Author - Haylee Massaro


STEM vs. STEAM: the Intersection of Art and Science

Most educators are familiar with STEM learning. STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The idea of STEM learning deals with an applied approach to educating students in those four subject areas.

At one point, the United States led the world in STEM fields, but over time, we have fallen behind the pack. The U.S. Department of Education along with President Obama have worked to create initiatives that focus on fostering STEM education and career advancement.

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What Is High-Stakes Testing and How Can You Help Students Prepare? [Infographic]

Teacher thinking about high-stakes testing

In the past five years, with the implementation of much educational reform, high-stakes testing is likely a term that educators hear about quite often. What is high-stakes testing? The name may be self-explanatory in that the stakes for these tests are particularly high. That much is true; however, high-stakes testing can determine the outcomes of teachers, students, the school district, and quite possibly the community as a whole.

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How to Teach the 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship [Infographic]

World Wide Web Digital Citizenship

What is digital citizenship?

Digital citizenship refers to how we conduct ourselves on the web. Teachers, parents, and leaders in technology help students to understand what it means to use technology in an appropriate and responsible way. With the advent of social media, this issue is becoming increasingly important, especially for today’s youth.

The Rise of Social Media

Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, digital citizenship wasn’t something that I, my parents, or my teachers really thought about. It was hardly an issue during a time where most of our research papers were written from library books. In fact, instant messaging with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) didn’t break onto the scene until the late 90s.

But with the creation of Facebook and Myspace in the early 2000s, we began to consider the issue more seriously. Now, people and businesses all over the world have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

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An Hour of Code for All

Young female student working on hour of code

When I went to high school in rural Pennsylvania, computer science was a newly emerging field. Luckily, my high school had a program called College in High School Credits (CHS) where we were able to take computer programming classes at the University of Pittsburgh via our high school classrooms. Understanding in the late 90s and early 2000s just how important computer programming could become, I took advantage of this opportunity.

It is hard to believe that, fifteen years after taking my first computer programming class, this benefit is not offered at most schools across the country. With the emergence of the digital age and the ubiquitous use of computer applications, accessibility to computer programming is something that needs to be considered for K-12 curricula. Hadi and Ali Partovi have done just that with their creation of

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The Connection between Sleep and Academic Performance

Female, high school student, asleep with head on desk

Many people would agree that sleep, or lack thereof, affects how we perform in our everyday lives. All of us have at some point experienced a poor nights’ sleep which, in turn, has negatively impacted our functions the following day.

So it’s not a surprise that sleep also impacts our students and how they perform in the classroom. Several studies have confirmed that sleep is connected to both learning and memory.

What happens when a student does not get enough sleep?

Teens and adolescents require about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. When students are continuously not getting enough sleep, they can experience depressed moods and may also have difficulty retaining information that is presented in the classroom.

“The Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents,” an article by Ronald Dahl, states that adolescents must reach REM sleep for the restorative biological processes that sleep provides. While an overall feeling of tiredness is an obvious consequence of lack of sleep, Dahl maintains that there are much more serious consequences like emotional and behavioral issues as well as problems with attention and performance.

ADHD and depressive disorders have also been linked to sleep. Dahl cites a study in his article where adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder suffered from both insomnia and hypersomnia. In addition, adolescents who had less than 6.75 hours of sleep a night experienced more instances of depressed mood.

What can we do to be sure that our students are getting the sleep they need?

In recent years, there have been several studies done regarding school start times and how they affect a student’s sleep schedule. Most studies maintain that students who go to sleep at a later hour do not do so because they want to stay awake, but rather because they are unable to fall asleep. The results of these studies paired with school start times as early as 7 a.m. for high school students have raised more concerns regarding the connection between sleep and academic performance.

Last year, Jessica Lahey wrote an article in The Atlantic regarding school start times. In this article, Lahey cites a study by Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom that spanned 9,000 students and three different states. The study showed that a delayed school start time yielded results like improvements in grades and standardized test scores. A delayed start time allows students who go to bed later to get more sleep, meaning that the solution to helping students may be as simple as changing start times at schools.

Electronic devices could also have an effect on when students go to sleep. The release of melatonin, a hormone produced by the body to regulate sleep and wake cycles, is affected by exposure to light. In an article for the Washington Post, Mariana Figueiro of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, explained her research findings which indicated that teenagers were especially sensitive to the blue light emitted by certain types of electronic devices such as computer screens or tablets. She found that exposure to blue light suppressed more melatonin in teenagers than in adults, even when teenagers were only exposed to one-tenth as much light. So just putting away electronic devices one to two hours before going to sleep could also help students get to bed earlier and get more sleep.

Benefits of the virtual classroom

Most virtual schools are set up in a way that allows the student to work at their own pace and during times that work best for them. The obvious benefit here, especially in regard to sleep in adolescents, is that students are able to set sleep schedules that provide more than seven hours of sleep per night without interfering with school work. However, it’s still important that adolescents go to sleep at a reasonable bed time and rise after about seven to eight hours of sleep.


Source: Dahl, Ronald. “The Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents”. Phi Delta Kappan. January 1999. Pp. 354 – 359.

Source: Lahey, Jessica. “Students aren’t getting enough sleep – School starts too early”. The Atlantic. August 2014.

Source: Kim, Meeri. “Blue light from electronics disturbs sleep, especially for teenagers”. The Washington Post. September 2014.