So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Sing a song of fractions? How arts education can teach students tough concepts

UCLA Early Science Education

Grant Slater/KPCC

Tupac (left) and Alessandro paint boxes the color of a fire truck. The two are students at University Village, one of three pre-schools run by UCLA Early Care and Education.

Educators know that new information can be challenging to convey to young kids in a way that sticks.

Matt Levinson, one of the leaders of Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, suggests that teachers incorporate arts education techniques to help kids learn tough concepts — without the fear and anxiety that can come with it.

RELATED: Looking for arts education ideas? Check out these videos

Remember the first time you learned how fractions work? Or the different stages of the water cycle? What about the dynamics of Greek mythology?

One way to make learning these things easier, Levinson said, is to have students write a song to help them memorize or understand a new concept.

He also suggests this "brain dump" technique:

After learning new material for a set period of time, have students do a brain dump on a blank piece of paper. This serves the purpose of helping the student realize that learning and knowledge acquisition have been happening. It helps to raise student confidence and is also a useful approach for the teacher to receive feedback and see where gaps exist.

Consider using this valuable approach with students as soon as they receive an assessment, before attempting to answer any questions. For some students, holding the information inside their head can cause anxiety and confusion.

Taking a deep breath, dumping the information on a blank page, and seeing what it looks like prepares the student for success on the assessment. This brain dump then serves as a study guide.

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La Puente high school marching band gets a Macy's surprise

Gina Ward/Rowland Unified School District

Students from the Nogales High School Noble Regiment Band get the surprise news that they are one of 10 marching bands in the U.S. selected to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2015.

Music students at Nogales High School in La Puente, Calif., got a surprise visit from Macy's representatives Monday morning in the school's gym, inviting them to attend the 2015 Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

"We never really imagined that it was actually going to be this," said Jasmine Martinez, a 17-year-old senior at the school. "I'm super excited now that I have something really big to look forward to."

RELATED: Nonprofits and parents step in to bring music back

This is the second time in less than a decade the school has won a prestigious spot in the annual New York parade.

More than 175 marching ensembles applied from across the country this year - and Macy's picked only 10. The Noble Regiment, as the band is called, will represent California. Band members who graduate this summer still get to join fellow classmates to perform in New York.

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New Study: Fussy babies watch more TV in toddler years

How young is too young to expose a child to an iPad?

Flickr/Henriksent

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2.

Fussy babies - clinically described as having "self-regulation" difficulties - were more likely to be watching a screen for longer periods of time later on, as toddlers, according to a new study published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fussy 9-month-olds watched about 13 more minutes per day of television when they were 2 years-old than other toddlers, 2.5 hours as opposed to 2.2 hours. That may not seem like a lot, but researchers said it can snowball.

"Studies show that the early media habits really predict later media habits quite powerfully," Jenny Redesky a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and one of the study's authors. "So a 13 minute difference at 2 years could mean an even bigger difference down the road.

"Its important to pay attention to these smaller differences early on," she added.

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Are you smarter than a 5-year-old? New research shows kindergarteners can learn more

San Bernadino Kindergarten

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Students in Diana Enciso's kindergarten class at George Brown Elementary in San Bernadino study math using word problems and art.

San Bernadino Kindergarten

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Kindergarten students use a concentric circle graph to map the similarities and differences between Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King. This social studies lesson usually happens in 4th grade, says teacher Diana Enciso.

San Bernadino Kindergarten

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Kindergarten students watch a music video by Los Tigres Del Norte about Cesar Chavez as part of the social studies unit on civil rights leaders.


George Brown Elementary in San Bernadino is a glossy new school: Construction finished just two years ago. And what's going on in the classrooms is just as cutting edge.

The walls of Diana Enciso's dual-language kindergarten classroom proudly show off descriptive paragraphs the students wrote about frogs, a skill they normally wouldn't learn until the first grade. A few weeks ago, the 5-year-olds were engaged in comparing Martin Luther King to Cesar Chavez and mapping it all out in a concentric circle graph, a fourth-grade skill.

While the debate over new Common Core standards' higher expectations for kindergarteners has raged around whether kindergarten is too academic, pushing out play for more structured learning time, this school is going in the other direction. It's exposing its youngest students to complex learning that goes way beyond the standards.

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Report: Part-time, fractured LA school board unacceptable (updated)

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Update 6:54 p.m.

Los Angeles Unified School board members are taking issue with a report that suggests one way to improve district schools is to give the mayor control.

"The implication is that there's much success in other places and the evidence to that just doesn't exist," board member Steve Zimmer said. "We have mayoral control in New York and Chicago, and they are still struggling."

Board member Monica Ratliff issued a statement: “I firmly believe school board members, like city council members and sheriffs, should be elected by the people.”

Sarah Bradshaw, chief of staff for Los Angeles Unified School Board member Bennett Kayser, also took issue with the Los Angeles 2020 Commission's report criticizing the part-time status of the L.A. unified board and its duels with school administrators. 

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