THE TEACHERS EDITION -- November 21, 2013

The Teachers Edition


Note: THE TEACHERS EDITION will not be published next week, but the newsletter will return December 5.

November 21, 2013  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

All Grown Up screen shot

The TEACH campaign's "All Grown Up" television commercial recalls our childhood dreams of becoming a teacher and reminds us that we were right


Make More: Teach

With half of our nation’s teachers eligible to retire over the next decade, there is an urgent need to fill the pipeline with talented individuals who will lead the transformation of our education system. That’s why TEACH and the Ad Council have joined forces to launch Make More, a public education engagement campaign targeting students through public service announcements (PSAs). The PSAs remind the country that teachers make so much more than a paycheck. Check out the other PSAs, You Think You Know and Anthem.

TEACH, is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and leading U.S. companies, education organizations, and teachers associations working to recruit the next generation of excellent teachers. TEACH Advisory Board members include the American Federation of Teachers, Council for Chief State School Officers, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Education Association, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Teach for America, and United Negro College Fund. Check out their videos of teachers describing why they love being in the classroom and asking prospects if they are up for the challenge to lead, inspire and innovate in the classroom. Learn more from U.S. News and World Report.


Flipping for PD

The Stillwater district in Minnesota has leveraged technology and professional development to create something they call "flipped professional development." This job-embedded coaching in educational leadership offers personalized support and resources, such as videos of interactive-whiteboard software. The videos offer different approaches to teaching using technology specialists.

With flipped PD, teachers also learn how to edit student-shot movies in iMovie, export them into iBooks Author, and post the finished products on their website for downloading. Read more about flipped professional development.


Coming Together for America's Youngest

Check out video from the announcement of the Strong Start for America's Children Act made at the capitol last week. Here Senator Tom Harkin, Representative George Miller, Representative Richard Hanna, actress and Ambassador for Save the Children, Jennifer Garner, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan make a case for a bipartisan investment in early learning. 

Hill briefing

Hanna said, "By focusing on early learning, we can break the back of generational poverty." Garner described the homes she has visited in the country where there are no books for children. "It doesn't matter how powerful the brain God put in your head, if it isn't nurtured and taught," she said. Duncan reminded everyone, "The need here is just extraordinary." Learn more about the bipartisan bill to expand early learning. 


"The person with the biggest impact on your education is you." 

(First Lady Michelle Obama in a speech to students at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.)

Quote to Note

DC Arts Program

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Kalpana Kumar-Sharma, and Secretary Duncan.


A D.C. Preschool Classroom Takes an Arts-Integrated Approach 

At Brightwood Elementary School in Northwest Washington, D.C., children are learning concepts in science through art and dance. Arne Duncan and D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson visited the school to see how an arts education grant to the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning in the Arts has resulted in this innovative approach, pairing a teaching artist who is skilled in arts integration with a preschool teacher. Wolf Trap is circulating lessons from the Early STEM/Arts piloting in D.C. to its 16 regional programs.

Common Core Connections

TEACHERS TELL ALL. In "From the front lines: Teachers describe changes with Common Core," Alabama teachers describe the differences in their teaching and the texts before and after adopting the new standards (, Erickson). There is also handy content on communicating with parents. 

STANDARDS CONNECT LEARNING TO REAL LIFE. Teacher Amanda Ensor, a 2013 teacher of the year in her region, shows how Common Core explains to teachers and students why something is taught. Through examples from her own classroom, Ensor shows how students are learning to engage in collaborative discussion, pose questions and develop a new- found curiosity for learning. Check out the article from the Church Hill Elementary School in Queen Anne's County here.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND TENNESSEE. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on what recent data show about the effects of the Common Core and new teacher evaluation systems in states that began work in these areas early. Read the editorial

boat construction

Frank Krammerer of Fairfield Township assists student Dakota Bivens as she prepares her boat for the Potomac River.


Float Students' Boats

Middle school students are using hands-on math skills to build seaworthy boats. At Arlington Public Schools’ Kenmore Middle School, students spent two-weeks designing and building boats with the help of their teachers and support from the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Once they were finished, the students tested their work by taking the boats out on the Potomac River. 

Fifth graders at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Atlantic City also built boats as part of the Building Kids Program at the Bayshore Discovery Center. Building boats encourages problem solving and gives students experience with real world math problems with angles and measurements. Check out Teaching With Small Boats Alliance, which supports organizations that provide opportunities to use small boats as teaching tools. 


Did You Know?

