MESSAGES 2014 :: APRIL 25, 2014

APRIL 25, 2014 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

Yesterday, a legislative study committee on the Common Core State Standards presented a draft bill that would, at its most extreme, replace the Common Core (English language arts and math standards) currently used in North Carolina's Standard Course of Study with state-developed standards. The bill calls for the creation of a commission to study and make recommendations about the existing standards. I support ongoing reviews and improvements of our content standards and continuing with North Carolina's long-standing five-year review cycle for all content standards including the Common Core. What I cannot support is a blanket replacement of strong, rigorous standards on short notice to you and other educators. The new standards are in their second year in the classrooms of our state, and I think it is important that we maintain stability. I am concerned that any change in standards over the next three years will only add to the pile of uncertainty teachers are facing. As the short session of the legislature begins in a few weeks, we will continue to keep you informed about the progress of this proposed bill. To review my statement on this issue please go to www.ncpublicschools.org and look under News.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meets Next Week
  2. Greetings from the 2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year
  3. Home Base PD System Launched April 15
  4. Home Base Opt-In Webinar Scheduled
  5. Overview of Roles and Permissions in Home Base
  6. Teacher Working Conditions Survey Concludes
  7. New Teacher Preparation Survey Now Open
  8. National Board Certification Window Open
  9. #NCed Chat End of Year Topics
  10. New Math Games Target Third-Fifth Graders
  11. Are Your Elementary Students Ready For A Summer Math Challenge?
  12. ELA/Mathematics Overview Focused on Parent Understanding
  13. DVD of North Carolina's Role in the American Revolution
  14. Growing Success for ELLs

State Board of Education Meets Next Week

The State Board of Education will meet next Wednesday and Thursday, April 30-May 1, in the 7th Floor Board Room, Education Building, Raleigh. Action items include various charter requests, LEA and charter requests for Standard Six flexibility, and Course for Credit policy revision recommendations. Discussion items include the process for awarding new teacher contracts for the Early Learning Sensory Support program, AP/IB courses satisfying graduation requirements, and an update on Grade Point Average calculation. Members also will receive special presentations on the Digital Learning Assessment Plan, NC Center for the Advanced of Teaching, and implementation of the State Board's Healthy Active Children Policy. The complete agenda as well as supporting executive summaries are available online at http://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/ (click on SBE Meetings then 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 to the right.

Greetings from the 2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year

Thursday, April 3, marked one of the most humbling and fulfilling moments of my life when I was granted the honor of becoming the 2014 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. It gives me such pleasure knowing that I represent the 95,000 passionate educators throughout our state who dedicate their lives to instructing nearly 1.5 million students. I look forward with great anticipation to the opportunity for advocacy, inspiration, and encouragement on behalf of this most noble profession.

It goes without saying that this may very well be one of the most important moments in North Carolina for public education in recent memory. The stakes are extremely high for education professionals and most importantly our students. The issues are many, and we know the gravity of them all too well. Teacher compensation, elimination of masters pay, the 25% rule, school vouchers and teacher turnover are all crucial to either securing our collective future as a state or potentially hurling us into a virtual "dark age."

When you look at our nation as a living, breathing organism, the institution of education is clearly the central nervous system. The most critical aspects of our country's overall health are relative to its ability to reach every extremity of the "body" with the lifeblood of education. The benefits of an educated populace are far reaching and ultimately determine a population's ability to thrive. Societies don't just magically become prosperous! This comes as the result of creative thinkers, trained in a variety of disciplines, willing and able to practically apply their ingenuity in ways that benefit all members of a community. Although few would refute this assertion, fewer still ever take the time to question how this process occurs.

The truth of the matter is that none of this would be possible without teachers. Through education minds are opened, skills are cultivated, and talents are nurtured. The recipients of this tutelage then go on to donate their gifts to the industries that drive our economy and shape our quality of life. With this in mind, there is quite possibly no more important institution in the entire world. It is our responsibility as educators to remind North Carolinians who we are.

These are troubling times in the state, but also full of promise. We must embrace the moment and respond to the call to action. Our message to the general public should simply be this, "It ALL Starts with Education." What we do every day, may very well be the only profession that every other profession is dependent upon. The future is quite literally in our hands. James Ford, 2014-15 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year

Home Base PD System Launched April 15

Educators can now access the Home Base professional development catalog by clicking on the Professional Development tab inside the Educator Evaluation tool. The catalog contains an initial collection of professional learning experiences, which includes existing online modules previously accessed through NC Education. This catalog will continue to grow as new learning opportunities are added, so you will want to check back often. Several new modules will upload June 30.

Home Base Opt-In Webinar Scheduled

Teachers may want to participate in a Home Base Opt-in Webinar scheduled for Thursday, May 1, from 3:30-5 p.m. The webinar will focus on review of opt-in components: Schoolnet, OpenClass, instructional resources and assessment items, and the professional development system. The webinar will conclude with a question and answer session. To register, please visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/234532088.

