Room 241: A Blog by
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Pros and Cons

Inclusive Education: What It Means, Proven Strategies, and a Case Study

By Dr. Lilla Dale McManis November 20, 2017

Considering the potential of inclusive education at your school, or, perhaps, are you currently working in an inclusive classroom and looking for effective strategies? Lean in to this deep-dive article on inclusive education to gather a solid understanding of what it means, what the research shows, and proven strategies that bring out the benefits for… Read More

For the second year in a row, my daughter launched a full-fledged campaign against standardized testing. About a week before the tests began, she argued they were ineffective and unfair. She echoed the concerns of a variety of students, parents and teachers: It’s a bad measure, it’s stressful, it doesn’t influence grades, it takes too… Read More

Teaching is one of the rare careers where it’s still common to stay in the same profession — possibly even in the same school — for a good portion of your career. For some teachers, this stability is part of the appeal. But for others, there comes a point where the joy is gone and… Read More

Many urban school districts have adopted a portfolio approach that allows open enrollment to foster free-market competition between neighborhood schools and specialized charter schools. A leader in urban school reform, Denver Public Schools has worked hard to expand charter school offerings in hopes that their investment will yield positive results in student performance. 18 percent of… Read More

School, Inc.: Are Students People or Products?

By Monica Fuglei June 7, 2016

With the post-No Child Left Behind focus on school reform, many schools have began to look like tiny people factories dedicated to producing high-quality students. The idea of education as a commodity that can be improved through competition is evident in policies including teacher evaluation processes that tie salary to performance level, implementation of benchmark… Read More

Don't Abolish Homework: Just Make Sure It's Worthwhile

By Brian P. Gatens March 31, 2016

Homework has been having a rough go of it lately. On one side, schools, teachers and parents argue that it’s essential to extend the school day beyond the classroom so students can review information, finish projects and read ahead to gain a better understanding of upcoming class topics. On the other side, critics call homework… Read More

In part one of my examination of events and trends that either help or hurt education, I discussed recent court rulings and the growing number of parents and students who opt out of standardized testing. One of the biggest education stories in the last year was about reforms to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the… Read More

Few things put parents and schools more at odds than standardized tests. Parents see the tests as pointless because they teach little more than how to take a standardized test. Yet schools know these tests can determine their ability to stay afloat: If students fail the test, the school could lose funding, get put on… Read More

Last December, I wrote an article anticipating the addition of 20 percent time projects to my freshman English courses. While I’d read Dan Pink’s “Drive” and appreciated his comments on the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, I was still incredibly anxious about handing a huge amount of time back to students and worried that… Read More

“Why should I be a teacher?” A lot of young people and older, second-career adults ask that question when the time comes to make life and career decisions. For those who who wisely choose to teach, the answer usually comes down to being able to influence the life of a child, contribute to the common… Read More

Why Some Schools are Rethinking Grading and Evaluation

By Room 241 Team February 3, 2015

Most schools follow standard grading systems, with a letter scale of A through F, and a corresponding numerical value used to calculate students’ grade point averages. Although this system helps us to understand and track student performance on a universal scale, there are some drawbacks to the method. Some critics argue that assigning numerical or… Read More

The majority of America’s educational resources are focused on students inside classrooms. However, there is a growing population of young people who may never, or only partially, engage in formal schooling. The number of homeschooled students is small but growing In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education reported that about 3.4 percent of all age-eligible… Read More

I’ve been around education long enough to see trends come, go and come back again. One thing that always returns is the discussion of teacher quality, happiness and retention. The realities and the challenges of our profession have changed dramatically in the past decade. What should newer teachers do when they meet these challenges head-on?… Read More

A Guide for Teachers Facing Thorny Ethical Dilemmas

By Brian P. Gatens December 1, 2014

“That boy is a snake, and has to be watched!” This was the statement that broke the camel’s back. My colleague stood up from his seat in the staff room and unleashed a verbal tirade upon the fellow teacher who spoke it. It’s been 20 years, but it could have happened yesterday: A student recently… Read More

We live in amazing times. Smartphones that are basically handheld computers and ubiquitous wireless technology have revolutionized how we interact as a society. If we choose, we can be in contact with each other around the clock. For school communities, this fundamental shift has also led to a change in expectations regarding how often —… Read More