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Last week we hunted down five travel and professional development opportunities for educators and this week we’ve got three more. Even if money is tight, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that those listed below are completely (or almost completely) funded by non-profit grants. While you may have missed some of the 2013 deadlines, we’re hoping that you have a little more time this summer to prepare your applications for 2014!
Become a cosmopolitan educator: 3 more ways to see the world for free
The Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program offers one-to-one exchanges for primary and secondary teachers. Seven countries (including the United States) participate in the program with the goal of helping educators develop an increased understanding of the language, culture and academic field of the country. Although you’ve missed the application deadline for 2013, you have until October 15 to apply for the 2014-15 deadlines.
The Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program offers educators the opportunity to spend three to six months taking classes at an international university, observing classes, offering seminars in local schools, or even undertaking a project of your own design. This program is open to all:
The Transatlantic Outreach Program Study Tour sends educators to Germany every summer on all-expense-paid two-week study tours, exposing them the government and education systems, large and small businesses, and various examples of culture.
Your part of the bargain is that once you complete your tour, you are expected to write a unit of learning as well as conduct two in-service training workshops. Eligible applicants include the following from the United States and Canada:
Be sure to check back at the site often as the 2014 study tour application form will be updated in the fall.
As the school year comes to an end at New Milford High School, I can’t help but begin to think about sustaining the many changes that have taken place over the past few years as well as identifying other areas where change is needed. My school is a shell of what it once was when one looks at how far we have come in terms of effectively integrating technology, re-envisioning learning spaces, and providing a foundation for a more relevant and meaningful learning experience for all of our students.
Below is just a quick list of some of the many changes that have been successfully initiated and sustained over the past three years:
Together we have the power to improve all of our schools and mold them in ways to maximize the potential of our students, teachers, and administrators. It is time to realize that social media, technology, and the change process are not the enemy. Once you get past this, you will quickly discover your own niche as a change agent and it is here that you can receive support and guidance to make any initiative successful. When moving to initiate sustainable change that will cultivate innovation acquire necessary resources, provide support (training, feedback, advice), empower educators through a certain level of autonomy, communicate effectively, and implement a shared decision-making practice.
In collaboration with my staff and the support of District leadership, my efforts have laid the foundation for an innovative teaching and learning culture that focuses on preparing all students for success. We have learned to give up control, view failure as not always a bad thing as long as we learn from our mistakes, to be flexible, provide adequate support, and take calculated risks if we are to truly innovate. To this end, teachers and students are now routinely utilizing social media and other various Web 2.0 tools on a routine basis to enhance and promote essential skill sets such as communication, collaboration, media literacy, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, global awareness, and technological proficiency. It is not uncommon now for classes to be Skyping with students in other countries, using Twitter as a learning tool, constructing QR codes for artwork, blogging, or creating multimedia projects using a variety of interactive web tools that are blocked in many schools across the country.
One of our most successful initiatives has been the establishment of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program mentioned briefly above where we are harnessing the power of student-owned devices to increase engagement. Instead of viewing student-owned technology as a hindrance, it is now wholeheartedly embraced as a mobile learning tool. Teachers have the students text in their answers on their cell phones using web programs such as Poll Everywhere, conduct research on the Internet, take notes using Evernote, or organize their assignments. Students can also opt to bring their personal computing devices (laptops, tablets, iPod Touches) to use in school and class.
What might separate us from other schools where change has not taken hold is that we, as a school community, have decided to forge ahead no matter what mandates are thrown at us at the state and federal levels. We needed to take a hard look at, and seize upon numerous areas of opportunity, to create a better school for our students that focused on the whole child using their interests and passions as catalysts for learning. The change process never sleeps. During the summer months my administrative team and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to forge ahead by doing what we have done for the last three years and looking for solutions to problems instead of excuses. This might be the single most important element of a successful change initiative. That and being digitally resilient.
What do you plan to change this next year and why?
Here are some questions you might use for reflecting on the year past, on how you might productively use your summer respite, and how you might plan for changes that you might wish to make to your teaching next year:
These are only some of the questions that you might ask yourself. Don't hesitate to add to, modify, or change these.
Once you have answered these questions, here are some things to think about over the summer and the coming year:
What might I examine and explore this summer to identify new ideas and rethink my teaching and student learning?
What might I work on this summer to improve my teaching and my students' learning?
I hope you had a productive and rewarding school year, that you have a restful, relaxing, rewarding, and productive summer that also provides you with an opportunity to learn and grow from your current year, and that you use some of your time to learn about and find new ways to become a better teacher in the future.
Elliott Seif is an educational consultant, author, and volunteer in a number of Philadelphia public schools. He is a former social studies teacher, Professor of Education at Temple University and Curriculum Director for an Educational Service agency in Bucks County. You might find his website, www.era3learning.org of interest as a follow-up to your answers to these questions.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Watch the “Getting Social with Your Lawmakers” webinar. Almost every member of Congress uses a toolbox of social networking channels, from Twitter to YouTube, to communicate about their work and connect with constituents. Listen to the recording to learn how to leverage these tools to sustain relationships with your lawmakers, share your expertise, exert your influence, and join grassroots movements for change.
What Does “ASCD” Stand For?
What do you say when people ask you what “ASCD” stands for? Since ASCD no longer uses Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, sometimes that question can be difficult to answer, and we’re here to help. This ASCD Inservice blog post takes on the challenge of explaining the history behind our name.
What ASCD Has Learned from Affiliates
As a director in Constituent Services at ASCD, Walter McKenzie works with the best and brightest educators leading our affiliates around the world. Read his Whole Child Blog posthighlighting some of what he has learned through collaboration with ASCD affiliates.
ASCD Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
Please Welcome the 2013 Class of ASCD Emerging Leaders
ASCD has selected 25 educators from across the globe to join the 2013 class of ASCD emerging leaders. Please join us in welcoming them to the ASCD community! For a full list of the 2013 class of emerging leaders, view the ASCD Emerging Leaders Directory. To connect with the 2013 class, follow them on Twitter.
See these news items featuring 2013 Emerging Leaders:
ASCD Leader Voices
Check out these great blog posts:
Whole Child Virtual Conference presentations by ASCD Leaders:
Your Summer PD: ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference Archives
How can schools implement and sustain a whole child approach to education? The 2013 ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference, entitled “Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture,” was held in early May 2013 and, through archived presentations, offers educators around the globe strategies and learning to support your work. In these presentations, you will:
No matter where your school falls on the whole child continuum, be it the early implementation stage or beyond, the Whole Child Virtual Conference provides a forum and tools for school sites and districts that are working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child.
Reducing the Effects of Child Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. The 2008 economic crisis became a “household crisis “ when higher costs for basic goods, fewer jobs and reduced wages, diminished assets and reduced access to credit, and reduced access to public goods and services affected families who coped, in part, by eating fewer and less nutritious meals, spending less on education and health care, and pulling children out of school to work or help with younger siblings. These “new poor” join those who were vulnerable prior to the financial shocks and economic downturn. Read more at the Whole Child Blog.
In May we looked at the implications of the “new poverty” for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa.; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
How Can We Help You? By ASCD Service Center Director Marilyn Whipple
To Infini-Pie and Beyond! By Walter McKenzie
ASCD Offers Resources for Educators Planning the School Year Ahead—As educators gear up to return to school in the fall, ASCD has compiled a collection of hard-hitting resources to enable educators to implement innovative teaching and learning strategies for the 2013–14 school year. Read the full press release.
