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  • Common Core State Standards, Factors Influencing Student Achievement, Responsive Coaching, Teacher Evaluation, Autism

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Census Bureau upgrades free K-12 statistics resources

Educate your students about the value and everyday use of statistics. The Statistics in Schools program provides resources for teaching and learning with real life data. Explore the site for standards-aligned, classroom-ready activities.


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Education Department Releases America's College Promise Playbook

Resource Guide Offers Best Practices to Expand College Opportunity, Increase College Affordability
SEPTEMBER 13, 2016
Contact:   (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(126, 93, 142); background-color: transparent;">press@ed.gov

Today, the U.S. Department of Education released the America's College Promise Playbook, a comprehensive and up-to-date resource guide that provides practitioners with relevant and actionable information about how they can offer more students access to an affordable, high-quality education through which students can go as far as their talents and work ethic can take them.

Inspired by the President’s America’s College Promise plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost, the playbook focuses on strategies that bring partners together to serve students across all stages of their college and career pathways. The America’s College Promise proposal influenced the design of the largest city-wide free community college program to date, the Los Angeles Promise.

“Last year, the President set forth a bold vision to make two years of college as universal as high school was a century ago, helping students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost,” said U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. “Community colleges are not just a distinctly American institution, but as the largest, most affordable segment of America’s higher education system, they are critical to reaching the President’s goal to have the highest share of college graduates in the world and to ensuring America’s economic prosperity in the future.”

On Tuesday, as part of the Department’s 2016 Opportunity Across America Bus Tour, Secretary King will visit Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee where President Obama originally announced the America’s College Promise proposal, which was inspired by Tennessee’s efforts, in January 2015.

As one of the clearest paths to the middle class, higher education has never been more important. Over the next decade, the number of jobs requiring some level of higher education is expected to grow more rapidly than those that do not, with 11 of the 15 fastest-growing occupations requiring postsecondary education. At a time when jobs can go anywhere in the world, skills and education will determine success for individuals and for nations.

Yet, far too many students either don’t go to college or never finish their degree. The President has proposed a new $61 billion investment over the next decade for America's College Promise to create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for these students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college and help meet the demands of a growing global economy.

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30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

One day, in front 36 riotous sophomores, I clutched my chest and dropped to my knees like Sergeant Elias at the end of Platoon. Instantly, dead silence and open mouths replaced classroom Armageddon. Standing up like nothing had happened, I said, "Thanks for your attention -- let's talk about love poems."

I never used that stunt again. After all, should a real emergency occur, it would be better if students call 911 rather than post my motionless body on YouTube. I've thought this through.

Most teachers use silencing methods, such as flicking the lights, ringing a call bell (see Teacher Tipster's charming video on the subject), raising two fingers, saying "Attention, class," or using Harry Wong's Give Me 5 -- a command for students to:

  1. Focus their eyes on the speaker
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be still
  4. Empty their hands
  5. Listen.

There is also the "three fingers" version, which stands for stop, look, and listen. Fortunately, none of these involve medical hoaxes.

Lesser known techniques are described below and categorized by grade bands:

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Constitution Day is Coming Up! Need some help preparing lessons?

September 17 is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution.  In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an educational program about this seminal document. 


“Most of you are no doubt aware of the highly successful musicalHamilton, which tells the captivating story of the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, and our nation’s founding,” Secretary of Education John King said when commenting on Constitution Day. 

“Among his many other contributions, Hamilton wrote most of the Federalist Papers, which argued in favor of the Constitution, something not everyone agreed was needed. The genius of the play is that it reminds us that well-meaning people with very different perspectives on how we should govern ourselves in a democracy were able to compromise and find a way to move the nation forward.”

About the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton once said, “I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness.”

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The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies

When I worked with student teachers on developing effective lesson plans, one thing I always asked them to revise was the phrase “We will discuss.”

We will discuss the video.

We will discuss the story.

We will discuss our results.

Every time I saw it in a lesson plan, I would add a  note: “What format will you use? What questions will you ask? How will you ensure that all students participate?” I was pretty sure that We will discuss actually meant the teacher would do most of the talking; He would throw out a couple of questions like “So what did you think about the video?” or “What was the theme of the story?” and a few students would respond, resulting in something that looked  like a discussion, but was ultimately just a conversation between the teacher and a handful of extroverted students; a classic case of Fisheye Teaching.

The problem wasn’t them; in most of the classrooms where they’d sat as students, that’s exactly what a class discussion looked like. They didn’t know any other “formats.” I have only ever been familiar with a few myself. But when teachers began contacting me recently asking for a more comprehensive list, I knew it was time to do some serious research.

So here they are: 15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging. If you’ve struggled to find effective ways to develop students’ speaking and listening skills, this is your lucky day.

I’ve separated the strategies into three groups. The first batch contains the higher-prep strategies, formats that require teachers to do some planning or gathering of materials ahead of time. Next come the low-prep strategies, which can be used on the fly when you have a few extra minutes or just want your students to get more active. Note that these are not strict categories; it’s certainly possible to simplify or add more meat to any of these structures and still make them work. The last group is the ongoing strategies. These are smaller techniques that can be integrated with other instructional strategies and don’t really stand alone. For each strategy, you’ll find a list of other names it sometimes goes by, a description of its basic structure, and an explanation of variations that exist, if any. To watch each strategy in action, click on its name and a new window will open with a video that demonstrates it.


Learn More about the big list of classroom discussion strategies

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