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Feature: Great Communication Key to Success

letter-eCould an approach developed to help deaf and hearing-impaired undergraduates overcome educational disadvantages work for anyone–including mainstream K-12 students who struggle with reading and math? Scott Bellinger, an instructor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, America’s only technical college for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, thinks so.

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America’s Math Gap

Math ConceptsWhy do U.S. students fare so poorly in mathematics compared with peers in other nations? A new study suggests a major factor may be the easier math curriculum American kids typically encounter. “The consequences are clear-less opportunity to learn challenging mathematics corresponds to lower achievement,” the researchers conclude.

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Ham It Up and Pack Them In

WinnSan Diego teacher Jonathan Winn has done what some would say is impossible: He’s inspired high school students to get excited about math. His AP calculus class is the most popular course in a school with a large number of low-income students for whom English is not their native language.

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Now for Some Good News…

Students Working in a GroupA new study shows an increase in students taking rigorous high school courses and, as a result, scoring higher on achievement tests. The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress High School Transcript Study reveals that the percentage of high school graduates completing a “rigorous” curriculum jumped from 5 percent to 13 percent.

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Algebra II for All?

Algebra IIMany students consider Algebra II a complex course with scant real-world value. Yet, of all of the classes offered in high school, it is the leading predictor of college and work success. In recent years, 20 states and the District of Columbia have raised graduation requirements to include Algebra II. Now, researchers wonder if that’s such smart policy.

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Feature: Japan’s Approach to Math Learning

Japanese LearningForget graphing calculators. The hottest tool for learning math in this high-tech powerhouse is a relic from Japan’s preindustrial past: the venerable abacus. At a time when ubiquitous digital devices are blamed for making people “dumber,” the world’s original calculating device, known as the soroban, is more essential than ever, advocates contend.

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Starring on YouTube: Math

Youtube MathVi Hart has an audacious career ambition: she wants to make math cool. In November, she posted a video about doodling in math class. More videos followed, including one about drawing stars and another about prime numbers. By now, they’ve gone viral, viewed more than a million times.

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Stress Skills Instead of Content Learning, Report Urges

Kids Doing MathA new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation recommends that student assessments be based on skills, such as reading for information, locating information, and applied mathematics, instead of content. In STEM subjects, students’ desired outcome should be improved skills in inquiry, design, and the understanding and use of symbolic language in math.

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Teens Grasp Value of Math and Science

Teen StudentA survey commissioned by Intel finds that, “contrary to perceptions that American teenagers are apathetic about math and science, students highly value the importance of these subjects and understand the role of math and science to their futures.”

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