ASCD Announces 2013 Class of Emerging Leaders—ASCD has selected 25 educators from around the globe for the 2013 Emerging Leaders Class. The Emerging Leaders program recognizes and prepares young, promising educators to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both the local and national levels. To view the entire list of the 2013 emerging leaders, visit the Emerging Leaders Directory. View the full press release.
New Acquisitions Editors Support ASCD’s Growing Publishing Unit—ASCD welcomes two new staff members to the association. Julie Scheina and Allison Scott were recently appointed acquisitions editors for the association, which produces the award-winning monthly magazine Educational Leadership, more than 40 books a year, and a variety of valuable newsletters and other print and online publications. Read the full press release.
In our last blog post, we suggested 10 things every teacher should do this summer. Looking back on it, we noticed that we forgot something: travel. Even if money is tight during the summer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that many of the travel and professional-development opportunities you’ll find below are actually funded by the U.S. Government. While you may have missed the deadlines for this summer, you now have the time to prepare your applications for 2014.
5 ways to see the world: summer professional development for teachers
Stop by the American Councils for International Education (ACIE) and you’ll find a list of State funded seminars and exchange programs for teachers and administrators. Here are two such examples:
Because most educators have commitments for most of the year, the exchanges are short term, taking place during the summer. While you won’t be able to take advantage of these opportunities this summer, make sure that you check the site often; the summer 2014 application deadlines will start to pop up in the early fall.
If nothing on the ACIE piques your interest, browse the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs. As with ACIE, the exchange programs offered on this site are state funded. Applications are accepted year round and programs are anywhere from two weeks to a year.
Discovery Student Adventures
For those interested in seeing the world with your students, Discovery offers a range of FREE travel experiences for teachers: The Arctic, China, Australia, Costa Rica.
Leave the meals, hotel booking and planning to Discovery. With an experienced guide at your side, you can do what you do best: teach and inspire.
More than 100 Bed & Breakfast discounts for teachers
Follow the link above and you’ll find a list of bed and breakfasts participating in the Travel for Teachers program. Some B&Bs offer free nights while others offer teacher appreciation packages that include discounted rates (25% off), free massages, wine and other amenities.
Educators Travel Network
How do we begin to explain ETN? It’s sort of like a time-share, but for teachers. Membership (a mere $36 a year) grants you use of thousands of homestays throughout the country. Depending on the location and availability, you’ll either be hosted ($40/night) by another member or stay in the member’s home while s/he is away ($50/night).
Click on the Destinations tab to view the ETN’s complete membership directory. This page introduces you to current ETN members, tells you a little bit about them and describes their accommodations.
Why do America’s children write so poorly? Writing instruction has seen a lot of innovation since I was a kid. Like many of my peers, I struggled with writing under the old system of the 3 A’s – assign, assume, and assess. My teachers assigned a topic, assumed we could write about it, and assessed our finished pieces.
Today's kids have it better. Yet there’s still a disconnect. Despite the advances in instruction since I was a child, most teachers still don’t teach writing well. On the last national writing assessment (the NAEP), less than a third of 12th graders, and less than a quarter of elementary students, could write proficiently.
How do we reconcile promising changes in writing pedagogy with this reality? That calls for a quick history lesson in writing instruction.
New approaches for young writers emerged in the 1980’s when process writing made its way into American classrooms. The whole language movement had made its impact on reading, and now Donald Graves and Donald Murray brought a similar holistic approach to writing.
Rather than simply correcting errors and assigning grades, they focused on meaning. They encouraged children to write about what they knew. They celebrated their ideas. In a radical departure, process writing teachers accepted mistakes in handwriting, spelling, and grammar. Frequent writing would provide the experience kids needed to develop these now-secondary skills.
Process writing also introduced the pre-writing, writing, and rewriting approach. Further, the teacher now functioned as a guide, rather than judge. Instead of just grading students’ final product, teachers now modeled their own writing process and checked in regularly as kids composed their own pieces.
Writer’s workshop, which many educators today associate with Lucy Calkins, is an example of the process writing approach. The National Writing Project has also popularized process writing in summer institutes for teachers.
As process writing was incubating on the East Coast, new ideas were also percolating out West. In 1983, a committee in Beaverton, Oregon developed a new assessment rubric – The Six Traits – to improve assessment, a perennial challenge in writing instruction. The traits included: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.
Though the Six Traits were conceived as elements for a new assessment rubric, they proved a valuable teaching tool. Teacher Rhonda Woodruff discovered this with her fourth graders in 1986. It turned out that playing the role of evaluator helped students strengthen their writing process, and soon, Oregon teachers were sharing this new instructional approach in national workshops. In 1990, The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory acquired a version of the original rubric and began selling traits-based instructional aids.
More good leadership emerged in the 1990’s. Teacher Marcia Freeman and later, Ralph Fletcher, built on the foundation of process writing with their ideas for teaching targeted skills such as writing leads and creating transitions.
Individual research studies have documented the advantages of these most of these approaches to teaching writing. Why then, has achievement remained flat for 30 years? Besides the fact that writing has not been given enough instructional time – which I hope the Common Core will cure – I think the biggest reason is that we’re dealing with a case of the blind men and the elephant.
In the old story, six blind men visit an elephant, but each one seems to meet an entirely different creature based on the part he has touched. Thus, one describes the elephant as being "like a spear" (tusk), another claims it’s "like a tree" (leg), and so on. The story tells us a person can have a piece of the truth even if he's still missing a big part of it.
Writing pedagogy is like this. Each instructional method offers teachers one piece of the puzzle, but none gives teachers everything they need. This is why two-thirds of our graduates can’t write. Few elementary teachers learn to teach writing as part of their training, and they simply don’t have time to pull all the pieces together once they’ve entered the classroom. They still have to teach reading, math, social studies, and science, too. Usually, their districts try to support them by offering either:
I chose my profession to become the teacher I never had. And perhaps because I made a D- on my first writing assignment in college (yes, it’s true), I set myself to become intimately acquainted with that elephant as a teacher. With the support of my principal, I studied every hair and wrinkle on the beast.
What I developed was pretty simple. I gave my students the best of the best. I fused best practices into a comprehensive approach, their success got attention, and I was asked to help my peers. Thus began my journey as writing coach and crusader.
What I hope to contribute to teaching in general, and to the pool of Common Core resources in particular, is akin to giving glasses to blind men. I don’t want any teacher, anywhere, tobe limited by an incomplete view of the animal. This is what Common Core writing demands. We can shorten the learning curve for teachers and help them befriend the elephant. I’ve seen what can happen when teachers and students grasp its totality. It is nothing short of magnificent.
For additional blogs visit http://WriteStepsWriting.com
Students aren’t the only ones in countdown mode—but once we’ve finally said our goodbyes, submitted grades and packed up the last of our personal belongings, we’re usually left with mixed emotions. Sure, we’ve been pining for a break, but there’s also a faint, lingering feeling of “Now what?” To help teachers decompress and find their footing after a long and successful year of teaching, we’re offering a list of 10 things every teacher should do at the end of the school year.
