TEACHING MATTERS -- March 14, 2013


March 14, 2013  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Anti-bullying video

"Break the Chain," by Karen Schulz, is the grand-prize winner of the Stop Bullying Video Challenge

Anti-Bullying Videos Go Viral

Great Schools is featuring some of the best student-created videos from the Stop Bullying Video Challenge. "Break the Chain" uses illustrations and a beautiful song to encourage kids to stand up to bullies, reminding viewers that it only takes one person to "break the chain." "Be the Hero" reminds bystanders that they don't have to be Superman to make a difference. "Kids React" shows students a clip of an authentic bullying incident and questions them about what they see. "A Sincere Compliment" highlights Jeremiah Anthony, a high school junior who used social media to spread compliments to counteract the impact of bullying. He opened a Twitter account called @WestHighBros to combat cyber bullying. Read about a new study that suggests bullying prevention efforts are worth the effort (from NEA Today).

Arne Duncan


Sequester Harms Education and Our Economy

"Last week I joined a handful of superintendents from around the country whose school districts are especially reliant on federal funding because of their locations in areas with little to no local property tax base. It is a particular shame that among the earliest and worst hurt are schools that serve large numbers of military families and those on tribal land serving Native American students. Here’s some of what they said while visiting Washington for a conference of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools." Read more. Read an EdWeek story (Klein) about districts that are bracing themselves for cuts to Impact Aid resulting from the sequester.


Educators Talk Teaching at International Summit

This week educators from a variety of countries have been meeting March 13 and 14 to discuss one topic: Teacher Quality. Watch Arne Duncan's video welcome message to summit participants. Read an article by Teaching Ambassador Fellow Lisa Clarke. View the closing ceremony. Follow the action on Twitter at #istp2013.

logo with young girl

As educators from around the world consider responses to the three essential questions of the summit, we invite you to ponder them and send your answers to us at TeachTalk@ed.gov.

  1. How is teacher quality defined by policymakers, the teaching profession and society? What standards are set and by whom?
  2. How is teacher quality evaluated? What systems are in place and how are the evaluations carried out?
  3. How do evaluations contribute to school improvement and teacher self-efficacy? What impact can be expected on teaching and learning from teacher evaluation?

Weigh in on the Essential Questions. We will read your answers and report back, and we will include some of your feedback in future issues of Teaching Matters. Check out the summit's webpage to read papers as others tackle this issue. 

Pre-Summit Webinar. To prepare for the International Summit, educators who attended, including leaders from the Center for Teaching Quality and ED officials, participated in a preview webinar. Download and view the archive of the webinar.

A Look Back video


ED Recaps First Term 

In this 6-minute video, Department officials recount successes from the past four years and discuss future goals.

On Strong School Leaders

"Great principals nurture, retain, and empower great teachers. Poor principals run them off."

--Arne Duncan at the National Association of Secondary School Principals National Conference. Read the speech.

Quote to Note

Common Core Connections

CITING TEXTUAL EVIDENCE. In this lesson, Sean Paris from Orange Grove Middle School (Tampa, Fla.) uses reading, marking, and collaborative discussion on teen driving to achieve a Common Core objective. The teacher also incorporates an interesting discussion strategy called "philosophical chairs." Watch the Teaching Channel video. "I think the Common Core is something of a mystery to a lot of teachers. But in reality, it simplifies life," says Paris.

COMMON CORE WATCH. In this article on Fordham's Common Core Watch page, Kathleen Porter-Magee points out that most of the conversation about education has been about systemic reform issues such as state accountability, teacher evaluation, and certification. She argues that if Common Core is really going to change everything, “we need first and foremost to focus on what these new standards mean for teaching and learning." Read more.

PARCC ISSUES GUIDANCE. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) recently issued new guidance about the assessment systems due in the 2014-2015 school year. Material in the new information for schools and districts includes 1) The design of PARCC’s English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics assessments; 2) The number of testing sessions and approximate testing time; 3) The number of days which schools may administer the assessments (testing window); 4) “Rule of thumb” guidance for the number of computer devices needed to administer the assessments; and 5) A new tool designed to assist local policy makers and educators build the technology capacity to administer PARCC’s computer-based assessments. Go to the tool.


Ed Staff Get Schooled in Excellence

During Black History Month, the Department of Education’s Student Art Exhibit Program and Blacks in Government collaborated to provide employees and guests an opportunity to enjoy a jazz "informance"—an informational performance created by students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and rising star jazz saxophonist Tim Green. Read more.

