TEACHING MATTERS - November 2, 2012


November 2, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

winner's photo

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Celebrated at ED

Students from all over the country came to the U.S. Department of Education on Oct. 12 to share their art, photography and writing as 2012 winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Sponsored by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the 90-year-old competition recognizes middle- and high-schoolers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience. Many of the works are put on display for one year in Washington, D.C., both at the U.S. Department of Education and at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Read a blog written by Martha Kanter, Under Secretary of Education. View winning students' art on the blog. To enter the competition, submit works in December or January to the Alliance via this site.

cutting the ribbon at the showing

Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

  • After hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, ED developed Tips for Helping Students Recovering From Traumatic Events to assist educators and parents who have students suffering from loss. Though it's not a recent document, it is still very useful.
  • There is also a webpage related to Hurricane Sandy that contains education related recovery information. Information on the page is being added as soon as it is available.
  • The Departments of Agriculture and the Department of Education are also partnering to remind states and schools of existing federal resources available through the Department of Agriculture. States and schools may use stocks of USDA Foods purchased for the National School Lunch Program to help prepare meals at schools, shelters or other feeding sites to help feed local residents who may be in need of nutrition assistance. More information about food assistance in disaster situations is available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/programs/fd-disasters/.  
  • Secretary Duncan urged colleges to adjust application deadlines for students impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Read the release.

Arne Duncan on You Tube

Arne Answers Questions from Teachers, Students & Future Teachers

On You Tube Secretary Arne Duncan sat down to answer questions received from social media, emails and letters. In this edition he responds to questions on charter schools, collaboration and competing in the global economy. View the 5:31 video.

Preparing for Tomorrow's Jobs

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) recently released The World at Work: Jobs, Pay and Skills for 3.5 Billion People, a report analyzing dramatic shifts in global labor markets that have occurred over the last several decades. According to the study, changes in the global markets have caused increasingly stark skill and wage gaps across the world. Among the findings: Without a greater top-to-bottom commitment to producing college graduates, there will be 1.5 million too few workers with college or graduate degrees in the U.S. by 2020. Read the report

The New Majority

According to a national survey conducted by Teach Plus, for the first time in almost a half-century, teachers with ten or fewer years of experience comprise more than 50% of the teachers in this country. The study, called Great Expectations: Teachers' Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession, examines some specific areas in which new teachers agree and disagree with veterans about strategies to transform their profession. Read the full report

issues of disagreement among teachers

Breaking Barriers with Low-Income Students

In their Teaching Ahead blog in EdWeek last month, the Center for Teaching Quality posed a conversation starter among teacher leaders to solve a long-standing problem: how to help economically disadvantaged students break through barriers to success in school. The prompt: Imagine it's 2022. Over the past 10 years, you've helped to design and sustain a replicable school where low-income students are achieving at high levels. In your first post, tell us about the three or four factors that have driven your students' success. Read the teachers' passionate and insightful solutions.

Students Take On Poverty 

Leaders from the National Council of Young Leaders met for the first time with Secretary Duncan as part of his regular Student Voices series. The group met with Duncan to share their recommendations for increasing opportunities for youth and decreasing poverty. The National Council of Young Leaders is a newly established council with a diverse group of young people. The council, which launched on September 19, has 14 founding members ranging in ages 18-34. They represent urban and rural low- income areas and advise policy makers, business leaders and foundations on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities. Read about the meeting.

Arne Duncan meeting with National Council of Youth Leaders

Resources that Provide a Healthy Setting to Learn 

Teachers and principals have long advocated for healthy learning environments, citing their role in the health and academic success of children. Unhealthy school conditions can affect children’s welfare, attendance, concentration, and performance. Here are some resources that can help.

EPA WEBSITE. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Healthy Schools website provides resources and information to help educators support healthy and productive school environments.

NEW VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES. The agency also recently announced the release of Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program, which recommend six steps states can take to build or enhance a school environmental health program. 

WEBINAR. Register for a free webinar taking place on Wednesday, November 7 from 2:00-3:00 pm (EST) called Integrated School Health Tools for Districts. The webinar will outline how schools and school districts can create healthy environments for students by implementing a comprehensive, sustainable environmental health program. The webinar will feature highlights, tips, and strategies from established state programs.

question mark

ED Facts

Did You Know?

The average time to complete a @FAFSA has decreased to 23 minutes. Get your students started on theirs at http://t.co/Va9wBvm2.


Film Offers Insights for  Students Who are First to Attend College

First Generation

Being the first person in a family to attend college can be an overwhelming experience. Beyond preparing for the coursework, taking college admissions tests, filling out applications and financial forms, finding the right references, and writing essays--even knowing about these steps--can be significant barriers for students whose parents don't know how to help their children. A new documentary called First Generation follows four low-income high school students as they navigate the challenges of applying for college, and provides insights for parents, counselors and teachers who want to help. Find a screening in your area or book your own. Tarisi Dunlop writes about the obstacles students face and provides information about the film in a blog on the Learning First Alliance site. Read her article


Free Webinars to Teach Students about the Environment

The Green Ribbon Schools program, working with other federal agencies, offers educators a free series of webinars to teach students about health, science, technology and the environment. Topics offered through January are listed below. To see webinar topics for the remainder of the school year, go to the webinar homepage.