Overview of Roles and Permissions in Home Base

A webinar on the Overview of Roles and Permissions in Home Base will be held Thursday, May 8, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Webinar topics include a review of specific roles and permissions, the difference between roles and capabilities within each, and the permissions required to do various functions. To register, please visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/966351433.

Teacher Working Conditions Survey Concludes

The 2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey has concluded and 89 percent of North Carolina teachers participated. The 2014 NC TWCS website has school improvement tools, historical data and research briefs that are helpful for leaders and educators. Check out the resources for ongoing school and district planning for collaborative school improvement planning at www.ncteachingconditions.org. Data from the 2014 survey will be available on the website mid-May and a full report will be shared with the State Board of Education in June. For more information, please contact Yvette Stewart at yvette.stewart@dpi.nc.gov.

New Teacher Preparation Survey Now Open

The 2014 New Teacher Preparation Survey is now being administered statewide. The online survey focuses on the views of first year teachers concerning their professional preparation and experiences as novice teachers. Results from the survey will be used to help formulate evidenced-based recommendations to improve the quality of both alternative entry and traditional teacher preparation programs across the state. Results also will be included in the annual IHE Performance Reports and Educator Preparation Program Report Cards in compliance with Ā§115C 296 (b).

First year teachers are encouraged to complete the survey using the individualized survey links sent via email from newteachersurvey@unc.edu with a subject line of The New Teacher Preparation Survey. If you have any questions, please contact Rachel McBroom at rachel.mcbroom@dpi.nc.gov.

National Board Certification Window Open

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards application window for 2014-15 is now open. The state offers a low-cost loan program for eligible candidates. The certification process also has been revised to make the process more flexible and efficient for teachers. Please visit www.boardcertifiedteachers.org for details. Questions may be directed to Sonja Brown at sonja.brown@dpi.nc.gov or 919.807.3358.

#NCed Chat End of Year Topics

May is the last month of the NCed Chat series before summer break. Engage with state, national and international educators on the following #NCED Chat May topics: Best Practices for Grading, Mentoring, Instructional Design and Professional Learning. Check out the blog and archived conversations online at http://ncedchat.blogspot.com. You also can download the app by visiting myapp.is/NCed on your mobile device. Join this Professional Learning Network today and share resources across the state and nation.

New Math Games Target Third-Fifth Graders

Building Conceptual Understanding and Fluency Through Games provides third-fifth grade students the opportunity to develop mathematics conceptual understanding and computational proficiency through games. The document can be accessed online at http://maccss.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/Elementary then by clicking on the third, fourth and fifth grade links and scrolling mid-way down the page. Games for kindergarten-second grade students are coming soon! For more information, please contact Kitty Rutherford at kitty.rutherford@dpi.nc.gov.

Are Your Elementary Students Ready for a Summer Math Challenge?

Did you know that, on average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer months? MetaMetricsĀ® is trying to stop this loss in math skills by offering the Summer Math Challenge. The Summer Math Challenge is a free, six-week, email-based, math skills program for students who have finished second through fifth grades. As a part of the program, parents receive daily emails with fun, targeted activities and resources to help children retain the math skills learned during the previous school year. The Summer Math Challenge begins Monday, June 23, and runs until Friday, Aug. 1. For more information, including how to encourage your students to participate in the Summer Math Challenge, visit www.quantiles.com/summer-math.

ELA/Mathematics Overview Focused on Parent Understanding

The NCDPI has published "English Language Arts and Mathematics in North Carolina Public Schools: An Overview for Parents." This publication outlines the new standards in the state's public schools and delineates what children should know and be able to do at various grade levels. The overview also provides examples of standards at every grade level, K-12. Visit ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under Highlights to view this helpful guide.

DVD of North Carolina's Role in the American Revolution

North Carolina high school history teachers may be interested in accessing a 22-minute DVD entitled, "First in Victory: North Carolina's Role in the American Revolution." The North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati, the state's oldest veteran's group, produced the DVD. Dr. James Leutze, former War and History professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and Chancellor Emeritus of UNC-Wilmington, narrates the historical documentary. Students can play the DVD on their laptops by going online to www.ncsocietycincinnati.org. A copy of the DVD and a brief lesson plan may be obtained by writing Julie Moore, Secretary, the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati, PO Box 12566, Raleigh, NC 27605.

Growing Success for ELLs

The NCDPI's inaugural English Language Learner (ELL) support conference, Growing Success for ELLs, will be held Aug. 4-6 at the Embassy Suites in Greensboro. The conference offers 10 concurrent 3-day training events including ExC-ELL, LinguaFolio, SIOP and WIDA. Participants will choose one event to attend for the full three days of training. There is a $75 registration fee for individuals and a $300 registration fee for a team of five. The deadline to register is May 30. Visit www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/esl/ for conference details including an agenda and registration.