Teachers and leaders from 286 schools were honored this week in Washington, D.C. during the celebration of the 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools. On the opening day, representatives from 236 public and 50 private schools met with the Teaching Ambassador Fellows to discuss some of the most challenging issues in education, including building school culture, advancing the aspirations of the Common Core, designing effective professional learning, and evaluating educators.

Blue Ribbon Schools are chosen based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. Learn more

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Art Photo

The VSA, or The International Organization on Arts and Disability, Student Art Exhibit Opening and Ribbon-cutting Ceremony displayed 19 works by students from around the world on the theme of “Yo Soy … Je Suis … I Am … My Family” including "We Live in a Yellow Submarine" by Singapore student Samantha Teo.


Yo soy, Je suis, I am 

ED recently hosted the VSA Student Art Exhibit Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony in celebration of International Education Week. The exhibit features 19 different pieces by students from around the world on the theme "Yo Soy … Je Suis … I Am … My Family."  During the event there were several musical performances by students and remarks from Maureen McLaughlin, senior advisor to the secretary and director of international affairs; Melody Musgrove, director of the office of special educations programs; Betty Siegel, director of the VSA and Accessibility Department at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts along with students, teachers and parents.

P Chat

Principal Chat

CAMDEN WINS LEADERSHIP GRANT. ED recently awarded $5 million to the Camden, N.J. school district to “prepare current and aspiring principals for leadership roles in some of New Jersey’s most challenging schools” through the School Leadership Program. As part of the program, the district “selects and prepares principals to lead in local district and charter schools.” Read the report in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Terruso).

Emerging Research

MATH FOR KIDS. A new practice guide from the Institute for Education Sciences provides preschool to kindergarten teachers with five concrete recommendations on how to support the mastery of early math concepts. Learn more

COLLEGE BOUND. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has posted practical tips for enrolling and staying in colleges. As college application deadlines loom, the WWC practice guides and single study reviews offer practical tips to help students access college and remain enrolled. Learn more

States Provide Better Data

  • Teachers in 35 states have access to data about the students in their classroom and can tailor instruction to meet their student’s needs, an increase from 28 states in 2011.
  • Seventeen states share information about educator preparation programs to improve the quality of training they provide to future teachers, an increase from only six states in 2011.
  • Thirty-one states produce early warning reports to identify students most at risk of academic failure or dropping out, so teachers can intervene. Just 18 states produced these reports in 2011.
The New Math

According to a Data Quality Campaign study, states are providing parents and students better access to better information. Analysis of 49 states and the District of Columbia “finds that states have made tremendous progress shifting their vision—and their use—of education data systems from data collection for compliance to data collection for effective use in the statehouse, in the district office, in the classroom, and at the kitchen table.” For the first time, two states—Arkansas and Delaware—have achieved all of DQC’s “10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use.” Learn more.

Read about how Washington, D.C. schools are using report cards to give parents more information, including recommended reading. 


SIG Schools Show Gains

ED recently released 2011-12 school- and district-level state assessment data and a brief analysis of School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools. The data shows continued progress across various SIG models, school levels, and locations. Despite difficult learning environments, SIG schools have increased proficiency rates in reading and math -- demonstrating the importance of targeted investments over time.  (Note: A set of slides is posted here.)

The SIG program is a key component of the Department’s strategy for helping states and districts turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.  To date, more than 1,500 schools have implemented comprehensive interventions aimed at drastically improving achievement.  Cohort 1 schools began implementing SIG turnarounds during the 2010-11 school year, and Cohort 2 schools began implementing turnarounds during the 2011-12 school year.

TAF News

PATRICE DAWKINS-JACKSON (Classroom Fellow 2012-2013) has started an initiative to teach computer coding to 3rd and 4th grade students at her school in Sandy Springs, Ga. "Research shows that it impacts creativity, critical thinking and problem solving in young children," said Dawkins-Jackson. Her school has created a lunchtime club called the Code Busters where students learn how to program and apply their knowledge of coding to create games for concepts they are learning in other subject areas.

 GENEVIÈVE DEBOSE (Washington Fellow 2011-12) posted an article titled, "What if it Took 13 Years to Become a Teacher?" on

WHERE ARE THIS YEAR'S FELLOWS? EMILY DAVIS and TOM MCKENNA are in Boston and Lawrence,  Mass., this week to speak with educators and engage in conversations around the Common Core and professional learning. JOISELLE CUNNINGHAM spoke with students during the NEA’s Student Program Connections Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. last week to discuss recruiting the next generation of great teachers through the TEACH initiative. (See the lead story for more information on TEACH.) JONATHAN MCINTOSH visited New Classrooms Innovations Partners in NYC to learn more about the non-profit’s first year results. In agreement with the New York City Department of Education, New Classrooms participates in an i3 funded grant implementing School of One in five New York City schools. LISA CLARKE participated in a webinar entitled "Leveraging Linguistic Diversity: Lessons from International Schools" organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education.



