THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 30, 2014

The Teachers Edition

October 30, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

screenshot from video


If We Treated Our Teachers 

Like Football Stars

The teachers at ED are loving this BuzzFeed video demonstrating how the world would be changed if teachers were treated like professional athletes. You'll have to watch it a couple of times to catch some of the subtleties, including a vignette where students are loath to trade their great teachers, where teachers' faces are plastered on cereal boxes, and where teachers are the ones whose salaries are over the top!

First Generation Students


When College Prep is Not Enough

When educators discuss the challenges of getting first generation students to attend college, they often focus on preparing them for the academic coursework and helping them apply. However, according to a story in Real Clear Education, the biggest hurdle may be just getting the students to consider attending college in the first place.

In this article, Emmeline Zhao explores the experiences of four first generation high school students, including their challenges, defeats and successes. The students are also the subjects of an independent film by husband-and-wife team Adam and Jaye FendersonFirst Generation. The Fendersons' work exposes the challenge of reaching students who know nothing about the college process, are unaware of financial aid, and don’t know where to turn. Follow Zhao’s coverage of the film, and her subsequent articles to see how the students have been doing since they graduated high school five years ago.

Teach to Lead logo


Still Time to Submit Ideas for the Regional Teacher Leadership Summit

The Teach to Lead team is still accepting ideas for consideration for the first regional Teacher Leadership Summit, which will take place Dec. 6-7, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. The deadline for idea submissions for the Kentucky Summit is 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

If you would like to submit an idea for possible inclusion in the summit, please take a moment to fill out this form. If you have already submitted an idea on Commit to Lead and you would like it be considered for the Kentucky summit, you will still need to fill out the form. There is no registration cost for the summit, and you can register for any summit, regardless of where you live. Costs such as travel and lodging may not be covered, so please keep that in mind when you apply.

TEACH TO LEAD WEBINAR. Learn more about Teach to Lead at our webinar Thursday, Oct 30, at 8 pm ETAt this Connected Educator event, ED Teaching Ambassador Fellows will outline the Teach to Lead initiative and how you can be involved in the Commit To Lead campaign and Leadership Summits (to be held in Boston, Denver, and Louisville). Register to participate. 

CLEARING THE WAY FOR TEACHER LEADERSHIP. In this EdWeek blog, CTQ's Barnett Barry calls for "a bold brand of school leadership" and draws on research and emerging thinking to make his case. Read the article.

TEACHER LEADERSHIP IN ACTION. Gain inspiration from two of the latest teacher leadership stories posted on the Teach to Lead site

  In We Love Our Staff Meetings! Seriously, teacher Katie Brown (Washington) talks about how she helped her school transform their ho-hum staff meetings into energetic displays of teacher leadership in action.

 • In Preparing State's Evidence, teacher Brad Clark describes how he worked with organizations to mobilize teacher voice to inform state legislators about important issues, including the impact of the Common Core and reduced funding for education.

LATEST ORGANIZATIONS TO JOIN THE TEACH TO LEAD EFFORT. Since last week's report in the Teachers Edition, four organizations have joined the Teach to Lead effort. They include the Kentucky Department of Education, Leadership Institute of Riverside CountyTeacherCoach LLC, and PassageWorks InstituteCheck out a list of the 47 organizations that have signed on.

Kansas City Early Childhood


Reinventing Early Childhood Education

On the verge of having their early childhood Head Start programs shut down for more than seven years of noncompliance, parents, caregivers, and community adults came together with Kansas City Public Schools administrators and teachers to turnaround their early childhood programs. Their task involved reinventing early childhood education programs, consolidating over 700 children who attended 16 schools into two community schools. They also took on tough challenges, including poverty, health and dental care, hunger, domestic violence and transportation services. Watch as the community works together to create the powerful change.


Making Room for a Well-Rounded Curriculum

Liana Heitin (EdWeek) reports on news out of New York state that students will soon have the option to replace one of the history exams now required for graduation with a career-focused exam. 

Heitin writes that currently students in New York "have to pass five Regents tests in order to graduate" but that they will be offered a "4+1" option allowing them "to pass an exam in career-and-technical education, the arts, a different math or science, or a language other than English in lieu of one of the history exams." Read the story.  

Did you know?


"Rich high school dropouts remain in the top [income quintile] about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively."

