THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 18, 2014

The Teachers Edition

September 18, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

CBS news clip

University of Georgia football star Malcolm Mitchell shares how he feels about being called a "nerd" now that he is a member of a book club and a person who exercises with a book in his hand.


Football Star Shows You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover

Teachers may want to show their reluctant readers this CBS News story about football player Malcolm Mitchell, who joined a book club after a chance encounter with a middle-aged woman in a book store. Mitchell told reporter Steve Hartman that when he started college, he could only read at a middle school level. "So he started putting as much into his reading game as his football game," Hartman reports. Watch the video to find out what happened when he stepped out of his comfort zone. 

Another useful video for encouraging students to commit to their education can be found at the PBS Newshour site. On Tuesday's program, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai describes why she risked her life when she was targeted by the Taliban for seeking an education in Pakistan. On the video, she interacts with high school students who ask her about her experience.


Pledge to Be Future Ready!

ED's Office of Educational Technology just announced the Future Ready District Pledge, connected to the President's ConnectED Initiative, which aims to provide broadband internet access to schools, professional development for teachers, access to digital content, and the integrated use of digital devices in classrooms. Teachers will be key in making sure all of our schools are future-ready, so please take a moment to read the pledge and encourage your district leader to participate.

Big Hero 6


Calling All STEM Superheroes

What one problem would you tackle to change the world and how would you do it? That is the question posed to students in the Disney Big Hero 6 XPrize Challenge, a nationwide video contest inviting young people, ages 8-17, to create innovative ideas using science, technology, engineering, art and/or mathematics to tackle the biggest challenges in schools, communities, or the world. Inspired by Disney's new animated feature Big Hero 6, this student challenge seeks out the real-life counterparts to the animated heroes.

Six winners will travel to Los Angeles to walk the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Big Hero 6 in early November. They will also go behind the scenes and meet the creative minds at both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, join a special “Visioneering" experience at XPRIZE headquarters, plus other prizes. Deadline for submissions is October 12. Learn more.

Did you know?

Resources for New Arrivals

ED has a webpage full of information and resources for students who are newly arrived in the United States or who have received, or are planning to request, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The site includes a letter to educators about how they can help immigrant children applying for DACA. There are also translated fact sheets and links to programs, such as English Language Learner Resources and Citizenship and Immigration Services


Testing: How much is too much?

Earlier this summer, Achieve launched the Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts, to help district leaders take stock of how many assessments are administered throughout a school year and determine why they are given. 

Designed from a student perspective, the tool can be used by education leaders to decide what amount of testing is appropriate and provide more transparency for parents about testing in schools. It supports a process through which districts evaluate current assessments, determine the minimum testing necessary to serve essential diagnostic, instructional, and accountability purposes, and work to ensure that every district-mandated test is useful and of high quality. Learn more

student Hernandez at school in California

Samantha Hernández, a sophomore at California State University Dominguez Hills, pursues her dreams of attending college and reaching her career goals thanks to the constant support of her family, university administrators, and the financial aid she receives.

Celebrating Hispanic Teachers 

Each year Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating and honoring the histories, cultures, and contributions of those with Hispanic ancestry. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is committed to expanding educational opportunities and improving outcomes for all Latinos. In honor of HHM, the Initiative is highlighting Hispanic teachers across the country, as well as the need for more of them and resources to support them. 

While Hispanics make up 25 percent of public school students in the nation, less than 8 percent of the teachers in the U.S. are Hispanic. In highlighting their stories, the Initiative recognizes these leaders who are contributing not only to the Latino community, but also to fulfilling America’s future, and hopefully inspiring more Hispanics to enter the teaching profession. Please join us by amplifying our messages on social media or highlighting Latino teachers in your communities by using #LatinosTeach.

Teach to Lead update

Blurring the Lines

Between Teaching and Leading

UPPING THEIR LEADERSHIP GAME IN CONNECTICUT.  Twin sisters who teach in Norwalk, Conn., have been selected to serve as Teacher Leaders-in-Residence (TLR) at the Connecticut Department of Education. Learn more about Pamela Serlin and Francine Hakim, who will be taking their teacher leadership to the state level (Wilson, The Hour). Last year there was one TLR in the state, but this year there will be five and one Principal Leader-in-Residence.

NO DEBATING THE VALUE OF EDUCATOR EXPERIENCE.  Last month America Achieves NY Educator Voice Fellows helped prepare policy wonks for an important debate on the Common Core State Standards. Teachers Amanda Barney, Gordie Daniels, Andria Finch and Tiffany Kwas shared classroom success stories and insights from their experience with Carmel Martin, executive vice-president for policy at the Center for American Progress, and Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, for the Intelligence Squared Debate: Embrace the Common Core. In fact, the teachers did such a fine job that several times during the debate Martin and Petrilli referred to the 'teachers we talked to today.' Later it was announced that Martin and Petrilli won the debate. Watch it here.

TEACHER LEADERSHIP IN ACTION. Check out the latest stories of teacher leadership on the Teach to Lead site. This week's stories feature two groups of teacher leaders who worked together to achieve common good.

