THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 2, 2014

The Teachers Edition

October 2, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

Separating the word "evil" from "genius." Make a difference here.

This is one in a series of clever ads for the University of San Francisco featured in "10 Awesome Education-Related Advertising & Marketing Campaigns of 2012" by Kim Kelly (Spark Room). 


Awesome Advertising

"Go Jumbos!"

The teachers at ED are loving a blog that highlights some of the best education-related advertising of 2012. There are five in the series from the University San Francisco, most playing off stereotypes and well-known images of the city where it is located. 

Check out the University of Bristol's unusual use of a QR code (the cell phone readable bar code)

A hilarious ASU Memes ad was created by a student and later incorporated into the ASU Memes Facebook page. 

Educators who teach juniors and seniors will want to check out the Tufts ad, which includes links to videos that students submitted as part of their application to attend the university. The one-minute-plus videos are creative, funny and often brilliant. They also give clues about the kind of thinking that college admissions counselors look for in admissions essays and videos. Be sure to check out the video by Christian Holmes, who inserts himself into an Inside the Actors Studio show, Rhaina Cohen's "In My Shoes" (shown above), and Shelby Listokin's superlative approach for turning lemons into lemonade, when she needed to produce an admissions video shortly after having reconstructive jaw surgery. 

The three advertisements below were produced by Global Education First and UNICEF. Although they aren't listed in Kelly's "Awesome Education-Related Advertising," perhaps they should be in the future. Until then, check out other UNICEF ads promoting the message that school really matters.

3 UNICEF ads supporting international education
still of girls racing from PSA

Finally, the National Urban League has released a pair of :30 public service announcements supporting equal access to the Common Core State Standards. Developed with parents in mind, the television spots assert, "When we put our children first with Common Core, there's no telling how far they can go." View the commercials

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia

NEA COMMENTARY. Speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, NEA President Lily Eskelson García told the audience that she had torn up her scheduled speech about "the abuse of toxic testing" to praise Arne Duncan for saying he has directed ED's Office for Civil Rights to esnure all students have equal access to educational resources.


What Equity Looks Like

All students—regardless of race, color, national origin or zip code—deserve a high-quality education that includes resources such as academic and extracurricular programs, strong teaching, technology and instructional materials, and safe school facilities. 

This week Arne Duncan announced guidance to states, school districts and schools to ensure that students have equal access to such educational resources so that they all have an equal opportunity to succeed in school, careers and in life. 

The guidance provides detailed and concrete information to educators on the standards set in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is one part of President Obama's larger equity agenda, including the recently announced Excellent Educators for All initiative, and takes into account the ongoing efforts of states, school districts and schools to improve equity.

"Something incredibly good and incredibly new is happening," Eskelsen said about Duncan's earlier announcement that he would direct the Office for Civil Rights to hold local and state politicians responsible for equity. "We know what equity looks like."

Listen to Eskelsen's remarks. Read the NEA's statement supporting the Department's promise to fight inequity in education. Review the AFT's reaction to Duncan's action.

P Chat

Principal Chat

STEPPING UP AND REACHING OUT. In 2012, 32 percent of Indianapolis’ youth were living in poverty, and 57 percent of school-age youth were receiving free or reduced-price lunch. Yet, despite that high level of need, only a third of Indianapolis’ graduating high school seniors were completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that would lead to education after high school. Read this blog to learn what the community did to dramatically improve FAFSA completion so that more students can attend two-year and four-year colleges (Coffman, Homeroom).

LEADERSHIP MATTERS. New Leaders has released Great Principals at Scale: State and Federal Policy Brief as a follow-up to their latest research findings on the conditions that allow principals to be effective across an entire district. The new policy brief offers state and federal leaders a blueprint for supporting those conditions in districts across the country.

COLLEGE READINESS DATA CATALOG TOOL & USER GUIDE AVAILABLE. The IES College Readiness Data Catalog Tool and User Guide enables states, districts and other educational entities to assess the presence of college readiness indicators and identify gaps in developing future indicator systems. The College Readiness Data Catalog is a flexible Excel workbook that provides a shell for organizing and tracking student data relevant for measuring college readiness. Learn more

Teacher David Olio with two students

David Olio teaches English at South Windsor High School in South Windsor, Conn.