10 Things Every Teacher Should Do at the End of the School Year
1. Thinking about getting a head start on the fall curriculum? Not so fast. Take off your teacher cap for at least two weeks. Walking away often brings clarity, enthusiasm and a renewed sense of passion once you return.
2. We spend a lot of time at the dollar store during the year because it’s loaded with cheap stuff we can use in the classroom. The next time you’re there (or at any store for that matter) don’t drop a penny on anything for your classroom—don’t even look! Go about your business and stop thinking about your students!
3. Once you have some physical and emotional distance from the school year, take time to reflect on it. Ask yourself,
4. Set up a blog and tell your students (both past and future) about it. They’ll enjoy reading about your summer and seeing that you have a life outside of the classroom. If you’re looking for a free blogging platform, we recently started using Weebly: Not only is it free, but it’s one of the most user-friendly blogging platforms we’ve used yet.
5. Redefine professional development by taking a class that interests you. Maybe you teach math, but have a secret passion for ceramics. We see no conflict between art and science: Artists, like mathematicians, are problem solvers; they know how to improvise with raw materials, and look at their environment and their world in new and innovative ways. Both must be able to communicate, collaborate, think critically and approach their palate from perspectives other than their own. Go ahead and take that ceramics class and find a way to bring your new skillset into the classroom.
6. Take “guilty” out of guilty-pleasure reading. We know you’ve got a stack of books you should read this summer, but let them gather dust a while longer. Don’t let anyone judge you for reading Dean Koontz or gossip magazines. You earned it.
7. Join a community group with people that share your interests. If you don’t know where to start, stop by Meetup where you’ll find the world's largest network of local groups. There’s a group for just about any interest you could possibly conceive of.
8. Get coffee with a colleague you’d like to get to know better—or one you don’t get along with very well.
9. When you finally get your hands on the class list for the fall, give each student a call and introduce yourself—and don’t forget to tell them about your new blog!
10. Learn at least five new pieces of technology that you can bring into the classroom in the fall. We can help you get started with two of our free guides: Surfing for Substance I and Surfing for Substance II.
While many of you are planning for summer vacation, or may already be on summer vacation, remember to incorporate the 3R's!!!
Relaxation is oh so very important for us all. We are often bogged down with work and taking care of the family, and forgetting to take care of ourselves. That's a no no! You MUST absolutely take the time to relax by clearing your mind and doing something for yourself that would make YOU happy. As we all know, there is plenty of research to back up the claim of people being more productive when they take breaks and vacation/staycation.
This is imperative for an individual to grow. Many times we continue to conduct business as usual without taking time out to reflect on the work that we did, could do or could have done. Bottom line is, you will never be an effective educator or individual if you're not reflecting personally and professionally. I highly encourage you to take an adult development course if you haven't done so already. It will change your perspective on life, relationships, and self- awareness.
What's the point of reflecting if you're not revising, right? There's nothing wrong with change, when it's done for positive and effective reasons. Based on your reflections, you should be planning on how to make revisions to your work throughout the school year. I can't tell you how often I become sadened by educators who tell me they've used the same lesson plan for the last 5 years... YIKES! Year to year, students change, technology changes, expectations change, etc. Therefore your lessons and activities should change based on student needs. Revise not only your lesson plans and goals for students, but revise goals and expectations for yourself. After all, that might be your child sitting in that teacher's classroom one day.
Things that make you go hmmm.
For students, there are essentially two opening days every year: The first day of school and the first day of summer. In an earlier era, principals and students may have shared similar schedules, but according to a 2008 study by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, more than 70 percent of its members now have an 11 or 12-month contract. Those of you who are currently principals may find yourself envious of your predecessors: A half-century earlier, only 12 percent of principals worked year-round!
We know that a principal’s summer is a bustle of activity that includes anything from planning workshops, scheduling and recruiting to meeting new students and preparing for opening day in the fall. Before you dive into a new, but equally busy summer schedule, we want to offer a few tips to help you wind down the school year.
Winding-Down the Academic Year: 5 Tips for Principals
Send Your Senior Ambassadors on a Mission
Recall the day you crossed the border from middle school into high school. Even if you were one of the lucky ones who adjusted quickly, there was still a learning curve. Since many of your seniors end the academic year earlier than the rest of the school, most of them will be available to meet with future students who are finishing up their final days of middle school. Recruit your senior ambassadors and send them to a partnering middle school where they can speak with the same students who will be walking your hallways in the fall.
Don’t become complacent
When we were kids, often the last week of school was spent watching film strips and hanging out. We loved every minute of it, too. Looking back, of course, it’s easy to see that this was not a productive use of time. There may only be a few days left in the school year, but it’s important to maintain high expectations. Every day is an opportunity to learn. Expect teachers and students to use each day wisely.
Put that data to good use
You’ve spent the year collecting data about academic success, student attendance, college admittance, disciplinary actions, and student/faculty awards for excellence. You may not have reached all of your goals, but certainly your school has succeeded in noteworthy ways. Even if test scores aren’t in, take time to highlight other successes. Thank teachers for their effort and let them know that it paid off—you have the data to prove it.
Give yourself time to reflect
We can’t move forward without looking back. Take time for introspection: What did you learn about yourself this year? Where did you succeed? How have you changed? How have you grown? Reflect on these questions and write down your thoughts.
Introduce new faculty
If you’ve already hired new teachers or staff members, chances are they’ll be around the school throughout the summer, but most students won’t be. Instead of waiting until September, use the last week of school as an opportunity to welcome new teachers and introduce them to your school.
"If the state of North Carolina decides to pull the plug on the Common Core State Standards, it will be a slap in the face to the teachers and administrators who have spent countless hours (most on their own time without reimbursement) preparing to implement the Common Core State Standards and to maximize learning for 1.5 million students."
On June 2, 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards which were implemented during the 2012-2013 school year. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent K-12 learning expectations in English-Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. The Standards reflect the knowledge and skills students need to be college and career ready by the end of high school. Elected officials across the United States are beginning to question the Common Core State Standards. On June 4, 2013, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest posted a YouTube video outlining his concerns about the Common Core State Standards.
While standing in the car rider line at an elementary school, I was approached by a classroom teacher. She asked, "Are we going to align our curriculum, instruction, and assessments to the Common Core State Standards next year?" I replied, "yes." Then I said, "The Common Core is not going away." The teacher replied, "The Lieutenant Governor is discussing eliminating the Common Core." I replied, "Which Lieutenant Governor?" The teacher said, "The North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest."
Prior to becoming an elementary principal, I was the Director of Secondary Instruction for Orange County Schools. Our school district held a Common Core Summer Institute for teachers and administrators during the summer of 2011 and summer of 2012. At the summer institutes, teacher teams planned a one year professional development plan for their schools. Hosting the summer institutes cost the school district thousands of dollars. The North Carolina General Assembly did not provide funding for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Throughout the past two school years, I have attended professional development led by teacher leaders. The average professional development requires teacher leaders (appointed or self-nominated) to spend approximately ten to twenty hours planning quality professional development and developing resources which support the implementation of the new standards.
