Life of Learning

Essential Pittsburgh
4:21 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Cathy Lewis Long Explores the Future of Pittsburgh Education

The Sprout Fund's Cathy Lewis Long in Studio A with our own Paul Guggenheimer.
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Last week educational visionaries from the area who are rethinking education gathered for their annual summit. As part of the WESA’s Life of Learning Initiative we’ll explore what’s on the educational horizon with Cathy Lewis Long, Executive Director & President for The Sprout Fund.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:26 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Building Neighborhood Bridges to Innovation

Credit Peter Radunzel / Flickr

Pittsburgh native, entrepreneur and Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett is an advocate looking to connect the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods to the tech sector. 

He joins us in Studio A for a conversation on how he plans to accomplish this goal.

Connected learning
3:22 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Pittsburgh Teachers, Museums, Libraries Connect In-School and Out-of-School Learning

More than 400 teachers, administrators, librarians, artists, out-of-school educators, mentors, parents and students crowded a ballroom at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Friday to discuss how to create a more integrated learning environment in Pittsburgh.

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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Panel: Progressive Discipline Key to Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline

Students, educators, community members and activists recently participated in a 90.5 WESA community forum on the "school-to-prison pipeline."
Chris Squier 90.5 WESA

The adoption of zero tolerance policies in schools has risen sharply since the 1999 Columbine shootings.  But are those policies making schools safer? Many education stakeholders in Pittsburgh say the widespread use of zero tolerance policies has increased the likelihood of students entering the criminal justice system based on school incidents. 

“If we can move from a zero tolerance policy, which excludes children who are having trouble, to progressive discipline, which includes those with a rehabilitative effort to get them back on their feet and back into school, we can do a better job with community safety,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, David Hickton, said at WESA’s community forum entitled "Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline" on Monday.  

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Station News
4:45 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Ending The School-To-Prison Pipeline - A Community Forum

What: 90.5 WESA’s Life of Learning Forum: Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

When: Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, 7 p.m. (Doors open 6:30 p.m.)

Where: 90.5 WESA, Community Broadcast Center, 67 Bedford Square, Pittsburgh PA 15203

Registration for this event has closed. The forum will be recorded for future broadcast.

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Life of Learning
2:32 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

More Allegheny County Kids In After-School Programs, But Service Gaps Still Exist

Students at the after-school program at Assemble in Garfield learn how to build video game controllers.
Credit Courtesy of Assemble

There’s good news and there’s bad news when it comes to after-school programs in Allegheny County.

The good news is that more children than ever are participating in after-school and out-of-school-time programs: 10.2 million nationwide and 52,646 in Allegheny County, according to a new report from the Afterschool Alliance. That puts the national participation rate at 18 percent, while Allegheny County’s participation rate is much higher at 28 percent.

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School Attendance
10:35 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

McKeesport Community Encourages Good Attendance

Often discussing a student’s attendance is a negative conversation or one that leads to disciplinary action.

But early Wednesday morning, teachers and community members rallied around McKeesport Area School District students as they were dropped off at the front door. As school bus engines rumbled, volunteers holding welcome signs cheered, pinned stickers on students and handed them school supplies.

“I’m glad you’re here today,” and “It’s important to come to school,” the volunteers repeated to the students.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:37 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Westminster College Launches STEM Program for High-Needs Schools

There are 2.4 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs available for every unemployed person in Pennsylvania with STEM skills, according to the national science education advocacy group Change the Equation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2013, low-income students in Pennsylvania scored about 9 percent lower on standardized math tests, and 20 percent lower on standardized science tests.

Westminster College in Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, has just announced a new program that aims to address both of these issues.

IQ STEM includes an undergraduate scholarship component and a professional development component, both of which focus on four high needs school districts in the region surrounding Westminster: Sharon City School District and Farrell Area School District in Mercer County, and Union Area School District and New Castle Area School District in Lawrence County.