Thelonious Monk event

FAFSA image

Updated FAFSA Tools

ED recently updated tools for FAFSA completion that give school counselors, teachers, and administrators real-time access to reliable data. These data will help schools track FAFSA submission and completion and gauge their progress in increasing FAFSA completion. Read more. Go to the tools.


Report Calls for Radically Different Testing

This week the Gordon Commission released a report on testing called A Vision for the Future of Education Assessment. In his remarks at an event in Washington, D.C., Edmund Gordon cautioned the country against "purpose drift," or a tendency to wander from the original intent of a given test. Co-chair Jim Pellegrino urged educators and policymakers to use assessment primarily to inform teaching and learning. The Commission made three broad recommendations, including the formation of a states' Council on Educational Assessment, the consideration of new ideas about assessment when reauthorizing ESEA and other federal education laws, and broad agency collaboration around a 10-year research and development endeavor to strengthen U.S. assessment capacity. Read the EdWeek story (Sparks).


Did You Know?

By law, students with disabilities are entitled to these educational rights:

a free and appropriate public education

in the least restrictive environment

with parental involvement and

 procedural safeguards.

Learn more from the Office of Special Education and Programs (OSEP).

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The New Math

Sobering Facts about College Readiness

--54% of first-time college enrollees graduate within 6 years

--another 30% drop out

From a state-by-state study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.


News Flash: Many Honors Math Classes Are Watered Down

A study released recently by the National Center for Education Statistics found that the label "honors" does not necessarily identify high school algebra or geometry as rigorous courses. According to the research, 73 percent of students who took Algebra I courses labeled honors were actually using materials and a curriculum that would be considered intermediate; In fact, 35 percent of the algebra courses focused on elementary- and middle-school math skills or other top high school math content. Read the study. Read the AP news analysis (Elliott).

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Teachers' Notes

• LEVERAGING TEACHER LEADERSHIP. Educators for Excellence highlight an Aspen Institute paper about four districts using teacher evaluations to develop teacher leadership. Read their article. Read a PDF of the report: Finding a New Way: Leveraging Teacher Leadership to Meet Unprecedented Demands.

• TEACHER SPEAKS OUT ON PD. 2011-12 Teaching Ambassador Fellow and Hope Street National Teacher Fellow Greg Mullenholz offers his take on the MET Life Survey, contending that in the new environment, teacher development can no longer be considered a luxury. Read his story.

• WAIT, WAIT DON'T TELL ME. Arne Duncan appeared on the NPR radio show and described, among other things, what it's like for him to be a parent at a parent-teacher conference at his children's public school. He played a game called "Not My Job," about the education of secretaries, winning a prize for an English teacher in Dallas, Texas. Listen to the segment. 


Resources for Teachers

The online community edWeb.net continues to offer a range of free professional development, including webinars and professional learning communities. Check some of them out: Amazing Resources for Educators | Blended Learning | The Brain and Learning | Digital Decisions for Collaborative Learning | Digital Media for Social Learning | edGlobal | Emerging Tech for School Librarians | The Flipped Learning Community | Game-Based Learning | Growing School Gardens | Implementing Common Core Standards in Math | Keys to Successful Online Learning and Community-Building | Leadership 2.0 |LMC @ The Forefront | Mobile Learning Explorations | New Teacher Help | PD in Action | Teaching Students with Autism | Technology in Schools | TechTools for the Classroom | Using Technology for Language Instruction

edWeb logo

open book

Recommended Reading

• CONQUERING F.O.M. (FEAR OF MATH). Vukovic and Harari explain how children learn to be anxious about math at an early age and offer tips to prevent or reduce it. Read more.

• REAL TEACHER LEADERSHIP. FINDING A NEW WAY: Leveraging Teacher Leadership to Meet Unprecedented Demands, by Rachel Curtis, tackles an important challenge for the profession: how to implement teacher leadership meaningfully and effectively so that it improves student learning and allows teachers to advance their careers. Published by the Aspen Institute.

What are you reading, Toni Hull?

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "I've never once heard an attorney apologize for being excellent.'” (Special Education Teacher and NBCT who left the law profession to be an educator)

4. "This is the prime time to have the conversation defining education and the role of educators in our country." (NBCT English Teacher, Va.)

educators who came by after the SOTU address

3. "Our school works because our principal is an instructional leader. She knows that instruction is the heart of what we do." (Special Education Teacher, Fairfax, Va.)

2. "These are First Americans we are dealing with. And we are turning our backs on them." (Superintendent at a Native American school district in Alaska, decrying reduction in federal funding due to the budget sequester)

1. "I wasn't teaching to the test but testing my teaching by using frequent assessments." (Middle School Math Teacher, Washington, DC)