Makerspaces for ELs -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- December 8, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

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

Helping Justice-Involved Youth Transition Back to School


The Department last week released new guides and resources to help incarcerated youth transition back to traditional school settings. “It is in the interest of every community to help incarcerated youth who are exiting the juvenile justice system build the skills they need to succeed in college and careers and to become productive citizens,” said Secretary King. The resources include a “You Got This: Educational Pathways for Youth Transitioning from Juvenile Justice Facilities” guide written for incarcerated youth; a newly updated transition toolkit and resource guide for practitioners in juvenile justice facilities; a document detailing education programs in juvenile justice facilities from the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection; and a website that provides technical assistance to support youth with disabilities with transitioning out of juvenile justice facilities.

sarah giddings


Sarah Giddings, a National Board Certified teacher in social studies and history, currently serves as an advisor, and multi-subject instructor in Big History, social studies, and ELA, and is a curriculum coordinator for the Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education Program with the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium (Ypsilanti, Mich.) high school programs. She also believes in the power of forgiveness. Read her Homeroom blog about Luke, her student with a history of drug abuse, poverty, and crime, and yet is working toward success due to Giddings' commitment to help him succeed

Coding with kids

In Computer Science Education Week Coders Unite, Invite Others 

The week of December 5-11, Computer Science Education Week, is a time to celebrate and elevate coding and show how it can be used by anyone, any age, in any classroom and beyond. Sponsored by Computing in the Core coalition, the group organizes Hour of Code and other activities every year. It’s a way to introduce people from all walks of life to the exciting world of computer programming (Devaney, eSchool News).

girl with circuit board

Dual Credit Classes Make Computer Science Degrees within Reach

In McLean County, Ill., some students are on track to graduate, not with just a high school diploma, but with an Associate’s degree in computer science. The new accelerated program allows students to begin taking dual enrollment classes starting the summer before their junior year to get them through the program by the time they graduate from 12th grade. These students will help fill the gap left by “millions of baby boomers who are retiring now through the next 15 years” (Evelsizer and Sobota, Pantagraph). 

Creating Digitally Responsible Citizens


A group of Texas A&M researchers have created a social network for students to learn how to appropriately engage in online activity. Inspired by one of the researcher’s personal experience with cyber bullying, the group is hoping to teach 7-12 year olds how to recognize cyberbullying and what to do to stop it (Guilfoos,

Learning to Counter Hate Speech 

Cyberbullying can range from viral videos to direct text messages and has become a popular and necessary discussion point in classrooms nationwide. Author Devorah Heitner provides some guidance for teachers looking to respond to hate speech and bullying, particularly in the wake of a difficult election cycle. She says school leaders, including teachers, need to promote discussion, remain compassionate toward those creating the hate speech without condoning it, and remain cautious about our own participation in the online dialogue (Heitner, Education Week).

Avoid Online Learning Isolation

Online learning

Online learning has become a normal part of many classrooms, but the ways teachers utilize this platform varies greatly. Jason Lineberger claims the best online learning helps students connect to each other, the teacher, and the instructional materials. Avoid some of the common pitfalls by taking a few tips from Lineberger (Lineberger,

Arts and Athletics Instead of Test Prep for Urban Charter School

Many charter schools focused on turnaround schools in large, urban districts utilize boot camp-like structures for beating standardized tests, but the Roses in Concrete Community School (Oakland, Calif.) is getting back to the love of learning. The founder of the school, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, is determined to expose his mostly black and Latino students to art, dual-language, athletics, and culturally relevant curriculum to give them the same experiences that their more affluent counterparts are receiving at private schools. With only two years under their belt, students at the school are showing real progress and are hungry for more success (Felton, 

wilson elementary school

Makerspaces Helping English Learners

Educators are seeing makerspaces -- a strategy to teach K-12 students science, math and technology through hands-on activities --  as an effective way for English Language Learners to improve their confidence and abilities in English. At Wilson Elementary School (Sanger, Calif.) principal Ken Garcia said the "makerspace has given English learners 'a new way of engaging in English' as teachers encourage them to use complete sentences in talking through their collaborations and recording their observations in their journals" (Maio, EdSource).

Banned Book

Banning Books to Protect Students

Censorship and book banning is nothing new, but when you take into account the deep divide in the country after the election, it is making some parents think twice about literature that uses racial slurs. Principals and teachers are asking themselves if removing some titles is really censorship or actually protecting students (Balingit, Washington Post). 

Apply for Fishman's Prize

Have you ever had a teacher who's inspired you to reach for your dreams? Nominate them to receive a $25,000 award and the recognition they deserve. Winners participate in a summer residency with their peers, providing them with a platform to speak out about teaching and learning. "I want my students to see me as someone who never doubts their ability to achieve amazing things, and who pushes and supports them in working hard to get there," says 2015 winner Zeke Phillips

Resources to Use

  • Learn About the SeaIn conjunction with their latest movie release, Moana, the Disneynature Educational team released an Educator’s Guide and Activity Packet that includes information on storytelling, ocean waves, wayfinding and sea turtles, as well as lesson plans and activities inspired by the film that promote the protection of the ocean and ocean animals. Read more about how the material connects students to the magic of nature. 
  • Code with Moana. The new Disney Tutorial - Moana: Wayfinding with Code - featuring Moana and her co-star Maui, inspires kids to try coding through an engaging and fun online experience (available in a variety of languages). 
  • Why Social and Emotional Learning is Hot. EDGE Research will present the results of market research that offers insights into how educators, out-of-school time leaders, and parents think about social and emotional learning. The Wallace Foundation commissioned this research to better understand the terminology being used to describe social and emotional learning and what motivates the considerable interest in the topic. Register for the Webinar taking place Monday, Dec. 12   

What We Heard from Educators This Week

San Jose

This week, we asked teachers: How do you keep motivation and momentum going toward winter break?

5. “Wheaties in the morning, jumping jacks at night.” Teacher, Montana 

4. “Start a new, relevant unit with clear goals for kids to reach and keep us all engaged!” Teacher, Washington

3. “I remind myself that students are the reason we do what we do.” Teacher, Washington, DC

2. “Irresistible puns!” Teacher, Montana

1. “Get festive!” Teacher, Arizona