•  CLT with Purpose: Charley Sabatier, Katey Shirey, Jen Weidman, and Heather Moore formed a collaborative learning team to support each other and improve their practice teaching IB physics.

•  Standing Up for Social Studies: David Bosso, John Tully, Steve Armstrong, Gene Stec, and Carolyn Ivanoff worked with a core of social studies teachers to organize political action prioritizing the teaching of social studies in Connecticut.

P Chat

Principal Chat

SEEKING FEEDBACK ON STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL LEADERS. On Monday the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration released draft standards for education leaders, and they’re seeking the input of leaders in the field. You can find the standards here. These standards are a “refresh” of the 2008 ISLLC standards and, like the previous standards, are voluntary. States, school districts, preparation programs and others adapt them for their own uses. The input gathered during this public comment period, which runs until Oct. 10, will inform the final standards, to be released later this fall. Learn more (Superville, EdWeek).

"I used to think that teaching was all about 'making a difference.' Now, I think it is about making many small differences."

Nashville, Tenn. teacher Lauren Allgood in her article "Tiny Differences" (Teaching Tolerance).

Quote to Note

the New Math

Half Full or Half Empty?


48% of Americans say they are satisfied with public education


Taken from a recent Gallup poll (Education News). Rebecca Riflin, writing for Gallup Politics, reports that in 2014, the percentage of adults who are “somewhat” or “completely” satisfied with the quality of K-12 education is the highest percentage it has been since 2004. Allie Bidwell in U.S. News and World Report reports that a large majority of Americans support increasing the rigor of admission requirements for teacher preparation schools, and that "teachers should be required to pass a board certification exam, similar to the tests lawyers and medical professionals take, before earning a license to practice." Read her story.

Rebalancing Teacher Tenure


Fixing Teacher Tenure does not Mean Ending it

TNTP has issued a short paper asserting that teacher "tenure doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing," and pointing toward "a more reasonable balance" between job protections for teachers and the educational rights of students. The paper examines:

  • Lengthening the tryout period and linking tenure to performance
  • Streamlining hearings and focusing on students’ interests
  • Ending tolerance for egregious misconduct, but lowering the professional stakes for teachers in other cases.

Now, that's progress!


An Information System that Supports (and Respects) Teachers

The District of Columbia's resource sharing site, DC Portal Plus, has undergone a virtual (and literal) transformation. Four years ago, DC Public Schools’ teacher portal was difficult to navigate and “uninspired.” Today, Educator Portal Plus is full of resources for educators, from high-quality lesson plans, professional development opportunities, and videos that show best teaching practices or innovative ideas to implement in the classroom. 

Now the Portal Plus provides a customized version of Better Lesson, an online comprehensive library of documents, presentations, full lessons and complete units and courses, that supports the adoption of the Common Core, and goals of the DCPS academic plan

The portal also provides teachers with social networking that allows them to grow professionally and make connections with fellow educators as well as providing access to relevant, differentiated, high-quality professional development, including Reality PD, and Teach Like a Champion.

And the site contains important information for teachers, including a guide to the DC Comprehensive Assessment System. According to a DC reading specialist, the resource “really shows a greater level of respect for teachers. Teachers feel now that their professional growth is important.” Learn more (Progress).

TAF and PAF news

TAMMIE SCHRADER (2008 Classroom Fellow) and TAMRA JACKSON (2009 Classroom Fellow) have been named to the third cohort of America Achieves Fellows. The America Achieves NY Educator Voice Fellowship is now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 class. Nominate a great teacher or principal, learn more about the Fellowship, and apply here.  

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

1. HEALTH CARE FOR STUDENTS. College students have several choices for health coverage during open enrollment, which starts on November 15, 2014. Learn more

find the right college for you

2. IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO THINK "COLLEGE." Even if you are still in middle school, it's not too early to think about what kind of college you might want to attend. The NCES College Navigator provides a perfect way for you to check out public and private colleges and universities to see which schools interest you. 

Using the Navigator, you can search schools by major or location. You check out what sports they offer, what percentage of their students get financial assistance and even what kind of SAT/ACT scores are usually needed for acceptance. Then build a list of your faves and enroll in the kind of classes you need in high school to get there.

3. HIGH SCHOOL WAGES AREN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE. Alison Shrager of Bloomberg Business Week reports, "The high school job is almost as dated as the mix tape." That's because today far fewer young people are taking on jobs in high school - the latest research shows that employment of high school seniors fell from 30% in the ‘90s to 16% in 2010, with even summer jobs falling to 33%. And the benefits of early work experience for those that do work are fewer - earlier generations of high school workers earned 8.3% more in the decade after their graduation than students who didn't work, but after 2000 that advantage narrowed to just 4.4%. However, Shrager suggests that high school work experience may still have long-lasting benefits - most importantly, the development of "soft skills," like time management, teamwork, and professionalism, which are significant factors to many employers. Learn more.

Common Core Connections

A SURPRISING BENEFIT OF THE COMMON CORE: REALLY COOL VIDEO GAMES. Benjamin Winterhalter's article answers the question, Can new learning tools get World of Warcraft fans excited about math? Bottom line - education companies are banking on it. Read about the "unprecedented explosion in new education technologies" springing from the Common Core State Standards (Atlantic).

