Too Many Kids Graduate, But Aren't Ready for What's Next -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- April 14, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

April 14, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

King Shares Benefits of Well-Rounded Education

Today, Secretary King will visit Las Vegas Academy of the Arts—a magnet high school where literacy and math are critical, but where instruction is done in the context of an engaging, arts-infused curricula. He will discuss the importance of a well-rounded education and visit with students. King said that "the research is clear that a well-rounded education matters ... there's evidence that kids get better at math when they've taken classes that make the connection between STEM and the arts - and that when they've had certain courses in the arts, kids can grow in self-confidence, and in linguistic skills, as well as in creativity" (Klein, Huffington Post). 



Whereas many school districts cut back on courses like arts and music during times of financial distress and student under-performance, Acacia Elementary School (Phoenix, Ariz.) did just the opposite. In this entry on our Homeroom blog, Principal Christine Hollingsworth shares why her school decided to boost its "specials" offerings and how it increased student performance and parent involvement at the same time. 

'A Teacher Like You' Project Highlights Amazing Educators


There is no shortage of feel-good quotes and photos from teachers on this 'A Teacher Like You' project. Here's a few:

  • "I’ve read before that people who can’t do, teach. It’s the opposite. People who can do and care enough, teach. You teach because you care enough to pass on something to another generation."
  • "Teaching is about seeing students in a new light. It's not just the scores on paper -- it's about them and what they're able to accomplish." 
  • I know that what I'm doing is changing not just the lives of students, but their families and whole communities too." 

Stuffed Animal that Class Launched into Space Disappears


The students at one England elementary school weren't satisfied with learning about Earth's curvature using textbooks. Instead, they strapped a helium balloon, a GPS, and a GoPro to Sam the stuffed space dog, who rose 15 miles into the air when launched. But then, tragedy struck when the helium balloon popped and all came crashing down to Earth. All except for Sam, that is. The camera and the GPS equipment were found not too far from the launch site, but Sam remains missing. There is a handsome reward for whoever tracks him down, not to mention the appreciation of some smiling schoolkids (MastroianniCBS News).

Too Many Kids Graduate But Aren't Ready for What's Next


Nearly half of all high school graduates complete an academic program that prepares them neither for college not career, according to a new report from The Education Trust. In fact, only 8 percent of high school graduates completed both a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Wealthier kids are more likely to complete a college-ready curriculum than poorer ones. Meanwhile, a different report suggests that students are spending $1.5 billion on remedial classes once they get to college (Kamenetz, NPR).

How to Bring Joy Back into the Classroom

"I teach to entertain myself," begins Jonathan Eckert, an elementary school teacher turned college professor and 2008 Teaching Ambassador Fellow, in a recent Education Week essay. "A teacher's enjoyment is a precondition for student engagement." Eckert suggests that if we don't love what we're teaching and how we're teaching it, student learning will suffer. Instead, he suggests that teachers should discourage the notion that "Teaching isn't fun anymore" and find ways to make it fun again. 

Rudyard Kipling’s Timeless Stories Come Alive

jungle book

With the new movie coming out this week, educators can use this free resource for The Jungle Book – four lessons, grades 4-8. One lesson is language arts based (character lesson), two are science and conservation based (water, drought and human-wildlife coexistence) and one is technology-based (the animation and technology behind the film). There’s also a really nice animal glossary in the guide. As an accompaniment, there is an activity packet targeted for younger children that could be used by families or educators

The Misconceptions that Keep Us from Reinventing School

Schools today don't look that much different from schools a century ago. Two authors suggest why the model is so hard to change. Among the reasons suggested by Iowa Headmaster Shawn Cornally is that we cling to outdated ideas like an emphasis on covering material and a belief that teachers ought to "create every experience for every kid." Writer Todd Brison suggests there are five reasons we "can't move the machine forward": because we want simplicity, we have too much pride, we lack the talent, we have a fear of the unknown, and, like everything else, money

Why Teachers Need to Brag About Our Successes More

When students do well, teachers tend to deflect positive attention away from themselves and onto their students, according to former teacher Anne O'Brien. That makes sense a lot of the time, but teachers should still get more comfortable owning their successes that come about in their classrooms, she writes, adding that the rhetoric about public schools and the teaching profession is so negative that we have the power to change the conversation and help others see teaching in a new light (Edutopia). 

