TEACHERS EDITION -- April 23, 2015

The Teachers Edition

April 23, 2015  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

still from video of Kathy Nimmer with her dog


Serious Joy

If you haven't yet seen it, you absolutely must watch this video of high school English teacher Kathy Nimmer learning from her state superintendent that she has just been named the 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year. Even her guide dog shares in her moment. 

Nimmer is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year, who will be recognized next week at the White House along with other State Teachers of the Year.

Learn more about Nimmer and the other three finalists, Ann Marie Corgill (Alabama), Catherine Caine (Hawaii) and Shanna Peeples (Texas). 

ESEA speech

ESEA 101

Every Child a Chance

Arne Duncan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by reminding celebrants gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. that this law has always been about civil rights. 

"Our work is to make sure that opportunity is not just a possibility, but a promise," Duncan told the crowd. 

Read or watch a video of his speech, which highlights places where educators are making real progress delivering on that promise. 

Teach to Lead update

Teacher Leaders as Change Agents

"Embrace your power, speak to power, learn from the power of others," says Brianna Crowley in her powerful reflection on the teacher leadership movement in her blog (Center for Teaching Quality). 

In her blog, Crowley reacts to what she learned from several visits to the nation's capital and offers advice for teachers wanting to influence policy.

71 ORGANIZATIONS STRONG. Three more organizations have joined the list of Teach to Lead official supporters. They include the Teacher Salary Project, Lead2Feed and Corwinbringing the official supporter count to 71. Check out the complete roster.  


Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.


Celebrating African American Educators

Amber Peterson is a 6th Grade ELA and Social Studies Teacher at Innovate Manhattan Charter School in New York, N.Y. She is also a New York Educator Voice Fellow and works with Educators 4 Excellence.

Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

I decided upon a career in education because I believed I could offer my students a unique lens through which to view the world. I was blessed in my upbringing with a mother who ensured that the world was my oyster. Though we didn’t have much money, she made sure that from the earliest age, I was exposed to different cultures and unique experiences. Too often, people of color are not represented in experiences that take them outside of their own communities. I felt it was my duty to pass on the exposure that my mother provided for me!

 In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students?

The most important requirement for African American students is high expectations. Our students are capable of far exceeding the restrictive parameters we often let their socio-economic status dictate. If we inspire them and give them the room and permission to grow, there can be no stopping them!

Ricardo at King Drew

Ricardo Govea in Ms. Latosha Guy's A.P. English class has his hands clasped during his group's presentation about point-of-view in literature. 


From Watts to UCLA

Despite growing up in very difficult circumstances, Ricardo Govea, a senior at King/Drew Magnet High School (Los Angeles, Calif.), has been accepted to and offered a scholarship at UCLA. Read about how the incarceration of both of his parents did not stop him from succeeding in this piece co-authored by Teach For America alum Ryan MaquiñanaMaquiñana encouraged Govea to apply to a STEM school that led him to King/Drew Magnet High School. 

In case you missed ED's video about the amazing work going on at King/Drew, you can watch it here

Georgia, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina Teachers of the Year


State Teachers of the Year Weigh in on Core Standards

In this brief video released by the Council of Chief State School Officers, State Teachers of the Year weigh in on the higher standards being implemented in most states in the nation.  

A survey commissioned by the Leadership Conference Education Fund finds more Americans support the concept of the Common Core State Standards – clear, consistent goals for what students should know and be able to do.

In Kentucky, the first state to adopt Common Core, students with more exposure to the standards made faster progress in learning than peers who followed previous state standards, according to new American Institutes of Research analysis.


Teacher Leadership on the Global Stage

The International Summit on the Teaching Profession that started in New York City in 2011 has become a vibrant international community of practice. Each year, participating countries commit to work in key areas over the course of the year. Together with the AFT, NEA, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, ED reported on the progress of the 2014 commitments including teacher leadership, early learning and labor-management collaboration.

