The Sustainability Workshop is putting 29 high school students to work on solving some of the world’s toughest problems. Growing the economy while saving the planet: how’s that for a senior project?
Making Math Matter
What if educators could teach their students math without ever having to respond to the question “Why do we have to learn this?” A new middle school math curriculum developed by Penn GSE researchers just might make that possible.
Working Together Works
After a Penn GSE team introduces shared leadership to his Philadelphia school, the principal says “It’s allowed people to lead with me.”
Los Estudiantes y Sus Familias
As Spanish-speaking families move to districts without expertise in multilingual education, Stanton Wortham develops initiatives to help schools and families meet students' needs.
For some Pakistani-American kids, 9/11 left them feeling like strangers in their own country.
Who You Gonna Call?
Students in Penn GSE’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program are consulting on the development of a brand-new, Western-style, research university in Kazakhstan.
Business Plan Competition Announces Winners
The Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition aims to stimulate entrepreneurship in education. The winner of this year's competition has created theCourseBook, designed to connect lifelong learners to online and offline learning resources.
The Common Core Curriculum: How does it add up?
Dean Andy Porter's recent research looks at what the new Common Core standards will mean for the states. What will the impact be – on students and parents, on teachers and schools – when states, districts, and classrooms make the move to a new curricular standard?
Nimble assessments for developing countries
In a West African schoolroom, a student carefully copies words from the blackboard. The problem is, she can’t read them.
In the world’s poorest countries, scenes like this play out again and again. In Malawi, for example, as few as one percent of sixth-graders can read a complex text with understanding. In Zanzibar, the number is five percent.
Addressing risk among Latino students
The 2010 Census confirmed what experts have long been saying: the Hispanic population in the United States is growing – and growing fast. This trend has serious implications for the American public school system, with Latinos now accounting for 25 percent of children under the age of five.
Would you put these kids in charge?
Yes, says Penn GSE Professor Joan Goodman. When their schools give them genuine authority, kids commit to learning.
Education after devastation: Penn GSE in Haiti
Penn GSE Professor Sharon Ravitch partners with the Haitian Ministry of Education to help rebuild education, post-earthquake.
From honorable mention to first place
Penn GSE's iTest-Nano project helps bring cutting-edge science into urban classrooms.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter says, "It's a K-16 world"
The next generation of intellectual leaders
By helping a cohort of promising undergraduates get ready for gradudate study, Penn GSE’s Grad Prep Academy is addressing the issue of Black male attainment.
How principals can help
Penn GSE researchers find that the more face-time a given teacher gets from the principal, the more he or she reports changing instructional practice.
Penn GSE in Kazakhstan
The protective power of culture
Penn GSE Professors Duane Thomas and Howard Stevenson look at what we can do to help young African-American males succeed.
Do we have too many teachers?
Investing in urban education
College degree required
Penn GSE Professor Laura Perna’s research focuses on access to higher education, college affordability, and student success – basically, what gets students in the door, and what gets them out the door with a degree in hand.
Kids and culture
How do cultural norms and values interact with the development of social and emotional functioning in children? That’s the big question Professor Xinyin Chen, who came to GSE in 2010, seeks to answer in his research.
New energy in Detroit
The Penn Literacy Network brings its professional development program to Detroit schools.
The magic of words
Co-founded by GSE doctoral student Christina Rose Dubb, Spells Writing Lab offers free workshops for children aged 6 to 18, taught by professional writers and educators who volunteer for the non-profit.
A Silicon Valley of education
To what extent should government intervene in personal choices? Trying to answer this question, GSE Professor Sigal Ben-Porath makes a case for "structured paternalism," or the deliberate framing of choices by government.
Think locally, teach globally
Researchers from Penn GSE are partnering with a family of multi-generational Penn alumni to introduce laptop computers and a technology-based curriculum to students and teachers in a rural community school for the children of coffee-farm workers in Nicaragua. According to Sharon Ravitch, the GSE faculty member who is leading the project,"This is a deeply under-resourced community with no electricity or running water, so this initiative marks a profound lifestyle, educational and cultural shift. The program is akin to the more well-known ‘One Laptop Per Child' program in other developing countries, but it is cutting-edge in this region."
