Teaching About Protest: The Dakota Access Pipeline -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 22, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

September 22, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Students and the 2016 Presidential Election

i voted picture

With little more than a month until the Presidential election, teachers all over the country are taking advantage of the season to teach students about civic engagement. Looking for ways to engage with your students? Check out KQED and The National Writing Project’s ideas for how to encourage students to write letters to the next President. Join in the conversation with the Teacher’s Guild by sharing how you encourage students’ civic voices with #CivicVoices on Twitter and learn about their research into civic engagement. Or, check out Youth Service America's list on how children five years and older can get involved and volunteer during this year's election.


Erica Schnee, National Board Certified Teacher and an iCivics Master Teacher, is an Assistant Principal at Bozeman High School by day, and an AP Government teacher for Montana Digital Academy by night. Read about how she engages her students in the election season and her go-to resources.

Schnee teacher photo

Suicide Prevention Month

Attempted Suicide Sparks Action

Colorado teacher, Brittni Darras, was shocked to find out that one of her students had attempted suicide citing that no one would miss or notice that she was gone. Darras took action to make sure that all her students know how valued they are for their unique contributions to the school community. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Learn more about how to spot the warning signs and where to find help (Larimer, Washington Post).

Dakota protest of pipeline

Teaching About Protest: The Dakota Access Pipeline

Current protests organized by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline call to mind a history of Native American protests and offer a prime opportunity for teachers to help their students learn about Native American history as well as contemporary issues and the tradition of protests in America. This blog provides basic who-what-where-why answers about the pipeline and protestors and offers a teachers toolkit (carylsue, National Geographic Education Blog).

anti bully app

Let’s do lunch! Teen Creates Lunch-Buddy app

What happens when you’re a lonely lunch eater who’s also tech-savvy? You create an app for kids to find lunch buddies. That's why sixteen year-old junior, Natalie Hampton, who was bullied during 7th and 8th grade, came up with a "Sit With Us" app. It allows students a judgment-free way to find lunch mates without the fear of being rejected. Students can sign up as ‘ambassadors’ and post open seats at their lunch table. Students with nowhere to sit can use the app to find a table that is welcoming (Itkowitz, Washington Post). 

Teachers: Get Involved in ESSA

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and goes into effect this year, will help our schools gain momentum. In a letter released this week from Secretary King, he says that "ESSA provides the opportunity for educators to have new flexibility to allow for innovation and to accommodate local needs, but we must ensure that, whatever we do, we’re addressing the needs of all students." He also encourages educators to find ways to get involved and provide input to ensure that their state’s plan reflects expertise from the classroom and school levels. 

emoji image

Emoji-themed Classroom, Kid-directed Organization Make the Grade

In Lauren Bakian Aaker’s classroom in New York City, she selects a theme for the year, which has ranged from Super Mario Students to Minion Buddies. This year it’s emoji, and emojis decorate everything throughout the classroom. But Bakian Aaker’s fourth-graders aren’t just learners; they also play a key role in organizing the classroom and directing the curriculum. Students “help me make it a place where learning and teaching is bright and cheerful from September to June,” Bakian Aaker says (Disare, Chalkbeat).

pre school children

U.S Scores Low in Access to Early Education

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report showing that the United States is way behind other industrialized countries when it comes to enrolling young children in early education programs. Out of 36 countries, the U.S. ranked 29 in preschool enrollment rates for its 3- and 4-year-olds, according to the study. Educators almost universally agree that those with early preschool perform better in school (Camera, U.S. News & World Report). 

ED is addressing this need. Over the past eight years we have expanded preschool and improved the quality of preschool programs. Through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, more than $1 billion helped 20 states design and implement cohesive systems of quality early learning programs. And through the Preschool Development Grants, 18 states are providing 35,000 four-year-olds with high-quality early learning experiences.

More Early Childhood News

study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry by the Yale Child Study Center found that teachers in early childcare and pre-K centers can significantly reduce aggression and other distracting behaviors that get students suspended by consulting regularly with mental health professionals. The findings also show it saves huge amounts of money compared to pushing kids into special education classes, holding them back a grade or expelling them from school. 

Celebrate Your Principal

thank a principal

October is National Principal’s Month and the National Association of Secondary School Principals invites students to make one-to-two minute videos shouting out why their principal is so awesome. Students can submit videos on YouTube for a chance to win a prize. Watch last year's winners and read all the fine print. And educators can honor the hard work of America’s principals all month long, send ecards, post to social media with #ThankAPrincipal and find webinars and valuable resources, too.

Bottom of the Food Chain

6th grade bullying

According to an NPR article, researchers have found more evidence for the use of K-8 schools and abandoning the common 6-8 grade middle school structure. Sixth graders were bullied significantly less when no longer the “bottom of the food chain” at schools. The puberty years are already hard enough, these researchers argue for a change to the typical middle school structure that could benefit many children (Kamenetz).

Hispanic Heritage Month Lessons

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15. The month honors the contributions of Latin and South American cultures in the United States. The Smithsonian provides several resources for teachers to use during the month and throughout the year. The National PTA also provides research, resources and infographics regarding Hispanic families that teachers may find helpful. 

Hispanic Infographic

Olympic Gold for Teachers

Olympic Gold for Teachers

Teachers and Olympic coaches have more in common than one might think. Sibling writers, Jessica and Zachary Herrmann, explore six lessons from the playing field that teachers can take away from professional athletic coaches. Teachers are in it for the long haul, so how can they make sure they win gold? Some of the lessons won’t surprise all teachers, but review the list to see what might support your practice.

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

king with teacher leaders

This week Teachers Edition asked educators what teacher leadership means to them.

5. "Teacher leadership allows teachers to shape the policies and share widely the practices that have the greatest impact on student success." – Teacher, Georgia

4. "Owning a teacher leader role at my school is what saved me from leaving the classroom." – Teacher, Michigan

3.  "Teacher leadership has allowed me to be a change-maker while staying in the classroom." –  Teacher, Nevada

2.  " Teacher leadership is about is about being both knowledgeable & willing to learn in order to impact change for students and the profession." – Teacher, Arizona

1. " Teacher leadership has given me a broader, more holistic appreciation for the teaching profession, the stakeholders involved, and the students who are so critical to the future of our nation." – Teacher, Illinois