Secretary Duncan's blog on the summit reflects the progress made on the Teach to Lead initiative and includes details about the international team of teachers exchanging ideas and working to advance teacher leadership across the globe. What's going on: Ontario creates a competitive Teacher Learning and Leadership Program to fund teacher projects; Singapore builds leadership development into each of its three career tracks; Finland starts leadership training in its initial teacher preparation; and New Zealand boasts its new Communities of Schools initiative and Teacher-led Innovation Fund. Learn more


Guide to Gaming and Learning


ED is excited to release The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs

The guide highlights 10 specific areas to help entrepreneurs apply technology in smart ways and work to address some of the most urgent needs expressed by educators, parents, and students across the country. 

Read more about some educational apps that can help teachers connect with students from ED's Director of Educational Technology Richard Culatta and download the guide

tech guide

Risk Taking


Be a Risk Taker 

Watch this lively video as over 2,000 CUE attendees get up and dance to the Uptown Funk. 

Former elementary school teacher and current digital learning coordinator Jennie Magiera (Chicago, Ill.) gets teachers out of their seats - and comfort zones. She wants to show them that sometimes they, like students, have to take risks and even fail, in order to succeed in the end (NoonooeSchoolnews).

You can watch her speech about making meaningful change, too. 

birth to 8 workforce


Providers Hold the Keys 

Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. But what about those who provide for their care and education? Do they share competencies for doing their jobs well? 

This Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report has 13 recommendations for transforming the birth-through-age eight workforce based on the science of child development and early learning. Chief among the recommendations is that all lead educators have a bachelor’s degree with knowledge and competencies in early learning. 

Read more in the blog by Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Development and inter-departmental liaison for early childhood development for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

P Chat

Principal Chat

ALL EYES ON PRINCIPALS. The Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) program points out best practices for interacting with teachers and giving them valuable feedback. TEAM also gives coaching and support that leads to substantive student growth. Read about the coaching experience and what was learned in this Q & A with former principal, supervisor and TEAM Coach Jack Barnes

Common Core Connections

MATH AT SCHOOL VS. MATH AT HOME. Watch this video as educator Jessica Cotter (Holt, Mich.) explains why parents have to be part of the journey while their students are learning math. Having a conversation about why a method always works to solve a problem is an important part of learning with higher standards.  


"I actually think that the most important part of having high standards is teaching kids to have high standards for themselves." 

(Third grade teacher Noreen Treadway's video reflects on how higher standards are helping to prepare her students for college and for life).

Quote to Note

peace film fest


Peace in the Streets

Youth 18 and under are invited to make a video on how to make "Peace in the Streets." Films can be made on any device - phones, tablets, or video cameras - and will be judged both for originality and creativity. Winners get to go the United Nations. Films are shown at the 2015 Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival

The Festival gives youth across the globe a voice in world affairs – an opportunity to tell their story of how THEY would make Peace in the Streets. It allows them to share their experiences, interact with old friends and make new ones, and have an audience listen to their tale. Read the rules and learn more.

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

FUN SPANISH. The Kid World Citizen website features more than 20 Spanish games and apps for young children. They are a great way to learn new vocabulary and practice reading, writing, spelling, or grammar. The Spanish games and apps are listed with recommended ages and skills focus.

AND THE OSCAR GOES TO. The Academy is now accepting entries for its 2015 Student Academy Awards competition. All Student Academy Award® winners are eligible for Oscars consideration. Beginning this year, students can submit their films online using FilmFreeway. Check out the complete rules 

PAY BACK IS PART OF THE PLAN. If you are a 2015 graduate, you certainly have big plans for the future. One part of the plan is paying back your student loans. Learn more about what to do before making your first student loan payment. 




AND WHY SHOULD TEACHERS CARE? Last week, the Senate education committee passed the Every Child Achieves Act, legislation to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind. How does the Every Child Achieves Act differ from NCLB? What are its prospects for becoming law? Find out in the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Federal Flash

Now, that's progress


On the Job

Har-Ber High School is preparing students for the job market by offering workforce education. Students take construction classes and get hands on experience through workplace apprenticeships. 

