THE TEACHERS EDITION -- January 15, 2015

The Teachers Edition

January 15, 2015  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

screen shot of teacher interacting with students

Ashley Kasnicka is one of the teachers at Jones Elementary who uses a method called Cognitively Guided Instruction to teach students in her fifth grade class to think deeply and critically about math. Read Ms. Kasnicka's blog about her approach to math.


The View from Jones Elementary

Springdale, Arkansas

The teachers and principal at Jones Elementary (Springdale, Ark.) have a truly unique story to tell. Though 99.1 percent of their students live in poverty and more than 80 percent are English language learners, their students succeed. 

Watch the video to learn how educators develop each other's ability to teach at high levels and remove barriers to learning in this traditional public school. Learn more (Homeroom). 

Read Principal Melissa Fink's description of strategies the school uses to remove barriers to learning for students in poverty. Check out teacher Jennifer Mills's blog about the school's purpose-driven approach to data collection and use. Read teacher Justin Minkel's EdWeek article, The Promise and Peril of Turning Student Learning into a Number. Check out this overview of the school's systematic program to develop students' English Language skills, written by Assistant Principal Christy Norwood.


Making the Right Choices for America's Children

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan laid out a bold vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that continues a focus on the nation’s most vulnerable students.

During a speech on the 50th anniversary of the nation’s cornerstone education law, Duncan called for scrapping No Child Left Behind (NCLB). He urged lawmakers to replace NCLB with an updated version that not only prepares children for college and careers, but also delivers on the promise of equity and real opportunity for every child – including minority students, students with disabilities, low-income students and English learners.  

Read the whole speech. Watch Duncan's remarks on YouTube.

still from Teaching Channel video

Tamica Groves engages and supports her English language learners in academic discussions at Westlake Middle School (Oakland, Calif.). 


Using "Talk Moves" to Practice Academic Conversation

Middle school English language development teacher Tamica Groves has her students learn and practice various “talk moves” as a way of engaging in academic conversations.

In this Teaching Channel video, viewers see students practicing their moves during a discussion of the book Siddhartha, including adding on to each other's responses, asking questions, and agreeing with what others say. Read a related blog about the importance of academic discussions for English learners. 


The Move to Make Community College Free 

Last week the President unveiled a proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students across America. Watch his video

The plan was fueled by an understanding that Americans need to have more knowledge and more skills to compete in our changing global economy. By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. 

America’s College Promise Proposal will benefit nearly nine million students by making a higher education more affordable and improving the quality of education across America’s 1,100 community colleges.

Under President Obama’s new proposal, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or the technical skills needed in the workforce — all at no cost to them.

  • What students have to do: Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
  • What community colleges have to do: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.
  • What the federal government has to do: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.

Learn more.

Summer Learning


Summer Learning Programs

Soar and Score

If your summer learning program is outstanding, it may be eligible to compete for an award from the National Summer Learning Association's (NSLA) Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs. Applicants are reviewed by NSLA staff in addition to peer organizations in the field. Site visits are conducted for a select group of finalists to observe program activities before announcing the awards. Apply here by Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.

While educators have long believed that summer programs can improve summer slide, a RAND Corporation study funded by the Wallace Foundation has evidence. Ready for Fall? investigated how large-scale, voluntary summer learning programs led by public school districts can help improve educational outcomes for children in low-income, urban communities. The findings showed benefits for mathematics but flat results in reading and social emotional development. 



Powerful Teachers Featured for 10 Weeks

Beginning February 25 the stories of teachers from 10 countries will be the focus of "10 Tuesdays" in a social media campaign #TeacherTuesday. Their challenges and motivations are also the subject of the latest Education for All Global Monitoring Report that analyses the challenges they face and the realities of the global learning crisis in the classroom. 

Teach to Lead logo


Leading from Denver

This weekend hundreds of teachers from all over the country convened in Denver to talk teacher leadership and turn some amazing ideas for change into real action at the Teach to Lead Regional Summit. View the Storify.

Teacher leaders were welcomed to Denver by an all-star line-up of education advocates, including U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Dozens of supporter organizations served as critical friends, workshop presenters, and advocates for participants throughout the day. 

Attendees heard amazing stories of successful teacher leadership, like the Dolores T. Aaron Academy in New Orleans, where teacher leaders amassed over $30,000 to build a new playground for elementary students and organized a hugely popular Doughnuts with Dads event, attended by over 300 dads, uncles, and other male role models. Throughout the day, critical friends worked one-on-one with teachers or with teams to develop a logic model, outlining the immediate action steps necessary to move their ideas forward. 

