Dynamic Teaching Made This Teacher a Millionaire -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 17, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

March 17, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

On the Road to Raise America's College Completion Rate

graduation cap

There’s still much to do to ensure that the United States leads the world in college completion and that all students can complete quality post-secondary programs that do not saddle them with unmanageable debt. John Kingconfirmed by the full Senate as Secretary of Education on Monday, is leading that effort. He launched the “College Opportunity Across America” tour to meet with students, professors, and college leaders in three states and Washington, D.C. to hold discussions about campus sexual assault, campus diversity efforts, the role of historically black colleges and universities in STEM fields, college completion, protections for student loan borrowers, and other issues.

College Scoreboard


This week The Teachers Edition wants to point you to a Homeroom blog about the launch of the redesigned College Scorecard, an interactive tool designed to help students, parents, and their advisers make better choices among colleges. 

King Calls for Revamped Career and Technical Education


In a visit to Baltimore's Digital Harbor Foundation workshop, where kids learn computer coding and 3D printing after school and parents are asked to pay what they can, Secretary John King announced his hope for all students in the country to have access to "rigorous, relevant, and results-driven career and technical education programs." Schools across the country are invited to participate in a competition for $200,000 to design and furnish their own Makerspaces (Prudente, Baltimore Sun). 

best school day photo on colbert

Celebrities, King Join Colbert for #BestSchoolDay Campaign

Secretary John King joined several celebrities, athletes and CEOs on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote #BestSchoolDay, a campaign by DonorsChoose.org to help draw attention to various projects listed on their website. Founded in 2000 by a high school teacher in the Bronx, DonorsChoose.org empowers teachers from across the country to request much-needed materials for their students. Altogether #BestSchoolDay funded over 11,000 projects, provided 14 million donors, and helped one million students.  

nancy Hanks

Facing a Student She Expelled Changed Her Approach to School Discipline

Coming face to face with a student she had expelled changed this principal's approach to discipline. Nancy Hanks, now a top administrator for the school system in Madison (Wisc.), is playing a key role in revamping district-wide discipline policies, replacing the old zero-tolerance approach with an approach built on the conviction that suspension and expulsion don’t solve problems at the root of student misbehavior. Watch her speech at the 25th anniversary summit for Teach for America (BrownWashington Post).

Many Districts Work to Upgrade School Lunch Programs


More than 31 million children in the United States consume most of their daily caloric intake at school. Yet many school lunches still have oh-yuck reputations. The Christian Science Monitor published a list of 16 places that are doing school lunch differently. Sure, Finland and Japan make the list, but so do Memphis, Baltimore, and San Francisco to name a few. An innovative program in Alaska aims to help students gain a better understanding of local seafood resources and fishing culture by including locally-caught seafood in the school lunch program. 

Teacher Wins $1M Prize for Work With Traumatized Students


Hanan Al Hroub, recently named the winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, got involved in the education system when her children were left deeply traumatized by a shooting they witnessed on their way home from school. The Palestinian high school teacher says: "We as teachers can build the values and morals of young minds to ensure a fair world, a more beautiful world, and a more free world" (Smith, International Business Times).  

The Way We Ought to Rethink Professional Development

The cost of professional development for teachers is an estimated $2.6 billion at the federal level and some $8,000 - $12,000 per teacher in districts. Yet for many teachers, PD has been an "empty exercise in compliance, one that falls short of its objectives and rarely improves professional practice," writes Laurie Calvert (2010 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow) in a new report from Learning Forward and NCTAF. She lays out seven steps district and school leaders can take to improve professional learning, starting with ensuring at least 50 percent teacher representation on planning and implementation teams

New App Allows Virtual Look Inside Classmates' Bodies


Learning from textbooks is so 2015. Instead of reading about how the human body works, a new T-shirt and smartphone app allow students to get up close and personal with the body's internal organs, including a beating heart. The Virtuali-Tee lets people "interact with the anatomy and explore it right there in front of you," says the product's creator, who is raising money through a Kickstarter page (Moran, The Huffington Post). 

Private, Public Schools Team Up To Expose Disparities

Students from a public school in the South Bronx teamed up with students from a Manhattan private school for a discussion that centered around the ways in which their schooling experiences are different. The Bronx kids are working to get rid of the metal detectors in their school; a Manhattan student said, "if they tried to put in metal detectors, our parents would be in an uproar." Social studies teacher Alan Singer drew a connection to Jacob Riis' classic How The Other Half Lives

Teachers Rethink Math: Do People Actually Use Calculus?

A newly released book raises questions about the kinds of math we teach in schools, positing that things like calculus and trigonometry are "a harsh and senseless hurdle" for American students looking to graduate high school. Instead, the author argues that we should emphasize numeracy and the kinds of math people do in the real world (Kamenetz, NPR). Meanwhile, in Virginia, teachers are integrating the arts into math instruction -- for example, casting students as animals to measure the sizes of their steps -- to better student achievement (Balingit, Washington Post). Finally teacher educator Corey Drake offers four small changes teachers can make for deeper math learning, including offering daily mental math (Hechinger Report).  

Teacher Offers Lessons from Teaching While Black 

There is lots of discussion about the way that school systems are structured can be disengaging to students of color; teacher Pamela Brown suggests that it's "disengaging to our teachers of color as well. There are many teachers or potential teachers that take issue with the current system of micromanagement or the lack of respect for teacher expertise." In an interview with The Huffington Post, and in her new book, Teaching While Black, she writes that teachers shouldn't be colorblind; they should "promote our children's ability to see themselves," including their race.

Resources to Use      

  • National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is held each spring around Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. This year's theme is Greening STEM: Rooted in Math.  EE Week celebrates the educators who are making a difference in environmental education and STEM learning and provides them with the resources they need to continue inspiring the next generation of lifelong environmental learners. Make a difference by registering your event, lesson or project
  • History Buffs Take Note. The American Battle Monuments Commission has created a resource for teachers and educators full of activities, lesson plans, and videos about WWII history. 
  • Too Small to Fail Launches NEW Community Newsletter. Too Small to Fail has launched a NEW quarterly newsletter, highlighting exciting developments in community campaigns to boost early brain and language development across the country. It includes new resources and research, along with promising practices and approaches to support families with young children.  

    What We Heard from Educators This Week

    king at digital harbor

    5. "You can't keep asking me to wear a new hat each year without letting me take a hat off at some point" (Teacher, South Carolina).
    4. "When learners have a sense of purpose, they learn. It just happens" (Teacher, Illinois).
    3. "Teacher leadership shouldn't have to be a choice between working with students and working for students" (Teacher, Washington). 
    2. "Why is innovation always talked about in terms of what new thing to do instead of what old thing can we remove?" (Teacher, Connecticut). 
    1. "The fact that students in one district have 1:1 technology while the neighboring district has plumbing problems is absurd" (Teacher, South Carolina).