In addition to working with classroom teachers to build awareness around the new standards, I have observed teacher leaders writing curriculum aligned to the new standards. Curriculum development has taken place through building level meetings, district meetings, and regional meetings. On several occasions five school districts in the Triangle met to support each other through the pre-implementation and implementation process. Triangle High Five is a regional partnership between Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Durham Public Schools, Johnston County Schools, Orange County Schools, and Wake County Public School System. Teachers and administrators from these school districts shared curriclum maps, worked with high school math teachers to align curriculum to the Common Core State Standards, offered professional development, and worked with the North Carolina School of Math and Science to offer free professional development for mathematics teachers. In 2011 and 2012, SAS hosted a summer mathematics summit to support math teachers in implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. SAS has invested in the five school districts for several years. Recently, SAS provided thousands of dollars in order to support the transition from the Nort Carolina Essential Standards to the Common Core State Standards. It is expensive to provide professional development to over 400 educators from five school districts.
In 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education did not ask North Carolina educators if we should adopt the Common Core State Standards. Once the State Board of Education adopted the standards, Superintendents and district leaders were told to implement the standards. Was the implementation process rushed? Yes. In 2010-2011, educators were anxious about the changes. To date, it is still difficult to find resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards. I know 20-year veterans who stay up until midnight or later on school nights, searching for resources. Part of the reason resources are scarce is because the SBAC and PARCC assessments have not been finalized. Most vendors are still offering a blended version of old state standards and the new Common Core State Standards. This is especially true in mathematics.
When educators are told that a school board policy, state board policy, or general statute requires them to change, they begin collaborating and discussing how to make the change(s) student-friendly. In Orange County Schools, we were able to pay teacher leaders a small stipend for leading curriculum development efforts. The district used Race to the Top funds to pay teacher leaders who led curriculum development, facilitated professional development, posted curriculum maps online, and attended state conferences.
This week marked the last day of school for teachers and students across North Carolina. The Lieutenant Governor was recently elected, but North Carolina teachers have been preparing for the implementation of the new standards since 2010. Standards-based teaching has been common practice since the 1990's. Some states provided voluntary standards for educators prior to 1990. Today's students are competing with students around the globe for college admission and career opportunities. It no longer makes sense to have a Minnesota 3rd grade math standard and a Mississippi 3rd grade math standard. Students deserve to have the same standard across the United States. A common standard does not mean a 'watered-down' standard. Standards are not a curriculum.
This past year, I observed teachers differentiating instruction. Some students were two grades below grade level. They did not have the same assignment as the students who were at grade level or above. When teachers have a standard, they know the goal. Teachers provide students with multiple lessons, tasks, and opportunities to demonstrate what every student should know and be able to do. Implementing the Common Core State Standards does not mean that every student will receive a perfect score at the end of the day. Teachers across North Carolina have embraced the standards and are operating with their grade level team, school team, district team, and regional teams to align curriculum with the Common Core State Standards. Standards are "the what" and Curriculum is "the how." The 'how' may look different in each classroom, but the standards are the same.
Seven Reasons Why States Should Embrace The Common Core State Standards
1. College and Career Readiness
Over the past year, I have seen teachers in North Carolina make the shift from College or Career Readiness to College AND Career Ready. The U.S. public school system was designed to sort and select students. Some students were considered 'college material' and the majority of students were workforce material. I believe that teachers in North Carolina raised the bar and raised their expectations for all students. ACT defines college and career readiness as "the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll and succeed in creditbearing, first-year courses at a postsecondary institution (such as a two or four-year college, trade school, or technical school) without the need for remediation." Based on my years of experience in the field of education, this is a major shift from the old mindset. This major change in philosophy and teaching is another indicator or the importance of the Common Core State Standards. The standards have forced a new conversation about the goals of education.
2. Common Standards Enable Teachers To Collaborate Across the United States.
Standards-based education requires teachers to align their curriculum, instruction, and assessments with the standards. For over a decade, teachers have disagreed with the standards. In North Carolina, teachers are required by general statute to teach the standards. A professional educator can respectfully disagree, but the law requires educators to teach the standards. Since the Common Core State Standards had some different approaches and aligned and moved standards to new grade levels it forced teachers to collaborate and design new units of study.
In Orange County Schools, I have observed professional conversations around the standards. I have seen teachers sharing resources across schools. I have seen teachers reaching out to educators in other states to discuss the standards. Regional and state meetings have been more exciting than ever, because everyone is learning the new standards. If one school district has a strong unit or curriculum resource then they will share it with our school district. I have participated in dozens of Twitter Chats with educators who are implementing the Common Core State Standards. ASCD has hosted a regular webinar series which offers educators the opportunity to learn and reflect on the Common Core State Standards. Before the Common Core State Standards, educators discussed their project or their program. The new standards have raised the bar in professional conversations. Educators have shifted from discussing the activity to sharing how the activity aligned to the standard.
3. Teacher Leaders Have Developed Curriculum Aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
In North Carolina, teachers were required to implement the Common Core State Standards in 2012-2013. Teachers met on a regular basis to write, align, and implement units aligned to the new standards. Once curriculum was developed, they also created common formative assessments aligned to the standards. Alan Glatthorn wrote, “One ofthe tasks of curriculum leadership is to use the right methods to bring the written, the taught, the supported, and the tested curriculums into closer alignment,so that the learned curriculum is maximized. This statement summarizes the work that takes place in classrooms, on early release days, on the weekend, and during the summer months. Teachers know how to align the curriculum, instruction, and assessments to standards. It takes time. If the state of North Carolina decides to pull the plug on the Common Core State Standards, it will be a slap in the face to the teachers and administrators who have spent countless hours (most on their own time without reimbursement) preparing to implement the Common Core State Standards and to maximize learning for 1.5 million students.
4. Professional Development Has Been Aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
Some school districts have spent thousands of dollars hiring consultants to provide professional development. Regional education organizations have paid $50,000 to $100,000 in order to host professional development with national consultants. Educators have participated in book studies, discussion forums, district professional development, NCDPI webinars and state conferences, and more. In 2012-2013, Orange County Schools and several other North Carolina school districts devoted the time to curriculum development or ongoing professional development aligned to the new standards. The price tag would be in the hundreds of millions if you totaled the number of hours the staff members were paid for professional development. It should be noted that they did not receive a bonus check. The money was part of their contract. Tax payers have invested in professional development aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Did North Carolina provide much assistance to educators prior to the 2012-2013 school year? No. School districts were required to use their own funds, contract with their own teachers, and develop their own resources. This was expensive. You could say that implementing the Common Core State Standards was done on the backs of the professional educators in North Carolina. I have not met many educators who disagree with the Common Core State Standards. This is another reason why I feel that politicians should let educators implement the standards. If elected officials want to provide the appropriate funding for implementing the Common Core State Standards, then that would be a step in the right direction.
5. Curriculum Alignment Is Easier With the New Standards.
It is difficult to describe curriculum alignment to non-educators. "When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher's daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expansive level of work" (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122). Aligning the curriculum is an ongoing process which requires time, reflection, honesty, conflict, and a professional commitment to share what works in each classroom with specific students. The new standards provide a clear road map for educators. They do not outline every detail of what a teacher needs to do each day. Standards are a guide, not a script. If educators are beginning to align their curriculum, then policy makers should find ways to support their efforts. Curriculum alignment drives the work of a school district. When I see teachers analyzing student work and comparing it to a standard, I see excellent teaching. I entered the teaching profession in the early days of the Standards Movement. I have never seen teachers sharin their craft knowledge and having ongoing conversations about the standards like I saw in 2012-2013. Standards provide a common point of conversation, not a floor or a ceiling. The way the Common Core State Standards are written, a teacher can accelerate gifted students. This is missing from the national debate. Before we vote to eliminate the standards, let's visit schools and ask teachers to come to the State Board of Education. Let's find out what is working and how the standards are supporting teaching and learning. Let's avoid the political rhetoric and ask the teacher leaders who bore the burden of implementing the standards because the State Board of Education voted to adopt the standards.