Keynote speaker Geneviève Debose wrapped up the weekend on an inspirational note, reminding teachers that their work is just one part of a larger effort to better the world for our students: “Let the questions of why you teach and why you lead guide you in the struggle and the progress in transforming world reality.”

sketch illustrating customized learning


A Good "Sketchucation"

NPR ED has posted truly interesting sketches depicting educators' predictions about what will happen in education this year. They are worth taking a look at (#EdPredictions) and Tweeting out. Check out some favorites like the one on the left.

Did you know?


Teachers who have come to the profession in the last eight years are far more likely to stick with it than their counterparts from a decade ago.

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progresssince 2007, at least 70 percent of new teachers have stayed with the profession at least five years. Similar work relying on decade-old data found that only 50 percent to 60 percent of teachers remained in the classroom that long.


The Language of Math: 

The Common Core and English Learners

With their heightened emphasis on verbal explication and argumentation, the Common Core State Standards for mathematics pose unique challenges for students not fully proficient in English. 

In an EdWeek webinar two experts in math instruction for English-language learners (ELLs) will explore the linguistic demands of the new standards and offer strategies to help math educators better support ELLs in developing and communicating mathematical reasoning. The discussion will address scaffolding techniques, professional development needs, and resources.

Guests: Mark Driscoll, managing project director, Education Development Center and Judit N. Moschkovich, professor of mathematics education at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, 12 to 1 p.m. ETRegister.

Check out a blog by California social studies teacher Larry Ferlazzo, "Supporting ELLs in The Common Core Era" (EdWeek).

P Chat

Principal Chat

A DAY IN THE LIFE. The teachers at ED are loving the EdWeek Twitter campaign that asked principals to send in photos depicting what they do every day. Check out the wide variety of responses using #APrincipalsDay. View a collage of the photos. 

NO EXCUSES. Lauren Chianese profiles Stacey Merritt, principal at Pinar Elementary in Orange County, Fla., a leader who understands that success is not a matter of magic or luck. Learn how Merritt creates a culture where her school defies the odds and students soar (EdFly).

Common Core Connections

HARD STOP. Why are the Common Core State Standards so hard to replace? While some states are writing their own standards, Mike Petrilli and Michael Brickman offer one reason this is tougher than it sounds. Namely, high standards will inevitably look a lot like the Common Core. Read their op-ed (Washington Post).

CHICAGO TEACHER ON THE PARCC: THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT. Teacher Susan Volbrecht writes about her experience giving feedback to PARCC test makers his fall. "Seeing teacher voice in the testing conversation proved to me that things will be different," she writes. Find out why (Education Post).

WILL THE COMMON CORE LEAD TO MORE SCHOOLS BEING LABELED AS FAILING? "Not really," according to Bellwether's Chad Aldeman. Aldeman writes, "This myth is driven by a misunderstanding of how school accountability actually works now." Read his article


Today, we have two education systems if we want to tell the truth – one for the rich, and one for the poor. If you happen to be born in the wrong zip code and go to a failing public school, you can get left behind and never catch up. Public education that was the great equalizer in the society has become in some communities the great discriminator.”

(New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his inaugural address.)

Quote to Note

the New Math


A Tale of Two Realities

 In Minneapolis, Minn. only 36 percent of black students graduate on time. Black students enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools in 2013-14 accounted for about 40 percent of all students, yet they received nearly 80 percent of all suspensions. 

 In California, 17 percent of Latino males and 22 percent of African-American males dropped out of high school in 2013, compared with nine percent of white males. And, black students make up six percent of enrollment, but 20 percent of total suspensions across the state.

From an article about racial inequity in education written by teachers Ama Nyamekye (Calif.) and Madaline Ediso (Minn.). The writers conclude, "We must individually and collectively disrupt systems that serve and protect some, but not all, children." 


Teach Tolerance with Civil Rights Primary Sources

Library of Congress (LOC) and Teaching Tolerance are collaborating to offer teachers a series of free online workshops inspired by LOC’s current exhibition, "The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom." The series will present dozens of relevant primary sources from the Library’s collections coupled with teaching ideas that provide educators with prompt analysis and informed debate by their students. All workshops will take place at 4 pm ET. Check out other LOC teacher resources

  • Jan. 22: Civil Rights and Analyzing Images. Participants will analyze an image from LOC's collections and discuss questioning techniques to help students build understanding about the movement's complexity. Register here.
  • Feb. 19: Building Literacy Skills and Teaching about the Civil Rights Movement with Primary Sources. Participants will explore a map, its significance to the movement, and its context—the world in which it was created and not just the world that it shows. 
  • March 19: Identifying Bias and Perspective when Teaching about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This session will examine Teaching Tolerance's five essential practices as applied to teaching the civil rights movement  – educate for empowerment, know how to talk about race, capture the unseen, tell a complicated story and connect to the present. 
  • April 16: Selecting Primary Sources to Examine the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Education experts will lead participants in selecting primary sources while discussing the goals of teaching about the civil rights movement to include events, leaders, groups, history, obstacles, tactics and connections to other movements, current events and civic participation.

