EdWeek for the Week of February 15, 2016

Black Male Teachers a Dwindling Demographic

When Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, Chrissell Rhone lost lots: his home, his job, and the sense of security that came from teaching alongside people who looked like him.

The storm forced Rhone to pack up and leave New Orleans, where an ample supply of black educators populated the city’s classrooms. He settled just 45 miles northeast, in Picayune, Miss., a town of 11,000 near the Mississippi-Louisiana border, and is now the lone black teacher at the district’s alternative education center and among only a handful of black male educators in a district where a majority of students are white.

Read more at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/02/17/black-male-teachers-a-dwindling-demographic.html

Kindergarten Today: Less Play, More Academics

Researchers at the University of Virginia compared the views and experiences of kindergarten teachers in 1998 with those of their counterparts in 2010, and found dramatic differences in what teachers now expect of pupils and how they have structured their classrooms. Generally, teachers now expect children to come in knowing much more, spend more of the day in literacy and math instruction, and devote less time to nonacademic subjects such as music and art. Some excerpts from the findings:  http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/kindergarten-less-play-more-academics.html

Utah lawmakers propose changes to school grading system

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would change the rubric for the state’s school grading system over the next 12 years.

The Deseret News reports (http://bit.ly/1Q3D79Q ) that Ogden Republican Ann Millner has sponsored a bill that would change the point structure that assigns schools a letter grade based on year-end test scores, ACT scores and graduation rates.

Read more at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/02/18/utah-lawmakers-propose-changes-to-school_ap.html

EdWeek: Test Data, Asian and Pacific Islander Inclusion and

OECD: U.S. Efforts Haven’t Helped Low Performers on Global Math, Reading Tests

After more than a decade of heavy investment in closing achievement gaps and bringing all students to proficiency in reading and mathematics, the United States has fewer low-performing students on the Program for International Student Assessment—but only in science.

In math and reading, by contrast, there were no changes at all in the share of low-performing students on the PISA between 2003 and 2012 , according to a new analysis by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. America was flat during that period, remaining a little worse than the international average in the share of students who performed below minimum proficiency in all three subjects.

Read more at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2016/02/OECD_American_efforts_low_performers.html

In Efforts to Boost Teacher Diversity, Asians and Pacific Islanders Seek Inclusion

Sarah Ha didn’t have any Asian-American teachers growing up.

Ha was born in the United States but moved to South Korea when she was six years old; she and her little sister were left there for two years while their parents established a life in the United States. Enveloped by Korean culture, Ha all but forgot the English she had grown up learning.

When she returned to Worcester, Mass., Ha found herself isolated and bullied, an English-language learner with no Asian peers, teachers, or subject matter in school.

Read more at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/27/in-efforts-to-boost-teacher-diversity-asians.html

Teacher Shortages Put Pressure on Governors, Legislators

There’s heated debate nationally over whether K-12 teachers really are in short supply and—if so—what’s caused the shortage and how widespread it is.

But in a number of states with dwindling supplies of new teachers, overcrowded classrooms, months-long substitute assignments, and droves of teachers quitting midyear, activists on both sides of the issue are seizing the opportunity to push their policy agendas.

Those divisions are on stark display in places like Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington, where policymakers, including governors and legislators, are floating a variety of approaches to address the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers.

Read more at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/02/10/teacher-shortages-put-pressure-on-governors-legislators.html

Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2016 is January 31 – February 6. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2016 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

Read more at: http://www.ncea.org/our-services/catholic-schools-week

Education Website of the Week: Busted Halo

If you are looking for information as a theology teacher, you know that most likely multiple sources of information and resources are necessary for effective teaching. One helpful source for Catholic theology is Busted Halo. Designed for young adults, the web site also provides information that is appropriate for high school students too.

Billed as an online site for spiritual seekers, Busted Halo is named because, in the words of the website, “Each of us sports a Halo that is either dented, scratched, tarnished… in some way Busted. Yet God loves us anyway and continually calls to bang out the dents and polish our halos up to a nice golden shine.”

Rich in social media connections, there is a wide variety of information on this site. Maintained by “Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, Busted Halo® Ministries helps young adults explore their spirituality, listen to and encourage one another, discover (or re-discover) the rich depths of Catholic tradition, and connect to communities of faith where their unique gifts will be respected and used, and where they will find support on their journey towards God.”

The site also strives to connect with ministries that are happening in parishes already, or to begin new ministries where such sites may not exist.

Education Website of the Week: WordPress

WordPress is the easiest way to power a website or to have a blog. If you are looking for a free, easy solution, go to wordpress.com. According to the website, wordpress powers almost a quarter of the internet. And even looking quickly makes it easy to see why.

First, it is easy. At the wordpress.com website, clicking the “create your website” takes you to a page where you can enter a name for your website. While this might take some creativity, there is usually some easy way to come up with a personal name for your blog. The next step is to enter an email address, and to create a user name and a password.

If you are not creative, no need to worry. There are thousands of templates that make it easy to get just the look you want. Most simply require you to type in the right place. The templates range from the very simple to the very involved. Regardless, it would be quite surprising if there were not more than a few templates to provide the look you are seeking. Gone are the days where creating your own website required a deep technical background.