A school built on hope
When Cristina Alvarez, a graduate of Penn GSE's Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, arrived at Hunter Elementary, the School was struggling. But in her two short years there, Alvarez transformed Hunter: there is a new design technology lab unique in the city, 85 laptops funded through a Classrooms for the Future grant, a Oui Love to Learn! French language and culture program, and Schweitzer Fellow pharmacists who teach wellness classes to parents — plus partnerships with an opera company, PNC Bank, and the Computer Clubhouse Network.
Inquiry as Stance
In the near-universal clamor for change to the American education system, agreement on what change should look like — and who should craft it — remains elusive.For Penn GSE Professor Susan Lytle, the answer is clear: practitioners — classroom teachers and other practitioners — have vital roles to play in the work of educational change. In her new book, Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation, written with Marilyn Cochran-Smith, the authors lay out their argument that teachers themselves can challenge — and change — educational theory and practice. Read more >>
What one university president learned at GSE help her lead mission-centered administrative change at her institution. "When I started the Exec Doc program, I was already a university president, starting in on my second year," says JoAnn Rooney. Her first year — at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky — had been challenging. Read more >>
Language and Identity
As a researcher in Pong Noi, Kathryn Howard was interested in understanding how minority students "learn to be Thai in school." How did the local school socialize its Muang pupils? Specifically, how did they learn the habits of respect so critical to Thai cultural identity and so deeply embedded in Standard Thai usage? Read more >>
Creating Young Urban Mathematicians
Too many urban students leave school without the math skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. MetroMath, a collaboration of researchers from three universities, takes a multi-pronged approach to this persistent problem. Read more >>
What's Behind Being Behind?
With nearly two out of every three children living at or below the poverty level, Philadelphia public schools have one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country. Educators have long known how risk factors correlate to lagging performance in school. But, in close collaboration with Penn GSE Professor John Fantuzzo, GSE Research Associate Heather Rouse Gr'07 has been able to establish exactly how all these risk factors influence the school lives of Philadelphia children. Read more >>
Learning in the Knowledge Economy
"Reducing poverty makes good business sense," says Amadou Diop. The executive vice president of Netsure Telecom, Diop is also a student in the Executive Program in Work-Based Learning Leadership offered by Penn GSE and The Wharton School. At its heart, the GSE/Wharton CLO program is about understanding that a culture of learning is essential to the success of any enterprise. Read more >>
What Is Urban Teacher Preparation?
Preparing teachers to work in urban public schools — and to remain there — is a daunting challenge. Urban schools are some of the most challenged, under-resourced schools in the nation. Preparing new teachers for these schools is one of the most important tasks we take on as a faculty at Penn GSE.
GSE has created a distinctive program that prioritizes the development of prospective teachers' pedagogical skill and subject matter knowledge. In the program, GSE collaborates with Penn's Urban Studies program, School of Arts and Sciences, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Read more >>
Teaching English Abroad
Thirty years ago, a GSE student held a single weekend workshop for local TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers. That was then. Now, the TESOL workshops are widely known and well-regarded, training and certifying TESOL professionals both in the States and overseas. The graduate student, Tere Pica, is a tenured professor in the Language and Literacy in Education division of GSE. And the need for TESOL classes keeps growing. Read more >>
How Does Reform Work?
Students of educational improvement have long puzzled over why some school reform ideas blossom while others wither away.
Implementation of reform models "looks different everywhere," says Elliot Weinbaum, a CPRE researcher and GSE faculty member. He cites several reasons for this, including the fact that "kids change, and our culture changes, and neighborhoods change, so it's never the same implementation environment as it was when you picked the reform package."
"Dude, Where's My Discourse?"
As part of a phonics game, a student sees the letters D-U-D-E on a flash card and pronounces the word "dude." On the way into class, a student asks, "Hey dude, how you doing?" While discussing a book in class, a student says, "The train dudes — the train people wear..." The assorted potential functions of the word "dude" have often been noted in popular culture, but the instances described above are not simple cases of the same word being used in three different ways. Read more >>
Building the Multi-Versity
Back when he was a student in Penn GSE's Executive Doctorate Program in Higher Education Management, Tim Fournier GrEd'06 and his classmates used to joke that the program was designed to provide "a blueprint for starting a new college campus."
