Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Educator Leader Cadre - resources

I have to admit we are enjoying the development of the tools for our PARCC Educator Leader Cadres (ELC). These teams are going to need to disseminate information to their individual states - and large groups of educators.

So how can they do that for over 1.5 million teachers in 24 states? The  overarching goal on the tools we need to develop is that it CANNOT have a per user fee or the cost will kill us. Open source is the answer and the tool we set up was the Big Blue Button - which is a pretty amazing open source web conferencing system.

Watch the demos on Big Blue Button -http://www.bigbluebutton.org/videos

In my previous work I was stunned that we couldn't find something like this - but it does everything you need. It has a chat function, people can talk, you can share your desktop, run through presentations and annotate the presentation. Basic but exactly what we need and our teachers need to get the word out about education.

This is going to be very cool.

Common Core - Univision Leading the Way!

How cool is it that Univision is doing a series on Common Core State Standards. The Spanish language television station is devoting an hour show to help parents understand the standards and why they are great for English language learners!

From the Edweek Learning the Language blog:
This past weekend, AĆ­da Walqui, an expert on English-language learners who is the director of teacher professional-development programs for WestEd, was the guest. She had nearly an hour on the program to explain why she thinks the standards present an important opportunity for improving educational outcomes for Latino students and for students who are English-language learners.

For more information go to Vida Y Familia section at Univision.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Open Source Professional Development

I got invited to guest blog over at Getting Smart on our PARCC contract and what it means for online PD for teachers.  I hope you take a look - this is a big deal for online learning and for us. The ability for us to work with Moodle and Big Blue Button and then apply that knowledge to our own LTF Training resources is invaluable.

And in the end teachers and students win!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Common Core Educator Engagement!

Loved the press release from PARCC - Educator Engagement Contract Awarded - really proud of our group for providing the winning bid on this critical aspect of Common Core State Standards implementation.  Common Core is only as good as the teachers teaching it.

Thanks to Achieve and PARCC for this tremendous opportunity.

Here is the release:

 Washington, D.C. – June 19, 2012 – The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a 24-state consortium working together to create next generation assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, has selected the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to lead the facilitation and management of the Educator Leader Cadres (ELCs). Through this effort, NMSI will support state efforts to build a growing network of K-12 educators and higher education faculty directly involved in Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and PARCC implementation efforts.

"Educator expertise is crucial to successfully implementing the Common Core State Standards and the new assessments," said Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner. "As a result of the PARCC Educator Leader Cadres, teachers will receive information and tools to support implementation of CCSS and PARCC through a practitioner's lens."

The Educator Leader Cadres – made up of 24-member teams of K-16 educators – will meet face-to-face and online to build expertise in the CCSS and PARCC; review sample tasks, items, and state-developed instructional materials; and guide and share best practices around state and local implementation efforts. By engaging in these efforts, the cadres will become leaders in CCSS and PARCC implementation and work to create a leadership network in every PARCC state made up of K-16 educators. These educator leaders can then provide support throughout their states, assisting regional and district efforts to prepare teachers for the upcoming transitions in peer-to-peer workshops and trainings.

"NMSI brings an excellent track record and substantial experience facilitating large groups of educators and preparing them to provide professional learning opportunities and share information with other educators," said Doug Sovde, Director, PARCC Instructional Supports and Educator Engagement. "The Educator Leader Cadres will establish a process for states to interact with education leaders and classroom teachers throughout their schools."

The National Math and Science Initiative submitted a proposal that provided innovative approaches to meeting the goals established by PARCC for the educator leader cadres. NMSI demonstrated superior logistical capabilities, including a schedule that directly addresses the timelines associated with the PARCC project; innovative solutions to organizational challenges, significantly minimizing costs to align with the estimated PARCC budget; and provided thoughtful approaches to the design and development of both face-to-face convenings and online convenings, utilizing robust and flexible technologies. NMSI has a strong network of proven partners and subcontractors, with a track record of successfully supporting the travel and logistics of convenings of this size and complexity.

PARCC received a grant as part of the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program to support state transition to and implementation of the CCSS and the PARCC assessment system. The Educator Leader Cadres are a major component of that grant.

Each PARCC state developed a process to select their ELC members. The first meeting to bring some of the ELC members together will take place this summer.

NMSI, launched in 2007 by leaders in business, education and science, works to improve student achievement in math and science across the American public school system. NMSI brings best practices to the education sector by replicating programs on a national scale that have more than 10 years of positive results. Through its teacher training division,Laying the Foundation, NMSI specializes in professional development for educators and has trained more than 36,000 teachers in this capacity. The organization, which has already developed Common Core State Standards resources and training for teachers, will train more than 10,000 teachers in 2012 alone.