Project Director Marsha Jones says "the construction program shifted into an 'academy' (via the Race to the Top-District funds) where core content teachers work more closely with the career and technical education program... Students can apply the reading, writing and math skills within their applied areas in construction with the support of the core content teacher." Learn more and watch the video (Holloway, NWAhomepage.com). 

See what else is going on in Springdale in ED's video Improving Education: The View from Jones Elementary School. It is an inspiring place where teachers and the school principal are working together to encourage their students to succeed. 

Emerging Research


Unmet Need

Of the approximately 4 million 4-year olds in the United States, about 60 percent – or nearly 2.5 million - are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool programs, Head Start and programs serving children with disabilities. A new report released by ED, A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, shows that we are a long way from achieving full educational opportunity in this country. This blog dissects the report and calls for investments in high-quality early education. 

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• CAN YOUR CLASS DO THE MATH? This really cool and tricky math problem may seem unsolvable at first glance but can be solved by breaking it down and using logic. See if you are smarter than 14-year-olds competing in the Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiads -- or if your students are (LeesonMashable.com).

• RESEARCH ABROAD DISSERTATIONS. ED provides grants to support doctoral dissertation research in modern foreign languages and area studies. The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship Program provides opportunities to doctoral candidates to develop projects that deepen research knowledge on areas of the world not generally included in U.S. curricula. 

• DON'T OPT OUT. Instead of opting out of standardized tests, Paul Asjes, a math teacher at School of Performing Arts (Bronx, N.Y.) says teachers and parents need to make good use of them. There’s good reason that some teachers feel relentless pressure from standardized tests, but it doesn't have to be this way, he maintains in this blog

• MATH STORIES. English language arts, history and even science explore stories and writing. But what about math? Find out what this blog says about how math teachers can incorporate writing into their math lessons (Wolpert-Gawron, Edutopia). 

• MEASURE OF WHAT WE ARE. Measure student progress, but invest in teachers, too, say Teach for America's Elisa Villanueva Beard and Wendy Kopp. Their op-ed about a reauthorized ESEA points out the merits of both and the benefit that it will have on providing educational equity and excellence for students. 

• AUTISM INTERACTION. Check out five apps to help children and adults with autism develop skills, learn, and interact more effectively with others (Cornacchini, eSchool News). You can access more on the website APPitic.com, an app resource site. 

• DIGGING EARTH DAY. April 22 marked the 44th anniversary of Earth Day. Encourage your kids to be environmental stewards with some of the ideas on the FREE websiteCheck out resources from ED’s Green Strides initiative for more on how this goal is being achieved.

open book

Recommended Reading

• EDUCATIONAL GAMING. Does incorporating games during the learning process improve student achievement? How can educators harness new technology to improve student learning? In this adaptation and in his new book, The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter, former teacher and journalist Greg Toppo recounts how innovative educators are changing traditional classroom instruction by incorporating digital play.

• MANAGER OR LEADER. Read Duff McDonald's article Can You Learn to Lead? (New York Times) about the value of educating leaders. "Caught flat-footed selling a title, 'manager,' that had lost its social cachet, the ivory towers of business scrambled to find a new pitch. And they found it in leadership," he says. Read more. 

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


Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Reflecting on the number of initiatives teachers are dealing with: "ACT/Aspire, standards, BRIDGE… it’s hard to not feel ADD, like what am I doing today?” (Teacher, Charleston, S.C.)

4. "A teacher's voice can and will make positive change in education" (Teacher, Boston, Mass.) 

3. About excessive test security: "You sign a document that says you won't look at a question. That's stupid. A teacher should know which question their students didn't answer correctly.” (Teacher, Mass.)

2. "There's nothing like that 'Ah ha' moment when the student who has been struggling looks up with an ear to ear smile and says 'I get it!'" (Teacher, Westford, Mass.)

1. "The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist!'" (Teacher, Mass.)