Stories from The Seattle Times’ Education Lab project:

Seattle-area Somali community unites to embrace state’s new child-care standards
When the state introduced higher standards for child care, many feared that home-based centers, including those run by women from Somalia, would close. But a group of them joined together to make sure that didn’t happen.

Study reveals how baby talk boosts language development
A new study creates a mathematical model of teaching to show how the exaggerated sounds of “parentese” helps babies learn language.

We expel preschool kids at three times as often as K-12 students. Here’s how to change that

Preschoolers get expelled at three times the rate of students in elementary, middle and high schools. But when teachers get regular help from mental-health coaches, they expel at half the rate of those who don’t.

Babies who learned to keep waltz time during play sessions showed stronger brain responses to timing mistakes in both music and speech, suggesting that music training could help them learn to talk.

Risky change in teaching pays off at Bellevue’s Sammamish High
Teachers at Bellevue’s Sammamish High School led a five-year, schoolwide change that increased participation in challenging courses without sacrificing test scores.

Between the ears: What stone-age toolmaking tells us about learning
Scientists are replicating the toolmaking skills of prehistoric people to better understand the ways we teach and learn today.

Knowledge about the natural world in kindergarten predicts later success on science tests
New study shows that gaps in what kids know about the natural and social world in kindergarten persist through middle school.

How to help struggling readers get the most from advanced coursework
High schools are lowering the bar for enrollment in advanced courses that give kids a leg up for college, but many students need help boosting their reading skills.

Will more money for schools really help kids? New study may have long-term answer
While research is mixed on whether increases in school spending lead to better results for students, a study suggests that influxes of dollars from court decisions lead to higher graduation rates and earnings, especially for low-income students.

Between the ears: Is teaching part of human nature or just plain WEIRD?
Washington State University researchers find that traditional African hunter-gatherers teach children as young as 12 months old to use knives, machetes and digging sticks.

Between the ears: Basic ideas from cognitive science not reaching teachers
A review of commonly assigned textbooks for aspiring teachers shows that few cover strategies proven to help students remember what they learn.

Between the ears: When to teach, when to guide and when to get out of the way
Teachers are sometimes told to be the “guide by the side” instead of the “sage on the stage,” but research shows that this is a false choice.

Buildings with fresher air linked to better thinking
A new study showing that office workers did better on cognitive tests when they had fresher air to breathe underscores growing evidence that physical environments matter for performance at work and school.

Between the ears: In the brain, Chinese and English are more similar than they look on paper
A new brain-scan study of college-age speakers of English, Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese shows that the same speech regions of the brain are activated when they read, regardless of the language.

In class, out of court: How one school district triumphed over truancy
Sending kids who habitually miss school to court under the state’s 20-year truancy law hasn’t helped them stay in school. But a school-court-community effort in Spokane County is having impressive success.

Between the ears: Moderate anxiety may help math performance
A new study finds that kids who are motivated to do well in math perform best with a moderate amount of anxiety — too little may bore them and too much may overwhelm.

That was a surprising result from a survey asking students what mattered most in preparing for jobs and college.


`It’s just math’: Preschoolers can do more than we think
Seattle children start school less prepared in math than in reading. Brain research says we underestimate how much math kids that age can do.

UW Brain-wave study: social babies get more out of Spanish lessons
The babies who learned the sounds of a foreign language best were the ones who were better at looking back and forth between Spanish-speaking tutors and the toys the tutors described.

Brain study: Noticing symmetry in numbers helps kids grasp difficult math concept
Tapping the brain’s natural ability to perceive symmetry in the physical world can help children make sense of negative numbers.

More green space, less noise linked to better learning
A growing body of research shows a relationship between the physical environment of schools and student achievement.

New brain study sheds light on how best to teach reading
Sounding out new words appears to spark more efficient reading circuits in the brain than memorizing them.

“Don’t wake the baby” experiment gives new perspective on toddler’s social skills
New study shows that young children understand how the sounds they make influence someone else.

Bellevue schools teach emotional smarts to help boost academic success
Studies have shown that students who use an approach known as RULER are less anxious, better behaved, more attentive and more independent — with greater leadership skills.

Brain scans show dyslexia, dysgraphia require different types of treatment
Brain-based language problems such as dyslexia and dysgraphia fall under the general heading of “specific learning disability,” but a new study from the University of Washington shows that they are distinct disorders that require different types of instruction.