From "Poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong" (O'Brien, Washington Post). Based on research by Richard V. Reeves and Isabel V. Sawhill.


Jump-start Computer Science at Your School

Computers may be ubiquitous, but did you know that fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago?

Folks at the Hour of Code are determined to change this. If you heard about the Hour of Code last year, you might know it made history. In one week, 15 million students tried computer science! 

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. Sign up to host an Hour of Code this December 8-14 during Computer Science Education Week and help reach 100 million students by the end of the year. The organization will send posters to hang in your school. The organization also provides tutorials for all ages, some that require no computer at all. Watch the video,

Even better: there are prizes. Every participating educator will receive thank-you gifts. Fifty classrooms will win tech chats with special guest speakers. And in each state, one participating school will win $10,000 in technology for their school. 

Now, that's progress



This new post is about how survey data now required in Illinois suggests that schools strong on three of five essentials are ten times more likely to improve in mathematics and reading. The Five Essentials asks about perceptions of school leadership, safety, teacher collaboration, family involvement and instruction. Illinois schools are surveying teachers, students and parents to gain insights into campus conditions that contribute to learning and help inform school planning.   

Common Core Connections

"PLEASE STOP CALLING COMMON CORE A NATIONAL CURRICULUM." The Executive Director of Education Post, Peter Cunningham, reminds us that we add to public confusion about the new standards when we refer to them as "curriculum." "The fact is," Cunningham writes, "states have always had standards but curriculum has always been locally chosen -- and it is far from uniform."

RESOURCES ON iTUNES U. ASCD has put together a collection of instructional resources and assessment sample items that will help educators successfully implement the Common Core State Standards and teach them effectively using iPads. Called the Common Core Resources Project on iTunes U, the project features 23 iTunes U courses that are free to all educators through ASCD on iTunes U and the ASCD EduCore® site. The courses have been designed by teacher teams comprised of Apple Distinguished Educators, members of PARCC Educator Leader Cadres, and ASCD teachers. Also included are instructional material and sample assessment items focused on each grade level from K–12. Learn more.


"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples, build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 

Senator Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, 1966

Quote to Note

the New Math


Got Game?

A survey published by the Games and Learning Publishing Council found that using digital games for learning has officially gone mainstream. Here are highlights (Herold, EdWeek).

  • 74 percent K-8 teachers use digital games for instruction, most at least monthly and more than half at least weekly.
  • More than 40 percent use digital learning games to teach academic content, while roughly one-third use games to assess learning.
  • Commercial games are not widely used.
  • 71 percent said digital learning games are helpful for teaching math, while just 42 percent said they were helpful for teaching science.
  • Of those teachers who do use games in the classroom, 56 percent said they base instructional decisions on what they learn from game-related assessments, and 54 percent said that games have been helpful in gauging student mastery of concepts or content.

Read the article. Read the survey report.

New Accountability report cover


New Approach to Accountability

A report released by two leading education organizations argues that in order for the country's students to be prepared for college and careers, a more comprehensive and balanced system of accountability is necessary. 

They contend that the new system "should rest on three pillars — a focus on meaningful learning, adequate resources, and professional capacity — and should be driven by processes for continuous evaluation and improvement."

Download the brief or the report released by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education at Stanford University and the National Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky.


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

DESIGNING A CONTINUUM TO SUPPORT EFFECTIVE TEACHING. A report intended to highlight ideas to improve the continuum of teacher development in New Jersey, offers solutions to strengthen the profession (in any state).  Read the report released by the Garden State Alliance for Strengthening Education.


Keep Talented Teachers in the Classroom

Nearly half of all teachers leave the classroom within five years. In schools that serve low-income students, the turnover is even higher — leaving the most vulnerable students with the least experienced teachers. The Hollyhock Fellowship Program aims to help stop this revolving door by encouraging, supporting and recognizing highly motivated early-career teachers and providing them with rich learning opportunities with colleagues nationwide.

The program brings 100 teachers from high schools across the country with low-income student populations to Stanford University for two weeks of residential workshops -- for two consecutive summers -- that feature courses taught by university scholars and expert practitioners. Fellows also receive online coaching and mentorship for two school years. Teachers are awarded a stipend for participation, and the program covers all travel and boarding expenses. Application materials are due by January 15, 2015. Request more information.

