MESSAGES 2012 :: FEBRUARY 23, 2012

FEBRUARY 23, 2012 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

I wish that people not involved in public education could have been with me when I recently visited three schools: Rogers-Herr Middle School, Durham Public Schools; Caleb's Creek Elementary School, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools; and Lansdowne Elementary, Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools. Rogers-Herr Middle School has experienced great success with its year-round schedule. A kindergarten class at Caleb's Creek Elementary recognized its bus drivers by singing to them. Lansdowne Elementary is an International Baccalaureate school and is experiencing great success.

Regardless of the school, I saw dedicated, engaging teachers and students actively working to learn. When I rode the bus with Caleb's Creek Elementary school students, they told me about how they loved math and science and they complimented their teachers by saying they received extra help when they needed it. What a great tribute to teachers, and it affirms why our graduation rate is at an all-time high and our dropout rate has decreased for four consecutive years to all an all-time low. Thanks, teachers, for all your hard work and dedication!

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board Meets Next Week
  2. Online Writing Instruction Update
  3. Comments Sought on NC Application for Grant Award under IDEA Part B
  4. Severe Weather Awareness Week
  5. Mark Your Calendars for the 2012 Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  6. Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications Update
  7. Donations Save Governor's School for Summer 2012
  8. School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest
  9. Registration Open for NCCAT Summer Seminars
  10. PRISM Grant Award Supports Mathematics/Science Instruction
  11. Museum of Life & Science Hosts Teacher Appreciation Day

State Board Meets Next Week

The State Board of Education will meet next Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 29-March 1, in the 7th Floor Board Room, Education Building, Raleigh. Action items include Arts Education courses eligible for Honors Weight, Educator Effectiveness Policies, and the Board's 2012-13 Supplemental Budget request. Discussion items include an update of the timeline for North Carolina's new accountability model and proposed standards for the evaluation of Instructional Technology Specialists and School Library Media Coordinators. The complete agenda as well as supporting executive summaries are available online at www.ncpublicschools.org/stateboard /meetings . The meeting is audio streamed for those who cannot attend. To listen in, please visit the above link and click on the live audio streams link.

Online Writing Instruction Update

North Carolina is implementing a new system for writing instruction designed to provide students with opportunities to have a variety of experiences with writing across disciplines and throughout the school year. Online Writing Instruction is not an assessment, but a formative tool to monitor the progress of students writing and to adjust instruction accordingly. The new system for Online Writing Instruction replaces the previous Writing Instruction System that was used in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Unlike the former Writing Instruction System, there is no required number of writing tasks to be completed and it is no longer a requirement for LEAs. However, it is strongly encouraged for instructional use because writing is integrated into the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. Go to NC Education at http://center.ncsu.edu/NC/ to access writing tasks by discipline, Common Core Appendix C Samples of Student Writing, and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. The following tasks have been completed:

  • Inventoried the number of writing tasks by discipline.
  • Created cover page which includes Online Writing Instruction description and updates.
  • Created folders by discipline and grade level in NC Education.
  • Inserted writing tasks by grade level into folders for the Arts, Social Studies, Science, World Languages and English Language Arts.
  • Created a folder with the Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects.
  • Created folder with samples of student writing from Appendix C of Common Core.

For more information on Online Writing Instruction, please contact Anna Frost with NCDPI Curriculum and Instruction at anna.frost@dpi.nc.gov.

Comments Sought on NC Application for Grant Award under IDEA Part B

Please note that a public notice for participation and comments on the NC Application for Grant Award under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act as amended in 2004 for federal FY 2012 is available on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) website at www.ncpublicschools.org/publicnotices . The proposed application will be available through April 19 on the NCDPI's Exceptional Children website at www.ncpublicschools.org/ec under HIGHLIGHTS. Comments will be accepted March 1-31, and a link for comments also is available at this location.