6. The Change Process Requires Time.
Schools will continue to implement the Common Core State Standards in the summer and fall of 2013. Leading implementation requires a principal-leader who is willing to create short-term wins for the staff, provide time for the staff to reflect on the standards and to encourage risk-taking. Implementation of the new standards requires principal-leaders to honor the change process and to respect the emotions that staff will have during this change in teaching and learning. If states eliminate the Common Core State Standards, then which standards will replace them? If we fall back to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, then we are adopting an inferior set of standards. They were the best that the state could develop. That was then and this is now. The Common Core State Standards were not embraced immediately. However, after one year of developing lesson plans, units of study, and assessments, educator have given their seal of approaval. The change process was emotional and it caused all teachers to reflect on teaching and learning. If state officials continue to change the standards, it will be impossible for educators to develop a guaranteed and viable curriculum (Marzano). Eliminating the Common Core State Standards from public schools may win a political battle at the state or federal level. However, it is not in the best interests of teachers and students. Ask teachers in North Carolina if they think the standards should change. The standards should not be a stepping stone for someone's political career.
"These Standards are not intended to be new names for old ways of doing business. They are a call to take the next step. It is time for states to work together to build on lessons learned from two decades of standards based reforms. It is time to recognize that standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep" (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Introduction, p. 5).
7. Student Achievement Matters.
The reason that educators get out of bed and go to work each day is because student achievement matters. The new standards support the goal of College and Career Readiness. Teachers recognize that the new standards require more rigor than previous state standards. One of the most compelling arguments for the Common Core State Standards was "standardization." When a 12 year old girl moves from Hope, Arkansas, to Lexington, North Carolina, she should be on the same page with her classmates. Students are moving across the United States on a regular basis. Prior to the Common Core State Standards, families had to fear that they were moving to a state with higher or lower standards. Standardization does not mean that every student learns the same thing in the same way. Technology integration, project-based learning, and other best practices allow teachers to meet the needs of each student, while aligning assignments to the standards. When students master a standard, the Common Core State Standards allow teachers to move to the next grade level. When students transfer to a new school, they need to know that the things they learned will provide them a foundation for learning at the new school. Changing standards after year one of implementation does not respect the main goal of education - Student Achievement.
Common Core State Standards: The Right Direction for U.S. Public Schools
It amazes me that one or more politicians can advocate for changing standards. I do not try to change medical practice, standards for the Interstate highway system, building codes, or taxes. The reason that I do not attempt to get involved with these things is because I am a professional educator. I would appreciate it if politicians would consult with professional educators and ask them if the Common Core State Standards support teaching and learning. A simple Google search can provide a glimpse at the groups who are rallying to eliminate the Common Core State Standards. The standards have transformed teaching and learning. Teachers and administrators have embraced the standards and will spend the summer months aligning their curriculum and units to the standards. Hundreds of teachers in any given state will meet on Saturday morning for an online Twitter chat, meet at a restaurant to share learning goals, or attend a summer institute. Teachers may not like change, but they support change when it is in the best intersts of students. The Common Core State Standards seem to be one thing that is right in education.
We strongly dislike the B-Word (boring!) and those of us with kids find it ringing in our ears during the summer. As anti-boredom fighters and educational advocates, we’d like to offer 10 summer activities for kids. Not only will they keep students entertained, they’ll also keep them from taking a ride down the summer slide. Please feel free to add any suggestions to our list!
10 Summer Activities for Kids Who Use the B-Word
You are invited to attend our newest Summer Institute being held at the fabulous Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas in July. Follow the link at the bottom of this message to see the beautiful Summer Institute Brochure we created using Weebly!
If you have decided to take your classroom, school or district into the 21st century, this is the institute for you! The 21st Century Schools Summer Institute has been carefully designed to provide you with the knowledge, tools and skills to create an environment and a curriculum which meets the needs of the today's students.
The Common Core State Standards require teachers to incorporate collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking into their lessons, and you will learn how to design curriculum and instruction that not only meets, but actually goes beyond, the CCSS, incorporating critical 21st century skills and literacies.
The four university accredited workshops which comprise the Summer Institute are:
1. Media Literacy - an in-depth Investigation
2. Greening the Classroom and the Curriculum
3. Designing the 21st Century Classroom
4. Innovation and Entrepreneurship for K-14
We hope you are able to attend all the workshops, but just in case you cannot, each workshop is designed as a stand-alone professional development.
In addition to the highest quality and truly 21st century professional development you will enjoy (and learn from) the spectacular San Antonio Riverwalk and the many historical, cultural and entertainment opportunities at hand.
We appreciate the work you do, and want to treat you as the special professionals you are, so at the workshop we will be providing complimentary:
* Continental Breakfast
* Mid-morning Snack Break
* Lunch, and
* Mid-afternoon Snack Breaks!
We understand that well-fed educators are Happy Learners!
If you are unable to attend, these professional development opportunities are available as online courses (also university accredited), or we can bring them to your school or district! We travel anywhere in the world!
Finally, we would appreciate your helping us to get the word out by forwarding this to all your friends, colleagues, groups and connections on LinkedIn! Thank you!
Anne Shaw, Director
21st Century Schools
Key Words: Project-Based Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Student-Centered, Media Literacy, Ecoliteracy, Financial Literacy, Problem-Solving, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Real World Curriculum, Global Collaborative Classrooms, Web 2.0 Tools, Design Thinking, Thinking Tools, Interdisciplinary, Student Motivation, Curriculum Design, Lesson Planning, Designing Down, Self-Directed Students, Physical Environment, Emotional Environment, Academic Environment, High Expectations, CCSS
Are you a summer reader? Looking for books that not only are educationally relevant but also interesting, thought-provoking, and easy to read? Looking for books that might change your way of thinking about schools and classrooms? Here are a few to put on your list to buy or get from the library:
Will Richardson, Why School?
This book is only available as an e-read for $1.99 (as my young nephew once said to my wife: “It’s a new world, my friend”). Provides an excellent discussion of what schooling should be about and how schools should be different in this new 21st century age we live in, with information abundance, new forms of communication, etc. Both an easy read and full of quotes and information that make the read insightful, thought-provoking, entertaining, and challenging.
Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.
This book focuses on the how to create schools and educational experiences that nurture varied forms of talent, interests, intelligence and creativity that need to be developed within each of us. An excellent and easy read, with lots of examples and humor. A companion book is Finding Your Element: How To Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.
Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character
Paul Tough believes that we don’t place enough emphasis in schools on developing “character traits”, such as perseverance, resilience, curiosity, optimism, self-control. He makes a very strong case that, in the long run, these traits are as significant as, and perhaps more significant than academic skills. His solutions are novel, including significant forms of early intervention in the lives of some children.