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Teachers' Notes

• A QUIZ ON TESTING? How much do you know about the current debates over testing? Take this humorous quiz to find out (Kassab, Orlando Sentinel).

• GETTING WHAT WE PAY FOR. National Review reports on the “impressive” results of The Equity Project Charter School of New York City that pays teachers $125,000 salaries along with a bonus in exchange for asking them to participate in ongoing training and “to shoulder outsize professional responsibilities.” The school does this by hiring fewer employees in order to pay them better, and the high pay lets them be selective when hiring new staff. A Mathematica evaluation of TEP shows that the model has “had positive impacts on student achievement across subjects and cohorts,” especially math. Read the story (Hess).

• UNDERSTANDING TEACHING CONDITIONS. Operating under the assumption that "Improving teaching conditions is essential for states and districts to address equitable access to effective teaching, AIR's Center for Great Teachers and Leaders has published a module to support state and district leaders in their work. 

• OPPORTUNITY INDEX. Opportunity Nation, a coalition of 300 community organizations, released the latest version of its Opportunity Index, a web-based tool that allows users to see their community's performance using 16 different indicators. For education, the index evaluates access to opportunities in communities and states based on preschool enrollment, on-time high school graduation rate, and the percentage of adults over the age of 25 who have earned an associate's degree or higher.

• CLIMATE EDUCATION--HOT ITEMS WANTED: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has been exploring learning opportunities at the intersection of STEM education and climate change. They want your ideas, commitments, summaries of your work in this area, or even photos of you, your students, and colleagues working to enhance climate literacy. Learn more and send ideas to by November 7.

Emerging Research

Reading Programs 

with Promise 

OPEN COURT OPENS READING POTENTIAL. The Institute of Education Sciences released a What Works Clearinghouse review of the research on the Open Court Reading program, which found that it had potentially positive effects on general reading achievement and comprehension for beginning readers. The reading program for grades K–6, published by McGraw-Hill Education, is designed to teach decoding, comprehension, inquiry, and writing in a three-part logical progression. This report focuses on the use of Open Court Reading© in grades K–3.

READING RECOVERY. The What Works Clearinghouse reviewed a study that examined the Year 1 impacts of a scale-up of Reading Recovery, a short-term intervention for struggling readers, on the reading achievement of first-grade students. A total of 628 schools participated in a scale-up of Reading Recovery. The study authors found, and the WWC confirmed, that Reading Recovery had a significant positive impact on the general reading achievement of struggling readers in the first grade. The authors also reported, and the WWC confirmed, statistically significant positive impacts of Reading Recovery® on two subtests—general reading achievement and reading comprehension. Learn more.

open book

Recommended Reading

WALKING IN THEIR SHOES. Read this illuminating (and sobering) true story about what a veteran teacher-turned-coach learned while shadowing high school students for two days. The piece is especially useful not only for its astute conclusions, but because the author offers concrete strategies that teachers can use to actively engage students. Here's an excerpt: 

Key takeaway #3: You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

I lost count of how many times we were told to be quiet and pay attention. It’s normal to do so – teachers have a set amount of time and we need to use it wisely. But in shadowing, throughout the day, you start to feel sorry for the students who are told over and over again to pay attention because you understand part of what they are reacting to is sitting and listening all day. It’s really hard to do, and not something we ask adults to do day in and out. Think back to a multi-day conference or long PD day you had and remember that feeling by the end of the day – that need to just disconnect, break free, go for a run, chat with a friend, or surf the web and catch up on emails. That is how students often feel in our classes, not because we are boring per se but because they have been sitting and listening most of the day already. They have had enough.

Read the article (Granted, and...)

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

bus tour

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. “I would love to increase in accountability for parents and students.  Teacher effectiveness is measured based on testing and students are not required to pass the test to be promoted or to graduate. Parents are not required to be involved in the educational process.” (High School Teacher, Atlanta, Ga.)

4. "In our school, leaders grow leaders. It's very intentional." (Principal, Fairfax County, Va.)

3. “I want to be a memorable teacher but I don’t want to teach to the test. The dream is teaching a non-testing grade.” (Preservice Teacher, Texas)

2. "I used to think leaders had to empower teachers to get involved. Now I think that most teachers are ready and need only the opportunity to lead." (Teacher, Wash.)

1. “My job is to be the filter, to protect teachers from all of the nonsense so that they can teach.” (Principal, Minn.)