THE TEACHERS EDITION -- January 23, 2014

The Teachers Edition

January 23, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

Joiselle Cunningham and Lisa Clarke introduce the video

Teaching Ambassador Fellows Joiselle Cunningham and Lisa Clarke introduce the latest Ask Arne video. In this segment, they pose tough questions about the role of corporate dollars in public education. 



Private Interests & Public Education

Are corporate-based philanthropists playing too great a role in public education? Is there a corporate agenda at the U.S. Department of Education? In the latest Ask Arne video, Teaching Ambassador Fellows Lisa Clarke and Joiselle Cunningham discuss these questions with Arne Duncan as part of a conversation focused on the role of private interests in public education. 

In the face of the perpetual challenge of educational under-funding, Duncan contends that businesses and philanthropic organizations can become valued partners with schools, helping them to become centers of the community and filling in funding gaps. Watch the video. Keep the conversation going by using #AskArne on Twitter. Read the blog.


"Too many people operate under the flawed hypothesis that the way to do better in reading, writing, and math is to do more reading, writing and math."

Quote to Note

(Acting Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton at the National PTA's "Reflections Art Exhibition and Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony" at the U.S. Department of Education January 14. Shelton was elaborating on research that shows the arts help students do better in every subject.) 


White House Summit Pushes to Support Students in College Completion  

Last week President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited leaders from universities in the public and private sectors to the White House to develop strategies to get more students from low-income backgrounds successfully through college. Those attending the summit made voluntary pledges to do more to help low-income students enroll in and complete college. Learn about the event on the White House website and EdWeek (Adams). Read in the Washington Post about how Mrs. Obama uses her life story to support the education initiative (Thompson and Goldfarb).

Common Core Connections

COMMON RESOURCES FOR COMMON CORE. The National Education Association (NEA) offers 3,000 lessons from "master teachers" who work with the Common Core math and language arts standards. The lessons include classroom footage, student work and feedback on specific Common Core resources for teachers. This platform is housed on and is funded by the NEA and the Gates Foundation. Read more.

NO MORE TEACHING TO THE TEST. In "The Common Core In My Classroom: A Teacher's View," Catherine Tighe describes the impact of the Common Core State Standards on her kindergarten students. She further assures that although implementation may seem daunting, "Educators hold the knowledge of how to deliver well crafted and purposeful lessons and weave the content into intriguing, developmentally appropriate materials and classroom environments." Read the HuffingtonPost article.

MISSISSIPPI: COMMON CORE IS NOT A FEDERAL POWER PLAY. A review by a Mississippi watchdog group recently found there’s no credible evidence that the Common Core is a federal “power grab” or an effort to usurp the authority of states and their local schools. In a 94-page report, Mississippi’s Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review analyzed the national and state inner workings of the Common Core, which includes generally agreed-upon core academic competencies that reflect the preparation students need to be college- and career-ready. Read more in the Clarion Ledger (Ingram). 

UPDATED CORE RESOURCES. Global education community ASCD has announced new features available on its free Common Core implementation tool, ASCD EduCore™. The updated EduCore website features simpler navigation and expanded resources. Launched in August of 2012, the free EduCore digital tool is available for educators implementing mathematics and literacy standards. The tool is a virtual showcase of digital and Common Core–aligned professional development opportunities from ASCD, the Literacy Design Collaborative, Student Achievement Partners, the Math Design Collaborative, and others. Learn more and check out these helpful links: EducoreVirtual Learning NetworksCommon Core resources

SCHOOLS MOVING UP. Schools Moving Up is hosting a webinar about implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math, called CCSS-Math: Changes, Impacts, and Responses in K-12 and CSU. The webinar will include presenters from The California State University (CSU), Oakland Unified School District (Calif.), and the math program at WestEd. The speakers will highlight the shifts required of classroom teachers to implement the Common Core and the implications for coursework in teacher preparation programs. This webinar will take place on Thursday, January 30, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. - 7:45 p.m. Eastern Time/3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Pacific Time. Get more information and register

Emerging Research

READY RETURN: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT TRANSITION STRATEGIES. After winter break, the transition back to school can be tough on students and teachers. Research from the What Works Clearninghouse suggests that teachers can control the tone of their classroom with tricks like providing explicit instructions regarding acceptable behavior, using interventions to help students with emotional and behavioral disorders and modifying the learning environment to motivate students following vacation. Learn more.

