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The Public School Insights Blog

The Learning First Alliance's Get It Right campaign spotlights states and communities working hard to get Common Core implementation right. Recently, we did a deeper dive into California's efforts to roll out the standards and are featuring educators' experiences with the process.

As part of this effort, we are pleased to highlight the perspective of Steve Seal. Seal has been teaching at Eshelman Avenue School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for the past 14 years. Most of that time he has taught 5th grade, where he brings science and history to life with projects and a focus on deeper learning. He has been involved in history education through grant work and lesson development and he served as a facilitator for a group of teachers in Colonial Williamsburg one summer.

Seal is also involved with ocean education through connections with a variety of organizations, notably the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) West (the west coast hub for the National Science Foundation-supported National COSEE) and the EARTH workshop with the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). He is also engaged with his local union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), as a member of the Board of Directors; the California Teachers Association (CTA) as the Vice Chair of the Assessment and Testing Committee; and the National Education Association (NEA) as a delegate and teacher ambassador.

Q: When did you first learn about the Common Core State Standards?

Seal: It has been a few years now. I think I first heard about them when they were rolled out in some states in around 2011. When CA adopted them there was a slow roll out up until this year in my district. Now it has been rolled out fully, and it is causing some stress among teachers who are now being asked to not just roll out one or two things but a whole slew of things – basically changing the way we have been teaching. ...

By Amber Chandler, American Federation of Teachers member and 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts Teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY

About two years ago I decided that I knew the perfect way to get rich.  I’d create a lesson planning platform that had a dropdown menu of Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).  It would only be a matter of time before I could hit the road schilling this amazing product and making money hand over fist.  Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do this.  And before I could get a new college degree, create an amazing product, and begin my worldwide tour, some other people thought of it! CommonCurriculum.com (my favorite, and the one I still use) LessonPlanner.com, Planboard.com, and many others beat me to it.  I guess they already had their degrees. ...

"The most obvious benefit so far has been student engagement. As students take more of an active role in their own learning, they stay engaged and motivated. As we expect them to talk about their ideas and questions, they begin to control and use academic language, which enables them to read more complex text as well as express themselves in writing."

- California Educator Kathy Harris, on how students in her school are benefiting from changes in instructional practice made thanks to the Common Core ...

By Bethe Almeras, Assistant Executive Director, NEA-Health Information Network

Summer has come and gone as have all the Back-to-School ads on TV and essentially everywhere you look.

It’s back. We’re back. The time is now, and the new school year is in full-gear with no signs of letting up for quite a while. Deep breath.

OK then, let’s stop and take a moment to do a self-check-in. Yes us, the adults. Most of us get so focused on everyone else that we forget that taking care of ourselves is vital for providing a great school year for the students. Whether you work inside or outside the classroom or are a parent – or both! – you and your health and wellness are key ingredients for the school and student success recipe.

To that end, NEAHIN is challenging all of us to take the Healthy Me, Better Year Pledge! Yes, our staff is taking it too! It’s a simple pledge to say,

“Hey, I value myself and my health and happiness. I am going to do X, Y and/or Z to help ensure I am bringing my best self to the school community each day.” ...

This post highlights the work of Chiquita Jones, who was instrumental in the formation of Parents for Public Schools’ latest chapter in Philadelphia, Mississippi  

By Richelle Putnam, Editor/Publisher, Southern Roots magazine

The way Becky Glover, the Parents for Public Schools (PPS) East Mississippi Director, tells it, Chiquita Jones is the modern day Fannie Lou Hamer of education in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

“In the 2011 Parent Leadership Institute, which was the first class in East Mississippi, two people attended from the Philadelphia school district,” said Becky. That started something. The next year, Chiquita went through the PPS training and was the only person from that school district. “She went back and has been able to accomplish and start a variety of things all related to quality public education in Philadelphia.” ...

The Learning First Alliance's Get It Right campaign spotlights states and communities working hard to get Common Core implementation right. Recently, we did a deeper dive into California's efforts to roll out the standards and are featuring educators' experiences with the process.

As part of this effort, we are pleased to highlight the perspective of Kathy Harris, a teacher in the Piner-Olivet Union School District (where she is currently a Common Core State Standards Implementation Coach with a focus on English Language Arts) for 28 years. From 1998 to 2009 she served as the Regional Director of the California Reading and Literature Project at Sonoma State University. She has done extensive study in the areas of reading, reading readiness, assessment, English language development, school reform, school leadership and professional development. She has also engaged in many field experiences with both teachers and principals, working to improve student achievement through effective professional development, technical assistance and school reform. 

Harris has provided professional development in English Language Arts (ELA) and English Language Development for K-12 teachers and administrators throughout the state. She was re-appointed to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in November of 2013 and currently serves as Vice-Chair.

Q: When did you first learn about the Common Core State Standards?

Harris: My experience with the Common Core standards started in November of 2009, when I was teaching third grade. I joined the National Council of Teachers of English review panel. We reviewed the draft standards, collaborated with teachers from many states and gave our feedback ...

By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Board Member, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Powerful Learning Practice

Millions of educators and others around the world have participated in hundreds of professional development opportunities as part of Connected Educator Month (CEM) the last two years. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative, Connected Educator Month offers highly distributed, diverse and engaging activities to educators at all levels, with the ultimate goal of getting more educators more connected, spurring collaboration and innovation in the space.

The official kick-off is October 1, but there are many ways that you can get involved today. This year, the U.S. Department of Education is distributing the event's management out to the connected community. Event management groups (American Institutes of Research, Digital Promise, Grunwald Associates and Powerful Learning Practice) are working collectively with the community, and the U.S. Department of Education, to construct a robust program that will get more educators connected ...

Dr. Barry Bachenheimer is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment at Pascack Valley Regional High School District (NJ) and a 2014 NSBA 20 to Watch Education Technology Leader. He has been in education since 1993, serving as a teacher, social studies supervisor, principal and central office administrator. He also served as Director of Instruction in the Caldwell-West School System in Caldwell, NJ, prior to coming to Pascack.

Dr. Bachenheimer values personalized learning, student voice and thoughtful integration of technology in classrooms, and he recently supported Pascack Valley’s efforts in creating a “Virtual Day” to take the place of a snow day in 2014. He was kind enough to take time to share his thoughts on these and other issues, including implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Public School Insights (PSI): Let’s start with your background. Where were you before you came to the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, and what positions did you hold that contributed to your current work in curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as with technology? ...

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University, Faculty Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and Chair of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing discusses the benefits of college and career ready standards for improving conditions for both teacher and student learning. Darling-Hammond also speaks to the need for performance assessments that better measure student achievement and growth.

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By Tracy Crow, Director of Communications, Learning Forward

If school districts relied on Craigslist to build effective learning systems, the search would be simple: "Passionate learner seeks same." While the reality of building learning systems and teams is more complex, the principle is the same--committed learners at every level of a system are the key to improving teaching and learning for students every day.

Passionate learners in today's schools aren't optional. And yet, of the five beliefs that undergird Learning Forward's work, here's the one most likely to make educators do a double-take: All educators have an obligation to improve their practice.

The word obligation gives pause here. Are we willing to say that every educator MUST improve his or her practice? ...

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