TEACHING MATTERS--January 5, 2012

Teaching Matters


ED's bi-weekly newsletter celebrating teachers and teaching

January 5, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters.

Pompeii Soup

NJ Students Make Magic Meals for Young Cancer Patients

Read Teaching Ambassador Fellow Maryann Woods-Murphy's blog about a group of high school students in Teterboro, N.J., who make food magic for cancer patients suffering from a loss of appetite while undergoing treatment.

Teachers Want to Learn, Too: Evaluations We Believe In

In this article published Wednesday on Huffington Post, Boston teachers Shakera Walker and Caitlin Hollister contend that most teachers long for meaningful feedback on their practice. In this piece, they offer recommendations for states and districts to consider when constructing teacher evaluation systems that are valid, fair, and effective. Walker is a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow and Hollister is Boston Public Schools' Educator of the Year. Both are members of Teach Plus and served on a Massachusetts task force that helped design the new evaluation system for the state.

It Starts by Making Education a National Mission

“The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America,” President Obama said last month in Osawatomie, Kan., as he laid out a vision for broad-based prosperity in America. The President said that education ...
Click here to read the speech.
President Obama

NEA Commission Issues Groundbreaking Report to Transform Teaching

Read Secretary Duncan's response to the report.

Parent Conferences, Test Scores Linked

Read this report about an interesting study originally published January 2 in the Omaha World Herald. In the article, reporter Joe Djeka discusses the correlation between parent attendance at school conferences and student learning. 
In the DC Area? 

Attend Screening (and Discussion) of American Teacher

Friday January 27, 2012  6:00—9:30 pm (Eastern)*
U.S. Department of Education Barnard Auditorium, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC  20202
Movie refreshments will be served.  Discussion follows movie.
Register (required) to attend. Open to first 225 respondents.
*Snowdate: February 3, 2012
American Teacher poster

3 Ways to Better Prepare Teachers

By Wendy Kopp and Dennis Van Roekel
This interesting, collaborative editorial has the leaders of the National Education Association and Teach for America agreeing on three strategies that teacher prep programs should use to improve the profession. Posted from USA Today last month.
Charles Henderson and team
Meet a Teacher at ED

History Teacher Brings 20 Years to ED

Charles Henderson taught high school and middle school for more than 20 years in Indiana and in Michigan. After a long and satisfying career, rather than retiring, Henderson took his passion for students, learning and U.S. history to the U.S. Department of Education.  (Read more.)

NEH Posts Summer Seminars and Institutes for Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities offers summer programs for teachers to explore interesting humanities topics for two to five weeks, while traveling to other states and countries. This summer teachers can chose from a rich array of course offerings, including studying the Canterbury Tales in London, immersing themselves in the Cotton Culture in the South in Macon, Ga., and learning about Berlin's Cultural Diversity in ... Berlin! The programs come with stipends to defray the costs of travel, lodging, and books. Applications are due March 1. Full listing of NEH Summer Seminars.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes 

Wisdom from Teachers (Heard by ED)

5. On the growing need for professional learning to address changing standards: "People are starving for anything Common Core right now." (Atlanta, Ga.)
4.  Advice from a teacher on how to prepare students to meet the challenges of the Common Core State Standards: "The best way to prepare for the test is to teach the standards well." (Austin, Texas)
3. On how professional learning is changing: "It used to be that professional learning would be a 1- or 2-day event. We hoped for a miracle change to take place then be followed by instantaneous transformation in our classrooms." (Lincoln, Neb.)
2. "Focusing on student achievement serves all. As they learn well, they also teach us." (Camille, on the ed.gov blog)
1. "Every time I read the words 'streamlined process,' I know there is going to be more work." (Hackensack, N.J.)
wise owl
Greg Mullenholz
Ask Mr. Mullenholz

About the Common Core

Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz answers teachers' burning questions about education policy. In this issue, he takes up the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). 
Teacher Question: What is the Common Core of State Standards? Is it a US Department of Education Program?
Mr. Mullenholz (Mr. M): The Common Core State Standards initiative is a state-led effort that is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices that strives to create high, clear and consistent curricular standards. It is not a federal government program and is in no way a part of the No Child Left Behind Act or any other federal education law. (Read more.)

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Robert BarozThe Neglected "R": The Need for a Writing Revolution (published by the National Writing Project). In this groundbreaking report, the National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges argues that writing has been shortchanged in the school reform movement of the past 20 years and must now receive the attention it deserves.
  • From Xian BarrettTime, Teachers and Tomorrow's Schools (a collaborative report published by the members of the VIVA Teachers Chicago Idea Exchange). This report compiles the input of approximately 600 classroom teachers (and some of their students) into a series of recommendations to effectively extend the school day, maximize the impact of instruction, and integrate technology. The strategies also address longtime Chicago Public School systemic challenges such as how to assign an instructor to every student at the beginning of a school year.
  • From Laurie Calvert"New Teachers Reflect on Teaching in 2011" (by Susan Sawyers). Last year Susan Sawyers worked with Jane Williams at Bloomberg EDU to interview brand new teachers during their first quarter of teaching. In this article posted on Huffington Post December 28, Sawyers offers teachers their words of encouragement, stories of frustration, and insights from lessons learned.