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Super Kids take Derby Downs

By John Higgins Published: July 20, 2012

Here's a video I took this morning at Akron's Derby Downs at the 10th Annual National Super Kids Classic, a race for children with disabilities. Six finalists are selected to compete Saturday at the 75th Annual All-American Soap Box Derby.


Video by Akron Beacon Journal reporter John Higgins

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ABJ seeks middle school teachers for civility project

By John Higgins Published: July 18, 2012

The Akron Beacon Journal's ongoing civility project wants to hear from middle school teachers, who should be experts on how fast things can get uncivil in a group setting.

Sign up here:

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Teachers should be wary of brain-based claims

By John Higgins Published: July 12, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching is a charismatic, high-energy teaching method to get and keep students' attention using humor, gestures and imitation. But teachers and administrators who are drawn to this approach should be wary of Whole Brain Teaching' s claim that its techniques are "validated by contemporary brain research." 

 I wrote about a local Whole Brain Teaching conference at Walsh University in today's Akron Beacon Journal.

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APS dismantles anti-bullying program to save money

By John Higgins Published: May 30, 2012

The Akron school board approved the five-year forecast Tuesday at a special noon meeting to sign off on the budget projections before they're sent to the state. Included in the document was a detailed listing of staff cuts and I noticed that the jobs of the anti-bullying program will be cut next year. I wrote about the program in 2010 here and here.

My story in today's Beacon Journal is here.

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Fewer Akron students missing out on graduation because of OGT

By John Higgins Published: May 22, 2012

In 2007 when passage of the Ohio Graduation Test became a requirement for a high school diploma, 95 APS seniors missed walking across the stage with their classmates. This year, only 10 will miss the ceremony because of the OGTs. Read the story here.

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Air Bear trumps touch-a-truck any day

By John Higgins Published: May 18, 2012

Akron Children's Hospital offered Case elementary school an ambulance to show kids on the school's Big Truck Day Thursday. Then the hospital offered its medical helicopter, Air Bear. Would the school like them to send the helicopter?  Uh, yes. Please send the helicopter. Teachers hope to create moments that kids will remember fondly at their 20th high school reunions. The teachers at Case hope their students will start a conversation like this some day: "Remember when the helicopter landed at our elementary school? Wasn't that awesome?" My Story in ABJ today.

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Tarle's third act: founding an Akron charter school

By John Higgins Published: May 17, 2012

I've got two front page stories today on former Akron city councilman Ernie Tarle's mission to open a charter school in Akron. Click here for the main story. Click here for a sidebar about some recent research of the "no excuses" approach Tarle hopes to emulate. The research is interesting because it takes advantage of the lottery system some charters use for admission to create a natural "control" group (kids who weren't chosen in the lottery) to test charter school effectiveness against traditional district schools. Click here for the MIT study I refer to in the story.

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Best. Field. Trip. Ever.

By John Higgins Published: May 16, 2012

Six Rankin elementary school third-graders got the field trip of a lifetime when LeBron James had them flown to Miami last Saturday to sit in the audience while he received the NBA's Most Valuable Player trophy. Here's my ABJ story. Oh yeah, he gave them the 2013 Kia Sorento, too ( the program gets the car, not the third-graders).

See the whole ceremony on YouTube here. Around the 20 minute mark he mentions Wheels for Education and his committment to Akron Public Schools.

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Akron juniors all taking ACTs today at no charge

By John Higgins Published: April 24, 2012

Every junior in Akron is taking the ACT college entrance exam today, free of charge, thanks to one-time federal Race to the Top money. Board president Jason Haas mentioned the tests at the school board meeting Monday night..The basic fee to take the ACT is $34. Haas said this year may be a one-time offer to provide the test free of charge. 

This is also the week that students take the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAAs), which will determine state report cards for buildings and districts. Here's a video after the jump produced by Akron Public Schools of the STEM Middle School getting pumped for the tests:

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Social network links teachers and brain scientists

By John Higgins Published: April 17, 2012

Education Week's Sarah Sparks reports from the annual educational researchers meeting in Vancouver B.C. that "speed dating" is one model for sharing information:

"Doris Alvarez, the director of the Educator Network at the University of California San Diego, has a novel answer to the call for closer teacher-researcher partnerships: Speed dating.

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