Sensitivity to stress shaped during first two years of life, UW study finds
A new study of abandoned Romanian children shows that placement in a foster home before their second birthday affected how well they responded physically to stress a decade later.

Study: Sad dads linked to bad toddler behavior
Depression in fathers after the birth of a child is linked to troubling behaviors in their toddlers three years later, according to a new study.

Better planning skills, higher test scores? Not necessarily, study says
While the mental skills we use to pursue a goal are associated with academic achievement, there’s little evidence — at least yet — that they cause it.

Teaching is a natural human ability that starts developing in childhood, author says
Teaching is more than a job, it’s an evolved human ability, according to the authors of The Teaching Brain.

Classroom observers using new tools to make teachers better
How to help teachers improve? A new system of in-depth observation by trained evaluators and principals, soon to be required in schools across Washington, shows what can help.

Washington’s pending showdown on school funding: Legislature vs Supreme Court
How will the education-funding showdown between the Legislature and Washington’s Supreme Court end? Other states’ experiences run the gamut from courts shutting school down to get what they want, to simply backing off.

Texting parents with tips boosts pre-K language skills, study says
Stanford researchers recently tested one promising solution — text-messaging — that provides parents with bite-size tips that they can use immediately with their kids.

Good writing takes practice, not grammar drills, studies say
Lots of practice and word processing software can make students better writers, but pounding grammar rules and diagramming sentences could actually make them worse.

NYU research: Don’t punish kids for their temperaments
Though they can’t just wave a  wand and make a shy kid outgoing, teachers and parents can help them gently stretch themselves to get more engaged in the classroom.

Does class size matter? Research reveals surprises
The most obvious reason for why smaller classes work — that teachers give students better, more-tailored instruction — probably isn’t the reason why achievement goes up, studies have found.

UW research on brain activity delivers lessons on how kids learn
Parents and teachers can use the insights from brain research at UW to help children build stronger foundations for future learning and even prevent some problems before kindergarten.


Akron Beacon Journal series on Project-Based Learning and the birth of a new STEM middle school in Akron:

Do it, learn it  (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

New lesson plans (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

Parents encouraged by new STEM school (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

From a seed, a STEM grows (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

Swamped with ideas (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

UA biologist gives Akron middle school tools to start first hands-on mission(pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

Nature of learning (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.

Making it their own (pdf) Link to Akron Beacon Journal here.


Story disputing the brain claims of “Whole Brain Teaching”: “Teachers learn ways to keep students’ attention, but are brain claims valid?” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the political manipulation of statistics: “Gains in math go unnoticed” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story on learning how to get students to think out loud about math: “Akron algebra teachers learn how to get their students talking about math” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story about successful program that helps parents become better first teachers for their children:
“SPARK hoping to ignite learning process for kids” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Stories on bullying with insights from neuroscientists and primatologists:

“Area schools committed to bullying prevention” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.

“Researchers study primates to learn how they restore social harmony” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story about young students gaining learning Braille and how their brains adapt to enable literacy: “World at their fingers” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story about research into the use of E-books for early literacy: “UA study shows electronic books can help kids learn to read — if digital extras don’t distract.” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Story about how the way you read picture books to preschoolers matters: “Paying more attention to the printed word pays off for youngsters learning to read” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.



Story about education of homeless children: “Poverty, homelessness on rise in Akron-Canton schools ” Link to Akron Beacon Journal.

Investigative series on the Ohio Autism Scholarship program:

Complaints trouble state autism fund (pdf)

“Mom’s warnings pass the test” Link to Akron Beacon Journal story.


Series about Akron mother charged with felonies for enrolling her children in the wrong school:

Affidavit triggers suspicion (pdf)

Jail a rarity in disputes over tuition (pdf)

Misconceptions persist following mom’s conviction (pdf)


Investigative series on Ohio charter schools:

Charters go off course (pdf)

Charters draw mixed reviews (pdf)

“Charter schools get boost from busing”  Link to Akron Beacon Journal story here.


Investigative series “Degrees of Justice” on university justice system:

Degrees of Justice: (front page pdf),
click here for next page,
click here for final page

An Academic Response: (front page pdf) and sidebar: “Do campus tribunals wield too much power?”
click here for final page and final page of sidebar.





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