Education Roundup: How to Teach Students About Osama’s Death

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  • Osama bin Laden’s death became a featured topic in classrooms around the country this week. So how are teachers translating this violent news story into a lesson plan suitable for kids? For younger students, there’s educational website BrainPop, which made an animated movie that explains bin Laden’s death and what happened on September 11. There’s also the Molly Ringwald route: compare bin Laden to Harry Potter’s Voldemort.
  •  How are students reacting to news of bin Laden’s death? Kandi Lancaster, a social studies teacher at Walnut Creek Intermediate School, told Bay Area News Group reporters “many of her students didn’t think it was right for Americans to be celebrating bin Laden’s death in the streets. A lot of students, she said, feared retaliation.” First grader Alejandro told HuffPo that bin Laden should have been imprisoned, rather than killed. One student at Monticello High School in Minnesota asked her US history teacher, “Why, as a largely Christian nation, are we celebrating the death of someone?”
  • Teacher Appreciation Day hit. The Tennessee Senate uncelebrated by voting to end teachers’ collective bargaining rights.
  • Meanwhile, the 2011 National Teacher Of The Year is… Maryland teacher Michelle Shearer! Shearer will take a one-year sabbatical to speak at educational conferences about what’s best for public schools. So what does a teacher with 14 years experience think works best for public schools? Check out Shearer’s interview with The Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss. Highlight: “teaching can’t be boiled down to a formula.”
  • One group that thinks teaching can be boiled down to a formula is the Bloomberg administration in New York. Dana Goldstein reports that Bloomberg is arguing in court for the right to release to the media the “value-added” ratings of 12,000 NYC public school teachers. The Los Angeles Times tried this last year; an LA educator committed suicide after he saw his low score published.
  • In other sad news: If Alabama governor Robert Bently signs SB 256, undocumented children in that state won’t be allowed to go to the prom, join the school band, or participate in any activity deemed extracurricular.
  • Twenty percent of the students in Florida’s Fern Creek Elementary School are homeless, The New York Times‘ Michael Winerip reports. But small class sizes, talented veteran teachers, and strong support systems have helped students score proficiently on tests for six years. Maybe some of those strategies could help the other 954,000+ homeless students in the US.
  •  Lastly: Since 2006, Tennessee teachers have lead students in Bible study sessions, school board meetings have opened with prayer, and other religious endorsements have been going on in the Sumner County school system, according to an ACLU suit filed against the district.

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