THE TEACHERS EDITION - November 12, 2015

The Teachers Edition

November 12, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Digital Learning Next Generation High school

A partnership over Skype between Jefferson High School (Tampa, Fla.) and School without Walls (Rochester, N.Y.) demonstrates collaboration to teach a civil rights digital course and discussion of the most important elements of a redesigned next generation high school.  

Teach to the Student and Not to the Bell 

White House Announces Support for Reinventing Schools

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called for more high schools designed for the 21st century. On Tuesday, his call to action was answered, as the administration hosted the Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students. Learn more about Tuesday's summit that highlighted strategies for progress as well as new actions by philanthropy, industry, school leaders, and others, who are committed to re-thinking the way education is delivered in this country. 

Teacher Leadership

Taking Back Teaching

40 Edu-Groups Join Forces to Elevate Teaching Profession

A coalition of 40 groups that represent a variety of perspectives in education is banding together to start a national campaign to elevate and modernize teaching. The TeachStrong coalition -- which includes both major teachers' unions and the National Council on Teaching Quality -- agree on nine principles, including careful recruitment and better training of teachers, better pay, and more time for teacher collaboration. The announcement coincides with the release of a report from the Center for American Progress on the same topic (Layton, Washington Post).


Heartfelt Advice to Teachers from Students with Disabilities

A group of students with a range of diagnoses -- from Asperger's to Central Auditory Processing Disorder -- banded together with online resource Brain Highways to help their teachers understand the ways in which their brains work differently. Among what they shared:

  • "It makes me feel sad when you tell me to try harder when I've already tried as hard as I can." 
  • "Let me get up and move while I'm learning." 
  • "No matter what, please don't take away my recess."

Spotlight Shines on Students' Schooling Experiences Abroad

Oleg in Ukraine

Oleg Teryokhin, 11, as photographed by the New York Times, in his former school in Ukraine.

First Lady Michelle Obama -- and the media -- have turned their attention to the quality of education students receive abroad. The White House's Let Girls Learn initiative is seeking to change the fact that 62 million girls around the world are not in school. A new movie, called Codegirl, is looking at girls around the world who are getting involved in computer coding. And Jake Silverstein of the New York Times powerfully featured the experiences of three of the nearly 30 million kids worldwide who have been driven from their homes by war and persecution last weekend. 

Teach to Lead

Teach to Lead update

Who Will Be #100? The list of Teach to Lead supporter organizations has reached 88 with the addition of the Teacher Voice and Aspirations International Center.

Digital Divide

Students' Access to Tech Varies, Makes a Difference

kid on ipad

More infants are using technology, even before they can talk. Nearly 97 percent of parents in a recent survey said their children use mobile devices, most before their first birthday. One in five one-year-olds even have their own tablet computers (Toppo, USA Today)

Meanwhile, another study showed that teenagers in lower-income households have significantly less at-home access to desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, influencing their academic performance and also the ways in which they socialize and entertain themselves. One-fifth of teenagers in lower-income households reported that they use computers for homework once per month or less (Singer, New York Times). 

P Chat

Principal Chat

Tips from the Principal of the Year. The National Association of Secondary School Principals recently recognized Rhode Island's Alan Tenreiro as Principal of the Year. In an interview, he said that one of the first things he did to turn around his school was survey students about their teachers and share that data anonymously with the teachers themselves. He also upped the amount of professional development time teachers have in order to empower his teachers as "agents of change" (Jordan, Hechinger Report).

Why all the paperwork? Over the last three years, almost half of Chicago principals have left the system, according to a new study of a problem that many other urban districts can relate to. What can districts do to keep strong leaders? Reduce paperwork from the central office, empower principals to choose their own professional development, and more (Chicago Tribune).

The Teaching Profession

Soft Skills Over Strictly Academics

Study Examines Kindergarteners -- Twenty Years Later

Every teacher has wondered how the students in front of them will turn out. Who will be the doctors? Who will be the teachers? A new study dug up test scores and social surveys about 800 kindergartners in 1991 and found out what predicts future success. See what the study found here. Hint: social skills matter (Porter,


NPR Unpacks the Entertaining History of the Backpack

NPR has a fun look at how the backpack has changed over time. From book straps to rolling bags, the backpack has evolved -- maybe even more than the schools they've been dragged to. Without a doubt, there are many more options than the standard zipper-upper. Scroll all the way down to see their predictions about the future of the backpack.

Teaching Channel Video on science standards

Science Standards: A Common Language 

Engaged in Figuring Out Why

Without scrapping all the great activities she loved as a teacher for twenty years, Tricia Shelton (Boone County School District, Florence, Ky.) has been working towards implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in her high school science classroom. She explains how she has flipped the order in which she presents information to her class and how she works together with students to address misconceptions. Watch as Shelton explains her approach and what she loves about NGSS. “It’s a common language that encourages conversation among educators,” she says (TeachingChannel).

Being Prepared

Inside School Lockdowns

Lockdown drills are a relatively new phenomena to prepare both teachers and students for the possibility of a violent intruder. In a video posted on The Atlantic's website, filmmaker Lauren Knapp takes viewers inside a drill and features interviews with parents and students about this widespread practice. "We now treat school shootings as a normal occurrence. It's when it happens, not if," a parent says. "As much as I hate it, we're better off being prepared and facing reality than putting our heads in the sand and saying it won't happen here." 