Tricks for Teaching a Difficult Text

The Teaching Channel has collaborated with the National Education Association on a video series that shows some of the “invisible work” that goes into successful teaching and lets viewers observe the end-result classroom lessons and the planning that went into crafting them. 

This video lesson shows students of AP English teacher David Olio collaborating to understand a difficult text, Toni Morrison's Beloved. They use a close-reading strategy, called the interrupted passage. In addition to showing how it's done, the video's webpage includes teaching materials for a two-day lesson and analyzes how Mr. Olio helps his students build skills to collaborate well. 

Did you know?


Did you know that Sunday, October 5 is World Teachers' Day?

Learn more and tune into celebrations around the world. Watch an open forum, "Teaching Today," Monday, 6 October 2014 - 10:00 am to Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 8:30 pm. Go to the Wikipedia page


classroom of Togolese teacher Koumrouma Kpassagou

In A Day in the Life (left), Togolese teacher Koumrouma Kpassagou narrates what she and her students experience in her classroom and describes what she believes they need for a quality education. 

The physical realities of school in Togo are heartbreaking. Teachers may have up to 105 students in a classroom, and Kpassagou admits that she is unable to remember all of their names. When students' families can't afford to buy cake or porridge, then the students go hungry for lunch. And she teaches with outdated teaching materials and books that only 10 percent of her students can afford.

In spite of these difficult circumstances, teachers from all over the world will connect with Kpassagou's passion for education and her desire to help students thrive.

Check out a day in the life of an Argentinian teacher  and a Belgian teacherPeruse world statistics for teachers from UNESCO's Institute for Statistics.

Common Core Connections

COGNITIVE SCIENCE BEHIND THE COMMON CORE. The Center for American Progress has released a report reviewing the research base for the standards and why they promote greater student learning. While they acknowledge that teachers and parents feel anxiety as they transition from old standards to the Common Core, they assert "their efforts will pay off." Read the introduction and summary. Download the report.

VIRTUAL CORE. ASCD is offering a series of virtual learning webinars designed to help teachers with Common Core implementation in math, ELA, science and social studies. The first round of webinars will begin the week of October 13. Learn more and check out the schedule of free webinars.  

WHEN IT WORKS. Interesting perspective about a place where the Common Core is not controversial and is, in fact, working well: Washoe County, Nev. What's making the difference? Common Core Watch's Robert Pondiscio explains: "Far from a top-down initiative, driven from afar by nationalizers, privatizers and moneyed interests, the Core Task Project is homegrown, teacher-led, and the product of a mid-sized and diverse public school system." Read the story and learn what is happening to make the difference in your education community. 

dandelion plant


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

Recently, the Department made a number of announcements concerning new grants and guidance. Here are some highlights.

 $75 million for First in the World grants to increase innovation around college opportunity

 $450 million for grants to strengthen partnerships between community colleges and workforce/businesses for better skills-driven training

 $70 million to improve school climate and keep students safe.

 New GEAR UP grants to help more than 116,000 students on the pathway to success in college

 More than $14.7 million in elementary and secondary counseling grants

 More than $16.4 million in grants to Connecticut's Newtown public school district to further support recovery efforts

"Every teacher deserves the opportunity to receive the training and support necessary to prepare for the rigors of preparing all students for success in the classroom and in life."

(Secretary Arne Duncan on the announcement of the $35 million in awards for 24 new partnerships between universities and high-need school districts that will recruit, train and support more than 11,000 teachers over the next five years—primarily in STEM fields—to improve student achievement. Learn more. Read about education reporter Stephen Sawchuk's perspective on the TQP grants in EdWeek).

Quote to Note

the New Math

Record Number of Students are Homeless

• 1.3 million elementary and secondary students were homeless during the 2012-2013 year

• 75 percent were living doubled up in the home of a friend or a relative

• 16 percent were living in homeless shelters

• 6 percent lived in hotels or motels

• 3 percent had no shelter

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education required schools to indicate whether homeless students were living with a parent or on their own. Schools reported that 75,940 homeless students were living on their own. Read more (Layton, Washington Post). Download the data.

