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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Classroom

Small Schools Have
Both an Upside
and a Downside

There is a lot of support among educators for the idea of smaller schools because such settings can enable closer relationships between teachers, staff members and students, allowing for more individual instruction. But while there is definitely an upside to smaller schools, NEA researchers have found that there is a downside, too. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages they found for small schools:

. Closer relationships with students help motivate students to learn and improve teaching because teachers understand better what makes each student tick.
. You may have better discipline and fewer classroom disruptions. Tardiness and cutting class can be reduced. Strong teacher teams are better able to monitor student performance and behavior.
. Innovation and interdisciplinary teaching are easier.
. There may be greater opportunities to connect with parents, who may then push their children to work harder.

. Teachers wear many hats, carrying out functions beyond teaching, causing many to feel overloaded.
. There may be less variety in courses offered. Advanced Placement classes, electives and extras such as sports team may fall by the wayside.
. Self-segregation may take place. When students select their small schools, they may sort themselves out by ethnic group, social class, motivation and academic ability.
. Higher cost. Economies of scale of big schools are lost.

Mock Election, Materials
Part of UVa Program

As the campaign for the Oval Office intensifies and both political parties gear up for their conventions this summer and for the general election this fall, students in Virginia have a chance to understand and participate in the process through a national program based here in the commonwealth.

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics is a nonpartisan organization that provides a range of civics and government resources for educators. Through the YLI website, , students can be a part of the largest student-only online mock election in the U.S., participate in mock conventions and a mock Congress, and simulate campaign activities. Teachers can also download free lesson plans.

To get you and your students started, sign up at the YLI website.

Organization, Newsletter
Help in Search for
Worthwhile Programming

You know that there is a lot of stuff on television today that isn't at all helpful for young people to be watching. For instance, despite research that shows harmful effects on children when they watch violent programs, violence on TV has increased 75 percent in the last 10 years.

The NEA and other youth-oriented organizations want to do something about it. NEA has joined with the National PTA, the Afterschool Alliance and the YWCA, among other groups, to form the Smart Television Alliance (STA), a group committed to improving what our children see when they pick up the television remote.

Part of STA's outreach is a twice-monthly newsletter, called Smart News, that helps educators and parents identify worthwhile programming for kids. For more information and to sign up for Smart News, visit the STA website at .

Economics Council Offers
Resources, Awards

When students learn about economics, they learn practical skills that will help them for the rest of their lives. The Virginia Council on Economic Education (VCEE) is a nonprofit organization based at Virginia Commonwealth University that seeks to equip young people with the economic and financial literacy skills they will need to both survive and flourish.

VCEE serves teachers by providing curriculum and background materials, all of which are linked to Virginia's Standards of Learning. It also offers workshops, including some with titles such as Risky Business, Chocolate Economics, The Mini-Society and Virtual Economics.

Students can participate in activities including the Stock Market Game, Economics Challenge, Mini-Economy/Mini-Society, and Color the Economic Concepts.

VCEE also recognizes outstanding economic educators and lesson plans with an annual awards program. The awards are determined based on the use of creativity and originality in the teaching of economic and financial literacy concepts.

For information on VCEE resources and awards, visit .

Federal Gov't Features
'Doing What Works'

It's always good to know that something you're about to try has been tested and proven to work. With that in mind, the U.S. Department of Education has launched "Doing What Works," a new website designed to offer educators information on effective teaching practices and tips on implementing those ideas.

The site, at , features teaching methods that have been found to be effective by the department's research arm, and it can be searched by subject. Site creators welcome your questions and feedback and can be reached at .

Check Out Your
Colleagues on YouTube

You all know what it's like to be an educator-the papers you grade, the students you counsel, the cuts and scrapes you bandage. But what does it all really mean?

Your colleagues across the country know the answers, and many of them have shared their thoughts on what keeps them going through videos posted on YouTube. You can check them out on the NEA's "I Am an Educator" channel. In addition, you can upload a video at YouTube and the NEA will add it to the channel to inspire and inform other educators.

For details, visit .

Science Courses Available
This Summer in Danville

This summer, K-5 teachers in southern Virginia can get some advanced science training designed to be aligned with the Standards of Learning. The training program, called Science SOLutions, will be offered at the Danville Science Center and at Averett University, and is made possible by a Math and Science Partnership Grant from the Virginia Department of Education.

The classes offered this summer in Danville are Energy and Heat, in late June, and Weather and Atmosphere, in early July. For more information, visit the Danville Science Center website at .


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