Cute Photo Essays Highlight Both Ends of K-12 Education


On one end are a series of photos and videos from Promposals, the new coming-of-age ritual in which teenagers ask each other to prom through elaborate public displays of affection. Perhaps the most popular form of promposal, says Ana Hernandez, who curates a Tumblr page dedicated to this topic, is to arrange for a pizza to be delivered with a simple message inside: "I know this is cheesy, but: Prom?" (Hess, NYTimes). On the younger end are Preschool Pocket Treasures, a photo series from a San Francisco photographer who snaps pictures of what her preschooler son brings home in his pockets each day. "The magic of childhood is so fleeting, and these objects I kept finding in Calder's pockets represent a chapter of boyhood, his imagination, and the magic of finding a 'treasure," says Melissa Kaseman (Bologna, Huffington Post).  

Top Teachers Call for Individualized PD, Mentor Roles

The federal education policy most likely to increase the professionalization of teaching is individualized professional development that aligns with teachers' needs, according to a survey of members of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Respondents also suggested that federal policy should support structures to develop mentorship roles for expert teachers and more opportunities for new teachers to collaborate. 

National Poetry Month

April is the Most Poetic Month

Consider these four reasons why starting class with a poem each day will rock your world. That's what you can learn from ninth grade English teacher Brett Vogelsinger (Holicong Middle School, Doylestown, Pa.) who blogs about the positive experiences that he has enjoyed with students over the past three years of using a poem to start class each day. Skeptical? Give it "a test drive during National Poetry Month 2016," he says (Edutopia).

#BetterMakeRoom College Signing Day is April 26

The First Lady wants everyone to celebrate the students in your local community with your very own College Signing Day Celebration. Check out the Signing Day Toolkit filled with resources and examples of how you can answer the First Lady’s call to action. Keep in mind that the toolkit is not exhaustive so you are free to get creative and implement your own ideas. Sign up at and help reach higher for young people

reach higher signing day

Put Us in Touch with the Best Teacher You Know

During Teacher Appreciation Week on May 2-6, ED wants to say thank you to some great teachers. Recommend a friend, a colleague, your child’s teacher, or the 7th grade teacher who inspired you! Tell us about a teacher you want to highlight along with a few details about why and how we can reach them. We hope to directly contact each nominee but cannot guarantee that we will be in touch during that week. We may also use this information for additional teacher highlighting purposes throughout the year. 

stephanie johnson

Celebrating African American Educators

Stephanie M. Johnson is a 3rd grade teacher at HB Rhame Elementary School (Columbia, S.C.), and one of the teachers who will be featured on the website highlighting the accomplishments of African American Educators. She is also a 2015 Hope Street Group National Fellow and a member of the National Education Association. The Teachers Edition asked her: In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students? She said that she encourages them to explore their own heritages and cultures by having students conduct family interviews and using the data to write personal narratives, poetry, and plays; sharing their own story. Culturally relevant literacy promotes literacy engagement and achievement. 

future ready leaders month schedule

Get Ready for the Tech Future

What is #FutureReady Leadership? The Office of Educational Technology recently released Personalized Professional Learning for Future Ready Leaders, a new resource to support district superintendents as they develop plans to implement research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential. District leaders can take the short self-assessment and, at completion, receive a personalized playlist from the Future Ready Leaders video library tailored for your district. Check out some of them to begin your Future Ready journey

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "Even though they're fourth graders, I make sure to hug each one of them every day, coming in and going out. Telling them 'I'm so happy you're here today, and I can't wait to see you tomorrow,' gives them a reason to want to come back" (Teacher, Kentucky).

4. "When I think about teaching, I go to these words: 'Teaching is the career that makes all the other careers possible.' People say that we make a difference, because we do" (Teacher, Arizona).

3. "People said to me, 'Why do you want to be a teacher? You're so smart.' It's shocking, because it reveals the truth behind what our culture believes about teaching. And really, nothing could be further from the truth" (Teacher, Oregon).  

2. "Students are so much more than scores. So are teachers" (Teacher, Tennessee).

1. "We are a democracy, and we need an educated population. Teachers are the starting point -- we're the ones trusted to make that happen" (Teacher, Iowa). 

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