THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 29, 2015

The Teachers Edition

October 29, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

ED Listens

Duncan Calls for Reduction in Standardized Testing

Secretary Arne Duncan called for a cap on high-stakes testing, citing conversations with "educators who are understandably stressed and concerned about an overemphasis on testing in some places and how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction." While asserting that schools should still have a way to assess student performance at least once per year, Duncan acknowledged that federal policy had partially created the overtesting problem by encouraging states to evaluate teachers in part on test scores. Check out a video President Obama posted on Facebook with his thoughts on testing (Zernike, NYTimes).


At Denmark's open-concept Ørestad Gymnasium, kids break off into groups and form makeshift classrooms, sometimes with teachers and sometimes without them. 

Education Innovation

The White House Wants Your Ideas to Rethink High School

If you had a blank canvas to design an experience that would ensure that 13- to 17-year-olds would be ready for future success, what would you create? Would it look like the high schools that millions of kids are sitting in today? The White House is asking. Next month, they'll convene the Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students. Submit your ideas here. A new survey of 22,000 high schoolers shows that they are tired, stressed, and bored at school. Bet they wouldn't be so bored at TechInsider's 13 most innovative schools in the world, including ones that involve students in 3D design and another where students learn through real-world internships. 

From Promises to Progress

Insisting on Excellence for Students

Secretary Duncan has said there is nothing more important than "insisting on excellence for all of our nation’s students.” His message was echoed at a recent gathering of 193 world leaders at the United Nations. They came together to advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which hope to stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet. Included in the gathering were notables including Pope Francis, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Singer ShakiraFind out more about the SDGs, the U.N. gathering and Secretary Duncan’s observations.

Brain Science

What Does A Teacher's Brain Look Like?

Teaching is a social act and a survival skill, says Vanessa Rodriguez, author of The Teaching Brain, on a Harvard podcast. So often we think of teaching as a student-centered act, but Rodriguez draws on examples of kids teaching one another, leading to the notion that “teaching is a dynamic interaction and an evolutionary cognitive skill that develops from birth to adulthood ( Read about implications of her work for your classroom.

Teacher Leadership

Teach to Lead update

ASCD Named Partner in Leadership Effort. The organization will be the lead partner in the development of Teacher Impact Grants that will transform into action the ideas that are workshopped at Teach to Lead conferences. They join the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as one of the three partner organizations. For years, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Developmenthas provided guidance on educational leadership.

The High 80s. The Iowa Department of Education has joined the Teach to Lead effort as the 87th supporting organization. Check out the complete roster of organizations supporting teacher leadership through Teach to Lead.

Principal Corner

funny principal

More Than The Loudspeaker. In honor of National Principals Month, Buzzfeed busts some myths about school principals and even throws in some humor – a necessity for the doing the job. You’ll also meet some of the nation’s school leaders who inspire their teachers and students every day.

Hands-On PD. As an alternative to the “sit and get” model of professional development, the “go and show” model is showing promising results (SaltsmanDistrict Administration).

The Teaching Profession


adrianas first day

What Kindergarten Looks Like From Adriana's GoPro

GoPro video cameras have been used to take couch adventurers on trips everywhere from skydiving to Scuba diving. This year, a GoPro went to school when a St. Louis school district strapped a video camera onto kindergartener Adriana and sent her for the first day of school at Craig Elementary School (St. Louis, Mo.). See what happens from her vantage point.

Take the Quiz 

What Do You Know About Science?

Before you read about results from the Pew Research Center Science Quiz, click here to try it yourself. Not surprisingly, those with higher education levels are more likely to know answers to questions about science. There are also times when gender, age, race and ethnicity matter. But many agree that U.S. K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are “average” or “below average” compared with other industrialized countries (Funk and Kehaulani Goo, Pew Internet). 

Out-Of-This-World Science Experiments

space science

The stakes are high for the young scientists at Open Window School (Bellevue, Wash.). Instead of first-place ribbons, top science experiments are sent to the International Space Station to be tested by astronauts. Watch as Ms. Coulon's class considers seed germination, cell growth, food studies and more. (TakeoNBC News). 

