A time-honored method for challenging and engaging students with content has been getting a well-deserved second look. In the cover story of the Fall 2016 issue of American Educator, Nell K. Duke examines how project-based approaches—in which students build something, create something, solve a real problem or address a real need—improve students' knowledge and skills. Close connections between today's reading and writing standards lend support to instructional approaches, like projects, that integrate reading and writing.
The next three articles explore the importance of teacher diversity. In the first article, the founder and chief executive officer of Today's Students Tomorrow's Teachers, an organization that recruits and supports diverse and economically challenged students to consider teaching as a profession, shares why she started the program more than 20 years ago, how it works and its continuing positive impact. A report on teacher diversity by the Albert Shanker Institute takes a look at the research on the state of racial and ethnic diversity in America's teaching force. An article by a teacher of color in Baltimore explaining why teacher diversity matters to him and his students concludes the package.
The issue also includes an article on how digital media can promote literacy instead of undermining it. Instead of shielding young children from smartphones and tablets, the authors explain how educators and parents can harness the power of digital devices to engage students in learning and teaching them how to read.
Rounding out the fall issue are two more articles: one by a retired English teacher on helping students understand universal truths of literary works, and the other by a high school teacher of English and social studies on the effectiveness of mock trials and role-play as tools for student learning and engagement.