Superheroes Inspire Students to Learn STEAM -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 8, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

September 8, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

In July, the Department issued guidance emphasizing the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education, and last week, Secretary King welcomed 12 arts teachers to discuss the issue. The teachers insisted that the arts continue to fight for a place in schools, even though research has shown the positive impact the arts can have on socialization and test scores. Currently only 17 states specify arts education as a requirement for schools to be accredited and only 26 states require course credits in the arts for high school graduation. Teachers shared the important life lessons the arts provide to students through encouraging perseverance, dedication, critical thinking, and management skills. These life skills can’t be measured by a test they said, but teachers can show growth for individual students, if school leaders and policy makers are willing to act. Find some resources below for next week's National Arts Education Week -- thank an arts teacher you know and learn more about what your state is doing for arts education.

arts teacher


Stacey Dallas Johnston,  a 2016 Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow at ED and an English and Literature teacher at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, has found that when students are given the chance to be creative, they often become engaged in school for the first time. The arts are “powerful tools that can unlock the opportunity for a student to learn about Math, English, or Science.” Read more of her blog in ED’s Homeroom

From D.C. to NOLA - Opportunity Across America Tour

opportunity tour image

ED and Secretary King are headed off to the South on the Obama Administration's last school bus tour next week. As part of the #OpportunityTour, we are putting a spotlight on #TeacherLeadership around the country! On 9/13, between 6 and 7 pm ET, join us by shouting out an exceptional teacher leader in your school or celebrating school or district leaders who support teacher leadership in your community. We can’t wait to see what #TeacherLeadership looks like where you live! Please, help promote this campaign by sharing the image above on your social media channels! Teachers can also follow the tour online and spread the word. And you may want to look at this video about opportunity in America as an inspiring way to start things off.

where is the love returns

Let's Bring Some Love to Our World

In 2001, and the Black Eyed Peas recorded a song called Where's the Love?, a social commentary on the state of our communities. He recently revisited the song and applied it to today's environment. In an interview with the website ATTN, he said he hopes the song will spark conversation about what's happening in society today — especially when it comes to education.

spread the love video image

It Made a Bad Day Good

Teacher Stephanie MacArthur shares an idea to spread the love by way of compliments from students, to students. The idea is simple yet powerful: students take turns in the “hot seat” facing away from the board. Classmates write positive statements about the student on the board, and when they finish, the student gets to turn around and read them. What a beautiful way to start a year, or to respond to events as they arise in students’ lives. 

justin with dogs on prairie

Perseverance on the Prairie 

Teachers won't want to miss ED's inspiring four-part series that tells the story of 17-year-old Justin Mesteth, who just started his first week at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The series looks at the many ups and downs he faced during his upbringing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of the nation's most economically challenged areas. 

grocery store items

Learn Math in the Grocery Business

Students at a Texas middle school are learning real-world math by creating and managing a grocery store at their school. Activities include calculating sales tax and salaries for workers, as well as making change. The idea gives students a chance to apply class lessons to real-life scenarios and provides them with an opportunity to learn outside the traditional classroom environment (Katz, Kilgore News Herald). 

marvel comic about arts

Superheroes Inspire Students to Learn STEAM

What happens when you cross pop culture with STEAM? Marvel Comics has an answer in their new covers, designed to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The covers feature superheroes engaging in STEAM-related activities and are meant to get kids excited about the possibilities in their own futures (SlotkinNPR, Marvel). 

Personal Infographics Help College Essays

It turns out that infographics are a good way to help students write college admissions essays. English teacher Hattie Maguire  (Novi High School, Mich.) uses these popular visual representations to inspire students to think about themselves in new ways, so they can write more interesting and authentic personal essays. With the guiding question, “What do you want people to know about you?” students designed these graphics, discussed them with classmates and used them to launch into these important essays. (Maguire,

back to school tips

Good Ideas For Back to School 

Now you can get 10 Back to School tips from ED in both English and Spanish. These are a great resource for teachers to share with students and their families as relationships form at the beginning of the year. 

Resources to Use

  • Another Character Day is Coming.  On September 22, join people around the globe for the third annual Character Day -- a global initiative where schools screen films on the science of character development, dive into free printed discussion materials that cater to different ages, and join an online global conversation around the importance of developing character strengths.  Over 50 school districts nationwide are participating. Click here if you would like to join the conversationBut if you can’t participate, the resources are available year-round.  
  • Celebrate National Arts in Education Week September 11-17, 2016, by sharing how arts education has affected your life, your classroom or organization. Be sure to use the hashtag #BecauseOfArtsED and #ArtsEdWeek. Learn more about how to participate in the week. Check out the searchable clearinghouse for the latest state policies supporting education in and through the arts from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  

What We Heard from Educators This Week

King with arts teachers

5. "I was never taught how to teach creativity and I didn’t know you could teach it until now." Teacher, California. 

4. "I teach music because I think everyone deserves the chance to develop their soul." Teacher, West Virginia.

3. "My favorite thing is that theater teaches empathy and sense of identity and neither of those is measurable." Teacher, Virginia.

2. "Our students are our trophies." Teacher, Texas

1. "The arts work to create wonder in students." Teacher, Maryland.