Librarian-Approved Apps You'll Want to Use in Class -- THE TEACHERS EDITION - June 30, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

June 30, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

The Teachers Edition Will Publish Bi-Weekly in July & August 

King Calls on Charters to Rethink Student Discipline

In a speech at the National Charter School Conference in Nashville, Secretary of Education John King called for charter schools to become leaders in rethinking student discipline to ensure students remain in the classroom and have the opportunity to learn. He said, "Discipline is a nuanced and complicated issue, yet the public discussion of these issues is often binary—pitting one extreme against another. It's 'zero tolerance' or chaos. Authoritarian control or no discipline at all. So, I'll say up front: I am not here to offer any hard-and-fast rules or directives; but I believe the goal for all schools should be to create a school culture that motivates students to want to do their best, to support their classmates and to give back to their community, and to communicate to our students and educators in ways big and small that their potential is unlimited" (Prothero, Education Week). 

How Some Colleges Are Managing to Abandon Textbooks

Some community colleges in Virginia and Maryland are using open-source materials in place of textbooks, saving students as much as $1,300 per year. Textbooks can account for a third of the costs community college students encounter, and so some think this program and others like it could have real impact on college affordability (Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post). 

30 Librarian-Approved Apps to Unleash Creativity in Class


Sometimes it can be hard to find the right app when there are thousands out there that could pull you in different directions. So when librarians do the work for you, take advantage. Some of the highlights on this list include an easy blogging site for kids, tools for storytelling and for developing student quizzes, and an app for kids to develop an attractive digital portfolio (Schwartz, KQED News).

Should Schools Teach Handwriting in the Digital Age?

A New York City pediatrician urges caution on questions of whether the ease and prevalence of typing will take handwriting out of schools. Handwriting involves motor skills and activates areas of the brain in a way that's different from typing, writes Dr. Perri Klass in a New York Times blog post that has generated hundreds of comments from readers. 

Children's Books That Encourage Black Boys to 'Be Brilliant'


Celebrities like Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson are talking about I'm a Brilliant Little Black Boy!, a soon-to-be-released children's book with an affirmative message. Nineteen-year-old coauthor Joshua Drummond recalled watching cartoons on TV and finding too few characters that looked like him. He says he hopes the book will "bring some positivity to the table" (Williams, Huffington Post). The Cooperative Children's Book Center tracks the race and ethnicity of authors and main characters of thousands of children's books published each year and finds that "publishing for children and teens has a long way to go before reflecting the rich diversity of perspectives and experiences within and across race and culture." Blogger Sundi published a list of 28 books that affirm black boys

Colleges Thinking Differently to Raise Graduation Rates

In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Secretary of Education John King wrote that "far too many students start college but do not finish" and then shared examples of colleges and universities that are improving their graduation rates by finding innovative solutions. For instance, Georgia State University increased its completion rate by 22 percentage points over a decade in part by offering peer advising, providing microgrants for low-income students, and assigning advisers to students at risk of dropping out, while other universities are creating incentives to help students attend college full-time. 

Why Top Teachers Don't Necessarily Want to Be Principals

Texas debate teacher JP Fugler writes a response to the common question heard by top teachers: "You seem like such a talented teacher. Have you ever thought about becoming a principal?" He says "we need to stop viewing teaching as an entry-level position" and a step on the path to becoming an administrator and suggests we should be grateful that some outstanding teachers stay in the classroom.

Study Examines Common Traits of Teacher Leaders

A pair of education professors examined 54 studies from the last 12 years and came up with some common traits and experiences of teacher leaders. Teacher leaders tend to feel more confident, empowered, and professionally satisfied; they even report that their classroom practice improves as they take on teacher leadership responsibilities. The report considers what school conditions are needed for teacher leaders to be most successful (Will, Education Week).

In Mexico Protest, Teachers Jailed, Demonstrators Killed

For months, teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have protested against national efforts to improve the country's education system. In a recent clash with government forces, nine people died. Previously, several teacher union officials were jailed and thousands of teachers were fired. The clash centers around government moves to institute teacher evaluations and restore more power to the federal government (Ahmed and Semple, New York Times). 

dog with ball

Best Fun Videos for English Language Learners

Luther Burbank High School (Sacramento, Calif.) ELL teacher and blogger Larry Ferlazzo has published his list of best fun videos for ELLs in 2016. Ferlazzo uses videos  to promote speaking, listening, writing and reading (including having students describe – in writing and verbally – a chronological description of what they saw). A number of them depict heart-felt creatures and critters that help ELL students with descriptions. More items for ELLs are below under Resources

Research Shows Early Monitoring Protects At-Risk Students

A new study of the Diplomas Now model, which won a $30 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from ED to implement the model in 11 school districts and validate its effectiveness, found that early monitoring protected at-risk students. "After a year of implementing the program, 75 percent of 6th graders in participating schools had no warning signs, while only 68 percent of their peers in comparison schools were completely on track." The program was credited with boosting the number of sixth- and ninth-graders with no early-warning signs in attendance, behavior, and course performance (Sparks, Education Week). 

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "Innovating does not need to mean technology. Innovating doesn't necessarily mean modern. It just takes into account learners' needs and going outside the box to meet them" (Teacher, Connecticut).
4. "A teacher's need to feel in control of the classroom's minutiae is a major STEM killer" (Teacher, Florida).
3. "I'm proud to be a product of the inner-city schools. It shaped the educator I am today" (Teacher, Georgia).
2. "Being a special education teacher requires having the best qualities of all educators 100 percent of the time" (Principal, Virginia). 
1. "We need to make the positive so loud that the negatives are almost impossible to hear" (Teacher, Canada).