High needs schools are defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as schools with high teacher turnover rates, a high percentage of out-of-field or uncertified teachers, a high number of unfilled teaching positions and/or a large percentage of students whose families fall below the poverty line.

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Life of Learning
3:41 am
Tue August 19, 2014

City of Learning: Recognizing Teens for the Learning They Do Outside of School

Artist and teacher James Gyre teaches kids geometry and design concepts during TechShop's Drum Makers workshop.
Credit Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Educators are increasingly concerned about kids losing knowledge during the summer. As part of our Life of Learning Initiative, we look at a program that not only helps middle and high schoolers learn during the summer, but also allows them to show off their new skills to colleges and future employers.

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Universal Pre-K
5:55 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Life Of Learning: Discussing Pre-K Education

Credit Kirsten Jennings / Flickr

From the time they are born to when they first attend school children can learn a lot. The skills of reading, writing and basic math are attained by some children who attend preschool.  This can provide preschoolers with a significant head start over children with no pre-kindergarten education.

Studies have shown the gap between the two groups  grows as their schooling progresses. The benefits of preschool are especially important for children deemed “at risk.”

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Life of Learning
9:32 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

U.S. Education Secretary Talks Early Childhood Education During Stop in Pittsburgh

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talks with children from the Hug Me Tight Childlife Center in the Hill District.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Up to $20 million is up for grabs for Pennsylvania, under a new grant competition announced in Pittsburgh. The funds are to be used for expanding access to early-childhood learning programs.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto took part in a tour of the “Hug Me Tight Childlife Center” in the Hill District – along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. While in Pittsburgh, Duncan announced that applications for grants are now being accepted.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:13 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

College Students Still Struggling with Math and Writing

Studies show freshmen are still struggling with math and writing skills upon entering college.
Credit Scott Akerman / Flickr

A great deal of concern is given to young children being ready to learn once they begin attending elementary school. But what happens when those children grow up and are ready to attend college?

A study by the U.S. Department of Education finds one in four college freshmen lack reading and math skills for entry level-college work. This results in students needing to take at least one noncredit remedial class.

California University of Pennsylvania is working to reduce the amount of remedial help needed by students. Daniel Engstrom, associate provost in the Office of Academic Success at California University of Pennsylvania explains why more and more students are coming into college unprepared.

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STEAM Innovation
3:30 am
Fri July 25, 2014

From Building Solar-Powered Mini-Cars to Creating Apps in the Classroom

Teachers at the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette School District work with littleBits to bring engineering into their K-4 classrooms
Credit Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Summer camp — it’s not just for kids anymore. 

Teachers from around the Pittsburgh area and from as far away as Alabama this week attended the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette Intermediate School to learn how to embed robotics, computational thinking and game design into their curricula.  

Amidst lights flashing  and lots of beeps, elementary school teachers are playing with, or rather experimenting with, littleBits — tiny circuit boards engineered to snap together with magnets.

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:43 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Life of Learning: A Deeper Look In Innovative Education

Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy teacher Matt Ferrante works with sixth grader Hunter Bash during a recent school day. Ferrante, who teaches music technology, said unlike some other schools where he’s taught, he never feels peripheral at SciTech.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

From flipped classrooms to blending the arts and sciences, what does it take to bring innovative approaches to the classroom?

Technology and innovation are being utilized as teaching methods by several school districts in the greater Pittsburgh area. This innovation has been recognized as the Pittsburgh area recently received the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in New York and was the only city to get the award.

The Flipped Classroom Approach

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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Why This Struggling School District Is Reviving Creative Electives

Sto-Rox High School students such as senior Damon Baylor use power tools during their construction technology class.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Daniel Funk’s construction technology classroom at Sto-Rox High School is literally buzzing with activity.

Students are confidently working with heavy duty power tools as they finish building small hanging display cases.

“Right now we’re working on the drawers,” said senior Asa Powell. “The drawer fronts are probably the hardest, because they have the knobs and whatnot."

Powell said he regularly looks forward to Funk’s class.