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

ENTER THE USA SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CLASSROOM COMPETITION. The contest, announced by the White House last week, seeks to drive classroom design ideas that will get girls excited about computer science. Cash prizes will be awarded to the teams of high school students that come up with the most innovative and cost-effective design ideas to nudge girls into STEM careers. Some of the winners' designs will even be considered for further in-classroom testing and possible deployment across the country. Learn more.


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

PREPARING TO LAUNCH. EdWeek has released its latest Quality Counts report, which takes a broad look at the issues and forces shaping the discussion around early-childhood education. It examines how new academic demands and the push for accountability are changing the nature of early-childhood education for school administrators, teachers, and children alike.

The magazine's reporters delve into the policy debates surrounding publicly funded programs; examine cutting-edge research focusing on the early years, as well as milestone studies that continue to resonate throughout the field; and explore the academic and technological changes in store for the youngest learners as they move further along the educational pathway. They also focus on the shifting nature of kindergarten, and the multi-grade challenge of assuring a seamless English/language arts transition across the pre-K-3 spectrum.

WHEN THE RACE ENDS. A report out of Ed Central reveals that kids continue to benefit from Race to the Top programs even after the funding runs out (Lieberman). 

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• PROTECTING STUDENT PRIVACY. This week President Obama proposed the Student Data Privacy Act, which would prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software. Learn more (Shear and Singer, NY Times). The President also urged ed tech companies to sign the Pledge to Protect Student Privacy.

EXAMINING EQUITY. Washington, D.C. teacher Dwight Davis writes about how his meeting with President Obama helped him reexamine why he became a teacher and why he is so passionate about students having access to great teaching. Read his article (Hechinger Report).

• PREDICTORS OF READING FREQUENCY. This interesting infographic breaks down the school and home factors most associated with high reading frequency, by age level. It is part of the 5th Edition Kids and Family Reading Report issued by Scholastic

• RESTORATIVE JUSTICE. This AP story in the Washington Post describes how in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the suspension rate has dropped from 8 percent in 2008 to 1.5 percent last school year. Read the article and learn how restorative justice approaches are replacing what would have been suspensions from school. 

UP YOUR GLOBAL GAME. Teachers for Global Classrooms is a year-long professional development program for U.S. teachers (K-12) aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms. Selected teachers participate in an online course, a Global Education Symposium, and an International Field Experience. They also produce a resource guide for their school community. Applications are due March 18, 2015.

EL SOL’S CULTURE OF CARING AND COMMUNITY. El Sol Science and Arts Academy in Santa Ana, California is the focus of a case study from the National Charter School Resource Center. Read more about their dual immersion program, their focus on language mastery, the school's extended learning and wrap around services, and watch the videos.

open book


Modernizing the Profession Requires Elementary Teachers to Specialize

Teacher Bill Davidson writes that in order for American teenagers to increase their skills in comparison to their peers in other countries, elementary schools will need to step up to the challenge by adapting to changes in “the educational landscape.” 

Davidson explains that, with the exception of emails teachers need to send, there has been virtually no change in a teacher’s day in the last 85 years. Whether teachers split their time evenly to prepare four or five lesson plans or focus on a subject more than others, he argues that the quality of education often suffers from the shortage of time teachers can allot to the task. He calls for teacher specialization as a remedy to the situation, noting that by focusing on one subject and teaching the same class twice a day, teachers have the chance to prepare more thoroughly. Read the article (Philadelphia Public Schools, Notebook).

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

teachers working at tables

Teachers work in teams to develop plans that move their teacher leadership idea forward at the Teach to Lead Regional Summit in Denver, Colo.

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from Educators. Heard by ED.

Note: All of the statements below were made by educators at the Denver Teach to Lead Summit January 9 -11.

5. "Keeping a foot in the classroom is crucial to doing the work outside the classroom." (Teacher, N.Y.)

4. "This work [of educating young people] is really HARD. I couldn't do it--and I don't want my staff to do it--alone." (Principal, Mich.)

3. "I've been to many weekends for teacher leaders and sometimes I feel like I'm a part of somebody else's agenda. This is the first time I feel like I was supported in moving forward with my own agenda which is the agenda of helping my students." (Teacher, Eagle County Schools, Colo.)

2. “Leadership can be a lonely thing. Places like this, where we can craft our schools as leaders, are super inspiring to me." (Teacher, Chicago, Ill.)

1. “I teach to transform society, create a new urban and world reality." (Teacher, New York, N.Y.)