literacy skills, not only in the book corner, but throughout the day?
Last June, NASA sent up a probe to gather information on the shape of the universe. Last week, Jeff Weeks showed a group of Massachusetts secondary math teachers how tic-tac-toe and other familiar games can help students explore similar questions.
What does it take to change the education system of an entire country? If you ask EDC’s Jody Spiro, she’ll tell you to start with the teachers. That’s what EDC did in April 1998, when its Global Learning Group joined with the Ministry of Education in Romania to restructure the training that educators receive in that country. Four years later, staff members of the Romania Education Reform Project have provided specialized training to an estimated 240,000 of the nation’s 300,000 teachers.
In our introduction to this issue of Mosaic, we referred to Paulo Freire’s description of literacy as “reading the word and world.” That same phrase-with its dual emphasis on the concrete and the abstract—can be used to characterize EDC’s definition of mathematical literacy.
A roundtable discussion featuring Judith Zorfass, associate director of the Center for Family, School, and Community; Glenn Kleiman, EDC vice president, and director of the Center for Online Professional Education; and Robert Spielvogel, EDC’s director of technology.
comes slowly to Macon Ridge, Louisiana, a rural area spread out
over 150 square miles in the northeast corner of the state. The
region is home to five of Louisiana’s poorest counties—or “parishes,” as
they’re known locally, a term that dates back to the days when
Louisiana was still a French Catholic colony. But the slow pace
of change in Macon Ridge is evident in more than just its nomenclature:
Cotton, corn, and lumber are still the dominant industries in the
How do we know that a new approach works, adding to a practitioner’s knowledge, effectiveness, and ability? And if it does work, how can we use the model to reach more practitioners? These questions are central to two of EDC’s latest experiments with online professional development.