Christie Champaign 

Celebrating African American Educators

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.

Champaign image

Christie Champaign is a Science Instructor at Jones High School in Orlando, Florida. She has also assisted with a STEM research program that is in accordance with the Title 1 Orange County School District’s No Child Left Behind Directive and the University of Florida, College of Education

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

My journey as an educator began with the unexpected loss of one of my younger siblings. Unfortunately, his life was too short for him to accomplish his goals or reach his dreams. Because of this, I decided I would help every young person I could to reach their dreams and the perfect way to do this was to become a teacher.

 What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students?

The majority of my students are at-risk and considered to have a higher probability of failing academically. Therefore when my students work hard and are accepted into a post-secondary education program, I overly celebrate it. I take my students pictures, copy their letters of acceptance and post them in my classroom for all to see!

What do you want to see change within education to better support the learning and development of African American students?

African American students are still beginning their educational journey deficient in vocabulary, comprehension skills, and additional environmental experiences. I would want a larger variety of educational resources, events, and experiences developed specifically to enhance the future education of African American pre-school children.


Boys More Sensitive to Disadvantage than Girls

According to research released last week, growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on girls. The findings may explain why boys graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market (Miller, NYTimes).

Quote to Note

Million-Dollar Teacher Prize Winner Says

"Literacy can change the course of a life."

Teacher and author Nancie Atwell, who won the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, shared her wisdom in a speech last month. Among the takeaways: children should have choice in what they learn, classrooms should be full of books, and teachers have a lasting impact on kids.

Resources for Educators

Resource Guide Released for Supporting Undocumented Youth 

The Department of Education released a resource guide last week to help teachers better support undocumented youth. The guide includes information about the rights of undocumented students, scholarship opportunities, and tips for educators about how to provide academic and social support for undocumented youth. 

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Keep parents in the loop. The Score Report Support Guide allows teachers to instantly share information about their state's test scores to help parents understand the changes in the classroom -- and what they can do at home. Learning Heroes and the Remind app make it simple for teachers to share, and provide scheduled messages to send parents.  

• Science of Learning. There's more to the Deans for Impact story, and Laurie Calvert (2010 Washington TAF) unpacks it all in her recent Learning Forward blog, Emerging Lessons From the Science of Learning (EdWeek Teacher). 

• Improving Teaching PracticeThe call for nominations for the fourth edition of the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers will close on Saturday.

• Calling all teachers! Your opinions and ideas about teaching have a chance to make a difference in education policy. Hope Street Group wants you to share your ideas and opinions by taking this brief survey, which closes on Friday.

• Sesame Street Takes on Autism. Sesame Street's "The Amazing Song" is part of a resource kit for teachers of students with autism. The music video celebrates how "We all are amazing each in our own way."

Effective Standards Recast. The newly approved 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders have been revamped with a stronger, clearer emphasis on students and student learning. 

Tools for Students

Enter the Contests 

doodle 4 google image

Doodle 4 GoogleStudents in grades K-12 are invited to take part in the 2015 Doodle 4 Google contest. Like all Google Doodles, each doodle must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e. One national winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship. The contest is open for entries from October 19 to December 7, 2015.

Missing Children's Day Poster ContestIn an effort to raise awareness about missing children and keeping all children safe, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is sponsoring a national poster contest for fifth grade students designed to increase awareness about child abduction.  Teachers can get details on the theme and how to participate. The deadline is March 16, 2016.

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Top 5 Quotes

hispanic heritage celebration

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "I credit Teach to Lead for opening my eyes to every conversation where we can advocate for our literacy needs.'” (Teacher, Washington)

4. "The new digital divide is how technology is being used, not who has access to technology" (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

3. "Elementary schools should feel like all rainbows and unicorns because learning should be fun." (Principal, Washington)

2. "Always teach kids before you teach content. Relationships matter and should be paramount in all we do." (Teacher, Connecticut)

1. "School tests do not measure creativity, vision, teamwork, integrity, grit, passion, empathy, loyalty, endurance, humility, compassion." (Assistant Principal, New York)