Back to School with the History Makers


Back to School with the HistoryMakers

Juniors and seniors at Bell Multicultural High School on Columbia Heights Educational Campus had an opportunity to learn from two impressive role models last week when HistoryMakers George Curry and Ronald Jewell visited their school during Back to School with the HistoryMakersThe pair spoke about how they overcame adverse circumstances to become leaders of their professions, answered students' questions, and shared helpful advice. 

Curry, a journalist who couldn't get a job out of school writing in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was hired by Sports Illustrated and went on to work for other national publications, covering hot issues of the day. "You've got to reject rejection," he told students. He also urged them not to let growing up without an active father or in poverty to keep them from being great. "You gotta learn to take a negative and make it a positive," he said. Jewell, who started a successful residential and commercial cleaning business, told students that he succeeded by working hard and constantly striving to make the world a better place.

Curry and Jewell (who can be identified as the men in the back in suits in the back row) are shown above with some of the students who attended the event. Also in the picture, second from the right on the back row, is HistoryMakers founder Julieanna Richardson. Arne Duncan attended the event and made opening remarks. 

The HistoryMakers organization preserves and shares the life stories of thousands of African Americans, helping to educate and enlighten millions worldwide through an inclusive record of American history.

blue ribbon


Schools Honored for Closing Gaps

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this week recognized 337 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. 

The Department will honor 287 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C. In its 32-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on just under 7,900 of America's schools.

Learn more.  See which schools won. Watch a video of the announcement.

Teach to Lead


Check out the latest teacher leadership stories posted on Teach to Lead.

  • Owning their Profession. Chris Eide, Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, Kirby Green and Robert Ettinger created Teachers United, a Washington state teacher organization that advocates for teaching quality.
  • A is for Art. Christine Holajter led a group of teachers to adopt an alternative evaluation of learning for the arts and humanities that included improving curriculum and instruction.

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

WHEN I GROW UP. Who doesn't dream about what to be when you grow up? Now students can explore careers based on their aspirations. U.S. Department of Labor offers an interactive career exploration tool that provides career fact sheets with tidbits such as median salary, entry-level education requirements, and more. 

READ BEFORE YOU PAY. Before you make your first student loan payment, read these four pieces of advice from the folks who know in the Office of Federal Student Aid (CallahanHomeroom).

TAF and PAF news

GREG MULLENHOLZ (2011 Washington Fellow) spoke on a panel about "The Politics, the Principles, and the Promise" of the Common Core State Standards. Greg is now an assistant principal at Maryvale Elementary School (Rockville, Md.). Learn more and watch a video of the panel discussion. 

• In "Teach Like a Novice," JON ECKERT (2008 Washington Fellow), who is now a college professor and student teaching supervisor, offers lessons teachers can learn simply by reflecting on what didn't work during their first few years in the profession. His article in Phi Delta Kappan includes all-too-familiar vignettes of well-intentioned, but ultimately ineffective teaching methods, and provides insights into what to make of them.

Unlocking Opportunity

 for African American Girls

The National Women's Law Center has published a report on the experiences of African American girls in school.

Emerging Research

The research-based report includes strategies to help Black girls succeed in school in greater numbers:

1.   Make school disciplinary practices more positive, so that issues underlying a student's "defiant" behavior are considered and addressed, such as trauma from exposure to abuse or violence.

2.   Take steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault in schools by providing students annually with age-appropriate training that includes a discussion of consent, healthy relationship skills, and bystander intervention.

3.  Provide teachers and administrators with gender bias and cultural competency training to help break down stereotypes and address implicit race and gender bias in the classroom.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• TED TALKS EDUCATION. eSchool News has published 11 TED talks about science and the brain

 BLENDED LEARNING SUCCESSES. Michael Horn writes ed tech stories about schools and systems that do it effectively. "In almost every case," he says, "the schools that are getting it right are focused on the problem they are trying to solve and designing an instructional model first." Read his article (Forbes).

