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Week of March 17, 2008

Table of Contents

National Math Panel Releases Long-Awaited Report

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel has issued its report on how mathematics should be taught in the early grades. “The delivery system in mathematics education—the system that translates mathematical knowledge into value and ability for the next generation—is broken and must be fixed,” the report says. “This is not a conclusion about any single element of the system. It is about how the many parts do not now work together to achieve a result worthy of this country’s values and ambitions.”

The report states that children need both automatic recall of math facts and understanding of big concepts, which, writes USA Today reporter Greg Toppo, declaws both sides in the decadeslong "math wars." The report also recommends that schools must streamline their math courses, focusing on "a well-defined set of the most critical topics" from early elementary school through middle school. It suggests what kids should know and when, and calls for greater emphasis on fractions, algebra, and key "benchmark" skills in early grades.

“This report represents the first comprehensive analysis of math education to be based on sound science," said Secretary Spellings. "The National Math Advisory Panel's findings and recommendations make very clear what must be done to help our children succeed in math. We must teach number and math concepts early, we must help students believe they can improve their math skills and we must ensure they fully comprehend algebra concepts by the time they graduate from high school. The Panel's extensive work will benefit generations of American students."

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Mr. Gates Goes to Washington

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates testified before a packed committee hearing last week in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the House Science and Technology Committee.

The co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focused on the gathering threat to U.S. preeminence in science and technology innovation and provided a four-point plan that he believes will help the United States maintain its position as the world’s innovation leader:

  1. Strengthening educational opportunities, so that America’s students and workers have the skills they need to succeed in the technology- and information-driven economy of today and tomorrow;
  2. Revamping immigration rules for highly skilled workers, so that U.S. companies can attract and retain the world’s best scientific talent;
  3. Increasing federal funding for basic scientific research, to train the next generation of innovators and provide the raw material for further innovation and development by industry; and
  4. Providing incentives for private-sector R&D, so that American businesses remain at the forefront in developing new technologies and turning them into new products and services.

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Countdown to Boston

There is still time to register for NSTA’s annual National Conference on Science Education, March 27-30, 2008, in Boston. In addition to the specialized sessions and workshops, there are many other events offered to maximize your conference experience.

Sign up for a field trip and enrich your experience. Explore New England’s Rocky Coastline, go behind the scenes at the Boston Museum of Science, or visit Harvard Museum of Natural History.  These are just a few of Boston’s landmarks designated to enhance your trip. Click here for complete descriptions and scheduling information.

Take advantage of unique networking opportunities, at one of our social functions. Thirteen events have been scheduled, including the NSTA Teachers Awards Banquet, Preservice and New Teachers Breakfast and a Boston Public Schools Tailgate Party to name a few.
Click here for complete descriptions and scheduling information.

Enjoy the vast exhibitor’s hall with hundreds of new products, workshops, and giveaways to take back to your classroom. Enter to win the Ultimate Science Classroom Giveaway (one for each grade band) equipped for 30 students by top exhibitors. Prizes worth over $128,000!

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Blogging NSTA's Boston Conference

During the NSTA National Conference, a band of intrepid attendees and staff will provide daily coverage of events, featured speakers, and selected sessions, including photos, interviews, and podcast episodes via blog. The NSTA Conference Blog will be both reverent and irreverent, passionate and matter-of-fact, but endeavoring always to be interesting, relevant, and above all—brief. The blog entries won’t attempt to report on the news so much as give you a glimpse of the conference. We’ll depend on you, the reader, to shade in the lines.

You can do that by sharing your NSTA National Conference experience with other readers by blogging about sessions you attend. The NSTA Conference Blog will be tracking event highlights, but with hundreds of sessions packed into four days, we need your help reporting on your learning and networking experiences in Boston.

So, whether it’s a brief exchange, a transformative experience, or just something that made you think—send us a quick e-mail at blog@nsta.org and we’ll share your conference story with the online NSTA community. Or, if you plan on using your personal blog to discuss conference events, send us your URL so we can link our readers to your coverage.

You’ll find the NSTA Conference Blog regularly featured from the NSTA home page. You can bookmark blogs.nsta.org/ConferenceBlog or set up an RSS feed so you’ll be the first to know when new content hits. For those of you going to the NSTA conference, we look forward to seeing you in Boston, but if we miss you, please make sure we can read about what you see there.

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NSTA Press® Announces New Spring Titles

NSTA Press’s spring book launch is right around the corner. Eight new titles have been added to our online bookstore, including the much-anticipated Uncovering Student Ideas Volume 3. The third volume provides more topic areas for classroom use as well as guidance on how teachers can use the probes for their own learning.

Regardless of what grade or discipline you teach, there is something for everyone in this new lineup. Make use of Girls in Science, a collection of vignettes, to tackle the all-too-real challenge of gender-equitable science teaching. Discover why science notebooks are the “must-have” resource for the development of literacy and reasoning skills in Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms. Build content knowledge and provoke student inquiry with Everyday Science Mysteries. Learn how hands-on activities can increase student awareness of how animals adapt to their environment in Animal Coloration.

Another new book, Assessing Science and Learning, explores the various forms assessment can take. Collected NSTA Journal articles were compiled and organized as Science Beyond the Classroom and Readings in Science Methods, K-8.

Be on the lookout for the NSTA Spring Recommends Catalog, which includes all of our new titles and best sellers. Members can take advantage of the 20% discount.

For more details and a complete list of our new titles, visit the NSTA Science Store.

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It Takes a Bad Astronomer...

… to smash a bad egg myth. Have you heard the one about standing an egg on end only at the spring equinox? The latest episode of NSTA's Lab Out Loud podcast topples this idea when Brian and Dale talk to Phil Plait (aka “The Bad Astronomer”) from badastronomy.com. They also talk about skepticism and its importance in the science classroom. Also, don't miss Lab Out Loud's conference coverage from Boston. Find more information at www.nsta.org/laboutloud.

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And Don’t Forget…

Visit our member services web page to ensure that NSTA has your current contact information.

Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off of the March featured book, Quantoons.

NSTA is offering more Web Seminars through the spring months. Visit the website for more information about these upcoming professional development opportunities.
 
 
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Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!

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