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Innovation
7:48 am
Wed April 30, 2014

How These Pittsburgh-Area Students Are Turning Poetry Into Robotic Theater

Students work on their robotic poetry theater for "She Sweeps with Many-Colored Brooms" by Emily Dickinson. Robotic components make snow and leaves fall at programmed times.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

“A diorama on steroids.”

That's how Susan Mellon describes what she’s doing in her Springdale Junior and Senior High classroom, where students are combining poetry with computer technology and engineering.

“Kids tend to be a little intimidated by poetry, so I thought this would take something they’re intimidated by and don’t like and make it fun,” said Mellon, a gifted support coordinator at the school.

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Life of Learning
7:49 am
Tue April 29, 2014

From Biology To Music, Bringing Science And Technology To Every Classroom

Connor Cain, a sixth grader at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, uses the Mac-based GarageBand app to make a melody in a music class.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Dream. Discover. Design.

That’s the motto of Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy in Oakland, a public magnet school focused on the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Essentially, the entire middle and high school shines a spotlight on innovation.

“The whole idea is tinkering, so we play, we tinker, we fail, we figure out what we did wrong, and we work again,” said Ann Gollapudi, who teaches physics and computer science at SciTech.

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Life of Learning
3:00 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Flipping The Classroom Turns Classwork, Homework Model On Its Head

Students in Susan Marino's junior physics class at Chartiers Valley High School learn in a "flipped classroom." They get their lessons at home and do the work in class.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When you think back to your school days, or even if you’re still in school, you likely sat through numerous lectures, then went home and worked on math or science problems on your own.  

Now, some teachers, such as Sue Marino at Chartiers Valley High School, are turning the traditional notion of schoolwork and homework on its head by “flipping the classroom.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:38 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

How North Allegheny Schools Are Getting Kids Excited About Exercise

Students at North Allegheny Intermediate School run on treadmills as a part of their aerobic fitness training.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

  

In an effort to combat the rising obesity rates in Allegheny County, physical education instructors in the North Allegheny School District have taken steps to ensure students coming out their system are devoted to lifelong fitness.

Dave Schmidt, the district's Health and Physical Education Department chair, said that over time his department has shifted from a team sports-based curriculum to one that focuses on lifetime exercise activities.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:25 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Conversation on Food and Physical Education for Allegheny County Students

(L-R) Curtistine Walker and Erika Lavelle are two of the many workers trying to help students in Allegheny County become fit and active.
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 FM WESA

The major components of living a healthy life are learning about and eating healthy food and the importance of physical fitness. 

With 54 schools in the Pittsburgh Public School System and nearly 26 thousand students, getting them fed requires planning and adherence to government guidelines for nutrition.

In some cases, the food for Pittsburgh public schools is prepared offsite, at a facility in the South Side. 

Curtistine Walker, director of food service for Pittsburgh Public Schools explained “the only schools that receive meals from the satellite site, or I guess you could call it our plant, are those schools that don’t have full service kitchens and right now, there’s probably about 20 that don’t.”

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Life of Learning
8:55 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Life of Learning Forum: Investment in Pre-K Critical to Future Educational Success

Linda Hippert, executive director for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, speaks during a recent Life of Learning forum on the future of education in Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Last week, a panel of experts gathered at the Community Broadcast Center to discuss what the future of the learning/education system should look like to be as effective as possible for the region’s children. The public forum tackled a range of questions from the audience, including the state of early childhood education.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:08 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Monday Rundown: What Should Pittsburgh's Future Education System Look Like?

A Life of Learning forum on the evolution of learning in Pittsburgh
Credit Ryan Lowe / 90.5 WESA

A 90.5 WESA Life of Learning community forum on the evolution of learning in Pittsburgh was recently held at the Community Broadcast Center.

Listen to a special one hour broadcast of the forum on Monday March 24, 2014 at noon and 8pm, moderated by Essential Pittsburgh host Paul Guggenheimer and produced by Kevin Gavin, Executive Producer for Special News Projects.