ISTE TO SET UP COMMON CORE TEACHER PRACTICE NETWORK. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has been awarded a grant to help create a Common Core Teacher Practice Network. The network will publish 200 participant-generated examples, artifacts and resources to support teachers as they implement the Common Core (THE Journal). 



Wolf Sharks, Energy Drinks & Learning Standards

Find out about what happened when video game developers gathered in D.C. to take on the challenge of developing powerful, educational games against a ticking clock--with teachers in the house. Teaching Ambassador Fellow Antero Garcia and ED's Richard Culatta describe the intense experiences that took place over a recent weekend at the White House Educational Game Jam. Read their story (DML Central). Learn more (Toppo, USA Today).


Spotlight: Residencies

We often hear teachers lamenting about not having had enough classroom experience before starting their first teaching position. For that reason and many more, teaching residencies have been on the rise. PBS is currently airing a six-part series on urban teacher residencies featuring Linda Darling-Hammond and UCLA's residency program funded by ED's Teaching Quality Partnership grant. Check it out on Wednesdays at 6:30 am PST and 6:30 pm PST until October 8th on KLCS station or watch all of the episodes on UCLA's Center X site.



Good Stuff for Eduwonks 

NEW OPTIONS FOR SCHOOL TURNAROUND RELEASED.  ED has released draft guidance for new School Improvement Grant rules that would give schools “new options for using the money.” Learn more (Klein, EdWeek).

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• A MARK OF PROFESSIONALISM. Marc Tucker theorizes that teachers may be able to improve education by being the agents of educational research, rather than merely acting as subjects. Read his article (EdWeek).

• TEST DRIVE NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION. Teachers looking to take their career to the next level may be interested in field testing the new National Board certification. Learn more and sign up to participate. 

• WEBINAR: TEACHING THE ROOSEVELTS. The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering a free webinar on using the PBS Ken Burns series on Eleanor, Theodore, and Franklin Roosevelt,  three of the most influential leaders of twentieth century America. Greg Timmons will show how film clips, lessons plans, and primary source from the series and from EDSITEment can be used in your classroom and for your students' National History Day (NHD) projects. In addition, a teacher will show how Chronicling America can be used to help students find great primary sources for NHD projects. Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2014. Time: 7pm ET / 4pm PT. Register.

• RESOURCES FOR PARENTS. As open houses and parent nights approach, consider sharing Partners in Progress, a full-color brochure by ED describing what parents and communities can do to support education in their areas. 

• PAYING BACK THE TEACHERS. Should the federal government pay your student loans? A Washington, D.C. think tank, Third Way, argues that if you're teaching in a classroom, the federal government should pay your student loans every month until you leave. Read their proposal.

• HOW TO DIVERSIFY TEACHING. "Finding a male teacher in an American classroom is hard," says Drew Angerer in the NY Times. "Finding a black male teacher is even harder." Read a compilation of educators' opinions about how to solve the challenge of making our teaching force more closely resemble our students. 

 5 STEPS TO BEING DISCIPLINED ABOUT YOUR TIME. In this Barking up the Wrong Tree blogEric Barker offers tips for using our time wisely, focusing on two questions: What are you good at, and what makes you happy? His advice includes following morning rituals (when our resolve typically is strongest) and creating anchor events for the weekend.

• STRONG SUPPORT FOR NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION FOR TEACHERS. According to a PDK/Gallup poll, more than 80 percent of Americans agreed that teachers should achieve Board certification in addition to being licensed to practice, similar to professions like law and medicine. Learn more.

ARTS IN EDUCATION. In honor of Arts in Education week (September 14-20), consider how art can be integrated into your classroom. Check out these 50 ways to incorporate art into any lesson (Chesser). Also take a look at the new National Core Arts Standards and share with the National Art Education Association why art matters via social media #naeaartmatters.

open book

Recommended Reading

ATTRACTING AND RETAINING TALENT WITH A TEACHER-CENTERED CULTURE. In this terrific blog article, Tennessee teachers Jon and Teresa Alfuth describe what happened when they began to search for a school in Memphis where teachers stayed. After landing at the Soulsville Charter School, they learned what it takes to attract and retain a talented and committed teaching force. 

• LESSONS FROM POLAND. According to the latest PISA data, Poland is making incredible progress in education, ranking 9th in reading and 14th in math, and even gaining 2.6 points a year between 2003 and 2012, while the rest of the world stagnated. On top of this, Poland's college graduation rates are rising at a brisk pace. Read up on the data in the report and learn what lessons U.S. schools can take from Poland (Hechinger).

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


Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. “One thing that made a difference? They let me stay for six years and see things through. You cannot move fast in a school that is that fragile.” (Principal, Tenn.)

4. "In 17 years of teaching, I've never heard a teacher say, 'I left because of the kids.' It's not the kids." (Teacher, Greensboro, N.C.)

3. "We teachers live and thrive on feedback. We take it personally. We need feedback given to us in a positive way." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

2. "Getting little to no feedback is a problem." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

1. "Urban work isn't sexy. I'm in the business of saving lives, of saving them from all of the isms." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)