Tagged “School Connectedness”

Klea Scharberg

How to Involve All Parents in Your Diverse Community

The student population across the country is becoming increasingly diverse. The elementary school featured in this video serves students from a wide range of backgrounds, and plans accordingly to educate its diverse student population.

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Klea Scharberg

Inclusion: What Do the Kids Think?

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Inclusion: A Necessity for Fully Engaged Students

Project UNIFY

The following blog post was written by a unified pair of youth leaders who participate in local and national youth engagement and activation conferences to enhance their communication, leadership, and advocacy skills. These youth continue to collaborate and motivate other youth to become active in our pathway toward social justice for all. The post is republished with permission and was originally featured on the Special Olympics Project UNIFY blog.

Looking at the aspects that create schools where students are able to express their ideas, engage in meaningful leadership opportunities, and develop a collaborative relationship with the staff to address the needs of both students and teachers is challenging, yet important. One word that is indirectly included in each of those aspects is inclusion. Inclusion can be defined in many ways, each catering to a certain situation. However, there are common characteristics that we can define as being inclusive: students of all abilities, religions, genders, and races are offered equitable opportunities for academic, social, and physical growth; students perceive their peers as valued individuals with unique assets to the school community; and everyone is included in the school's student body, regardless of popularity, athletic ability, or academic achievement.

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Klea Scharberg

Before and After a Hurricane

The East Coast is busy preparing for this weekend's hurricane, effects of which are starting to be felt in the Carolinas. With widespread power outages, downed trees, flooding, and evacuations expected, Hurricane Irene has the makings of an economic and social as well as natural disaster. Ready.gov and the NOAA National Hurricane Center offer steps you can take to prepare, resources, and updated storm information.

Sesame Street offers a hurricane tool kit for parents, families, and caregivers to help young children feel safe and cope with their emotions. You'll find videos sharing how Big Bird and other characters prepare for the storm, clean up afterward, deal with being displaced from homes, and work together as a community to support each other.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Do You Remember?

Betty Edwards - Project UNIFY

Post submitted by Dr. Betty Edwards, a consultant in the area of middle grades education, inclusion, school improvement, classroom assessment, and the connection between dropout prevention and middle grades education. As a strong believer that an engaging, high-quality education is both an individual right and societal responsibility, she has worked consistently to make connections that lead to stronger educational opportunities for all students. Edwards recently served as executive director of whole child partner the Association for Middle Level Education (formerly NMSA), the nation's largest professional association focusing specifically on the education of young adolescents. She has served on numerous advisory boards, including America's Promise, The League, and the National Youth Leadership Council, and she currently serves as the chair of the National Education Leaders Network for Special Olympics Project UNIFY. Contact Edwards by e-mail at bedwardsk@aol.com.

As an adult, do you ever remember being excluded from a situation—or at least feeling excluded? Maybe it was at a dinner party where you knew few of the other guests and the conversation was about people or events about which you knew very little. Perhaps it was at work where you were never part of the group who went out together after work. How did it make you feel? Did it make you doubt yourself? Did you withdraw—even a little? Did it have an impact on future interactions?

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Klea Scharberg

Engaging Latino Parents in Student Learning

Throughout the United States, classrooms are becoming more diverse and educators are struggling to provide the resources English language learners need to be successful. What can educators do to help ensure that these students, especially the rapidly increasing Latino population, get the attention and education they need?

Authors David Campos, Rocio Delgado, and Mary Esther Soto Huerta assert that it's time for the education community to tap into parent involvement to shatter the 28 percent nationwide dropout rate for Latino students. In their new book, Reaching Out to Latino Families of English Language Learners, they argue that with more than 5 million new students—the majority of whom will be Latino—projected to enroll in U.S. schools by 2025, now is the time to take action.

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Walter McKenzie

Open Campus, Open Network, Open Possibilities

It's a bright, sunny Tuesday morning, and students are entering Roosevelt Elementary school with excitement and energy. No backpacks. No luggage on wheels. Just lunch bags and handheld devices.

