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The Public School Insights Blog

In a recent Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core podcast, sixth-grade teacher Tanya Golden spoke about how her district has used Teacher Leaders to develop Common Core-aligned units of study and help school staff the implement these new units.

Golden is a sixth grade teacher at Carver Academy in California’s ABC Unified School District. She feels that having teachers at the table to determine how the district should use Common Core is helpful in figuring out whether something that sounded good in theory could actually work in the classroom.

“That’s where the teacher’s voice is important, for us to let them know, ‘yes this sounds wonderful--but this is what I need as a teacher,’” she said.

In the classroom, Common Core has caused her to look at previously taught lessons in a totally different way. A recent lesson about a book provoked more critical thinking about the storyline and the characters as opposed to reading for comprehension, she said. ...

By Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Every day, educators are making a difference in children's lives—and they do it despite staggering obstacles. Recently, the AFT collaborated with the Badass Teachers Association to survey educators on how their working conditions affect them, and the results show that the obstacles they face at work are taking more of a toll than ever.

Ninety-six percent of the educators who took our survey say they're physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day, and 87 percent say the demands of their job interfere with family life. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

After seeing the results of this survey, I am convinced that we need a scientific study on how work is affecting teachers and school employees' health and well-being. We're asking members to urge the Department of Education to take on this important research. ...

Most of you know us — we’ve been helping meet the health and safety needs of the school communities you work in for 28 years — but you’ve never seen us quite like this! The rumors are true; the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) has gotten a makeover!

Launched May 11, 2015 with a fresh look, a stronger focus, and a deeper commitment than ever, NEA Healthy Futures is your go to place for health, safety, and school employee wellness information, resources, and solutions.

You might be wondering why we decided to change — why we decided to say goodbye to the National Education Association Health Information Network? The short answer? After 28 years, it was time. ...

Let’s talk frankly.  Most relationships between the school systems and their communities are dysfunctional - like a bad marriage.  Each has suffered deeply crushed expectations.  If each party were to write a letter to each other trying to save the relationship, letters might read like this:

Dear School:

I am writing this letter to you because I care about you.  I believe every child has to be given access to a quality education--no matter what form--as long as its quality meets the needs of kids and prepares them to be productive citizens.  I’m deeply disappointed in our relationship.  Time and time again you have asked for support and whenever I could, I have provided it whether it was money, mentors, internships, volunteers, speakers and even helping out at school events.  You promised that this is what you needed to be healthy and that kids would benefit.  ...

Written by Anderson Williams, a Special Olympics Project UNIFY consultant

Years ago while backpacking through Europe with some friends, I visited the Palazzo Spada in Rome. It must have been something we read about in “Let’s Go Europe” because otherwise I’m not sure how we got there.
Anyway, Palazzo Spada is famous for its incredible forced perspective gallery created by Francesco Borromini. In the midst of the density and limited space in the heart of Rome, the gallery gives a momentary sense of depth and grandeur akin to what one might find in a much larger country estate. It has an 8-meter long corridor that appears to be a considerably more grand 37 meters. Its centerpiece and visual destination is a “life-sized” sculpture that is actually only 60 centimeters tall.
It sounded crazy, so we were definitely intrigued! ...

Donna Staten, an elementary art teacher in Round Rock, Texas, has earned the title "Pinterest Queen" because she has shared thousands of lessons and amassed nearly 100,000 followers on the social media site Pinterest. Staten, who also serves on an advisory committee for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says Pinterest has recharged her 30-year teaching career. She recently spoke about her strategies for using Pinterest  and other social media in an e-mail interview.

LFA: How did you get started on Pinterest? How long have you been “pinning,” and how much time does it take you each day or each week to share projects and lesson plans?

I remember exactly when I started pinning. It was a rainy, dreary Saturday morning in January, 2012. I had heard of Pinterest, but mostly in reference to recipes, shoes, hair styles, etc. I had not heard of anyone using it for educational purposes ...

Community partnerships -- are we really better when we work together? 

To Collaborate (verb) – to work one with another; 
to cooperate.

Imagine yourself as a homeless high school student in your town or neighborhood. You need a place to sleep, but before that you want a quiet place to do math homework. Or stand in the shoes (probably with holes in them) of a homeless parent with three toddlers. You do want them to get to school every day…at two different buildings…but first you want to feed them. Where do these folks go? Where do they start?

In all too many cases, homeless parents and students and other high need families with basic, basic needs are confused about what they need and how to get help. They are further confused by the many, many different doors they can enter. In some, the many doors lead to silos of help that confuse even more. Do I go into the school? Do I go to that office or this one?

Guidelines to help ...

By Otha Thornton, President, National PTA

Last week, Achieve, a national education advocacy nonprofit, released an analysis comparing proficiency rates in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math as reported by states to the same data measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Discrepancies were found between the percentage of students reported as proficient by states and the number of students who met national proficiency benchmarks.

NAEP defines proficiency as “solid academic performance” for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills approximate to the subject matter. Frequently, states’ testing and reporting processes yield different results than the data collected and reported by the NAEP, which is administered uniformly across the nation and assess what students know and can do in various subject areas. And NAEP results are generally not known by students and their families. ...

As California’s ABC Unified School District begins weaving the Common Core State Standards into its classroom curriculum, high school teacher Richard Saldana says the district has learned that cooperation and coordination among all staff is key to helping the standards meet their potential.

The school district regularly brings together teachers, principals and other staff to discuss implementation, then they use those sessions to speak with a unified voice to stakeholders such as the school board and parents.

“We do our best to bring as many stakeholders together as we can, starting with the teachers in the district,” says Saldana, who is the social studies chair at Artesia High School and a member of the district’s executive committee thatguides CCSS implementation. “And we believe that's essential because the teachers are the ones that are using the curriculum with the students.”

Saldana and other teachers quickly noticed that the new standards are much more rigorous, but he feels that once implementation takes hold, the CCSS will ultimately improve his students’ learning. ...

Dane Linn, Vice President of Education and Workforce for the Business Roundtable, discusses the principles and objectives guiding the development of the Common Core and why the business community supports higher standards. During his 16 years at the National Governors Association, Linn co-led the development of the Common Core State Standards.

Download as MP3 ...

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