Creating your first post is also easy. It is essentially the same process as creating a word processing document. If your experience is anything like mine, you will discover that people will quickly start coming to your site. Adding “plug-ins”, or those things that do complex tasks rather simply can help create powerful and easy additions to your blog.

So good luck and start blogging. With a powerful and free site, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Education Website of the Week: Te@ch Thought

What is it?

TeachThought, LLC is a progressive learning brand dedicated to supporting educators in evolving learning for a 21st century audience.

Most visibly, this starts with thought leadership and practical solutions for K-20 teachers via the TeachThought blog. It then extends to our design of learning models, curricula, technology, apps, and other learning tools to experiment with a combination of utopic opining and data-driven and research-supported thinking.

TeachThought is primarily interested in exploring new learning models, including blended learning, project-based learning, self-directed learning, and the role of play in learning while also supporting existing K-20 educators as they seek to improve their own craft in practice today. So, a balance of reality and possibility.

TeachThought’s mantra is simple: learn better.

Our mission is illuminate and actuate optimal learning for everyone, everywhere. This starts with helping smart teachers teach smart, and it extends to work with like-minded organizations to bring visibility and traction to their ideas.

The pie-in-the-sky goal is a modern enlightenment that results in healthy communities and interdependent citizens–and we believe that this can happen much more simply than it’d seem.

The secret is to change the way people think about learning. It’s possible more than ever to create learning spaces that are personalized, self-directed, social, and creative. This requires new tools and models, but more importantly a paradigm shift in how everyone–educators and otherwise–thinks about “education.”

What Makes TeachThought Different?

There are a lot of great blogs and organizations out there. What makes TeachThought unique is our macro view of the learning process, from culture and community to specific classroom practice. We are a brand that participates in every level of teaching and learning, from the dreaming to the practice.

Influences

It is our position that all learning should result in substantive personal and social change.

Our ideas are heavily influenced from a wide variety of thinkers, from Wendell Berry to David Foster Wallace, David Hume to Henry David Thoreau, Jean Paul Sarte to Jeremy Bentham, Ken Robinson to Daniel Pink, Maria Popova to Grant Wiggins–and countless souls in between.

This concept includes the relationship between culture, communities, and the institutions and curriculum purported to serve them, as well as emerging technologies and media.

Education Website of the Week: Free Technology for Teachers

Free Tech for Teachers

This site is just what it says. The excerpt below is from the website.

I am a former high school social studies teacher best known for developing this blog. I taught for eight and a half years at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, ME. During that time I piloted 1:1 laptop use before the program went school-wide. I coordinated a “laptop squad” to support teachers’ use of laptops in their classrooms. I also served on a number of curriculum and assessment committees.

I have been invited to speak at events all over North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. My work is focused on sharing free web-based resources that educators can use to enhance their students’ learning experiences.

I am a five time winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog. I became a Google Certified Teacher in 2009. In 2012 I received a Merlot Classics award from chancellor’s office of California State University. In 2010 I was a finalist for ACTEM’s (Association of Computer Teachers and Educators in Maine) educator of the year award. Tech & Learning Magazine named me one of their “people to watch” in their 100@30 30th Anniversary celebration (http://techlearning.com/article/26660).

On a daily basis Free Technology for Teachers reaches a subscriber base of more than 60,000 educators. In addition to writing Free Technology for Teachers, I also maintain iPadApps4School.com, Android4Schools.com, and PracticalEdTech.com. My printed work includes a monthly column for School Library Journal, contributing author to What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, and contributions to Teacher Librarian.

I believe that when used correctly, technology has the power to improve student engagement and student achievement. I also believe that technology gives teachers the ability to form powerful, global, professional learning communities.

I am a Google Certified Teacher.

I am available for professional development workshops. I can offer workshops on the use of video creation tools in all subject areas as well as workshops about classroom uses for Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Search, and developing an online personal learning community. I can also customize a workshop specifically for your group. If you are interested in having me conduct a workshop for your school or conference, please contact me via email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

Education Website of the Week: Microsoft for Education

This week, the focus is on a page in the Microsoft for Education Website that helps schools using Microsoft products, or even other technology devices, to either prepare for the change or to measure it.

The website, Prepare Students for 1:1, is a checklist of sorts to help school leaders develop a strategy to make the switch. Materials provided on the website help in all sorts of ways to implement a 1:1 program, or to improve an existing 1:1 program. It also provides information on apps and devices. Especially if your school uses Microsoft, this website can really prove helpful.

Education Website of the Week: EdReach

It can be difficult to find good educational content that can be accessed in the midst of a busy schedule that is common for many teachers and administrators. The EdReach network is a site with numerous podcasts, videos and resources to help busy teachers and administrators keep up to date with the best things happening in education.

In addition to recent educational news, the site features veteran videos and podcasts such as Google Educast, TheatreCast, EdGamer, EdAdmin, Flipped Learning, Mission Monday, The Idea Box and Two Guys. There are also other areas of content from other educators and people working in the field. The website can be accessed at EdReach.us.