VALUING PERFORMANCE AND HONORING EXPERIENCE. This report, written by 30 Teach Plus teachers in Los Angeles, Calif., offers solid recommendations for educators teaching in a post-Vergara era. "Our focus should be on doing away with ineffective teaching, not ineffective teachers," they write. In an article in the Hechinger Report, one teacher on the team that issued the report, Kat Czujko, recounts her story, illustrating why we need to continue to raise teaching standards. "I was in my second year of teaching when an English teacher at my school told me that Maria could copy her reading summaries right out of the book since 'at least she tried to do her homework.' Now 18, Maria is taking 9th grade math for the fourth time and barely has enough credits to be considered a 10th-grader," Czujko writes. "I wish I had been a better advocate for Maria that day; instead, I looked the other way, too afraid to question a veteran instructor." Read more.

• "WHY FLUNKING EXAMS IS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING." Benedict Carey's insightful review of testing research takes a look at the benefits of pretesting and offers this advice: A good pretest "becomes an introduction to what students should learn, rather than a final judgment on what they did not." Read the article (NY Times).

• GREEN APPLE DAY OF SERVICE. This 2:30 video highlights the third annual Green Apple Day of Service, during which schools and communities around the world gathered to make schools healthier, more sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Viewers can catch Arne Duncan and his family painting outside at Harriet Tubman Elementary School. 

• THE ART OF MIND BLOWING. Urban Teacher Center, together with 100Kin10 and dozens of partner organizations, announced the launch of "Blow Minds, Teach STEM," a coordinated, co-funded campaign to inspire undergraduates and recent graduates with strong science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to become teachers. Learn more

• FARM TO SCHOOL. October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections that are growing all over the country between schools and local food producers as a way to improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of food. Learn more

• HUNTSVILLE'S STEM PIPELINE. Read a story about the rich array of K-12 STEM resources ED staff encountered when the Back to School bus tour went through Huntsville, Ala. (Herbert, OII homepage).

• DEVELOP THE MIND THROUGH CENSUS. Want to help develop students' knowledge and skills in math, maps and geography, civics, reading, and writing? The U.S. Census Bureau offers lesson plans, fact sheets, and activities for learning about these and other topics for Grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Get resources.

cover of The Teacher Wars

Teachers Recommend Reading

• THE TEACHER WARS, by Dana Goldstein. (Recommended by Teaching Ambassador Fellow Maddie Fennell.) “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” was an admonition I remember hearing from my high school history teacher. But it’s a truth we need to apply to our own profession! In her new book, The Teacher Wars, Dana Goldstein gives us the perfect lens to view the history of American teaching. Her thoughtful analysis spans from the Common Schools Movement of the early 1800’s to the impact of Race to the Top and other current reforms. Thanks to Dana I also learned to highlight on my IPad because there were so many great passages I wanted to come back to! It’s a book I will be referencing for some time.

• DUNCAN'S CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS. It's not often that we recommend ED speeches in The Teachers Edition. But we really like this speech that Arne Duncan made at Harvard last month. Focusing on lessons he has learned from the previous two weeks, Duncan highlights where difficult work is being accomplished, pays homage to school leaders who are putting politics and pressure aside to do what's right for kids, and urges us all to stop "fighting the wrong battles."

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

Spelman College

Top 5 Bus Tour Quotes

Wisdom from educators and students heard by ED

The following statements were heard during ED's Back to School bus tour

5. “At some point we’ve tipped the scales and because we are testing so much we don’t know what’s good data and what’s not.” (Principal, Birmingham, Ala.)

4. "A ninth grade student came into class. As an assignment, he had written what he had eaten for breakfast. It was written as 'sawshit and egs.' This student told me he wanted to go to college and study medicine." (Teacher, Atlanta, Ga.)

3. Answering the question, who do you have to help you with your college applications? "No one, absolutely no one." (Student, Atlanta, Ga.)

2. "As teachers we clock in but we NEVER clock out!" (Teacher, Memphis, Tenn.)

1. Regarding educator-reviewed portfolios used to evaluate arts educators: "You can't fool your peers!" (Teacher, Memphis, Tenn.)