DO DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS REALLY GET LESS EFFECTIVE TEACHING? The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance released a brief summarizing findings from three studies that measure disadvantaged students’ access to effective teaching based on "value-added," a measure that estimates a teacher’s contribution to student learning gains. Collectively the studies include data from districts in 17 states. The studies show that on average, disadvantaged students received less-effective teaching in a given year than other students, equivalent to about four weeks of learning for reading and two weeks for math, or about 2 to 4 percent of the student achievement gap between these groups. Learn more.

P Chat

Principal Chat

REDESIGNING GRADING. A new report released by by CompetencyWorks, "Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education," helps education leaders design grading policies that communicate academic performance to students and parents. Chris Sturgis, the report's author and principal at MetisNet, said, "Our traditional grading system undermines learning because it allows students to 'slide by' until they stumble over the gaps in their knowledge." The report also identifies six elements of competency-based grading.

CONNECTED PRINCIPALS. NASSP has awarded the 2014 Digital Principal Award to three progressive school leaders who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. The winners will be honored during the 2014 NASSP Ignite Conference in Dallas, TX. They include: Daisy Dyer Duerr, St. Paul (AR) High SchoolJason Markey, East Leyden (IL) High School; and Derek McCoy, Spring Lake (NC) Middle School. Learn more

7 WAYS TO PROMOTE FAFSA COMPLETION AT YOUR SCHOOL. We have all heard about the studies that indicate there is a strong correlation between completing the FAFSA on time and attending college. This blog article offers hints for school leaders to increase your school's FAFSA completion rate.

SUPPORTING SCHOOLS IN THEIR TRANSITION TO THE COMMON CORE. The Council of Chief State School Officers offers a resource to help educational leaders implement the Common Core State Standards: Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Spotlights. This resource presents elements that are associated with high-quality adoption of the Common Core, including: system alignment and systems change, educator supports, student supports, communication and engagement. It includes specific examples of how states have integrated each element into their strategy for adopting the Common Core and links for more information.

the New Math

Huge Race and Gender Gap in TECH

· 50 percent of the national school-age population are women but only 18 percent took the computer science AP test
· In ten states 0 African-American students took the computer science AP test
· Seven states had 0 Hispanic students take the computer science AP test 

(Find out which states are lagging behind in a study by Barbara Ericson, director of outreach for Georgia Tech's Institute for Computing Education. Read Eleanor Barkhorn'analysis in The Atlantic for a deeper dive and a look at solutions to the race/gender gap.)

TAF News

EMILY DAVIS (Washington Fellow 2013): Emily helped to host "Datapalooza," an event that highlights creative innovators from the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors who use data to build products and services to aid post-secondary education. Read Secretary Duncan's comments.

TOM MCKENNA (Classroom Fellow 2013): Tom led a virtual roundtable discussion with educators from across Alaska discussing their experiences with effective professional learning structures.

JENNIFER BADO-ALEMAN (Washington Fellow 2012): Jennifer introduced the First Lady at the White House during an event on College Access and Completion for low-income students. Mrs. Obama spoke for many parents when she said, “I want to start by thanking Jen for that wonderful introduction, but also for her work as one of the millions of teachers out there who are doing their part to keep our kids on track." 

DAN BROWN (Washington Fellow 2012): Dan, who currently serves as director of the Future Educators Association, was named as one of the Ten Rockstar Teachers on Twitter.

Connected Educator

TEACHERS TALK TECH. To encourage more teachers to incorporate digital learning in the classroom, the Alliance for Excellent Education is hosting a Digital Learning Day in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 2014. The day’s activities include panels with district-level experts who have successfully integrated technology into their schools, lesson demonstrations of digital learning in action and discussions with policymakers and leaders who are passionate about teachers and technology. Follow the event virtually and learn more about the day’s agenda here.