At the time, that kind of start-up opportunity seemed like a pipe dream. But, just a few months after Fournier had completed his doctorate, he was given just that chance when Northwestern University asked him to help launch a brand new branch campus. Read more >>
Working for Peace in Iraq
This spring, Thomas Hill found himself in Iraq, teaching a course in conflict management in a brand-new master's program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Dohuk. Says Hill, "Dohuk University is now the only university in Iraq with such a program, and the four current students will become the first Iraqis to earn degrees in this subject in their home country." Read more >>
Think of a video game. Now think of a video game designed to appeal to male players. As games have been growing into an increasingly influential industry that often sparks gamers' interest in the expanding fields of computer science and information technology, concerns about gender barriers have become more pressing. GSE's Yasmin Kafai's research brings new light to this issue. Read more >>
Youth, Race, and Anger
Howard Stevenson is studying a videotape of a high school basketball game. Somewhere in the whirl of play is what educators call a "teachable moment." Blink and you'll miss it. Read more >>
Our Man in Washington
"Half of the students who begin college never finish," said President Obama in his address to Congress in February. Obama went on to announce an ambitious goal for the country: to once again lead the world in our proportion of college graduates. Helping to attain that challenge will be Glenn Cummings, a student in Penn GSE's Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program... Read more >>
Research as Public Work
"Working at West Philly High puts a human face on the theories we study in class," says John Puckett. A professor at Penn GSE, Puckett is describing what students take away from his Research as Public Work seminar. Co-taught with Elaine Simon, director of Penn's Urban Studies program, the class brings together Penn undergraduates and students from West Philadelphia High School (WPHS). Read more >>
Education in Wartime
During World War II, schoolchildren planted Victory Gardens and collected old tires and cans to support the war effort. Baby boomers ducked under their school desks as sirens blared, a Cold War drill to prepare them for future nuclear attack. A generation later, America responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with similar displays of unity and urgency. This is typical of the way democracies respond to war and conflict, asserts GSE assistant professor Sigal Ben-Porath. Read more >>
Once Upon a Time...
Asked what a book titled Red Riding Hood might be about, Keyron answers, "Probably she read and she write a lot, and she live in the 'hood." Penn GSE Prof. Larry Sipe is delighted by the triple pun but, since he's been studying young children's literary understanding for the past 12 years, he's not surprised by Keyron's verbal dexterity. Sipe is intrigued by what happens when teachers read aloud to their young students... Read more >>
Bringing Nanotechnology to the Philadelphia Schools
"After a week of researching and investigating a problem and finding a solution using nanotechnology, I found myself very attracted to the subject," Sarita Saju recalls. Her interest in the subject was sparked at a summer session of ITEST-Nano, a collaboration of Penn GSE, Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center, and the School District of Philadelphia. Read more >>
Citizen, Tax Thyself
Like many other cities, Philadelphia entered 2009 with a budget deficit. Clearly, there would need to be changes if the city were to weather the recession. How, then, should city leaders decide what programs to cut? Enter the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE). Read more >>
Seeing with New Eyes
"It's the most dangerous neighborhood in Philadelphia. I went out there and I drove around. I can’t teach there."
A student in the master’s program in teacher education voiced his concern about his practicum site to the program coordinators. But they were not easily deterred.
The next year, the students walked. Read more >>
English in the Global Classroom
In a Delhi classroom, the teacher corrects a student’s arithmetic error: "Jitne ki table hai utne ko hi aage plus karma hai," she begins.
English is the language of instruction in this Indian classroom, but Amarjeet, the teacher, draws simultaneously on Hindi and English to explain the intricacies of multiplication.
As English emerges as the world’s lingua franca, such scenes are playing out in more and more schools across the globe. And for educational linguists like Nancy Hornberger, they are evidence of the ways that multilingualism can thrive even when English is the official language of instruction. Read more >>
Is There a De Facto National Curriculum?
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires states to have content standards — statements of what kids should know in math, language arts, English and science — and to assess kids' achievement against those standards.
Some believe that these requirements are creating a de facto national curriculum. Is there any evidence that NCLB had this effect?
Penn GSE's Andy Porter and Morgan Polikoff, with John Smithson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, decided to find out. Read more >>
Mastering the Craft of Research
"It was the first place I presented academic research," says GSE doctoral student Sarah Lipinoga, "and an amazing venue for becoming professionalized into the research world."