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Public Forum
1:55 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Life of Learning Public Forum: What Should Pittsburgh's Future Education System Look Like?

A member of the public asks a previous panel a question.

Join us for a 90.5 WESA Life of Learning community forum on the evolution of learning in Pittsburgh. Come and ask questions and help us help the community grow.

It will be held on Tuesday, March 18th at the Community Broadcast Center on the South Side at 67 Bedford Square.  Doors open at 6:30 and the forum begins at 7. Among the topics posed, we'll explore:

•   What are the roles of teachers, parents, support organizations in helping to build that system?

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Life of Learning
10:10 am
Wed March 12, 2014

For These Refugee Students, Learning Life Skills Is Part of the Curriculum

On Monday afternoon, a chartered bus wound its way through the steep, narrow roads of the South Hills on its way to Baldwin High School.

On board were employees of HIAS, an agency that works with the State Department in bringing refugees to the United States. HIAS works with Jewish Family and Children’s Services, one of four resettlement agencies in the Pittsburgh area.

Pittsburgh has become a hub for refugees. This week HIAS is holding its national conference here, and among the activities are visits to where refugees live, work — and go to school.

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Life of Learning
4:57 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Standardized Testing, Academic Success, and How a Local School Is Getting It Right

Standardized testing and the concept of "teaching to the test" are topics that Dan Hornberger addresses in the documentary "Standardized"
Credit Flickr user dcosand

Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights

Dan Hornberger has been a high school English teacher for more than twenty years. During these years, his concerns regarding schools teaching to standardized tests spurred him to action.

The result is a documentary titled Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights which he produced and co-directed.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:34 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Dazzled by the bizarre and eccentric characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, children’s author Jonathan Auxier has always been fascinated by peculiar storytelling.

The Vancouver native moved to Pittsburgh to pursue a theater and writing degree from Carnegie Mellon University and fell in love with the city’s charm and enchanting geography. His book, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, spins the tale of a blind orphan who happens to be the greatest thief to ever live. 

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African American Males Achievement
8:48 am
Fri January 24, 2014

The Failure to Educate Many African American Males

The graduation rate for African American males in Pennsylvania is 57 percent compared to 85 percent for white males--a 28 percentage point gap, according to the latest data from the Schott Foundation for Public Education.  Reasons for the discrepancy are complex.

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Life of Learning
4:26 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Pittsburgh Joins Statewide Effort to Make Quality Pre-K Available to All Families

The Jewish Community Center offer pre-K programs. While these kids had reading time, an effort was launched a few doors down to ensure all PA kids have access to quality pre-K programs.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Quality pre-K programs can help kids later in school, both academically and socially. But many families can’t afford to send their children to pre-school, and government funding for early childhood programs has decreased in recent years.

A statewide effort was launched Thursday to ensure all three- and four-year-olds have access to quality pre-K programs. Michelle Figlar is executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, or PAEYC. She said research has shown children who have access to strong pre-K programs do better overall in school.

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Life of Learning
3:30 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Virtual High School: Deep Freeze Didn't Stop Students from Attending Class

When temperatures dropped below zero in the beginning of January every school district and private school in Allegheny County canceled class. But a few schools made sure their students attended class online.

Seton La-Salle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon was among them.

Principal Lauren Martin explained they do anything they can to avoid having to tack on make-up days in June for bad weather earlier in the year because parents have already made summer plans and the kids are unfocused and eager to get out of school.

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Science & Technology
11:50 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Area Middle School Students Imagine the Future of Transporation

Eight graders Warren Sipe, Zoya Domashnev, and Katarina Mico from St. Bede School will represent the Pittsburgh region at the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C. in February.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students from three dozen middle schools across the region gathered at Carnegie Music Hall Saturday for Pittsburgh’s 15th annual Future City competition.

Coordinated by the Carnegie Science Center, the competition challenges students to imagine and build the cities of the future.

Linda Ortenzo, director of STEM programs at the science center, said getting to the actual competition is a semester-long process.

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