Alice E. Ginsberg, Embracing Risk in Urban Education
Alice Ginsberg argues that, instead of eliminating risk from schools by “regulating, standardizing, scripting, and quantifying” what we do in schools, we should try to develop schools that embrace risk by enabling students to “…experiment, disagree, … assert their individuality, test assumptions and question data”, essential qualities for a 21st century world and a democratic society (p. 3). The book provides case studies of four Philadelphia urban schools and teaching examples that, in her view, “make space for children to explore the unknown” (p. 4), teach children how to inquire and collaborate; teach them how to foster social justice; and help them build patience, sustained commitment, and cooperative, responsible leadership (p. 10).
Ron Berger, An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students
This relatively short, well written, powerful book, by an elementary teacher in New Hampshire and an educational presenter and speaker, shows us a way to think about excellence and educational practice that is very different from the test score mentality that exists in today’s educational world. His is a focus on, among other things, a framework that builds community, creates an ethic of excellence, focuses on excellence and craftsmanship in student work, and sees teaching as a calling. A very worthwhile book and a good read.
Dennis Littky, The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business
This book not only influenced my way of thinking about education, but also has influenced the thinking of thousands of educators who are struggling to motivate students in a 21st century world. Starting with “the real goals of education”, Littky provides a very different way of viewing education, personalizing it, and getting students to be passionate about learning. A very powerful and different way to approach education that has been implemented in “Big Picture” schools across the country, and has proven to be successful with thousands of students.
Tony Wagner, The Global Achievement Gap
This wonderful and important book examines the world of the 21st century and its implications for the future of work, teaching and learning. Wagner’s “seven survival skills” are not even touched upon in most schools (a scary thought). The book also highlights a number of schools that are meeting the challenges of the post-industrial world with a different approach to education.
Summer is also a good time for exploration and browsing! You might also want to explore my website: www.era3learning.org. There you will find many articles and readings about 21st century educational practice, examples of instructional strategies, curriculum materials, and assessment approaches for this new era, links to many other websites, commentaries and blogs from many different sources, and much more.
It’s Finally Here!
I’m pleased to announce the Virtual Summer Camp for 2013, the 5th Anniversary of the original!
This year’s Virtual Summer Camp was created with Weebly, a web tool that lets the user create their own website from a variety of templates. In the past, I’ve used different web tools that included Blogger, LiveBinders, Scoop.it, and Learni.st, always looking for different ways to visualize the camp.
Access to all previous camps is included here as well as an array of brand new offerings. The offerings this year are broken into three areas: New Web 2.0 Apps, new Mobile Apps, and a Campfire section that is specific to professional development and global connectivity.
All of the Web 2.0 Apps and Mobile Apps are geared toward Multi-Mediating your professional practice, enhancing singular media content and looking for opportunities to invite multiple versions of content into the learning process.
I purposefully limited the offerings this year for two reasons...24 opportunities are still a lot to investigate AND you have access to previous years Summer Camps that open up multiple opportunities for further resources if you choose to explore them.
I encourage you to not only investigate the offerings in the Virtual Summer Camp but also to investigate Weebly as a Web 2.0 tool. It’s easy to create a website and the drag and drop interface is so easy to use. While it took me awhile to find the individual resources for the camp; it took a minimal amount of time to actually create the Weebly page to house them. This alone could be awesome for students as a demonstration of their learning, allowing them to show and share what they know in a free platform.
I wish you the best of summers! Teachers are amazing, especially in the wake of all the media attention around evaluations and value added measures. I know that you do what you do because you love kids and you value the system of instruction and preparation to move kids to a desired destination. You are rock stars and I am humbled by your efforts, regardless of the bureaucracy and political issues. You do what’s best for kids and I wholeheartedly support that! I hope that you find some useful resources in what I’ve put together for this year’s summer camp.
I look forward to conversing with you and enhancing the offerings as the summer heats up. Keep up the good work and know that you are valued, awesome, and integral to the growth of our country and citizens! You are amazing, and I’m so honored to share this Virtual Summer Camp with you!
Have a great Summer 2013!
Note: The new site is optimized for Mobile Devices too, so you can camp on the go!
Upgrade Your Curriculum now available in the ASCD store
For many students, beginning a new school year can be a great source of anxiety. Thanks to a successful end-of-year transition though, one that you can begin right now, a new teacher and classroom can be an exciting event—not one that causes insecurity or dread. To help your students make a successful transition into the next academic year, we’re offering five simple activities you can put into practice right away.
5 tips for a successful end-of-year transition
The relationship doesn’t end with the academic year
You don’t have to cry like my second grade teacher did on the last day of school, but do let your students know that you valued your time with them. Also, let them know that the relationship doesn’t have to end with the academic school year. They may be moving rooms and working with new teachers, but let them know that they are always welcome to say hello, stop by after school or interact with your new students on your classroom blog.
Ask their new teacher to visit your room
Arrange a time for the new teacher to visit your classroom so that s/he can interact with the students. If you’re looking for a list of tried-and-true icebreaker activities, you can find them here.
Meet the new teacher’s current class
One way to ease your students’ fears about their transition is by having them each interview one student in their new teacher’s current class. They might ask questions like:
Once they conduct the interview, have your students share their findings with the class.
Visit the new classroom
Arrange a time for your students to check out their new digs. It’s always easier to walk into an unfamiliar place when you know where to go and what your surroundings look like. Ask the new teacher to give them a tour and, if you can, try scheduling a follow-up visit.
To help prepare your students for the upcoming summer, check out two of our recent blogs, 10 Summer Reading Activities for Struggling Readers and 10 things parents can say to struggling readers.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Newest Policy Points Revisits A Nation at Risk
ASCD’s newest Policy Points (PDF) takes a closer look at A Nation at Risk, the 1983 report on the state of U.S. education that launched a spirited and ongoing debate about the quality of our public schools. This issue of Policy Points examines the specific recommendations of the report, the accuracy of its dire prediction about “a rising tide of mediocrity” undermining the nation’s well-being, and the evolving school reform debate the report kick-started three decades ago.
Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: The New Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These “poor kids” don’t fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.
Join us as we share what new—and old—solutions we are using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on the current economic downturn; its result that many families and children face reduced circumstances; and implications for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Guests include Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa., and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Parrett and Budge are also coauthors of the 2012 ASCD book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.
ASCD Leader Voices
Arkansas Governor Signs Whole Child Legislation
Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state’s children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets and their indicators as identified by ASCD.
The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning. A diverse state working group will work over the course of a year to recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.
Congratulations to Arkansas ASCD, which played a crucial role in supporting the bill’s development and introduction!
Rhode Island Passes Whole Child Resolution
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach to education that ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
The resolution affirms that to educate Rhode Island’s children effectively, the state must pay attention to factors within and beyond its school buildings as well as integrate efforts among schools, families, and communities. In addition, the resolution expresses the assembly’s intent to model whole child concepts in its own work and to join with other stakeholders who support the whole child.
Congratulations to Rhode Island ASCD(RIASCD), which worked hard to have this joint resolution introduced into the Rhode Island legislature!
To help the state fulfill its commitment to whole child education, ASCD and RIASCD offered some initial steps (PDF)—organized by the five whole child tenets—for educators, parents and community members, and policymakers to take. RIASCD also highlighted some of ASCD’s free resources to help the state put its whole child vision into action.