Ashley Curtis 

Celebrating African American Educators

Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

African American educator

Ashley Curtis is a 5th grade teacher at Vail Academy (Vail Unified School District, Vail, Ariz.). Curtis is a member of NBCT. She has certifications in literacy: reading-language arts/early and middle childhood.

 Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

A career in education chose me; as a result I have always been driven to create learning opportunities for young people. In sixth grade I designed a reading buddy program for children in a homeless shelter; in high school I developed a deaf studies unit in a preschool. Creating authentic, new, and exploratory experiences is the foundation that I continue to use to build my craft.

In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students?

Teaching in a state with a population of 4% African Americans and within a school district with a percentage well below that number, I strive to be a positive role model for my students and families. I actively use the term “our” students while speaking up against stereotypes and benign neglect, making sure families see and hear their student’s accomplishments. I apprise African American parents of their rights as parents and inspire them to take on a mentorship role with our students.

 What do you want to see change within education to better support the learning and development of African American students?

I want to see the development of a shared connection among African American students, families and teachers. We need to validate and acknowledge the differences and experiences of students and create opportunities for multicultural professional development. We need to maximize the ability for the educational system to address social, emotional and mental needs that will optimize student’s readiness to learn and can help to meet students’ individual needs.

Recommended Reading

books image

Deeper Learning -- Not Shallow Learning

At the more than 500 Deeper Learning schools, teachers are coaches, mentors, and advisers, not lecturers. Students undertake project-based challenges with a sense of purpose and authenticity absent from textbooks. Ted Dintersmith, a prominent venture capitalist, is drawing attention to these schools after raising concern about the fact that only 10 percent of Dartmouth undergraduates who scored 5s on the Advanced Placement psychology exam could pass the college's intro to psych final exam and that at Lawrenceville School, one of the best in the country, not one student retained mastery of final exam concepts just months after taking them. Read about his other observations in this Washington Post column

Only a Few More Chances to take the Old SAT Before Changes Take Effect

The new SAT debuts in March and it’ll look a fair bit different from the current version. For one, the essay section will become optional. Also, there will be no penalty for guessing and the number of possible answers to multiple choice questions will decrease from 5 to 4. The content, too, will change in order to align more to the Common Core: it’ll ask students to closely read passages to determine the meaning of words and to demonstrate their comprehension (Hoover, New York Times).

Resources for Educators

Is College Worth it? 

Attending college will boost a student's earnings, but according to a new report "The Economic Value of College Majors," picking a major is the most important issue to affect a student's future. While early childhood education and other humanities fields are among the lowest paid, the report makes it clear that "the top 25 percent of humanities and liberal arts majors earn more than the bottom 25 percent of engineering majors” (Taylor, Reuters). 

Speaking of College Affordability: Which Ones Look After Low-Income Kids?

In its new interactive website, ProPublica pits colleges and universities head-to-head to see who does a better job of helping low-income students succeed in post-secondary education. They looked at things like median federal debt and average annual tuition to create a college counselor's dream.

Changing How We Prepare Early Childhood Educators 

The importance of early care and education to children's lifelong learning is recognized across the country. But Marcy Whitebook’s blog notes that since we rely on early childhood teachers to be drivers of educational reform, we need to understand and value their work and how we prepare, support and reward them. Read more about ECE teachers' education, compensation, and economic condition.

Successful Preschool Inclusion Program Report 

The Early Care and Education Consortium in collaboration with the Office of Early Learning released their second Community Pre-K Profile highlighting a successful preschool inclusion program in St. Paul, Minn. The school district was able to quickly and efficiently add six spaces for young children with disabilities by developing a partnership with the New Horizon Academy. See more about how the district did this and the benefits and challenges

Visual Learning 

Photo Library Offers Students a Glimpse into History

Image of child labor

Photos are useful texts in any classroom. Despite being a relatively new invention, photographs have captured key moments and events in recent history. More than just capturing an event, a photograph offers insights into the time when it was captured. 

Teachers can explore more than a million digitized visual images on many topics online at the Library of Congress

Analyzing Photographs: Child Labor from a Child’s Perspective discusses children’s reactions to a photo documenting child labor and explores ways to extend learning with photographs (Lederle,

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

How Many of the 7 Cs Do You Have? A Harvard survey of more than 300,000 students puts the spotlight on what researchers are calling the seven Cs of what teachers must do to be effective – care, confer, captivate, clarify, consolidate, challenge, and classroom-manage. What's more, certain teacher traits are more likely to raise students' persistence, whereas others are likely to increase their academics.

• 'Water is Life" Mural and Art Challenge. The Wyland Foundation invites educational leaders and teachers to participate in a nationwide environmental mural and individual art contest celebrating our ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. This year’s theme will be “Our Coasts and Climate.” Contest ends November 25. 

Top 5 Quotes

listening to educators

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "A principal has to like kids and like people. You can't fake that." (Principal, Maryland)

4. "I'm burned, but not burned out." (Teacher, California)

3. "We hope to build a community in our schools that we hope one day will exist outside our schools." (Teacher, Rhode Island)

2. "We need to make being an intellectual teacher sexy again." (Teacher, Pennsylvania)

1. "If you can, you must." (Principal, California)