Nov. 7, 2012, 2-3 p.m. Integrated School Health Tools for Districts (EPA)

Nov. 14, 2012, 2-3 p.m. Train Like an Astronaut (NASA)

Nov. 28, 2012, 2-3 p.m. Hands on the Land (DOI)

Dec. 5, 2012, 2-3 p.m. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Programs (PCFSN)

Dec. 12, 2012, 4-5 p.m. Solar Energy: Power for Earth, the ISS, and Exploring Other Worlds! (NASA)

Dec. 19, 2012, 4-6 p.m. Chipmunk Cheeks and Chicken Legs: Body Systems and Life in Space (NASA)

Jan. 9, 2013, 3-4 p.m.: Using Remote Sensing to Quantify Changes Over Time (NASA)

Jan. 16, 2013, 4-5 p.m.: Food for Thought: Space Food and Nutrition (NASA)

Jan. 23, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Farm to School Program (USDA)

Jan. 30, 2013, 3-4 p.m.  Eyes on the Earth- Global Climate Change (NASA)

Students' Corner

Resources for Students

Teachers' Notes

  • BUILDING TEACHER CAPACITY. The American Institutes for Research recently launched a website to support educator effectiveness called Educator Talent Management. The site offers resources for evaluation and professional growth, compensation and incentives, and educator talent management.
  • READING RESEARCH. A study just published by the Institute of Education Science's What Works Clearinghouse examines study the impact of the Project STAR (Sit Together and Read) reading program on the literacy skills of preschool students in 85 classrooms in Ohio. The study found that students in the high-dose intervention group had significantly higher spelling skills than those in the comparison group at the two-year follow-up. Read the study.
  • VETERANS DAY is November 11. This teacher's guide offers a number of tools for teachers, including history projects, scholarships, plays, and an explanation of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
  • A GUIDE TO TWEETING TEACHERS. From Edudemic, The Top 50 Education Twitter Chats (And How To Use Them). The article provides hashtags and organizes the teacher chats by topics like careers, subjects, leadership and reform, higher education, and ed tech.
  • EDUCATION:  WHAT A DIFFERENCE 40 YEARS MAKES! The U.S. Census Bureau has released infographics representing educational shifts between the years 1970 and 2010. The information covers trends in student enrollment, costs, and educational outcomes. Among the statistics, in 2010, the number of women in higher education programs exceeded that of men, 47.5% to 38.6%. In 1970, the ratio was reversed, with 27% of men seeking a post-secondary degree and only 20% of women. Read the report. 
  • "LET'S CHAT CORE." The Teaching Channel's Teacher Laureate and the 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling is offering an audio/video blog series to help teachers understand and implement the Common Core State Standards. As part of this series, Sarah will interview Common Core experts and answer specific questions submitted by viewers. She will also share her own journey to implement the Common Core in her own classroom. Read the first posts from the "Let's Chat Core" series. Read the Teaching Channel press release, which gives an overview of the program.

number of PELL grants received over the last 40 years



According to two College Board reports recently released, Trends in College Pricing 2012 and Trends in Student Aid 2012, students have benefitted from the financial aid provided by Pell grants in increasing numbers over the past forty years. Pell Grants provide students with financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Apply online at the FAFSA site. 

Recommended Reading

  • TEACHER VOICE IN POLICY. The founders of Educators 4 Excellence speak up about the importance of giving teachers a voice at the policy level in this blog article: Teachers should be the ‘agents of change.’
  • TEACHING SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE. This Edutopia article about how to build social and emotional skills in children offers interesting ideas, including the "never ending cycle of desire" and "three tips for teaching happiness."
  • TOP TEACH. In an EdWeek interview, Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, shares her perspective on a range of subjects,, including teacher leadership, current teacher morale, the role of unions in reform, and Bill Gates's influence in education.
  • A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE: ED Staff Observes the Principal’s Perspective. Tyra Mariani describes her experience shadowing Washington, D.C. principal Wanda Perez and reports Perez's surprising answer to the question, What would you do to help your school if you received a check from the federal government? 
  • STORIES FROM SCHOOL. Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow Cheryl Redfield (Gilbert, Ariz.) writes insightfully and provocatively in Stories from School about bridging educational policy and practice. We like her reflections about segregation and the impact of teaching in TOD: Legacy Forgotten.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5.  Reflecting on the lack of career ladders at her school: "There are no career ladders, but rather...walls . Teachers have to figure out how to scale the walls.'" (Teacher, Kansas City, Mo.)

4. "We must shake off the shackles of mediocrity because “the next step after acceptance is failure.” (Pre-service teacher, Kan.)

3. “I’m excited to enter the teaching profession. Just to be here today is cool to have someone listening to us. Education is one of the most powerful things in the world.” (Pre-service teacher, Boulder, Colo.)

2.  Discussing the link between family engagement and success at school: “We make it our mission to get families here.” (Teacher, St. Louis, Mo.)

1. “I am witnessing a shift in teachers’ philosophies. There is more collaboration and greater excitement in planning and collaborating.” (Principal, Columbia, Mo.)

teacher speaking on bus tour