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Writing should be​ a priority in the classroom, but is it?

A 2012 NAEP report concluded that only one-third of eighth and twelfth graders performed above the basic level in writing skills. How did we get here? Steve Graham, Ph.D., is a professor at Arizona State University and for the past 30 years, he has studied how writing develops and how to teach writing effectively. "There's just not enough attention paid to teaching writing in schools today," says Graham. Graham says 20-30 percent of teachers deliver a robust writing program, but when you...


Episode 112: Why more and more educators are​​ calling for grading reform

Why are we still using an outdated system? There's been a lot of advancements made in education over the past 100 years, but grading students from A to F on a 100-point scale is not one of them. The grading system most schools use today was first used at Mount Holyoke College in 1897. Middle school principal Eric Saibel recently wrote an article in Education Week challenging educators to reevaluate what he describes as "a profoundly arbitrary and subjective ranking system." "If what we want...


Starting off the school year with a home visit

Valerie Lovato teaches elementary school at Eagleton Elementary in Denver Colorado. In her school district, it’s encouraged to conduct home visits with upcoming student's families right around the start of the school year. Lavato knows it's one of those things that a teacher can procrastinate on, but she says, "once you start, you don't want to stop." She's been doing home visits for the past six years. Her goal is to build relationships with parents and to identify opportunities and...


Virtual counseling ​for college admissions creates new opportunities

For a teenager, applying to a university can be intimidating. In decades past, high school counselors would have the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with students to make sure student's applications were on the right track. Unfortunatly, today's student to counselor ratio at most high schools makes that one-on-one guidance nearly impossible. CollegePoint is aggressively working to provide a solution. The organization targets high-achieving students from low and moderate-income...


Using Restorative Practices​ in the Classroom

The idea of using restorative practices in the classroom is straightforward. Educators build, and as needed, repair relationships with students, all in an effort to prevent or respond to conflicts a student may be going through. For example, if you two students get into a fight a school. A school not using restorative practices would suspend the students for a few days and then send them back to the classroom. However, a school using restorative practices would have conferences with the...


Confronting science denial in the classroom

Dr. Rebekka Darner, an Associate Professor of Biology Education at Illinois State University, says that educators are frequently confronting science denial in their classrooms. Darner says individuals that ignore science has always been around. There have always been "flat earthers" and people that have ignored the science behind natural selection, but Darner thinks instructors are now encountering science deniers more frequently. "I think what we're seeing in the recent decade or two is...


Pushing back against student absenteeism

In Episode 107 of Class Dismissed with speak with the authors of "Absent From School." Michael Gottfried is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Ethan Hutt is a professor at the University of North Carolina. Their book was written to help educators and policy makers understand the impact and causes of chronic student absenteeism. This podcast is now live on iTunes and your favorite podcasting app. Developing...Check back for a written summary.


Episode 106: Building a more inclusive classroom

How to be inclusive while remaining authentic Matthew Morris says that part of his journey becoming an educator involved a lot of reflecting on what school was like when he was growing up. “When I was going through my experiences as a child and thinking about some of my friends, even some of own my family, my own brother. It was kind of saddening for me to see some of the outcomes now as a grown man. Morris says that some many of those family and friends are geniuses in their own right, but...


Recharging during your summer break

Jackie Waldman, a New York City School Teacher and a certified Life Coach has been teaching for 30 years. She also works with other educators to help accomplish life goals and decrease the stress that many teachers feel during an average work week. In Episode 105 of Class Dismissed, Waldman gives us some pointers on how educators can use their summer to recharge and get the right mindset for the following school year. "I feel like the beginning of summer is a great chance to reflect because...


How school districts can think like a data scientist

How schools should be using their data For the past five years, Dr. Joy Smithson has been helping school districts build specialized reports using their data. Smithson is the lead data scientist for SchoolStatus, and she helps schools find trends in topics like absenteeism, state assessments. She also assists districts with narrowing in on students that may be “at risk.” Developing…This podcast is now live on your favorite podcasting app. Check back for a complete written summary. To hear...