Media Contact: Chad Colby (202) 419-1570, ccolby@achieve.org 
# # # 

PARCC is an alliance of states working together to develop common assessments serving nearly 25 million students. PARCC's work is funded through a four-year, $185 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Partners include about 750 higher education institutions and systems representing hundreds of campuses across the country that will help develop the high school component of the new assessment and then put it to good use as an indicator of student readiness. PARCC is led by its member states and managed by Achieve, a nonprofit group with a 15-year track record of working with states to improve student achievement by aligning K-12 education policies with the expectations of employers and the postsecondary community. PARCC's ultimate goal is to make sure all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready. For more information, visitwww.parcconline.org.

Monday, June 18, 2012

PARCC Awards Educator Leader Cadre Contract!

To Laying the Foundation, NMSI's Pre-AP training program!!  A great day for our team and our focus on building college readiness through exceptional teaching.  We have already started this great work by preparing for a July 23rd meeting of 300 educators to kick off the program. Read the Educator Leader Cadre press release!

The goal: build educator expertise in each of the PARCC states on Common Core State Standards so that they can help all teachers in their states build rigor in their classrooms.

Exciting times for LTF!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gateway to Blended Learning

The new Gateway to Teaching and Learning has launched at Laying the Foundation. Last year we knew we wanted to give our teachers more content to provide support throughout the school year. The Gateway provides online learning for our teachers so they can continue to reinforce the skills they learned in their LTF Training Summer Institutes.

Here is a little about the new blended learning program:

Here is more about LTF training - building college readiness through exceptional teaching:

Such a great team of educators helping educators be their absolute best!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

David Coleman Doesn't Hate Fiction

Sometimes it is best to just get out of the way and let a really great blogger handle the load - in this case it is Kathleen Porter-Magee with a great blog about the use of fiction and non-fiction in the Common Core State Standards. The absolute worst part of being in education reform is the propensity for opponents to massively exaggerate a point to win their argument. Let's be clear - David Coleman and the writers of Common Core do not hate fiction.  

"Instead, the Common Core seeks to rebalance what has been an almost exclusive focus on fiction in reading and literature classrooms. In a recent post, Dana Goldstein cited research that suggested that only 20 percent of the reading that students are assigned in school is nonfiction. In the early grades, those numbers are even worse—one study of first grade classrooms found that students spent an average of only 3.6 minutes engaging with nonfiction texts in reading classrooms. (In low income classrooms, they spent only 1.4 minutes per day, adding further to the already enormous content and reading gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers.)"

Read the rest of Kathleen's post The Fiction Fallacy and get the full scoop.  It is a great post. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Not Every Teacher Wants to Join a Union

Great opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News this morning from Esther Cepeda letting people know that union leaders don't represent all teachers.  There are many teachers who are forced to join a union and have the union dues deducted from their pay - and they do not like it.

How does he prove that union members and leaders are not always on the same page? Because according to the Washington Post almost a third of union members who voted - voted for Walker in Wisconsin even though it was the unions who lead the call for his recall.

Education Next tracks attitudes towards teacher unions and up until 2009 they are fairly contestant.  This year opinions of teacher unions fell sharply.

  • People with a positive view of unions dropped to 22% from 29% last year
  • 58% of teachers had a positive view of unions - but only 43% had a positive view this year
  • The number of teachers with a negative view of their own unions NEARLY DOUBLED to 32%!!
What does that mean?  From Esther's article:

"Could this be because teachers are getting tired of being political pawns? Is it possible they’re annoyed because they show up for work every day desiring only to teach children but are bombarded with union propaganda that seeks to paint the communities they teach in as toxic toward educators? Teachers tend to be particular about their classroom autonomy, so it’s reasonable to believe that they’re getting fed up by the constant pressure such as I felt to toe the union line while instructing my students.
Or maybe teachers no longer want to be represented by organizations that insist on portraying their rewarding white-collar profession as being on par with the struggles of coal miners.
Either way, the number of teachers who agree with standards anathema to unions — that pay should be based on performance and not on seniority or accumulated college credits — is on the rise, according to the National Center for Education Information’s “Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2011.” The same goes for the number of teachers who see getting rid of unions as a way to strengthen teaching as a profession."
There are some things that unions do that make a lot of sense - especially when it comes to ensuring that teacher evaluations are fair. But they have gone off the rails in so many ways and it looks like their main constituency is starting to question their relevance. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Who is Teaching Probability to Teachers? These Guys

One of the great things about the new Common Core State Standards in the much earlier introduction of probability and statistics. The math team at LTF Training responded and we are out everywhere this summer teaching teachers how to teacher probability in grades 6-10!