South Carolina ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states.In the seventh post of the series, South Carolina ASCD leader Josh Patterson writes about the challenges and successes that South Carolina has had with CCSS implementation.
The Effective Principal
What we see through our research, reading, and conversations with principals and school staff is that to see what an effective principal is, don’t look at the person; look at the effects of her leadership on student achievement, school culture and climate, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction, and community relationships. As the wearers of many hats, principals are crucial to implementing meaningful and lasting school change. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In April, we looked at what qualities principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD; Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school); and Jessica Bohn, an ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.
Also this month on the Whole Child Podcast, we talked with educators from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School (winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) about how they meet student and staff needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. Guests include principal Mark Pinder, assistant principal for curriculum Michael Ralls, assistant principal for student management Tim Taylor, dean of students Donnie Siel, and teacher leader David Adams.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
Killeen Independent School District Deepens Professional Development Partnership with ASCD—Killeen Independent School District (ISD)—whose more than 6,100 staff members serve approximately 42,000 students—is deepening its relationship with ASCD to meet its professional development goals. Read the full press release.
ASCD Publishes Leadership Guide on Transforming Any Teacher into a Master—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by best-selling education author, renowned educator, and professional development expert Robyn R. Jackson.
Never Underestimate Your Teachers offers school leaders a new model for understanding great teaching as a combination of skill and will, and it's the first book of its kind to support leaders as they facilitate teacher growth in both areas through differentiated leadership. Jackson shows readers how to design and deliver targeted professional development to help each teacher realize his or her potential and achieve great results for the benefit of every student. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Common Core Academy Supports School Leadership Teams Across the United States—ASCD is bringing its inaugural ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy to Chicago August 5–8, 2013. This intensive four-day professional leadership experience offers groups of administrators, teacher leaders, and nonprofit and higher education partners an accelerated plan for putting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into routine practice. Read the full press release.
ASCD Summer Reading List Identifies 10 Books That Can Transform Teaching and Learning—In the spirit of promoting year-round professional development, ASCD has assembled a diverse list of books essential to educators who seek to improve their practice over the summer months. These books—organized by how they help educators transform teaching and learning—offer readers the opportunity to dive deep into the hottest topics in education, including using data to focus improvement, project-based learning, child development, and neurodiversity. All books are currently available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.
Arkansas Governor Beebe Signs Education Reform Law Supporting the Whole Child—Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe has signed a new bill into law that promotes a well-rounded whole child approach to educating the state’s children.“An Act to Establish the Whole Child– Whole Community Recognition Program; and for Other Purposes” (Senate Bill 1051[PDF]) outlines a plan for the Arkansas education system that ensures Arkansas students receive a whole child education. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Staff Expand Association’s Ability to Design, Deliver, and Evaluate Professional Development Resources—ASCD welcomes three new staff members to the association’s Program Development Work Group. Dr. Andrea Muse has accepted the position of director of research and program evaluation, Jen Thompson will serve as director of program management and process improvement, and Elizabeth Thurman has joined ASCD as director of customer engagement and product support. The additions of Muse, Thompson, and Thurman expand ASCD’s capability to design, deliver, and evaluate the crucial professional development resources today’s educators need to learn, teach, and lead. Read the full press release.
Soon millions of school children will be celebrating the last day of school and the start of summer vacation. For many children this will entail family trips, swimming and camping out under the stars among other quintessential summertime activities. Yet for many children from low-income households it will mean summer school—half days back at school for remediation in math and reading in an attempt to thwart the dreaded, but very real “summer slide.”
These types of summer school programs have their roots in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and its most recent reauthorizations as the No Child Left Behind Act. Included in these acts is Title 1, which provides funding to close the achievement gap for students from low-income households. It’s a good thing, too, because it is well documented that there is a direct relationship between household income and academic achievement. Specifically, students from low-income households have lower levels of academic achievement than their more affluent peers. In addition, students from low-income households show a larger decline in reading skills over the summer than their middle-class counterparts. While remedial summer school programs have been shown to have a positive impact on students’ knowledge and skills, a large achievement gap still exists between income groups.
In further addressing the achievement gap, schools would benefit from broadening the scope of their summer school programs to include social and emotional skills. In fact, social and emotional skills become even more important during summer school because it is largely directed at children from low-income households. Research shows that students from low-income households are the very students that need social and emotional skill development the most. Similar to its effect on academic performance, household income is directly related to a child’s social and emotional development. That is, children from low-income households are at a greater risk of having weaker social and emotional skills than their middle-class counterparts. Strong social and emotional skills, in turn, have been linked to improved academic achievement. Therefore, the achievement gap persists because low household income negatively affects not just academic achievement alone, but also social and emotional skill development. Therefore, summer school programs unintentionally maintain the achievement gap by ignoring social and emotional skill development and only targeting one contributing factor of the achievement gap—academics.
If many of our students from low-income households will be spending their summer days in school instead of in ways that mirror our visions of idyllic summer days; let’s at least commit to make their learning as idyllic as possible. To truly make a difference for these students and reduce the achievement gap, social and emotional skill deficiencies need to be addressed along with academic deficiencies. Then, summer will become a bit more ideal.
Full disclosure: I am a New York Network Team Representative that is charged with taking the message of NY State Ed back to my participating districts. I attend meetings in Albany several times a year and then share this information with the schools I work with and help them understand and implement all that is coming in the wake of Race to the Top.
I believe in helping teachers help students. I believe that students are the focus of everything I do. I believe that some of this initiative, including the new Standards, is working and is good but I also believe some of it is not. I believe that teachers are professionals that deserve better than they’ve been treated in the last couple of years (particularly in the media) and I believe that if we trust them with children, then we should trust them with how to instruct and assess those children as well. I believe in fairness and I believe in calling attention to inconsistencies, not for the sake of argument or anger, but for the sake of solving solvable problems and getting this right. I believe in our obligations to our children.
I also believe that NY State has an opportunity here to build a new bridge.
But first, a little background:
In August of 2011, I began attending the NY State Education Network Team Institutes--the first of many that I’ve attended where State Ed rolls out initiatives, resources, upcoming expectations, etc. At one of these meetings, I had the very good fortune of meeting Mr. Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, author of Driven By Data. Data Informed Inquiry models were to be part of our message that we took back to schools as schools were expected to form their own inquiry teams for the sake of letting the data guide instructional decisions. The assessments were meant to be more frequent and standards-based with a quick turnaround so that teachers could use the data and make necessary tweaks and improvements to the instructional program in the moment, rather than waiting until the end of the year to see if students “got it.”
The most important part of Santoyo’s message is transparency in the assessment. In order to do the deep analysis required, teachers must have the assessment in hand so that the skills that a student needs to answer the questions could be analyzed. Additionally, having the test in hand means that there are further opportunities for professional development around the structure of the test, the deconstruction of the questions for type and strategy, and the levels of cognition (Bloom’s, Webb’s, etc.) on the assessment and how those compare to the levels of cognition in instruction. Understanding by Design 101.
At these Network Team meetings, we spent HOURS understanding this methodology, preparing to turnkey it to our participating districts by exploring the models and creating our own data analysis spreadsheets and understanding protocols for data meetings. Throughout every single bit of this, we had the assessments in our hands. Again, let me say, WE. HAD. THE. ASSESSMENTS. IN. OUR. HANDS.
