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Lesson 6.0

The Right Stuff:
Overview of Chapter 6

Are kids learning the “right stuff” at school?

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What should our children learn in school? And what do we need to provide to support that learning?

This chapter explores the “stuff” of schooling, such as the facts and skills we want children to learn (the "standards"), the tools we use to deliver it (the "curriculum"), the way we actually teach ("pedagogy"), and how we know whether kids are learning ("assessments"). This stuff matters. It reflects our collective expectations. It also provides a framework for evaluating whether our schools are getting the job done.

But what schools should teach is not as clear-cut as it may seem. This chapter digs into the content of learning - the stuff that students and teachers spend their time together actually working on. It also explains the role the state plays in shaping those decisions.

What's in this Chapter?

We convinced Jeff to narrate a short video preview of each lesson. We hope you get a kick out of the awkward expressions we captured him in...

6.1 Grade-level Expectations: How Do Common Core Standards Work?
Forget the hype. Here's how the Common Core standards actually work. | "Facts galore / were such a bore. / Teach us more, / Common Core!"
6.2 Academic Rigor: Is School Challenging Enough?
In California, students must pass 15 specific courses to even apply to a four-year college. But not all high schools offer those courses. Here's what you need to know.
6.3 Literacy: Ensuring All Kids Learn to Read, Write and Speak English
"English at school / Spanish at home / Sounds like your family? / You're not alone." | More than 40% of public school children in California speak a language other than English as their “first” language.
6.4 STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
"STEM" is edu-jargon for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Remember Sputnik? America has fallen behind again. Here's the situation...
6.5 Tests: Why Tests Matter and How They Work
Kids take too many tests, but it’s changing, because…
6.6 Technology in Education: Tools for teaching and learning
Tech is changing / every endeavor. / Even schools / see tech as a lever. | Here's how the change is happening...
6.7 Student Engagement: Making School Interesting
How do students get interested in learning? And what is "pedagogy?" Is it legal? What can teachers do to make school interesting and motivating?
6.8 Arts Education: Creating in School
California students get less exposure to the arts in school than students in other states. And an "art gap" matches the "achievement gap," too. Here are the stats...
6.9 P.E. and Athletics: How does sweat and movement help learning?
Your school cut P.E., too? Be concerned. The research suggests this may be a bad choice...
6.10 Let’s Go!: What Makes a Field Trip Great?
Take me out on a field trip / Take me out of the school / Show me some things that I haven't seen / Learning outside is so cool.
6.11 Career Technical Education: Education for career opportunities
Career Technical Education (once known as "Vocational Education") is still around, but struggling. The newer big idea is "Linked Learning." | "College is not for me / I want to work and earn. / Teach me what I need / so I can work and learn."
6.12 Service Learning: Learning to Help Others
Why not help others while you learn? | "Service learning / is a way / of helping others / for a grade."
6.14 Character: Can Values and Habits be Taught?
Grit, zest / self-control / character lessons / for us all
6.15 Civics, history and geography: How do kids learn about their country and the world?
Today's students are tomorrow's voters and leaders. Are they learning what they need to know? | "Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq / Can you name the places on this blue-green spinning rock?"
6.16 World Language Learning: The Cure for Ugly Americans
Science and common sense indicate that the best time to learn a language is in childhood. Why isn't this a priority in America? Bonus fact: For native speakers of English, the hardest language in the world is...
6.17 Personal Finance: Learning to Earn
Financial literacy is an essential life skill, but most schools in California don't even offer a course on the subject. This might change.
©2003-2024 Jeff Camp
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