Education Battles Poverty

Secretary Duncan visited the poorest country in the western hemisphere earlier this month to learn how people are working to improve educational opportunities and to offer support from the United States. Among his many stops in Haiti, Arne visited a school for homeless children and played basketball with students in a model school. "The two days I spent in Haiti were inspiring and heartbreaking. From a school that is educating kids that live on the streets during the day to a hundred children crammed into a 7th grade classroom, the thirst and hunger for learning was incredible." While there, Duncan announced USAID funding for a Room to Learn program. Read the story

Tools for Students

ADVICE FROM THE FIRST LADY ON GETTING TO COLLEGE. Michelle Obama spoke recently with high school students in Washington, D.C. about her own experience overcoming challenges in order to go to college. “They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton," she told students. "I still hear that doubt ringing in my head.” Read her story in the Washington Post (Layton).

Students' Corner

4 STEPS TO PREP FOR YOUR FIRST STUDENT LOAN PAYMENT. Check out this article to learn the things you should do now, before your first federal student loan payment is due. Also take a look at 4 of the most common student loan mistakes

EPIPEN LAW CAN EASE PARENTS. On November 13, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which gives states funding preference for asthma-treatment grants if they provide an emergency supply of EpiPens and permit trained personnel to administer the drug. Valerie Jarrett explains in her White House Blog that this act will “provide millions of families with greater peace of mind." Read about it from the National Association of State Boards of Education, or in Education Week (Brenneman).

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Teachers' Notes

THE BRAIN SCIENCE OF EFFORTEric J. Cooper of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, writes a compelling piece about the role non-cognitive abilities play in students' success in school. He tells the story of Aliana, a special-education student in New York City, who was told by her teacher that she couldn't succeed. Aliana credits her school's focus on creativity, persistence and grit for helping her prove her frustrated teacher wrong. Read the article (Huffington Post).

• A TEACHER LEADER'S DILEMMA. In the AtlanticLiz Riggs examines a common challenge among teachers who want opportunities to lead but who are not anxious to leave their work with students. Arguing that "great teachers don't always want to be principals," she attempts to answer the question of whether or not teachers can advance and stay in the classroom. Read the article.

• AN EDUCATION HYPOTHETICAL. Is It Better to Have a Great Teacher or a Small Class? In the Atlantic, Emily Richmond examines emerging research that suggests students may be better off in a larger class taught by a great teacher. Read the article

• SLIMMING DOWN TEACHER OBSERVATIONS. Stephen Sawchuk writes in EdWeek about The New Teacher Project’s perspective that “popular frameworks for judging teachers’ on-the-job performance are too complex and also too content-agnostic,” arguing that evaluators “are likely to be overwhelmed and unable to focus on the most important aspects of teaching.” 

• GLOBAL CITIZENS. This week is International Education Week, an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. A joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week allows us to celebrate programs that prepare Americans for a global economy and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and share  experiences in the United States. Listen to Arne's message inviting the public to participate. In related news, a 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange found that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 7.2% to a record high of 819,644 in the 2012-13 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by 3.4%.

• EINSTEIN FELLOWSHIP SEEKS PEER REVIEWERS. Triangle Coalition for STEM Education is extending the application deadline for those interested in being peer reviewers of the 2014-15 candidate applications for the Albert Einstein Fellowship Program. The Fellowship brings experienced and distinguished K -12 educators in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve an 11-month fellowship appointment in a Federal agency or U.S. Congressional office. The application has been extended until Nov. 22. Learn more

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Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Reflecting how blending traditional classroom instruction with technology has affected her students: "I really don't have missing assignments any more. They have become their own managers [of the work].” (Teacher, Idaho)

4. "As a principal it is terrible to send teachers into professional development that we know will be a waste of their time." (Principal, Chicago, Ill.)


3. "When we are participating in professional development situations, we are students; we need the time to think critically and develop mastery." (Teacher, Kan.)

2. "Rural schools need access to high speed Internet. We need fiber access in order for our students to access information without the slow speed and high costs of multiple T-1 lines!" (Darla, on the blog)

1. "We should all have the right to a high quality, accessible education ... if we don't, we're doing it wrong." (Principal, Washington, D.C.)