Severe Weather Awareness Week

Severe Weather Awareness Week is scheduled for March 4-10. The statewide Tornado Drill will take place on Wednesday, March 7, at 9:30 a.m. At that time the National Weather Service will issue a Required Weekly Test over the NOAA weather radio system. This will serve as a signal for school administrators to begin their tornado drill. The drill will conclude when participants complete their drill activities. No all-clear message will be issued. If this time is not convenient for your school's instructional program, you may schedule your school's drill on another day close to March 7.

Mark Your Calendars for the 2012 Teacher Working Conditions Survey

The 2012 Teacher Working Conditions Survey is set for March 26-April 20. In 2010, over 105,000 licensed educators completed the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey! Districts and schools can use the data collected through the survey for continuous school improvement and professional development planning. All school-based licensed educators and administrators are strongly encouraged to complete the survey. Anonymous access codes will be distributed via the same process as in previous years to the NCAE association representative in each school. The survey also may be accessed online at www.ncteachingconditions.org. The Help Desk will be available to answer all your questions via phone, IM or email during that week. If you have lost or have not received an access code, the help desk will be available to assist. We will publish the help desk number prior to the survey release date. For more information, please contact Lynne Johnson at lynne.johnson@dpi.nc.gov or Eliz Colbert at eliz.colbert@dpi.nc.gov.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications Update

North Carolina Public Schools was the first state education agency in the country to enter into an agreement with Microsoft to pilot the Microsoft Information Technology Academy (ITA), which provides students with real-world technology skills and industry credentials necessary to be successful in college and careers. North Carolina high school students have earned 27,584 Microsoft Office Specialist certifications since the inception of the ITA in August 2009. A professional development plan for teachers and IT staff in over 100 e-learning courses including but not limited to Windows 7, SharePoint, Exchange, Outlook, and Office applications also has been implemented. As a result, teachers have earned 1,259 MOS certifications, since inception, through this program.

Donations Save Governor's School for Summer 2012

State Superintendent June Atkinson on Monday announced that, thanks to the more than $700,000 raised by the North Carolina Governor's School Foundation, 550 high school students will spend five weeks this summer taking their studies in math, science, language and the arts to the next level. After the General Assembly eliminated state funding to the Governor's School in the 2011-13 budget, the Foundation launched a campaign to raise money to save the program. Because of these fundraising efforts, the Department of Public Instruction will be able to operate the Governor's School at both of its host campuses this summer. Atkinson added, "If we are going to protect and preserve this program beyond 2012, we will need lawmakers to return state funding for the Governor's School." To read more, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under "News."

School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest

It is once again time for the annual North Carolina School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest. This year's theme is "Stand Back from the Yellow and Black." By participating, elementary and middle school students will learn more about proper bus stop behavior, such as staying out of the street and waiting until the bus has stopped completely. Top category winners will receive prizes and compete for national honors. For contest rules and guidelines, please visit www.ncbussafety.org/poster . May 25 is the submission deadline.

Registration Open for NCCAT Summer Seminars

Registration is now open for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) Summer Seminars. Offerings include Renewal Seminars, Beginning Teacher Seminars and Legacy Seminars. For a complete list of seminars, descriptions and dates, please visit www.nccat.org .

PRISM Grant Supports Mathematics/Science Instruction

The PRISM grant award program provides grants of up to $3,000 to cover the cost of equipment, materials and supplies to implement hands-on, minds-on science and mathematics curriculum in the classroom. Recognizing the need for materials training, additional funding up to $1,500 may be requested for professional development related to the implementation of new equipment or use of materials in the classroom. There are three rounds of funding with application deadlines of March 5 and Sept. 5. For full details, please visit www.bwfund.org/pages/605/Eligibility/ .

Museum of Life & Science Hosts Teacher Appreciation Day

The Museum of Life & Science in Durham is hosting a Teacher Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 28. Admission is free for K-12 public school teachers (with school ID) and one guest. The Museum of Life and Science is an 84-acre science park that has among its offerings one of the largest tropical butterfly conservatories in the southeast, as well as rescued black bears, endangered red wolves, exotic lemurs and more than 110 specifics of live animals. In addition, its 65,000 square foot science center offers hours of hands-on learning. For more information, please visit www.lifeandscience.org .