Thursday, April 26, 2012


Crime On Campus
Presented By: Online Colleges Blog


April 25, 2012

Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, held a rare press conference today after a two-day meeting with the Federal Open Marketing Committee (FOMC) and said the inflation rate for the US should remain at or below 2% through the fourth quarter of 2014 and the unemployment should continue to decline. 

Bernanke was positive about the inflation rate, but still considered the unemployment rate, currently at 8.2%, as elevated. He said the employment rate was still too large, but said the committee projected the rate could possibly reach 6.7% to 7.4% by the fourth quarter of 2014. 

Where the unemployment rate stands currently, it has dropped nearly an entire percentage point over the course of a year, but bachelor’s degree holders unemployment rate has continued to increase. According to an Associated Press report, 53% of bachelor’s degree graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.
The job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders are at their lowest levels in more than a decade, according to the report. The rate was at a 41% low in 2000.
Bernanke said the most frustrating part of the economy’s employment recovery has been its pace.
“The recovery has been so slow,” he said in his press conference. “As the head winds lift, financial stress lessens, and the housing economy improves, we hope to see the employment improve.”
He said he expects the growth in employment to remain at a slow pace.
That news is not completely reassuring to recent bachelor’s degree graduates looking into the job market, since a majority of them are currently represented by jobs that require a high school diploma or less. 

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Friday, April 20, 2012

ORAU Sponsoring Institutions Explore education Strategies To Bridge U.S. STEM Workforce Gap

ORAU Vice President Dr. Arlene Garrison introduces a panel discussion at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Council of Sponsoring Institutions. Panel members (left to right) Dr. Mark Leddy, National Science Foundation; Dr. Susan Singer, Carleton College; Dr. Donna Llewellyn, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Marion Usselman, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Dr. Adam Maltese, Indiana University.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—More than 100 representatives from leading U.S. colleges and universities attended ORAU’s 67th Annual Meeting of the Council of Sponsoring Institutions for a two-day workshop focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education. Speakers addressed curricular, funding and policy approaches to improve student performance and increase enrollment in STEM disciplines.
“With a consortium of 105 Ph.D.-granting institutions, we knew we had an opportunity with this event to convene the right people to discuss how we could have a significant impact on developing our nation’s STEM workforce,” said ORAU President and CEO Andy Page. “Our nation has many more science and technology jobs than qualified workers, and ORAU is committed to closing that gap.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Susan R. Singer, the Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of the Natural Sciences at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., noted that only about 40 percent of students who intend to major in a STEM discipline actually do so, while degree completion rates are about 20 percent higher in non-STEM fields. She provided eight “promising practices” for designing curricula and learning environments, increasing student interaction, engaging students in research and continuing faculty development. She estimates that increasing STEM degree completion rates just 10 percent with no change in enrollment, would add 750,000 people to the STEM workforce.
Other speakers focused on opportunities to increase the pipeline of students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines. Dr. Mark Leddy, program director of research in disabilities education for the National Science Foundation, spoke to the opportunity to expand our nation’s STEM workforce by making STEM education and careers more accessible to people with disabilities, who today make up only one percent of doctoral degree recipients in these disciplines, according to Leddy. Dr. Donna Llewellyn, director, and Dr. Marion Usselman, associate director, at Georgia Institute for Technology’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing, presented the opportunities for universities to help develop more effective K-12 STEM curricula.
“STEM has been in the spotlight for years, so with this event we wanted to focus on practical improvements that our universities can make now to advance STEM education,” explained Dr. Arlene Garrison, vice president for university partnerships at ORAU. “Sharing the outstanding STEM successes within our consortium and sharing those practices and increasing collaboration with other institutions and agencies is critical to accelerate progress.”
A list of speakers and topics and links to presentations are available online.
In addition to the workshop, council members, along with local middle school students, participated in STEM learning activities provided by The Mind Trekkers of Michigan Technological University. These fun, hands-on activities are designed to engage K-12 students in scientific principles. See more on ORAU’s Flickr photostream.
Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is a university consortium leveraging the scientific strength of 105 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies, and private industry. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Content Theater Examines KidVid, Cross-Platforms and Telenovelas

by John Merli

“Pajanimals” is an original short-form musical series produced by the Jim Henson Co. and 4KIDS Entertainment.

Content is king this week at the aptly named Content Theater, sponsored by FremantleMedia, with today's schedule playing host to a number of sessions ranging from kid fare to the current global surge in telenovelas to delivering content targeted for consumption beyond traditional TV to a growing array of digital devices and services. 

Thursday's lineup looks at a popular filmmaking competition and comedy videos on YouTube.

