TEACHING MATTERS -- February 6, 2013


February 6, 2013  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Jennie Magiera

Digital Dynamo

How Ed Tech Turned this Teacher from a Skeptic to a True Believer

Three years ago, elementary teacher Jennie Magiera had her doubts that technology could improve student learning. "I thought technology was just bells and whistles," she said. Read about what changed for Magiera and how this digital doubter became the Digital Learning Coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership’s network of 25 Chicago Public Schools.

Leaders To Learn From

Overcoming Obstacles  

In the first of what will be an annual report, Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From spotlights16 district-level leaders from across the country who seized on creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems. Read about Daniel P. King's (Pharr--San Juan--Alamo, Texas) strategies to reduce dropouts, Clark Hult's (Newcomb Central, N.Y.) progress with rural enrollment, and Judy Sorrell's (Fishersville, Va.) programs to meet the needs of special education, among others. 

Leaders to Learn From cover

Race to the Top


In only two years, the 12 states with Race to the Top grants continue to show improvements in teaching and learning in their schools. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released state-specific reports for the 12 Race to the Top states, providing detailed, transparent summaries of each state’s accomplishments and challenges in year two, which covered the 2011-12 school year.

question mark


Did You Know?

Donors in Texas helped to fund school turnaround efforts at the Houston Independent School District. The district wrapped up the campaign by receiving a $1 million donation from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The program extends learning time by staffing schools with principals and teachers who believe in the no-excuse philosophy and who have a track record of improving student achievement.

On how the Common Core State Standards differ from previous education reform initiatives:

"What's unique about this work is that it is anchored in the classroom. Teachers are going to lead this work."

John Deasy, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District at a Jan. 10 seminar on the Common Core State Standards at the American Enterprise Institute. Listen to the audio.

Quote to Note

Green Schools logo


The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities with the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement. Find more sessions for educators, facilities managers, and advocates weekly.

Feb. 6, 2013, 4-5 p.m. An Energy Literacy Citizenry from K through Grey (DOE)

Feb. 13, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Emerging ʺGreenʺ Technologies: OMEGA: Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (NASA)

Feb. 20, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Climate Time Machine (NASA)

Feb. 27, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Healthy Living – Healthy Students (NWF)

Mar. 6, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Integrated Pest Management in Schools: Protecting Children from Pests and Pesticides (EPA)

Mar. 13, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Food and Fitness (NASA)

Mar. 20, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Radiation Exposure on Earth (NASA)

Bringing Data into the Light

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released student performance data in reading and math for all schools in the country for school years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. This is the first time the Department has published school-level state assessment data. The data are being released as part of the Department’s ongoing transparency efforts. Read more. 

teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School

Career and Technical Education

National CTE Month Celebrated

ED has joined the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to celebrate February as National CTE Month. Each organization has assembled a month-long schedule of activities that focus on outstanding programs. ED will also focus on the need to transform secondary and postsecondary programs that are no longer relevant in today’s marketplace. Read more. Read the Department's Blueprint to Transform Career and Technical Education.

College Debt

School Counselors' Perspectives

• Most high school counselors believe student loans are a good investment for a typical student at their school: 83% believe loans are at least a “somewhat good” investment, including 37% who believe they are a “very good” investment.

• 86% of high school counselors are concerned about the level of debt students are taking on to pay for college.

• 89% say that student loans help low-income students attend college.

• More than one-third (37%) believe that low-income students should avoid student loans because of the risks of default.

From Balancing Acts: How High School Counselors View Risks and Opportunities of Student Loans.

The New Math

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• BLACK HISTORY MONTH RESOURCES. Celebrate Black History Month in the classroom with this link to Free Resources for Educational Excellence, sponsored by the federal agencies. Edutopia also offers

Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month that includes "Do's and Dont's for Teaching Black History" and interactive resources for the classroom.

STOP BULLYING (IN SPANISH). StopBullying.gov has launched a new Spanish website: http://espanol.stopbullying.gov/. The site offers research and best practices on cyberbullying, prevention and response, as well as training modules and toolkits in Spanish for parents and educators.

RURAL EDUCATORS' WEBINAR. The webinar will discuss the research behind the STAR 3-to-3rd Project and highlight the training films which show other schools serving rural, low-income students how educators can implement this innovative program. The STAR School, located in rural northern Arizona, serves students in pre-school through grade 8 who live in the Southwest corner of the Navajo Nation and the surrounding rural area. Sponsored by the Rural School and Community Trust. Learn more and register.

open book

Recommended Reading

•  Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail. A must-read piece from the Atlantic for teachers, who will want to send it immediately to some parents! It includes a study out of Queensland University of Technology, billed as advice from parenting professionals "on the concept of over-parenting."

•   A COMMON CORE TEACHABLE MOMENT. The VIVA Project's Lesley Hagelgans offers insights into what educators can learn by reflecting on how the Common Core State Standards are being communicated to teachers. She includes tips for educators and teachers to navigate the new terrain. Read her blog.

What are you reading, Richard Culatta?

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Advice from veterans to beginning teachers.

Teachers responded to ED's Twitter question: Looking back, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started teaching?  Read the rest of the responses on Storify.

5. "Don't be afraid to reach out to master teachers in your field. Use their experience.” (Rob Giles)

4. "Noise is okay, silence is okay, Downtime is not bad, you don't have to do everything in 60 minutes." (Dawn Gilmore)

3. "Knowing how to teach a concept is not enough, you need to know how to teach the concept 8 different ways." (Mr. Vaughn)

2. "That relationships r first step but not enough by itself - it's how u leverage them to maximize student outcomes." (Ryan Vernosh)

1. "Our students' lives are our legacy." (Kristen Clark)

Arne Duncan with a teacher