TEACHING MATTERS -- December 6, 2012


December 6, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, CO

Moving to Success

Fourth graders collecting popsicle sticks. Third graders jumping rope. Kindergartners pushing boundaries. No, this is not field day, but a dose of "Morning Movement" that starts the day for all students at Red Hawk Elementary School in Erie, Colo. A nationally recognized initiative developed by school principal Cyrus Weinberger and physical education teacher Tanya Erands, Morning Movement has garnered Red Hawy accolades. Read the ED blog article by Teaching Ambassador Fellow Mike Humphreys

Quote to Note

Raising the Bar 

Recently a task force at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) issued a recommendation that to treat teachers as professionals, teachers should take a rigorous exam similar to the bar exam that lawyers take to be accredited.

Secretary Duncan weighed in on the AFT proposal, saying, “Too many new teachers enter our schools feeling unprepared. We shouldn’t tolerate that in a profession so important to our country’s future. I am grateful to Randi Weingarten and AFT for leading a conversation about how to raise the bar and predict an individual's potential for success in the classroom. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a natural partner for this project. Together, let’s develop a comprehensive strategy to recruit our nation’s next generation of great teachers, prepare them well for this challenging work, and compensate and support them as the professionals they are.”

Read the AFT's “Raising the Bar” report and a related Washington Post article.

Talking Tough

Paul Tough on How Children Succeed

Recently education writer Paul Tough spoke to staff at the Department about his work around the noncognitive skills that children need to succeed. Tough argued that often we have emphasized the wrong skills and abilities, focusing too much on IQ and not enough on character traits such as perseverance and curiosity. He also spoke about the power of adversity, describing an "adversity gap" that can be created by continually rescuing children from problems and protecting them too much. 

Read Tough's 2011 NY Times article, "What if the Secret to Success is Failure?" Listen to a September 13 episode of NPR's This American Life, called "Back to School," which includes a conversation with Tough and others interested in helping students to develop noncognitive skills.

cover of Paul Tough's book

How are America's Teachers like Navy SEALs?

Watch this Dallas Morning News video from late November of Arne challenging the Dallas ISD leadership to initiate real change in schools. Among his suggestions: send the superstar principals and teachers where they are needed most and support and pay them well.

question mark

Open Educational Resources

Did You Know?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free and openly licensed materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and research. OERs can be revised, shared, expanded to suit a teacher's lessons and a learner's needs. They include full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.

Check out OER Commons, a network that brings together 41,023 tools that have been rated by users. Browse topics, like humanities or mathematics and statistics, with a refined search targeted to your grade level, media, and material.

Jeb Bush to Educators: 

"We Can Reverse This Trend"

Speaking at the Excellence in Education National Summit on Education Reform last month, former governor Jeb Bush called for educators and policymakers to move to a "child-centered system of education" which does not excuse education gaps. Noting the number of children born into poverty, Bush asked, "Where is the outrage of this? Where is the shame of this?" 

Jeb Bush speaking at Excellence in Action Summit

Watch the C-SPAN video of his speech, see what Governor Bush recommends, and get his take on the Common Core State Standards. Regarding the Common Core, Bush advises parents and educators that scores will seem low when they first come out, and that the initial reaction will be to "kill the messenger" and "blame it on the test." However, he warns that the states that "retreat on rigor will be short-changing their children and putting them at a competitive disadvantage."

student faces

Cast Your Vote

More Than a Bystander: Anti-Bullying Video Challenge

Nearly 900 youth from across the country took the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention StopBullying.gov Video Challenge. Watch the seven inspiring finalists demonstrate how to be the one that makes a difference. Vote today and help choose the winner! Voting ends December 10 at 11:00 pm EST.  

What Teachers Make

Teacher and poet Taylor Mali recently made an appearance at the Bammy Awards in Washington, D.C., where he performed his exceptional poem, "What Teachers Make." When teachers encounter critics of their decision to teach, they could consider reciting this poem or playing this version of it performed by Mali and captured by the Ignite Show's Bammy coverage.

Taylor Mali performing "What Teachers Make" at the Bammy Awards

NEH Summer Seminars

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports tuition-free summer programs for teachers. Participants receive stipends to help with travel and living expenses. These one- to five-week study opportunities are held across the nation and abroad. They focus on major topics, texts, and questions in the humanities. The deadline for applications is March 4, 2013. 

The New Math: Too Cool for School?

  • 75 million youth are unemployed worldwide
  • 34% of American youth who are not pursuing postsecondary education or training fall into a category described as “too cool to study”
  • Almost 40% of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level job vacancies

Read the study by McKinsey & Company.

