May 27 issue of Learning Matters

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May 27, 2014

Agency News

Summer Learning Opportunities!

Two boys engage in summer learning activities

To keep Minnesota kids learning throughout summer, Metametrics (R) has teamed up with the Minnesota Department of Education to offer exciting and fun challenges to help students retain the math and reading skills they learned this past school year, while ramping up their skills for next fall.

The programs are free, self-directed opportunties that parents and students can have fun with together. Parents and Students: Use the Find a Book feature and the Summer Math Challenge. Schools, Districts and Libraries can download free bookmarks and flyers! Visit Summer Learning Opportunities on the Minnesota Department of Education website.

Maya Angelou 1928-2014

Poet Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a great American poet, memoirist, playwright and essayist whose work spanned decades. Her most famous book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), is an account of the first 17 years of her life told through fiction. That book and her other work made her a strong and inspiring voice, challenging American views on race and identity. Caged Bird was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and is taught in high schools and universities as a seminal work of American literature. Read StarTribune article.

Important Changes to School Meal Benefits!

The 2014 Minnesota Legislature recently enacted changes to state law affecting school meal benefits. The changes are effective July 14 of this year.

Lunches must be provided at no charge to students qualified for reduced-price meals. Breakfasts must be provided at no charge to all participating kindergarten students. State funds will provide the funding. Need Link to website page here from FNS staff.

Scholars of Distinction

The annual ceremony to honor Minnesota's Scholars of Distinction took place on May 17. Thirty-eight students received 42 awards in leadership, mathematics, science, social studies, STEM or Theater Arts. Alan Chiang of Wayzata earned three awards in mathematics, science and STEM! Eagan High School's Daniel Debner acted as student MC and Samyuktha Melachuri of Woodbury High School was the student speaker. Katherine Spicuzza of East Ridge High School performed a vocal solo. Read news release for complete list of awardees.

Promoting Fair Special Education Evaluations

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) have been working to update state guidelines for nonbiased special education assessment practices for African American and American Indian students. The new guidelines, Promoting Fair Special Education Evaluations, focus on these two racial/ethnic groups because they are most likely to be overrepresented in special education disability categories and in rates of suspension/expulsion.

These guidelines will replace the previous version, Reducing Bias in Special Education Assessment for American Indian and African American Students. The updated guidelines are the product of collaborative work that involved school personnel from Minnesota, university faculty, and external consultants.

Staff development available:
Districts may request introductory training on the new guidelines, beginning with August back-to-school workshops and continuing through the fall. To request training, please contact Elizabeth Watkins and/or contact Dr. Donald Lee Stovall.

Fun Facts About Minnesota

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the largest urban sculpture garden in the country.

The stapler was invented in Spring Valley!

On the Canadian border near International Falls stands the largest Indian burial mound in the upper midwest, the Grand Mound historic site.

Education in the News

Cassellius Visits Mankato Early Learning Program

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius visited Mankato for an informal roundtable discussion about early education. The roundtable discussion included staff from Mankato's School Readiness Program, as well as parents who enrolled their children in early learning through a state early learning scholarship. Read more at KSTP.

What a Teacher-Powered School Looks Like

Most public schools are traditionally run by principals and administrators, who defer to policies dictated by the state. But a group of 60 schools across the country is subverting the top-down system, putting teachers in full control of running their schools. Visit KQED to read more.

Minnesota Chosen for Turnaround Arts Program

Minnesota is one of three states chosen for the next phase of Turnaround Arts, a national initiative that uses the arts to improve student performance. Read complete StarTribune article.

Combatting ‘Summer Learning Loss’ With Workbooks

For most students, there are only two more weeks left in the school year. The summer break is something many kids look forward to but it often comes with a price. Educators call it “summer learning loss.” Read more at WCCO.

Robotics Team Finishes a Successful Season at State

The Chisago Lakes-North Branch FIRST Robotics Team 3038 participated in the Minnesota State High School League State Tournament May 18 at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Visit North Branch Post Review for full story.

Recent BloggED posts

The Future is Out There Waiting: Explore, Plan and Apply!

College Knowledge Month logo


College Knowledge Month is October, but you don't have to wait until fall to begin planning. The goal of College Knowledge Month is to provide Minnesota seniors with the preparation, opportunity, and support needed to apply to college. Visit BloggED for more.

National Children’s Book Week: Reading Recommendations from Brimhall Elementary

May 12-18 was National Children’s Book week. We here at blogg[ED] thought there was no better way to celebrate than to reach out to students at Brimhall Elementary in Roseville for some book recommendations. Here are what the students, ranging from kindergarten to second grade, had to suggest. Visit BloggED for more.

Upcoming Events

June 9-12! Gifted and Talented Education Symposium

Don't miss the sixth annual Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium. Network with peers at the pre-conference events (one for parents and one for educators) on June 8. Connect, learn and engage via a wide array of daily sessions with expert presenters who'll share best practices in areas from the assessment of students for services, meeting student's social and emotional needs, engaging under-represented populations, how to handle under-achievement, and integrating STEM and technology into classroom lessons. Register now.

Mapping Workshops for K-12 Teachers – Summer 2014

Learn how your students can use map-based data to investigate questions in social studies, science and other content areas. The Minnesota Department of Education is partnering with GIS professionals around the state to host free ArcGIS workshops designed to help teachers develop Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills to use in their classrooms. The workshops will be offered at various locations and dates in June and July 2014. CEUs will be available. Visit the GIS web page for schedule and registration information.