Judging from the responses on our middle school math teachers forum and high school math teachers forum - we are getting it done in a big way.

I have enjoyed Laying The Foundation for the past three years and simply enjoy the fact that this training is actually useful. We have all been to those trainings on best practices, classroom management, district policies...and this one is actually about the MATH. I like the fact that you get to dive in and do the problems...this allows one to find out where their students would get caught up, or make mistakes. These lessons will allow teachers to raise the expectations in the walls of their classrooms...which in return makes students more academically successful...and more college-ready!

"I really like the probability day. I thought a lot of the lessons were adaptable for a 7th grade classroom. I think students would be engaged in the activities, especially if they were even more personalized to them."

"This has been a great week of information. The best lesson has been about probability . My kids would really like these lessons."

"Of the lessons we have covered this week I have found the probability lessons to be the most useful. There a lot of great lessons I will incorporate from the Probability book. Day 1 and 3 are not topics we cover until after STAAR and many of the lessons include topics that we do not touch on at all. I did like the rate graphs and I do think I will use a few of these to show the kids how distance and time affect one another."

It is absolutely critical that we teach teachers how to teach probability to our students - and teach it so that it sticks. You can't just tell teachers to teach more rigorous content - you have to give them some model lessons they can immediately use in class. 

As LTF expands - kids win!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Flipped Classrooms - more press

Great article in the Washington Post on a teacher with a flipped classroom - the article is about a mother daughter team entitled "The flip: Turning a classroom upside down"

"About four nights a week, Gutschick watches a different Roshan-made video covering a specific concept. The videos are generally 20 to 30 minutes long, but she said she often stops and goes back to listen to parts she didn’t understand the first time. “This way you don’t have to miss anything,” she said."

The article is very light on anything else about flipped classrooms - but I encourage you to read more over at Laying the Foundation's Flipping the Classroom Blog - where two teachers are blogging about their first year flipping their math and physics classes. Great stuff!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Implementing Common Core 'Bama Style

A+ College Ready is our partner in Alabama and they have taken LTF training and lessons to create a way for middle schools to really push the rigor required for Common Core State Standards to ensure more students are college ready.  

From their website on "New Pre-AP Curriculum Rolled Out" - 

“I’ve heard nothing but great things about Friday’s pre-AP training,” wrote Melissa Shields, director of curriculum for Etowah County, in an email correspondence with A+CR president, Mary Boehm. “Very relevant and timely training!”

Each class opened with an overview of the Common Core State Standards, supporting the importance of aligning all courses to help students meet and exceed them. Columbia High School English teacher Amanda Bannister commented, “This is the first time that the reasoning behind the adoption of the common core and changes recommended in the curriculum have been explained to me.”

“Was I teaching at the pre-AP level before? NO,” she stated. “Will I be doing that going forward? ABSOLUTELY! Very exciting!”

A+ College Ready is getting amazing results - last year 8,500 Alabama students took AP exams but this year over 13,000 have!  Incredible!!

We are so glad to be a part of raising the bar for all Alabama students through Common Core State Standards.  While the standards are the same, it is still very much up to the states to decide on the best implementation plan. We are honored that Alabama's plan includes Laying the Foundation. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Too Much STEM?

I received a GAO report on the overlap in STEM programs by the federal government.  I had delayed looking over but it is pretty shocking.

  • 13 federal agencies spent $3 Billion on 209 different STEM education programs in fiscal 2010
  • 78 of the programs are over $5 million and 5 programs are over $100 million
  • 83% of STEM education programs overlapped to some degree 
Overlap = waste. There are too many programs and the dollars spread too thin provide the impact necessary to create success in the STEM fields.  

Apparently Senator Coburn got the memo - he has this flow chart on his wall to demonstrate the craziness!

College Readiness Gap

If you don't know that you need increased education to survive in today's economy then you must live under a rock.  The news today just reinforces the steady stream of studies about needing additional education to earn a living.

On Friday - the unemployment rate for college graduates fell to 3.9% from 4%
The unemployment rate for those with just a high school degree rose from 7.0% to 8.1%

Now they are quick to point out that going to college is expensive so just racking up debt is not a plan. Going for any type of extra education at a reasonably priced institution that will make you employable is a plan.

To have a chance in this world, our students have to be college ready. Closing the college readiness gap is all that we are focused on at Laying the Foundation - through our programs and now through our work with Common Core State Standards and PARCC.

We can no longer wait to help the millions of students who cannot hope for a better future unless we ensure they are ready for the higher education they need to succeed.