Students' Corner

Student Competitions

Tools for Students 

U.N. ART COMPETITION. The United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA) and its partner Bayer Corporation invite elementary and middle school students aged six to 14 from the United States and Canada to pick up their crayons, colored pencils, and paint brushes and create original artworks for the 22nd annual International Children's Painting Competition (ICPC) on the environment. This year’s theme: Water:  Where Does It Come From? Participants have the opportunity to display their artwork in a public exhibition, to win prizes, and to become the North American environmental ambassador at the United Nations' global TUNZA youth conference next year. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2013. For more information and for last year's winning artworks, visit the UNEP website or Bayer website.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STUDENT PHOTO CONTEST. Students in 9th - 12th grades can submit their original photos in response to the question: What does adventure or exploration mean to you? The grand prize is an opportunity to travel to London for the Photography Workshop in summer 2013. Deadline for submissions is January 15. More information.   

BE THE CHANGE. Check out the Stage of Life writing contest, which invites students to write to this question: How will you be the change in 2013? The deadline for essay submissions is December 31. New contests are announced monthly on the site.

Narrowing the Opportunity Gap

Extending the School Day

Five states recently announced their participation in a major new effort to add significantly more time to the school year for tens of thousands of students in select public schools starting with the 2013 school year. At the announcement in Washington, D.C., Arne Duncan discussed the need to provide disadvantaged children more time and support to raise achievement. “I’m convinced that if we close the opportunity gap, the achievement gap goes away. The goal here is not more time, it’s more learning,” Duncan said. During a forum announcing the program, Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper observed that "It is a question of social justice that we can’t allow ZIP codes to define a kid’s potential.” Read the related NY Times article.

Read the new report released by the National Center on Time & Learning entitled, "Mapping the Field: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America." Check out free resources for extending learning time effectively from ED’s School Turnaround Learning Community.

Teachers' Notes

  • FIGHTING THE FLU. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helpful information to prevent and treat the flu. More than 38 million school days are missed each year because of the influenza virus. 
  • WHEN HELP HINDERS. This article from the Wall Street Journal advises parents about how to support their children doing homework and avoid common mistakes that can hinder a student's motivation.
  • PREVENTION THROUGH EDUCATION. The Department of Education and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) teamed up to revise the 1998 publication, Growing up Drug up Drug-Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention, an easy-to-read manual for tackling substance abuse issues through open communication with children. Check out the Get Smart About Drugs website.
  • BOOSTING THE IMPACT OF YOUR TEACHING. In this live chat on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm EST, Jim Knight, author of High-Impact Instruction: A Framework for Great Teaching, will discuss the teaching practices that, after 10 years of working with instructional coaches, he's found make the greatest difference in student learning. Sign up to receive an email reminder for this chat. 
  • 10 Ways to Integrate Technology Using a Single Computer, by Salisbury (N.C.) teacher Felecia Young on Edudemic.com, offers tips for using technology when resources are slim and budgets are tight.

Green Strides Webinar Series

The Department’s Green Ribbon Schools program, in collaboration with experts from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other federal programs, continues to present Green Strides Webinar series for educators, school facilities and health personnel. The webinars are free, but registration is required for most of the sessions. Upcoming sessions include:

Dec. 12, 2012, 4-5 p.m. Solar Energy Power and Exploring Other Worlds with NASA

Dec. 19, 2012, 4-6 p.m. Body Systems and Life in Space (NASA)

See website for registration information.

Recommended Reading

  • INVESTING IN TEACHERS. In "Why the Private Sector Needs to Invest in Public School Teachers," recently published in Forbes Magazine, Microsoft executive Anthony Salcito argues that the whole "village"--business, parents, principals, administrators, governments and the community--"has a responsibility to support teachers by providing them with professional development, resources and college-ready curriculum," and he urges private business to invest directly in teachers.
  • WISE COUNSEL. According to a recent College Board report, nearly 70 percent of high school counselors say they are tasked with administrative and clerical duties. This US News and World Report article suggests that allowing counselors to more effectively use their specialized skills could be a critical piece to the college-readiness puzzle.
  • THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT. In an EdWeek article, Vicki Phillips and Robert Hughes contend that for the Common Core State Standards to succeed, teachers must collaborate to "shift their practice and teach more advanced materials to their students in more successful ways." 
  • THE LONG HAUL. Michelle McNeil looks at Secretary Duncan's education agenda during the new Presidential term. Read her EdWeek story.   

teacher speaking

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "Principals must be the instructional leaders of every school, bar-none. This must be their first responsibility." (Principal, Calif.)

4. "Great schools don't happen by chance. They happen by design." (Principal, Houston, Texas)

3. To continue to improve, "We must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." (Teacher, Penn.)

2. "The diversity in my AP chemistry classroom does not represent the diversity in my school. And that's a problem--a real problem." (Teacher, Frederick, Md.)

1. Explaining why his Blue Ribbon school succeeds: "We're going to love kids unconditionally and we're going to work 'em hard. When you do one of these, it's good, but when you do both, there's nothing you can't accomplish." (Superintendent, Sundown, Texas)