Episode 103: Students offered food, clothing, and toiletries from “Care Closet” created by teachers

The "Care Closet" makes sure students have the basics. So students can focus on learning. Melissa Mann is an educator at Moores Mill Intermediate School in New Market Alabama. A few years ago she recognized that students, sometimes needed items like clothing, shoes, food, and toiletries. So Mann decided to do something about it, and helped create the Moores Mills first "Care Closet". We wanted the kids just to know that we're here for you if you need us. -MELISSA MANN In Episode 103 of Class...


How too much homework is crushing our teens

Why are teens stressed and worried at a time of their lives that should be happy and carefree? It's the million billion dollar question. How did we get to a point where some teens are so hyper-competitive that giving them a "B" on a paper or quiz, is like giving them an "F"? Why do some teens now overload themselves with advanced placement courses and extracurriculars, just to stay up past midnight cramming in homework? Dr. Cathy Vatterott is an education professor at the University of...


Showing high-school students why math is relevant

Making a case for mathematics Jennifer Kinser - Traut is project director at the University of Arizona college of education. Earlier this month she published "Why Math?" in Mathematics Teacher. Before working with the Unversity of Arizona, Kinser -Traut, spent a decade as a high school math and science teacher. During her time in the K-12 system, she discovered that many of her students would enter her classroom with a negative attitude towards the need for mathematics. To combat the...


How this teacher stopped grading at home

A Resolution Worth Keeping A few years ago, Catlin Tucker made an ambitious New Year’s Resolution. She decided to no longer bring grading home. The California English Teacher says she loved her job, but she resented having to grade papers during her personal time. “It really robbed me of the time that my kids want with me. You know, I have a nine and a ten-year-old and they want my attention. And it robbed me of that time and space and ability to relax and be creative that drives a lot of my...


Why it's perfectly normal to be a "Late Bloomer"

We live in a world where we applaud kids that do amazing things at a young age, but Rich Karlgaard is not focused on those early achievers. Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes Magazine and author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement and he wants to start a national dialog about why it's important to recognize that some people's prime comes a little later than others.. Late Bloomers begins with Karlgaard highlighting a 53-year-old woman named...


A Florida teacher revamps remedial reading classes

Rebranding the assignment Amanda Lacy will admit, she was not excited when her principal assigned her to teach a group of high school students that were struggling with reading. Her new class consisted of juniors and seniors who had failed the state test as tenth graders. "I was hoping they made a mistake. I went into the principal's office and said, 'Oh, you wrote the wrong thing down on this piece of paper,'" said Lacy. Lacy says teaching the course is a difficult job. The kids are...


Why this teacher is building tiny homes ​with his students

Going big with a tiny home For the past two years, Joe Romano and his students have been building tiny homes to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness in Washington. The Architecture and Design educator teaches ninth graders at the Annie Wright School in Tacoma. His lessons show students how to give back to the community through thoughtful design and construction. Romano will admit, that before this ambitious project his background in construction was limited. "I personally have...


Doing away with homework for struggling math students

In 2013, math teacher, Karine Ptak and her colleagues at Frederick High School in Maryland faced a significant challenge. Their students had an "alarming failure rate" on the Maryland State High School Assessment in Algebra with Data Analysis (HSA). Ptak and three of her colleagues knew they had to create a new approach. They targeted what they called the "middle range kids." "Kids who defintly have the ability but somehow have been left behind," says Ptak. The educators started surveying a...


Why school leaders and administrators​s should still teach

Educator, author, and consultant, Jeffrey Benson, is making a case for educators in a position of leadership to carve out time and jump back into the classroom. Even if it's on a limited basis. Benson is speaking directly to "anyone whose job it is to change other peoples way of working." For Benson, this means instructional coaches, assistant principals and possibly principals. Why jump back in? Benson argues that getting back in the classroom builds credibility and leverage with your...


How to help your students build a digital portfolio

Showcase your students progress The idea of a student digital portfolio is for the pupil to collect their achievements as digital artifacts and then display those online — often that’s a website. The practice is growing in popularity across the country, and Class Dismissed tracked down a district that’s seeing results. “It’s the idea of having a showcase place or place where students can curate their work. Their successes, their failures, the things they care about, some of their classwork,...