Antarctic Adventure Pays Off --THE TEACHERS EDITION -- April 13, 2017

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

April 13, 2017  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Libraries report cover

Celebrate National Library Week

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. “Libraries Transform” returns as the theme for 2017, reminding us that today’s libraries are not just about what they have for people, but what they do for and with people. Several events going on during the week include National Library Workers Day; National Bookmobile Day; and Take Action for Libraries Day. To learn more, check out the newly released The State of America’s Libraries, that captures usage trends within all types of libraries. The report finds that library workers’ expertise continues to play a key role in the transformation of communities by empowering users to navigate our ever-changing digital, social, economic, and political society. Thank you, school Librarians! 


Florida Principals Hope to Use New Autonomy to Face Challenges

Districts in Florida can now grant up to three low-performing schools waivers from certain requirements in exchange for innovative leadership through the Principal Autonomy Program. Principal Lisa Lee at Orchard View Elementary in Delray Beach, Fla., says “They are trusting me to think out of the box,” and wants to revive music lessons and implement project-based learning at her school. Principal Philip Bullock of Walker Elementary in Fort Lauderdale chose to enhance performing arts and debate and encourages students to select a major and minor field of interest (Solomon, SunSentinel).

positive rock

Reversing the High Stress Culture 

At Lexington High School (Mass.) students and parents have come together to fight student stress. Students posted notes on what gives them strength and painted rocks with inspirational slogans like: Yes, You Can; Positivity - it's too important to live without; you are NOT your grades; and more. Students have created a comfort zone and filled it with art supplies and messages encouraging visitors to decompress, helping students to fight depression and worry (Spencer, New York Times).

Personal Mythologies Guide Students' Paths

Students who are continually told they can succeed learn to believe in this narrative and follow the path of least resistance to success, writes Ashley Lamb Sinclair in a moving post about the power of narrative. Sinclair, who is an English teacher at North Oldham High School in Louisville, Ky., has experienced this first-hand. In contrast, students who are told – explicitly or implicitly through systemic programming and scheduling, for example, - that they are deficient, will internalize this belief. “I know the possibilities that could open up for some students if they are told a different story and given a different myth to believe,” writes Lamb Sinclair (Washington Post).

Diversity in the Teacher Workforce Combats Dropouts

One Black teacher

Having a single black teacher in the early years of school increases the likelihood that low-income black students will graduate and consider college, according to a recent study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. For black boys, that number is stunning: the decrease in dropout risk is 40%. Johns Hopkins assistant professor and co-author of the study Nicholas Papageorge calls the study’s results “eye-popping” (Camera, US News & World Report).

Telemedicine Keeps Kids in School

When students miss school for minor ailments, the missed class time can really add up. Now there’s telemedicine: an approach to providing health care in schools, but remotely. How does it work? An on-site nurse examines the student with the help of a doctor who video-chats in. The nurse can even take pictures of a child’s ears, nose, and throat. As long as a doctor doesn’t have to touch the child to diagnose him or her, telemedicine can help students avoid missing school: 89% of students return to class after an appointment (De La Rosa, District Administration).  


Antarctic Adventure: Bringing Biology Home

Nematodes. Rotifers. Tardigrades. These tiny animals live in the Antarctic soil, and now students at Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah, will get to learn about them from someone who studied them first-hand: their biology teacher. Josh Heward was selected from hundreds of applicants by Polar Trec to spend a month in Antarctica conducting research with about a dozen others. Heward plans to bring his knowledge back: "I want to mimic some of the procedures that we did both in collecting the animals in the soil and also looking at them under the microscope” (Rascon,

Assessment, Data: Is It More Than Numbers?

Lisa Westman, an instructional coach from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, believes that there is a general misconception of what “differentiation” instruction entails. In Westman’s opinion, differentiation requires using assessments as well as data to construct a more comprehensive view of students’ needs. However, her interactions with education stakeholders have led her to believe that data and assessment may be four letter words at times and uses her most recent piece to break down their uses (DeWitt, Education Week).


A Bike for Every Student

Katie Blumquist, a teacher at Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina, raised enough funds through a GoFundMe campaign to purchase bicycles for all 650 students in the school.  Obtaining a bicycle was financially unattainable, as most students live below the poverty level. An unexpected benefit of Blumquist’s fundraising efforts: she won a GoFundMe contest, which included a $10,000 donation for her school. Those funds were used for teacher professional development (Kim, Today Show).

A Haircut and a Book, Please

Several barbershops in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area are participating in a joint initiative with the Milwaukee Public Library to introduce books in barbershops. Alderman Cavalier Johnson founded Books in the Barbershop to encourage young African-American males to improve their reading and literacy skills while also narrowing the achievement gap in the state (WISN Milwaukee).

Solving Real-World Problems with Technology

Students at a Washington, DC charter school are combining learning and technology in the classroom. Washington Leadership Academy’s students work to solve real-world problems in collaborative, flexible environments. Benchmarks of the Academy’s program include using virtual reality and computer science while becoming responsible global citizens. The school was one of 10 institutions nationwide to receive a grant from XQ, The Super School Initiative as well as support from Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropic organization Emerson Collective (Rolph, XO).

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

DeVos at meeting

5.“Schools are more effective if leadership focuses on validating needs than on offering solutions.” Administrator, Washington

4.“Our most successful PD ever was when we engaged teachers and made them leaders.” Administrator, Washington

3. “Our teachers don’t have a heck of a lot of planning time.  They need more.” Administrator, Washington

2. There is a culture around not taking risks.  We need to help students know it is OK to ask questions and be wrong.” Teacher, Massachusetts

1. “PBL works best with authentic product and a real audience for student work.” Teacher, Massachusetts