We taught our districts to do this exact same thing through their data meetings. Test in hand, begin analysis, use the observations to make changes in instruction to benefit students and their success.
This is not intended to give teachers ammunition for teaching TO the test, this is about understanding skills and strategies that enable students to be successful on assessments. This is not just about multiple choice either--it’s meant to analyze multiple types of assessments but to do so quickly so that students reap the benefits of deep understanding and teachers reap the benefits of planned student successes. This is an opportunity to leverage our professional development to do well what we were trained to do: TEACH.
Jump to now.
New York State just finished administering the first tests that are aligned with the Common Core. They were way more rigorous than previous assessments and both teachers and students struggled. Sometime over the summer, scores will be released, but the test will not.
The test will be embargoed and teachers will not be able to see it. State Ed Leadership will say that there are sufficient samples available online. They will say that there are curriculum modules to help with understanding skills and cognition to prepare for the assessments. They will say that it’s too time-consuming and expensive to share the tests as new ones will have to be developed.
They will also continue to promote Santoyo’s model on one hand, but deny teachers access to the central message of the model on the other hand. This is the inconsistency.
With all of the stress that teachers are under to both perform and be evaluated on that performance in ways they never have before, there needs to be some team-building going on, something that will bring everyone together for the sake of our students.
There is an opportunity here: Release the tests.
Teachers need an anchor right now, a shelter in the storm of changes. They need something concrete that will help them and their students be more successful and help them to feel that they have more control over the flawed teacher evaluation system currently in place. There are so many across the state just treading water and releasing the test would be a major lifeboat moment.
Many of the teachers I’ve talked with over the last couple of years of implementation will tell you that the Common Core Standards are not bad. They will tell you that with time and continued professional development that we can use those standards as a basis for modern learning practice and to prepare our kids to succeed in the world they will graduate into.
These teachers will tell you that data driven inquiry is important and that they agree that it is necessary. They will even tell you that they are fine with teacher evaluation and that, for the most part, there is a desire to improve professional practice and discover opportunities to do things better and implement new ideas.
They will also tell you that the current evaluation plan is inauthentic, inspiring a checklist of “to-dos” that meet the requirements of Race to the Top but do little to impact practice. They will tell you that a single test score has too many uncontrollable variables such as parent support, home environment, and poverty status to be a reliable measure for any part of a teacher’s evaluation. They will tell you that doing the same thing for all may be equal but it is not fair.
They will also tell you that it is difficult to prepare for an assessment when the potential exists for only a narrow secret set of assessed standards which in turn need broad preparation, leading to missed opportunities in instruction and inconsistent results.
Release the tests.
Teachers need to see that they are trusted and valued. They need to see that they are viewed as capable collaborators in this quest for college and career readiness. They need to see themselves as part of the whole team.
Release the tests.
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In a recent meeting about student behavior the discussion turned to spring fever and the stress students take on as state testing approaches. A colleague shared an experience that reminds us all that it’s not just students that feel the stress of state testing or the anticipation of summer. The teacher was working with her students on writing conclusions, a skill they had been honing throughout the school year. With the state test approaching, it was time to review and practice. When asked to write a conclusion, students acted like it was a foreign concept. The teacher’s reaction, however, was anything but foreign to those of us in similar positions: she lost it. The usually calm and considerate teacher ripped into the class, “What do you mean you don’t know how to write a conclusion? We have been working on conclusions all year! You have to be able to write a conclusion!”
Listening to her regret her uncharacteristic outburst it reminded me of similar scenes in my classroom recently. Her call for all of us to be aware of how the stress and excitement of the season affects our behavior drove me to think about how social and emotional skills are equally important for us as adults as well as students. Here are a few ways teachers can benefit from CASEL’s five SEL competencies:
Self-awareness: As teachers we must maintain our awareness of how we are feeling. As the above story highlighted, this time of year is ripe with emotion: the stress of state testing (especially in an age of increasing accountability based on test scores), the excitement of summer vacation and general exhaustion from a long, hard-fought year.
Self-management: Once we identify our emotions we can begin to manage them effectively. For example, in stressful times perhaps a lunchtime walk in the fresh air might be a better use of time than grading that lingering stack of papers. If we are aware of our emotions we can also anticipate situations in which they could lead us to uncharacteristic and undesirable behavior. During moments of extreme frustration in the classroom we need to regulate ourselves so students are not the target of our unleashed emotions.
Social awareness: We also need to be cognizant of what our students are feeling. They also feel the stress of state testing and, depending on a student’s homelife, the anticipation of summer brings uncertainty and anxiety rather than excitement. We simply must be able to walk a mile in our students' shoes.
Relationship skills: During these strenuous times we must maintain positive relationships with our students. More than ever (even though they would probably never tell us) they need us. They need us to listen, they need us to connect with them and they need us to be there when they need help.
Responsible decision-making: By paying attention to all the above we will be in a position to analyze the probable outcomes of our actions and make decisions that truly respect our students.
As the pull of summer and anxiety brought on by state testing increase, let’s remember that social and emotional skills are critical, not just for our students, but for us as teachers as well. By practicing and modeling positive social and emotional skills we can all end the year on an upbeat note without losing our cool.
A year and a half ago I decided to implement a job-embedded growth model at the suggestion of some of my teacher leaders. They desperately sought time during the school day to engage in professional growth opportunities, learn how to integrate Web 2.0 tools, and develop their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s). After some thinking and looking at various options inherent in the current schedule, I decided to cut all non-instructional duties in half to create a Professional Growth Period (PGP). The inspiration for this idea came from Google’s 80/20 Innovation Model where engineers are encouraged to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. Duties that we cut are now assumed by me and my administrative team.
The PGP was launched in September 2011. It virtually gave every New Milford High School teacher two to three, forty eight minute periods a week, depending on the semester, to engage in growth opportunities of personal interest. The only catch was that each staff member had to create and present a learning portfolio at his/ her end of year evaluation conference. This learning portfolio clearly articulated how they integrated what was learned during this time into professional practice. They also had to keep a log detailing what was done during each PGP day throughout the year.
A great deal was learned after I reflected on year one of the PGP. For starters, I read Drive by Daniel Pink this past summer and made a few slight changes. In order to give each staff member a greater level of autonomy, I removed all top-down mandates such as keeping a log and watching a certain number of PD 360 videos. This year teachers had true freedom to learn anything and follow their passions as long as the time was spent to improve NMHS’s bottom line – student learning and achievement. Sample PGP activities include the following:
I also used last year as an opportunity to work with my teachers and better articulate how to compile their learning portfolios. Last week I began conducting end of year evaluation conferences with my teachers. I was extremely eager to see their respective learning portfolios and discover what they had been working on over the course of the year. Let me tell you this, I was not disappointed. As each staff member presented their learning portfolio they all shared how appreciative they were to have this time. Below is a sample from some of the portfolios:
Similar to FedEx days discussed by Dan Pink in Drive, my teachers have been given the opportunity to follow their passions, unleash their creativity, and deliver a learning portfolio that illustrates professional growth to enhance teaching and learning. Based on the conversations I had with teachers after they presented their learning portfolios, they are already beginning to talk about innovative ideas to pursue next year. I am excited to see what some of my other teachers have been working on in the coming weeks and am proud that time during the school day is being used productively.