The Education Innovator #5
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The Education Innovator
 March 31, 2003 • Number 5
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Innovations in the News

Dragon Tales TV Program Teaches Children How to Meet Challenges
The television program, Dragon Tales, aims to educate children while they are being entertained. This daily animated preschool series of half-hour shows, produced by Children's Television Workshop and Columbia Tri-Star Television, seeks to develop problem-solving, cooperation, and other life skills in children ages 2 through 5. By combining interactive musical components with animated segments, Dragon Tales engages children on multiple levels and develops these important learning readiness traits. A related site for parents, Parent Tales, provides resources for parents on the subjects of parenting and child development.

In this fantasy adventure series, 6-year old Emmy and her 4-year old brother, Max, are transported to Dragon Land. There they meet dragon friends—Ord, Cassie, Zak, Wheezie and their teacher Quetzal. They all work together to overcome obstacles, face fears, and learn new strategies for dealing with challenges.

The goals of this program are simple: (1) encourage young children to pursue challenging experiences, (2) help young children to recognize that there are many ways to approach and learn from challenging experiences, and (3) help young children to understand that to try and perhaps not succeed at everything is a natural and valuable part of learning.

Each show is divided into two twelve-minute adventures linked by a sing-a-long. As the characters explore the magical and surprising world of Dragon Land, they face the kinds of developmental challenges that real children have in their day-to-day lives, such as accepting each other's differences or handling rejection. The characters model behavior for children by using a strategic approach to problem solving, teamwork, and consultation with an older, experienced character.

The Children's Television Workshop and Columbia Tri-Star Television received a grant to develop Dragon Tales through the Ready-to-Learn TV program administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement. Ready-to-Learn Coordinators have been established in over 140 local stations nationwide as part of this program. They concentrate on outreach and also plan workshops and events for caregivers. For more information go to: PBS Kids.



What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on the impact of the new Title I requirements on charter schools. To access the guidance, go to download files MS Word (812)

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. As part of this commemoration, Secretary of Education Rod Paige was interviewed for the Online Jazz Oral History Archives of the National Association for Music Education. To read this interview, go to

From OII

Deputy Under Secretary Rees helped to unveil the new online teaching and learning tool, Thinkport, developed by Maryland Public Television in part with a grant from the Office of Innovation and Improvement. To access this site, go to

Closing the Achievement Gap

A new analysis of Florida's high-performing elementary schools reveals common strengths and strategies that help students achieve regardless of challenges. Findings from the report, "Doing It Right: Best Practices of 20 High-Performing Schools," are available at http//

School Leadership

New Leaders for New Schools is accepting applications for its fellowship program. The deadline for application is April 9. This is a national training program for principals. For more information about program content and how to apply, go to

Teacher Quality

Follow-up on the STEP program: The Standards-Based Teacher Education Project (featured in last week's Education Innovator) has added ten new campuses, four in Mississippi and six in Virginia. These campuses are being funded through their state Title II grants. Also, in Indiana STEP is going from 3 to over 25 campuses. For updates on this program, go to


Innovations in the News

School Vouchers
Colorado lawmakers are marching toward approval of a sweeping statewide voucher program that would allow low-income students to attend private schools including religious schools. [More-The Washington Times] (February 27)

Charter Schools
The Washington State Senate has passed a charter schools bill. Washington would become the 40th state to allow these independent public schools. [More-The Seattle Times] (March 14)

Teacher Certification
Education Secretary Rod Page has lauded the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) whose mission is to certify subject experts, experienced professionals, and military veterans as public school teachers. [More-The Washington Times] (March 19)

Magnet Schools
Hilton Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia is being called an example of a successful and relevant magnet school. Six months ago, the school's curriculum switched to an arts and communications focus. [More-Daily Press.Com] (March 17)

School Improvement
At Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, students are required to earn three-quarters of their tuition by working five days a month in local business. [More-The Washington Post] (March 25)


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Last Modified: 04/26/2011