PD in the Sun

ARCHITECTURE IN CHICAGO. Teachers may be interested in a week-long summer workshop in Chicago, Ill., called The American Skyscraper: Transforming Chicago and the Nation. The National Endowment for the Humanities is accepting applications for its Chicago Architecture Foundation Summer Workshop for Teachers taking place July 6 – 12, 2014 (or) July 20 – 26, 2014.

MUSIC IN MARYLAND. From June 30 to July 25, the University of Michigan’s American Music Institute, with support from the Star Spangled Music Foundation, will be hosting a national “Banner Moments” Summer Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities,  30 K-12 school teachers will spend four weeks exploring topics in American history and culture through the lens of the "Star-Spangled Banner" and related American music. Participants will receive a $3300 stipend.  Applications are due on March 3rd and can be found here

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• FOR STUDENTS' SAKE: DON'T HATE MATH! Check out this interesting blog in Teach for America's Pass the Chalk newsletter written by a teacher at ED, Camsie McAdams. McAdams offers advice for parents and teachers about what to say when they hear their children complain about math homework. What not to say: "I was bad at math, too!”

• STUDENTSFIRST REPORT CARD. StudentsFirst released their Second Annual Report Card, indicating that many states have taken significant steps toward ensuring all kids are receiving a high-quality education. The report concludes that many states that were early adopters of reforms have seen their student achievement increase dramatically. The State Policy Report Card highlights these bright spots, while also demonstrating that we have a long way to go toward ensuring that every child gets a great education. 

• TRUE GRIT. In this Edutopia blog, computer science teacher Vicki Davis reviews research about building resilience and offers ten strategies to teach this soft skill. 

 FIRST GEN. In "What It's Like to Be the First Person in Your Family to Go to College" (The Atlantic), Liz Riggs profiles an immigrant from Nicaragua who attended Vanderbilt University and uses his story to highlight the social, emotional and financial challenges that first-generation college students face.

• GET THE FACTS. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is holding the third annual “National Drug Facts Week” from January 27 – February 2, 2014. Educators and schools have the opportunity to help shatter the myths about drug use. Learn about ways to get engaged.

• THE LEARNING-TESTING CONNECTION. In this interesting video from Harvard, leading cognitive psychologist Henry Roediger presents research he conducted on student learning and what he has learned about how tests improve learning.  

open book

Recommended Reading

WANTED: LATINO PROTAGONISTS IN CHILDREN'S LIT. This New York Times piece by Motoko Rich argues that young Latino readers must "dig deep into bookshelves to find characters who look like them." Read more.

• CHALLENGES FOR GIFTED STUDENTS.  This piece highlights a Vanderbilt University study that suggests "gifted students are limited when they learn faster than their peers and when they don't get the type of individual attention that would push them further." Read about the study's findings.

• STEM and 21ST CENTURY LEARNING. Maryland's World Languages Pipeline helps elementary students study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas, along with foreign languages. Read more.

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators (heard by ED):

5. Regarding professional development for principals: "[As a principal who came into this role through teaching], I need help with things like marketing and branding and fundraising. Leadership coaches have really helped me learn the skills needed beyond being an instructional leader."  (Principal, Washington, DC)

Blue Ribbon educators

4. “Assessments should be based on a growth model. Using a growth model allows us to celebrate the successes instead of feeling beat up. If you have a third grade student new to your school working below grade level, and they make more than a year's growth, that should be a celebration – not a negative number of students not meeting ‘state assessments.’” (Susan on the blog)

3. "Teaching is not about filling a pail, it is about lighting a fire." (Denise on the blog)

2. "Art is a means to combat social injustices, build awareness and change communities." (Teacher on the importance of Arts Education, Lawrence, Mass.)

1. "This is the Common Core in action. It's not about preparing for a test. It's not about sitting down and doing rote paper and pencil exercises for the entire day. It's about students taking the understanding of well-crafted lessons into their daily life and play through authentic learning experiences." (Teacher, Mass.)