"Content is critical as new media and new technologies are being created," said Daniel Tibbets, senior vice president of digital media at Bunim/Murray Productions in Van Nuys, Calif. Tibbets is a panelist in "Broadcasting Beyond Television," 10 a.m.

"Content really is king. As a lot of tech companies create innovative ways for consumers to interact with new media, the question becomes, 'Exactly what is that interaction going to be?'" said Tibbets. "We see more and more cross-platform storytelling, so how do we tell our stories both from a traditional Hollywood standpoint and in newer ways so consumers really do engage with all that new media we have available to us?

"Digital content distribution means two things to me: the physical dissemination of television media across various platforms, like maybe an episode of 'The Office' playing out on various devices," said Tibbets. "The second element that's even more fascinating is social distribution such as YouTube, which can operate around the 'idea' of content. After we place it there, how do we engage the audience in a meaningful way?" 

Tibbets' fellow panelists include: Karrie Wolf of Kinetic Content; Joe Michaels of Microsoft; and Zane Vella, Watchwith. The panel is moderated by Lori Schwartz of McCann Worldgroup.

"TV Trends: New Telenovelas" is next up at 11:30 a.m., examining what may be the fastest-growing trend in television drama — not only in Latin America where telenovelas originated, but globally. Telenovelas currently air in dozens of non-Hispanic countries, including Israel, Romania and South Korea.

The one-hour panel discussion includes Dom Serafini of VideoAge International; Cesar Diaz of Venevision International; Jessica Rodriguez of Univision Communications; Ricardo Scalamandre of TV Globo; and Marcel Vinay of TV Azteca.

"Children's Programming and Licensing," follows at 1:30 p.m., scrutinizing the surging demand for quality kidvid. According to Hasbro Studios President Stephen Davis, a panelist, "Demand for kids' programming based on well-known global brands has never been stronger, and extends beyond the scripted fare that has traditionally dominated the branded import-export space."

International broadcasters are increasingly interested in acquiring reality and game-show formats based on familiar brands, he said.

"In fact, shows adapted from board games such as 'Family Game Night' have become a significant part of our overseas strategy — filling a void in the marketplace for kids' and family game shows after a long drought in that genre," Davis said. "We're even creating local formats in particular territories and exposing a number of Hasbro games to those markets."

Fellow panelist Andy Heyward, co-president of A Squared Entertainment in Los Angeles, said the new multiplatform world is ideally suited to the younger set. 

"Kids are always the early adopters of any new technology. They intuitively take to these new devices without trepidation. It's like when independent [broadcast and cable] stations starting coming on years ago, they programmed heavily to kids because children were not already in the habit of going to one network or another. Even before they're reading, they're able to intuitively use these devices," Heyward said.

Panelist Richard Goldsmith, executive vice president of global distribution for The Jim Henson Co., said, "Kids, especially, want to watch what they want, where they want, and when they want. When you go to a kids' soccer match in Los Angeles, the players' younger brothers and sisters are all on the sidelines with their iPads watching something," said Goldsmith, whose shop is home to the Muppets.

"There's even been success with babies and toddlers intuitively taking advantage of these platforms, obviously with some help from mom and dad. And I hear Apple now sells more iPads to schools than its PCs. That's kind of a telling tale of where we're headed," Goldsmith said. Also on the afternoon kidvid panel is Steven Ekstract of License! magazine.

From 3–6 p.m., the "Best in Show" from this year's New York Festivals global competition will be screened in "New York Festivals International Television & Film Grand Trophy Winners."

The curtain falls on the Content Theater tomorrow morning with two sessions: "Best of the 48 Hour Film Project," 9:30, a special presentation in cooperation with the NAB Show and produced in partnership with 48 Hour Film Project; and "YouTube's Best Comedy Videos," noon–1 p.m.

Theater admission requires a ticket (free) as limited seats are available for each session. Daily session tickets will be distributed at the Content Theater ticket booth, 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. on Wednesday and through 1 p.m. on Thursday. One ticket per person, per session. 

Attendees without tickets may choose to wait in line and will be allowed to enter if tickets are not redeemed and as space permits. Doors open 10 minutes prior to each session.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching Foreign Language Through Storytelling

Patrick Henry Elementary School student teache...Patrick Henry Elementary School student teacher Isabell Pfeufer listens carefully as students edit their book reports Oct. 2. Pfeufer, who has been blind since birth, completed a three-week practicum with the class in Heidelberg, Germany, in September and October. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Teacher in primary school in northern LaosTeacher in primary school in northern Laos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Students working with a teacher at Albany Seni...Students working with a teacher at Albany Senior High School, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)StorytellingStorytelling (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)By Jeanette Borich