As they enter the renovated 75-year old building, students find places to settle in. No homerooms. No morning announcements. Everyone busily logs in to the network system using their personal devices, indicating they are present for the day, reading school announcements, and reviewing their individual schedules for the day.

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Andrew Miller

Matching Physical Structures to Learning and School Culture

Physical structures should match school cultures and learning modalities, not the other way around. Despite what some might say, physical structures communicate a lot about the learning environment and what to expect. Just like we set up seats for the first day of school to set a tone, the building communicates a tone as well. Throughout my visits, I’ve come across many innovative buildings that really set a tone for safe school culture and innovative learning. It's not about technology and bells and whistles; it's about the layout and ways that the walls talk.

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Laura Varlas

For Roma Children, Schools Still Separate and Unequal

"You can't say this is segregation. It's natural selection; some students will get left behind." That's the school director speaking in Our School, a new documentary that follows the attempted integration of Roma people into a mainstream Romanian school.

The film is a frank look at separate and unequal education opportunities for Roma children throughout Eastern Europe, and it will no doubt draw comparisons to Brown v. the Board of Education and the legacy of racism still felt in U.S. schools. (In fact, one of the lawyers who argued Brown v. Board has a recent article in the Columbia Law Review, "Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery To Segregation and Beyond," that connects these dots.)

Roma were enslaved for centuries until the mid-1800s, were subject to massive abuse and ethnic cleansing, and continue to live on the margins of mainstream society in many countries. In 2006, the European Union stepped in with "Together in School and Life," a project to integrate Roma children into mainstream schools. Our School exposes the deep cultural values that prevail over policy initiatives.

We follow Alin (pictured), Beni, and Dana—elementary, middle, and high school-aged Roma children—from the initial news that they'll be attending school in town, to their placement, and eventual shuffling to the special needs school where they practice coloring inside the lines and other crucial life skills.

Watching Our School, you get a sense of the gaps in planning for integration: How will students get to school from their neighborhoods on the outskirts of town? How will the mismatch between student age and grade level be accommodated? What will instruction in mixed-ability classrooms look like? How will social integration match academic aims? (In one scene, Roma children are shown cleaning up recess fields as their peers file back into class.)

In most cases, the integrated school fails Roma children on these issues. A couple of standout teachers give us glimpses of what the Roma children are capable of under caring, committed, and unbiased educators—but there's no continuity in their efforts. And it's clear, there's no institutional support. EU funds are channeled toward renovating the Roma-only school, in preparation for purging the Roma children from the mainstream school.

Again, outside intervention attempts to make things right. In 2007, the European Human Rights Court declares that school segregation violates human rights, and that's where school officials profiled in Our School get really crafty. They send their "problem kids"—not surprisingly, all Roma—to the "School for Deficiencies." Since the school already serves developmentally delayed Romanian children, it's technically not a segregated school.

"In many places, Eastern Europe is like the U.S. in the 1920s—there's a sense of historical lag," explained filmmaker Mona Nicoura at Our School's screening at the SilverDocs Film Festival. We're waiting for leadership on this issue, she told attendees.

"It's not just about policy, it's culture. We have not processed our own racism," she added.

In Our School, the system wins. But not before introducing us to astute and hard-working Beni and Dana, artfully mischievous Alin, parents who desperately want a way out of poverty for their children, and a couple of teachers Beni says "want us to learn."

To learn more about the movement to bring educational equity to Roma children, like Our School on Facebook and get involved at RomaDecade.org.

Nicoura says there are 2011 school-year plans to screen Our School in several high schools in Slovenia, Romania, and the Czech Republic, as well as to launch associated teacher training materials in 2012.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates

News

Mental Health Hotline Now Serving Students: Minnesota's largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin School District, will begin providing a mental health hotline for students and family members this summer. According to Superintendent Dennis Carlson, there is an unmet need for mental health service throughout the state. Callers to the hotline will be able to get referrals to other county services for further assistance. (Minnesota Public Radio)

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