That conference — the Ethnography in Education Research Forum — is held annually at Penn GSE and brings together researchers, practitioners, and graduate students to explore the latest issues in education from the perspective of qualitative research, especially ethnography. Read more >>
The Power of Executive Education
Delvin M. Dinkins listened closely — to students, to parents, and to colleagues. As a public school principal, he kept hearing calls for change, and he stepped up to the plate.
"Leaders are challenged more than ever to deliver on their schools' promises of an education for the 21st century. But delivering on this promise is next-to-impossible without the tools, infrastructure, or public confidence," says Dinkins.
Dinkins, a principal in Pennsylvania's Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, chose to further his leadership potential through the Mid-Career Doctorate Program at Penn's Graduate School of Education. Read more >>
Partnerships for Improving Education
Imagine walking into a Philadelphia public school and hearing the strains of Vivaldi. Follow the music and you can observe a group of aspiring musicians practicing the violin. Just down the corridor, you come upon a group of teachers engaged in an impromptu collegial conversation. Peek into a kindergarten classroom to find an eighth grader helping one of the little ones with her reading.
For students at the Penn Alexander School — the neighborhood public school created by an innovative partnership of the University of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers — this is all in a day's work. Read more >>
The last decade has seen China emerge as a major player on the international stage and in the global economy. On the educational front, too, the country is experiencing unprecedented growth.
To cope with the tremendous challenges that this growth presents to a highly structured 50-year-old system, higher education in China is borrowing more and more from American models of curriculum and institutional management. Read more >>
Neck and Neck
Analysts typically bemoan the performance of American kids when it comes to international comparisons of academic achievement.
But are American students really at the back of the pack? When Penn GSE Professor Ed Boe looked at the data, he found a far more nuanced — and brighter — picture. Read more >>
Take a Deep Breath
Head Start teacher Janet Luckey was struggling to open a thick envelope of classroom materials one morning. Her students, ages 3 to 5, knew just what to do. "Don't get frustrated, Mrs. Luckey," they advised. "Go get some scissors."
Luckey laughs, remembering. Coping with frustration was one of the behavioral skills she'd been teaching her preschoolers as part of GSE's innovative EPIC program. Now her students were teaching her. Read more >>
"The days of the principal as the lone instructional leader are over," says John DeFlaminis, executive director of the Penn Center for Educational Leadership. "We no longer believe that one administrator can serve as the only instructional leader for an entire school without the substantial participation of other educators."
DeFlaminis also says a proven approach needs to be more widely used by educators to improve the practice of education: "distributed leadership." Read more >>
The Road Back to Teaching
"Non-traditional" Students are the Norm in GSE / TFA Partnership
First-time teacher Wilson Boyd had an assignment in one of Philadelphia's most troubled high schools. The challenges confronting Boyd — kids with reading skills that lag far behind their grade level, kids with disengaged parents, kids who've given up on school — are typical for urban schools like Olney West. Boyd, on the other hand, was something of an anomaly.
A Teach For America corps member not long out of college, Boyd was also a master's student at Penn GSE. He was working hard to improve his students' reading skills, thinking that he'd be successful at his job if student achievement moved up an average of two grade levels. Read more >>
Catastrophe, Education, and Hope
Professional Development in Aceh After the Tsunami
"Before the tsunami, there were 17 classes with 40 children in each class," explains Kathy Schultz, "and afterwards, eight classes with about 20 children."
Schultz, an associate professor at GSE and Director of Teacher Education, was Penn's person-on-the-scene for its response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated much of coastal South Asia. Initiated by Penn President Amy Gutmann shortly after the disaster struck, GSE's effort focused on long-term recovery by working with locals to improve teacher education and professional development in the region. Read more >>
Who Are These Guys?
It all depends on whom you ask
Pelon (the tall guy with the glasses) and Cricket are two of the "Homies" created by LA artist David Gonzales. Homies represent social types typically found in places with a longstanding Latino presence, and each comes with a life story.
In their LA birthplace, Homies sparked debate about racial stereotyping and the gangster lifestyle. But Homies have found an eager market among young Spanish-speakers in communities that have only recently seen an influx of immigrants.
Over the past few years, Penn Professor Stanton Wortham has been studying one of those communities. Read more >>