What is the best way to help students learn a second language?
Traditionally, teachers tackle the "how" of the language. Students learn a list of vocabulary, are introduced to various rules, produce language according to those rules, and are corrected as needed.
This year I tried something different: using storytelling to help my 8th graders become more confident second-language (L2) learners. This method emphasizes the gradual acquisition of language rather than the memorization of vocabulary and rules. It's more about "what" is said than "how" it is said.
Here are my takeaways from this big change. While these insights are about teaching Spanish, they could apply to any major pedagogical shift.
Learn as much as you can about the new approach.
I explored storytelling resources that provided me with support and information about the new approach. (I'd also tried elements of this approach previously with elementary students and adults, so I drew on that experience, too.)
I learned that the formalized version of the storytelling approach—Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS)—was developed by high school teacher Blaine Ray in the 1990s. Teachers use this approach to present new language items (lexical or grammatical). The story's narrative framework makes those items easier to grasp and remember. The philosophy of TPRS is based on effective classroom strategies as well as research in second-language acquisition.
Stories are often (but not always) created through a collaborative process involving both the teacher and the students. The stories tend to be quirky and memorable (and to give students opportunities to be inventive), which heightens engagement. Coming up with stories together helps to bind a class as a community—akin to an "inside joke," family legend, or local tradition.
The teacher explicitly discusses meanings of words and grammatical forms as the story is told—instead of asking students to memorize them beforehand as separate lists of rules and words. Grammatical explanations of new or difficult forms are interjected within the telling of the story itself. As the story develops, the teacher checks for comprehension and provides explanation as necessary.
The teacher does not expect students to produce any language until they have heard and discussed the story, understanding the L2 not as isolated vocabulary and grammatical rules but from "within" the narrative format of a story. This means that learners are more confident when they do produce language, since they have learned it in context and worked to understand its meaning.
Match your approach to the standards your students must meet.
I had experimented with storytelling when teaching Spanish to elementary school students and to adults. But I wasn't sure whether the storytelling approach could work in tandem with our middle school's standardized curriculum.
I decided to pair completion of several chapters in our traditional textbook with complementary storytelling activities. The first story I selected was one that I'd used before with adult learners. It also matched up well with the vocabulary taught in my first year Spanish course for 8th graders. Students appreciated how their own input was incorporated as the story was revealed—and I realized how important it was to select stories that engaged them.
For each story, we followed a sequence. First, small chunks of key story vocabulary were personalized with questions from students. Next, student actors dramatized the story as I revealed the storyline. Occasionally I checked comprehension with true/false statements about the stories. We also did cloze retelling activities, with students "filling in the blank."
It became clear to me that storytelling is not an extra curriculum component but a technique that can support the same standards as textbook learning. It provides an engaging way for students to use textbook vocabulary in a meaningful context.
Seek out supportive colleagues.
Whenever you're implementing a new approach, it's ideal to have a community where you can share ideas, seek and offer advice, and reflect frankly on what works and what doesn't.
I discovered a great support network in the moretprs listserv, where I've picked up valuable strategies, classroom-management ideas, and great links to practitioners' blogs. The listserv also led me to Twitter, one of the best ways to connect and find professional inspiration.
Ask students for mid-year feedback.
In January, with the help of our building instructional coach, I hosted a focus group with a group of 12 students to ask them to share their thoughts about their storytelling experiences combined with their learning from the text.
My students spoke of learning from the stories, being engaged by the stories, and retelling them. For them, understanding language in context is meaningful—none found the storytelling activities to be less valuable than the more traditional textbook-based instruction. In fact, one student said the stories helped the language seem "more real."
They did have some feedback for me on how I could adjust the course: spending more time on certain aspects of the storytelling, using the textbook mostly as a resource, and doing more whole-class story creation.
Make adjustments accordingly.
This year I have adjusted my grading practices. I now assess what students are learning in the areas of interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive communication. My colleagues and I have had valuable discussions about how our assessments should shift as our instructional techniques shift.
I'm looking forward to fine-tuning this next year, and checking in with my student focus group about whether I'm assessing in ways that match their learning experiences. I can tell you this much, though. With my new strategy, I can more easily see it in my students' eyes when they understand.
Now, more than ever, I recognize the importance of working hard to be the creative, effective teacher my students deserve. And I know from their positive feedback that storytelling is making a difference in how they think about the experience of learning a foreign language.
Have you made a big change in your instruction this year? If so, how do your takeaways match up with mine? What advice would you give to teachers who are considering a transition to a different approach?
Jeanette Borich has 30 years of experience teaching Spanish, French, and ESL to students in grades 1 through 12 as well as to adult educators. A Teacher Leaders Network member, she is the author of Fiestas de Yucatán and several action research articles. Jeanette currently teaches Spanish at Northview Middle School in Ankeny, Iowa. You can follow her on Twitter @NettieMeraMera

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